"Are you still mad?"
Alec leaned up against the wall of the entryway, glared across the small space at Clary. "I'm not mad."
"Oh yes you are." Clary gestured accusingly at her step brother, then yelped as pain shot up her arm. Every part of her arm hurt from the thumping she'd taken that afternoon when she'd dropped three floors through rotted wood onto a pile of scrap metal. Even her fingers were bruised. Alec, who'd only recently put away the crutches he'd had to use after his fight with Abandon, didn't look any better than Clary felt. His clothes were covered in mud and his hair hung down in lank, sweaty strips. There was a long cut down the side of his cheek.
"I am not." Alec said through his teeth. "Just because you said dragon demons were extinct-"
"I said mostly extinct."
Alec jabbed a finger towards her. "Mostly extinct," he said, his voice trembling with rage, "IS NOT EXTINCT ENOUGH!"
"I see," said Clary. "I'll just have to change the entry in the demonology textbook from 'almost extinct' to 'not extinct enough for Alec. Her prefers really really extinct'. Will that make you happy?"
"Guys." Said Isabelle, who'd been examining her face in the close by mirror. "Don't fight." She turned away from the glass with a sunny smile. "All right, so it was a little more action than we were expecting, but I thought it was fun."
Alec looked at her and shook his head. "How do you manage to never get mud on you?"
Isabelle shrugged. "I'm pure at heart. It repels dirt."
Clary snorted so loudly that she turned on her with a frown. She wiggled her mud-caked fingers at her. Her nails were black crescents.
Isabelle was about to reply when Alec yanked open the door. Clary followed him in, already looking forward to taking off her armor and weapons and stepping into a hot shower. She'd convinced her step siblings to come hunting with her despite the fact that neither of them was entirely comfortable going out on their own now that Hodge wasn't there giving them instructions, But Clary had wanted the oblivion of fighting, the harsh diversion of killing, and the distraction of injuries. And knowing she wanted it, they'd gone along with it, crawling through filthy deserted subway tunnels until they found the Dragonidae demon and killed it. The three of them working together in perfect unison, the way they always had. Like family.
She unzipped her jacket and slung it over one of the pegs hanging on the wall. Alec was sitting on the low wooden bench next to her, kicking off his muck-covered boots. He was humming tunelessly under his breath, letting Clary know he wasn't that annoyed. Isabelle was pulling pins out of her long dark hair, allowing it to shower down around her. "Now i'm hungry." She said. "I wish Mom were here to cook." "Better that she isn't," said Clary, unbuckling her weapons belt. "She's be shrieking about the rugs."
"You're right about that." Said a cool voice, and Clary swung around, her hands still at her belt, and saw Maryse Lightwood, her arms folded, standing in the doorway. She wore a stiff black traveling suit and her hair, black as Isabelle's, was drawn back into a thick rope that hung halfway down her back. Her eyes glacial blue, swept over the three of them like a tracking search light.
"Mom!" Isabelle, recovering her composure, ran over to her mother for a hug. Alec got to his feet and joined them, trying to hide the fact that he was still limping.
Clary stood where she was. There had been something in Maryse's eyes as her gaze had passed over her that froze Clary in place. Surely it wasn't that bad? They joked about her obsession with rugs all the time-"
"Where's Dad?" Isabelle asked, stepping away from her mother. "And Max?"
There was an almost imperceptible pause. Then Maryse said, "Max is in his room. And your father is still in Alicant. There was some business that required his attention."
Alec, generally more sensitive to moods than his sister, seemed to hesitate. "Is there something wrong?"
"I could ask you that." His mother's tone dry. "Are you limping?"
Alec was a terrible liar. Isabelle picked it up for him smoothly.
"We had a run in with the Dragondae demon in the subway tunnels. But it was nothing."
"And I suppose the greater demon you fought last week was nothing too?"
Even Isabelle was silenced by that. She looked to Clary, who wished she hadn't.
"That wasn't planned for." Clary was having a hard time concentrating. Maryse hadn't greeted her yet, hadn't said so much as a hello, and she was still looking at her with eyes like blue daggers. There was a hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach that was beginning to spread. She'd never looked at her like this before, no matter what she'd done. "It was a maitake-"
"Clary!" Max, the youngest Lightwood, squeezed his way around Maryse and darted into the room, evading his mother reaching hand. "You're back! You're all back." He turned in a circle, grinning at Alec and Isabelle in triumph. "I thought I heard you guys!"
"And I thought I told you to stay in your room." Said Maryse.
"I don't remember that." Said Max with a seriousness that made even Alec smile. Max was small for his age- he looked about seven- but he had a self contained gravity that, combined with his over sized glasses, gave him the air of someone older. Alec reached over and ruffled his brothers hair, but Max was still looking at Clary, his eyes shining. Clary felt the cold fist in her stomach relax ever so slightly. Max had alway hero-worshipped her in a way that he didn't worship his own older brother, probably because Clary was far more tolerant of Max's presence. "I heard you fought a Greater Demon." He said. "Was it awesome?"
"It was... different." Clary hedged. "How was Alicante?"
"It was awesome. We saw the coolest stuff. There's this huge armory in Alicante and they took me to some of the places where they make weapons. They showed me a new way to make serph blades so they last longer. I'm going to try to get Hodge to show me-"
Clary couldn't help it; her eyes flickered to Maryse, her expression incredulous. So Max didn't know about Hodge. Hadn't she told him?
Maryse saw Clary's look and her lips thinned into a knifelike line. "That's enough Max." She took her youngest son by the arm.
Max craned his head to look up at Maryse in surprise. "But I'm talking to Clary-"
"I see that." She pushed him gently toward Isabelle. "Isabelle, Alec, take your brother to his room. Clary,"-there was a tightness in her voice when she spoke Clary's name, as if invisible acid were drying up the syllables in her mouth- "Get yourself cleaned up and meet me in the library as soon as you can."
"I don't get it," said Alec looking from his mother to Clary and back again. "What's going on?"
Clary could feel a cold sweat start up her spine. "Is this about my father?" Maryse jerked twice, as if the words "my father" had been two separate slaps. "The library," she said through clenched teeth. "We'll discuss the matter there."
Alec said, "What happened while you were gone wasn't Clary's fault. We were all in on it. And Hodge said-"
"We'll discuss Hodge later as well." Maryse's eyes were on Max, her tone warning.
"But Mother." Isabelle protested. "If you're going to punish Clary, you should punish us as well. It would only be fair. We all did exactly the same things."
"No," said Maryse, after a pause so long that Clary thought perhaps she wasn't going to say anything at all. "You didn't"
"Rule number one of anime," Sidney said. She sat propped up against a pile of pillows at the foot of her bed, a bag of potato chips in one hand and the remote in the other. She was wearing a black shirt that said I BLOGGED YOUR MOM and a pair of jeans with a ripped hole in the knee. "Never crew with a blind monk."
"I know," Jace said, taking a potato chip and dunking it in the can of dip balanced on the TV tray in between them. "For some reason they are always better fighters than monks who can see." He peered at the screen. "Are those guys dancing?"
"That's not dancing. They're trying to kill each other. This is the guy who's the mortal enemy of the other guy, remember? He killed his dad. Why would they be dancing?"
Jace crunched the chip and stared meditatively at the screen, where animated swirls of pink and yellow clouds rippled between the figures of the two winged men, who floated around each other clutching a glowing spear. Every once in awhile one of them would speak but since it was all in japanese with chinese subtitles it didn't clarify much. "The guy with the hat," He said. "He was the evil guy?"
"No the hat guy was the dad. He was the magical emperor, and that was his hat of power. The evil guy was the one with the mechanical hand that talks."
The telephone rang. Simon set the bag of chips down and made as if to get up and answer it. Jace put his hand on her wrist. "Don't answer that."
"But it might be Luke calling from the hospital."
"It's not Luke," Jace said sounding more sure than he felt. "He'd call me on my cell, not your house."
"But didn't you throw your phone under a bus?"
Jace took a breath as if to say something then paused. "Yes. But I got a new one."
Sidney looked at him a long moment before sinking back down onto the rug beside Jace. "If you say so." Jace could hear the doubt in her voice, but also the unspoken assurance, I just want you to be happy. He wasn't sure "happy" was anything she was likely to be right now, not with his mother in the hospital hooked up to tubes and Luke like a zombie, slumped in the hard plastic chair next to her bed. Not with worrying Clary all the time and picking up the phone a dozen times to call the Institute before setting it back down, the number still undialed. If Clary wanted to talk to him, she would call.
Maybe it had been a mistake to take her to see Jocelyn. He'd been so sure that if his mother could just hear the voice of her daughter, her firstborn, she'd wake up. But she hadn't. Clary had stood stiff and awkward by the bed, her face like a painted angel's, with blank indifferent eyes. Jace had finally lost his patience and shouted at her and she'd shouted back before storming off. Luke had watched her go with a clinical sort of interest on his exhausted face. "That's the first time I've seen you act like brother and sister."
Jace had said nothing in response. There was no point telling him how badly he wanted Clary not to be her sister. You couldn't rip out your own DNA, no matter how much you wished you could. No matter how much it would make you happy.
But even if he couldn't quite manage happy, he thought, at least here in Sidney's house, in this bedroom, he felt comfortable and at home. He'd known her long enough to remember when she had a bed shaped like a fire truck and LEGO's piled in a corner of the room. Now the bed was a futon with a brightly striped quilt that had been a present from her sister, and the walls were plastered with posters of bands like Rock Solid Panda and Stepping Razor. There was a drum set wedged in the corner of the room where the LEGO's had been and a computer in the other corner, the screen frozen on an image from World of Warcraft. It was almost as familiar as being in his own bedroom at home-which no longer existed, so at least this was the next best thing.
"More chibis." Sidney said gloomily. All of the characters on-screen had turned into inch-high baby versions of themselves and were chasing eachother around with pots and pans. "I'm changing the channel," Sidney said, seizing the remote. "I'm tired of this anime. I can't tell what the plot is and no one ever has sex."
"Of course they don't." Jace said taking another chip." Anime is wholesome family entertainment."
"If you're in the mood for less wholesome entertainment, we could try porn channels." Sidney observed. "Would you rather watch The Witches of Breastwick or As I Lay Dianne?"
"Give me that!" Jace grabbed the remote but Sidney, chortling, had already switched the TV to another channel.
Her laughter broke off abruptly. Jace looked up in surprise and saw her staring blankly at the TV. An old black and white movie wa playing- Dracula. He'd seen it before, with his mother. Bela Lugosi, thin and white faced, was on screen, wrapped in the familiar high collar cloak, his lips curled back from pointed teeth. "I never drink... wine." He said in his thick hungarian accent.
"I love how the spider webs are made of rubber." Jace said trying to sound light. "You can totally tell."
But Sidney was already on her feet, dropping the remote onto the bed. "I'll be right back," she muttered. Her face was the color of winter sky just before it rained. Jace watched him go, biting his lip hard- it was the first time since his mother had gone to the hospital that he's realized that maybe Sidney wasn't too happy either.
Toweling off her hair, Clary regarded her reflection in the mirror with a quizzical scowl. A healing rune had taken care if the worst of her bruises but it hadn't helped the shadows under her eyes or the tight lines at the corners of his mouth. Her head ached and she felt slightly dizzy. She knew she should have eaten something in the morning, but she'd woken up nauseated and panting from nightmares, not wanting to pause to eat, just wanting the release of physical activity, to burn out her dreams in bruises and sweat.
Tossing the towel aside, she thought longingly of the sweet black tea Hodge used to brew from the night-blooming flowers in the greenhouse. The tea had taken away hunger pangs and brought a swift surge if energy. Since Hodge's disappearance, Clary had tried boiling plants leaves in water to see if she could produce the same effect, but the only result was a bitter, ashy-tasting liquid that made her gag and spit. Barefoot, she padded into the bedroom and threw on jeans and a clean shirt. She pushed back her long wet hair,it was splitting at the ends. Something that Maryse would be sure to chide her about. She always did. She may not be the Lightwoods biological daughter but they'd treated her like it since the day thu adopted her at age ten, after the death of her own father. They supposed death, Clary reminded herself, that hollow feeling in her guts resurfacing again. She'd felt like a jack-o'-lantern for the past few days, as if her guys had been yanked out with a fork and dumped in a heap while a grinning smile stayed plastered on her face. She often wondered if anything shed believed about her life, or herself, had been true. She'd thought she was an orphan-she wasn't. She'd thought she was an only child- she had a brother.
Jace. The pain came again, stronger. She pushed it down. Her eyes fell on the bit of broken mirror that lay atop his dresser, still reflecting green boughs and a diamond of blue sky. It was nearly twilight now in Idris:the sky was dark as cobalt. Choking on hollowness, Clary yanked her boots on and headed downstairs to the library. She wondered as she clattered down the stairs just what Maryse wanted to say to her alone. She'd looked at her as if she'd wanted to smack her. Clary couldn't remember the last time that she had laid a hand on her. The Lightwoods weren't given to corporal punishment-quite a change from being brought up by Valentine, who'd concocted all sorts of painful castigations to encourage obedience. Clary's Shadowhunter skin always healed, covering all but the worst of the evidence. In the days and weeks after her father died, Clary could remember searching her body for scars, some mark that would be a token, a remembrance to tie her physically to her father's memory.
She reached the library and knocked once before pushing the door open. Maryse was there, sitting in Hodge's old chair by the fire. Light streamed down through the high windows and Clary could see the touches of gray on her hair. She was holding a glass of red wine; there was a cut-glass decanter on the table beside her.
"Maryse." She said.
Maryse jumped a little, spilling some of the wine. "Clary. I didn't hear you come in."
Clary didn't move. "Do you remember that song you used to sing to Isabelle and Alec- when they were little and afraid of the dark- to get them to fall asleep?"
Maryse appeared taken aback. "What are you talking about?"
"I used to hear you through the walls," she said. "Alec's bedroom was right next to mine."
Maryse said nothing.
"It was in french," Clary said. "The song."
"I don't know why you'd remember something like that." She looked at Clary as if she's accused her of something.
"You never sang it to me."
"Oh you were never afraid of the dark." She said.
"What kind of ten-year-old isn't afraid of the dark?"
Her eyebrows went up. "Sit down Clare."
She went, just slowly enough to annoy her, across the room, and threw herself into one of the wing-back chairs beside the desk. "I'd rather you not call me Clare."
"Why not? It's your name." She looked at Clary consideringly. "How long have you known?"
"Don't be stupid. You know exactly what I'm asking you." She turned her glass in her fingers. "How long have you known that Valentine is your father?"
Clary considered and discarded several responses. Usually she could get her way with Maryse by making her laugh. She was one of the only people in the world who could make her laugh. "About as long as you have."
Maryse shook her head slowly. "I don't believe that."
Clary sat up straight. Her hands were in fists where they rested in the chair arms. She could see a slight tremor in her fingers, wondered if she'd ever had it before. She didn't think so. Her hands had always been as steady as her heartbeat. "You don't believe me?"
"It doesn't make sense Clary. How could you not know who your own father is?"
"He told me he was Michael Wayland. We lived in the Wayland house-"
"A nice touch." Said Maryse. "That and your name? What's your real name?"
"You know my real name."
"Clare. I knew Valentine had a daughter named Clare. I knew Michael had a daughter named Clare too. It's a common enough Shadowhunter name-I never thought it was strange they shared it, and as for Michaels girl's full name, I never inquired. But now I can't help but wondering. How long had Valentine been planning what he was going to do? How long did he know he was going to murder Clare Wayland-" She broke off, her eyes fixed on Clary. "You never looked like Michael you know," she said. "But sometimes children don't look like their parents. I didn't think about it before. But now I can see Valentine in you. The way you're looking at me. That defiance. You don't care what I say, do you?"
But she did care. All she was good at was making sure she couldn't see it. "Would it make a difference if I did?"
She set the glass down on the table beside her. It was empty. "And you answer questions with questions to throw me off, just like Valentine always did. Maybe I should have known."
"Maybe nothing. I'm still the exact same person I've been for the past seven years. Nothing's changed about me. If I didn't remind you of Valentine before, I don't see why I would now."
Her glance moved over Clary and away as if she couldn't bear to look at her. "Surely when we talked about Michael, you must have known we couldn't possibly have meant your father. The things we said about him could never have applied to Valentine."
"You said he was a good man." Anger twisted inside Clary. "A brave shadowhunter. A loving father. I thought that seemed accurate enough."
"What about a photograph? You must have seen photographs of Michael Wayland and realized he wasn't the man you called your father." She bit her lip. "Help me out here Clary."
"All the photographs were destroyed in the Uprising. That's what you told me. Now I wonder if it wasn't because Valentine had them all burned so that no one would know who was in the circle. I never had a photograph of my father," Clary said, and wondered if she sounded as bitter as she felt.
Maryse put a hand to her temple and massaged it as if her head were aching. "I can't believe this," she said, as if to herself. "it's insane."
"So don't believe it. Believe me," Clary said, and felt the tremor in his hands increase.
She dropped her hand. "Don't you think I want to?"she demanded, and for a moment Clary heard the echo in her voice of the Maryse who'd come into her bedroom at night when she was ten years old and staring dry eyed at the ceiling, thinking of her father- and Maryse would sit by the bed with her until she'd fallen asleep just before dawn.
"I don't know." Clary said again. "And when he asked me to come back to Idris with him, I said no. I'm still here. Doesn't that count for anything?"
She turned to look back at the decanter, as if considering another drink, then seemed to discard the idea. "I wish I did," she said. "But there are so many reasons your father might want you to remain at the institute. Where Valentine is concerned, I can't afford to trust anyone his influence has touched."
"His influence touched you." Clary said, and instantly regretted it at the look that flashed across her face.
"And I repudiated him," said Maryse. "Have you? Could you?" Her blue eyes were the same color as Alec's, but Alec had never looked at Clary like this. "Tell me you hate him, Clary. Tell me you hate that man and everything he stands for."
A moment passed, and another, and Clary, looking down saw that her hands were so tightly fixed together that the knuckles stood out like the bones in a fish's spine. "I can't say that."
Maryse sucked in a breath. "Why not?"
"Why can't you say that you trust me? I've lived with you almost half my life. Surely you must know me better than that?"
"You sound so honest Clare. You always have, even when you were a little boy trying to pin the blame for something you'd done wrong on Isabelle or Alec. I've only ever met one person who could sound almost as persuasive as you."
Clary tasted copper in her mouth. "You mean my father."
"There were only ever two kinds of people in the world for Valentine." She said. "Those who were for the circle and those who were against it. The latter of the enemies, and the former were weapons in his arsenal. I saw him try to turn each of his friends, even his own wife, into a weapon for the cause- and you want me to believe he wouldn't do the same with his own daughter?" She shook her head. "I knew him better than that." For the first time, Maryse looked at Clary with more sadness than anger. "You are an arrow shot by Valentine. Whether you know it or not."
Jace shut the bedroom door on the blaring TV and went to look for Sidney. He found her in the kitchen, bent over the sink with the water running. Her hands were braced on the draining board.
"Sidney?" The kitchen was a bright, cheerful yellow, the walls decorated with framed chalk and pencil sketches Sidney and Rebecca had done in grade school. Rebecca had some drawing talent, you could tell, but Sidney's sketches of people looked like parking meters with tufts of hair.
She didn't look up now, though he could tell by the tightening of the shoulder muscles that she's heard him. He went over to the sink, laying a hand on her back. He felt the sharp nubs of her spine through the cotton T-shirt and wondered if she'd lost weight. He couldn't tell by looking at her, but looking at Sidney was like looking at a mirror-when you saw something every day, you didn't always notice small changes in their outwards appearance. "Are you okay?"
She turned the water off with a hard jerk of her wrist. "Yeah. I'm fine."
He laid a finger against the side of her chin and turned her face towards him. She was sweating, the dark hair lay across her forehead stuck to her skin, though the air coming through the half open kitchen window was cool. "You don't look fine. Was it the movie?"
She didn't answer.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have laughed, it's just-"
"You don't remember?" Her voice sounded hoarse.
"I..." Jace trailed off. That night, looking back, seemed a long haze of running, of blood and sweat, of shadows glimpsed in doorways, of falling through space. He remembered the whitefaces of the vampires, like paper cutouts against the darkness, and remembered Clary holding him, screaming in his ear as they drove off the building. "Not really, it's a blur."
Her gaze flicked past him and then back. "Do I seem different to you?" She asked.
He lowered his eyes to hers. Hers were the color of black coffee- not really black, but a rich brown without a touch of gray or hazel. Did she seem different? There might have been an extra touch of confidence in the way she held herself since the day she's killed Abbadon, the Greater demon; but there was also a wariness about her, as if she were waiting or watching for something. It was something he had noticed about Clary as well. Perhaps it was only the awareness of mortality. "You're still Sidney."
She half closed her eyes as in relief and her eyelashes lowered, he saw how angular her cheekbones looked. She had lost weight, he thought, and was about to say so when she moved up and kissed him.
He was so surprised at the feel of her mouth on his that he went rigid all over, grabbing for the edge of the draining board to support himself. He did not, however, push her away, and clearly taking this as a sign of encouragement, Sidney slid her hand behind his neck and deepened the kiss, parting his lips with hers. Her mouth was soft, softer than Clary's had been, and the hand that cupped his neck was warm and gentle. She tasted like salt.
He let his eyes fall shut and for a moment floated dizzily in the darkness and the heat, the feeling of her fingers moving through his hair. When the harsh ring of the telephone cut through his daze, he jumped back as if she'd pushed him away, though she hadn't moved. Theys stared at eachother for a moment, in a wild confusion, like two people finding themselves suddenly transported to a strange landscape where nothing was familiar.
Sidney turned away first, reaching for the phone that hung on the wall beside the spice rack. "Hello?" She sounded normal, but her chest was rising and falling fast. She held out the receiver to Jace. "It's for you."
Jace took the phone. He could still feel the pounding of his heart in his throat, like the fluttering of wings of an insect trapped under his skin. It's Luke, calling from the hospital. Something's happened to my mother.
He swallowed. "Luke? Is it you?"
"No. It's Isabelle."
"Isabelle?" Jace looked up and saw Sidney watching him, leaning against the sink. The flush on her cheeks had faded. "Why are you- I mean whats up?"
There was a hitch in the girls voice, as if she'd been crying. "Is Clary there?"
Jace actually held out the phone so he could stare at it before bringing the receiver back to his ear. "Clary? No. Why would she be here?"
Isabelle's answering echoed down the phone line like a gasp. "The thing is... She's gone."
Maia Roberts had never trusted beautiful people, which is why she hated Clary Wayland the first time she ever laid eyes on her.
Her older brother, Daniel, had been born with her mother's honey-colored skin and huge dark eyes, and he'd turned out to be the sort of person who lit the wings of butterflies on fire to watch them burn and die as the flew. He'd tormented her as well, in small and petty ways at first, pinching her where the bruises wouldn't show, switching the shampoo in her bottle for bleach. She'd gone to her parents but they hadn't believed her. No one had, looking at Daniel; they'd confused beauty with innocence and harmlessness. When he broke her arm in ninth grade, she ran away from home, but her parents brought her back. In tenth grade, Daniel was knocked down in the street by a hit and run driver and killed instantly. Standing next to her parents at the graveside, Maia had been ashamed by her own overwhelming sense of relief. God, she thought, would surely punish her for being glad that her brother was dead.
The next year, he did. She met Jordan. Long dark hair, slim hips in worn jeans, indie boy rocker shirts and lashes like a girl's. She never thought he'd go for her- his type usually preferred skinny, pale girls in hipster glasses-but he seemed to like her rounded shape. He told her she was beautiful in between kisses. The first few months were like a dream;the last few months like a nightmare. He became possessive, controlling. When he was angry with her, he'd snarl and whip the back of his hand across her cheek, leaving a mark like too much blusher. When she tried to break up with him, he pushed her, knocked her down in her own front yard before she ran inside and slammed the door.
Later, she let him see her kissing another boy, just to get the point across that it was over. She didn't even remember that boy's name anymore. What she did remember was walking home that night, the rain misting her hair in fine droplets, mud splattering up the legs of her jeans as she took a shortcut through the park near her house. She remembered the dark shape exploding out from behind the metal merry-go-round, the huge wet wolf body knocking her into the mud, the savage pain as it's jaws clamped down on her throat. She'd screamed and thrashed, tasting her own hot blood in her mouth, her brain screaming: This is impossible. Impossible. There weren't wolves in New Jersey, not in her own ordinary suburban neighborhood, not in the twenty first century.
Her cries brought lights on in the nearby houses, one after another of the windows lighting up like struck matches. The wolf let her go, it's jaw trailing ribbons of blood and torn flesh.
Twenty four stitched later, she was back in her pink bedroom, her mother hovering anxiously. The emergency room doctor said the bite looked like a large dog's but Maia knew better. Before the wolf had turned to race away, she'd heard a hot, familiar whisper in her ear, "You're mine now. You'll always be mine."
She never saw Jordan again-he and his parents packed up their apartment and moved, and none of his friends knew where he'd gone, or would admit they did. She was only half-surprised the next full moon when the pains started: tearing pains that ripped up and down her legs, forcing her to the ground, bending her spin in the way a magician might bend a spoon. When her teeth burst out of her gums and rattled to the floor like spilled Chiclets, she fainted. Or thought she did. She woke up miles away from home, naked and covered in blood, the scar on her neck pulsing like a heartbeat. That night she hopped the train to manhattan. It wasn't a hard decision. It was bad enough being biracial in her conservative suburban neighborhood. God knew what they would do to a werewolf.
It hadn't been hard to find a pack to fall in with. There were several of them in Manhattan alone. She wound up with the downtown pack, the ones who slept in the old police station in Chinatown.
Pack leaders were mutable. There'd been Kito first, then Veronique, then Gabriel and now Luke. She'd like Gabriel all right but Luke was better. He had a trustworthy look and kind blue eyes and wasn't too handsome, so she didn't dislike him on the spot. She was comfortable enough here with the pack, sleeping in the old police station, playing cards and eating Chinese food on nights when the moon wasn't full, hunting through the park when it was, and the next day drinking off the hangover at the Hunters Moon, one of the city's better underground werewolf bars. There was ale by the yard and nobody carded you to see if you were 21. Being Lycanthrope made you grow up faster and as long as you sprouted hair and fangs once a month, you were good to drink at the moon, no matter how old you were in mundane years.
These days she hardly thought of her family at all, but when the red haired girl walked in the long black coat stalked her way into the bar, Maia stiffened all over. She didn't look remotely close to Daniel but they had the same way of walking like a panther on the lookout for prey. Her hand tightened convulsively around the stem of her glass and she had to remind herself: He's dead. Daniel's dead.
A rush of murmurs swept through the bar on the heels of the girls arrival, like the froth of a wave spreading out from the stern of a boat. The girl acted as if she didn't notice anything, hooking a bar stool towards herself with a booted foot and settling onto it with her elbows on the bar. Maia heard her order a shot of single malt in the quiet that followed the murmurs. She downed half the drink with a neat flip of her wrist. When she lifted her hand to set the glass back down on the bar, Maia saw the thick coiling black Marks on her wrists and the backs of her hands.
Bat, the girl sitting next to Maia- she'd dated her once, after deciding she was done with boys, but they were friends now- muttered something under her breath that sounded like "Nephilim."
So thats it. The girl wasn't a werewolf at all. She was a shadowhunter, a member of the arcane world's secret police force. They upheld the Law, backed by the covenant, and you couldn't become one of them, you had to be born into it. Blood made them what they were. There were alot of rumors about them, most unflattering: They were haughty, proud, cruel; they looked down on and despised Downworlders. There were few things a lycanthrope like less than a shadowhunter-except maybe a vampire.
People also said that shadowhunters killed demons. Maia remembered when she's first heard that demons existed and had been told about what they did. It had given her a headache. Vampires and werewolves were just people with a disease, that much she understood, but expecting her to believe in all that heaven and hell crap, demons angels, and still nobody could tell her for sure if there was a god or not, or where you went after you died. It wasn't fair. She believed in demons now-she'd seen enough of what they did that she wasn't able to deny it-but she wished she didn't have to.
"I take it," the girl said, leaning her elbow onto the bar, "that you don't serve Silver Bullet here. Too many bad associations?" Her eyes gleamed, narrow and shining like the moon at a quarter full.
The bartender, Freaky Pete, just looked at the girl and shook his head in disgust. If the girl hadn't been a shadowhunter, Maia guessed, Pete would have tossed her out of the moon, but instead he just walked to the other end of the bar and busied himself polishing glasses.
"Actually," Said Bat, who was unable to stay out of anything, "we don't serve it because it's really crappy beer."
The girl turned her narrow, shining gaze on Bat, and smiled delightedly. Most people didn't smile delightedly when Bat looked at them funny: Bat was six and a half feet tall with a thick scar covering half her face where silver powder burned her skin. Bat wasn't one of the overnighters, the pack who lived in the police station, sleeping in the old cells. She had her own apartment, even a job. She'd been a pretty good girlfriend, right up until she dumped Maia for some redheaded witch named Eve who live in Yonkers and ran a palmistry shop out of her garage.
"And what are you drinking?" The girl inquired, leaning so close to Bat that it was like an insult. "A little hair of the dog that bit-well everyone?"
"You really think you're funny." By this point the rest of the pack was leaning in to hear them, ready to back up Bat if she decided to knock this obnoxious brat into the middle of next week. "Don't you?"
Bat repeated himself. "Don't you?"
"Who am I to deny the obvious?" The girl's eyes slid over Maia as if she were invisible and went back to Bat. "I don't suppose you'd like to tell me what happened to your face? It looks like-" And here she leaned forward and said something to Bat so quietly that Maia didn't hear it. The next thing she knew, Bat was swinging a blow at the girl that should have shattered her jaw, only the girl was no longer there. She was standing a good five feet away, laughing, as Bat's fist connected with his abandoned glass and sent it soaring across the bar to strike the wall in a showering of glass.
Freaky Pete was around the side of the bar, his fist knotted in Bat's shirt. "That's enough," he said. "Bat why don't you take a walk and cool down?"
Bat twisted in Pete's grip. "Take a walk? Did you hear-"
"I heard." Pete's voice was low. "He's a shadowhunter. Walk it off cub."
Bat swore and pulled away from the bartender. She stalked towards the exit, her shoulders stiff with rage. The door banged shut behind her.
The girl stopped smiling and was looking at Freaky Pete with a sort of dark resentment. "That wasn't necessary." She said. "I can handle myself.
Pete regarded the Shadowhunter. "It's my bar I'm worried about." He said finally. "You might want to take your business elsewhere, Shadowhunter, if you don't want any trouble."
"I didn't say I didn't want trouble." The girl sat back down on her stool. "Besides I didn't finish my drink."
Maia glanced at the alcohol behind her, where the wall of the bar was soaked with alcohol. "Looks like you're finished to me."
For a second the girl looked blank; then a curious spark of amusement lit in her eyes. Pete slid another glass of liquid across the bar before the girl could reply to her. "Here you go." he said.
"Pete-" She began. She didn't get to finish. The door to the bar flew open. Bat was standing there in the doorway. It took a moment for Maia to realize that the front of her shirt was soaked with blood.
She slid off the stool and ran to her. "Bat! Are you hurt?"
"An attack," she said. "Theres a body in the alley. A dead kid. Blood-everywhere, one of ours. There was someone kneeling over him." Bat said, her voice tight, "Not like a person-like a shadow. They ran off when they saw me." Bat turned and stalked through the room towards the bar. She grabbed the shadowhunter by the back of the jacket- or tried to, but the girl was already a few feet away.
"What's your problem werewolf?"
"There's a dead body in the alley, one of ours."
"He was only a cub," said Pete. "His name was Joseph."
"A Lycanthrope boy?"
"He was one of the pack." Said Pete. "He was only fifteen."
"And what exactly do you want me to do about it?" The girl asked.
Pete stared incredulously. "You're Nephilim." He said. "The Clave ows us protection."
The girl looked around the bar, slowly with such a look of insolence that a flush spread over Pete's face.
"I don't see anything you need protecting from here."
"There's a dead body outside." Said Bat. "Don't you think-"
"I think it's a little too late for him to need protection," said the girl, "if he's already dead."
"So you're going to do nothing? That's it?" Bat said.
"I'm going to finishing my drink." The girl replied. "If you'll let me."
"So that's the attitude of the Clave a week after the Accords?" said Pete with disgust. "The death of a downworlder means nothing?"
The girl smiled. "How like downworlders." She said. "Expecting the Clave to clean up your mess for you. As if we could be bothered just because some stupid cub decided to splatterpaint himself all over your alley-"
And she used a word, a word for weres that they never used themselves, a filthily unpleasent word that implied a improper relationship between wolves and human women.
Before anyone els, Bat flung herself at the boy then the whole pack swarmed on him but someone he deflected ever grab, punch, slap, hit that came his way. Everyone was so entranced in the fight noone noticed the door silently open and close.
It was Luke's quiet voice, steady as a heartbeat.