Wednesday, 13 February 2013

City of Lost Souls - Chapter 3

“Man, I thought you’d forgotten you lived here,” Jordan said the moment Simon walked
into the living room of their small apartment, his keys still dangling in his hand. Jordan
was usually to be found sprawled out on their futon, his long legs dangling over the side,
the controller for their Xbox in his hand. Today he was on the futon, but he was sitting up
straight, his broad shoulders hunched forward, his hands in the pockets of his jeans, the
controller nowhere to be seen. He sounded relieved to see Simon, and in a moment
Simon realized why.
Jordan wasn’t alone in the apartment. Sitting across from him in a nubbly orange velvet
armchair—none of Jordan’s furniture matched—was Maia, her wildly curling hair contained
in two braids. The last time Simon had seen her, she’d been glamorously dressed for a
party. Now she was back in uniform: jeans with frayed cuffs, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a
caramel leather jacket. She looked as uncomfortable as Jordan did, her back straight, her
gaze straying to the window. When she saw Simon, she clambered gratefully to her feet
and gave him a hug. “Hey,” she said. “I just stopped by to see how you were doing.”
“I’m fine. I mean, as fine as I could be with everything going on.”
“I didn’t mean about the whole Jace thing,” she said. “I meant about you. How are you
holding up?”
“Me?” Simon was startled. “I’m all right. Worried about Isabelle and Clary. You know
the Clave was investigating her—”
“And I heard she got cleared. That’s good.” Maia let him go. “But I was thinking about
you. And what happened with your mom.”
“How did you know about that?” Simon shot Jordan a look, but Jordan shook his head,
almost imperceptibly. He hadn’t told.
Maia pulled on a braid. “I ran into Eric, of all people. He told me what happened and
that you’d backed out of Millenium Lint’s gigs for the past two weeks because of it.”
“Actually, they changed their name,” Jordan said. “They’re Midnight Burrito now.”
Maia shot Jordan an irritated look, and he slid down a little in his seat. Simon wondered
what they’d been talking about before he’d gotten home. “Have you talked to anyone
else in your family?” Maia asked, her voice soft. Her amber eyes were full of concern.
Simon knew it was churlish, but there was something about being looked at like that that
he didn’t like. It was as if her concern made the problem real, when otherwise he could
pretend it wasn’t happening.
“Yeah,” he said. “Everything’s fine with my family.”
“Really? Because you left your phone here.” Jordan picked it up from the side table.
“And your sister’s been calling you about every five minutes all day. And yesterday.”
A cold feeling spread through Simon’s stomach. He took the phone from Jordan and
looked at the screen. Seventeen missed calls from Rebecca.
“Crap,” he said. “I was hoping to avoid this.”
“Well, she’s your sister,” said Maia. “She was going to call you eventually.”
“I know, but I’ve been sort of fending her off—leaving messages when I knew she
wouldn’t be there, that kind of thing. I just… I guess I was avoiding the inevitable.”
“And now?”
Simon set the phone down on the windowsill. “Keep avoiding it?”
“Don’t.” Jordan took his hands out of his pockets. “You should talk to her.”
“And say what?” The question came out more sharply than Simon had intended.
“Your mother must have told her something,” said Jordan. “She’s probably worried.”
Simon shook his head. “She’ll be coming home for Thanksgiving in a few weeks. I don’t
want her to get mixed up in what’s going on with my mom.”
“She’s already mixed up in it. She’s your family,” said Maia. “Besides, this—what’s going
on with your mom, all of it—this is your life now.”
“Then, I guess I want her to stay out of it.” Simon knew he was being unreasonable,
but he didn’t seem to be able to help it. Rebecca was—special. Different. From a part of
his life that had so far remained untouched by all this weirdness. Maybe the only part.
Maia threw her hands up and turned to Jordan. “Say something to him. You’re his
Praetorian guard.”
“Oh, come on,” said Simon before Jordan could open his mouth. “Are either of you in
touch with your parents? Your families?”
They exchanged quick looks. “No,” Jordan said slowly, “but neither of us had good
relationships with them before—”
“I rest my case,” said Simon. “We’re all orphans. Orphans of the storm.”
“You can’t just ignore your sister,” insisted Maia.
“Watch me.”
“And when Rebecca comes home and your house looks like the set of The Exorcist? And
your mom has no explanation for where you are?” Jordan leaned forward, his hands on
his knees. “Your sister will call the police, and your mom will end up committed.”
“I just don’t think I’m ready to hear her voice,” Simon said, but he knew he’d lost the
argument. “I have to head back out, but I promise, I’ll text her.”
“Well,” Jordan said. He was looking at Maia, not Simon, as he said it, as if he hoped
she’d notice he’d made progress with Simon and be pleased. Simon wondered if they’d
been seeing each other at all during the past two weeks when he’d been largely absent.
He would have guessed no from the awkward way they’d been sitting when he’d come in,
but with these two it was hard to be sure. “It’s a start.”
The rattling gold elevator stopped at the third floor of the Institute; Clary took a deep
breath and stepped out into the hallway. The place was, as Alec and Isabelle had
promised her it would be, deserted and quiet. The traffic on York Avenue outside was a
soft murmur. She imagined she could hear the brush of dust motes against one another
as they danced in the window light. Along the wall were the pegs where the residents of
the Institute hung their coats when they came inside. One of Jace’s black jackets still
dangled from a hook, the sleeves empty and ghostly.
With a shiver she set off down the hallway. She could remember the first time Jace had
taken her through these corridors, his careless light voice telling her about
Shadowhunters, about Idris, about the whole secret world she had never known existed.
She had watched him as he’d talked—covertly, she’d thought, but she knew now that Jace
noticed everything—watching the light glint off his pale hair, the quick movements of his
graceful hands, the flex of the muscles in his arms as he’d gestured.
She reached the library without encountering another Shadowhunter and pushed the
door open. The room still gave her the same shiver it had the first time she’d seen it.
Circular because it was built inside a tower, the library had a second floor gallery, railed,
that ran along the midpoint of the walls, just above the rows of bookshelves. The desk
Clary still thought of as Hodge’s rested in the center of the room, carved from a single
slab of oak, the wide surface rested on the backs of two kneeling angels. Clary halfexpected
Hodge to stand up behind it, his keen-eyed raven, Hugo, perched on his
Shaking off the memory, she headed quickly for the circular staircase at the far end of
the room. She was wearing jeans and rubber-soled sneakers, and a soundless rune was
carved into her ankle; the silence was almost eerie as she bounded up the steps and onto
the gallery. There were books up here too, but they were locked away behind glass
cases. Some looked very old, their covers frayed, their bindings reduced to a few strings.
Others were clearly books of dark or dangerous magic—Unspeakable Cults, The Demon’s
Pox, A Practical Guide to Raising the Dead.
Between the locked bookshelves were glass display cases. Each held something of rare
and beautiful workmanship—a delicate glass flacon whose stopper was an enormous
emerald; a crown with a diamond in the center that did not look as if it would fit any
human head; a pendant in the shape of an angel whose wings were clockwork cogs and
gears; and in the last case, just as Isabelle had promised, a pair of gleaming golden rings
shaped like curling leaves, the faerie work as delicate as baby’s breath.
The case was locked, of course, but the Opening rune—Clary biting her lip as she drew
it, careful not to make it too powerful lest the glass case burst apart and bring people
running—unsnapped the lock. Carefully she eased the case open. It was only as she slid
her stele back into her pocket that she hesitated.
Was this really her? Stealing from the Clave to pay the Queen of the Fair Folk, whose
promises, as Jace had told her once, were like scorpions, with a barbed sting in the tail?
She shook her head as if to clear the doubts away—and froze. The door to the library
was opening. She could hear the creak of wood, muffled voices, footsteps. Without
another thought she dropped to the ground, flattening herself against the cold wooden
floor of the gallery.
“You were right, Jace,” came a voice—coolly amused, and horribly familiar—from
below. “The place is deserted.”
The ice that had been in Clary’s veins seemed to crystallize, freezing her in place. She
could not move, could not breathe. She had not felt a shock this intense since she had
seen her father run a sword through Jace’s chest. Very slowly she inched toward the edge
of the gallery and looked down.
And bit down on her lip savagely to keep herself from screaming.
The sloping roof above rose to a point and was set with a glass skylight. Sunlight
poured down through the skylight, lighting a portion of the floor like a spotlight on a
stage. She could see that the chips of glass and marble and bits of semiprecious stone
that were inlaid in the floor formed a design—the Angel Raziel, the cup and the sword.
Standing directly on one of the Angel’s outspread wings was Jonathan Christopher
So this was what her brother looked like. Really looked like, alive and moving and
animated. A pale face, all angles and planes, tall and slim in black gear. His hair was
silvery white, not dark as it had been when she had first seen him, dyed to match the
color of the real Sebastian Verlac’s. His own pale color suited him better. His eyes were
black and snapping with life and energy. The last time she’d seen him, floating in a glass
coffin like Snow White, one of his hands had been a bandaged stump. Now that hand was
whole again, with a silver bracelet glittering on the wrist, but nothing visible showed that
it had ever been damaged—and more than damaged, had been missing.
And there beside him, golden hair shimmering in the pale sunlight, was Jace. Not Jace
as she had imagined him so often over the past two weeks—beaten or bleeding or
suffering or starving, locked away in some dark cell, screaming in pain or calling out for
her. This was Jace as she remembered him, when she let herself remember—flushed and
healthy and vibrant and beautiful. His hands were careless in the pockets of his jeans, his
Marks visible through his white T-shirt. Over it was thrown an unfamiliar tan suede jacket
that brought out the gold undertones to his skin. He tipped his head back, as if enjoying
the feeling of sun on his face. “I’m always right, Sebastian,” he said. “You ought to know
that about me by now.”
Sebastian gave him a measured look, and then a smile. Clary stared. It had every
appearance of being a real smile. But what did she know? Sebastian had smiled at her
before, and that had turned out to be one big lie. “So where are the books on
summoning? Is there any order to the chaos here?”
“Not really. It’s not alphabetized. It follows Hodge’s special system.”
“Isn’t he the one I killed? Inconvenient, that,” said Sebastian. “Perhaps I should take
the upstairs level and you the downstairs.”
He moved toward the staircase that led up to the gallery. Clary’s heart began to pound
with fear. She associated Sebastian with murder, blood, pain, and terror. She knew that
Jace had fought him and won once but had nearly died in the process himself. In a handto-
hand fight she would never beat her brother. Could she fling herself from the gallery
railing to the floor without breaking a leg? And if she did, what would happen then? What
would Jace do?
Sebastian had his foot on the lowest step when Jace called out to him, “Wait. They’re
here. Filed under ‘Magic, Nonlethal.’”
“Nonlethal? Where’s the fun in that?” Sebastian purred, but he took his foot off the step
and moved back toward Jace. “This is quite a library,” he said, reading off titles as he
passed them. “The Care and Feeding of Your Pet Imp. Demons Revealed .” He plucked
that one off the shelf and let out a long, low chuckle.
“What is it?” Jace looked up, his mouth curving upward. Clary wanted to run downstairs
and throw herself at him so badly that she bit down on her lip again. The pain was acid
“It’s pornography,” said Sebastian. “Look. Demons… revealed.”
Jace came up behind him, resting one hand on Sebastian’s arm for balance as he read
over his shoulder. It was like watching Jace with Alec, someone he was so comfortable
with, he could touch them without thinking about it—but horrible, backward, inside out.
“Okay, how can you tell?”
Sebastian shut the book and hit Jace lightly on the shoulder with it. “Some things I
know more about than you. Did you get the books?”
“I got them.” Jace scooped up a stack of heavy-looking tomes from a nearby table. “Do
we have time to go by my room? If I could get some of my stuff…”
“What do you want?”
Jace shrugged. “Clothes mostly, some weapons.”
Sebastian shook his head. “Too dangerous. We need to get in and out fast. Only
emergency items.”
“My favorite jacket is an emergency item,” Jace said. It was so much like hearing him
talk to Alec, to any of his friends. “Much like myself, it is both snuggly and fashionable.”
“Look, we have all the money we could want,” said Sebastian. “Buy clothes. And you’ll
be ruling this place in a few weeks. You can run your favorite jacket up the flagpole and
fly it like a pennant.”
Jace laughed, that soft rich sound Clary loved. “I’m warning you, that jacket is sexy.
The Institute could go up in sexy, sexy flames.”
“Be good for the place. Too dismal right now.” Sebastian grabbed the back of Jace’s
current jacket with a fist and pulled him sideways. “Now we’re going. Hold on to the
books.” He glanced down at his right hand, where a slim silver ring glittered; with the
hand that wasn’t holding on to Jace, he used his thumb to twist the ring.
“Hey,” Jace said. “Do you think—” He broke off, and for a moment Clary thought that it
was because he had looked up and seen her—his face was tilted upward—but even as
she sucked in her breath, they both vanished, fading like mirages against the air.
Slowly Clary lowered her head onto her arm. Her lip was bleeding where she had bitten
it; she could taste the blood in her mouth. She knew she should get up, move, run away.
She wasn’t supposed to be here. But the ice in her veins had grown so cold, she was
terrified that if she moved, she would shatter.
Alec woke to Magnus’s shaking his shoulder. “Come on, sweet pea,” he said. “Time to rise
and face the day.”
Alec unfolded himself groggily out of his nest of pillows and blankets and blinked at his
boyfriend. Magnus, despite having gotten very little sleep, looked annoyingly chipper. His
hair was wet, dripping onto the shoulders of his white shirt and making it transparent. He
wore jeans with holes in them and fraying hems, which usually meant he was planning to
spend the day without leaving his apartment.
“‘Sweet pea’?” Alec said.
“I was trying it out.”
Alec shook his head. “No.”
Magnus shrugged. “I’ll keep at it.” He held out a chipped blue mug of coffee fixed the
way Alec liked it—black, with sugar. “Wake up.”
Alec sat up, rubbing at his eyes, and took the mug. The first bitter swallow sent a tingle
of energy through his nerves. He remembered lying awake the night before and waiting
for Magnus to come to bed, but eventually exhaustion had overtaken him and he had
fallen asleep at around five a.m. “I’m skipping the Council meeting today.”
“I know, but you’re supposed to meet your sister and the others in the park by Turtle
Pond. You told me to remind you.”
Alec swung his legs over the side of the bed. “What time is it?”
Magnus took the mug gently out of his hand before the coffee spilled and set it on the
bedside table. “You’re fine. You’ve got an hour.” He leaned forward and pressed his lips
against Alec’s; Alec remembered the first time they had ever kissed, here in this
apartment, and he wanted to wrap his arms around his boyfriend and pull him close. But
something held him back.
He stood up, disentangling himself, and went over to the bureau. He had a drawer
where his clothes were. A place for his toothbrush in the bathroom. A key to the front
door. A decent amount of real estate to take up in anyone’s life, and yet he couldn’t
shake the cold fear in his stomach.
Magnus had rolled onto his back on the bed and was watching Alec, one arm crooked
behind his head. “Wear that scarf,” he said, pointing to a blue cashmere scarf hanging on
a peg. “It matches your eyes.”
Alec looked at it. Suddenly he was filled with hate—for the scarf, for Magnus, and most
of all for himself. “Don’t tell me,” he said. “The scarf’s a hundred years old, and it was
given to you by Queen Victoria right before she died, for special services to the Crown or
Magnus sat up. “What’s gotten into you?”
Alec stared at him. “Am I the newest thing in this apartment?”
“I think that honor goes to Chairman Meow. He’s only two.”
“I said newest, not youngest,” Alec snapped. “Who’s W.S.? Is it Will?”
Magnus shook his head like there was water in his ears. “What the hell? You mean the
snuffbox? W.S. is Woolsey Scott. He—”
“Founded the Praetor Lupus. I know.” Alec pulled on his jeans and zipped them up.
“You mentioned him before, and besides, he’s a historical figure. And his snuffbox is in
your junk drawer. What else is in there? Jonathan Shadowhunter’s toenail clippers?”
Magnus’s cat eyes were cold. “Where is all this coming from, Alexander? I don’t lie to
you. If there’s anything about me you want to know, you can ask.”
“Bull,” Alec said bluntly, buttoning his shirt. “You’re kind and funny and all those great
things, but what you’re not is forthcoming, sweet pea. You can talk all day about other
people’s problems, but you won’t talk about yourself or your history, and when I do ask,
you wriggle like a worm on a hook.”
“Maybe because you can’t ask me about my past without picking a fight about how I’m
going to live forever and you’re not,” Magnus snapped. “Maybe because immortality is
rapidly becoming the third person in our relationship, Alec.”
“Our relationship isn’t supposed to have a third person.”
Alec’s throat tightened. There were a thousand things he wanted to say, but he had
never been good with words like Jace and Magnus were. Instead he grabbed the blue
scarf off its peg and wrapped it defiantly around his neck.
“Don’t wait up,” he said. “I might patrol tonight.”
As he slammed out of the apartment, he heard Magnus yell after him, “And that scarf,
I’ll have you know, is from the Gap! I got it last year!”
Alec rolled his eyes and jogged down the stairs to the lobby. The single bulb that
usually lit the place was out, and the space was so dim that for a moment he didn’t see
the hooded figure slipping toward him from the shadows. When he did, he was so startled
that he dropped his key chain with a rattling clang.
The figure glided toward him. He could tell nothing about it—not age or gender or even
species. The voice that came from beneath the hood was crackling and low. “I have a
message for you, Alec Lightwood,” it said. “From Camille Belcourt.”
“Do you want to patrol together tonight?” Jordan asked, somewhat abruptly.
Maia turned to look at him in surprise. He was leaning back against the kitchen
counter, his elbows on the surface behind him. There was an unconcern about his posture
that was too studied to be sincere. That was the problem with knowing someone so well,
she thought. It was very hard to pretend around them, or to ignore it when they were
pretending, even when it would be easier.
“Patrol together?” she echoed. Simon was in his room, changing clothes; she’d told him
she’d walk to the subway with him, and now she wished she hadn’t. She knew she should
have contacted Jordan since the last time she’d seen him, when, rather unwisely, she’d
kissed him. But then Jace had vanished and the whole world seemed to have blown into
pieces and it had given her just the excuse she’d needed to avoid the whole issue.
Of course, not thinking about the ex-boyfriend who had broken your heart and turned
you into a werewolf was a lot easier when he wasn’t standing right in front of you,
wearing a green shirt that hugged his leanly muscled body in all the right places and
brought out the hazel color of his eyes.
“I thought they were canceling the patrol searches for Jace,” she said, looking away
from him.
“Well, not canceling so much as cutting down. But I’m Praetor, not Clave. I can look for
Jace on my own time.”
“Right,” she said.
He was playing with something on the counter, arranging it, but his attention was still
on her. “Do you, you know… You used to want to go to college at Stanford. Do you still?”
Her heart skipped a beat. “I haven’t thought about college since…” She cleared her
throat. “Not since I Changed.”
His cheeks flushed. “You were—I mean, you always wanted to go to California. You
were going to study history, and I was going to move out there and surf. Remember?”
Maia shoved her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket. She felt as if she ought to
be angry, but she wasn’t. For a long time she had blamed Jordan for the fact that she’d
stopped dreaming of a human future, with school and a house and a family, maybe,
someday. But there were other wolves in the police station pack who still pursued their
dreams, their art. Bat, for instance. It had been her own choice to stop her life short. “I
remember,” she said.
His cheeks flushed. “About tonight. No one’s searched the Brooklyn Navy Yard, so I
thought… but it’s never much fun doing it on my own. But if you don’t want to…”
“No,” she said, hearing her own voice as if it were someone else’s. “I mean, sure. I’ll go
with you.”
“Really?” His hazel eyes lit up, and Maia cursed herself inwardly. She shouldn’t get his
hopes up, not when she wasn’t sure how she felt. It was just so hard to believe that he
cared that much.
The Praetor Lupus medallion gleamed at his throat as he leaned forward, and she
smelled the familiar scent of his soap, and under that—wolf. She flicked her eyes up
toward him, just as Simon’s door opened and he came out, shrugging on a hoodie. He
stopped dead in his doorway, his eyes moving from Jordan to Maia, his eyebrows slowly
“You know, I can make it to the subway on my own,” he said to Maia, a faint smile
tugging the corner of his mouth. “If you want to stay here…”
“No.” Maia hastily took her hands out of her pockets, where they had been balled into
nervous fists. “No, I’ll come with you. Jordan, I’ll—I’ll see you later.”
“Tonight,” he called after her, but she didn’t turn around to look at him; she was
already hurrying after Simon.
Simon trudged alone up the low rise of the hill, hearing the shouts of the Frisbee players
in the Sheep Meadow behind him, like distant music. It was a bright November day, crisp
and windy, the sun lighting what remained of the leaves on the trees to brilliant shades of
scarlet, gold, and amber.
The top of the hill was strewn with boulders. You could see how the park had been
hacked out of what had once been a wilderness of trees and stone. Isabelle sat atop one
of the boulders, wearing a long dress of bottle-green silk with an embroidered black and
silver coat over it. She looked up as Simon strode toward her, pushing her long, dark hair
out of her face. “I thought you’d be with Clary,” she said as he drew closer. “Where is
“Leaving the Institute,” he said, sitting down next to Isabelle on the rock and shoving
his hands into his Windbreaker pockets. “She texted. She’ll be here soon.”
“Alec’s on his way—,” she began, and broke off as his pocket buzzed. Or, more
accurately, the phone in his pocket buzzed. “I think someone’s messaging you.”
He shrugged. “I’ll check it later.”
She gave him a look from under her long eyelashes. “Anyway, I was saying, Alec’s on
his way too. He had to come all the way from Brooklyn, so—”
Simon’s phone buzzed again.
“All right, that’s it. If you’re not getting it, I will.” Isabelle leaned forward, against
Simon’s protests, and slipped her hand into his pocket. The top of her head brushed his
chin. He smelled her perfume—vanilla—and the scent of her skin underneath. When she
pulled the phone out and drew back, he was both relieved and disappointed.
She squinted at the screen. “Rebecca? Who’s Rebecca?”
“My sister.”
Isabelle’s body relaxed. “She wants to meet you. She says she hasn’t seen you since—”
Simon swiped the phone out of her hand and flipped it off before shoving it back into
his pocket. “I know, I know.”
“Don’t you want to see her?”
“More than—more than almost anything else. But I don’t want her to know. About me.”
Simon picked up a stick and threw it. “Look what happened when my mom found out.”
“So set up a meeting with her somewhere public. Where she can’t freak out. Far from
your house.”
“Even if she can’t freak out, she can still look at me like my mother did,” Simon said in
a low voice. “Like I’m a monster.”
Isabelle touched his wrist lightly. “My mom tossed out Jace when she thought he was
Valentine’s son and a spy—then she regretted it horribly. My mom and dad are coming
around to Alec’s being with Magnus. Your mom will come around too. Get your sister on
your side. That’ll help.” She tilted her head a little. “I think sometimes siblings understand
more than parents. There’s not the same weight of expectations. I could never, ever cut
Alec off. No matter what he did. Never. Or Jace.” She squeezed his arm, then dropped her
hand. “My little brother died. I won’t ever see him again. Don’t put your sister through
“Through what?” It was Alec, coming up the side of the hill, kicking dried leaves out of
his path. He was wearing his usual ratty sweater and jeans, but a dark blue scarf that
matched his eyes was wrapped around his throat. Now, that had to have been a gift from
Magnus, Simon thought. No way would Alec have thought to buy something like that
himself. The concept of matching seemed to be beyond him.
Isabelle cleared her throat. “Simon’s sister—”
She got no further than that. There was a blast of cold air, bringing with it a swirl of
dead leaves. Isabelle put her hand up to shield her face from the dust as the air began to
shimmer with the unmistakeable translucence of an opening Portal, and Clary appeared
before them, her stele in one hand and her face wet with tears.


Post a Comment