City of lost souls – Chapter 5: Valentines Son

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Chapter 5: Valentines Son

She was dreaming of icy landscapes again. Bitter tundra that stretched in all directions, ice floes drifting out on the black waters of the Arctic sea, snow-capped mountains, and cities carved out of ice whose towers sparkled like the demon towers of Alicante.

In front of the frozen city was a frozen lake. Clary was skidding down a steep slope, trying to reach the lake, though she was not sure why. Two dark figures stood out in the center of the frozen water. As she neared the lake, skidding on the surface of the slope, her hands burning from contact with the ice, and snow filling her shoes, she saw that one was a boy with black wings that spread out from his back like a crows. His hair was as white as the ice all around them. Sebastian. And beside Sebastian was Jace, his gold hair the only color in the frozen landscape that was not black or white.

As Jace turned away from Sebastian and began to walk toward Clary, wings burst from his back, white-gold and shimmering. Clary slid the last few feet to the frozen surface of the lake and collapsed to her knees, exhausted. Her hands were blue and bleeding, her lips cracked, her lungs seared with each icy breath.

“Jace,” she whispered.

And he was there, lifting her to her feet, his wings wrapping around her, and she was warm again, her body thawing from her heart down through her veins, bringing her hands and feet to life with half-painful, half-pleasurable tingles. “Clary,” he said, stroking her hair tenderly. “Can you promise me that you wont scream?”

Clarys eyes opened. For a moment she was so disoriented that the world seemed to swing around her like the view from a moving carousel. She was in her bedroom at Lukes-the familiar futon beneath her, the wardrobe with its cracked mirror, the strip of windows that looked out onto the East River, the radiator spitting and hissing. Dim light spilled through the windows, and a faint red glow came from the smoke alarm over the closet. Clary was lying on her side, under a heap of blankets, and her back was deliciously warm. An arm was draped along her side. For a moment, in the half-conscious dizzy space between waking and sleeping, she wondered if Simon had crawled in the window while she slept and lain down beside her, the way they used to sleep in the same bed together when they were children.

But Simon had no body heat.

Her heart skittered in her chest. Now entirely awake, she twisted around under the covers. Beside her was Jace, lying on his side, looking down at her, his head propped on his hand. Dim moonlight made a halo out of his hair, and his eyes glittered gold like a cats. He was fully dressed, still wearing the short-sleeved white T-shirt she had seen him in earlier that day, and his bare arms were twined with runes like climbing vines.

She sucked in a startled breath. Jace, her Jace, had never looked at her like that. He had looked at her with desire, but not with this lazy, predatory, consuming look that made her heart pulse unevenly in her chest.

She opened her mouth-to say his name or to scream, she wasnt sure, and she never got the chance to find out; Jace moved so fast she didnt even see it. One moment he was lying beside her, and the next he was on top of her, one hand clamped down over her mouth. His legs straddled her hips; she could feel his lean, muscled body pressed against hers.

“Im not going to hurt you,” he said. “Id never hurt you. But I dont want you screaming. I need to talk to you. ”

She glared at him.

To her surprise he laughed. His familiar laugh, hushed to a whisper. “I can read your expressions, Clary Fray. The minute I take my hand off your mouth, youre going to yell. Or use your training and break my wrists. Come on, promise me you wont. Swear on the Angel. ”

This time she rolled her eyes.

“Okay, youre right,” he said. “You cant exactly swear with my hand over your mouth. Im going to take it off. And if you yell-” He tilted his head to the side; pale gold hair fell across his eyes. “Ill disappear. ”

He took his hand away. She lay still, breathing hard, the pressure of his body on hers. She knew he was faster than her, that there was no move she could make that he wouldnt outpace, but for the moment he seemed to be treating their interaction as a game, something playful. He bent closer to her, and she realized her tank top had pulled up, and she could feel the muscles of his flat, hard stomach against her bare skin. Her face flushed.

Despite the heat in her face, it felt as if cold needles of ice were running up and down her veins. “What are you doing here?”

He drew back slightly, looking disappointed. “That isnt really an answer to my question, you know. I was expecting more of a Hallelujah Chorus. I mean, its not every day your boyfriend comes back from the dead. ”

“I already knew you werent dead. ” She spoke through numb lips. “I saw you in the library. With-”

“Colonel Mustard?”

“Sebastian. ”

He let his breath out in a low chuckle. “I knew you were there too. I could feel it. ”

She felt her body tighten. “You let me think you were gone,” she said. “Before that. I thought you-I really thought there was a chance you were-” She broke off; she couldnt say it. Dead. “Its unforgivable. If Id done that to you-”

“Clary. ” He leaned down over her again; his hands were warm on her wrists, his breath soft in her ear. She could feel everywhere that their bare skin touched. It was horribly distracting. “I had to do it. It was too dangerous. If Id told you, you would have had to choose between telling the Council I was still alive-and letting them hunt me-and keeping a secret that would make you an accomplice in their eyes. Then, when you saw me in the library, I had to wait. I needed to know if you still loved me, if you would go to the Council or not about what youd seen. You didnt. I had to know you cared more about me than the Law. You do, dont you?”

“I dont know,” she whispered. “I dont know. Who are you?”

“Im still Jace,” he said. “I still love you. ”

Hot tears welled up in her eyes. She blinked, and they spilled down her face. Gently he ducked his head and kissed her cheeks, and then her mouth. She tasted her own tears, salty on his lips, and he opened her mouth with his, carefully, gently. The familiar taste and feel of him washed over her, and she leaned into him for a split second, her doubts subsumed in her bodys blind, unreasoning recognition of the need to keep him close, to keep him there-just as the door of her bedroom opened.

Jace let go of her. Clary instantly jerked away from him, scrambling to pull down her tank top. Jace stretched himself into a sitting position with unhurried, lazy grace, and grinned up at the person standing in the doorway. “Well, well,” Jace said. “You may have the worst timing since Napoleon decided the dead of winter was the right moment to invade Russia. ”

It was Sebastian.

Close up, Clary could more clearly see the differences in him since she had known him in Idris. His hair was paper white, his eyes black tunnels fringed by lashes as long as spiders legs. He wore a white shirt, the sleeves pulled up, and she could see a red scar ringing his right wrist, like a ridged bracelet. There was a scar across the palm of his hand, too, looking new and harsh.

“Thats my sister youre defiling there, you know,” he said, moving his black gaze to Jace. There was amusement in his expression.

“Sorry. ” Jace didnt sound sorry. He was leaning back against the blankets, catlike. “We got carried away. ”

Clary sucked in a breath. It sounded harsh in her own ears. “Get out,” she said, to Sebastian.

He leaned against the door frame, elbow and hip, and she was struck by the similarity in movement between him and Jace. They didnt look alike, but they moved alike. As if-

As if theyd been trained to move by the same person.

“Now,” he said, “is that any way to talk to your big brother?”

“Magnus should have left you a coatrack,” Clary spat.

“Oh, you remember that, do you? I thought we had a pretty good time that day. ” He smirked a little, and Clary, with a sick drop in her stomach, remembered how he had taken her to the burned remains of her mothers house, how he had kissed her among the rubble, knowing all along who they really were to each other and delighting in the fact that she didnt.

She glanced sideways at Jace. He knew perfectly well that Sebastian had kissed her. Sebastian had taunted him with it, and Jace had nearly killed him. But he didnt look angry now; he looked amused, and mildly annoyed to have been interrupted.

“We should do it again,” Sebastian said, examining his nails. “Have some family time. ”

“I dont care what you think. Youre not my brother,” Clary said. “Youre a murderer. ”

“I really dont see how those things cancel each other out,” said Sebastian. “Its not like they did in the case of dear old Dad. ” His gaze drifted lazily back to Jace. “Normally Id hate to get in the way of a friends love life, but I really dont care for standing out here in this hallway indefinitely. Especially since I cant turn on any lights. Its boring. ”

Jace sat up, tugging his shirt down. “Give us five minutes. ”

Sebastian sighed an exaggerated sigh and swung the door shut. Clary stared at Jace. “What the f-”

“Language, Fray. ” Jaces eyes danced. “Relax. ”

Clary jabbed her hand toward the door. “You heard what he said. About that day he kissed me. He knew I was his sister. Jace-”

Something flashed in his eyes, darkening their gold, but when he spoke again, it was as if her words had hit a Teflon surface and bounced off, making no impression.

She drew back from him. “Jace, arent you listening to anything Im saying?”

“Look, I understand if youre uncomfortable with your brother waiting outside in the hallway. I wasnt planning on kissing you. ” He grinned in a way that at another time she would have found adorable. “It just seemed like a good idea at the time. ”

Clary scrambled out of the bed, staring down at him. She reached for the robe that hung on the post of her bed and wrapped it around herself. Jace watched, making no move to stop her, though his eyes shone in the dark. “I-I dont even understand. First you disappear, and now you come back with him, acting like Im not even supposed to notice or care or remember-”

“I told you,” he said. “I had to be sure of you. I didnt want to put you in the position of knowing where I was while the Clave was still investigating you. I thought it would be hard for you-”

“Hard for me?” She was almost breathless with rage. “Tests are hard. Obstacle courses are hard. You disappearing like that practically killed me, Jace. And what do you think youve done to Alec? Isabelle? Maryse? Do you know what its been like? Can you imagine? Not knowing, the searching-”

That odd look passed over his face again, as if he were hearing her but not hearing her at the same time. “Oh, yes, I was going to ask. ” He smiled like an angel. “Is everyone looking for me?”

“Is everyone-” She shook her head, pulling the robe closer. Suddenly she wanted to be covered up in front of him, in front of all that familiarity and beauty and that lovely predatory smile that said he was willing to do whatever with her, to her, no matter who was waiting in the hall.

“I was hoping theyd put up flyers like they do for lost cats,” he said. “Missing, one stunningly attractive teenage boy. Answers to Jace, or Hot Stuff. ”

“You did not just say that. ”

“You dont like Hot Stuff? You think Sweet Cheeks might be better? Love Crumpet? Really, that last ones stretching it a bit. Though, technically, my family is British-”

“Shut up,” she said savagely. “And get out. ”

“I. . . ” He looked taken aback, and she remembered how surprised hed been outside the Manor, when shed pushed him away. “All right, fine. Ill be serious. Clarissa, Im here because I want you to come with me. ”

“Come where with you?”

“Come with me,” he said, and then hesitated, “and Sebastian. And Ill explain everything. ”

For a moment she was frozen, her eyes locked on his. Silvery moonlight outlined the curves of his mouth, the shape of his cheekbones, the shadow of his lashes, the arch of his throat. “The last time I came with you somewhere, I wound up knocked unconscious and dragged into the middle of a black magic ceremony. ”

“That wasnt me. That was Lilith. ”

“The Jace Lightwood I know wouldnt be in the same room with Jonathan Morgenstern without killing him. ”

“I think youll find that would be self-defeating,” Jace said lightly, shoving his feet into his boots. “We are bound, he and I. Cut him and I bleed. ”

“Bound? What do you mean, bound?”

He tossed his light hair back, ignoring her question. “This is bigger than you understand, Clary. He has a plan. Hes willing to work, to sacrifice. If youd give me a chance to explain-”

“He killed Max, Jace,” she said. “Your little brother. ”

He flinched, and for a moment of wild hope she thought shed broken through to him-but his expression smoothed over like a wrinkled sheet pulled tight. “That was-it was an accident. Besides, Sebastians just as much my brother. ”

“No. ” Clary shook her head. “Hes not your brother. Hes mine. God knows, I wish it werent true. He should never have been born-”

“How can you say that?” Jace demanded. He swung his legs out of the bed. “Have you ever considered that maybe things arent so black and white as you think?” He bent over to grab his weapons belt and buckle it on. “There was a war, Clary, and people got hurt, but-things were different then. Now I know Sebastian would never harm anyone I loved intentionally. Hes serving a greater cause. Sometimes theres collateral damage-”

“Did you just call your own brother collateral damage?” Her voice rose in an incredulous half shout. She felt as if she could barely breathe.

“Clary, youre not listening. This is important-”

“Like what Valentine thought he was doing was important?”

“Valentine was wrong,” he said. “He was right that the Clave was corrupt but wrong about how to go about fixing things. But Sebastian is right. If youd just hear us out-”

“Us,” she said. “God. Jace. . . ” He was staring at her from the bed, and even as she felt her heart breaking, her mind was racing, trying to remember where she had left her stele, wondering if she could get to the X-Acto knife in the drawer of her nightstand. Wondering if she could bring herself to use it if she did.

“Clary?” Jace tilted his head to the side, studying her face. “You do-you still love me, dont you?”

“I love Jace Lightwood,” she said. “I dont know who you are. ”

His face changed, but before he could speak, a scream shattered the silence. A scream, and the sound of breaking glass.

Clary knew the voice instantly. It was her mother.

Without another glance at Jace, she yanked the bedroom door open and bolted down the hallway, into the living room. The living room in Lukes house was large, divided from the kitchen by a long counter. Jocelyn, in yoga pants and a frayed T-shirt, her hair pulled back in a messy bun, stood by the counter. She had clearly come into the kitchen for something to drink. A glass lay shattered at her feet, the water soaking into the gray carpeting.

All the color had drained from her face, leaving her as pale as bleached sand. She was staring across the room, and even before Clary turned her head, she knew what her mother was looking at.

Her son.

Sebastian was leaning against the living room wall, near the door, with no expression on his angular face. He lowered his eyelids and looked at Jocelyn through his lashes. Something about his posture, the look of him, could have stepped out of Hodges photograph of Valentine at seventeen years old.

“Jonathan,” Jocelyn whispered. Clary stood frozen, even as Jace burst out of the hallway, took in the scene in front of him in one moment, and came to a halt. His left hand was at his weapons belt; his slim fingers were inches from the hilt of one of his daggers, but Clary knew it would take him less than seconds to free it.

“I go by Sebastian now,” said Clarys brother. “I concluded that I wasnt interested in keeping the name you and my father gave me. Both of you betrayed me, and I would prefer as little association with you as possible. ”

Water spread out from the pool of broken glass at Jocelyns feet in a dark ring. She took a step forward, her eyes searching, running up and down Sebastians face. “I thought you were dead,” she whispered. “Dead. I saw your bones turned to ashes. ”

Sebastian looked at her, his black eyes quiet and narrow. “If you were a real mother,” he said, “a good mother, you would have known I was alive. There was a man once who said that mothers carry the key of our souls with them all our lives. But you threw mine away. ”

Jocelyn made a sound in the back of her throat. She was leaning against the counter for support. Clary wanted to run to her, but her feet felt frozen to the ground. Whatever was happening between her brother and her mother, it was something that had nothing to do with her.

“Dont tell me you arent even a little glad to see me, Mother,” Sebastian said, and though his words were pleading, his voice was flat. “Arent I everything you could want in a son?” He spread his arms wide. “Strong, handsome, looks just like dear old Dad. ”

Jocelyn shook her head, her face gray. “What do you want, Jonathan?”

“I want what everyone wants,” said Sebastian. “I want whats owed to me. In this case the Morgenstern legacy. ”

“The Morgenstern legacy is blood and devastation,” said Jocelyn. “We are not Morgensterns here. Not me, and not my daughter. ” She straightened up. Her hand was still gripping the counter, but Clary could see some of the old fire returning to her mothers expression. “If you go now, Jonathan, I wont tell the Clave you were ever here. ” Her eyes flicked to Jace. “Or you. If they knew you were cooperating, they would kill you both. ”

Clary moved to stand in front of Jace, reflexively. He looked past her, over her shoulder, at her mother. “You care if I die?” Jace said.

“I care about what it would do to my daughter,” said Jocelyn. “And the Law is hard-too hard. What has happened to you-maybe it can be undone. ” Her eyes moved back to Sebastian. “But for you-my Jonathan-its much too late. ”

The hand that had been gripping the counter swept forward, holding Lukes long-handled kindjal blade. Tears shone on Jocelyns face. But her grip on the knife was steady.

“I look just like him, dont I?” Sebastian said, not moving. He seemed barely to notice the knife. “Valentine. Thats why youre looking at me like that. ”

Jocelyn shook her head. “You look like you always did, from the moment I first saw you. You look like a demon thing. ” Her voice was achingly sad. “Im so sorry. ”

“Sorry for what?”

“For not killing you when you were born,” she said, and came out from behind the counter, spinning the kindjal in her hand.

Clary tensed, but Sebastian didnt move. His dark eyes followed his mother as she came toward him. “Is that what you want?” he said. “For me to die?” He opened his arms, as if he meant to embrace Jocelyn, and took a step forward. “Go ahead. Commit filicide. I wont stop you. ”

“Sebastian,” said Jace. Clary shot him an incredulous look. Did he actually sound concerned?

Jocelyn moved another step forward. The knife was a blur in her hand. When it came to a stop, the tip was pointed directly at Sebastians heart.

Still, he didnt move.

“Do it,” he said softly. He cocked his head to the side. “Or can you bring yourself to? You could have killed me when I was born. But you didnt. ” His voice lowered. “Maybe you know that there is no such thing as conditional love for a child. Maybe if you loved me enough, you could save me. ”

For a moment they stared at each other, mother and son, ice-green eyes meeting coal-black ones. There were sharp lines at the corners of Jocelyns mouth that Clary could have sworn hadnt been there two weeks ago. “Youre pretending,” she said, her voice shaking. “You dont feel anything, Jonathan. Your father taught you to feign human emotion the way one might teach a parrot to repeat words. It doesnt understand what its saying, and neither do you. I wish-oh, God, I wish-that you did. But-”

Jocelyn brought the blade up in a swift, clean, cutting arc. A perfectly placed blow, it should have driven up under Sebastians ribs and into his heart. It would have, if he had not moved even faster than Jace; he spun away and back, and the tip of the blade cut only a shallow slash along his chest.

Beside Clary, Jace sucked in his breath. She whirled to look at him. There was a spreading red stain across the front of his shirt. He touched his hand to it; his fingertips came away bloody. We are bound. Cut him and I bleed.

Without another thought Clary darted across the room, throwing herself between Jocelyn and Sebastian. “Mom,” she gasped. “Stop. ”

Jocelyn was still holding the knife, her eyes on Sebastian. “Clary, get out of the way. ”

Sebastian began to laugh. “Sweet, isnt it?” he said. “A little sister defending her big brother. ”

“Im not defending you. ” Clary kept her eyes fixed on her mothers face. “Whatever happens to Jonathan happens to Jace. Do you understand, Mom? If you kill him, Jace dies. Hes already bleeding. Mom, please. ”

Jocelyn was still gripping the knife, but her expression was uncertain. “Clary. . . ”

“Gracious, how awkward,” Sebastian observed. “Ill be interested to see how you resolve this. After all, Ive got no reason to leave. ”

“Yes, actually,” came a voice from the hallway, “you do. ”

It was Luke, barefoot and in jeans and an old sweater. He looked tousled, and oddly younger without his glasses. He also had a sawed-off shotgun balanced at his shoulder, the barrel trained directly on Sebastian. “This is a Winchester twelve-gauge pump-action shotgun. The pack uses it to put down wolves whove gone rogue,” he said. “Even if I dont kill you, I can blow your leg off, Valentines son. ”

It was as if everyone in the room took a quick gasp of breath all at once-everyone except Luke. And Sebastian, who, a grin splitting his face in half, turned and walked toward Luke, as if oblivious of the gun. “Valentines son,” he said. “Is that really how you think of me? Under other circumstances you could have been my godfather. ”

“Under other circumstances,” said Luke, sliding his finger onto the trigger, “you could have been human. ”

Sebastian stopped in his tracks. “The same could be said of you, werewolf. ”

The world seemed to have slowed down. Luke sighted along the barrel of the rifle. Sebastian stood smiling.

“Luke,” Clary said. It was like one of those dreams, a nightmare where she wanted to scream but all that would scrape past her throat was a whisper. “Luke, dont do it. ”

Her stepfathers finger tightened on the trigger-and then Jace exploded into movement, launching himself from beside Clary, flipping over the sofa, and slamming into Luke just as the shotgun went off.

The shot flew wide; one of the windows shattered outward as the bullet struck it. Luke, knocked off balance, staggered back. Jace yanked the gun from his hands and threw it. It hurtled through the broken window, and Jace turned back toward the older man.

“Luke-,” he began.

Luke hit him.

Even knowing everything she knew, the shock of it, seeing Luke, who had stood up for Jace countless times to her mother, to Maryse, to the Clave-Luke, who was basically gentle and kind-seeing him actually strike Jace across the face was as if he had hit Clary instead. Jace, totally unprepared, was thrown backward into the wall.

And Sebastian, who had so far shown no real emotion beyond mockery and disgust, snarled-snarled and drew from his belt a long, thin dagger. Lukes eyes widened, and he began to twist away, but Sebastian was faster than him-faster than anyone else Clary had ever seen. Faster than Jace. He drove the dagger into Lukes chest, twisting it hard before jerking it back out, red to the hilt. Luke fell back against the wall-then slid down it, leaving a smear of blood behind as Clary stared in horror.

Jocelyn screamed. The sound was worse than the sound of the bullet shattering the window, though Clary heard it as if it came from a distance away, or underwater. She was staring at Luke, who had collapsed to the floor, the carpet around him rapidly turning red.

Sebastian raised the dagger again-and Clary flung herself at him, slamming as hard as she could into his shoulder, trying to knock him off balance. She barely moved him, but he did drop the dagger. He turned on her. He was bleeding from a split lip. Clary didnt know why, not until Jace swung into her field of vision and she saw the blood on his mouth where Luke had hit him.

“Enough!” Jace grabbed Sebastian by the back of the jacket. He was pale, not looking at Luke, or at Clary, either. “Stop it. This isnt why we came here. ”

“Let me go-”

“No. ” Jace reached around Sebastian and grabbed his hand. His eyes met Clarys. His lips shaped words-there was a flash of silver, the ring on Sebastians finger-and then both of them were gone, winking out of existence between one breath and another. Just as they vanished, a streak of something metallic shot through the air where they had been standing, and buried itself in the wall.

Lukes kindjal.

Clary turned to look at her mother, who had thrown the knife. But Jocelyn wasnt looking at Clary. She was darting to Lukes side, dropping to her knees on the bloody carpet, and pulling him up into her lap. His eyes were closed. Blood trickled from the corners of his mouth. Sebastians silver dagger, smeared with more blood, lay a few feet away.

“Mom,” Clary whispered. “Is he-”

“The dagger was silver. ” Jocelyns voice shook. “He wont heal fast like he should, not without special treatment. ” She touched Lukes face with her fingertips. His chest was rising and falling, Clary saw with relief, if shallowly. She could taste tears burning in the back of her throat and for a moment was amazed at her mothers calm. But then this was the woman who had once stood in the ashes of her home, surrounded by the blackened bodies of her family, including her parents and son, and had gone on from that. “Get some towels from the bathroom,” her mother said. “We have to stop the bleeding. ”

Clary staggered to her feet and went almost blindly into Lukes small, tiled bathroom. There was a gray towel hanging from the back of the door. She yanked it down, went back into the living room. Jocelyn was holding Luke in her lap with one hand; the other hand held a cell phone. She dropped it and reached for the towel as Clary came in. Folding it in half, she laid it over the wound in Lukes chest and pressed down. Clary watched as the edges of the gray towel began to turn scarlet with blood.

“Luke,” Clary whispered. He didnt move. His face was an awful gray color.

“I just called his pack,” Jocelyn said. She didnt look at her daughter; Clary realized Jocelyn had not asked her a single question about Jace and Sebastian, or why she and Jace had emerged from her bedroom, or what they had been doing there. She was entirely focused on Luke. “They have some members patrolling the area. As soon as they get here, we have to leave. Jace will come back for you. ”

“You dont know that-,” Clary began, whispering past her dry throat.

“I do,” said Jocelyn. “Valentine came back for me after fifteen years. Thats what the Morgenstern men are like. They dont ever give up. Hell come for you again. ”

Jace isnt Valentine. But the words died on Clarys lips. She wanted to drop to her knees and take Lukes hand, hold it tightly, tell him she loved him. But she remembered Jaces hands on her in the bedroom and didnt. This was her fault. She didnt deserve to get to comfort Luke, or herself. She deserved the pain, the guilt.

The scrape of footsteps sounded on the porch, the low murmur of voices. Jocelyns head jerked up. The pack.

“Clary, go and get your things,” she said. “Take what you think youll need but not more than you can carry. Were not coming back to this house. ”

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