City of Fallen Angels
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"Make her understand that I'm a vampire? Clary, I think she does understand that, in a weird kind of way. That doesn't mean she's going to accept it or ever be okay with it."
"Well, you can't just keep making her forget it, either, Simon," Clary said. "It's not going to work forever."
"Why not?" He knew he was being unreasonable, but lying on the hard floor, surrounded by the smell of gasoline and the whisper of spiders spinning their webs in the corners of the garage, feeling lonelier than he ever had, reasonable seemed very far away.
"Because then your whole relationship with her is a lie. You can't never go home-"
"So what?" Simon interrupted harshly. "That's part of the curse, isn't it? 'A fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be.'"
Despite the traffic noises and the sound of chatter in the background, he could hear Clary's sudden indrawn breath.
"You think I should tell her about that, too?" he said. "How you put the Mark of Cain on me? How I'm basically a walking curse? You think she's going to want that in her house?"
The background sounds quieted; Clary must have ducked into a doorway. He could hear her struggling to hold back tears as she said, "Simon, I'm so sorry. You know I'm sorry-"
"It's not your fault." He suddenly felt bone-tired. That's right, terrify your mother and then make your best friend cry. A banner day for you, Simon. "Look, obviously I shouldn't be around people right now. I'm just going to stay here, and I'll crash with Eric when he gets home."
She made a snuffling laughing-through-tears sound. "What, doesn't Eric count as people?"
"I'll get back to you on that later," he said, and hesitated. "I'll call you tomorrow, all right?"
"You'll see me tomorrow. You promised to come to that dress fitting with me, remember?"
"Wow," he said. "I must really love you."
"I know," she said. "I love you, too."
Simon clicked off the phone and lay back, holding it against his chest. It was funny, he thought. Now he could say "I love you" to Clary, when for years he'd struggled to say those words and had not been able to get them out of his mouth. Now that he no longer meant them the same way, it was easy.
Sometimes he did wonder what would have happened if there had never been a Jace Wayland. If Clary had never found out she was a Shadowhunter. But he pushed the thought away-pointless, don't go down that road. You couldn't change the past. You could only go forward. Not that he had any idea what forward entailed. He couldn't stay in Eric's garage forever. Even in his current mood, he had to admit it was a miserable place to stay. He wasn't cold-he no longer felt either cold or heat in any real way-but the floor was hard, and he was having trouble sleeping. He wished he could dull his senses. The loud noise of traffic outside was keeping him from resting, as was the unpleasant stench of gasoline. But it was the gnawing worry about what to do next that was the worst.
He'd thrown away most of his blood supply and stashed the rest in his knapsack; he had about enough for a few more days, and then he'd be in trouble. Eric, wherever he was, would certainly let Simon stay in the house if he wanted, but that might result in Eric's parents calling Simon's mom. And since she thought he was on a school field trip, that would do him no good at all.
Days, he thought. That was the amount of time he had. Before he ran out of blood, before his mother started to wonder where he was and called the school looking for him. Before she started to remember. He was a vampire now. He was supposed to have eternity. But what he had was days.
He had been so careful. Tried so hard for what he thought of as a normal life-school, friends, his own house, his own bedroom. It had been strained, but that was what life was. Other options seemed so bleak and lonely that they didn't bear thinking about. And yet Camille's voice rang in his head. What about in ten years, when you are supposed to be twenty-six? In twenty years? Thirty? Do you think no one will notice that as they age and change, you do not?
The situation he had created for himself, had carved so carefully in the shape of his old life, had never been permanent, he thought now, with a sinking in his chest. It never could have been. He'd been clinging to shadows and memories. He thought again of Camille, of her offer. It sounded better now than it had before. An offer of a community, even if it wasn't the community he wanted. He had only about three more days before she'd come looking for his answer. And what would he tell her when she did? He'd thought he knew, but now he wasn't so sure.
A grinding noise interrupted his reverie. The garage door was ratcheting upward, bright light spearing into the dark interior of the space. Simon sat up, his whole body suddenly on the alert.
"Nah. It's me. Kyle."
"Kyle?" Simon said blankly, before he remembered-the guy they'd agreed to take on as a lead singer. Simon almost flopped back down onto the ground again. "Oh. Right. None of the other guys are here right now, so if you were hoping to practice..."
"It's cool. That's not why I came." Kyle stepped into the garage, blinking in the darkness, his hands in the back pockets of his jeans. "You're whatshisname, the bassist, right?"
Simon got to his feet, brushing garage floor dust off his clothes. "I'm Simon."
Kyle glanced around, a perplexed furrow between his brows. "I left my keys here yesterday, I think. Been looking for them everywhere. Hey, there they are." He ducked behind the drum set and emerged a second later, rattling a set of keys triumphantly in his hand. He looked much the same as he had the day before. He had a blue T-shirt on today under a leather jacket, and a gold saint's medal sparkled around his neck. His dark hair was messier than ever. "So," Kyle said, leaning against one of the speakers. "Were you, like, sleeping here? On the floor?"
Simon nodded. "Got thrown out of my house." It wasn't precisely true, but it was all he felt like saying.
Kyle nodded sympathetically. "Mom found your weed stash, huh? That sucks."
"No. No ... weed stash." Simon shrugged. "We had a difference of opinion about my lifestyle."
"So, she found out about your two girlfriends?" Kyle grinned. He was good-looking, Simon had to admit, but unlike Jace, who seemed to know exactly how good-looking he was, Kyle looked like someone who probably hadn't brushed his hair in weeks. There was an open, friendly puppyishness about him that was appealing, though. "Yeah, Kirk told me about it. Good for you, man."
Simon shook his head. "It wasn't that."
There was a short silence between them. Then:
"I ... don't live at home either," Kyle said. "I left a couple of years ago." He hugged his arms around himself, hanging his head down. His voice was low. "I haven't talked to my parents since then. I mean, I'm doing all right on my own but ... I get it."
"Your tattoos," Simon said, touching his own arms lightly. "What do they mean?"
Kyle stretched his arms out. "Shaantih shaantih shaantih," he said. "They're mantras from the Upanishads. Sanskrit. Prayers for peace."
Normally Simon would have thought that getting yourself tattooed in Sanskrit was kind of pretentious. But right now, he didn't. "Shalom," he said.
Kyle blinked at him. "What?"
"Means peace," said Simon. "In Hebrew. I was just thinking the words sounded sort of alike."
Kyle gave him a long look. He seemed to be deliberating. Finally he said, "This is going to sound sort of crazy-"
"Oh, I don't know. My definition of crazy has become pretty flexible in the past few months."
"-but I have an apartment. In Alphabet City. And my roommate just moved out. It's a two-bedroom, so you could crash in his space. There's a bed in there and everything."
Simon hesitated. On the one hand he didn't know Kyle at all, and moving into the apartment of a total stranger seemed like a stupid move of epic proportions. Kyle could turn out to be a serial killer, despite his peace tattoos. On the other hand he didn't know Kyle at all, which meant no one would come looking for him there. And what did it matter if Kyle did turn out to be a serial killer? he thought bitterly. It would turn out worse for Kyle than it would for him, just like it had for that mugger last night.
"You know," he said, "I think I'll take you up on that, if it's okay."
Kyle nodded. "My truck's just outside if you want to ride into the city with me."
Simon bent to grab his duffel bag and straightened with it slung over his shoulder. He slid his phone into his pocket and spread his hands wide, indicating his readiness. "Let's go."
HELL CALLS HELL
Kyle's apartment turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Simon expected a filthy walk-up in an Avenue D tenement, with roaches crawling on the walls and a bed made out of mattress foam and milk crates. In reality it was a clean two-bedroom with a small living area, a ton of bookshelves, and lots of photos on the walls of famous surfing spots. Admittedly, Kyle seemed to be growing marijuana plants on the fire escape, but you couldn't have everything.
Simon's room was basically an empty box. Whoever had lived there before had left nothing behind but a futon mattress. It had bare walls, bare floors, and a single window, through which Simon could see the neon sign of the Chinese restaurant across the street. "You like it?" Kyle inquired, hovering in the doorway, his hazel eyes open and friendly.
"It's great," Simon replied honestly. "Exactly what I needed."
The most expensive item in the apartment was the flat-screen TV in the living room. They threw themselves down on the futon couch and watched bad TV as the sunlight dimmed outside. Kyle was cool, Simon decided. He didn't poke, didn't pry, didn't ask questions. He didn't seem to want anything in exchange for the room except for Simon to pitch in grocery money. He was just a friendly guy. Simon wondered if he'd forgotten what ordinary human beings were like.
After Kyle headed out to work an evening shift, Simon went into his room, collapsed on the mattress, and listened to the traffic going by on Avenue B.
He'd been haunted by thoughts of his mother's face since he'd left: the way she'd looked at him with loathing and fear, as if he were an intruder in her house. Even if he didn't need to breathe, the thought of it had still constricted his chest. But now...
When he was a kid, he'd always liked traveling, because being in a new place had meant being away from all his problems. Even here, just a river away from Brooklyn, the memories that had been eating at him like acid-the mugger's death, his mother's reaction to the truth of what he was-seemed blurred and distant.
Maybe that was the secret, he thought. Keep moving. Like a shark. Go to where no one can find you. A fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be in the earth.
But that only worked if there was no one you cared about leaving behind.
He slept fitfully all night. His natural urge was to sleep during the day, despite his Daylighter powers, and he fought off restlessness and dreams before waking up late with the sun streaming in through the window. After throwing on clean clothes from his knapsack, he left the bedroom to find Kyle in the kitchen, frying bacon and eggs in a Teflon pan.
"Hey, roommate," Kyle greeted him cheerfully. "Want some breakfast?"
The sight of the food made Simon feel vaguely sick to his stomach. "No, thanks. I'll take some coffee, though." He perched himself on one of the slightly lopsided bar stools.
Kyle pushed a chipped mug across the counter toward him. "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, bro. Even if it's already noon."
Simon put his hands around the mug, feeling the heat seep into his cold skin. He cast about for a topic of conversation-one that wasn't how little he ate. "So, I never asked you yesterday-what do you do for a living?"
Kyle picked a piece of bacon out of the pan and bit into it. Simon noticed that the gold medal at his throat had a pattern of leaves on it, and the words "Beati Bellicosi." "Beati," Simon knew, was a word that had something to do with saints; Kyle must be Catholic. "Bike messenger," he said, chewing. "It's awesome. I get to ride around the city, seeing everything, talking to everyone. Way better than high school."
"You dropped out?"
"Got my GED senior year. I prefer the school of life." Simon would have thought Kyle sounded ridiculous if it weren't for the fact that he said "school of life" the way he said everything else-with total sincerity. "What about you? Any plans?"
Oh, you know. Wander the earth, causing death and destruction to innocent people. Maybe drink some blood. Live forever but never have any fun. The usual. "I'm kind of winging it at the moment."
"You mean you don't want to be a musician?" Kyle asked.
To Simon's relief his phone rang before he had to answer that. He fished it out of his pocket and looked at the screen. It was Maia. "Hey," he greeted her. "What's up?"
"Are you going to be at that dress fitting with Clary this afternoon?" she asked, her voice crackling down the line. She was probably calling from pack headquarters in Chinatown, where the reception wasn't great. "She told me she was making you go to keep her company."
"What? Oh, right. Yes. I'll be there." Clary had demanded that Simon accompany her to her bridesmaid's dress fitting so afterward they could shop for comics and she could feel, in her words, like "less of a frilled-up girly-girl."
"Well, I'm going to come too, then. I have to give Luke a message from the pack, and besides, I feel like I haven't seen you in ages."
"I know. I'm really sorry-"
"It's fine," she said lightly. "But you're going to have to let me know what you're wearing to the wedding eventually, because otherwise we'll clash."
She hung up, leaving Simon staring at the phone. Clary had been right. The wedding was D-day, and he was woefully unprepared for the battle.
"One of your girlfriends?" Kyle asked curiously. "Was that redheaded chick at the garage one of them? Because she was cute."