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City of lost souls, p.43
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       City of Lost Souls, p.43

         Part #5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
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Page 43


  Magnus didnt answer, but the music swelled louder.

  To mirror went she straightaway

  And did her ebon hair array

  And for her gown she much did pay.

  Then down she walked along the street,

  A handsome lad she chanced to meet,

  And sore by dawn were her dainty feet,

  But all the boys were gay.

  Isabelle snorted. "All the boys are gay. In this truck, anyway. Well, not you, Simon. "

  "You noticed," said Simon.

  "I think of myself as a freewheeling bisexual," added Magnus.

  "Please never say those words in front of my parents," said Alec. "Especially my father. "

  "I thought your parents were okay with you, you know, coming out," Simon said, leaning around Isabelle to look at Alec, who was-as he often was-scowling, and pushing his floppy dark hair out of his eyes. Aside from the occasional exchange, Simon had never talked to Alec much. He wasnt an easy person to get to know. But, Simon admitted to himself, his own recent estrangement from his mother made him more curious about Alecs answer than he would have been otherwise.

  "My mother seems to have accepted it," Alec said. "But my father-no, not really. Once he asked me what I thought had turned me gay. "

  Simon felt Isabelle tense next to him. "Turned you gay?" She sounded incredulous. "Alec, you didnt tell me that. "

  "I hope you told him you were bitten by a gay spider," said Simon.

  Magnus snorted; Isabelle looked confused. "Ive read Magnuss stash of comics," said Alec, "so I actually know what youre talking about. " A small smile played around his mouth. "So would that give me the proportional gayness of a spider?"

  "Only if it was a really gay spider," said Magnus, and he yelled as Alec punched him in the arm. "Ow, okay, never mind. "

  "Well, whatever," said Isabelle, obviously annoyed not to get the joke. "Its not like Dads ever coming back from Idris, anyway. "

  Alec sighed. "Sorry to wreck your vision of our happy family. I know you want to think Dads fine with me being gay, but hes not. "

  "But if you dont tell me when people say things like that to you, or do things to hurt you, then how can I help you?" Simon could feel Isabelles agitation vibrating through her body. "How can I-"

  "Iz," Alec said tiredly. "Its not like its one big bad thing. Its a lot of little invisible things. When Magnus and I were traveling, and Id call from the road, Dad never asked how he was. When I get up to talk in Clave meetings, no one listens, and I dont know if thats because Im young or if its because of something else. I saw Mom talking to a friend about her grandchildren and the second I walked into the room they shut up. Irina Cartwright told me it was a pity no one would ever inherit my blue eyes now. " He shrugged and looked toward Magnus, who took a hand off the wheel for a moment to place it on Alecs. "Its not like a stab wound you can protect me from. Its a million little paper cuts every day. "

  "Alec," Isabelle began, but before she could say anything more, the sign for the turnoff loomed up ahead: a wooden placard in the shape of an arrow with the words THREE ARROWS FARM painted on it in block lettering. Simon remembered Luke kneeling on the farmhouse floor, painstakingly spelling out the words in black paint, while Clary added the-now weather-faded and almost invisible-pattern of flowers along the bottom.

  "Turn left," he said, flinging his arm out and nearly hitting Alec. "Magnus, were here. "

  It had taken several chapters of Dickens before Clary had finally succumbed to exhaustion and fallen asleep against Jaces shoulder. Half in dream and half in reality, she recalled him carrying her downstairs and laying her down in the bedroom shed woken up in her first day in the apartment. He had drawn the curtains and closed the door after him as he left, shutting the room into darkness, and she had fallen asleep to the sound of his voice in the hallway, calling for Sebastian.

  She dreamed of the frozen lake again, and of Simon crying out for her, and of a city like Alicante, but the demon towers were made of human bones and the canals ran with blood. She woke twisted in her sheets, her hair a mass of tangles and the light outside the window dimmed to a twilight darkness. At first she thought that the voices outside her door were part of the dream, but as they grew louder, she raised her head to listen, still groggy and half-tangled in the webbing of sleep.

  "Hey, little brother. " It was Sebastians voice, floating under her door from the living room. "Is it done?"

  There was a long silence. Then Jaces voice, oddly flat and colorless. "Its done. "

  Sebastians breath drew in sharply. "And the old lady-she did as we asked? Made the Cup?"

  "Yes. "

  "Show it to me. "

  A rustle. Silence. Jace said, "Look, take it if you want it. "

  "No. " There was a curious thoughtfulness in Sebastians tone. "You hold on to it for the moment. You did the work of getting it back, after all. Didnt you?"

  "But it was your plan. " There was something in Jaces voice, something that made Clary lean forward and press her ear to the wall, suddenly desperate to hear more. "And I executed it, just as you wanted. Now, if you dont mind-"

  "I do mind. " There was a rustle. Clary imagined Sebastian standing up, looking down at Jace from the inch or so that divided them in height. "Theres something wrong. I can tell. I can read you, you know. "

  "Im tired. And there was a lot of blood. Look, I just need to clean myself off, and to sleep. And. . . " Jaces voice died.

  "And to see my sister. "

  "Id like to see her, yes. "

  "Shes asleep. Has been for hours. "

  "Do I need to ask your permission?" There was a razored edge to Jaces voice, something that reminded Clary of the way he had once spoken to Valentine. Something she had not heard in the way he spoke to Sebastian in a long time.

  "No. " Sebastian sounded surprised, almost caught off guard. "I suppose if you want to barge in there and gaze wistfully at her sleeping face, go right ahead. Ill never understand why-"

  "No," Jace said. "You never will. "

  There was silence. Clary could so clearly picture Sebastian staring after Jace, a quizzical look on his face, that it took her a moment before she realized that Jace must be coming to her room. She had only time to throw herself flat on the bed and shut her eyes before the door opened, letting in a slice of yellow-white light that momentarily blinded her. She made what she hoped was a realistic waking-up noise and rolled over, her hand over her face. "What. . . ?"

  The door shut. The room was in darkness again. She could see Jace only as a shape that moved slowly toward her bed, until he was standing over her, and she couldnt help remembering another night when he had come to her room while she slept. Jace standing by the head of her bed, still wearing his white mourning clothes, and there was nothing light or sarcastic or distant in the way he was looking down at her. "Ive been wandering around all night-I couldnt sleep-and I kept finding myself walking here. To you. "

  He was only an outline now, an outline with bright hair that shone in the faint light that filtered from beneath the door. "Clary," he whispered. There was a thump, and she realized he had fallen to his knees by the side of her bed. She didnt move, but her body tightened. His voice was a whisper. "Clary, its me. Its me. "

  Her eyelids fluttered open, wide, and their gazes met. She was staring at Jace. Kneeling beside her bed, his eyes were level with hers. He wore a long dark woolen coat, buttoned all the way to the throat, where she could see black Marks-Soundless, Agility, Accuracy-like a sort of necklace against his skin. His eyes were very gold and very wide, and as if she could see through them, she saw Jace-her Jace. The Jace who had lifted her in his arms when she was dying of Ravener poison; the Jace who had watched her hold Simon against the rising daylight over the East River; the Jace who had told her about a little boy and the falcon his father had killed. The Jace she loved.

  Her heart seemed to stop altogether. She couldnt even gasp.

  His eyes were ful
l of urgency and pain. "Please," he murmured. "Please believe me. "

  She believed him. They carried the same blood, loved the same way; this was her Jace, as much as her hands were her own hands, her heart her own heart. But-"How?"

  "Clary, shh-"

  She began to struggle into a sitting position, but he reached out and pushed her back against the bed by her shoulders. "We cant talk now. I have to go. "

  She grabbed for his sleeve, felt him wince. "Dont leave me. "

  He dropped his head for just a moment; when he looked up again, his eyes were dry but the expression in them silenced her. "Wait a few moments after I go," he whispered. "Then slip out and up to my room. Sebastian cant know were together. Not tonight. " He dragged himself to his feet, his eyes pleading. "Dont let him hear you. "

  She sat up. "Your stele. Leave me your stele. "

  Doubt flickered in his eyes; she held his gaze steadily, then put her hand out. After a moment he reached into his pocket and took out the dully glowing implement; he laid it in her palm. For a moment their skin touched, and she shuddered-just a brush of the hand from this Jace was almost as powerful as all the kissing and tearing at each other they had done in the club the other night. She knew he felt it too, for he jerked his hand away and began to back toward the door. She could hear his breath, ragged and swift. He fumbled behind himself for the knob and let himself out, his eyes on her face until the very last moment, when the door closed between them with a decided click.

  Clary sat in the darkness, stunned. Her blood felt as if it had thickened in her veins and her heart was having to work double time to keep beating. Jace. My Jace.

  Her hand tightened on the stele. Something about it, its cold hardness, seemed to focus and sharpen her thoughts. She looked down at herself. She was wearing a tank top and pajama shorts; there were goose bumps on her arms, but not because it was cold. She set the tip of the stele to her inner arm and drew it slowly down the skin, watching as a Soundless rune spiraled across her pale, blue-veined skin.

  She opened the door just a crack. Sebastian was gone, off to sleep most likely. There was music playing faintly from the television set-something classical, the sort of piano music Jace liked. She wondered if Sebastian appreciated music, or any sort of art. It seemed such a human capacity.

  Despite her concern about where hed gone, her feet were carrying her toward the passage that led to the kitchen-and then she was through the living room and dashing up the glass steps, her feet making no noise as she reached the top and sprinted down the hall to Jaces room. Then she was jerking open the door and sliding inside, the door clicking shut behind her.

  The windows were open, and through them she could see rooftops and a curving slice of moon, a perfect Paris night. Jaces witchlight rune-stone sat on the nightstand beside his bed. It glowed with a dull energy that cast further illumination through the room. It was enough light for Clary to see Jace, standing between the two long windows. He had shrugged off the long black coat, which lay in a crumpled heap at his feet. She realized immediately why he had not taken it off when hed come into the house, why he had kept it buttoned all the way to his throat. Because beneath it he wore only a gray button-down shirt, and jeans-and they were sticky and soaked with blood. Parts of the shirt were in ribbons, as if they had been slashed with a very sharp blade. His left sleeve was rolled up, and there was a white bandage wrapped around his forearm-he must have just done it-already darkening at the edges with blood. His feet were bare, his shoes kicked off, and the floor where he stood was splattered with blood, like scarlet tears. She set the stele down on his bedside table with a click.

  "Jace," she said softly.

  It suddenly seemed insane that there was this much space between them, that she was standing across the room from Jace, and that they werent touching. She started toward him, but he held up a hand to ward her off.

  "Dont. " His voice cracked. Then his fingers went to the buttons on his shirt, undoing them, one by one. He shrugged the bloodstained garment off his shoulders and let it fall to the ground.

  Clary stared. Liliths rune was still in place, over his heart, but instead of shimmering red-silver it looked as if the hot tip of a poker had been dragged across the skin, charring it. She put her hand up to her own chest involuntarily, her fingers splaying over her heart. She could feel its beating, hard and fast. "Oh. "

  "Yeah. Oh," Jace said flatly. "This wont last, Clary. Me being myself again, I mean. Only as long as this hasnt healed. "

  "I-I wondered," Clary stammered. "Before-while you were sleeping-I thought about cutting the rune like I did when we fought Lilith. But I was afraid Sebastian would feel it. "

  "He would have. " Jaces golden eyes were as flat as his voice. "He didnt feel this because it was made with a pugio-a dagger seethed in angel blood. Theyre incredibly rare; Ive never even seen one in real life before. " He ran his fingers through his hair. "The blade turned to hot ash after it touched me, but it did the damage it needed to do. "

  "You were in a fight. Was it a demon? Why didnt Sebastian go with-"

  "Clary. " Jaces voice was barely a whisper. "This-itll take longer than an ordinary cut to heal. . . but not forever. And then Ill be him again. "

  "How much time? Before you go back to the way you were?"

  "I dont know. I just dont know. But I wanted-I needed to be with you, like this, like myself, for as long as I could. " He held out a hand to her stiffly, as if unsure of its reception. "Do you think you could-"

  She was already running across the room to him. She threw her arms around his neck. He caught her and swung her up, burying his face in the crook of her neck. She breathed him in like air. He smelled of blood and sweat and ashes and Marks.

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