City of Fallen Angels – Chapter 3: SEVENFOLD

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Chapter 3: SEVENFOLD

“You know whats awesome?” said Eric, setting down his drumsticks. “Having a vampire in our band. This is the thing thats really going to take us over the top. ”

Kirk, lowering the microphone, rolled his eyes. Eric was always talking about taking the band over the top, and so far nothing had ever actually materialized. The best theyd ever done was a gig at the Knitting Factory, and only four people had come to that. And one of them had been Simons mom. “I dont see how it can take us over the top if were not allowed to tell anyone hes a vampire. ”

“Too bad,” said Simon. He was sitting on one of the speakers, next to Clary, who was engrossed in texting someone, probably Jace. “No ones going to believe you anyway, because look-here I am. Daylight. ” He raised his arms to indicate the sunlight pouring through the holes in the roof of Erics garage, which was their current practice space.

“That does somewhat impact our credibility,” said Matt, pushing his bright red hair out of his eyes and squinting at Simon. “Maybe you could wear fake fangs. ”

“He doesnt need fake fangs,” said Clary irritably, lowering her phone. “He has real fangs. Youve seen them. ”

This was true. Simon had had to whip out the fangs when initially breaking the news to the band. At first theyd thought hed had a head injury, or a mental breakdown. After hed flashed the fangs at them, theyd come around. Eric had even admitted that he wasnt particularly surprised. “I always knew there were vampires, dude,” hed said. “Because, you know how theres people you know who, like, always look the same, even when theyre, like, a hundred years old? Like David Bowie? Thats because theyre vampires. ”

Simon had drawn the line at telling them that Clary and Isabelle were Shadowhunters. That wasnt his secret to tell. Nor did they know that Maia was a werewolf. They just thought that Maia and Isabelle were two hot girls who had both inexplicably agreed to date Simon. They put this down to what Kirk called his “sexy vampire mojo. ” Simon didnt really care what they called it, as long as they never slipped up and told Maia and Isabelle about each other. So far hed managed to successfully invite them each to alternate gigs, so they never showed up at the same one at the same time.

“Maybe you could show the fangs onstage?” Eric suggested. “Just, like, once, dude. Flash em at the crowd. ”

“If he did that, the leader of the New York City vampire clan would kill you all,” Clary said. “You know that, right?” She shook her head in Simons direction. “I cant believe you told them youre a vampire,” she added, lowering her voice so only Simon could hear her. “Theyre idiots, in case you havent noticed. ”

“Theyre my friends,” Simon muttered.

“Theyre your friends, and theyre idiots. ”

“I want people I care about to know the truth about me. ”

“Oh?” Clary said, not very kindly. “So when are you going to tell your mother?”

Before Simon could reply, there was a loud rap on the garage door, and a moment later it slid up, letting more autumn sunlight pour inside. Simon looked over, blinking. It was a reflex, really, left over from when he had been human. It no longer took his eyes more than a split second to adjust to darkness or light.

There was a boy standing at the garage entrance, backlit by bright sun. He held a piece of paper in his hand. He looked down at it uncertainly, and then back up at the band. “Hey,” he said. “Is this where I can find the band Dangerous Stain?”

“Were Dichotomous Lemur now,” said Eric, stepping forward. “Who wants to know?”

“Im Kyle,” said the boy, ducking under the garage door. Straightening up, he flipped back the brown hair that fell into his eyes and held out his piece of paper to Eric. “I saw you were looking for a lead singer. ”

“Whoa,” said Matt. “We put that flyer up, like, a year ago. I totally forgot about it. ”

“Yeah,” said Eric. “We were doing some different stuff back then. Now we mostly switch off on vocals. You have experience?”

Kyle-who was very tall, Simon saw, though not at all gangly-shrugged. “Not really. But Im told I can sing. ” He had a slow, slightly drawling diction, more surfer than Southern.

The members of the band looked uncertainly at one another. Eric scratched behind his ear. “Can you give us a second, dude?”

“Sure. ” Kyle ducked back out of the garage, sliding the door closed behind him. Simon could hear him whistling faintly outside. It sounded like “Shell Be Comin Round the Mountain. ” It wasnt particularly in tune, either.

“I dunno,” Eric said. “Im not sure we can use anyone new right now. Cause, I mean, we cant tell him about the vampire thing, can we?”

“No,” said Simon. “You cant. ”

“Well, then. ” Matt shrugged. “Its too bad. We need a singer. Kirk sucks. No offense, Kirk. ”

“Screw you,” said Kirk. “I do not suck. ”

“Yes, you do,” said Matt. “You suck big, hairy-”

“I think,” Clary interrupted, raising her voice, “that you should let him try out. ”

Simon stared at her. “Why?”

“Because he is superhot,” Clary said, to Simons surprise. He hadnt been enormously struck by Kyles looks, but then, perhaps he wasnt the best judge of male beauty. “And your band needs some sex appeal. ”

“Thank you,” said Simon. “On behalf of us all, thank you very much. ”

Clary made an impatient noise. “Yes, yes, youre all fine-looking guys. Especially you, Simon. ” She patted his hand. “But Kyle is hot like whoa. Im just saying. My objective opinion as a female is that if you add Kyle to your band, you will double your female fan base. ”

“Which means well have two female fans instead of one,” said Kirk.

“Which one?” Matt looked genuinely curious.

“Erics little cousins friend. Whats her name? The one who has a crush on Simon. She comes to all our gigs and tells everyone shes his girlfriend. ”

Simon winced. “Shes thirteen. ”

“Thats your sexy vampire mojo at work, man,” said Matt. “The ladies cannot resist you. ”

“Oh, for Gods sake,” said Clary. “There is no such thing as sexy vampire mojo. ” She pointed a finger at Eric. “And dont even say that Sexy Vampire Mojo sounds like a band name, or Ill-”

The garage door swung back up. “Uh, dudes?” It was Kyle again. “Look, if you dont want me to try out, its cool. Maybe you changed your sound, whatever. Just say the word, and Im out. ”

Eric cocked his head to the side. “Come on in and lets get a look at you. ”

Kyle stepped into the garage. Simon stared at him, trying to gauge what it was that had made Clary say he was hot. He was tall and broad-shouldered and slim, with high cheekbones, longish black hair that tumbled over his forehead and down his neck in curls, and brown skin that hadnt lost its summery tan yet. His long, thick eyelashes over startling hazel-green eyes made him look like a pretty-boy rock star. He wore a fitted green T-shirt and jeans, and twining both his bare arms were tattoos-not Marks, just ordinary tattoos. They looked like scrolling script winding around his skin, disappearing up the sleeves of his shirt.

Okay, Simon had to admit. He wasnt hideous.

“You know,” Kirk said finally, breaking the silence. “I see it. He is pretty hot. ”

Kyle blinked and turned to Eric. “So, do you want me to sing or not?”

Eric detached the mike from its stand and handed it to him. “Go ahead,” he said. “Give it a try. ”

“You know, he was really pretty good,” Clary said. “I was kind of kidding about including Kyle in the band, but he can actually sing. ”

They were walking along Kent Avenue, toward Lukes house. The sky had darkened from blue to gray in preparation for twilight, and clouds hung low over the East River. Clary was trailing one of her gloved hands along the chain-link fence that separated them from the cracked concrete embankment, making the metal rattle.

“Youre just saying that because you think hes hot,” said Simon.

She dimpled. “Not that hot. Not, like, the hottest guy Ive ever seen. ” Which, Simon imagined, would be Jace, though she was nice enough not to say it. “But I thought it would be a good idea to have him in the band, honestly. If Eric and the rest of them cant tell him youre a vampire, they cant tell everyone else, either. Hopefully itll put an end to that stupid idea. ” They were nearly at Lukes house; Simon could see it across the street, the windows lit up yellow against the coming dark. Clary paused at a gap in the fence. “Remember when we killed a bunch of Raum demons here?”

“You and Jace killed some Raum demons. I almost threw up. ” Simon remembered, but his mind wasnt on it; he was thinking of Camille, sitting across from him in the courtyard, saying, You befriend Shadowhunters, but you can never be of them. You will always be other and outside. He looked sideways at Clary, wondering what she would say if he told her about his meeting with the vampire, and her offer. He imagined that she would probably be terrified. The fact that he couldnt be harmed hadnt yet stopped her from worrying about his safety.

“You wouldnt be scared now,” she said softly, as if reading his mind. “Now you have the Mark. ” She turned to look at him, still leaning against the fence. “Does anyone ever notice or ask you about it?”

He shook his head. “My hair covers it, mostly, and anyway, its faded a lot. See?” He pushed his hair aside.

Clary reached out and touched his forehead and the curving scripted Mark there. Her eyes were sad, as they had been that day in the Hall of Accords in Alicante, when shed cut the oldest curse of the world into his skin. “Does it hurt?”

“No. No, it doesnt. ” And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. “You know I dont blame you, dont you? You saved my life. ”

“I know. ” Her eyes were shining. She dropped her hand from his forehead and scrubbed the back of her glove across her face. “Damn. I hate crying. ”

“Well, you better get used to it,” he said, and when her eyes widened, he added hastily, “I meant the wedding. Its what, next Saturday? Everyone cries at weddings. ”

She snorted.

“How are your mom and Luke, anyway?”

“Disgustingly in love. Its horrible. Anyway-” She patted him on the shoulder. “I should go in. See you tomorrow?”

He nodded. “Sure. Tomorrow. ”

He watched her as she ran across the street and up the stairs to Lukes front door. Tomorrow. He wondered how long it had been since he had gone more than a few days without seeing Clary. He wondered about being a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, like Camille had said. Like Raphael had said. Thy brothers blood crieth unto me from the ground. He wasnt Cain, who had killed his brother, but the curse believed he was. It was strange, he thought, waiting to lose everything, not knowing if it would happen, or not.

The door shut behind Clary. Simon turned to head down Kent, toward the G train stop at Lorimer Street. It was nearly full dark now, the sky overhead a swirl of gray and black. Simon heard tires squeal on the road behind him, but he didnt turn around. Cars drove too fast on this street all the time, despite the cracks and potholes. It wasnt until the blue van drew up beside him and screeched to a stop that he turned to look.

The vans driver yanked the keys from the ignition, killing the engine, and threw open the door. It was a man-a tall man, dressed in a gray hooded tracksuit and sneakers, the hood pulled down so low that it hid most of his face. He leaped down from the drivers seat, and Simon saw that there was a long, shimmering knife in his hand.

Later Simon would think that he should have run. He was a vampire, faster than any human. He could outrun anyone. He should have run, but he was too startled; he stood still as the man, gleaming knife in hand, came toward him. The man said something in a low, guttural voice, something in a language Simon didnt understand.

Simon took a step back. “Look,” he said, reaching for his pocket. “You can have my wallet-”

The man lunged at Simon, plunging the knife toward his chest. Simon stared down in disbelief. Everything seemed to be happening very slowly, as if time were stretching out. He saw the point of the knife near his chest, the tip denting the leather of his jacket-and then it sheared to the side, as if someone had grabbed his attackers arm and yanked. The man screamed as he was jerked up into the air like a puppet being hauled up by its strings. Simon looked around wildly-surely someone must have heard or noticed the commotion, but no one appeared. The man kept screaming, jerking wildly, while his shirt tore open down the front, as if ripped apart by an invisible hand.

Simon stared in horror. Huge wounds were appearing on the mans torso. His head flew back, and blood sprayed from his mouth. He stopped screaming abruptly-and fell, as if the invisible hand had opened, releasing him. He hit the ground and broke apart like glass shattering into a thousand shining pieces that scattered themselves across the pavement.

Simon dropped to his knees. The knife that had been meant to kill him lay a little way away, within arms reach. It was all that was left of his attacker, save a pile of shimmering crystals that were already beginning to blow away in the brisk wind. He touched one cautiously.

It was salt. He looked down at his hands. They were shaking. He knew what had happened, and why.

And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.

So this was what sevenfold looked like.

He barely made it to the gutter before he doubled over and vomited blood into the street.

The moment Simon opened the door, he knew hed miscalculated. Hed thought his mother would be asleep by now, but she wasnt. She was awake, sitting in an armchair facing the front door, her phone on the table next to her, and she saw the blood on his jacket immediately.

To his surprise she didnt scream, but her hand flew to her mouth. “Simon. ”

“Its not my blood,” he said quickly. “I was over at Erics, and Matt had a nosebleed-”

“I dont want to hear it. ” That sharp tone was one she rarely used; it reminded him of the way shed talked during those last months when his father had been sick, anxiety like a knife in her voice. “I dont want to hear any more lies. ”

Simon dropped his keys onto the table next to the door. “Mom-”

“All you do is tell me lies. Im tired of it. ”

“Thats not true,” he said, but he felt sick, knowing it was. “I just have a lot going on in my life right now. ”

“I know you do. ” His mother got to her feet; she had always been a skinny woman, and she looked bony now, her dark hair, the same color as his, streaked with more gray than he had remembered where it fell around her face. “Come with me, young man. Now. ”

Puzzled, Simon followed her into the small bright-yellow kitchen. His mother stopped and pointed toward the counter. “Care to explain those?”

Simons mouth went dry. Lined up along the counter like a row of toy soldiers were the bottles of blood that had been in the mini-fridge inside his closet. One was half-full, the others entirely full, the red liquid inside them shining like an accusation. She had also found the empty blood bags he had washed out and carefully stuffed inside a shopping bag before dumping them into his trash can. They were spread out over the counter too, like a grotesque decoration.

“I thought at first the bottles were wine,” Elaine Lewis said in a shaking voice. “Then I found the bags. So I opened one of the bottles. Its blood. Isnt it?”

Simon said nothing. His voice seemed to have fled.

“Youve been acting so strangely lately,” his mother went on. “Out at all hours, you never eat, you barely sleep, you have friends Ive never met, never heard of. You think I cant tell when youre lying to me? I can tell, Simon. I thought maybe you were on drugs. ”

Simon found his voice. “So you searched my room?”

His mother flushed. “I had to! I thought-I thought if I found drugs there, I could help you, get you into a rehab program, but this?” She gestured wildly at the bottles. “I dont even know what to think about this. Whats going on, Simon? Have you joined some kind of cult?”

Simon shook his head.

“Then, tell me,” his mother said, her lips trembling. “Because the only explanations I can think of are horrible and sick. Simon, please-”

“Im a vampire,” Simon said. He had no idea how he had said it, or even why. But there it was. The words hung in the air between them like poisonous gas.

His mothers knees seemed to give out, and she sank into a kitchen chair. “What did you say?” she breathed.

“Im a vampire,” Simon said. “Ive been one for about two months now. Im sorry I didnt tell you before. I didnt know how. ”

Elaine Lewiss face was chalk white. “Vampires dont exist, Simon. ”

“Yes,” he said. “They do. Look, I didnt ask to be a vampire. I was attacked. I didnt have a choice. Id change it if I could. ” He thought wildly back to the pamphlet Clary had given him so long ago, the one about coming out to your parents. It had seemed like a funny analogy then; now it didnt.

“You think youre a vampire,” Simons mother said numbly. “You think you drink blood. ”

“I do drink blood,” Simon said. “I drink animal blood. ” “But youre a vegetarian. ” His mother looked to be on the verge of tears.

“I was. Im not now. I cant be. Blood is what I live on. ” Simons throat felt tight. “Ive never hurt a person. Id never drink someones blood. Im still the same person. Im still me. ”

His mother seemed to be fighting for control. “Your new friends-are they vampires too?”

Simon thought of Isabelle, Maia, Jace. He couldnt explain Shadowhunters and werewolves, too. It was too much. “No. But-they know I am one. ”

“Did-did they give you drugs? Make you take something? Something that would make you hallucinate?” She seemed to have barely heard his answer.

“No. Mom, this is real. ”

“Its not real,” she whispered. “You think its real. Oh, God. Simon. Im so sorry. I should have noticed. Well get you help. Well find someone. A doctor. Whatever it costs-”

“I cant go to a doctor, Mom. ”

“Yes, you can. You need to be somewhere. A hospital, maybe-”

He held out his wrist to her. “Feel my pulse,” he said.

She looked at him, bewildered. “What?”

“My pulse,” he said. “Take it. If I have one, okay. Ill go to the hospital with you. If not, you have to believe me. ”

She wiped the tears from her eyes and slowly reached to take his wrist. After so long taking care of Simons father when hed been sick, she knew how to take a pulse as well as any nurse. She pressed her index fingertip to the inside of his wrist, and waited.

He watched as her face changed, from misery and upset to confusion, and then to terror. She stood up, dropping his hand, backing away from him. Her eyes were huge and dark in her white face. “What are you?”

Simon felt sick. “I told you. Im a vampire. ”

“Youre not my son. Youre not Simon. ” She was shuddering. “What kind of living thing doesnt have a pulse? What kind of monster are you? What have you done with my child?”

“I am Simon-” He took a step toward his mother.

She screamed. He had never heard her scream like that, and he never wanted to again. It was a horrible noise.

“Get away from me. ” Her voice broke. “Dont come any closer. ” She began to whisper. “Barukh ata Adonai shomea tfila. . . ”

She was praying, Simon realized with a jolt. She was so terrified of him that she was praying that he would go away, be banished. And what was worse was that he could feel it. The name of God tightened his stomach and made his throat ache.

She was right to pray, he thought, sick to his soul. He was cursed. He didnt belong in the world. What kind of living thing doesnt have a pulse?

“Mom,” he whispered. “Mom, stop. ”

She looked at him, wide-eyed, her lips still moving.

“Mom, you dont need to be so upset. ” He heard his own voice as if from a distance, soft and soothing, a strangers voice. He kept his eyes fixed on his mother as he spoke, capturing her gaze with his as a cat might capture a mouse. “Nothing happened. You fell asleep in the armchair in the living room. Youre having a bad dream that I came home and told you I was a vampire. But thats crazy. That would never happen. ”

She had stopped praying. She blinked. “Im dreaming,” she repeated.

“Its a bad dream,” Simon said. He moved toward her and put his hand on her shoulder. She didnt pull away. Her head was drooping, like a tired childs. “Just a dream. You never found anything in my room. Nothing happened. Youve just been sleeping, thats all. ”

He took her hand. She let him lead her into the living room, where he settled her into the armchair. She smiled when he pulled a blanket over her, and closed her eyes.

He went back into the kitchen and swiftly, methodically, swept the bottles and containers of blood into a garbage bag. He tied it at the top and brought it to his room, where he changed his bloody jacket for a new one, and threw some things quickly into a duffel bag. He flipped the light off and left, closing the door behind him.

His mother was already asleep as he passed through the living room. He reached out and lightly touched her hand.

“Ill be gone for a few days,” he whispered. “But you wont worry. You wont expect me back. You think Im on a school field trip. Theres no need to call. Everything is fine. ”

He drew his hand back. In the dim light his mother looked both older and younger than he was used to. She was as small as a child, curled under the blanket, but there were new lines on her face he didnt remember being there before.

“Mom,” he whispered.

He touched her hand, and she stirred. Not wanting her to wake, he jerked his fingers back and moved soundlessly to the door, grabbing his keys from the table as he went.

The Institute was quiet. It was always quiet these days. Jace had taken to leaving his window open at night, so he could hear the noises of traffic going by, the occasional wail of ambulance sirens and the honking of horns on York Avenue. He could hear things mundanes couldnt, too, and these sounds filtered through the night and into his dreams-the rush of air displaced by a vampires airborne motorcycle, the flutter of winged fey, the distant howl of wolves on nights when the moon was full.

It was only half-full now, casting just enough light for him to read by as he sprawled on the bed. He had his fathers silver box open in front of him, and was going through what was inside it. One of his fathers steles was in there, and a silver-handled hunting dagger with the initials SWH on the handle, and-of most interest to Jace-a pile of letters.

Over the past six weeks he had taken to reading a letter or so every night, trying to get a sense for the man who was his biological father. A picture had begun to emerge slowly, of a thoughtful young man with hard-driving parents who had been drawn to Valentine and the Circle because they had seemed to offer him an opportunity to distinguish himself in the world. He had kept writing to Amatis even after their divorce, something she hadnt mentioned before. In those letters, his disenchantment with Valentine and sickness at the Circles activities were clear, though he rarely, if ever, mentioned Jaces mother, Celine. It made sense-Amatis wouldnt have wanted to hear about her replacement-and yet Jace could not help hating his father a little for it. If he hadnt cared about Jaces mother, why marry her? If hed hated the Circle so much, why hadnt he left it? Valentine had been a madman, but at least hed stood by his principles.

And then, of course, Jace only felt worse for preferring Valentine to his real father. What kind of person did that make him?

A knock on the door drew him out of his self-recriminations; he got to his feet and went to answer it, expecting Isabelle to be there, wanting to either borrow something or complain about something.

But it wasnt Isabelle. It was Clary.

She wasnt dressed the way she usually was. She had a low-cut black tank top on, a white blouse tied loose and open over it, and a short skirt, short enough to show the curves of her legs up to midthigh. She wore her bright red hair in braids, loose curls of it clinging against the hollows of her temples, as if it had been raining lightly outside. She smiled when she saw him, arching her eyebrows. They were coppery, like the fine eyelashes that framed her green eyes. “Arent you going to let me in?”

He looked up and down the hallway. No one else was there, thank God. Taking Clary by the arm, he pulled her inside and shut the door. Leaning against it, he said, “What are you doing here? Is everything all right?”

“Everythings fine. ” She kicked off her shoes and sat down on the edge of the bed. Her skirt rode up as she leaned back on her hands, showing more thigh. It wasnt doing wonders for Jaces concentration. “I missed you. And Mom and Luke are asleep. They wont notice Im gone. ”

“You shouldnt be here. ” The words came out as a sort of groan. He hated saying them but knew they needed to be said, for reasons she didnt even know. And he hoped she never would.

“Well, if you want me to go, I will. ” She stood up. Her eyes were shimmeringly green. She took a step closer to him. “But I came all the way here. You could at least kiss me good-bye. ”

He reached for her and drew her in, and kissed her. There were some things you had to do, even if they were a bad idea. She folded into his arms like delicate silk. He put his hands in her hair and ran his fingers through it, untwisting her braids until her hair fell around her shoulders the way he liked it. He remembered wanting to do this the first time he had seen her, and dismissing the idea as insane. She was a mundane, shed been a stranger, thered been no sense in wanting her. And then he had kissed her for the first time, in the greenhouse, and it had almost made him crazy. They had gone downstairs and been interrupted by Simon, and he had never wanted to kill anyone as much as he had wanted to kill Simon in that moment, though he knew, intellectually, that Simon hadnt done anything wrong. But what he felt had nothing to do with intellect, and when he had imagined her leaving him for Simon, the thought had made him sick and scared the way no demon ever had.

And then Valentine had told them they were brother and sister, and Jace had realized that there were worse things, infinitely worse things, than Clary leaving him for someone else-and that was knowing that the way he loved her was somehow cosmically wrong; that what had seemed the most pure and most irreproachable thing in his life had now been defiled beyond redemption. He remembered his father saying that when angels fell, they fell in anguish, because once they had seen the face of God, and now they never would again. And he had thought he knew how they felt.

It had not made him want her any less; it had just turned wanting her into torture. Sometimes the shadow of that torture fell across his memories even when he was kissing her, as he was now, and made him crush her more tightly to him. She made a surprised noise but didnt protest, even when he lifted her up and carried her over to the bed.

They sprawled onto it together, crumpling some of the letters, Jace knocking the box itself aside to make room for them. His heart was hammering against the inside of his ribs. They had never been in bed together like this before, not really. There had been that night in her room in Idris, but they had barely touched. Jocelyn was careful never to let either of them spend the night where the other one lived. She didnt care much for him, Jace suspected, and he could hardly blame her. He doubted he would have liked himself much, if hed been in her position.

“I love you,” Clary whispered. She had his shirt off, and her fingertips were tracing the scars on his back, and the star-shaped scar on his shoulder that was the twin of her own, a relic of the angel whose blood they both shared. “I dont ever want to lose you. ”

He slid his hand down to untie her knotted blouse. His other hand, braced against the mattress, touched the cold metal of the hunting dagger; it must have spilled onto the bed with the rest of the contents of the box. “That will never happen. ”

She looked up at him with luminous eyes. “How can you be so sure?”

His hand tightened on the knife hilt. The moonlight that poured through the window slid off the blade as he raised it. “Im sure,” he said, and brought the dagger down. The blade sheared through her flesh as if it were paper, and as her mouth opened in a startled O and blood soaked the front of her white shirt, he thought, Dear God, not again.

Waking up from the nightmare was like crashing through a plate glass window. The razored shards of it seemed to slice at Jace even as he pulled free and sat up, gasping. He rolled off the bed, instinctively wanting to get away, and hit the stone floor on his hands and knees. Cold air poured through the open window, making him shiver but clearing away the last, clinging tendrils of the dream.

He stared down at his hands. They were clean of blood. The bed was a mess, the sheets and blankets screwed into a tangled ball from his tossing and turning, but the box containing his fathers things was still on the nightstand, where hed left it before he went to sleep.

The first few times hed had the nightmare, hed woken up and vomited. Now he was careful about not eating for hours before he went to sleep, so instead his body had its revenge on him by racking him with spasms of sickness and fever. A spasm hit now, and he curled into a ball, gasping and dry-heaving until it passed.

When it was over, he pressed his forehead against the cold stone floor. Sweat was cooling on his body, his shirt sticking to him, and he wondered, not idly, if eventually the dreams would kill him. He had tried everything to stop them-sleeping pills and potions, runes of sleep and runes of peace and healing. Nothing worked. The dreams stole like poison into his mind, and there was nothing he could do to shut them out.

Even during his waking hours, he found it hard to look at Clary. She had always been able to see through him the way no one else had, and he could only imagine what she would think if she knew what he dreamed. He rolled onto his side and stared at the box on the nightstand, moonlight sparking off it. And he thought of Valentine. Valentine, who had tortured and imprisoned the only woman hed ever loved, who had taught his son-both his sons-that to love something is to destroy it forever.

His mind spun frantically as he said the words to himself, over and over. It had become a sort of chant for him, and like any chant, the words had started to lose their individual meanings.

Im not like Valentine. I dont want to be like him. I wont be like him. I wont.

He saw Sebastian-Jonathan, really-his sort-of-brother, grinning at him through a tangle of silver-white hair, his black eyes shining with merciless glee. And he saw his own knife go into Jonathan and pull free, and Jonathans body tumbling down toward the river below, his blood mixing with the weeds and grass at the riverbanks edge.

I am not like Valentine.

He had not been sorry to kill Jonathan. Given the chance, he would do it again.

I dont want to be like him.

Surely it wasnt normal to kill someone-to kill your own adoptive brother-and feel nothing about it at all.

I wont be like him.

But his father had taught him that to kill without mercy was a virtue, and maybe you could never forget what your parents taught you. No matter how badly you wanted to.

I wont be like him.

Maybe people could never really change.

I wont.

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