angel_gidget: (TV: Sam Winchester)
[personal profile] angel_gidget
Title: Conscious Apparel
Fandom: TID, [[CLOCKWORK PRINCE SPOILERS!!!]]
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1050 approx.
Disclaimer: C.C. made the sandbox; I just play in it when I'm not busy sobbing over it.
Summary: Will Herondale is about to be haunted by the things he didn't need to know. Things about Tessa, Jem, propriety, and the lack of it.

A/N: The angst begged to be written, cliché as it may be. That's my only excuse.




Will notices the scarf. It's a fluffy drab thing that Jessamine would have tossed out on principal, and it's been mocking him all day. It doesn't flatter Tessa's neck at all, and she's suddenly taken to wearing it religiously. Will grits his teeth. There is no true conceivable reason for obsessing over a single item of clothing worn by a woman now affianced to his parabatai.

But just because there's no hope of having, doesn't mean one simply stops looking.

And though her eyes turn sad when she glances at him, and her shoulders flinch, Tessa still looks like a vision the rest of the time, with the new bounce in her step and that damn jade at her throat.

But all of that throat is hidden now. All of today and the day before.

He shouldn't care.

He does anyway.

You and I both, Sydney, he thinks to himself.

But ever determined to make light of the situations that shatter his inner-world, Will makes a game of it.

Catch Tessa without her scarf.

It proves to be one of those ideas that flits easily enough through his brain, and then nearly drives him right back to that infernal opium den with the frustration of execution.

Have scarves suddenly become the newest rage for breakfast, lunch, and dinner dressing altogether?

It hangs there like a perpetual noose, and when it seems to show the slightest sign of loosening, her hand is there, like a delicate little habit, lightly nudging the revolting thing back into place.

But she is too relaxed when they all go on their outing to the play. A short park performance, put on by mere children. it sets Tessa to laughing, tilting her head back as she does so.

On the carriage ride back to the institute, Jem quotes his favorite parts back to her, keeping her laughter steady. Will appreciates it, not only for the needed levity which he's been in no mood to provide, but also for the fact that it loosens the noose further.

The three of them chat in the hallway before Jem leaves to offer assistance to Charlotte. Tessa looks after him as he leaves, and it is then, right then, that the length of cloth catches on a button from her jacket, and the knot unravels fully.

Will steps closer.

Something as pathetically simple as a clear view of her neck, and he's missed it. Even Jem's pendant is bound to be a welcome site, if only for the fact that it does decorate that tiny hollow so effectively.

But his eyes aren't drawn to the center, rather, to the side.

A long indigo bruise stretches from the vein below her ear to a few scant inches away from her shoulder. Concern overtakes him, and Will finds himself stepping close almost unconsciously. He reaches out to tenderly stroke the damaged skin, even as he senses her entire body flinching beneath his touch, even as Tessa breathes an infinitesimal gasp that he pretends to ignore.

Such a tiny instant. More than enough time to experience a world of panic, desire, sadness, chivalry, and vengeance.

He wants to ask who and how, and then dash off into the night with blade ready, but then he freezes as he realizes she has shuddered under his hand. There is something in that trembling, something not quite obvious. But he sees it. And recognizes it.

Will Herondale knows shameful indulgence when it's pulsing under his palm.

A scant lick of her lips and a flicker in her eyes. A memory. An instant of remembered excitement, definite pleasure, and the overshadowing of a perverse sort of guilt that only seems to occur in people so much better than himself.

But at once, he can see it.

That it is not one bruise, but a collection. The impressions made by passionate lips, teeth, and tongue.

And his mind takes him momentarily out of himself, because this is a part of Tessa he does not know, and as quick as he is aware of it, he craves it. And by the same token, his mind is boggled because Jem--cool, calm, courteous Jem--has suddenly shown evidence of a wantonness he's never witnessed. Not once after knowing the shadowhunter for so long.

Will can't remember the last time he blushed. It's not a common occurrence, but blush he does as he halts and steps back.

He jerks his hand away, pulling it behind him.

He watches Tessa as she struggles to find her voice, and he can see the explanations, excuses, and lies all preparing to bubble to the surface.

None that she truly wants to give, and certain none that he wants to hear.

So he nods his head before she can speak, momentarily meeting her eyes, knowing that his own contain all his comprehension laid bare.

The irony comes to him through a fog that she has worn the scarf all along for him. That it is a kindness, something to protect his poor ripped-raw ego.

It's the last he can take of that, so he turns on his heel and departs down the north side of the hall.

He retreats to his room and to his books as he always has. In need of a distraction, anything, he closes his eyes and grabs the first volume in reach, flipping to some random page, the second paragraph, the first in-focus passage...

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety. Other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies...

Will slams the book shut and decides to go to bed early. He isn't in the mood for the Bard anyway, much less one of his worst plays.

Sleep is elusive, but he hunts it doggedly, focussing on each muscle, stubbornly willing each one to relax, making his body obey him, so that sleep can scratch out all of this from his racing mind.

It doesn't help.

Nothing can.

Because as soon as he sleeps, he dreams, and the result is scissoring legs in the sheets and insensible panting breath against his pillow. An unthinking hand reaching downward and providing hollow relief.

For in the dreams, there are bruises.

- f.i.n.-

A/N #2: Antony And Cleopatra Act 2, scene 2, 232–237 (for the curious).

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