Monday, 7 January 2013

City of Fallen Angels - Chapter 2

“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
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
“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
“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 anold training
circle chalked onthe floor;itlooked like a bull’s-eye. “Anyway, Ihave 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
“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
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.
Youshould have seenAlec do flips atfirst. Ithink he kicked himself inthe 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
“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.” 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
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. 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
“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
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
“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
“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 heartstopping
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
Hervoice echoed harshlyinthe emptyroom whenshe spoke.“Ilove you, too,” she said.


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