Yeah, I suck at updating this story. If its any consolation we're in the thick of things now. Hopefully I don't lose momentum again. Thanks to everyone who's stuck around.
Nobody belongs to me...
City of the Angels
City of the Dead
Of the many words Jace could use to describe himself, few had been unknown before today. Like for instance, stupid, asinine, mentally impaired.
Chancing a look behind him and catching the familiar red streaks shimmering in the cold yellow light of the streetlamps, it was all too clear. He would do anything for her, for his sister. Jace focused into the gloom ahead and attempted to shake away his thoughts. It would serve no one if he kept brooding there. He could do nothing to change the mocking hand fate had dealt him.
He raised a muscular arm to signal the others to stop. Luckily they were unnatural enough to move with the same stealth and tact as he could himself, but just bringing them here, a place where only a select few ever entered, made each footstep and exhale echo through his ears.
Determining, once again, that there was no one down the dark alleyway Jace proceeded with caution. Behind him, Clary moved with startling covertness. The lines of her petite frame had grown hard and lean in her training. She could hardly be considered a girl any longer. She was soft angles and fluid curves. He was glad he was leading and not trapped behind her, but it still made it difficult to concentrate.
Simon followed closely behind her with Jake and Maia bringing up the rear. They already moved like two parts of the same machine. It was a strange, uncomfortable thing to witness and it was just as impossible to ignore. Something inexplicable drew the two together and neither seemed willing to let go. Jace would never admit he was jealous of how uncomplicated it was for them.
The sleeping streets of Idris were humming with a low blanket of white noise, but no one was about at this late an hour. Jace was grateful for at least the small miracles as he continued down the alley, motley crew following tensely behind. Being caught in Idris without strict permission of the Clave was illegal. Bringing in a slew of downworlders was a capital offense. Idris had remained, for centuries, the city of shadowhunters. It had long been separate and above all other places. Not long ago, Jace night have considered himself separate and above. There was no way he would have considered bringing anyone into the famed City of Glass. Of course, that was before Clary.
He wished he could hold her hand, but knew it was wrong to even think it, so settled for hoping Simon was too nervous to do it. He couldn't bear to look back and see, but couldn't stop his thoughts from continuously tormenting him with visions. If Jace were completely honest, he kind of liked Simon, if he looked past the whole Children of the Night thing. He would definitely be a far cry from the faeries and other scum that Isabelle had brought home over the years. But he couldn't stomach the idea of Clary with anyone other than him and it was sick and wrong on so many levels and still impossible to deny.
That was why he was shepherding his flock through the most dangerous city on earth (to them as well as himself if they were caught.) Clary could ask him for anything and he would never deny her. It was impossible.
It had really been a coincidence that Jace had vacationed with the Lightwoods in Italy the summer after he had arrived at the Institute. It was luck that he still remembered the way to the portal that would take them directly to Volterra. That had been a hard time in his young life, but he led through a twisted maze of streets and alleys in the right direction, hoping that once they trekked across the city they would be able to access the portal.
And still, they had no way of knowing for sure where Clary's pretty brunette friend had gone. The most they knew was that whoever was following her was likely to end up there and it was all they had to go on. It didn't really fit with Valentine's M.O., taking her straight into the hands of the downworlders he so despised, but at this point, Jace couldn't be surprised by anything his father tried. He was loose cannon, liable to do anything to get what he wanted.
The big question remained, what was it that Valentine desired? And how could a simple mundie get him closer to his goal? Jace shook his disparagingly. Without understanding Valentine's ultimate goal (aside from wiping out all downworlders and seizing control of Idris) and how Bella figured into it, Jace was just moving aimlessly. He had no idea what to expect, if by some slim chance they made it across the city and into the lair of the coldones. He had really never felt so ill-prepared before.
The comforting weight of the blessed metal at his side was semi-reassuring, but he was afraid he was walking into a suicide mission. Not even the Clave made insane attempts to meet with the vampire coven on their turf. Just add it to the list of crazy things Jace had done today.
"How much further?" Clary whispered when he stopped and studied an open intersection.
"Not much," he answered and pointed across the well lit street at a shop front with hanging baskets overflowing with flowers hung in the windows. Tall leafy plants obscured the view of the inside, but that was where they were headed. The portal was hidden in a closet on the second floor.
"What are we waiting for?" the shapeshifter growled impatiently.
Jace held up his had gesturing them to be silent. He was positive he had heard something. The five of them held their breath for a long time and Jace slowed his rising heart rate to listen. It was seemingly quiet. Nothing moved on Idris' empty streets, yet he was sure...
The shouting came from everywhere at once. Jace had been naïve to believe they had just traipsed across the shadowhunter stronghold unnoticed. They had been followed since entering the sleepy city and had stirred up quite the mob of Nephillium. As the Clave's men stalked toward them, Jace wondered what the hell he could say to get any of them out of this mess. For one panicked second, he actually considered trying to fight, but Clary already formed a plan of her own. Her voice was a whisper, but even without turning to look at her, Jace knew her face was controlled and stubborn as always.
"Run!" she urged.
So, they did, each heading straight for the quaint little flower shop he had shown them moments ago.
The street came alive around them. Spears of white and blue light stabbed into the night sky as the shadowhunters let loose an arsenal of weaponry. Jake and Maia finally separated and were dodging the bombardment as they raced toward the store front. Seconds later, Jace skidded to a stop. Simon was cut off by a hulking shadowhunter dressed in sleek, black gear. With amazing speed, the vampire spun right out of reach of the glowing dagger pointed at his neck. From nowhere, Clary appeared at his side, baring her sword at the man threatening her friend. Jace could see the flash of his eyes from where he stood and began running toward them. He watched as the man lunged forward, biting back his terror at seeing someone attacking Clary. But, she ducked at the last moment, parrying the sword with her own.
Stumbling when he did not meet the intended target, the shadowhunter fell to one knee. With a graceful swoop, Clary raised her sword again, readying to bring it down on the hapless man's neck. The motion was fluid enough to look like dancing, but the beauty was lost by the horror of it.
Jace grabbed her wrist and felt her tendons tighten beneath his hold. There was an instant where he was afraid he wouldn't be able to stop her, but then her eyes met his. The fierce power swirling in the green eyes subsided under his touch but Jace instinctively clamped tighter on her wrist. They couldn't kill a fellow shadowhunter. Doing so would make them no better than Valentine. Besides, they were on the same side. Despite the illicit activities that had led Jace and the others into the dark streets of Idris, these men were not enemies.
Clary seemed to read the emotion in his eyes. Then, she was the one pulling him toward the flower shop. The cool feel of undead fingers linked on his forearm and Simon was helping to drag Jace to their destination. He let his feet stumble the first few steps, then snapped back into reality and began to run again.
Jake was already throwing the stone into the huge picture window by the time Jace could even focus on what was ahead of them. The glass cracked, a spiderweb of tiny fissures erupting across the shiny surface. For a breath, it held, the pieces forced together by some law of physics Jace couldn't recall the name of, until someone shouted from behind. The entire window cracked, each piece smashing to the ground with a thunderous noise.
Jace didn't think the guard knew why the misfits were in their city until they saw the window falling down and by then, it was too late. Small shards were still raining on their heads, but Jace was urging everyone inside and directing them up the stairs. In a whirlwind of noise and shouting, they scrambled upstairs, the shadowhunters racing up behind. Jace was aware they were close, possibly too close, but he pushed at Clary's back, hoping to at least get the others through the portal before he was apprehended. He resolved to break the connection as soon as the others were through. He doubted the Clave would willingly jump to Volterra, even to chase a gang of criminals, but it was better to be safe. The portal would have to be destroyed immediately, regardless of whether Jace made it through at all.
The full length mirror that was revealed in the upstairs closet was no less amazing than the first time he had seen it. It looked like an ordinary, albeit stunning, mirror, inlaid with heavy mahogany and iron attesting to its ageless craftsmanship. The others had stopped and were staring in open awe. Jace couldn't blame them. Looking into a mirror than did not reflect the things before it was unsettling at best. Instead of seeing the downworlders gawking at the fine glass, the reflection revealed a room thousands of miles away.
Jace could see the rich browns and leather of the room in Italy where the portal would take them. He could recall even the smell of it as it had been when he was a child. But there was no time to waste dwelling in the nostalgia of days gone by. They had to move. Shadowhunters were already piling in below them. Jace could hear the rough and panting breaths of a few already rushing toward the stairs.
"Go!" he shouted and it was enough to break the tenuous trance.
For a second, no one moved and Jace thought for sure they would be caught. Then, Clary pushed her way to the front of the pack and jumped right into the portal, without even looking back. The mirror rippled like a stone thrown in a pond and they could see her on the other side as she glanced warily around the room.
Before he could say anything else, Clary motioned toward them and Jake was gone. Maia immediately followed before the rippling had a chance to disperse. Simon was the one to hesitate. He glanced over his shoulder, just as the first shadowhunter lunged up the stairs missing Jace's ankle by a hair.
In his attempt to dodge the grip, Jace collided into Simon's back and sent the vampire sprawling forward and into the glass. Without Simon's body to stop his momentum, Jace landed against the wood trim of the mirror, with one hand breaching the glass half a world away.
It was too late for him. The grabby shadowhunter was on him now. His hand curled into a tight fist around Jace's calf. He tried to kick at the man, satisfied when the bottom of his boot connected with the man's face, resulting in a painful groan. But it wasn't enough. More of them had climbed the steps and were trying to edge around Jace to get between him and the portal.
They were shouting, but their voices were lost in the roar of his heart against his chest. At least he would be comforted knowing Clary had gotten away. He would not think of where she was because at the moment, he couldn't decide with city was the lesser of two evils. At least in Volterra she still had a chance.
He was ready to give in, to stop fighting and accept that he was caught when a huge, russet colored arm shot out of the mirror above his head. It connected with the jaw of one of the shadowhunters who grunted and fell on top of Jace in a heap. The force pushed Jace toward the ground, his arm slipping from the mirror as he went.
But, then, Jake's arm grabbed him and pulled with tremendous strength. The downed shadowhunter rolled off of him limply and Jace would have been pulled clear through if not for the man attached to his foot. Again, he began kicking, uncomfortably twisting his body to see the man hanging on to him. Jace was completely suspended. His body, fighting to free itself from sure punishment was grounded in Idris and his arm penetrated the cool mirrored façade that led to Italy.
Suddenly, more arms burst through the glass. Jace was aware of the rippling sensation as it bent and waved around his arm. Simon's pale ones joined Jacob as they engaged in a tug of war through time and space in an effort to get Jace to them.
Just as instantly as everything had begun, the tension, the stretching was gone. Jace was weightless for half a heartbeat before he landed on top of the rather unattractive and slightly smelly bodies whose arms had just wrenched him to safety.
Ever vigilant, Jace leaped to his feet and tugged at the huge mirror hanging on the wall above them. Inside he saw into the closet in Idris and the red and angry faces of three very upset Nephillium. Reacting as fast as his body granted, Jace ripped the frame from the wall and threw it across the room. Maia ducked out of the way and the mirror exploded on the far wall just as the black clothed arm of a shadowhunter reached through the glass.
Everyone was silent until their ragged breathing slowed. Jace looked at the wearied faces of the others, a little blown away by the sheer magnitude of what was happening.
Jake and Simon were on their feet again, a vampire and werewolf, side by side, and both looking decidedly better than Jace felt. Maia had recovered having the portal tossed at her, but only had eyes for the owner of the deeply tan arm that had helped pull him through.
Clary was in the worst shape. She was nervous and shaking as her eyes roved over Jace. He grimaced at her, not wanting her pity and longing for something so much more, but pulled it into a smirk, trying to pretend when he felt like breaking.
"We're here," he quipped.
Clary rolled her eyes and smiled before turning away.
Then, the door opened. Five shocked expressions turned toward it as a slender, young vampire slid inside and closed the door behind her. The silence became absolute. No one dared breathe as the woman standing in the broken debris of the portal took in their surprised faces. Her nostrils flared briefly and her eyes opened wide, revealing the harsh realization of what they were facing. Eyes, impossibly red and so bright they seemed to glow were assessing them with a malice Simon would never be able to replicate.
Jace made to move between the violent stare and his friends, inwardly snorting when he found he actually considered them that, but Clary moved first.
It was a hesitant step, unsure and wary, but her arm raised and Jace could no longer see the vampire. His body automatically coiled, ready to spring forward, ready to keep Clary safe at all costs. He had never seen a child of the night boasting eyes that color. It made him even more nervous than before. He hadn't thought to encounter something else in Volterra, but it was evident this was no ordinary vampire.
The sound of Clary's voice, shaking and terrified, made him pause mid-step. "Bella?"
Three sharp bangs rattled the door the vampire leaned against.
"What's going on in there?" A booming voice shouted through the thick wood. "Who's in there?" And when no one said a word, he added in a more frantic and feral tone, "Bella?"
They stayed quiet. Jace finished moving forward somewhat surprised that Clary hadn't been attacked yet. If it was indeed Bella, she was very new to this. She shouldn't have been able to control herself this long. His eyes assessed the changes.
Her hair was vibrant, gleaming in the soft light of the room. Her skin was milky and pale, and both more angled and softer than it had been before. Jace even thought she looked a little taller. But it was impossible to decipher her glowing, bloodied eyes.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jace could see Jake was trembling, but his shaking surpassed the mild shivers from Clary. He sensed immediately the shapeshifter was close to snapping and knew he needed to diffuse the situation before it ended up in an all out brawl. He didn't want that to happen anywhere near Clary.
The red eyes snapped to look at Jake's quivering form. She looked for a long time as the furious banging continued behind her.
Then she blinked.
Bella threw herself across the room and into the shapeshifter's arms before any of them had a chance to react. Her arms wrapped around his broad shoulders and she buried her face in his chest as the sobs burst out. Jake's nose twisted for a moment, but this was Bella. This was his best friend. Tentatively he moved his arms and encircled Bella's slender frame, engulfing her in his hugeness. Jace was at a loss and catching Jake's wondering eyes knew the wolf was, too.
Tears began trailing down Clary's face and her hand found Jace's hanging at his side. Without bothering to ask or even meet his surprised look, she weaved her fingers into his and held tight.
"You really do stink," Bella mumbled after a few moments and broke away from the embrace.
Maia snorted. Simon nodded his assent. Jacob leaned down and sniffed his armpit.
The door behind them flew open, bursting through the reunion. They whirled to see it smash against the wall, hanging only by the bottom hinge. A mammoth of a man stepped into the room and snarled loudly.
Jace reached for his belt and his sword was in hand by the time the vampire was on him, but surprisingly, he hadn't even moved to strike before the dark haired leach was flying backward. He thudded against the wall, landing on his feet in the shattered glass debris.
His eyes were narrowed but staring to Jace's left where Bella crouched low and intimidating. A fierce growl rumbled through her chest.
"Stay away from them," she threatened.
Jace was as surprised as both Clary and Jake who had known Bella's human voice so well, but even he could hear the melodic quality it had lacked previously. It was a thousand layers of tone yet as beautiful as a simple bell.
The other vampire eyed her warily before straightening out of his crouch. "I don't get you," he said with genuine amusement. "First you feed from one of your own, then defend a werewolf.
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
A/N: So, I still like reviews...