City of Fallen Angels
Page 26

 Cassandra Clare

  • Background:
  • Text Font:
  • Text Size:
  • Line Height:
  • Line Break Height:
  • Frame:

"Ha," Simon said. "Who's that guy, with your mother? He looks familiar."
"That's Kadir," said Jace. "You probably met his brother. Malik. He died in the attack on Valentine's ship. Kadir's the second most important person in the Conclave, after my mom. She relies on him a lot."
As Simon watched, Kadir pulled Camille's arms behind her back, so they circled the pillar, and chained them at her wrists. The vampire gave a little scream.
"Blessed metal," said Jace without a flicker of emotion. "It burns them."
Them, Simon thought. You mean "you." I'm just like her. I'm not different just because you know me.
Camille was whimpering. Kadir stood back, his face impassive. Runes, dark against his dark skin, twined the entirety of his arms and throat. He turned to say something to Maryse; Simon caught the words "Magnus" and "fire-message."
"Magnus again," said Simon. "But isn't he traveling?"
"Magnus and Camille are both really old," said Jace. "I suppose it's not that odd that they know each other." He shrugged, seemingly uninterested in the topic. "Anyway, I'm pretty sure they're going to wind up summoning Magnus back here. Maryse wants information, and she wants it bad. She knows Camille wasn't killing those Shadowhunters just for blood. There are easier ways to get blood."
Simon thought fleetingly of Maureen, and felt sick. "Well," he said, trying to sound unconcerned. "I guess that means Alec will be back. So that's good, right?"
"Sure." Jace's voice sounded lifeless. He didn't look all that great either; the whitish light in the room cast the angles of his cheekbones into a new and sharper relief, showing that he'd lost weight. His fingernails were bitten down to bloody stumps, and there were dark shadows under his eyes.
"At least your plan worked," Simon added, trying to inject some cheer into Jace's misery. It had been Jace's idea to have Simon take a picture with his cell phone and send it to the Conclave, which would allow them to Portal to where he was. "It was a good idea."
"I knew it would work." Jace sounded bored by the compliment. He looked up as the double doors to the Institute swung open, and Isabelle came through them, her black hair swinging. She looked around the room-giving Camille and the other Shadowhunters barely a glance-and came toward Jace and Simon, her boots clattering against the stone floor.
"What's all this about yanking poor Magnus and Alec back from their vacation?" Isabelle demanded. "They have opera tickets!"
Jace explained, while Isabelle stood with her hands on her hips, ignoring Simon completely.
"Fine," she said when he was done. "But the whole thing's ridiculous. She's just stalling for time. What could she possibly have to say to Magnus?" She glanced back over her shoulder at Camille, who was now not just manacled but bound to the pillar with lengths of silvery-gold chain. It crisscrossed her body across her torso, her knees, and even her ankles, holding her totally immobile. "Is that blessed metal?"
Jace nodded. "The manacles are lined to protect her wrists, but if she moves too much..." He made a sizzling sound. Simon, remembering the way his hands had burned when he'd touched the Star of David in his cell in Idris, the way his skin had run with blood, had to fight the urge to snap at him.
"Well, while you were off trapping vampires, I was uptown fighting off a Hydra demon," Isabelle said. "With Clary."
Jace, who had evinced only the barest interest in anything going on around him until now, jerked upright. "With Clary? You took her demon-hunting with you? Isabelle-"
"Of course not. She was already well into the fight by the time I got there."
"But how did you know-?"
"She texted me," Isabelle said. "So I went." She examined her nails, which were, as usual, perfect.
"She texted you?" Jace grabbed Isabelle by the wrist. "Is she all right? Did she get hurt?"
Isabelle looked down at his hand gripping her wrist, and then back up at his face. If he was hurting her, Simon couldn't tell, but the look on her face could have cut glass, as could the sarcasm in her voice. "Yes, she's bleeding to death upstairs, but I thought I'd avoid telling you right away, because I like to draw the suspense out."
Jace, as if suddenly conscious of what he was doing, let go of Isabelle's wrist. "She's here?"
"She's upstairs," Isabelle said. "Resting-"
But Jace was already gone, running for the entryway doors. He burst through them and vanished. Isabelle, looking after him, shook her head.
"You can't really have thought he was going to do anything else," said Simon.
For a moment she said nothing. He wondered if maybe she was just planning to ignore anything he said for the rest of eternity. "I know," she said finally. "I just wish I knew what was going on with them."
"I'm not sure they know."
Isabelle was worrying at her bottom lip. She looked very young all of a sudden, and unusually conflicted, for Isabelle. Something was clearly going on with her, and Simon waited quietly while she appeared to come to a decision. "I don't want to be like that," she said. "Come on. I want to talk to you." She started to head toward the Institute doors.
"You do?" Simon was astonished.
She spun and glared at him. "Right now I do. But I can't promise how long it'll last."
Simon held his hands up. "I want to talk to you, Iz. But I can't go into the Institute."
A line appeared between her eyebrows. "Why?" She broke off, looking from him to the doors, to Camille, and back again. "Oh. Right. How did you get in here, then?"
"Portaled," said Simon. "But Jace said there's an entryway that leads to a set of doors that go outside. So vampires can enter here at night." He pointed to a narrow door set in the wall a few feet away. It was secured with a rusting iron bolt, as if it hadn't been used in a while.
Isabelle shrugged. "Fine."
The bolt made a screeching noise when she yanked it back, sending flakes of rust into the air in a fine red spray. Beyond the door was a small stone room, like the vestry of a church, and a set of doors that most likely led outside. There were no windows, but cold air crept around the edges of the doors, making Isabelle, in her short dress, shiver.
"Look, Isabelle," Simon said, figuring that the onus was on him to start the discussion. "I really am sorry about what I did. There's no excuse-"
"No, there isn't," Isabelle said. "And while you're at it, you might want to tell me why you're hanging around with the guy who Turned Maia into a werewolf."
Simon told her the story Jordan had recounted to him, trying to keep his explanation as evenhanded as he could. He felt like it was at least important to explain to Isabelle that he hadn't known who Jordan really was at first, and also, that Jordan regretted what he'd done. "Not that that makes it okay," he finished. "But, you know-" We've all done bad things. But he couldn't bring himself to tell her about Maureen. Not right now.
"I know," Isabelle said. "And I've heard of the Praetor Lupus. If they're willing to have him as a member, he can't be a complete washout, I guess." She looked at Simon a little more closely. "Although I don't get why you need someone to protect you. You have..." She pointed at her forehead.
"I can't go through the rest of my life with people running at me every day and the Mark blowing them up," Simon said. "I need to know who's trying to kill me. Jordan's helping with that. Jace too."
"Do you really think Jordan's helping you? Because the Clave has some pull with the Praetor. We could get him replaced."
Simon hesitated. "Yeah," he said. "I really do think he's helping. And I can't always rely on the Clave."
"Okay." Isabelle leaned back against the wall. "Did you ever wonder why I'm so different from my brothers?" she asked without preamble. "Alec and Jace, I mean."
Simon blinked. "You mean aside from the whole thing where you're a girl and they ... aren't?"
"No. Not that, idiot. I mean, look at the two of them. They have no problem falling in love. They're both in love. The forever kind. They're done. Look at Jace. He loves Clary like-like there's nothing else in the world and there never will be. Alec's the same. And Max-" Her voice caught. "I don't know what it would have been like for him. But he trusted everyone. And as you might have noticed, I don't trust anyone."
"People are different," Simon said, trying to sound understanding. "It doesn't mean they're happier than you-"
"Sure it does," Isabelle said. "You think I don't know that?" She looked at Simon, hard. "You know my parents."
"Not well." They had never been terribly eager to meet Isabelle's vampire boyfriend, a situation that hadn't done much to ameliorate Simon's feeling that he was merely the latest in a long line of undesirable suitors.
"Well, you know they were both in the Circle. But I bet you didn't know it was all my mom's idea. My dad was never really enthusiastic about Valentine or any of it. And then when everything happened, and they got banished, and they realized they'd practically wrecked their lives, I think he blamed her. But they already had Alec and were going to have me, so he stayed, even though I think he kind of wanted to leave. And then, when Alec was about nine, he found someone else."
"Whoa," Simon said. "Your dad cheated on your mom? That's-that's awful."
"She told me," said Isabelle. "I was about thirteen. She told me that he would have left her but they found out she was pregnant with Max, so they stayed together and he broke it off with the other woman. My mom didn't tell me who she was. She just told me that you couldn't really trust men. And she told me not to tell anyone."
"And did you? Tell anyone?"
"Not until now," Isabelle said.
Simon thought of a younger Isabelle, keeping the secret, never telling anyone, hiding it from her brothers. Knowing things about their family that they would never know. "She shouldn't have asked you to do that," he said, suddenly angry. "That wasn't fair."
"Maybe," said Isabelle. "I thought it made me special. I didn't think about how it might have changed me. But I watch my brothers give their hearts away and I think, Don't you know better? Hearts are breakable. And I think even when you heal, you're never what you were before."
"Maybe you're better," said Simon. "I know I'm better."
"You mean Clary," said Isabelle. "Because she broke your heart."
"Into little pieces. You know, when someone prefers their own brother over you, it isn't a confidence booster. I thought maybe once she realized it would never work out with Jace, she'd give up and come back to me. But I finally figured out that she'd never stop loving Jace, whether it was going to work out with him or not. And I knew that if she was only with me because she couldn't have him, I'd rather be alone, so I ended it."
"I didn't know you broke it off with her," said Isabelle. "I assumed..."
"That I had no self-respect?" Simon smiled wryly.
"I thought that you were still in love with Clary," Isabelle said. "And that you couldn't be serious about anyone else."
"Because you pick guys who will never be serious about you," said Simon. "So you never need to be serious about them."
Isabelle's eyes shone when she looked at him, but she said nothing.
"I care about you," Simon said. "I always cared about you."
She took a step toward him. They were standing fairly close together in the small room, and he could hear the sound of her breathing, and the fainter pulse of her heartbeat underneath. She smelled of shampoo and sweat and gardenia perfume and Shadowhunter blood.
The thought of blood made him remember Maureen, and his body tensed. Isabelle noticed-of course she noticed, she was a warrior, her senses finely tuned to even the slightest movement in others-and drew back, her expression tightening. "All right," she said. "Well, I'm glad we talked."
But she was already gone. He went after her into the Sanctuary, but she was moving fast. By the time the vestry door shut behind him, she was halfway across the room. He gave up and watched as she disappeared through the double doors into the Institute, knowing he couldn't follow.
Clary sat up, shaking her head to clear the grogginess. It took her a moment to remember where she was-in a spare bedroom in the Institute, the only light in the room the illumination that streamed in through the single high window. It was blue light-twilight light. She lay twisted in the blanket; her jeans, jacket, and shoes were stacked neatly on a chair near the bed. And beside her was Jace, looking down at her, as if she had conjured him up by dreaming of him.
He was sitting on the bed, wearing his gear, as if he had just come from a fight, and his hair was tousled, the dim light from the window illuminating shadows under his eyes, the hollows of his temples, the bones of his cheeks. In this light he had the extreme and almost unreal beauty of a Modigliani painting, all elongated planes and angles.
She rubbed at her eyes, blinking away sleep. "What time is it?" she said. "How long-"
He pulled her toward him and kissed her, and for a moment she froze, suddenly very conscious that all she was wearing was a thin T-shirt and underwear. Then she went boneless against him. It was the sort of lingering kiss that turned her insides to water. The sort of kiss that might have made her feel that nothing was wrong, that things were as they had been before, and he was only glad to see her. But when his hands went to lift the hem of her T-shirt, she pushed them away.
"No," she said, her fingers wrapped around his wrists. "You can't just keep grabbing at me every time you see me. It's not a substitute for actually talking."