Monday, 7 January 2013

City of Fallen Angels - 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
“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, Icantellyouthat. Whyare you bothering me aboutit?”
“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?”
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
“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. 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
“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 Idream you’re gone,” he said. “Ikeep
wondering whenyou’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
“It means,” he said, “that love is the most powerful force in the world. That love can do
She drew her hand out of his, aware as she did that he was watching her through halflidded
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. 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.
“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
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
“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
“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
“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.” 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
“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
“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
“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 holefilled
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.”
“Make her understand that I’m a vampire? Clary, I think she does understand that, in a
weird kind of way. That doesn’t mean she’s going to accept it or ever be okay with it.”
“Well, you can’t just keep making her forget it, either, Simon,” Clary said. “It’s not going
to work forever.”
“Why not?” He knew he was being unreasonable, but lying on the hard floor, surrounded
by the smell of gasoline and the whisper of spiders spinning their webs in the corners of
the garage, feeling lonelier than he ever had, reasonable seemed very far away.
“Because then your whole relationship with her is a lie. You can’t never go home—”
“So what?” Simon interrupted harshly. “That’s part of the curse, isn’t it? ‘A fugitive and
a wanderer shalt thou be.’”
Despite the traffic noises and the sound of chatter in the background, he could hear
Clary’s sudden indrawn breath.
“You think I should tell her about that, too?” he said. “How you put the Mark of Cain on
me? How I’m basically a walking curse? You think she’s going to want that in her
The background sounds quieted; Clary must have ducked into a doorway. He could hear
her struggling to hold back tears as she said, “Simon, I’m so sorry. You know I’m
“It’s not your fault.” He suddenly felt bone-tired. That’s right, terrify your mother and
then make your best friend cry.
A banner day for you, Simon. “Look, obviously I shouldn’t be around people right now.
I’m just going to stay here, and I’ll crash with Eric when he gets home.”
She made a snuffling laughing-through-tears sound. “What, doesn’t Eric count as
“I’ll get back to you on that later,” he said, and hesitated. “I’ll call you tomorrow, all
“You’ll see me tomorrow. You promised to come to that dress fitting with me,
“Wow,” he said. “I must really love you.”
“I know,” she said. “I love you, too.”
Simon clicked off the phone and lay back, holding it against his chest. It was funny, he
thought. Now he could say “I love you” to Clary, when for years he’d struggled to say
those words and had not been able to get them out of his mouth. Now that he no longer
meant them the same way, it was easy.
Sometimes he did wonder what would have happened if there had never been a Jace
Wayland. If Clary had never found out she was a Shadowhunter. But he pushed the
thought away—pointless, don’t go down that road. You couldn’t change the past. You
could only go forward. Not that he had any idea what forward entailed. He couldn’t stay
in Eric’s garage forever. Even in his current mood, he had to admit it was a miserable
place to stay. He wasn’t cold—he no longer felt either cold or heat in any real way—but
the floor was hard, and he was having trouble sleeping. He wished he could dull his
senses. The loud noise of traffic outside was keeping him from resting, as was the
unpleasant stench of gasoline. But it was the gnawing worry about what to do next that
was the worst.
He’d thrown away most of his blood supply and stashed the rest in his knapsack; he had
about enough for a few more days, and then he’d be in trouble. Eric, wherever he was,
would certainly let Simon stay in the house if he wanted, but that might result in Eric’s
parents calling Simon’s mom. And since she thought he was on a school field trip, that
would do him no good at all.
Days, he thought. That was the amount of time he had. Before he ran out of blood, before
his mother started to wonder where he was and called the school looking for him. Before
she started to remember. He was a vampire now. He was supposed to have eternity. But
what he had was days.
He had been so careful. Tried so hard for what he thought of as a normal life—school,
friends, his own house, his own bedroom. It had been strained, but that was what life was.
Other options seemed so bleak and lonely that they didn’t bear thinking about. And yet
Camille’s voice rang in his head. What about in ten years, when you are supposed to be
twenty-six? In twenty years? Thirty? Do you think no one will notice that as they age and
change, you do not?
The situation he had created for himself, had carved so carefully in the shape of his old
life, had never been permanent, he thought now, with a sinking in his chest. It never
could have been. He’d been clinging to shadows and memories. He thought again of
Camille, of her offer. It sounded better now than it had before. An offer of a community,
even if it wasn’t the community he wanted. He had only about three more days before
she’d come looking for his answer. And what would he tell her when she did? He’d
thought he knew, but now he wasn’t so sure.
A grinding noise interrupted his reverie. The garage door was ratcheting upward, bright
light spearing into the dark interior of the space. Simon sat up, his whole body suddenly
on the alert.
“Nah. It’s me. Kyle.”
“Kyle?” Simon said blankly, before he remembered—the guy they’d agreed to take on as
a lead singer. Simon almost flopped back down onto the ground again. “Oh. Right. None
of the other guys are here right now, so if you were hoping to practice . . .”
“It’s cool. That’s not why I came.” Kyle stepped into the garage, blinking in the darkness,
his hands in the back pockets of his jeans. “You’re whatshisname, the bassist, right?”
Simon got to his feet, brushing garage floor dust off his clothes. “I’m Simon.”
Kyle glanced around, a perplexed furrow between his brows. “I left my keys here
yesterday, I think. Been looking for them everywhere. Hey, there they are.” He ducked
behind the drum set and emerged a second later, rattling a set of keys triumphantly in his
hand. He looked much the same as he had the day before. He had a blue T-shirt on today
under a leather jacket, and a gold saint’s medal sparkled around his neck. His dark hair
was messier than ever. “So,” Kyle said, leaning against one of the speakers. “Were you,
like, sleeping here? On the floor?”
Simon nodded. “Got thrown out of my house.” It wasn’t precisely true, but it was all he
felt like saying.
Kyle nodded sympathetically. “Mom found your weed stash, huh? That sucks.”
“No. No . . . weed stash.” Simon shrugged. “We had a difference of opinion about my
“So, she found out about your two girlfriends?” Kyle grinned. He was good-looking,
Simon had to admit, but unlike Jace, who seemed to know exactly how good-looking he
was, Kyle looked like someone who probably hadn’t brushed his hair in weeks. There
was an open, friendly puppyishness about him that was appealing, though.
“Yeah, Kirk told me about it. Good for you, man.”
Simon shook his head. “It wasn’t that.”
There was a short silence between them. Then:
“I . . . don’t live at home either,” Kyle said. “I left a couple of years ago.” He hugged his
arms around himself, hanging his head down. His voice was low. “I haven’t talked to my
parents since then. I mean, I’m doing all right on myownbut .. . Iget it.”
“Your tattoos,” Simon said, touching his own arms lightly. “What do they mean?”
Kyle stretched his arms out. “Shaantih shaantih shaantih,” he said. “They’re mantras
from the Upanishads.
Sanskrit. Prayers for peace.”
Normally Simon would have thought that getting yourself tattooed in Sanskrit was kind
of pretentious. But right now, he didn’t. “Shalom,” he said.
Kyle blinked at him. “What?”
“Means peace,” said Simon. “In Hebrew. I was just thinking the words sounded sort of
Kyle gave him a long look. He seemed to be deliberating. Finally he said, “This is going
to sound sort of crazy—”
“Oh, I don’t know. My definition of crazy has become pretty flexible in the past few
“—but I have an apartment. In Alphabet City. And my roommate just moved out. It’s a
two-bedroom, so you could crash in his space. There’s a bed in there and everything.”
Simon hesitated. On the one hand he didn’t know Kyle at all, and moving into the
apartment of a total stranger seemed like a stupid move of epic proportions. Kyle could
turn out to be a serial killer, despite his peace tattoos.
On the other hand he didn’t know Kyle at all, which meant no one would come looking
for him there. And what did it matter if Kyle did turn out to be a serial killer? he thought
bitterly. It would turn out worse for Kyle than it would for him, just like it had for that
mugger last night.
“You know,” he said, “I think I’ll take you up on that, if it’s okay.”
Kyle nodded. “My truck’s just outside if you want to ride into the city with me.”
Simon bent to grab his duffel bag and straightened with it slung over his shoulder. He slid
his phone into his pocket and spread his hands wide, indicating his readiness. “Let’s go.”


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