It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...an Infernal Devices holiday special! Oh yes, bitches, I totally went there. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of a better title.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Otherwise crap like this would happen all the time.
An Infernal Holiday
Jem bounded up the steps, a rare skip in his walk. He had recently fully realized that it would be his first Christmas at the London Institute in just a few days and wanted to share the news with someone, preferably Will. Jem smiled. Ah, Will.
From the moment they'd met, Jem had thought Will to be possibly the most fascinating enigma he had ever seen. He was sarcastic in excess on the best of days and was bitingly cruel on his worst. But he never meant a word. He was talented and beautiful, but in the most haunting of ways. But most strangely of all, he wanted to be friends with Jem. It seemed strange, that this boy would be so desperate to befriend someone who was going to die anyway, but Will was determined and had a habit of getting what he wanted. And so they were friends which was exactly why Jem was currently trying to hunt down the boy and share his delightful news.
"Will! Ah, there you are," Jem said as he burst into Will's room without knocking. "I've recently come to the most wonderful realization! It's—"
And then he caught sight of Will's face. As Jem had previously observed, William Herondale was a very talented boy, but if there was one thing he excelled at, it was sulking. And there he was, sitting in the middle of his room, pouting most impressively.
"Whatever is that matter?" Jem asked. As years passed by, he would eventually learn not to be concerned by Will's temper tantrums. But at the time, their friendship was relatively new, so Jem was quite worried.
"Apparently," Will said, sounding as if he had mortally offended, "there is something wrong with the way I wrap presents."
Jem frowned, blinking. He wasn't quite sure what to say exactly. You never really knew with Will, so Jem went with the safest route he could think of.
"Who said such a thing?" he asked.
"Charlotte," Will said crossly. "I was wrapping presents and then she told me I was doing it wrong! Does that look wrong to you?" The boy gestured wildly to a pile of what Jem had originally thought to be crumpled pieces of ripped paper. Upon closer inspection, he realized that they were indeed presents. And yes, they most certainly did look wrong to Jem. Not that he would dream of telling Will so.
"They aren't as horrible as they could be, I suppose," he said as diplomatically as he could. "Perhaps if the bows were a little bit straighter..."
Jem reached over to pick up one of the presents, fiddling lightly with the wrapping. Without thinking, he moved the bow slightly to the left and pressed his palms against the wrapping paper lightly, trying to fix the crinkles Will had made.
"And if the paper wasn't so tightly pulled at the corner here," Jem added even as he loosed it gently, then patted the now smooth corner.
"This," Will announced, "must be some kind of cosmic joke. Do they even celebrate Christmas in Shanghai?"
That was when Henry appeared, saving Jem from having to come up with an answer. He didn't know if he could have; Will was the first person to mention Jem's home since he first arrived at the Institute.
"I've done it, boys," Henry said.
"I think that was the only thing you could have possibly said to make this day any worse," said Will. Jem felt bad at the slightly wounded look on Henry's face and took pity of the hapless ginger-haired man.
"What have you done, Henry?" Jem asked kindly. Henry brightened.
"I've made a present-wrapper," he said. "Would you like an example?"
"That won't be necessary," Will said, suddenly very hasty. "Jem's only just discovered that he has a knack for present wrapping without the use of one of your wretched machines."
"But just think about how many paper cuts my Wrapper will reduce!" Henry said lost in his passion over his new invention. The uncomfortable look was gone from Will's face, replaced by scorn.
"Thank God for that, then," Will said. "Because despite nearly getting my head cut off by a demon yesterday, it's the paper cuts that really do me in. Henry, why don't you go away and make something helpful for a change?"
"Or you could show us how the Wrapper works," Jem offered quickly.
"I should be happy to, Jem," Henry said looking sincerely grateful. He pulled out a small round object and grabbed a bottle of ink from Will's desk. He held the two objects about a foot apart, squeezed his contraption, and suddenly, the room was full of tinsel. There was some coughing and spluttering.
"Congratulations, Henry," Will said after spitting out some tinsel. "You've managed to decorate my room for the holidays. Bravo to you, good sir. Now please leave and never come back here with another one of your stupid contraptions again." Henry didn't seem to hear him.
"Perhaps I should have left out the explosives," he observed in a purely scientific manner.
"Explosives?" Jem repeated. He gave up trying to pull the tinsel out of his hair entirely and let his hands drop to his sides. Will shot him a look that seemed to say, I told you so. But you didn't listen and now look what's happened.
"What is this?" Charlotte demanded as she appeared behind Henry.
"Hello, dear," Henry said warmly. "I was just showing the boys my new invention." Charlotte surveyed the disaster that had formerly been Will's room.
"I suggest," she said in a voice like ice, "that you begin inventing a machine that can suck up this whole mess before the Christmas party." Henry paled.
And for good reason too, Jem thought.
"You know, I've always been fond of Christmas parties," Will said.
"Really?" Jem asked curiously, tugging uncomfortably at the fancy clothes Charlotte had stuffed him into.
"Really," Will confirmed. "It's the one time of year in which all my favorite vices are so freely handed out."
"Of course," Jem murmured. Suddenly, Will made a strange face.
"The Lightwoods are here," he said. "I assume Gabriel will be as delightful as ever. Good thing I only ever have to see him during these stupid Christmas parties."
"I don't think I've met any of the Lightwoods," Jem said, frowning.
"I hate to tell you this, Jem," Will said, "but your good fortune is about to change."
Jem watched as a tall man with two boys and one girl shuffled into the Institute's dining room. Charlotte greeted the man graciously, despite the strong look of dislike that he shot her. Jem frowned. He had thought Will had been exaggerating when he said that Jem was better off not having met the Lightwoods, but now he was a little less sure. His frown deepened when one of the boys broke away and headed towards the direction he and Will were standing.
"Is this Gabriel?" Jem asked. Will just nodded. It was all he had time to do before Gabriel punched him in the face and snarled something about Will humiliating his sister. To this, Will simply smiled angelically and sent his elbow crashing into Gabriel's gut in a most undignified fashion. This was not like fighting demons. All the finesse and grace vanished, replaced by something very raw and...well, if Jem was being honest with himself, slightly immature.
Despite having the feeling that Will probably deserved whatever beating he was about to receive, Jem felt a strong sense of loyalty to his new friend and jumped into the fight. Charlotte had made sure he had taken some of the drug before the party, so he wasn't worried about his body failing. What he was worried about was the look on Will's face. It was a twisted form of delight, something bitter and hard and utterly lost.
Then Jem was tackled from behind by the other Lightwood brother and lost sight of Will entirely.
The scuffle that followed caused several shrieks and lots of shouting on the part of Charlotte and the man whom Jem would later learn was called Benedict Lightwood. Suddenly, there was a loud bang and Jem was blinking tinsel out of his eyes for the second time in three days. Once his vision cleared, he looked around and realized that he wasn't the only one covered in what he was beginning to think was a gift from Satan himself. The nefarious stuff was everywhere and no one's party clothes had been spared the wrath of Henry's blasted Wrapper.
There was a pause before even more chaos ensued. Through the pandemonium, Will crawled over to Jem, grinning like a madman through his split lip.
"So," he said. "How do you like your first Christmas at the London Institute so far?"
For a moment, Jem was so struck with surprise that Will could be thinking about Jem at a time like this that he didn't respond. But he wrote it up as one of the many aspects of Will's mysterious personality and shrugged.
"I suppose it could be worse," Jem said mildly. "I have no clue how, of course. But I'm sure there are worse things than getting in a fight, then being covered in tinsel, followed by whatever else this night may bring."
"Happy holidays, James," Will said, his dark blue eyes glittering.
"And a very merry Christmas to you, William," Jem replied. He brushed some tinsel off his shoulder, thinking that it was almost appropriate that such messy paraphernalia might be associated with what the Shadowhunters were making seem like quite an infernal holiday. A very merry Christmas indeed.
I've never had a Christmas like that...well, that's not true. My grandma yells at me every year for wrapping presents wrong. That much was actually truth-based.