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Life Is But A Dream

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“Hey, monkey, give us a moment?”


Jace watches Simon pull back with a faint look of confusion. Mrs. Lewis has her arm wrapped around Jace's, holding him in place, so Jace stays perfectly still. He has no idea what she wants to talk about.


Jace is mostly sure that the dinner went really well. Well, after the initial shock of Simon showing up with “tattoos” and a new physique wore off. Jace had to force himself not laugh as Simon's mom scolded him for over thirty minutes, while also throwing in a steady stream of comments to Jace that she meant nothing against his. It wasn't until Rebecca had told her mom to calm down, that they looked cool, and weren't ever going away now that Mrs. Lewis seemed to officially let it go.


Other than that, the dinner had been… nice. Jace had felt mostly at home, even if he'd been nervous for the majority of the evening - not that he'd ever admit that out loud. It's obvious that Simon's family likes him, which pleases Jace. But now, Mrs. Lewis wants to talk to him alone, and Jace really has no idea what he's going to do if she admits to hating him. It probably would break his heart, honestly.


“Uh, mom…”


Mrs. Lewis just smiles. “Go on, he'll be right out.”


“Yeah, I'll be fine,” Jace agrees, forcing himself to relax. He winks. “I might just stay.”


“I- okay,” Simon stutters, looking as nervous as Jace feels. He slowly walks outside with a frown.


Mrs. Lewis turns to him. “You love him.”


Jace blinks. “Uh, yeah. Yes. I mean, yes, I do.”


“I can tell, you know. I see it in the way you look at him.” Mrs. Lewis smiles. “A mother always knows.”


“I won't hurt him, if that's what you're worried about,” Jace murmurs, swallowing. He laughs weakly. “Actually, I spend most of my time trying to make sure he doesn't get hurt.”


“Very accident prone, my son,” Mrs. Lewis says in blatant amusement. Her face softens. “I am not concerned if you'll hurt him or not. I genuinely don't think you will, but I'm asking you to keep looking after him. He's- well, anyone can tell he's been through so many changes. Sometimes, I barely recognize him, but he is always my son. So, just, promise me that you'll do right by him.”


Jace has to work very hard not to cough around the lump in his throat. “I'll do my best,” he croaks.


“That's all I ask,” she says gently, her smile sweet and loving. “He adores you, Jace, and you make him very happy. It's all a mother wants for her children. Thank you for seeing his heart and giving him yours. I won't ever be able to repay you for that, but if you ever need anything, just call me. You're family now.”


“Ah, that's- I appreciate that. Thank you.” It's all Jace can choke out, a strange warmth in his chest making it hard to stop from tearing up. “You're a great mom and Simon loves you so much. I'm- you are- thank you. That's all I can say.”


Mrs. Lewis beams at him and tugs him into a hug, patting him on the back lightly. Jace clears his throat and tries to be normal, suddenly not sure how hugs are supposed to work. Mrs. Lewis takes pity on him and pulls away with a bright smile.


“Well, go on, go tell my son I don't hate you,” she says with a laugh. “Poor thing, he's probably panicking right about now.”


Jace gives her a lopsided grin. “Yeah, that sounds like him. Thank you again, Mrs. Lewis.”


After that, Mrs. Lewis ushers him out the door with a quick shout to Simon that she loves him and then closes the door. Simon watches him approach, fidgeting in place, and Jace just… feels.


He doesn't know how to explain it. He'll just look at Simon and remember how far they've come, and Jace will forget how to breathe for a second. Waves upon waves of emotions, tremulous things that can't be described, will hit him without warning. And Jace doesn't know what to do with that, can't do anything but walk right up to Simon and kiss him.


He does that now, helpless to do anything else.


Simon makes a muffled sound against his mouth, clearly not expecting to be kissed hard, yet sweet in front of his childhood home. He doesn't seem to dwell long, reaching up to tangle his fingers in Jace's hair seconds later. Jace keeps the kiss innocent, lightly rests his hands against Simon's hips, just enjoys the tranquility he gets from having Simon's lips glide in motion with his.


“What was that for?” Simon asks dazedly, blinking when Jace pulls back.


“Because I can,” Jace replies simply.


Simon's lips break into a huge smile. “Well, feel free to do that anytime. Also, what did my mom say?”


“She said… thank you,” Jace says slowly, a selfish part of himself wanting to keep the things she said to him for his own. “Don't worry, she doesn't hate me. I'm already her favorite and completely irreplaceable, so good luck finding someone else.”


“Oh, is that your elaborate plan?” Simon laughs, loud and proud into the night. “Make my family love you, then they'll talk about you forever and I'll never be free of you.”


Jace shrugs, pursing his lips. “Something like that. Just think about that the next time you make eyes at someone else.”


“Jace, I'm already blind. Now, thanks to you, my heart is too.”


“You're going to make me throw up.”


“That was pretty sweet, wasn't it?”


“Excessively so, yes.”


Simon shakes his head, grinning down at his feet and reaching out to hook his pinky on Jace's, swinging their hands back and forth. “Look at us, reluctantly in love. We're perfect for each other.”


“Stop it,” Jace warns, “I'll kiss you again.”


“That's not going to do anything but encourage me.”


“Okay, what about this? If you stop right now, we'll go home and get naked.”


“You really should have led with that.”


“Yeah, probably.”


As they start walking back towards the van, Simon suddenly asks, “Do you really not know how to drive? I mean, I feel like you can do everything.”


“I can, mostly. I can braid hair, kick ass, charm anyone I want.” Jace heaves a sigh, fighting back a frown. “But I can't drive.”


“You can braid hair?”


“Yeah, Izzy taught me.”


Simon blinks. “Oh. That's- why is that so attractive? Jesus, you could sneeze and I would probably be turned on by it.”


“I'm me, of course you would.”


“And then you start talking.”


“Shut up. Are you going to teach me to drive?”


“Do you want to learn?”


Jace hums, considering that. He's gotten by so far without it, but it could be fun. He shrugs. “Yeah, if you've got the time. What could it hurt?”


Twenty minutes later, Jace finds out. The jolt of the van colliding with the sidewalk and jerking to an abrupt stop as they hit a tree nearly makes Jace shout in fear. But they are suddenly still, and Jace doesn't feel harmed at all, so his worry fades. Simon doesn't give him time to be concerned about him, just piles out of the van with his hands in his hair.


“Oh my god,” Simon bursts out, staring wide eyed at the tree that put a dent in his van, “it's smoking. Why didn't you brake? You crashed my van!”


Jace rolls his eyes. “I'm sure it's fine.”


“It is not fine!” Simon waves both arms wildly, gesturing to his van. “That was my ride! And- and I can't afford to get it fixed! Jace, I have no money!”


“Okay, Simon, relax. Let's just- look, help me push the van back on the road, okay?”


Simon does, scowling and muttering under his breath the whole time. They don't even activate runes to get it pushed away from the tree, just put it in neutral and push. It is smoking, but only lightly, and when Simon turns the key, it just clicks.


“Great. Just great.”


“I told you I couldn't drive,” Jace says, crossing his arms and working not to show that he actually does feel kind of bad.


Simon shoots him a sharp glare. “Yeah, I see that. You- I can't believe you! This is- you don't know how important this van is to me. You're just standing there, and this is- it's my van. You don't get it.”


“Hey, don't get testy with me,” Jace snaps, a pressure slowly growing in his chest. “You're the one who can't teach a simple lesson. It's not my fault I crashed this piece of crap van.”


“Yes, it is! I told you to press the brake! You just don't listen, and now you think this is some kind of joke to laugh about,” Simon yells, jabbing a finger towards the van. “That piece of crap means more to me than you can ever know. Because of you, it's broken and I can't fix it!”


“It's just a van!” Jace shouts, tossing his hands up and staring at Simon in disbelief.


Simon looks seconds from screaming, and when he argues, his voice echoes. “My van, Jace! Mine. It's something I care about, something from my stupid, mundane life, and it's important to me! You wouldn't know anything about that because you're just a Shadowhunter who can't get attached to anything! This is just one more thing for you to laugh about after you've broken it!”


“Oh, yeah?” Jace growls, feeling his face twist into an angry amusement that he only ever gets with Simon, laughing because he's just so pissed off that he can't do anything else. “Maybe I will laugh, maybe I don't care about stupid, meaningless shit like you do! What else can I fuck up for you, huh? Got a stupid action figure somewhere I can stomp on, because right about now, I'd love to!”


“And I'd love it if you'd go away!”


“Fine! Stay here with that hunk of metal, see if I care. I hope it sets on fire!”


Simon flips him off. “I hope you set on fire, asshole!”


Jace releases a strangled snarl and whirls in place, marching off in some pointless direction. He doesn't care where he's going, just needs to get away. He takes long strides up the street, lips twisting into a grimace, anger skittering under his skin like needles, prickling hot and invasive.


Only the sound of a shoe slamming into metal over and over again manages to make him jerk to a halt. He breathes heavily through his nose, tells himself not to turn around, then immediately disobeys himself to do just that. Simon is standing near the back of the van, kicking its side over and over in blatant anger, bracing his hands against the body as he does it. Jace feels all the anger drain out of him at the sight of Simon beating his broken van.


Jace fights an internal battle for a moment, struggling with his pride. But eventually, the fact that he's in over his head with Simon fucking Lewis makes his mind up for him. Heaving a sigh, he starts walking back towards Simon, his hands shoved into his pockets, something like shame twisting in his chest. He's pretty sure his dignity is in shrivels, but his affection for Simon sure isn't.


Simon stops kicking the van when Jace comes to a halt behind him. He doesn't turn around, just drops his arms and sighs quietly. Jace purses his lips and ignores his wounded pride.


“Sorry,” he mutters.


“Sorry?” Simon echoes in disbelief, turning around to stare at Jace incredulously. “You're sorry? Are you serious? That's all you-”


Jace huffs, grimacing. “Yes, I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean to crash your van, or suggest that it's not important, or treat your feelings like some joke. So yeah, I'm sorry.”


Simon looks away and crosses his arms, gaze falling to the ground as he scuffs his shoe against the pavement. “Well, I- I guess I'm sorry I said you were some robot who didn't have feelings for anything. And for saying you breaks things all the time. And for saying you should burn in a fiery death; I especially don't want that to happen.”


“It's okay,” Jace mumbles, staring at his own feet now, frowning at the discomfort around him.


“I'm not sorry for saying you're a bad driver,” Simon tells him with a sigh. “Jace, you suck.”


“Well, at least I'm not good at everything,” Jace replies, looking up through his lashes to watch Simon's body sag as his lips twitch.


Simon rolls his eyes and opens his arms out wide, staring right at Jace. “Come on, get over here. We gotta kiss and make up now.”


“I thought you wanted me to go away.”


“I always want you to go away. But I also never want you to go away. Do you see my problem?”


Jace huffs a quiet laugh. “I can relate.”


“Well, if you're not coming over here, I'm coming over there,” Simon warns.


Jace just shrugs, doesn't move. Most of him wants to go kiss and make up, as Simon put it, but he can't. He doesn't know why, just can't move. Luckily, Simon is shameless, or doesn't care about dignity and pride, because he just walks right up to Jace with an unfairly cute smile. He hugs Jace before he can get his hands out of his pockets.


In a moment like this, Jace isn't great with words or actions. When he's done something wrong, it's easy to beat himself up over it. Rather than seek out forgiveness, he just deals with it and tells himself that he'll be fine. He forgets sometimes that it affects the other person when he gets like this.


When Alec had been marrying Lydia and going through his “the law is the law” phase, Jace had avoided him at all costs when things evened out. He'd wallowed in the separation, knowing he was wrong for what he did, just as much as he was right. Of course, they overcame it just fine; they're brothers, they can do it easily.


But Simon isn't Alec. Simon isn't his brother. Simon is his boyfriend, is the other half of this relationship. He knows he has to go out of his comfort zone and make the effort too. Simon deserves that.


So, Jace pulls his hands out of his pockets and hugs Simon back loosely, pressing a kiss to his cheek and trying not to feel embarrassed by it. He knows they're going to fight, all couples do, even perfect ones like Magnus and Alec. But that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.


“I still love you,” Jace mutters, wrinkling his nose when Simon pulls back to look at him in genuine amusement. “And I hate you too, don't forget that.”


“Love you too, shnookums,” Simon says easily, pressing a short kiss to his lips. When he pulls back, he's smiling softly. “So, that was our first fight as a couple. Pretty intense.”


Jace clears his throat. “I would be fine never doing that again.”


“Well, it's not like you can wreck my van again,” Simon teases, turning to look at his van, his face falling as soon as he sees it. “Damn, that sucks. I wish I had the money to fix it.”


“About that,” Jace says calmly, sweeping his hands up Simon's sides, “you don't have the money now. But you'll get your first check soon. And until then, I can loan you the money.”


Simon turns to blink at him. “You'd do that?”


“I would prefer to pay for it in full, but I have a feeling you won't let me.” Jace arches an eyebrow and Simon shakes his head. “So, let me pay half. I'll loan you all the money and you can give me half back when you get paid.”


“Really?” Simon blurts, eyes brightening.


At that, Jace has to laugh. “Yes, Simon, really. We are in a relationship; if we can't swap money, or share it, we probably shouldn't be dating.”


“That's- well, that's a fair point. I dunno, my parents used to fight about money before my dad died. I mean, they were happy and in love, but financial issues are very common for couples. And you know, I never really thought about Shadowhunters having to deal with, like, money and stuff.”


“What's that supposed to mean?”


“I just- I don't know. Before I was taught, I never knew that Shadowhunters got paid. I just thought you guys fought demons and lived in secrecy and didn't have a whole- well, a society, really. And I know that's weird, but I never even considered finances and all of that.”


“Well, yeah. We don't just get all of our things for free. We have to eat too.”


Simon rolls his eyes. “I know that; I just never thought about it.”


“Well, I don't think finances will be an issue for us,” Jace says with a shrug. “I don't much care for money, if I'm honest. I actually have money saved up on top of my Lightwood trust fund. I use my money for nice jackets and drinks, that's about it.”


“Oh god, I should have known you, Alec, Izzy, and Max are trust fund kids.”


“I don't know what that means.”


“Which makes it so much funnier,” Simon tells him, snorting. “Well, money has been a pretty big issue for me recently. I'll probably cry when I get my first check. I almost cried when Izzy took me shopping. You don't even wanna know how much she spent.”


Jace tips his head from side to side. “Knowing Izzy, probably over two hundred dollars. She's a bit extravagant when it comes to clothes.”


“God will rue the day she and Magnus ever end up in a mall together.”


“As if Magnus shops in a mall.”


Simon chuckles. “Good point.”


“So?” Jace asks, nodding towards the van. “Will you let me pay for half the damage?”


“Yeah, I guess I can do that.” Simon smiles wide and pretty. “Thanks, Jace, really.”


Jace has to fight not soften. “It's really not a big deal. Tell no one about this.”


“Oh no, I'm definitely telling everyone about this. In the morning, I'll call and have it towed to Luke's mechanic. He's had his SUV worked on by the same guy for years; he doesn't even let the mechanic the precinct provides near it. He's loyal, as you know.”


“Oh yeah, sounds like him.”


“Anyway, I'll see if I can get a discount through him. It's good to have contacts,” Simon murmurs, smirking slightly. His smile falls. “Until then, it looks like we're walking back home. There's no way I can afford an uber all the way across town.”


A thought suddenly strikes Jace. “I probably can, but the night isn't even over yet. What if we did something else?”


Simon shrugs. “Sure. What did you have in mind?”


“The subway. But first, a detour.”


Simon stares at Jace over the rack of hangers, watching him flip through jackets in bemusement. He has no idea why they're in a shop full of blankets, clothes, and threads. It's an hour from closing, but Jace is perusing all the items as if they have all the time in the world.


“Is there anything I can help you with, sir?” An older woman approaches them with a kind smile, looking between them curiously. “Are you looking for anything specific?”


Jace stops flicking the hangers and crosses his arms, nodding seriously. “I am, actually. I need a jacket, a really good one. The kind that is more about warmth than looks. And a blanket. One that's preferably warm, thick, and very big.”


Simon blinks in surprise.


“Oh,” the woman says, and her name tag reads Olivia, “well, I have a few suggestions. If you'll follow me, I can show you what we have.”


“That'd be great, thanks,” Jace says, waving Simon around the rack and grabbing his hand to tug him along behind the woman.


Simon sort of loses focus after that. There's actually something really amazing about how normal this is. Jace doesn't drop his hand as he looks over the suggestions Olivia gives him. For a moment, they're a normal couple in a normal world and nothing is out of place.


Simon gets lost in it. He crafts a whole world in his head where he and Jace met normally, where demons don't lurk in the dark, where he's never died at all. For as long as they're in the shop, Jace picking out a blanket and jacket, Simon pretends that they're a couple who don't know the horrors of the world.


When it's over and they step back out into the cold, Simon lets the fantasy wash away like water swirling down a drain. He doesn't cling to it, doesn't feel an ounce of envy, doesn't regret the life he leads now. He's thankful, so thankful, that he gets this. Much like Clary, he doesn't think he'd ever give it up if he had the choice.


“So,” Simon says, forcing the word out through a throat thick with emotion, “why did you buy an expensive blanket and coat?”


The corner of Jace's lip twitches. “You'll see.”


“Oh, it's a surprise?”


“It's just hard to explain.”


“Fair enough,” Simon allows.


They're quiet as they stroll down the street, hands still linked together. People bump into them as they walk - this is New York - but Jace doesn't seem to mind. Simon is glad he doesn't have to be glamoured all the time, just on mission. He likes feeling normal.


Eventually, Jace pulls him down to a subway entrance, taking the stairs two at a time. Simon figures they're going back to the institute now and lets himself be tugged inside the dank station. He hums as they enter. They'll have to wait for a train, but it shouldn't be long.


“This way,” Jace urges, pulling him towards the back of the station where most of the homeless people linger far from everyone else.


Simon frowns. “Uh, what are we doing?”


Jace throws him a smile. “There's someone I'd like you to meet.”


Simon isn't sure what is going on, but he trusts Jace enough to follow. Jace walks towards a man sat against the dirty tiles. He's got long dreads, dark skin, and patchy clothes that look ready to fall apart. As they approach, the man looks up and breaks into a smile with missing teeth.


“Jace!” the man exclaims, pushing himself to his feet shakily, dark eyes brightening.


Suddenly, Simon remembers Jace saying something about befriending a homeless man. He'd thought that was a joke, but it appears not.


Jace sets the bags down by the man's feet, his smile soft. “Hey, Duke, how are you tonight?”


“Im's good, real good. Well, good enough.” Duke looks down at the bags. “Is this that blanket?”


“It is. Got you a new coat too, for good measure.”


“Oh, that's nice, real nice. You ain't go spending your money to them capitalists, did ya?”


“Maybe, but it was for a good cause.” Jace rolls his eyes when Duke frowns. “Just take it. Also, there's somebody I want you to meet. Duke, this is Simon. Remember me talking about him?”


Duke's face lights up. “Oh! You found your boy? Samuel! Jace was so sad about them illuminatis taking you.”


Simon is having a really hard time not gaping at shock at this entire exchange. But he does have some manners, so he clears his throat and smiles. He feels like he's not walking on solid ground, his world altering before his very eyes, but he shifts with it.


“It's- well, yeah, I'm back.” Simon blinks as Duke purses his lips suspiciously. “Um, what?”


“How'd you get free?” Duke asks, crossing his skinny arms. “You knew too much. They ain't just let you go. No way, not uh. You kill anyone?”


Jace snorts. “Duke, it's not like that. They just, uh, locked him up for a little bit. He's good now, he's home. I just- I wanted you to meet him.”


Duke nods easily at that, his wrinkled face softening into a heartwarming grin. “Well, that's really good. Reals good. Jace was so sad ‘bout you, Steve, so sad.”


“Simon,” Jace corrects, rolling his eyes. “Duke, you know his name is Simon.”


“It's nice to meet you too, Duke,” Simon says weakly, watching Duke scoop up the bag and poke around in it with narrowed eyes. “I was pretty sad too when I was away, but it's good to know that you kept Jace company while I was gone.”


Duke looks up and blinks. “Nah, Jace kept me company. Saved my life, he did. Everyone thinks I'm crazy, but he doesn't.”


“Oh.” Simon swallows thickly. “I'm sorry.”


“Mhm.” Duke suddenly smiles again, large and happy despite everything. “Jace said you's the type to care, guess he was right. You're good in my book then, Simon.”


Jace huffs a quiet laugh. “Told you that you'd like him. Have I been wrong yet?”


Duke flaps a hand carelessly, digging out the jacket from the bag. “Well, I ain't never met him until now, have I? Oh, this is nice, Jace. Real nice.”


“I can't make the government put heaters down here, but I can help you keep warm,” Jace says lightly, smiling as Duke starts removing his own thin jacket. It's ready to fall apart. The new one encases his thin frame, looking out of place against his dirty appearance. Jace beams. “What was it you said? Poor stay poor, rich stay warm? Not anymore.”


Duke pats his new jacket, smoothing it down, looking seconds from crying. “Well,” he whispers in a strangled voice, staring at Jace in unbridled emotion, “guess this makes me rich, don't it?”


Jace just shrugs. “Guess so.”


Simon didn't know it was possible for him to fall in love with Jace harder and all over again, but here he is, struggling to breathe as it happens.


When they leave, Duke is beaming in joy as he wraps up in his new blanket, Jace looks as if he hasn't done a thing worth appreciating, and Simon is ready to fall to his knee and propose. Jace has no idea what he's just done to Simon's heart, doesn't even think what he's done deserves any recognition. Simon can barely breathe while Jace acts as if the world hasn't stopped turning at all.


They take a train as close to the institute as it can get them, then casually walk the rest of the way. The night is cold and their breath floats out in front of them. Simon is holding Jace's hand and keeping his mouth shut, scared that if he tries to talk, he really will do something drastic. He hopes Jace doesn't notice his silence, but that's too good to be true.


Jace abruptly tugs him to a halt, turning to stare at him with an eyebrow cocked in question.


“What?” Simon croaks.


“You haven't said a word for the last thirty minutes, Simon. That's a new record.” Jace drops his hand and crosses his arms. “What's wrong?”


“Nothing! God, nothing. It's just- I'm-”


“Simon, talk to me.”


Simon sucks in a sharp breath. “You- you're just- I'm so in love with you it hurts. How can you not see what you just did? Do you even- of course not. People don't just- just do things like that, without a second thought, without expecting something. I'm having a really hard time not just- well, if I had- if there was a ring, I'd probably-”


Jace's eyebrows fly up, which makes Simon snap his mouth shut. Jace blinks, his arms uncrossing, lips slowly parting. “Probably what, Simon?”


Simon swallows. “How can you be the most infuriating, selfish, prick? But also be the most loving, selfless, sweetheart?”


“It's a gift,” Jace says simply. “What is it? That Duke is my friend? He really helped me when you were gone. A lot of people did, but he was- he helped me keep going when promises weren't enough.”


“Shit.” Simon reaches up and digs the heels of his palms into his eyes, upsetting his contacts. He doesn't care, just pushes until black spots dance in his mind's eye. “Fuck, shit, fuck.”


Jace laughs softly. “Simon, relax, it's not that-”


“Don't you say it's not a big deal!” Simon blinks rapidly as he drops his hands, lifting one to point at Jace's face. “It is a big deal, to me, to Duke. God, you can't even see it and that makes it so much worse. We've had one fight. One! That's it. We haven't even been able to- we haven't been together that long! But if I had something, anything, I would just-”


“Don't stop now, it's just getting good,” Jace teases, lips quirking. “Seriously, what?”


Simon shudders out a long breath and waves his hands. “Nothing. It's too soon. I'm- I'm compromised. I wanna see Clary.”


Jace's eyebrows jump again. “Compromised? Simon, what on earth are you talking about?”


“I would ask you to marry me,” Simon whispers, his voice small, whole body shaking. “Right now, right here on this empty street, I would just- and you don't even- god, I'm so sorry.”


Jace just stares at him, mouth opening and closing like he's supposed to be saying words but no sounds come out. Simon's heart is thumping wildly, and nerves makes his stomach quiver and squirm. Simon immediately regrets saying that, starts fidgeting, wants to snatch the words right back out of the air, even if they’re the truth.


“You look like you're gonna faint,” Jace comments quietly, his face slackening into fondness.


“I might. Jace, I might actually faint. I can't believe I just told you that. Oh my god, I'm so sorry. I-”


“Shut up.”


Simon doesn't have a choice in the matter, not when Jace grabs either side of his face and presses a hard kiss against his lips. Simon immediately sinks into it with a soft sound in the back of his throat, whole body relaxing into it. Jace kisses him with intent, each shift of his lips full of purpose.


Simon is only half aware that he's shifting closer, hands coming up to grip Jace's arms, back arching as he presses closer. He gets swept up in it far too easily, but to be fair, Jace is not messing around.


The kiss is like no other. It's not sexual at all, or desperate, or even dripping with relief. Simon almost can't work it out, but it hits him hard when he does. Right there, in the midst of the cold, clinging to each other, Jace is saying yes.


Simon didn't actually propose, they're not technically engaged, but he knows what this means. One day, they will be. If Simon asks, Jace will say yes. Simon isn't going to ask, not now, but one day.


That is so liberating, Simon nearly cries.


Jace pulls away slow, his eyes still closed when Simon opens his. There's a gentle look of peace on his face, like he's basking in this moment. Simon reaches up and hooks his hands on Jace's wrists, lightly rubbing his thumbs over the back of his hands. Jace doesn't open his eyes for a long time.


Finally, he does, and Simon says, “Thank you.”


“You're welcome,” Jace rasps.


“Let's go home.”