Open and Shut
He held his stele in his hand and continued staring at it with great contemplation. He closed his eyes and dropped his hands to his sides, letting go of the stele and letting it roll off of his bed, hitting the ground with a clatter. He had never felt so confused and recently he had found that he didn't have all the answers he thought he'd had.
In only a few weeks, he had gone from being Jace Wayland to Jonathan Morgenstern to... Did he even know anymore? He sometimes found himself wishing he had been killed by the demon that day on the ship. Instead, the Inquisitor dove in front of him, giving her life for his. He remembered the moment of dazed confusion he had felt the moment he had opened his eyes again.
Now Jace closed his eyes and could see the woman clearly, lying on the deck of the boat, surrounded by the blood of demons and a fast-growing pool of her own. He had wanted to ask her why she did it; why she had let herself, someone of such high standing and importance in the Clave, go to certain death for someone she had been so ready to send to death only hours earlier. Someone she had threatened to kill with her own hands...
He squeezed his eyes as tight as he could, so tight that it hurt, and the scene played over in his mind. He bent down next to her and she beckoned him closer, close enough to whisper in his ear, "A true shadowhuter would rather die than see their kin slain in front of them." And then she was gone.
He opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. "What does that mean?" he had asked her. "What does that mean?" He said aloud to no one. He still couldn't comprehend any of it. Was everyone playing some kind of cruel joke on him?
He thought of Clary. The petite and fiery redhead seemed to be occupying a lot of his thoughts these days, but this time was different. Closing his eyes again, he tried to imagine her every detail. Small, red hair, green almond-shaped eyes, slightly rounded jawline, and more compassion than any shadowhunter should possibly have. He thought of Jocelyn, who was very similar only older and slightly taller. Her hair was a bit lighter, turning to an orange, but red hair did tend to fade over the years. He didn't know much of her compassion, seeing as she had been in a coma since he had... Well...
His mind wandered to Valentine. White-pending-platinum hair, tall, dark beady eyes, heartless, arrogant, strong...
Jace opened his eyes and blinked away the images of Valentine. The more he thought of it, the more he realized how unlike him he was. There wasn't a single physical resemblance between the two of them, unless the hair counted as resemblance, even when the colors were very dissimilar. The only similarities were personality traits that Valentine had instilled in him when he was young... Impressionable... Moldable... "Ask him whose blood runs in your veins," the Seelie Queen had told him. Valentine had seemed surprised for a moment, but then he had covered.
He closed his eyes for a third time, willing the words of the Inquisitor to run through his mind again. He thought of everything she had told him, everything he had ever heard about her, and everything he had thought of her. She had valued family above anything else, even though she had none left at the time of her death.
Thought she had none left, his mind spoke, until just before her death.
Stephen, he thought in the back of his mind. Her "golden boy." She would have killed me to get even with Valentine for his death.
Jace balled his fists into the sheets of his bed and tore at them for a moment. He took a few deep breaths and tried to think again.
What if "golden boy" was literal? he wondered, trying to picture an older man, much like himself, with gold hair, golden eyes, and the strength of an honorable shadowhunter. He could imagine himself bearing a resemblance to this man named Stephen whom Valentine had murdered. But that was only if he took the words literally. It could just mean that she had thought he was perfect. Like gold. I shouldn't read into this so much...
"But why would she say that? And with her dying breath?" He asked himself aloud, willing his mind to stop arguing with him..
Deep down, he knew why. He knew exactly why. And so did his argumentative mind.
He was her grandson.
There was no other explanation. Yes, it was Law to protect a fellow shadowhunter, but not necessarily if it meant that you would fall in combat... Especially if you were of high rank. And she was the Inquisitor.
Jace opened his eyes. How much planning must it have taken for Valentine to do it? To hurt everyone he possibly could, just to ensure that he would have a child he could mold after himself?
Jace tried to play out a hypothetical timeline in his head. Jocelyn would have given birth to the real Jonathan Christopher... That put the ball in motion. Perhaps he saw her turning against him once the child was born... Softening with the new responsibility of motherhood.
And we couldn't have that. That wouldn't be acceptable to Valentine, Jace thought, "To love is to destroy."
He continued to let his mind wander farther into the realm of what may have been.
Valentine would have seen her soften, loving her child, and thinking that, prehaps, the cause wasn't worth it. He saw Michael Wayland have his son, Jonathan, and started to concoct a plan. Or maybe Wayland had his baby first and Valentine had used his influence over Jocelyn to name their child Jonathan.
How many infants died so that I could have their name? Jace wondered.
He knew that he was leaving "what may have been" and turning towards "what probably has been," but he continued to ponder.
After Valentine had two infants who were possible choices, he saw a third chance when Stephen and Celine were expecting a child. He had probably compared the strength of each pair and the loyalty of each shadowhunter to his cause. His own child would have been out of the question: He would want to get back at Jocelyn for rethinking her place in The Circle. Michael Wayland's Jonathan? There wasn't enough violence in the death of that child.
But Stephen and Celine... Valentine could get back at the Inquisitor with the supposed death of the three of them. By killing Stephen, he would crush the Inquisitor. Jace didn't even know if she had been the Inquisitor at the time, but he didn't think it mattered either way. She had been a part of the Clave which would have been enough for Valentine. Ripping apart a prominent Shadowhunter family? That was his territory.
Jace remembered her mentioning the scar on his shoulder and grimaced with the realization of what it must have been from. It didn't surprise him in the least that Valentine would be capable of cutting an infant from its mother's corpse. A woman that Valentine had killed himself. Probably slowly with perfect precision to ensure the health of the baby he was killing her for. And then he had probably put the small star over it... Branding him as his own child.
He squeezed his eyes shut tight and tried to shake away the image of Valentine holding him, covered in both amniotic fluid and his mother's fresh blood, and walking away from the corpse before burning everything to the ground.
He had killed Michael Wayland's family. He had killed Jocelyn's baby boy and her parents. He had killed so many others...
He opened his eyes, seeing the same ceiling. It never changed. Some things never did...
Except my last name, he thought wryly, that seems to change weekly.
Then the painful realization hit him: He didn't know his last name. Not this time. He knew nothing about the Inquisitor, other than that her first name was Imogen, from the one time what Maryse had let it slip.
He took a deep breath.
Jace knew nothing about his family. At least in the past, he had known some things. He had grown up with Valentine, thinking he was Michael Wayland, and had heard stories from the Lightwoods about the real Michael Wayland. He had heard about Jocelyn from Clary.
His heart skipped.
Sweet Clary who was not his sister.
Somhow, deep down, he had harbored doubt that they were related from the day that he had been told. But he had always assumed that it was her paternity that was in question. After all, only moments after learning of their blood, Luke had burst into the room and risked his life against Valentine. And it was clear that Luke was in love with Jocelyn, whether he admitted it out loud or not.
Jace, however, had been wrong. He was the one with the confusing bloodline.
The only thing that could make him feel alive these days was thinking of her and the way it had felt to kiss her on her birthday. Well, it had made him feel alive before, but dirty at the same time, because he had thought she was his sister.
But now... Now it was a totally different story.
He wanted to tell her; to be able to announce it to the world that he was in love with her. But he had promised her that he would only act like her brother from here on out, since that was what she wanted. She didn't love him.
Jace swallowed the obnoxious tightness in his through. It was an unfamiliar feeling, something he hadn't felt since he had had to watch the bloodsucker kiss Clary that day for the Seelie Queen. He hadn't expected to kiss her only a moment later, and it had only made the tightness worse when he had to pull away and act as though it hadn't affected him; as though he had only done it to get them out of the bind they were in.
He was willing to do anything for her... She had taught him that to love wasn't to destroy, something so unfitting for the daughter of the man who coined the phrase, and she made him feel like he wasn't only put on the earth to hunt demons and put them in their proper place. He felt like he had been put on the earth to protect her. If that meant putting demons in their place along the way, so be it.
Thinking of the Inquisitor's words, Jace took a deep breath and welcomed the sleep that was starting to overtake him. "A true shadowhunter would rather die than see the person they love slain in front of them," he thought, changing her words to suit his own new ideal. Those, he decided, would be what he would say to Clary to let her know how he felt.
Weren't last words practically only there for declarations?
After all, his mouth turned into a drowsy smirk, he had to top Simon's.
And that sneaky bastard might get a second chance at last words, he reminded himself as he began to drift of.
Feedback is love.