"So." Isabelle slides into the chair opposite him in Taki's, simultaneously announcing her presence and making Simon jump out of his skin.
He turns to look at her, snapping out of his daze, and finds Isabelle's eyes trained on his, glinting and mirthful. She's tapping red-painted fingernails against the tabletop, and has lipgloss staining the corner of her mouth—apparently, she and Clary have already met up today.
Simon swallows. "Pardon?"
Isabelle's smirk widens, and she glances at Lily over her shoulder, who's standing behind the counter, looking bored out of her mind. Which isn't really at all unusual.
"You know I said I thought Jace was having a thing?"
Simon groans internally. He really doesn't want to hear about Jace's latest thing. Not that he's going to tell Isabelle that. Alec is the only one who's realised that he's got a not-so-tiny unrequited crush on the blonde heartbreaker in leather, and Simon doesn't plan on that changing. He hasn't even told Clary—mostly because she wouldn't be able to keep it from Isabelle, and then everyone would know, and it would all be absolutely and horribly embarrassing.
No. No, that's not happening.
"Well," Isabelle says, "I think he's into Meliorn."
Simon nearly chokes on his cappuccino. "Meliorn? As in, your ex, Meliorn?"
"That's the one." Isabelle snickers to herself, and draws a finger along the edge of the table. "Jace is in for a great time, if he plucks up the courage to ask him out."
Simon's thoughts (which had caught on Jace and great time existing in the same sentence) focus abruptly at Isabelle's words.
"What do you mean?" he asks. "When does Jace ever not have the courage to ask someone out?"
Isabelle shrugs. "When he likes them, rather than just their ass. Or boobs. Or both."
And, yeah, if Simon chugs his cappuccino and wishes it's whiskey, the only person who'll ever know why is Alec.
And Alec isn't here. So Simon's secret is safe.
The front door to the Lightwoods' house is throw open almost before Simon has knocked. It's Christmas morning, and there's already a fine layer of snow covering the ground, like icing sugar dusted across the top of a cake. Christmas lights are everywhere around New York, and, however much he loves her, Simon is sick of hearing Mariah Carey everywhere he walks.
Jace stands on the other side of the door, mouth open, presumably about to say hello, when he pauses, and frowns, looking Simon up and down with a critical eye.
Simon raises an eyebrow at him. "Can I come in? This is New York, it's December, it's kind of cold."
"Wimp," Jace says, but he steps to one side to let Simon in. He's still staring at Simon as he takes off his jacket and sits his trainers beside a deadly pair of heels that can only belong to Isabelle, unless Jace has taken up cross-dressing, or Maryse has lost her mind.
"Do I have something on my face?" Simon demands. "Has my sister written loser on my back in marker pen?"
"I thought you were Jewish," Jace says.
Simon just looks at him. "I am. In a low-key sort of way."
"Jews don't celebrate Christmas, right?"
"Last time I checked, neither do atheists." Simon nodded at Jace pointedly. "I'm celebrating food that wasn't cooked by Isabelle, presents, and pretty lights that I'm assuming Alec didn't put up, because they look far too sophisticated for someone who scoffs at the mere mention of interior design. Not the birth of Christ. I'm fairly sure nobody else here is into praising Jesus, so I don't see the problem."
Jace lifts his hands, palms forward, and murmurs, "Touché."
Simon shakes his head, and tries desperately not to check Jace out. "Asshole."
A grin is twitching at the corner of Jace's lips, and it's horribly tempting. Simon wants to smack himself. "Presents under the tree. And just so you know, Alec's boyfriend is coming, too."
"I didn't know Alec had a boyfriend."
"He claims he doesn't. I don't believe him."
There's a wicked smirk on Jace's lips as he turns and gestures for Simon to follow him into the kitchen, where he presumes the rest of the family is gathered, judging by the amount of noise coming from that general direction.
With Jace facing away from him, Simon lets his eyes flicker up and down. Damn. Jeans like that really shouldn't be allowed. And nobody is supposed to look hot in a Christmas jumper. But then, Jace has pushed the sleeves up to his elbows, exposing his forearms, which, in Simon's absolutely non-biased opinion, and incredibly sexy.
Someone clears their throat from behind him, and Simon's eyes shoot away from Jace's ass to find Alec standing on the stairs, arms folded across his chest, one eyebrow cocked.
"Stop looking at me like that," Simon mutters.
Alec's eyebrow hitches up higher.
"Really?" Simon whines.
"Simon!" Jace shouts from where he's already in the kitchen. "Are you coming or not?"
Alec smirks. "You heard him."
"Why're you so happy today?" Simon mutters. "Go back to pretending to hate me."
The smirk drops off Alec's face, and he walks down the remainder of the stairs to stand with Simon. "I don't hate you."
"I know." Simon exhales, and glances towards where Jace disappeared to. "I'm so screwed, this is awful."
Alec wrinkles his nose. "Please don't talk to me about your gooey feelings for my brother. I don't want to know."
"Thank you for being so supportive, Lightwood."
When Simon makes his way into the kitchen, he's immediately assaulted by the sight of Isabelle and Clary kissing. He snaps a picture and sends it to Jocelyn and Luke with a caption that Clary will murder him for later, and then stows his phone away.
"Simon!" Isabelle says when she separates from her girlfriend, and dashes over to wrap him in a hug.
He returns her hug, feeling eyes on him from across the room. He lifts his gaze to find Jace with his eyes locked on them. The moment their eyes meet, Jace sends him one of those stupid, defective smirks, and Simon rolls his eyes. Honestly.
"Be nice to him," Isabelle whispers in his ear. "He's sulking."
"Meliorn said no."
Simon swears he's going to hell for being so happy about that.
Magnus Bane is...
Well. Simon would never have bet money on Alec dating someone like Magnus. Even if they both appear to be in denial about the other's feelings, it's perfectly obvious to everyone else in the room.
While Simon is very happy for Alec - or, at least, he will be once the pair pull their heads out of their asses, because for god's sake, Alec just kissed Magnus' cheek, how in denial can they be? - he's more focused on the fact that they're watching Love Actually - which Jace is still grumbling about - and, somehow, he's far closer to Jace than his heart can take.
It had been fine. They'd been sat on the sofa, which a few inches between them. And then Clary and Isabelle had sat down, practically on top of each other, beside them. But then the couple had shifted so Clary was beside Isabelle, curled into her side, and Simon was abruptly much closer to Jace than he had been.
Shit. Shit. Shit. Simon has no idea how he's supposed to deal with this.
"Relax," Clary whispers to him, low enough for the others not to hear, eyes fixed on the TV screen.
He glances across to where Alec is talking to Magnus and Max, a fond smile on his face. Simon wonders whether he looks at Jace in such a love-sick way. If he does, it's a wonder the whole world hasn't realised how he feels.
"You're actually a bit sad," Clary continues, still softly. "I hope you know that."
"What are you on about?" he hisses back to her.
"You freaking out about sitting next to Jace. He can't read your mind just because you're close to him, you know. Your filthy thoughts aren't audible when you touch him. He's not Edward Cullen."
Simon gapes at her. "What?"
"Oh, come on." She scoffs, and turns to look at him. "Si, I'm your best friend. I'm not oblivious."
"Shush!" His eyes widen, and he jerks his head pointedly at Jace.
Clary shrugs, and settles back against Isabelle. "Just saying."
Simon glares at her, but there's no hear behind the look. "Clary, you are literally the worst best friend ever."
She grins, and reaches up to kiss his cheek. "Thank you."
They're quiet for several minutes after that. Simon is still hyper-aware of Jace beside him. Their thighs and shoulders brush every time they inhale in sync, and Jace's every fidgeting movement is painfully magnified by their close proximity.
And then: disaster.
Jace tips his head closer to Simon's, and whispers, "This movie is so boring. I've seen it a million times."
Simon tries not to shiver, but he can't help the goosebumps that rise across his neck. Fuck, he can feel Jace's warm breath curling over his ear with every syllable he utters. It's torturous.
"I mean, really?" Jace continues. "Alright, there're a few hot people, but..." He gestures at the screen. "Obviously he's cheating on her. Asshole."
Swallowing, Simon tries desperately to think of something to say in reply with Jace leaning into him like that.
"And this is a Christmas movie, so there's going to be a happy ending, so why are people surprised when Natalie and the PM—"
"Jace, shut up," Clary says, smacking him on the back of his head. "Some of us are trying to watch this movie."
Jace pouts at her. "And people wonder why we broke up."
Clary snorts. "We broke up because I like your sister more."
Jace grins at her, and blows her a kiss across Simon. Simon feels, for the moment, like he doesn't even exist—which is actually quite nice, because he needs a moment of not-existing to calm his frantic heartbeat.
"No hard feelings, Fray."
Clary purses her lips, trying not to laugh. "None at all."
When Magnus tells the rest of the room that he should be heading home, and Alec carries Max to the door to say goodbye - because Max has become overwhelmingly attached to Magnus during the course of the afternoon - Maryse and Robert decide that they're going to bed, and Isabelle leaves the room to go and retrieve Max.
There's quiet for a moment, the room seeming very empty, before Simon spots Isabelle heading up the stairs behind her parents with Max in her arms, and realises that Magnus and Alec must still be saying goodbye to each other.
It's sweet, really. If a little bit sad. How can two people be so oblivious? God, they were practically cuddled up during the entirety of the film. Alright, Alec's arm was on the back of the sofa, not around Magnus' shoulders, and Magnus was just an inch or so away from actually leaning against Alec's side, but still.
Jace, apparently, is thinking along the same lines as Simon, as he says, "So right now, they're either smooching, or Magnus is flirting, Alec is stuttering, and their mutual feelings are somehow going over their heads."
Simon nods his agreement, and Clary says, "My money is on smooching."
They're silent for a few minutes again, some crappy Christmas comedy playing in the background on the TV. They hear the front door click shut, and Alec walks into the room. He's rubbing at the back of his neck, a grin playing on the corners of his lips, cheeks red.
When he looks up, Simon, Jace and Clary are all staring at him.
"What?" he asks, but he still looks like a smile the size of Australia is about to split across his face.
"Definitely smooching," Simon says at last, high-giving both Jace and Clary without any of them looking away from Alec.
Alec rolls his eyes, and flops down on the now-empty sofa that he, Magnus and Max had been occupying. "Shut up."
"Come on, man," Jace says, tossing a pillow at Alec's head. "Everyone knew you two were into each other from the second he walked in."
Instead of letting it hit him, Alec catches the pillow, and throws it straight back. "Fuck off."
Jace smirks. "Going on a date anytime soon?"
Alec opens his mouth, then closes it again. "I- I don't know. Shit, Jace, I don't know. What did I do? I just kissed him, and I don't even– Shit."
Alec scrambles for his phone, while the rest of them snigger at his behaviour.
"I don't think you need to worry," Clary says, soothingly, as Alec types out a text furiously fast. Simon is impressed. "I'm pretty sure Magnus will want to go out with you."
"Many, many times," Jace adds.
Alec doesn't reply, choosing to ignore them. But his phone vibrates, and a dopey smile crosses his face. He texts something back, waits for a reply, then clicks his phone off.
"Damn," Simon says, with a low whistle. "You're so whipped, it's not even funny."
Alec raises his eyebrows pointedly, and Simon immediately regrets everything. Opening his mouth was a terrible idea. Alec is going to kill him. He's going to die. Most likely, of sheer mortification.
"You're really one to talk, Simon," Alec says.
Simon gapes at him. Is that...Is that it? No...dramatic outing? No snide comments? Just...that? Wow. Kissing Magnus is clearly good for Alec's mood.
While Simon is praising every kind of god he can think of, Clary snorts beside him, and says, "He's got a point."
Jace looks between Alec and Clary, who are both snickering to themselves, and then turns his eyes on Simon. "Who is it, and why don't I know about them?"
Simon swallows. Shit. Shit, shit, shit. He parts his lips, then presses them firmly together, because he has absolutely no idea what to say.
"I—" He clears his throat. "No, it's— It's not— I'm not—"
"You're going to give yourself a brain haemorrhage, Simon," Alec says. "And obviously, Jace, we were talking about his thing about Isabelle. How much have you had to drink?"
Jace stares at Alec like he's grown a second head. Simon is sure he looks similarly bewildered. Alec is saving his ass?
"But that was at least three years ago."
"Yes, and it's still great material to poke jokes at Simon with." Clary smiles at Simon, and squeezes his arm.
Jace sighs, and flashes Simon a look that's supposed to be piss-taking, but has Simon's stomach squirming for an entirely different reason. "Oh, but there's so much more recent material."
Can he die? Would it be possible? Simon would very, very much like somebody to get him out of there.
Even if Jace is currently smirking, with his lips curling at the corner, and it's making Simon's heart go crazy.
It's not quite midnight when the five of them head up to bed.
Alec has spent almost the entirety of the evening since Magnus left bickering half-heartedly, or grinning into a pillow as he texts on his phone—it's blatantly obvious who's making him blush, and it's revoltingly sweet. Simon can't find it in himself to make jokes about it—although, of course, that doesn't stop Jace.
Simon is the last one out of the living room, owing to his complaining about not being able to move because he'd eaten so much food throughout the day. He's about to follow Clary up the stairs so he can change and climb into bed before Jace gets there (because fuck if stripping out of his clothes in front of Jace wouldn't be embarrassing as hell, for his self-esteem as well as his libido) when he hears low conversation in the kitchen, and he pauses.
It's Isabelle, he realises. And Jace. They're talking quietly, almost whispering, and the abruptly serious tone of their voices makes Simon still curiously. Nobody's sounded serious since last week. The holiday season brings out the childish side of all of them—except perhaps Alec, whom Simon is fairly sure doesn't have a childish side. (Or, if he does, it's well-hidden, and will probably only ever be discovered by Max. And possibly Magnus.)
"Izzy," Jace is saying, halfway to whining. Simon smiles to himself, even while he's rolling his eyes, because honestly, how old is Jace? Seven? "C'mon. Tell me why Simon kept being weird earlier. And what Alec and Clary were on about. Because I'm not stupid, I know it wasn't his long-forgotten crush on you."
There's a bang as something is set down on the countertop, and Simon shifts slightly, so he can just see through the crack in the door. The hallway lights are off, so he's fairly sure Izzy and Jace can't see him.
The siblings are standing by the kettle, two cups set out, as Izzy is reaching up to grab a box of teabags out of a cupboard. She's facing away from Jace, who's pouting, arms folded across his chest. It makes his biceps looking incredible. And the pout is infuriatingly cute.
Not that Simon would ever tell him that. Nobody tells Jace he's cute. Nobody. Not if they want to make it out of that situation with their nose in-tact.
"Stop ignoring me," Jace says, huffing. "I know you're not deaf. Simon was being weird, and nobody's telling me why."
Simon nearly snorts. If Jace is really looking for answers, he's asking the wrong person. He needs to ask Alec. Or Clary, seeing as apparently she knows, too. Although Simon is fairly certain that neither Alec nor Clary would ever tell Jace that he's got a long-term thing for him.
(Alright, so he's painfully in love with Jace—nobody has to know.)
(Well. Nobody else.)
"I don't know what to tell you," Isabelle says, pouring steaming water into both mugs when the kettle finishes boiling with a final whistle.
"Drop it, Jace."
"No." Jace presses his lips together firmly, and shakes his head. He lifts a hand to drag his hair back from where's it's fallen into his eyes, and Simon tries not to swoon. He tells himself that his pathetic behaviour is because it's late, not because his adoration of the second-eldest Lightwood sibling is getting worse.
Isabelle sighs, flipping long dark hair back over her shoulder, and turns around to face her brother. It's really not fair, how attractive all the elder Lightwood siblings are. They're all wearing Christmas sweaters, and nobody is supposed to look hot in Christmas sweaters.
Somehow, all of them do. Even Alec, judging by Simon's ability to use his eyes, and, more tellingly, the way Magnus kept staring at him, constantly, all day.
"You really haven't worked it out?" she asks, and Simon's stomach drops, because—
Fuck. That makes it sound like Isabelle knows his secret, too.
She can't. No way. Why would she tell him about Jace's stupid crushes and hook-ups during their weekly movie nights with Clary if she knows that Simon is painfully in love with him? That would be cruel.
Besides which, how can she know? He's tried so hard, for years, to hide it. Alec is the only one who knows, because Simon got drunk with Clary one night, and they drunk-called Alec to beg him to pick them up so they didn't get into trouble with Izzy or get the piss taken out of them by Jace. Alec had been less than pleased at being woken at some ungodly hour in the morning, but, grudgingly, and with a lot of complaining, he'd picked them up and let them crash at his apartment.
Clary had passed out on Alec's sofa the moment they'd got in. Simon had fallen into a chair in Alec's kitchen, while Alec made him drink a huge-ass glass of water, and then promptly started lamenting about Jace, and about seeing him making-out with some chick at a bar.
He can't quite remember what else he said that night. Alec likes to remind him, occasionally, when he's feeling particularly irritated.
But Simon's never told anybody else. Ever. And he's forced himself to act normally around Jace. He's forced himself not to stare, and not to check him out when other people are looking, and not to get caught up in those eyes, or his arms, or his torso, or his ass, or anything, really, because he's basically the epitome of male perfection, and—
Jace points a finger at her. "Isabelle, I swear, if you don't tell me what you know—"
"Chill, bro." Isabelle smirks at him, and pats his chest soothingly as she turns back to finish up making their tea. She makes him wait while she fishes out the teabags, and then hands him a mug. Simon is loathe to admit that the way Jace wraps his hands around the mug, holds it close to him, and inhales over the steam, is a little bit adorable.
"Okay," Jace says, once he's blown across the top of his tea and taken a sip. "Now tell me."
Isabelle's expression softens. "Don't blow this out of proportion, or act weird about it, because it's not a new thing, okay?"
Jace rolls his eyes. "If you're about to tell me Simon's into dudes, too, I know. He's pansexual. He told me."
"No, I wasn't going to tell you that, so will you please shut up if you want to know?"
Jace mimics zipping his lips shut. Isabelle shakes her head.
"Look, Jace... Simon likes you."
Simon's stomach drops.
"Really likes you."
Twisting his hands together, Simon swallows in an attempt not to scream, or gasp, or audibly freak out. Because fucking hell, nobody was supposed to know about this, and apparently everybody knows, and now Jace knows, too?
Could this situation get any worse?
Simon's eyes flicker to Jace, searching desperately for his reaction. He has to move a little so he can see Jace's face fully through the crack between the door and the frame where it's been left ajar.
Jace is just...staring. Blankly. Like Isabelle is speaking another language. He blinks at her. Simon's heart pounds against his ribcage as he waits for Jace to say something.
Jace opens his mouth, pauses, and then closes it again.
"What?" Jace asks, eventually. "Simon... What?"
Isabelle exhales. "Simon likes you, Jace. A lot."
"You mean...? You don't mean...?"
"That's exactly what I mean."
"Oh." For once, Jace looks speechless. He lets out a long breath, and chews on the inside of his cheek while nursing his mug of tea between his palms. "Are you sure? Has he told you?"
Isabelle gives Jace a Really? sort of look, hand resting on her hip. "No, but it's obvious. Everybody knows. I thought you knew."
If Simon weren't so terrified, he'd be indignant. Is his acting really that bad? Is he really that unsubtle? Are his feelings that conspicuous?
"Jace?" Isabelle asks after a minute or so, hesitantly, as Jace stares into space, clearly deep in thought.
"Sorry. I just didn't...realise."
"Well, you know now," Isabelle says, not unkindly. "Don't be weird about it, because then Simon will work out that you know, and you being weird about it will upset him. So don't be an ass. Or I'll castrate you. Clear?"
For once, Jace doesn't quip back with a smart remark. He merely flashes Isabelle a ghost of his usual smirk, and jerks his head in acquiescence.
Simon can feel his heart breaking just a little bit more with each passing second. Because Jace is being weird about it. He's not- he's not acting like himself. It's bothered him, this knowledge. And the thought of things being awkward - this kind of awkward - between himself and Jace is...excruciating.
"Go to bed," Isabelle says, making a shooing motion with her hand. "And swear to me that you're not going to be weird. Otherwise I will kill you. Slowly."
Simon doesn't wait to hear Jace's reply, too busy panicking about being caught eavesdropping. Instead, he darts away from the door, and flies up the stairs as quietly as he can without sacrificing speed—
And smashes straight into Alec, who's got his phone pressed to his ear and a very private sort of smile on his face, cheeks a little flushed in the dim light. He turns when Simon runs into him, the smile dropping away, and glares instead—although it's rendered less effective by the besotted look on his face that Simon is absolutely certain is not in any way directed at him.
"Hold on, Magnus," Alec says, in a voice so unlike his usual deadpan tone. He presses the phone against his shoulder, and hisses, "What the hell, Simon?"
"I—" Simon glances back down the stairs, in case Jace is heading up. "I'm sorry. Really. I didn't mean to...interrupt. Or walk into you."
Alec rolls his eyes, but all he says is, "Hurry up and go to bed, Simon. And don't eavesdrop. It's rude."
Simon laughs weakly. "Yeah. Trust me, I won't be doing any of that."
Alec frowns. "Is everything okay?"
"Peachy," Simon tells him. "Get back to your boyfriend. Don't let me bother you."
Alec is still frowning when he lifts the phone back to his ear as Simon practically runs towards Jace's room. "I'm sorry," Simon hears Alec saying. "No, everything's fine. What were you saying about Wednesday?"
Jace's room is right at the end of the hallway. It's two doors down from Alec's room, opposite Izzy's, and at the other end of the hallways to Maryse and Robert's, and Max's. When Simon reaches it, he yanks the door open and falls inside, leaning up against the door and breathing heavily.
He can't deal with this. He can't sleep in Jace's room tonight, with Jace in here, literally on the other side of the fucking bed. Because it's a double bed, not two singles, and even though it's literally one of the biggest beds Simon has ever seen, with plenty of room for both of them to sleep in without being anywhere close to touching, Simon just knows he's going to do something horrifically embarrassing, and it's going to be terrible, and Jace is going to hate him forever and think he's a perv.
Simon changes out of his jeans and sweater and into a t-shirt and boxers faster than he thought he was capable of, and then slides into Jace's bathroom to brush his teeth. He locks the door behind him in case Jace decides to walk in on him.
Jace still hasn't arrived when he unlocks the door and stands beside Jace's bed, staring at it, feeling like it's somehow wrong, and against some unspoken rule, for him to climb in and go to sleep. Even though this is where he's supposed to sleep, and Jace didn't voice even any joking concerns when Maryse had informed them about their sleeping arrangements, and he's a guest, so he has to do as he's told.
He can hear someone walking down the corridor, and he panics for a moment, before he hears the soft tones of Alec's voice, and he realises that it's not Jace.
"I'm glad you came," Alec is saying, and, even though Simon told him he wouldn't eavesdrop, he does, because at least this way he can distract from his own turbulent thoughts. "They all loved you. Especially Max. Like I said they would." There's a teasing note in Alec's voice, and it makes Simon smile a little. "I'm definitely going to be coming to your shop for birthday presents. I— For god's sake, how many times are people going to bash into me, Jace? Am I invisible?"
"No," comes Jace's voice, "just disgustingly in love. Go in your own damn room, stop loitering."
Too late, Simon realises that he's standing in the middle of Jace's room like some kind of idiot, doing absolutely nothing except listening to other people's conversations, and that Jace is about to come in. It's dark in the bedroom, with the blind down to block out the light of a busy New York night, and only a lamp on to illuminate the room, but he's still visible, and—
The door handle twists. Simon freezes as Jace steps in, closes the door behind him, and sets his mug down on the nightstand before he notices Simon in the middle of the room. Jace raises an eyebrow at him.
"What on earth are you doing?" he asks, reaching up to unbutton his shirt without any kind of preamble, as though that's a perfectly ordinary thing to do during the middle of a conversation.
"Nothing," Simon squeaks, rubbing his fingers tightened as heat rises up his cheeks. "I- Nothing, I was just- I—"
Jace's eyebrow hitches up higher as he takes off his shirt, tossing it aside. "Are you alright?"
Don't look, don't look, don't look.
"Fine. I- I'm fine."
"Are you going to get into bed and go to sleep, or are you going to stand there being weird?"
Simon swallows nervously. "Do you...mind? That I'm...sleeping? I mean that I'm sleeping in your bed, I—"
"No?" Jace looks at Simon like he's gone batshit crazy. "Why the hell would I mind? Do you sleep-talk?"
"No. Never mind." Simon licks his lower lip, and turns pointedly away from Jace. "Thanks. I mean- I—"
Jace groans. "Oh my god, Simon, please shut up."
Simon shuts up. He climbs into the side of Jace's bed that Jace hadn't put his mug beside, and lies down stiffly. God, he can smell Jace's cologne, or shampoo, or whatever the fuck it is, just like this. It's intoxicating, and it's distracting, and Simon is really, really not going to survive this.
A few minutes later, the bed dips beside him. Simon is curled up on his side, facing away from Jace, willing his heart to just calm the fuck down, because really, this should not be such a big deal.
"Goodnight, Simon," Jace says, with a yawn, as he clicks off the lamp by his bed, plunging them both into darkness.
"Merry Christmas," Simon mutters.
Simon doesn't bother telling Jace that Hanukkah isn't exactly the Jewish equivalent of Christmas, despite what holiday stores would suggest, because the thought is touching. Instead, he smiles a little, and whispers, "Thank you."
Simon has no idea what time it is. But he's been awake for hours, and he can't sleep.
There's just the slightest gap at each side of the blind, enough to let a sliver of light through into the room, so it's not quite pitch black. It took his eyes a while to adjust to the darkness. And by the time they had, he was beginning to get aching joints from the tense way he'd curled up, so he rolled over - quietly, because Jace was already asleep, judging by his deep, even breaths - only be made aware of the fact that Jace was not wearing a shirt.
It's distracting, at best, and terrifying, at worst. If Simon falls asleep, he's terrified that he'll become a cliché, and wake up sprawled against Jace's chest or something equally - or even more - mortifying.
He shifts a little, uncomfortably, and blinks in the dark. Fuck. He did not want today to end like this. Why couldn't Maryse have shoved him in Alec's room, instead? Or one of the spare rooms? Simon knows the Lightwoods have about a thousand, even though three of their four children are adults, and live elsewhere most of the time.
"Simon," Jace whispers, voice rough with sleep, making Simon jump out of his skin.
"Yeah?" he whispers back.
"Why are you still awake?"
"Why are you still awake?" Simon retorts.
Jace's eyes open. Simon can just make out the planes of his face in the darkness, beneath the shadows cast by the contours of his nose and cheekbones, and god, he's so beautiful.
"I wasn't," Jace says. "Your painfully obvious tension must have woken me up."
Simon exhales. "I'm sorry," he says, and rolls over to face the window again, so he doesn't have to look at Jace.
There's a pause, and then calloused fingers brush his arm, hesitantly. Goosebumps rise across Simon's skin, and he grits his teeth. This really, really isn't fair.
"Simon, really, are you okay?" Jace asks him.
"Really?" The sheets rustle and the mattress creaks slightly as Jace shifts so he's sitting, looking down at Simon—who screws his eyes shut in the hope that he can block all this out. "Because you don't seem fine. You're being weird."
"Forget it, Jace."
"No, I won't forget it."
"Why do you care?" Simon snaps suddenly, curling in on himself. "I said forget it. So just leave me alone."
There's silence. Simon can practically feel the hurt rolling off Jace, and he groans internally, because fuck, now he's behaving like a jerk and he feels guilty, because Jace was trying to be helpful, for once in his stupid life.
"I do care," Jace says eventually, voice quiet, withdrawing firmly to the other side of the bed. "I know I'm flippant, and I know I take the piss out of you, but I do care."
"Right." Simon snorts. "About yourself. And maybe about your siblings."
"About you, you fucking idiot." Jace sounds almost angry. "God, people say I'm stupid. I care about you. And—"
Jace stops himself. Something in his voice makes Simon glance over his shoulder at him. Their gazes meet, and god, Jace's eyes are burning. With what, Simon doesn't dare guess at, but they're smouldering, and his jaw is locked, and he looks like he's about to punch someone.
Which is bizarre, because Simon really doesn't feel threatened.
"And?" Simon prompts.
Jace folds his lips together more firmly, eyes locked on Simon's, before— Did Jace just look at his lips? No. He can't have done. He has to be imagining things. Jace isn't into him. At all. He never has been, and he's certainly never going to be.
"And?" Simon asks him again, because god, he wants to know. He needs to know.
And he needs to know why Jace is looking at him like that. All conflicted and angered and repressed.
"Jace," Simon says, and his voice breaks on the single syllable. It was meant to sound harsh, and he meant to match Jace's anger, but he just sounds pleading. "And what?"
Jace stares at him, emotions Simon can't even begin to guess at washing through his infuriatingly gorgeous eyes. Simon swallows at the intensity of the look he's being given, and god, Jace has to stop looking at him like that, because it's really making it impossible to concentrate on anything.
"Fuck," Jace whispers, and then he's leaning down, and his lips are on Simon's.
Simon's frozen as Jace's fingers find the side of his face, tilting his head so their mouths can meet squarely. Jace's lips are warm, and so impossibly soft against his, and Simon feels like he's drowning.
"Simon," Jace murmurs against his mouth, barely pulling back enough to utter his name.
Something in Simon unfurls. He rolls over so he's facing Jace properly, rather than merely looking over his shoulder, and he parts his lips to kiss Jace back like he's starving, because god, he's been dreaming about this for years.
Jace lets out a soft, desperate noise, when Simon slides his fingers up to tangle in Jace's hair, his other arm wrapping around Jace's waist to pull him closer. The angle is awkward, Jace sitting and Simon lying on his side, but he doesn't care, because this is Jace, Jace's lips on his, Jace gripping at him and kissing him harder, deeper, each slide of their lips together tinged with an increasing sense of yearning.
"Oh god," Simon gasps, when Jace pulls back for a moment, to kiss along his jawline, and nip at his neck. Simon arches against the touch, fingernails dragging against Jace's back to pull him back into a kiss.
Jace is over him, suddenly, knees either side of his hips, kissing him like he'll never be able to do it again. Simon lets out a soft moan; Jace made a husky noise in the back of his throat in response. It's heady, electrifying, and god, Simon never wants to let go. Never wants to stop. He wants to lose himself in Jace's kisses, and in his touch.
"Jace," he says, throatily, when Jace pulls back. "Jace, I—"
"Shh," Jace whispers, pressing kisses along his neck, soft and warm and tender. "Shh."
"And," Jace murmurs, as he kisses back up Simon's neck to the hollow behind his ear, "I love you."
Simon jerks back, lips parting as he stares at Jace. "You what?"
There's nothing but earnestness in his eyes when he says, "I love you."
"But you– Earlier, you– Izzy– When she told you I– You didn't—"
"You heard that?" Jace asks.
"That's why you were acting so strangely," Jace says, realisation flashing in his eyes. "Because you heard what Izzy told me. And— What? You thought I'd hate you for it?"
"I don't know. I just thought...I thought you wouldn't... I don't know. You seemed...bothered. When she told you."
"I was," Jace replies, brushing his fingers against Simon's cheek. And fuck, if that doesn't make Simon's heart stutter. "Because I've been chasing around looking for requited love when it's been right under my nose."
Simon smiles, unable to resist teasing him. "Who says I'm in love with you?"
Jace looks uncertain, but he says, "Well, you like me. Right? I can work with that."
"I do," Simon tells him, gently, nudging Jace's annoyingly perfect nose with his own. "I do love you."
Jace huffs out a laugh, and presses their foreheads together. "God, we're so stupid."
They share a slow, sweet kiss, and Simon wraps his arms tighter around Jace's bare waist, his fingers splaying out across the vast expanse of golden skin. It feels so good. So impossibly good, to feel Jace against him like this. Warm and vital beneath his hands, hot and soft against his mouth, just him, just Jace.
They break apart again, and Jace's head drops onto Simon's shoulder. Simon's lips brush his frustratingly-defined cheekbone, and he takes a moment to breath, because he's fairly sure he hasn't breathed at all for the last fifteen minutes.
"I don't understand," Simon says, after a moment. "If you liked me, why did you never say anything? And how come everybody knows that I like you, but nobody knew that you like me?"
A throaty chuckle bubbles up Jace's throat as he pulls back to look at Simon. Simon pouts at him.
"Because I'm a better actor than you, clearly. And..." Jace shrugs, running his thumb along Simon's cheek absently, eyes following the path his touch makes. "I didn't think you would ever be into someone like me."
Simon raises his eyebrows. "Someone like you? Is Jace Lightwood having self-esteem issues? Should I get my phone and record this for the records?"
"Shut up," Jace says, grinning as he smacks Simon's chest. Simon feigns hurt, and Jace rolls his eyes, grin fading from his lips. "I just didn't think I was your type. Honestly, I thought you hated me for a while."
"That would be because I did," Simon tells him. "I hated you, and I was painfully attracted to you, which made me hate you even more. Do you know how hard it is to be constantly pissed off at someone when you're trying not to check them out?"
That makes Jace laugh, long and hard, head thrown back to expose his neck. It's uninhibited, and it's abandoned, and it's wild, and god, it's beautiful. Simon can't stop staring, at the straight line of white teeth exposed by that curling, shining smile, and the taught tendons of his neck, and the glimmer of his eyes.
"You're beautiful," Simon whispers.
Jace's laughter cuts off, and he's staring at Simon. "Simon—"
There's an abrupt bang on Jace's bedroom door, someone's fist hitting the wood. Jace shuts up, and both of them turn their heads to the door.
"Whatever you're doing, shut up, because I can hear you, and it's ruining the mood!" Isabelle shouts.
"Put some sexy music on, then!" Jace hollers back, eyes flickering back down to Simon when he snorts.
"I'm going to fucking kill you, I hope you know that."
"With those non-existent stilettos, again?"
"You're such an ass."
"A lovely ass." Jace winks at Simon.
"Just keep it down," Isabelle snaps.
Jace bursts out into laughter. He collapses against Simon, muffling the sound in his neck, body vibrating with the force of his mirth. His hair brushes against Simon's cheek, and it takes an enormous amount of willpower not to brush his fingers through it.
Until Simon remembers that there's no reason he can't, anymore, so he does just that.
Jace sighs, and turns his head to look up at him. "We should probably go to sleep."
"Yeah." Simon brushes a soft kiss against Jace's forehead; Jace exhales, eyes fluttering closed.
"I'm gonna fall asleep like this if you keep playing with my hair and being all soft and gross," Jace mumbles.
"Get off, then." Simon pushes at Jace lightly. "Go away."
Jace makes a noise of protest, but he rolls over so he's not straddling Simon's waist and sprawled half across his torso. Instead, he waits for Simon to settle, then slides forward, tossing an arm over his waist. Simon shivers, because Jace's skin is so fucking warm, and it's even more obvious because he's not wearing a shirt, and, somehow, this kind of cuddling - because it is cuddling - feels much more intimate than all those hot, impassioned kisses did.
"Hmmm." Jace exhales. His eyes are closed, and he's pressed against Simon's side, and this huge-ass bed seems so much nicer when Jace's limbs are thrown haphazardly against his.
"Damnit," Jace mutters.
Jace looks up at him, a mournful look on his face. "We're going to be gross, aren't we?"
Simon lets out a laugh, and curls his arm around Jace's back. "Probably."
"I'm going to have to end this here, Simon," Jace says, with mock-seriousness. "I'm sorry. This can't happen."
"Oh?" Simon's trying not to grin. "Why not?"
"Because if I take the piss out of Alec for being disgustingly in love with Magnus, tomorrow, I'll be branded a hypocrite. I can't miss such key opportunities to annoy Alec and increase my sass scores."
"I think Alec's sass scores are higher than yours, anyway."
Jace gasps. "Simon! We're definitely breaking up now. No New Year's kiss for you."
Simon rolls his eyes. "You're so melodramatic."
"You love me anyway," Jace says, grinning confidently.
"I fucking hate you," Simon mutters, closing his eyes and swatting at Jace's hand when it comes too close to a ticklish spot.
Whatever Jace claimed, Simon does get his New Year's kiss. They're all assembled at the Lightwood house, Clary's parents and Simon's family and some random friends of Magnus', too, and Simon is fairly sure this is all Magnus and Isabelle's doing, and that they stole Maryse and Robert's home for their party because it's fucking huge.
Simon is surreptitiously stealing sips of Jace's beer, when he catches sight of Magnus and Alec whispering to each other in the corner of the room. They're both smiling. Alec looks slightly nervous as he says something to Magnus, but it only makes Magnus' lips curl up impossibly more.
"Nauseating," Jace says, appearing at Simon's side, following his gaze. "Really. Vile."
Simon smacks him when Jace reaches for the handful of salted peanuts Simon grabbed from the kitchen. "No. And stop being rude."
"You keep stealing my beer, I'm stealing your peanuts."
"Get your own peanuts!"
"Get your own beer!"
They glare at each other for a moment, before Simon huffs, and gives in, offering Jace his food. (Although, he does take the opportunity to throw one at him.)
Jace chokes suddenly, coughing around his mouthful of food, his expression one of utter revulsion. "I do not need to see that," he gasps. "That's indecent."
Simon glances behind himself to see whatever caused Jace to react so dramatically, and sees Magnus and Alec, arms wrapped around each other, kissing in a way that's probably a bit excessive for public. They are, however, out of the way, in a corner, and the only people around are their slightly-drunk friends and family, so Simon merely snickers, before turning back to Jace.
"That's indecent, but you two making out when the ball dropped wasn't?" Clary asks. She peers over Simon's shoulder. "Ooh, peanuts!"
"It's different," Jace tells her, as Simon sighs, and offers his food to Clary is resignation. He gets a dirty look of betrayal from Jace. "Completely different."
She quirks an eyebrow. "Why?"
"It just is."
"Babe," Simon says, "I have to side with Clary on this one."
"This is deeply unfair."
"You think everything's unfair," Alec says, approaching them with Magnus in tow. Alec is flushed, and Magnus is grinning, and okay, it is a little bit sickening. Even if it's also very sweet.
"Why is everyone against me?" Jace whines. "It's your fault."
Alec rolls his eyes. "Of course it's my fault. What did I do?"
Alec looks at him incredulously. "Okay, and? You've been kissing Simon all night. No, no, actually, you know what? I don't want to know." He tugs on Magnus' hand, offers his boyfriend a glass of wine, and says, "Let's go outside."
"If you're going to make out, do it where we can't see you!" Jace shouts.
"Don't worry, we're planning on using your car! It's got tinted windows!"
Jace stares after them. Simon and Clary snigger.
"He's joking, right?" Jace asks. "Tell me he's joking."
"I think he's joking," Simon assures him, slipping an arm around his waist, finger brushing up under his t-shirt.
"Thank fucking god," Jace says, and kisses him, full on the mouth, because apparently, even if it makes him a hypocrite, Jace can't be outdone in anything. Not even being crowned the most revoltingly adorable couple.
If Simon didn't love Jace, he'd kill him for it.
But, thankfully for Jace, he does love him. So rather than complain, or commit any murders, he wraps his arms around Jace's waist and kisses him back, so caught up in the sacred feeling of adoration that wells inside him that he barely notices the cheers and noises of fake-disgust that erupt around them.