Jace looks like he can use the drinks, which is why Simon knows he should stop him. His mother had looked that way too, right after Simon's dad died. She'd looked like there was some sort of relief in the drinks in front of her, as though if she drank enough, fast enough, she could make it all better.
"I just want it to be over," she would say. "I want to be okay again."
But things didn't work that way. Losing someone meant pain, and no matter how much Simon's mom drank, she didn't get rid of the pain any faster.
Jace looks like he just wants whatever he feels to be over, and Simon doesn't ask, because it's not his place. He can imagine some of the things Jace must be going through, to have been three different people in just a few weeks, to have found a second family that wanted him, only to find out that he'd lost a second set of parents.
Simon wants to tell Jace that he gets it, that losing one parent is bad enough, Simon doesn't want to think about losing four. But Jace is sitting at the bar in Hunter's Moon, the artificial lights turning his hair orangey yellow, and Simon doesn't know how to speak to him. They have never been friends.
Simon doesn't think they know how.
Jace wants Simon to come over, because Jace has wanted Simon to come over since the moment he saw him standing next to Clary on the night they first went to the Institute. But Simon is arguing with the owner of the bar about a cancelled gig, and the whiskey in Jace's glass is just sweet enough. He takes a drink, sets his glass on the table, waits for the refill and picks it up again.
Simon goes over to Jace because if he doesn't, he'll never do it, and if he doesn't do it, he'll never forgive himself.
"Hey," Simon says, making his way over loudly. "Can you believe these people? They cancelled my gig."
Simon glares at the bar owner by the stage, where the group that's singing today is setting up. Simon is better than them, and that's not narcissism, that's just facts.
"You know," Jace says, swirling his drink. "They only let good singers into Hunter's Moon."
Simon rolls his eyes, and Jace stops playing with his drink long enough to meet Simon's eyes. They stare at each other and Simon weighs his options, whether he should say what he's thinking, whether it will make Jace walk away.
"I just wanted to see how you were doing?" Simon says. "How are you doing by the way?"
Jace shrugs and stares down at his half-empty glass of whiskey. He's drinking Jameson, the oaky smell bringing back familiar memories for Simon. It was his father's favorite drink on a Friday evening. His mother's too after a time.
"It doesn't matter," Jace says, finally.
He swirls the whiskey in his glass, taps it against the table, and swirls it again. Simon watches him do it three times, before he realizes that Jace is trying hard to keep himself together.
"It does matter," Simon tells him. "I know we're not friends. But you should know. That it does matter."
Jace and Simon are not friends, and Jace wishes he could explain why it matters so much that Simon is saying this to him. He thinks it's because someone is seeing him, that someone understands that he's not all together yet. Isabelle and Alec try, but Simon knows what it's like to lose a parent, and he's here.
"Can I kiss you?" Jace asks.
Simon doesn't kiss Jace, because he can smell the whiskey on his breath, and there are two empty glasses that the bartender hasn't picked up yet.
They go to the park instead, right into Central Park at night because Jace wants Simon to know that he's not afraid of violence, that what happened in the bar doesn't make him less brave. Simon lets Jace convince him because Simon isn't drunk and he can protect them both.
"I always liked hearing you sing," Jace says.
They're by the playground on 95th street, on the swings right underneath the streetlamp. Jace is swinging himself lazily, his foot hitting the rubber mat on his way down everytime. Simon watches him, the way Jace's hair flies away from his face, how he's starting to smile.
"You're drunk," Simon tells him.
Jace is quiet for a moment. "Yes," he says. "I didn't know what else to do."
"That happens sometimes," Simon says. "But there are people who can help."
"I know," Jace says. "I'm already working on it."
They fall into silence again, Jace swinging and Simon watching him. They're not friends, but Simon thinks that if Jace ever asks to kiss him again sober, he'll say yes.
"You can talk to me," Simon tells him. "I know we don't talk, but you could. If you wanted."
Jace swings once more and lets go on the way down. He lands easily on both feet, his hair bouncing with him. Simon smiles and watches as Jace makes his way out of the playground. He'll catch up in a second.
"Hey Lewis," Jace calls from the swing gate. "Take a picture. It'll last longer."
"Yeah," Simon says, on his way towards Jace. "Well, next time you ask to kiss me, do it sober."
Maybe, Jace thinks.
Maybe he will.