City of Fallen Angels
Page 9

 Cassandra Clare

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"I want to." The heat she saw in his eyes, the ragged edge to his voice, told her he wasn't lying. "But-we can't." He took her wrists firmly, and drew them down, holding their hands between them, making a barrier.
Clary's eyes widened. "Why not?"
He took a deep breath. "We came here to train, and we should train. If we just spend all the time we're supposed to be training making out instead, they'll quit letting me help train you at all."
"Aren't they supposed to be hiring someone else to train me full-time anyway?"
"Yes," he said, getting up and pulling her to her feet along with him, "and I'm worried that if you get into the habit of making out with your instructors, you'll wind up making out with him, too."
"Don't be sexist. They could find me a female instructor."
"In that case you have my permission to make out with her, as long as I can watch."
"Nice." Clary grinned, bending down to fold up the blanket they'd brought to sit on. "You're just worried they'll hire a male instructor and he'll be hotter than you."
Jace's eyebrows went up. "Hotter than me?"
"It could happen," Clary said. "You know, theoretically."
"Theoretically the planet could suddenly crack in half, leaving me on one side and you on the other side, forever and tragically parted, but I'm not worried about that, either. Some things," Jace said, with his customary crooked smile, "are just too unlikely to dwell upon."
He held out his hand; she took it, and together they crossed the meadow, heading for a copse of trees at the edge of the East Meadow that only Shadowhunters seemed to know about. Clary suspected it was glamoured, since she and Jace trained there fairly often and no one had ever interrupted them there except Isabelle or Maryse.
Central Park in autumn was a riot of color. The trees lining the meadow had put on their brightest colors and circled the green in blazing gold, red, copper, and russet orange. It was a beautiful day to take a romantic walk through the park and kiss on one of the stone bridges. But that wasn't going to happen. Obviously, as far as Jace was concerned, the park was an outside extension of the Institute's training room, and they were there to run Clary through various exercises involving terrain navigation, escape and evasion techniques, and killing things with her bare hands.
Normally she would have been excited to learn how to kill things with her bare hands. But there was still something bothering her about Jace. She couldn't rid herself of the nagging feeling that something was seriously wrong. If only there were a rune, she thought, that would make him tell her what he was really feeling. But she would never create a rune like that, she reminded herself hastily. It would be unethical to use her power to try to control someone else. And besides, since she'd created the binding rune in Idris, her power had lain seemingly dormant. She had felt no urge to draw old runes, nor had she had any visions of new runes to create. Maryse had told her that they would be trying to bring in a specialist in runes to tutor her, once training really got underway, but so far that hadn't materialized. Not that she minded, really. She had to admit she wasn't sure she would be entirely sorry if her power had vanished forever.
"There are going to be times when you encounter a demon and you don't have a fighting weapon," Jace was saying as they passed under a row of trees laden with low-hanging leaves whose colors ran the gamut from green to brilliant gold. "At that point, you can't panic. First, you have to remember that anything can be a weapon. A tree branch, a handful of coins-they make great brass knuckles-a shoe, anything. And second, keep in mind that you are a weapon. In theory, when you're done with training, you should be able to kick a hole in a wall or knock out a moose with a single punch."
"I would never hit a moose," said Clary. "They're endangered."
Jace smiled slightly, and swung to face her. They had reached the copse, a small, cleared area in the center of a stand of trees. There were runes carved into the trunks of the trees that surrounded them, marking it as a Shadowhunter place.
"There's an ancient fighting style called Muay Thai," he said. "Have you heard of it?"
She shook her head. The sun was bright and steady, and she was almost too hot in her track pants and warm-up jacket. Jace took off his jacket and turned back to her, flexing his slim pianist's hands. His eyes were intensely gold in the autumn light. Marks for speed, agility, and strength trailed like a pattern of vines from his wrists up and over the swell of each bicep, disappearing under the sleeves of his T-shirt. She wondered why he'd bothered Marking himself up as if she were a foe to be reckoned with.
"I heard a rumor that the new instructor we're getting next week is a master of Muay Thai," he said. "And sambo, lethwei, tomoi, krav maga, jujitsu, and another one that frankly I don't remember the name of, but it involves killing people with small sticks or something. My point is, he or she isn't going to be used to working with someone your age who's as inexperienced as you are, so if we teach you a few of the basics, I'm hoping it'll make them feel a little more generously toward you." He reached out to put his hands on her hips. "Now turn and face me."
Clary did as instructed. Facing each other like this, her head came to the bottom of his chin. She rested her hands lightly on his biceps.
"Muay Thai is called 'the art of eight limbs.' That's because you use not just your fists and feet as strike points, but also your knees and elbows. First you want to pull your opponent in, then pummel him with every one of your strike points until he or she collapses."
"And that works on demons?" Clary raised her eyebrows.
"The smaller ones." Jace moved closer to her. "Okay. Reach your hand around and grip the back of my neck."
It was just possible to do as he instructed without going up on her toes. Not for the first time, Clary cursed the fact that she was so short.
"Now you raise your other hand and do the same thing again, so your hands are looped around the back of my neck."
She did it. The back of his neck was warm from the sun, and his soft hair tickled her fingers. Their bodies were pressed up against each other; she could feel the ring she wore on a chain around her neck pressed between them like a pebble pressed between two palms.
"In a real fight you'd do that move much faster," he said. Unless she was imagining it, his voice was a little unsteady. "Now that grip on me gives you leverage. You're going to use that leverage to pull yourself forward and add momentum to your upward knee kicks-"
"My, my," said a cool, amused voice. "Only six weeks, and already at each other's throats? How swiftly mortal love does fade."
Releasing her hold on Jace, Clary whirled, though she already knew who it was. The Queen of the Seelie Court stood in the shadows between two trees. If Clary had not known she was there, she wondered if she would have seen her, even with the Sight. The Queen wore a gown as green as grass, and her hair, falling around her shoulders, was the color of a turning leaf. She was as beautiful and awful as a dying season. Clary had never trusted her.
"What are you doing here?" It was Jace, his eyes narrow. "This is a Shadowhunter place."
"And I have news of interest to Shadowhunters." As the Queen stepped gracefully forward, the sun lanced down through the trees and sparked off the circlet of golden berries she wore around her head. Clary sometimes wondered if the Queen planned these dramatic entrances, and if so, how. "There has been another death."
"What sort of death?"
"Another one of you. Dead Nephilim." There was a certain relish to the way the Queen said it. "The body was found this dawn beneath Oak Bridge. As you know, the park is my domain. A human killing is not of concern to me, but the death did not seem to be one of mundane origins. The body was brought to the Court to be examined by my physicians. They pronounced the dead mortal one of yours."
Clary looked quickly at Jace, remembering the news of the dead Shadowhunter two days before. She could tell Jace was thinking the same thing; he had paled. "Where is the body?" he asked.
"Are you concerned about my hospitality? He bides in my court, and I assure you that we afford his body all the respect we would give a living Shadowhunter. Now that one of my own has a place on the Council beside you and yours, you can hardly doubt our good faith."
"As always, good faith and my Lady go hand in hand." The sarcasm in Jace's voice was clear, but the Queen just smiled. She liked Jace, Clary had always thought, in that way that faeries liked pretty things because they were pretty. She did not think the Queen liked her, and the feeling was mutual. "And why are you giving this message to us, instead of to Maryse? Custom would indicate-"
"Oh, custom." The Queen waved away convention with a flip of her hand. "You were here. It seemed expedient."
Jace gave her another narrow look and flipped his cell phone open. He gestured at Clary to stay where she was, and walked a little ways away. She could hear him saying, "Maryse?" as the phone was answered, and then his voice was swallowed up by shouts from the playing fields nearby.
With a feeling of cold dread, she looked back at the Queen. She had not seen the Lady of the Seelie Court since her last night in Idris, and then Clary had not exactly been polite to her. She doubted the Queen had forgotten or forgiven her for that. Would you truly refuse a favor from the Queen of the Seelie Court?
"I heard Meliorn got a seat on the Council," Clary said now. "You must be pleased about that."
"Indeed." The Queen looked at her with amusement. "I am sufficiently delighted."
"So," Clary said. "No hard feelings, then?"
The Queen's smile turned icy around the edges, like frost riming the sides of a pond. "I suppose you refer to my offer, which you so rudely declined," she said. "As you know, my objective was accomplished regardless; the loss there, I imagine most would agree, was yours."
"I didn't want your deal." Clary tried to keep the sharpness from her voice, and failed. "People can't do what you want all the time, you know."
"Do not presume to lecture me, child." The Queen's eyes followed Jace, who was pacing at the edge of the trees, phone in hand. "He is beautiful," she said. "I can see why you love him. But did you ever wonder what draws him to you?"
Clary said nothing to that; there seemed nothing to say.
"The blood of Heaven binds you," said the Queen. "Blood calls to blood, under the skin. But love and blood are not the same."
"Riddles," Clary said angrily. "Do you even mean anything when you talk like that?"
"He is bound to you," said the Queen. "But does he love you?"
Clary felt her hands twitch. She longed to try out on the Queen some of the new fighting moves she'd learned, but she knew how unwise that would be. "Yes, he does."
"And does he want you? For love and desire are not always as one."
"That's none of your business," Clary said shortly, but she could see that the Queen's eyes on her were as sharp as pins.
"You want him like you have never wanted anything else. But does he feel the same?" The Queen's soft voice was inexorable. "He could have anything or anyone he pleases. Do you wonder why he chose you? Do you wonder if he regrets it? Has he changed toward you?"
Clary felt tears sting the backs of her eyes. "No, he hasn't." But she thought of his face in the elevator that night, and the way he had told her to go home when she'd offered to stay.
"You told me that you did not wish to make a compact with me, for there was nothing I could give you. You said there was nothing in the world you wanted." The Queen's eyes glittered. "When you imagine your life without him, do you still feel the same?"
Why are you doing this to me? Clary wanted to scream, but she said nothing, for the Faerie Queen glanced past her, and smiled, saying, "Wipe your tears, for he returns. It will do you no good for him to see you cry."
Clary rubbed hastily at her eyes with the back of her hand, and turned; Jace was walking toward them, frowning. "Maryse is on her way to the Court," he said. "Where did the Queen go?"
Clary looked at him, surprised. "She's right here," she began, turning-and broke off. Jace was right. The Queen was gone, only a swirl of leaves at Clary's feet to show where she had stood.
Simon, his jacket wadded up under his head, was lying on his back, staring up at the hole-filled ceiling of Eric's garage with a sense of grim fatality. His duffel bag was at his feet, his phone pressed against his ear. Right now the familiarity of Clary's voice on the other end of it was the only thing keeping him from falling apart completely.
"Simon, I'm so sorry." He could tell she was somewhere in the city. The loud blare of traffic sounded behind her, muffling her voice. "Are you seriously in Eric's garage? Does he know you're there?"
"No," Simon said. "No one's home at the moment, and I've got the garage key. It seemed like a place to go. Where are you, anyway?"
"In the city." To Brooklynites, Manhattan was always "the city." No other metropolis existed. "I was training with Jace, but then he had to go back to the Institute for some kind of Clave business. I'm headed back to Luke's now." A car honked loudly in the background. "Look, do you want to stay with us? You could sleep on Luke's couch."
Simon hesitated. He had good memories of Luke's. In all the years he'd known Clary, Luke had lived in the same ratty but pleasant old row house over the bookstore. Clary had a key, and she and Simon had whiled away a lot of pleasant hours there, reading books they'd "borrowed" from the store downstairs, or watching old movies on the TV.
Things were different now, though.
"Maybe my mom could talk to your mom," Clary said, sounding worried by his silence. "Make her understand."