City of Fallen Angels
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Things were different now. He had been in Idris, the Shadowhunters' home country, for almost two weeks. He had vanished from home, with no chance to offer an excuse or explanation. The warlock Magnus Bane had stepped in and performed a memory spell on Simon's mother so that she now had no recollection that he had been missing at all. Or at least, no conscious recollection. Her behavior had changed, though. She was suspicious now, hovering, always watching him, insisting he be home at certain times. The last time he had come home from a date with Maia, he had found Elaine in the foyer, sitting in a chair facing the door, her arms crossed over her chest and a look of barely tempered rage on her face.
That night, he'd been able to hear her breathing before he'd seen her. Now he could hear only the faint sound of the television coming from the living room. She must have waited up for him, probably watching a marathon of one of those hospital dramas she loved. Simon swung the door closed behind him and leaned against it, trying to gather his energy to lie.
It was hard enough not eating around his family. Thankfully his mother went to work early and got back late, and Rebecca, who went to college in New Jersey and only came home occasionally to do her laundry, wasn't around often enough to notice anything odd. His mom was usually gone in the morning by the time he got up, the breakfast and lunch she'd lovingly prepared for him left out on the kitchen counter. He'd dump it into a trash bin on his way to school. Dinner was tougher. On the nights she was there, he had to push his food around his plate, pretend he wasn't hungry or that he wanted to take his food into his bedroom so he could eat while studying. Once or twice he'd forced the food down, just to make her happy, and spent hours in the bathroom afterward, sweating and retching until it was out of his system.
He hated having to lie to her. He'd always felt a little sorry for Clary, with her fraught relationship with Jocelyn, the most overprotective parent he'd ever known. Now the shoe was on the other foot. Since Valentine's death, Jocelyn's grip on Clary had relaxed to the point where she was practically a normal parent. Meanwhile, whenever Simon was home, he could feel the weight of his mother's gaze on him, like an accusation wherever he went.
Squaring his shoulders, he dropped his messenger bag by the door and headed into the living room to face the music. The TV was on, the news blaring. The local announcer was reporting on a human interest story-a baby found abandoned in an alley behind a hospital downtown. Simon was surprised; his mom hated the news. She found it depressing. He glanced toward the couch, and his surprise faded. His mother was asleep, her glasses on the table beside her, a half-empty glass on the floor. Simon could smell it from here-probably whiskey. He felt a pang. His mom hardly ever drank.
Simon went into his mother's bedroom and returned with a crocheted blanket. His mom was still asleep, her breathing slow and even. Elaine Lewis was a tiny, birdlike woman, with a halo of black curling hair, streaked with gray that she refused to dye. She worked during the day for an environmental nonprofit, and most of her clothes had animal motifs on them. Right now she was wearing a dress tie-dye printed with dolphins and waves, and a pin that had once been a live fish, dipped in resin. Its lacquered eye seemed to glare at Simon accusingly as he bent to tuck the blanket around her shoulders.
She moved, fitfully, turning her head away from him. "Simon," she whispered. "Simon, where are you?"
Stricken, Simon let go of the blanket and stood up. Maybe he should wake her up, let her know he was okay. But then there would be questions he didn't want to answer and that hurt look on her face he couldn't stand. He turned and went into his bedroom.
He had thrown himself down onto the covers and grabbed for the phone on his bedside table, about to dial Clary's number, before he even thought about it. He paused for a moment, listening to the dial tone. He couldn't tell her about Camille; he'd promised to keep the vampire's offer a secret, and while Simon didn't feel he owed Camille much, if there was one thing he had learned from the past few months, it was that reneging on promises made to supernatural creatures was a bad idea. Still, he wanted to hear Clary's voice, the way he always did when he'd had a tough day. Well, there was always complaining to her about his love life; that seemed to amuse her no end. Rolling over in bed, he pulled the pillow over his head and dialed Clary's number.
"So, did you have fun with Isabelle tonight?" Clary, her phone jammed against her ear, maneuvered herself carefully from one long beam to another. The beams were set twenty feet up in the rafters of the Institute's attic, where the training room was located. Walking the beams was meant to teach you how to balance. Clary hated them. Her fear of heights made the whole business sickening, despite the flexible cord tied around her waist that was supposed to keep her from hitting the floor if she fell. "Have you told her about Maia yet?"
Simon made a faint, noncommittal noise that Clary knew meant "no." She could hear music in the background; she could picture him lying on his bed, the stereo playing softly as he talked to her. He sounded tired, that sort of bone-deep tired she knew meant that his light tone didn't reflect his mood. She'd asked him if he was all right several times at the beginning of the conversation, but he'd brushed away her concern.
She snorted. "You're playing with fire, Simon. I hope you know that."
"I don't know. Do you really think it's such a big deal?" Simon sounded plaintive. "I haven't had a single conversation with Isabelle-or Maia-about dating exclusively."
"Let me tell you something about girls." Clary sat down on a beam, letting her legs dangle out into the air. The attic's half-moon windows were open, and cool night air spilled in, chilling her sweaty skin. She had always thought the Shadowhunters trained in their tough, leatherlike gear, but as it turned out, that was for later training, which involved weapons. For the sort of training she was doing-exercises meant to increase her flexibility, speed, and sense of balance-she wore a light tank top and drawstring pants that reminded her of medical scrubs. "Even if you haven't had the exclusivity conversation, they're still going to be mad if they find out you're dating someone they know and you haven't mentioned it. It's a dating rule."
"Well, how am I supposed to know that rule?"
"Everyone knows that rule."
"I thought you were supposed to be on my side."
"I am on your side!"
"So why aren't you being more sympathetic?"
Clary switched the phone to her other ear and peered down into the shadows below her. Where was Jace? He'd gone to get another rope and said he'd be back in five minutes. Of course, if he caught her on the phone up here, he'd probably kill her. He was rarely in charge of her training-that was usually Maryse, Kadir, or various other members of the New York Conclave pinch-hitting until a replacement for the Institute's previous tutor, Hodge, could be found-but when he was, he took it very seriously. "Because," she said, "your problems are not real problems. You're dating two beautiful girls at once. Think about it. That's like ... rock-star problems."
"Having rock-star problems may be the closest I ever get to being an actual rock star."
"No one told you to call your band Salacious Mold, my friend."
"We're Millennium Lint now," Simon protested.
"Look, just figure this out before the wedding. If they both think they're going to it with you and they find out at the wedding that you're dating them both, they'll kill you." She stood up. "And then my mom's wedding will be ruined, and she'll kill you. So you'll be dead twice. Well, three times, technically..."
"I never told either of them I was going to the wedding with them!" Simon sounded panicked.
"Yes, but they're going to expect you to. That's why girls have boyfriends. So you have someone to take you to boring functions." Clary moved out to the edge of the beam, looking down into the witchlight-illuminated shadows below. There was an old training circle chalked on the floor; it looked like a bull's-eye. "Anyway, I have to jump off this beam now and possibly hurtle to my horrible death. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
"I've got band practice at two, remember? I'll see you there."
"See you." She hung up and stuck the phone into her bra; the light training clothes didn't have any pockets, so what was a girl to do?
"So, are you planning to stay up there all night?" Jace stepped into the center of the bull's-eye and looked up at her. He was wearing fighting gear, not training clothes like Clary was, and his fair hair stood out startlingly against the black. It had darkened slightly since the end of summer and was more a dark gold than light, which, Clary thought, suited him even better. It made her absurdly happy that she had now known him long enough to notice small changes in his appearance.
"I thought you were coming up here," she called down. "Change of plans?"
"Long story." He grinned up at her. "So? You want to practice flips?"
Clary sighed. Practicing flips involved flinging herself off the beam into empty space, and using the flexible cord to hold her while she pushed off the walls and flipped herself over and under, teaching herself to whirl, kick, and duck without worrying about hard floors and bruises. She'd seen Jace do it, and he looked like a falling angel while he did, flying through the air, whirling and spinning with beautiful, balletic grace. She, on the other hand, curled up like a potato bug as soon as the floor approached, and the fact that she intellectually knew she wasn't going to hit it didn't seem to make any difference.
She was starting to wonder if it didn't matter that she'd been born a Shadowhunter; maybe it was too late for her to be made into one, or at least a fully functional one. Or maybe the gift that made her and Jace what they were had been somehow distributed unequally between them, so he had gotten all the physical grace, and she had gotten-well, not a lot of it.
"Come on, Clary," Jace said. "Jump." She closed her eyes and jumped. For a moment she felt herself hang suspended, free of everything. Then gravity took over, and she plunged toward the floor. Instinctively she pulled her arms and legs in, keeping her eyes squeezed shut. The cord pulled taut and she rebounded, flying back up before falling again. As her velocity slowed, she opened her eyes and found herself dangling at the end of the cord, about five feet above Jace. He was grinning.
"Nice," he said. "As graceful as a falling snowflake."
"Was I screaming?" she asked, genuinely curious. "You know, on the way down."
He nodded. "Thankfully no one's home, or they would have assumed I was murdering you."
"Ha. You can't even reach me." She kicked out a leg and spun lazily in midair.
Jace's eyes glinted. "Want to bet?"
Clary knew that expression. "No," she said quickly. "Whatever you're going to do-"
But he'd already done it. When Jace moved fast, his individual movements were almost invisible. She saw his hand go to his belt, and then something flashed in the air. She heard the sound of parting fabric as the cord above her head was sheared through. Released, she fell freely, too surprised to scream-directly into Jace's arms. The force knocked him backward, and they sprawled together onto one of the padded floor mats, Clary on top of him. He grinned up at her.
"Now," he said, "that was much better. You didn't scream at all."
"I didn't get the chance." She was breathless, and not just from the impact of the fall. Being sprawled on top of Jace, feeling his body against hers, made her hands shake and her heart beat faster. She had thought maybe her physical reaction to him-their reactions to each other-would fade with familiarity, but that hadn't happened. If anything, it had gotten worse the more time she'd spent with him-or better, she supposed, depending on how you thought about it.
He was looking up at her with dark golden eyes; she wondered if their color had intensified since his encounter with Raziel, the Angel, by the shores of Lake Lyn in Idris. She couldn't ask anyone: Though everyone knew that Valentine had summoned the Angel, and that the Angel had healed Jace from injuries Valentine had inflicted on him, no one but Clary and Jace knew that Valentine had done more than just injure his adopted son. He had stabbed Jace through the heart as part of the summoning ceremony-stabbed him, and held him while he died. At Clary's wish Raziel had brought Jace back from death. The enormity of it still shocked Clary, and, she suspected, Jace as well. They had agreed never to tell anyone that Jace had actually died, even for a brief time. It was their secret.
He reached up and pushed her hair back from her face. "I'm joking," he said. "You're not so bad. You'll get there. You should have seen Alec do flips at first. I think he kicked himself in the head once."
"Sure," said Clary. "But he was probably eleven." She eyed him. "I suppose you've always been amazing at this stuff."
"I was born amazing." He stroked her cheek with the tips of his fingers, lightly but enough to make her shiver. She said nothing; he was joking, but in a sense it was true. Jace had been born to be what he was. "How long can you stay tonight?"
She smiled a little. "Are we done with training?"
"I'd like to think that we're done with the part of the evening where it's absolutely required. Although there are a few things I'd like to practice...." He reached up to pull her down, but at that moment the door opened, and Isabelle came stalking in, the high heels of her boots clicking on the polished hardwood floor.
Catching sight of Jace and Clary sprawled on the floor, she raised her eyebrows. "Canoodling, I see. I thought you were supposed to be training."
"No one said you had to walk in without knocking, Iz." Jace didn't move, just turned his head to the side to look at Isabelle with a mixture of annoyance and affection. Clary, though, scrambled to her feet, straightening her crumpled clothes.
"It's the training room. It's public space." Isabelle was pulling off one of her gloves, which were bright red velvet. "I just got these at Trash and Vaudeville. On sale. Don't you love them? Don't you wish you had a pair?" She wiggled her fingers in their direction.