City of Fallen Angels
- Text Font:
- Text Size:
- Line Height:
- Line Break Height:
"I don't know," said Jace. "I think they'd clash with my gear."
Isabelle made a face at him. "Did you hear about the dead Shadowhunter they found in Brooklyn? The body was all mangled up, so they don't know who it is yet. I assume that's where Mom went."
"Yeah," said Jace, sitting up. "Clave meeting. I ran into her on the way out."
"You didn't tell me that," said Clary. "Is that why you took so long getting rope?"
He nodded. "Sorry. I didn't want to freak you out."
"He means," said Isabelle, "he didn't want to spoil the romantic mood." She bit her lip. "I just hope it wasn't anyone we know."
"I don't think it could have been. The body was dumped in an abandoned factory-had been there for several days. If it had been someone we knew, we would have noticed they were missing." Jace pushed his hair back behind his ears. He was looking at Isabelle a little impatiently, Clary thought, as if he were annoyed she'd brought this up. She wished he'd told her earlier, even if it would have spoiled the mood. Much of what he did, what they all did, Clary knew, brought them into frequent contact with the reality of death. All the Lightwoods were, in their own ways, still grieving the loss of the youngest son, Max, who had died simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was strange. Jace had accepted her decision to leave high school and take up training without a murmur, but he shied away from discussing the dangers of a Shadowhunting life with her.
"I'm going to get dressed," she announced, and headed for the door that led to the small changing room attached to the training area. It was very plain: pale wood walls, a mirror, a shower, and hooks for clothes. Towels were stacked neatly on a wooden bench by the door. Clary showered quickly and put on her street clothes-tights, boots, jean skirt, and a new pink sweater. Looking at herself in the mirror, she saw that there was a hole in her tights, and her damp and curling red hair was an untidy tangle. She would never look perfectly put together like Isabelle always did, but Jace didn't seem to mind.
By the time she came back to the training room, Isabelle and Jace had left the topic of dead Shadowhunters behind and had moved on to something Jace apparently found even more horrifying-Isabelle's date with Simon. "I can't believe he took you to an actual restaurant." Jace was on his feet now, putting away the floor mats and training gear while Isabelle leaned against the wall and played with her new gloves. "I assumed his idea of a date would be making you watch him play World of Warcraft with his nerd friends."
"I," Clary pointed out, "am one of his nerd friends, thank you."
Jace grinned at her.
"It wasn't really a restaurant. More of a diner. With pink soup that he wanted me to try," Isabelle said thoughtfully. "He was very sweet."
Clary felt instantly guilty for not telling her-or Jace-about Maia. "He said you had fun."
Isabelle's gaze flickered over to her. There was a peculiar quality to Isabelle's expression, as if she were hiding something, but it was gone before Clary could be sure it had been there at all. "You talked to him?"
"Yeah, he called me a few minutes ago. Just to check in." Clary shrugged.
"I see," Isabelle said, her voice suddenly brisk and cool. "Well, as I said, he's very sweet. But maybe a bit too sweet. That can be boring." She stuffed her gloves into her pockets. "Anyway, it isn't a permanent thing. It's just playing around for now."
Clary's guilt faded. "Have you guys ever talked about, you know, dating exclusively?"
Isabelle looked horrified. "Of course not." She yawned then, stretching her arms catlike over her head. "Okay, off to bed. See you later, lovebirds."
She departed, leaving a hazy cloud of jasmine perfume in her wake.
Jace looked over at Clary. He had started unbuckling his gear, which clasped at the wrists and back, forming a protective shell over his clothes. "I suppose you have to go home?"
She nodded reluctantly. Getting her mother to agree to let her pursue Shadowhunter training had been a long, unpleasant argument in the first place. Jocelyn had dug her heels in, saying that she'd spent her life trying to keep Clary out of the Shadowhunter culture, which she saw as dangerous-not just violent, she argued, but isolationist and cruel. Only a year ago, she pointed out to Clary, Clary's decision to be trained as a Shadowhunter would have meant she could never speak to her mother again. Clary argued back that the fact that the Clave had suspended rules like that while the new Council reviewed the Laws meant that the Clave had changed since Jocelyn had been a girl, and anyway, Clary needed to know how to defend herself.
"I hope this isn't just because of Jace," Jocelyn had said finally. "I know how it is when you're in love with someone. You want to be where they are and do what they do, but Clary-"
"I am not you," Clary had said, struggling to control her anger, "the Shadowhunters aren't the Circle, and Jace isn't Valentine."
"I didn't say anything about Valentine."
"It's what you were thinking," Clary had said. "Maybe Valentine brought Jace up, but Jace isn't anything like him."
"Well, I hope not," Jocelyn had said softly. "For all our sakes." Eventually she had given in, but with some rules:
Clary wasn't to live in the Institute but with her mother at Luke's; Jocelyn got weekly progress reports from Maryse to assure her that Clary was learning and not just, Clary supposed, ogling Jace all day, or whatever she was worried about. And Clary wasn't to spend the night at the Institute-ever. "No sleepovers where your boyfriend lives," Jocelyn had said firmly. "I don't care if it is the Institute. No."
Boyfriend. It was still a shock, hearing the word. For so long it had seemed a total impossibility that Jace would ever be her boyfriend, that they could ever be anything to each other at all but brother and sister, and that had been too hard and horrible to face. Never seeing each other again, they had decided, would have been better than that, and that would have been like dying. And then, by a miracle, they had been set free. Now it had been six weeks, but Clary wasn't tired of the word yet.
"I have to get home," she said. "It's almost eleven, and my mom freaks if I stay here past ten."
"All right." Jace dropped his gear, or at least the top half of it, onto the bench. He wore a thin T-shirt underneath; Clary could see his Marks through it, like ink bleeding through wet paper. "I'll walk you out."
The Institute was quiet as they passed through. There were no visiting Shadowhunters from other cities staying right now. Robert, Isabelle and Alec's father, was in Idris helping set up the new Council, and with Hodge and Max gone forever, and Alec away with Magnus, Clary felt as if the remaining occupants were like guests in a mostly empty hotel. She wished other members of the Conclave would come around more often, but she supposed everyone was giving the Lightwoods time at the moment. Time to remember Max, and time to forget.
"So have you heard from Alec and Magnus lately?" she asked. "Are they having a good time?"
"Sounds like it." Jace took his phone out of his pocket and handed it to her. "Alec keeps sending me annoying photos. Lots of captions like Wish you were here, except not really."
"Well, you can't blame him. It's supposed to be a romantic vacation." She flipped through the photos on Jace's phone and giggled. Alec and Magnus standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, Alec wearing jeans as usual and Magnus wearing a striped fisherman's sweater, leather pants, and an insane beret. In the Boboli Gardens, Alec was still wearing jeans, and Magnus was wearing an enormous Venetian cloak and a gondolier's hat. He looked like the Phantom of the Opera. In front of the Prado he was wearing a sparkling matador jacket and platform boots, while Alec appeared to be calmly feeding a pigeon in the background.
"I'm taking that away from you before you get to the India part," said Jace, retrieving his phone. "Magnus in a sari. Some things you don't ever forget."
Clary laughed. They had already reached the elevator, which opened its rattling gate when Jace pushed the call button. She stepped inside, and Jace followed her. The moment the elevator started down-Clary didn't think she'd ever get used to the initial heart-stopping lurch as it began its descent-he moved toward Clary in the dimness, and drew her close. She put her hands against his chest, feeling the hard muscles under his T-shirt, the beat of his heart beneath them. In the shadowy light his eyes shone. "I'm sorry I can't stay," she whispered.
"Don't be sorry." There was a ragged edge to his voice that surprised her. "Jocelyn doesn't want you to turn out like me. I don't blame her for that."
"Jace," she said, a little bewildered by the bitterness in his voice, "are you all right?"
Instead of answering he kissed her, pulling her hard against him. His body pressed hers against the wall, the metal of the mirror cold against her back, his hands sliding around her waist, up under her sweater. She always loved the way he held her. Careful, but not too gentle, not so gentle that she ever felt he was more in control than she was. Neither of them could control how they felt about each other, and she liked that, liked the way his heart hammered against hers, liked the way he murmured against her mouth when she kissed him back.
The elevator came to a rattling stop, and the gate opened. Beyond it, she could see the empty nave of the cathedral, light shimmering in a line of candelabras down the center aisle. She clung to Jace, glad there was very little light in the elevator so she couldn't see her own burning face in the mirror.
"Maybe I can stay," she whispered. "Just a little while longer."
He said nothing. She could feel the tension in him, and tensed herself. It was more than just the tension of desire. He was shaking, his whole body trembling as he buried his face in the crook of her neck.
"Jace," she said.
He let go of her then, suddenly, and stepped back. His cheeks were flushed, his eyes fever-bright. "No," he said. "I don't want to give your mother another reason not to like me. She already thinks I'm the second coming of my father-"
He broke off, before Clary could say, Valentine wasn't your father. Jace was usually so careful to refer to Valentine Morgenstern by name, never as "my father"-when he mentioned Valentine at all. Usually they stayed away from the topic, and Clary had never admitted to Jace that her mother worried that he was secretly just like Valentine, knowing that even the suggestion would hurt him badly. Mostly Clary just did everything she could to keep the two of them apart.
He reached past her before she could say anything, and yanked open the elevator gate. "I love you, Clary," he said without looking at her. He was staring out into the church, at the rows of lighted candles, their gold reflected in his eyes. "More than I ever-" He broke off. "God. More than I probably should. You know that, don't you?"
She stepped outside the elevator and turned to face him. There were a thousand things she wanted to say, but he was already looking away from her, pushing the button that would bring the elevator back up to the Institute floors. She started to protest, but the elevator was already moving, the doors closing as it rattled its way back up. They shut with a click, and she stared at them for a moment; the Angel was painted on their surface, wings outspread, eyes raised. The Angel was painted on everything.
Her voice echoed harshly in the empty room when she spoke. "I love you, too," she said.
"You know what's awesome?" said Eric, setting down his drumsticks. "Having a vampire in our band. This is the thing that's really going to take us over the top."
Kirk, lowering the microphone, rolled his eyes. Eric was always talking about taking the band over the top, and so far nothing had ever actually materialized. The best they'd ever done was a gig at the Knitting Factory, and only four people had come to that. And one of them had been Simon's mom. "I don't see how it can take us over the top if we're not allowed to tell anyone he's a vampire."
"Too bad," said Simon. He was sitting on one of the speakers, next to Clary, who was engrossed in texting someone, probably Jace. "No one's going to believe you anyway, because look-here I am. Daylight." He raised his arms to indicate the sunlight pouring through the holes in the roof of Eric's garage, which was their current practice space.
"That does somewhat impact our credibility," said Matt, pushing his bright red hair out of his eyes and squinting at Simon. "Maybe you could wear fake fangs."
"He doesn't need fake fangs," said Clary irritably, lowering her phone. "He has real fangs. You've seen them."
This was true. Simon had had to whip out the fangs when initially breaking the news to the band. At first they'd thought he'd had a head injury, or a mental breakdown. After he'd flashed the fangs at them, they'd come around. Eric had even admitted that he wasn't particularly surprised. "I always knew there were vampires, dude," he'd said. "Because, you know how there's people you know who, like, always look the same, even when they're, like, a hundred years old? Like David Bowie? That's because they're vampires."
Simon had drawn the line at telling them that Clary and Isabelle were Shadowhunters. That wasn't his secret to tell. Nor did they know that Maia was a werewolf. They just thought that Maia and Isabelle were two hot girls who had both inexplicably agreed to date Simon. They put this down to what Kirk called his "sexy vampire mojo." Simon didn't really care what they called it, as long as they never slipped up and told Maia and Isabelle about each other. So far he'd managed to successfully invite them each to alternate gigs, so they never showed up at the same one at the same time.
"Maybe you could show the fangs onstage?" Eric suggested. "Just, like, once, dude. Flash 'em at the crowd."
"If he did that, the leader of the New York City vampire clan would kill you all," Clary said. "You know that, right?" She shook her head in Simon's direction. "I can't believe you told them you're a vampire," she added, lowering her voice so only Simon could hear her. "They're idiots, in case you haven't noticed."