City of Fallen Angels
Page 22

 Cassandra Clare

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"I'm really sorry," Simon said. The buzz from the blood he'd drunk was beginning to wear off, thankfully. He felt less dizzy with overwhelming sensation, but more panicked. To make things worse, his mind kept returning to Maureen, and what he'd done to her, and whether she was all right. Please let her be all right. "I should have told you guys. It's just-I really like you both, and I didn't want to hurt either of your feelings."
The moment it was out of his mouth, he realized how stupid he sounded. Just another jerkish guy making excuses for his jerk behavior. Simon had never thought of himself like that. He was a nice guy, the kind of guy who got overlooked, passed up for the sexy bad boy or the tortured artist type. For the self-involved kind of guy who would think nothing of dating two girls at once while maybe not exactly lying about what he was doing, but not telling the truth about it either.
"Wow," he said, mostly to himself. "I am a huge asshole."
"That's probably the first true thing you've said since I got here," said Maia.
"Amen," said Isabelle. "Though if you ask me, it's too little, too late-"
The side door of the bar opened, and someone came out. It was Kyle. Simon felt a wave of relief. Kyle looked serious, but not as serious as Simon thought he would look if something awful had happened to Maureen.
He started down the steps toward them. The rain was barely a drizzle now. Maia and Isabelle had their backs to him; they were glaring at Simon with the laser focus of rage. "I hope you don't expect either of us to speak to you again," Isabelle said. "And I'm going to have a talk with Clary-a very, very serious talk about her choice of friends."
"Kyle," Simon said, unable to keep the relief out of his voice as Kyle came into earshot. "Uh, Maureen-is she-"
He had no idea how to ask what he wanted to ask without letting Maia and Isabelle know what had happened, but as it turned out, it didn't matter, because he never managed to get the rest of the words out. Maia and Isabelle turned; Isabelle looked annoyed and Maia surprised, clearly wondering who Kyle was.
As soon as Maia really saw Kyle, her face changed; her eyes went wide, the blood draining from her face. And Kyle, in his turn, was staring at her with the look of someone who has woken up from a nightmare only to discover that it is real and continuing. His mouth moved, shaping words, but no sound came out.
"Whoa," Isabelle said, looking from one of them to the other. "Do you two-know each other?"
Maia's lips parted. She was still staring at Kyle. Simon had time only to think that she had never looked at him with anything like that intensity, when she whispered "Jordan"-and lunged for Kyle, her claws out and sharp, and sank them into his throat.
Chapter 10
Part Two
For Every Life
Nothing is free. Everything has to be paid for. For every profit in one thing, payment in some other thing. For every life, a death. Even your music, of which we have heard so much, that had to be paid for. Your wife was the payment for your music. Hell is now satisfied.
-Ted Hughes, "The Tiger's Bones"
Simon sat in the armchair in Kyle's living room and stared at the frozen image on the TV screen in the corner of the room. It had been paused on the game Kyle had been playing with Jace, and the image was one of a dank-looking underground tunnel with a heap of collapsed bodies on the ground and some very realistic-looking pools of blood. It was disturbing, but Simon didn't have either the energy or the inclination to bother to turn it off. The images that had been running through his head all night were worse.
The light streaming into the room through the windows had strengthened from watery dawn light to the pale illumination of early morning, but Simon barely noticed. He kept seeing Maureen's limp body on the ground, her blond hair stained with blood. His own staggering progress out into the night, her blood singing through his veins. And then Maia lunging at Kyle, tearing into him with her claws. Kyle had lain there, not lifting a hand to defend himself. He probably would have let her kill him if Isabelle hadn't interfered, pulling Maia bodily off him and rolling her onto the pavement, holding her there until her rage dissolved into tears. Simon had tried to go to her, but Isabelle had held him off with a furious glare, her arm around the other girl, her hand up to ward him off.
"Get out of here," she'd said. "And take him with you. I don't know what he did to her, but it must have been pretty bad."
And it was. Simon knew that name, Jordan. It had come up before, when he'd asked her how she'd been turned into a werewolf. Her ex-boyfriend had done it, she'd said. He'd done it with a savage and vicious attack, and he'd run off afterward, leaving her to deal with the aftermath alone.
His name had been Jordan.
That was why Kyle had only one name next to his door buzzer. Because it was his last name. His full name must have been Jordan Kyle, Simon realized. He'd been stupid, unbelievably stupid, not to have figured it out before. Not that he needed another reason to hate himself right now.
Kyle-or rather, Jordan-was a werewolf; he healed fast. By the time Simon had hauled him, none too gently, to his feet and had led him back over to his car, the deep slashes in his throat and under the torn rags of his shirt had healed to crusted-over scars. Simon had taken his keys from him and driven them back to Manhattan mostly in silence, Jordan sitting almost motionless in the passenger seat, staring down at his bloody hands.
"Maureen's fine," he'd said finally as they drove over the Williamsburg Bridge. "It looked worse than it was. You're not that good at feeding off humans yet, so she hadn't lost too much blood. I put her in a cab. She doesn't remember anything. She thinks she fainted in front of you, and she's really embarrassed."
Simon knew he ought to thank Jordan, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. "You're Jordan," he said. "Maia's old boyfriend. The one who turned her into a werewolf."
They were on Kenmare now; Simon turned north, heading up the Bowery with its flophouses and lighting stores. "Yeah," Jordan said at last. "Kyle's my last name. I started to go by it when I joined the Praetor."
"She would've killed you if Isabelle had let her."
"She has a perfect right to kill me if she wants to," said Jordan, and fell silent. He didn't say anything else as Simon found parking and they trudged up the stairs to the apartment. He'd gone into his room without even taking off his bloody jacket, and slammed the door.
Simon had packed his things into his backpack and had been about to leave the apartment when he'd hesitated. He wasn't sure why, even now, but instead of leaving he'd dropped his bag by the door and come back to sit in this chair, where he'd stayed all night.
He wished he could call Clary, but it was too early in the morning, and besides, Isabelle had said she and Jace had gone off together, and the thought of interrupting some special moment of theirs wasn't appealing. He wondered how his mother was. If she could have seen him last night, with Maureen, she would have thought he was every bit the monster she'd accused him of being.
Maybe he was.
He looked up as Jordan's door cracked open and Jordan emerged. He was barefoot, still in the same jeans and shirt he'd been wearing yesterday. The scars on his throat had faded to red lines. He looked at Simon. His hazel eyes, normally so bright and cheerful, were darkly shadowed. "I thought you would leave," he said.
"I was going to," Simon said. "But then I figured I ought to give you a chance to explain."
"There's nothing to explain." Jordan shuffled into the kitchen and dug around in a drawer until he produced a coffee filter. "Whatever Maia said about me, I'm sure it was true."
"She said you hit her," Simon said.
Jordan, in the kitchen, went very still. He looked down at the filter as if he were no longer quite sure what it was for.
"She said you guys went out for months and everything was great," Simon went on. "Then you turned violent and jealous. When she called you on it, you hit her. She broke up with you, and when she was walking home one night, something attacked her and nearly killed her. And you-you took off out of town. No apology, no explanation."
Jordan set the filter down on the counter. "How did she get here? How did she find Luke Garroway's pack?"
Simon shook his head. "She hopped a train to New York and tracked them down. She's a survivor, Maia. She didn't let what you did to her wreck her. A lot of people would have."
"Is this why you stayed?" asked Jordan. "To tell me I'm a bastard? Because I already know that."
"I stayed," Simon said, "because of what I did last night. If I'd found out about you yesterday, I would have left. But after what I did to Maureen..." He chewed his lip. "I thought I had control over what happened to me and I didn't, and I hurt someone who didn't deserve it. So that's why I'm staying."
"Because if I'm not a monster, then you're not a monster."
"Because I want to know how to go on, now, and maybe you can tell me." Simon leaned forward. "Because you've been a good guy to me since I met you. I've never seen you be mean or get angry. And then I thought about the Wolf Guard, and how you said you joined it because you'd done bad things. And I thought Maia was maybe the bad thing you'd done that you were trying to make up for."
"I was," said Jordan. "She is."
Clary sat at her desk in Luke's small spare room, the scrap of cloth she'd taken from the Beth Israel morgue spread out in front of her. She'd weighted it down on either side with pencils and was hovering over it, stele in hand, trying to remember the rune that had come to her in the hospital.
It was hard to concentrate. She kept thinking about Jace, about last night. Where he might have gone. Why he was so unhappy. She hadn't realized until she had seen him that he was as miserable as she was, and it tore at her heart. She wanted to call him, but had held herself back from doing so several times since she'd gotten home. If he was going to tell her what the problem was, he'd have to do it without being asked. She knew him well enough to know that.
She closed her eyes, and tried to force herself to picture the rune. It wasn't one she'd invented, she was pretty sure. It was one that actually existed, though she wasn't sure she'd seen it in the Gray Book. Its shape spoke to her less of translation than of revelation, of showing the shape of something hidden belowground, blowing the dust away from it slowly to read the inscription beneath....
The stele twitched in her fingers, and she opened her eyes to find, to her surprise, that she'd managed to trace a small pattern on the edge of the fabric. It looked almost like a blot, with odd bits going off every which way, and she frowned, wondering if she was losing her skill. But the fabric began to shimmer, like heat rising off hot blacktop. She stared as words unfolded across the cloth as if an invisible hand was writing them:
Property of the Church of Talto. 232 Riverside Drive.
A hum of excitement went through her. It was a clue, a real clue. And she'd found it herself, without any help from anyone else.
232 Riverside Drive. That was on the Upper West Side, she thought, by Riverside Park, just across the water from New Jersey. Not that long a trip at all. The Church of Talto. Clary set the stele down with a worried frown. Whatever that was, it sounded like bad news. She scooted her chair over to Luke's old desktop computer and pulled up the Internet. She couldn't say she was surprised that typing in "Church of Talto" produced no comprehensible results. Whatever had been written there on the corner of the cloth had been in Purgatic, or Cthonian, or some other demon language.
One thing she was sure of: Whatever the Church of Talto was, it was secret, and probably bad. If it was mixed up with turning human babies into things with claws for hands, it wasn't any kind of a real religion. Clary wondered if the mother who'd dumped her baby near the hospital was a member of the church, and if she knew what she'd gotten herself into before her baby was born.
She felt cold all over as she reached for her phone-and paused with it in hand. She had been about to call her mother, but she couldn't call Jocelyn about this. Jocelyn had only just stopped crying and agreed to go out, with Luke, to look at rings. And while Clary thought her mother was strong enough to handle whatever the truth turned out to be, she'd doubtless get in massive trouble with the Clave for having taken her investigation this far without informing them.
Luke. But Luke was with her mother. She couldn't call him.
Maryse, maybe. The mere idea of calling her seemed alien and intimidating. Plus, Clary knew-without quite wanting to admit to herself that it was a factor-that if she let the Clave take this over, she'd be benched. Pushed off to the sidelines of a mystery that seemed intensely personal. Not to mention that it felt like betraying her mother to the Clave.
But to go running off on her own, not knowing what she'd find... Well, she had training, but not that much training. And she knew she had a tendency to act first, think later. Reluctantly she pulled the phone toward her, hesitated a moment-and sent a quick text: 232 RIVERSIDE DRIVE. YOU NEED TO MEET ME THERE RIGHT AWAY. IT'S IMPORTANT. She hit the send button and sat for a moment until the screen lit up with an answering buzz: OK.
With a sigh Clary set down the phone, and went to get her weapons.
"I loved Maia," Jordan said. He was sitting on the futon now, having finally managed to make coffee, though he hadn't drunk any of it. He was just holding the mug in his hands, turning it around and around as he talked. "You have to know that, before I tell you anything else. We both came from this dismal hellhole of a town in New Jersey, and she got endless crap because her dad was black and her mom was white. She had a brother, too, who was a total psychopath. I don't know if she told you about him. Daniel."
"Not much," Simon said.
"With all that, her life was pretty hellish, but she didn't let it get her down. I met her in a music store, buying old records. Vinyl, right. We got to talking, and I realized she was basically the coolest girl for miles around. Beautiful, too. And sweet." Jordan's eyes were distant. "We went out, and it was fantastic. We were totally in love. The way you are when you're sixteen. Then I got bit. I was in a fight one night, at a club. I used to get into fights a lot. I was used to getting kicked and punched, but bitten? I thought the guy who'd done it was crazy, but whatever. I went to the hospital, got stitched up, forgot about it.