City of Fallen Angels
Page 8

 Cassandra Clare

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I am not like Valentine.
He had not been sorry to kill Jonathan. Given the chance, he would do it again.
I don't want to be like him.
Surely it wasn't normal to kill someone-to kill your own adoptive brother-and feel nothing about it at all.
I won't be like him.
But his father had taught him that to kill without mercy was a virtue, and maybe you could never forget what your parents taught you. No matter how badly you wanted to.
I won't be like him.
Maybe people could never really change.
I won't.
Chapter 4
The words were engraved over the front doors of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. Simon was sitting on the front steps, looking up at the facade. Inscriptions glittered against the stone in dull gilt, each word flashing into momentary life when caught by the headlights of passing cars.
The library had always been one of his favorite places when he was a kid. There was a separate children's entrance around the side, and he had met Clary there every Saturday for years. They would pick up a stack of books and head for the Botanical Garden next door, where they could read for hours, sprawled in the grass, the sound of traffic a constant dull thrumming in the distance.
How he had ended up here tonight, he wasn't quite sure. He had gotten away from his house as fast as he could, only to realize he had nowhere to go. He couldn't face going to Clary's-she'd be horrified at what he'd done, and would want him to go back to fix it. Eric and the other guys wouldn't understand. Jace didn't like him, and besides, he couldn't go into the Institute. It was a church, and the reason the Nephilim lived there in the first place was precisely to keep creatures like him out. Eventually he had realized who it was he could call, but the thought had been unpleasant enough that it had taken him a while to screw up the nerve to actually do it.
He heard the motorcycle before he saw it, the loud roar of the engine cutting through the sounds of light traffic on Grand Army Plaza. The cycle careened across the intersection and up onto the pavement, then reared back and shot up the steps. Simon moved aside as it landed lightly beside him and Raphael released the handlebars.
The motorcycle went instantly quiet. Vamp motorcycles were powered by demonic spirits and responded like pets to the wishes of their owners. Simon found them creepy.
"You wanted to see me, Daylighter?" Raphael, as elegant as always in a black jacket and expensive-looking jeans, dismounted and leaned his motorcycle against the library railing. "This had better be good," he added. "It is not for nothing that I come all the way to Brooklyn. Raphael Santiago does not belong in an outer borough."
"Oh, good. You're starting to talk about yourself in the third person. That's not a sign of impending megalomania or anything."
Raphael shrugged. "You can either tell me what you wanted to tell me, or I will leave. It is up to you." He looked at his watch. "You have thirty seconds."
"I told my mother I'm a vampire."
Raphael's eyebrows went up. They were very thin and very dark. In less generous moments Simon sometimes wondered if he penciled them on. "And what happened?"
"She called me a monster and tried to pray at me." The memory made the bitter taste of old blood rise in the back of Simon's throat.
"And then?"
"And then I'm not sure what happened. I started talking to her in this really weird, soothing voice, telling her nothing had happened and it was all a dream."
"And she believed you."
"She believed me," Simon said reluctantly.
"Of course she did," said Raphael. "Because you are a vampire. It is a power we have. The encanto. The fascination. The power of persuasion, you would call it. You can convince mundane humans of almost anything, if you learn how to use the ability properly."
"But I didn't want to use it on her. She's my mother. Is there some way to take it off her-some way to fix it?"
"Fix it so she hates you again? So she thinks you are a monster? That is a very odd definition of fixing something."
"I don't care," Simon said. "Is there a way?"
"No," Raphael said cheerfully. "There is not. You would know all this, of course, if you did not disdain your own kind so much."
"That's right. Act like I rejected you. It's not like you tried to kill me or anything."
Raphael shrugged. "That was politics. Not personal." He leaned back against the railing and crossed his arms over his chest. He was wearing black motorcycle gloves. Simon had to admit he looked pretty cool. "Please tell me you did not bring me out here so you could tell me a very boring story about your sister."
"My mother," Simon corrected.
Raphael flipped a dismissive hand. "Whatever. Some female in your life has rejected you. It will not be the last time, I can tell you that. Why are you bothering me about it?"
"I wanted to know if I could come and stay at the Dumont," Simon said, getting the words out very fast so that he couldn't back out halfway. He could barely believe he was asking. His memories of the vampire hotel were memories of blood and terror and pain. But it was a place to go, a place to stay where no one would look for him, and so he would not have to go home. He was a vampire. It was stupid to be afraid of a hotel full of other vampires. "I haven't got anywhere else to go."
Raphael's eyes glittered. "Aha," he said, with a soft triumph Simon did not particularly like. "Now you want something from me."
"I suppose so. Although it's creepy that you're so excited about that, Raphael."
Raphael snorted. "If you come to stay at the Dumont, you will not address me as Raphael, but as Master, Sire, or Great Leader."
Simon braced himself. "What about Camille?"
Raphael started. "What do you mean?"
"You always told me you weren't really the head of the vampires," Simon said blandly. "Then, in Idris, you told me it was someone named Camille. You said she hadn't come back to New York yet. But I assume, when she does, she'll be the master, or whatever?"
Raphael's gaze darkened. "I do not think I like your line of questioning, Daylighter."
"I have a right to know things."
"No," said Raphael. "You don't. You come to me, asking if you can stay in my hotel because you have nowhere else to go. Not because you wish to be with others of your kind. You shun us."
"Which, as I already pointed out, has to do with that time you tried to kill me."
"The Dumont is not a halfway house for reluctant vampires," Raphael went on. "You live among humans, you walk in daylight, you play in your stupid band-yes, don't think I don't know about that. In every way you do not accept what you really are. And as long as that is true, you are not welcome at the Dumont."
Simon thought of Camille saying, The moment his followers see that you are with me, they will leave him and come to me. I believe they are loyal to me beneath their fear of him. Once they see us together, that fear will be gone, and they will come to our side. "You know," he said, "I've had other offers."
Raphael looked at him as if he were insane. "Offers of what?"
"Just ... offers," Simon said feebly.
"You are terrible at this politics business, Simon Lewis. I suggest you do not attempt it again."
"Fine," Simon said. "I came here to tell you something, but now I'm not going to."
"I suppose you are also going to throw away the birthday present you got me," Raphael said. "It is all very tragic." He retrieved his motorcycle and swung a leg over it as the engine revved to life. Red sparks flew from the exhaust pipe. "If you bother me again, Daylighter, it had better be for a good reason. Or I will not be forgiving."
And with that, the motorcycle surged forward and upward. Simon craned his head back to watch as Raphael, like the angel he was named for, soared into the sky trailing fire.
Clary sat with her sketchpad on her knees and gnawed the end of her pencil thoughtfully. She had drawn Jace dozens of times-she guessed it was her version of most girls' writing about their boyfriends in their diaries-but she never seemed to be able to get him exactly right. For one thing, it was almost impossible to get him to stand still, so she'd thought that now, while he was asleep, would be perfect-but it still wasn't coming out quite the way she wanted. It just didn't look like him.
She tossed the sketchpad onto the blanket with a sigh of exasperation and pulled her knees up, looking down at him. She hadn't expected him to fall asleep. They'd come to Central Park to eat lunch and train outside while the weather was still good. They'd done one of those things. Take-out containers from Taki's were scattered in the grass beside the blanket. Jace hadn't eaten much, picking through his carton of sesame noodles in a desultory fashion before tossing it aside and flinging himself down onto the blanket, staring up at the sky. Clary had sat looking down at him, at the way the clouds reflected in his clear eyes, the outline of muscles in the arms crossed behind his head, the perfect strip of skin revealed between the hem of his T-shirt and the belt of his jeans. She had wanted to reach out and slide her hand along his hard flat stomach; instead she'd averted her eyes, rummaging for her sketchpad. When she'd turned back, pencil in hand, his eyes were closed and his breathing was soft and even.
She was now three drafts into her illustration, and no closer to a drawing that satisfied her. Looking at him now, she wondered why on earth she couldn't draw him. The light was perfect, soft bronze October light that laid a sheen of paler gold over his already golden hair and skin. His closed lids were fringed with gold a shade darker than his hair. One of his hands was draped loosely over his chest, the other open at his side. His face was relaxed and vulnerable in sleep, softer and less angular than when he was awake. Perhaps that was the problem. He was so rarely relaxed and vulnerable, it was hard to capture the lines of him when he was. It felt ... unfamiliar.
At that precise moment he moved. He had begun making little gasping sounds in his sleep, his eyes darting back and forth behind his shut eyelids. His hand jerked, tightened against his chest, and he sat up, so suddenly that he nearly knocked Clary over. His eyes flew open. For a moment he looked simply dazed; he had gone startlingly pale.
"Jace?" Clary couldn't hide her surprise.
His eyes focused on her; a moment later he had drawn her toward him with none of his customary gentleness; he pulled her onto his lap and kissed her fiercely, his hands winding into her hair. She could feel the hammering of his heart with hers, and she felt her cheeks flush. They were in a public park, she thought, and people were probably staring.
"Whoa," he said, drawing back, his lips curving into a smile. "Sorry. You probably weren't expecting that."
"It was a nice surprise." Her voice sounded low and throaty to her own ears. "What were you dreaming about?"
"You." He twisted a lock of her hair around his finger. "I always dream about you."
Still on his lap, her legs straddling his, Clary said, "Oh, yeah? Because I thought you were having a nightmare."
He tipped his head back to look at her. "Sometimes I dream you're gone," he said. "I keep wondering when you'll figure out how much better you could do and leave me."
She touched his face with her fingertips, delicately running them over the planes of his cheekbones, down to the curve of his mouth. Jace never said things like that to anyone else but her. Alec and Isabelle knew, from living with him and loving him, that underneath the protective armor of humor and pretended arrogance, the ragged shards of memory and childhood still tore at him. But she was the only one he said the words out loud to. She shook her head; her hair fell forward across her forehead, and she pushed it away impatiently. "I wish I could say things the way you do," she said. "Everything you say, the words you choose, they're so perfect. You always find the right quote, or the right thing to say to make me believe you love me. If I can't convince you that I'll never leave you-"
He caught her hand in his. "Just say it again."
"I'll never leave you," she said.
"No matter what happens, what I do?"
"I'd never give up on you," she said. "Never. What I feel about you-" She stumbled over the words. "It's the most important thing I've ever felt."
Dammit, she thought. That sounded completely stupid. But Jace didn't seem to think so; he smiled wistfully and said, '"L'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle.'"
"Is that Latin?"
"Italian," he said. "Dante."
She ran her fingertips over his lips, and he shivered. "I don't speak Italian," she said, very softly.
"It means," he said, "that love is the most powerful force in the world. That love can do anything."
She drew her hand out of his, aware as she did that he was watching her through half-lidded eyes. She locked both hands around the back of his neck, leaned forward, and touched his lips with hers-not a kiss this time, just a brush of lips against each other. It was enough; she felt his pulse speed up, and he leaned forward, trying to capture her mouth with his, but she shook her head, shaking her hair around them like a curtain that would hide them from the eyes of everyone else in the park. "If you're tired, we could go back to the Institute," she said in a half whisper. "Take a nap. We haven't slept together in the same bed since-since Idris."
Their gazes locked, and she knew he was remembering the same thing she was. The pale light filtering in through the window of Amatis's small spare bedroom, the desperation in his voice. I just want to lie down with you and wake up with you, just once, just once ever in my life. That whole night, lying side by side, only their hands touching. They had touched much more since that night, but had never spent the night together. He knew she was offering him more than a nap in one of the Institute's unused bedrooms, too. She was sure he could see it in her eyes-even if she herself wasn't exactly sure how much she was offering. But it didn't matter. Jace would never ask her for anything she didn't want to give.