Part of the Downworlders' Revenge series.
"Twistier than a twizzler [plot]" --Oakfeather
"A great homage to the Mortal Instruments Series...fantastic story by a fantastic author. " --Artimas Hunter
Angie has been a Shadowhunter all her life - but after witnessing her boyfriend's death, and then getting kidnapped by the very same boy who killed him - things start to get strange. The situation worsens when a faerie knight arrives with the message of abandonment of the Council from the faeries, along with a threat - a threat about a boy made from metal. Who is this boy, and why has he caused all of this fear?
"Angela, we can't be together anymore."
"Why not?" Angie didn't want to say it, but the words escaped her lips. Ethan turned, the shadows consuming his face. He dropped his hands from Angie's shoulders, and stuffed them into his pockets. As he answered, he wandered a way a bit, so Angie had to move closer to hear him.
"I've...moved on," he said, in a voice so quiet that Angie had to strain her ears to hear him.
"To whom, may I ask?" Ethan smiled, and turned, finding Angie right in his face.
"Always the lady," he said with a chuckle, but Angie wasn't smiling. Her face was stony as Ethan tucked a strand of curly dark red hair behind her ear, and gazed into her eyes. "I..."
"You don't have to tell me...I just thought..."
"O-oh. Okay." Angie closed her mouth and bit her lip, taking a step back from Ethan. She pulled her hood up over her head to protect her hair from the drizzle, and Ethan could no longer see her face. Angie felt her eyes burn with tears that threatened to roll down her face, but she blinked them away, and cast one last look up at Ethan.
"I'm sorry it came to this," she whispered. She patted his shoulder in an awkward sort of way, and then turned, abruptly departing. Ethan stared after her, dumbfounded, as she disappeared into the subway.
If Angie heard Ethan, she ignored him, but by the time she reached the deserted platform, his heavy footsteps were pounding behind her. She could hear his heavy breathing and smell the scent of his shampoo mixed with the sweat of the run, and she turned, just as Ethan yelled, "What the hell are you doing?"
Ethan was pushed against the wall between the stairway and the platform, a slight, dark-haired figure at his throat. The newcomer was tall, and well-muscled, wearing a white shirt and black pants. Angie could see some sort of tattoos swirling up his arms and back, and the belt around his waist was stocked with weapons.
"Who--who are you?" she tried to call, but her voice came out as a whisper as the figure drew out a long, curved blade and held it at Ethan's throat. Ethan gurgled, his eyes bulging as the boy dug the sword in deeper, and Angie stumbled forward, tripping.
The boy was instantly there to catch her, making sure she didn't fall. Angie met the stranger's eyes, and his gaze pierced her like glass. Startled, Angie staggered away, and the boy let go of her. Feet away, Ethan was recovering from the unprecedented attack.
Ethan crumpled. The boy had moved so fast that Ethan had no time to duck out of the way of the oncoming sword, and it hit him, the flat side of the blade hitting his forehead, and knocked him unconscious. He was slumped over against the wall, blood dripping from the top of his head and into his hair.
"What did you do?" Angie cried, pushing past the boy towards Ethan. She felt wrist for a pulse, and was startled to find none. She cast a furious and frightened glance up at the boy - only to discover that he was gone.
Scared, angry, and helpless, Angie let out a scream of frustration as the first train of the morning barreled into the Seattle subway.
Chapter One - Mad WorldEdit
" All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for the daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere "
- -- Gary Jules, Mad World
Angie let her bow slide through her fingers, and barely heard the clatter as it hit the smooth tiles of the training room. Her whole body was aching from the hours of training, and her fingers felt brittle, as though any slight movement would snap them off. Never before had training exhausted her so much, and never before had her mother pushed her so hard.
Angie dragged herself out of the training room, and sank to the floor against the wall of the apartment. The cool stone was a relief against her pained back, and she turned to place a hand on the wall.
"Tired?" Anna Branwell bent down beside her daughter, brushing a strand of dark red hair out of the exhausted girl's face. Angie groaned.
"I'm going out," she muttered, and using the wall to push herself up, she stumbled to grab her jacket. Stuffing her arms into the jacket, she slammed the door behind her with a surprising amount of strength, leaving her stunned mother to stare in awe at the door.
Angie zipped her jacket up against the frigid, blustery air. Her hair whipped in front of her face, a beacon of fire against the dull grays and whites. The gale blew wet snow into her face, each pellet feeling like sharp, stinging bullets of fury.
Buffeted by the wind, Angie pressed herself against a brick wall as a crowd of people in brightly colored clothes pushed past her, jostling the rest of the passers-by around them. Angie shared a bewildered look with an old lady, before hurrying on to the edge of the street.
A flash of dark caught her eye, and Angie whipped around, startling the young boy behind her. After quick apology, Angie darted around him and raced across the crosswalk, ignoring the honks of cars around her. The figure was walking nonchalantly, but as Angie neared it, it broke into a run. "Wait!" Angie called, and increased her speed.
Angie skittered to a halt at the next corner, breathing hard. It seemed as though all of the Shadowhunter training her mother had forced upon her had come in handy - just not handy enough.
Muttering, Angie leaned her head back against the brick façade of the coffee shop behind her. The awning sheltered her from the torrent of snow, and the steam fogging up the glass to the left of her warmed her ever so slightly. "Angie?"
Angie turned, her hair snagging on the bricks. She brushed it away impatiently. "Evan?"
"Hey," Evan said cheerfully. "Walk?"
Angie nodded briefly, and followed Evan, her hair whipping into her face and her jacket blowing around her legs like a hovering shadow.
As the snow and the wind increased visibility was becoming poor. The cold seeped between the stitches in Angie's jacket, and she shivered impulsively. Evan stiffened, attempting to brace himself against the frigid air, but the bluster whooshed through them, chilling them to the bone.
"Gloomy," Evan said, a weak attempt at conversation. Angie nodded, and squinted as a figure, only distinguishable from bright darkness around it by its fuzzy silhouette, appeared.
As the figure neared them, Angie pulled Evan aside, and they waited as the figure, now distinguishable as a boy, passed. His shock of dark hair clashed with the snow, and his eyes, though facing straight ahead, pierced Angie like a physical shock.
The question lingered on the tip of her tongue, but Angie didn't open her mouth to voice it. The thought remained in her mind, like a wavering flame.
Who are you?
Chapter Two - HomeEdit
" Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place you're home "
- -- Phillip Phillips, Home
The image of Tim's brother was glued to the insides of Angie's eyes; his piercing eyes and windswept dark hair were frozen in place in her mind.
Angie jerked in her sleep, cocooned in her sheets like an ensnared butterfly. Her dark red hair was spread out in a disturbed halo around her head, and her eyes were squeezed tight, the fragile skin of her eyelids rumpled. Her fingers were curled tightly around the end of her blanket, her nails digging into her palms through the thin gabric, her knuckles white.
Though the face of Tim's brother wasn't disturbing or particularly frightening, Angie kept reliving the moment of him killing Ethan - the way he chucked his sword (a stele, Angie realized later) at Ethan's head and it thwacked him straight in the forehead. An almost comical death, something Ethan definitely didn't deserve.
A loud crash woke Angie, and she sat up bolt right, her grip on her sheets tightening. She scooted over on her bed to peer out the window, but she saw nothing. Not yet, at least.
Angie slid a sweatshirt over her head and pulled on her sweatpants, silently opening the door. She cringed at the loud creak that resounded through the house, and slipped into the hall, thankful that all of the floors in her house were carpeted, and, thus, not squeaky.
For once, Angie felt, her Shadowhunter stealth skills were coming in useful. She managed to slip out of the house with no one noticing.
Though Angie knew it was freezing outside from earlier that afternoon, and despite her thin garments, the cold didn't seem to reach her. The wind seemed to breeze right through her, not letting its icy touch poke her, not letting the snow coating her hair freeze.
Angie slipped around the corner and eyed her trash bins warily. No animal could have made that loud a racket, and anyhow, none of the bins were knocked over, so it couldn't have been that.
Angie whirled around, her shoes slipping on the thin ice coating the sidewalk. Losing her footing, Angie felt herself slide toward the hard sidewalk, she could practically feel the pain already - when an arm looped around her waist and she felt a hand on her back.
The first words that came out of Angie's mouth were, "Who are you?"
The boy looked taken aback, but it definitely was Tim's brother. Setting Angie back on her feet, he didn't answer, just took out his stele and touched the tip to Angie's hand.
Angie jerked back, glancing at Tim's brother. The tip of the stele burned when it came in contact with her skin, and flowing black marks - like the tattoos that decorated Tim's brother's body - spread out from the tip.
Angie gasped, but Tim's brother didn't look up from her hand. Runes, Angie recognized. Runic marks.
Tim's brother drew the tip of the stele from Angie's skin, and Angie felt her wrists snap together as though bound by some invisible force.
"Sorry about that," he said sarcastically, his voice not at all as Angie expected. "You were quite cooperative, you know. Trusting for a Shadowhunter."
Angie recoiled as though he had slapped her in the face. "I--"
"Don't bother. I'm kidnapping you, and that's that."
But Angie's vision was already going dark, and she felt herself go limp - and, as always, Tim's brother's arms were there to catch her.
Chapter Three - IceEdit
" What I mean is, all I need is,
Just a little emotion
Cause all I see is you not feeling
And you're giving me nothing nice
I tried to do you right, why'd you have to go and turn to ice "
- -- Lights, Ice
Angie's mind felt fuzzy, and every inch of her ached as though she had been pummeled with a sledgehammer. Memories of the previous night floated dimly through her numb thoughts, the most prominent of which was Tim's brother - tracing the rune over her hand and binding her hands together, making her vision go black, and taking her to this...this place.
Opening her eyes, Angie saw a flurry of bright red hair, and two kind, though concerned, green eyes. The figure, female, sat down in the chair next to Angie's bed (she was in the infirmary?), and smiled.
"Who are you?" Angie asked, her voice slurring.
"Clary Herondale," the woman replied as her face swam into focus. "My husband Jace and I run the Institute here--"
"Institute?" She was in a mental facility?
Clary gave a short laugh, then clapped a slender hand over her mouth. "I'm sorry. The Institute is a place for Shadowhunters, like yourself, to remain safe from demons. We train together, and live here together, and it's quite fun, actually."
"Why was I--"
Rolling her eyes, Clary replied, "My son, Chase, took my requests to the extreme. I told him to invite the Seattle Shadowhunters to our Institute."
"Took that the wrong way then, didn't he?" Angie said, smiling. Clary nodded.
"You can return home whenever you want, we just wanted to make sure you had recovered."
Angie examined her hands. The runes Chase - Tim's brother, most likely - had drawn had faded until they were merely thick pink marks lacing across her skin. There was a faint tingle when she touched them, but otherwise she remained unhurt.
"Thanks, but I had better get home soon. Disappearing in the middle of the night...it's not really my style."
Clary flashed her an understanding smile, and helped Angie stand up.
"Hang on," said a voice at the doorframe. "You can't just let her go. I took it to heart to freaking kidnap her!"
Clary turned to look at her son. Angie's breath caught in her throat as she saw the dark, windswept hair, and the gray-green eyes that bored into her as though he could see through her soul. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt, through which you could clearly see the black runes that swirled up his chest and his arms.
"Chase," Clary said reprovingly. "Don't speak to your mother like that."
Chase muttered something under his breath. Clary gave him a reproachful glare as she squeezed past him into the hall, leaving Angie alone with the icy Shadowhunter.
"Why'd you kill Ethan?" Angie blurted.
Chase, it seemed, had been caught of guard. "He was a demon, Angie!"
"Angela," corrected Angie.
"My name's not Angela," Chase said, baffled. "I'm Chase." Angie glared at him and made a face, and Chase laughed.
"I'd best let you...recover," he said mockingly, turning around. Angie threw back the bedsheets and stood up, her hands balled into fists. She reached over her shoulder, instinctively, for her bow, but it was on the table next to her, her arrows gone.
"Good thing Dad took away your weapons," Chase smirked. He stalked away, leaving Angie fuming, alone.
Alone and abandoned.
Chapter Four - Tidal WiveEdit
" Lift your arms, only Heaven knows
Where the danger grows and it's safe to say
There's a bright light up ahead
And help is on the way, help is on the way "
- -- Owl City, Tidal Wave
Angie studied her feet, leaning against the doorframe at the front of the Institute. She had yet to see her mother's green Ford roll up the drive, and the moment was growing steadily more awkward. Angie could feel Chase's gaze on her back, and she resisted the impulse to turn and say something witty.
The light brush of a hand against hers startled Angie, and she leapt toward the edge of the doorway, knocking her head on the wood and stumbling, a hand to her forehead. "Stupid," Angie muttered, and turned.
As she had expected, Chase was standing next to her. His movements were swift and silent, his eyes cool and calm as he turned his head to look at Angie, as though she was the one who had bumped into him. Chase's gaze, though not as hostile as Angie had expected, was appraising and unwavering, daring Angie to be the first to look away. The rumble of a car's engine provided Angie with an excuse.
"That's my mom. See you." Angie slid her bow into her belt and descended the marble steps to her mother's car. Anna Branwell's reproving brown eyes met Angie's own as Angie yanked open the passenger door and slid in beside her mother.
"I should have told you," Anna whispered, her eyes suddenly brimming with tears. "I should have told you about this...all of this...the Institute...Shadowhunting...demons...I should have told you sooner."
"Mom, I don't--" Angie, however, couldn't get in a word, for her mom burst into tears and pushed her out of the car.
"I think you should stay here," Anna choked out, and leaned over to shut the passenger door.
"Mom!" Angie cried, banging on the window. Anna wiped away her tears and put the car into drive, stomping on the gas pedal.
Angie stumbled, nearly tripping, as the fumes from the car blew into her face, and she coughed. "Mom!"
"Angie?" Clary was immediately at her side as Angie turned. "Angie, what--"
"My mother just kicked me out," Angie said numbly. "I've got nowhere to go."
"What...what about your father?" Clary suggested tentatively, laying a gentle hand on Angie's shoulder. Though her voice was hesitant, Angie assumed she alread knew her father was deceased.
"Never believe a man is dead until you see his body," Clary said quietly. "Even so, you can stay with us. We've plenty of rooms, it shouldn't be a problem. We'll get you trained up, and everything."
Angie flashed her a brief smile. "Thanks, but I should probably go back to my apartment. My friends will probably get worried, and my housekeeper will freak if I'm not back."
"I insist." Though Clary had a smile on her face, her eyes were nervous and concerned, and the hand on Angie's shoulder tightened momentarily. Angie bit her lip.
"O-okay," she stammered. Chase gave her a nod from the doorway, and her eyes hardened as she turned back to Clary. "Everyone's trained together, right?"
Clary shook her head. "Individual training."
"You have someone to spare?" Angie raised an eybrow and Clary grinned.
"Oh, we have someone to spare."
Angie looked at herself in the mirror, wincing.
Next to her stood a dark-haired girl with pretty eyes and a white smile, her hair tied up into a halo of curls around her head. Sapphire, who requested (understatement) that everyone call her Zaf or Zaffie, was dressed in a short gold dress that brought out the gold flecks in her dark hair.
After hours of rooting through Zaf's closet, the two had found a pale green dress and a silver necklace that matched Angie's eyes. Zaf helped Angie wobble into a pair of silver heels, and the two were now expecting Angie in the mirror.
"Good enough," Zaf said, grinning. "C'mon. It's almost time."
Angie descended the wide staircase, her shoes clacking on the smooth, shiny surface like a horse's hooves. At the bottom of the staircase, Clary and Jace were waiting, hand-in-hand. Jace, Clary's husband, had golden hair with matching eyes, and had a personality like his son's.
Angie and Zaf were soon joined by two other girls, Corin and Tori. Corin had long dark hair, dark eyes, and a dark smile. Tori, though considerably brighter, was shy and was often quite silent. A tall, golden-haired boy was leaning against the door, a four-year-old girl in his arms.
"Forrest, Ellie," Zaf said, introducing Angie.
"H-hi," stammered Angie. The boy, who looked to be about eighteen, laughed.
"I'd offer you my hand, but Ellie's sort of...occupying it," he replied with a grin, and bounced Ellie. She clung to his shoulder, a silly grin plastered onto her face. Her golden hair, the same color as her brother's, was braided into two long plaits that snaked down her back.
Forrest, the boy, was dressed in a button down shirt and ironed pants, his hair drifting into his eyes. His sister, Ellie, was dressed in a simple pink dress with black Mary-Jane's, pink bows tied around the ends of her plaits. She clung to Forrest, her pudgy arms wrapped around his kneck, burying her grin in his shoulder.
"Let's go," Clary said, beaming. Her curly red hair was knotted at the base of her neck, and a glittering silver ring hung just below her collarbone on a chain around her neck. Jace nodded, and the two descended the steps outside of the Institute, their clothes buffeted by the wind.
"We're going in cars?" Angie whispered to Zaf. "I was expecting something more...mystical."
Zaf snorted, and pulled her sweater closer around her, hugging her arms. "It's freezing out here."
"That's Seattle for you," Angie said tonelessly, and clambered into the silvery Subaru, Zaf following her, with Tori on her heels. The three were in obvious discomfort, their shoulders banging, and as the car started and sped over a bump, Angie felt her head hit the hard roof, and she winced.
It was a relief when the car slowed to a stop, and the three girls clambered out. Jace slid out of the drivers' seat, unruffled, and escorted the threesome inside. Clary followed with Forrest, Ellarie, Corin, and Chase.
They were standing in front of a large warehouse with plain white siding. There was a single, cheap door that looked as though it been placed there as an afterthought. There were two windows at the front of the building, through which a brilliant purple light was spilling onto the front lawn. Chase grinned at it.
"Remember last year?" he asked, laughing loudly. Zaf rolled her eyes, nudging Angie. Zaf gestured toward the door, and Angie tugged it open. The lawn was bathed in violet light, and Jace held open the door as the party filed in.
Angie's jaw dropped.
Chapter Five - All About UsEdit
" Cause lovers dance when they're feeling in love
Spotlight's shining it's all about us
It's oh, oh, all
About uh, uh, us
And every heart in the room will melt
This is a feeling I've never felt
But it's all about us "
- -- He is We, All About Us
The place was huge, at least four stories tall, with polished catwalks winding around the inner perimeter of the building. Disco balls hung from the catwalks, multiple layers of them casting shimmering squares across the giant space. Purple spotlights beamed down from the roof, and on each little round table was a small purple candle. In the center of the space was a large dance-floor, flashing purple-and-green lights across the room.
Chase made a beeline for a long table on the other side of the dance floor, at which a pretty girl with long purple hair was sitting, her foot tapping in time to the blaring music.
"Does he know her?" Angie whispered to Zaf. Zaf laughed loudly, shaking her head.
"Chase always had a thing for faeries," she murmured, and grabbed Angie's arm. "Come on, I want you to meet someone!"
Chase crossed his legs, ignoring the pout of the faerie sitting next to him. She made an angry noise and moved to get up, storming away when she realized Chase hadn't looked over. Chase smiled darkly as Forrest sat down next to him, a purple-gray drink in his hand.
"I don't even know," Forrest said, acknowledging Chase's unasked question. He took a deep drink from the cup, and set it on the table behind him. "Who are you looking for?"
"No one," Chase said smoothly, turning his gaze to Forrest. Chase's parabatai raised an incredulous eyebrow, but Chase ignored him, crossing his arms. "No one," he repeated, and let his gaze harden as he swept it across the dance floor.
"Zaf?" guessed Forrest. Chase shook his head, Forrest had guessed incorrectly.
"Ellarie?" Chase burst into laughter, his sides shaking. Forrest gave him a somewhat defensive smile, and slouched back in his chair. "You have to admit, when she grows up she's going to be a very beautiful young lady." Chase snorted.
"Yeah, but she's still your sister."
"So is Tori," Forrest countered, snatching his drink out of Chase's fingers. He drained it and handed it to Chase, standing up. He stretched, his white shirt pulling tight over his skin. The black Marks contrasted with his skin and the shirt, and he tossed his empty cup to Chase with another guess. "Angie?"
Chase stiffened, but Forrest had already turned, and was walking away. Chase unconsciously crushed the white plastic cup in his hands until it was nothing more than a mess of white splinters. He sighed, and pushed his way to the stairs, swinging himself over the cold metal bar and ascending to the catwalk.
Though he was only a story above the dancers, they seemed small and aloof, their heads and swirling dresses the only things visible to him. Chase could see Forrest's blond head weaving through the couples, purple, green, and gold light reflecting off of his shiny hair. Ellarie was bouncing after Tori, who was trying to shake her little sister as she followed a vampire boy into a side room. Clary and Jace were seated at a table off on the side of the floor, chatting. Zaf and Simon, a vampire, were dancing on the flashing floor, Zaf's skirt puffing out as she spun.
Chase sighed, resting his elbows on the railing of the catwalk, and putting his head in his hands. Pushing his hair away from his face, he let his eyes scan the room. Though he hadn't seen her since they came in, he knew that Angie hadn't left. And that she hadn't danced with anyone else.
"Everybody, please come down to the dance floor!" Chase angled his head towards the raised stage at the back of the room, where a pretty faerie girl (though, admittedly, not as pretty as the faerie girl that had been sitting with him) was talking into the mircophone. "It's time for our Downworlder Reel!"
The Downworlder Reel was a take on the Virginia Reel, though, admittedly, Downworlders and Shadowhunters alike both detested square dancing. The music they danced to was more upbeat, and the dances were swifter. There were countless Downworlders and Shadowhunters here, and if you wanted to get the longest dance with someone, you had position yourself just right. There were six switches, and the last person would stay dancing with their partner.
Chase grinned in spite of himself, and swung over the railing, landing on the floor two stories below with ease, not even the slightest bit unbalanced. He joined Forrest beside his mother as Downworlders and Shaodwhunters swarmed around the stage.
"Chase, next time use the stairs," Clary said reprovingly. Chase snorted and pushed to the front, Forrest trailing behind him and murmuring apologies.
"...pick a partner..."
"Hey Chase!" Chase turned, recognizing the voice of Tori Fairchild almost immediately. Her dark hair hung in curls around her shoulders, and her eyes were bright. "Want to be my partner?"
"Sure," Chase said, grinning. While the other dancers scrambled, trying to find a partner and trying to align themselves correctly so that they could get the last dance with their desired partner. As usual, a group of faeries and vampires were pushing each other, trying to get into seventh place to the right of Chase.
The faerie at the front hit the button on her boom box/radio, and the music began to play, a high, tinny whining noise that no one but the faeries seemed to enjoy.
"What kind of music is this?" Chase muttered in Tori's ear. She giggled as they swayed awkwardly to the music.
"Faerie music," Tori said, smiling. She spun around and glided to the left, into the arms of the next waiting boy.
Chase glanced around for his next partner, he could have sworn Forrest was dancing with someone - and felt Ellie's pudgy arms wrap around his leg. Grinning, Chase bent down, hearing Tori's tinkling laugh from behind him. "I lead," Chase said to the little girl, and she giggled.
Assorted Downworlders and two Shadowhunters danced with Chase before the final dancer, and the faerie on the stage adjusted the music to a slow, waltzing tune, and instructed the dancers to take their partners onto the dance floor.
Chase turned to his last partner, and was so startled he almost stepped back.
"I don't know how to dance," Angie confessed, and let Chase take her hand.
"I'll teach you," he said reassuringly, resting his hand on Angie's waist, interlocking his fingers with her other hand. Angie placed her hand on his shoulder as the music began to play, and she let Chase lead her, sweeping her across the floor as her feet fumbled. "Don't look at your feet," Chase advised.
Angie spun. She stumbled on the smooth floor, but Chase caught her, just as he had before, in the alley, and in the subway. Both moments seemed worlds away now, as she turned, Chase's hands steadying her every time.
Angie raised her eyes to Chase's face, and was startled to see his eyes were softer than she had seen them. The icy gray-green had lightened...defrosted.
Before they knew what had happened, the rest of the dancers had cleared the floor. Angie started to move toward the edge, but Chase caught her, and whispered, "Wait. Just dance."
Chase smiled, a steady, calming, reassuring smile that left Angie speechless. She became self-conscious, of Chase's hands, of the eyes of the watchers, of the divets in the floor. Just dance. Just dance. Just dance.
When Chase finally let go of her, Angie stepped back, nearly breathless, and those standing around her clapped, leading applause that swept through the whole room. Angie saw Zaf, surprised, elated, and looking somewhat angry, Forrest, looking overtly joyful, Ellarie, sitting on Jace's shoulders clapping her pudgy hands, Tori looking annoyed but satisfied, Corin looking...like Corin.
The next thing she knew, she and Chase were kissing.
Chapter Six - A Thousand YearsEdit
" How can I love when I'm afraid
But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt
Suddenly goes away somehow "
- -- Christina Perri, A Thousand Years
Angie poked at her scrambled eggs. Everyone around her seemed just about as grim as she did (with the exception of Chase), and Clary and Jace were both barely eating. Zaf, who was sitting next to Angie, nudged her in the shoulder and nodded towards the hallway.
"C'mon," she muttered. Angie raised her head to look about the table, then followed Zaf resignedly. The rest of the table barely seemed to notice their departure, or, if they did, they didn't acknowledge it. Only Forrest waved a weak goodbye.
"Where are we going?" Angie asked Zaf as her companion sped down the hall.
The front doors were in sight before Zaf turned abruptly and entered an old elevator, slamming the grille shut. She didn't speak the whole ride up to the third floor, and barely slowed her pace. Angie had to nearly jog to keep up with the taller girl, who was taking long strides toward the end of the hall. There was a door straight in front of them and two paths off to the left and right, Zaf veered right without warning. Zaf continued leading Angie through a maze of hallways and a multitude of doors, until they finally arrived at a plain glass door that led into what appeared to be a rooftop greenhouse.
Zaf pushed Angie inside and she stumbled, turning angrily. The look on Zaf's face, however, was enough to stop her, and she turned meekly to study her shoes as Zaf shoved past her. Angie shuffled along behind her, casting curious glances at the odd plants growing in the greenhouse.
There were normal plants, sure, but there were also silvery plants and gold plants with bright red streaks. The array of color created a rainbow through the whole room, and if you tried to take in teh whole thing at once you would go blind from the collective brightness. Angie shielded her eyes and tilted her head so she was just staring at the stormy morning outside.
Angie turned, slowly, pivoting on her heel, to face Zaf. The dark-haired girl had her arms crossed and her lips pursed, her feet crossed at the ankles as she stood with her back to the door. The ever-present smile was gone from her face.
Angie's eyes darkened in concern, but she held Zaf's furious gaze. "What," Zaf said in a low, deadly voice, "were you thinking last night?"
Angie's lips parted as she formed an answer, but Zaf cut her off and stalked past her, shoving her into a row of plants. Angie's knuckles whitened on the edge of the planting trough, and she bit her lip, her eyes hardening. Nothing gave Zaf the right to do this - any of this.
"Positioning yourself so you would get the last dance with Chase. Doing that waltz-thing with him! Kissing him?!" Zaf's voice was a soft snarl, and her face was flushing with anger. Her hands were balled into fists as she stood at the opposite end of the greenhouse, poised in a half-crouch as though she was about to fling herself at Angie in a punching brawl.
"I didn't kiss him," Angie replied, as though revolted. Her grip on the flower pot loosened, and she crossed her arms, mirroring Zaf.
Zaf threw her arms up in exasperation, and before Angie knew what was happening, Zaf was in her face, and she was yelling. "You let him kiss you! You made no move to stop it, or break away, or anything!"
"I didn't know you were in love with him!" Angie shouted right back, her face red. "I can see how you stare at him all the time like you're mooning over him--"
"Me? Like him?" Zaf let out an incredulous, contemptuous snort. "Right! As if!"
"Then why are you so angry?" Angie asked quietly. "I--"
"Save it," Zaf said, her voice back to normal. She waved a hand at Angie as though dismissing her, and stormed away, slamming the door of the greenhouse behind her.
Angie stared after her in awe, her fingers fumbling for the edge of the plant-pots. She sank down against them until she was sitting on the floor, and leaned her back against the side of the trough. She blinked rapidly, trying to clear the tears that threatened to spill onto her cheeks. Failing, she closed her eyes and tilted her head back so it was resting on the cold material. Her fingers were tight fists, but the rest of her was in a state of exhausted relaxation.
Abruptly aware of another presence next to her, Angie opened her eyes and turned, astonished.
"Chase?" she whispered. The boy just nodded, putting a finger to his lips.
Chapter Seven - Little TalksEdit
" I don't like walking around this old and empty house
So hold my hand, I'll walk with you my dear
The stairs creak as I sleep, it's keeping me awake
It's the house telling you to close your eyes "
- -- Of Monsters and Men, Little Talks
"Come on," Chase said quietly, offering Angie his hand. His normally cold eyes were soft, his mouth not set in the hard line it had been before. His face was as clearly painted with love as it had been the night before.
"Did you hear Zaf yell at me?" Angie asked steadily, crossing her arms. "I can't--I--"
"She just got a bit upset," Chase reasoned, and stood back a bit, his eyes twinkling. "You're just going to refuse my hand then?"
Angie pushed herself up off of the ground and nodded. "Yes," she said, "I am." Chase threw back his head and laughed, and loped out of the greenhouse. Angie resisted the urge to follow him, and stood, firmly planted, in the middle of the greenhouse, waiting for Chase to realize she wasn't following him.
He was back at her side in an instant, his movements so swift Angie could barely see them. Chase snatched her hand from her side and drew out his stele, waving it in a mockingly threatening manner. "Don't make me use this on you," he warned.
"What are you going to do," Angie snorted, though she was filled with apprehension. "I can't very well come with you if you stabbed me."
"This can do more than stab," Chase said, poking her with the tip. "I can draw Marks on you."
Angie flinched, stepping back. "Marks?"
"Runes, Marks, whatever you call them they have the same effect. Depending on the design they...empower you, I suppose. Strength, bravery...fearlessness is one that my mother created. There's also one for...unconsciousness--"
"That you used on me that night by my apartment," Angie finished. "I realized."
"And I could use it again," Chase said, shaking the stele in her face. "Come on, you're a Shadowhunter, surely you knew about Marks?"
Angie pushed the stele away and shook her head. "My mom wasn't that...Shadowhunter-y."
Chase laughed again, a short, almost cackling sound, and pulled her towards the door. "C'mon. I want to show you something in the park."
Angie snorted. "Right. The park."
"I can always force you, you know," Chase reminded her, drawing his stele again. Angie took a hasty step back and amended.
"I'll...I'll come. On one condition."
Chase grinned, arrogant. "And what is that?"
"You don't kiss me again."
Angie could have sworn she saw Chase's smile waver, but she paid it no attention as she followed him out of the greenhouse.
"You can drive?"
"'Course I can," Chase said with a smirk. He took out his stele and waved it, mimicking his actions earlier. Angie slid into the passenger seat of the Ford, and reaching over to grab her seatbelt. Chase touched the tip of the stele to the ignition, and the car rumbled to life.
Chase snapped his seatblet in and gripped the wheel, shooting Angie a grin. "This will be fun."
"I'm sure it will," Angie said sarcastically, and glared out the window. The sun was just peeking out from behind the clouds, making the dark scene outside look rather odd. "Where are we going, anyway, and when are we going to get there?"
"Patience, young one," Chase said, crossing his eyes and making a face at Angie.
"Eyes on the road," she snapped, gesturing towards the truck bearing down upon them. Chase swerved, swearing under his breath, and slammed on the brake as the stoplight changed. "Did you even get yur license?" Angie asked curiously, and Chase snorted.
"Who needs licenses? I'm a Shadowhunter."
"So am I," contradicted Angie, "and I've got my license."
"Would you like to drive?" Chase asked mockingly, taking his hands off the wheel and gesturing to it as though he was attempting to be gentlemanly. Angie's gaze flashed to the road, and she stifled a scream.
"Relax," Chase said smoothly, pulling the car into a small parking space next to a parking meter. Angie hopped out of the car and followed him around front, fishing in her pocket for a few quarters. However, paying was evidently not that far forward in Chase's mind, for he pulled out his stele and touched it dismissively.
"You can't just--"
"Watch me," Chase interrupted, and walked away, stuffing his hands in his pockets and strolling toward the park. Angie attempted to stuff a few quarters into the meter, but they wouldn't feed, and so she just abandoned the attempt, hurrying to catch up to Chase.
"What are we doing out here, anyway?"
"I want to show you something," Chase said succinctly, and nodded towards a grove of trees. "In there."
He stopped for a moment, and Angie slowed behind him. The grass beneath her feet was so green it was nearly blinding, and the sky above her head had cleared so that the sun was shining and the clouds were far to the west. Angie bent slightly to run her fingertips along the edges of the hedge to the right of her, and then turned to look at Chase.
"What's in there?" Angie asked as Chase picked up the pace again.
"You made me come out here for a flower?" Angie said incredulously. Chase grinned widely. He loped toward the cluster of trees, and Angie had no choice but to follow. "What's so special about this flower anyway?"
"You're being aggravating."
"I know. Here it is, c'mere." As they entered the shade of the trees, it grew so dark it was hard to believe it was still daylight. Angie sniffed, detecting a faint smell of burned sugar, a smell she knew well - demonic energy.
"Chase," Angie began nervously. "I smell--"
"It's the flower," Chase said dismissively. "It's right over here. Damn, it's bloomed already."
Angie found herself looking at a small pinkish-green bulb on the end of a stem, and stared at it in mock astonishment. "Oh my gosh, Chase. It's a bulb."
Chase frowned at her, his shoes scuffing the plant. "I thought it wouldn't have bloomed," he mumbled. Angie turned away, with a quiet,
"I guess you were wrong."
"Guess I was." Chase's breath stirred the hairs on the back of Angie's neck, and she turned, startled to find Chase's face right next to hers, his eyes wide and bright. Angie backed up against the tree, nervous. Chase followed her.
"Y-You're not possessed or anything, are you?" she asked hesitantly, pressing herself up against the tree. Chase shook his head. Chase's face moved closer to hers, and Angie realized what he was trying to do.
"I told you not to kiss me!" she cried and turned, shouldering Chase away. She hurried out of the darkness of the trees and into the bright sunlight, hurrying towards the Ford parked next to the parking meter. She heard Chase swear behind her and his footsteps as he sprinted to catch up to her. Angie sniffed, and Chase put a hand on her shoulder, spinning her around. It was uncanny, Angie thought, how skilled he was at doing that.
"Look, Angie, I don't see why you're getting so upset, I mean--"
"Most girls want to kiss you? Yeah, I've gathered that," Angie said in annoyance. "I just thought I told you not to kiss me."
"Why does it matter so much?" Chase asked as though genuinely curious. Angie snorted.
"Maybe it's just because I don't want Zaf to blast her top off at me again for no apparent reason other than the fact that she evidently likes you--"
"Zaf doesn't like me," Chase said quietly.
"Whatever," Angie replied, throwing her hands up. "I'm going home."
"How are you going to get there?"
"I've got a drivers' license!" Angie waved it under his nose. "Unlike you."
"It's my car," retorted Chase. Angie said nothing as she neared the car, but stopped suddenly, freezing, her head tipped back as though she was smelling the sky.
"Burnt sugar," she muttered under her breath. "Burnt sugar, God, Chase, it wasn't the flower! The flower had already bloomed, and--burnt sugar, what smells like burnt sugar..."
"Dark magic," Chase said quietly. Angie's eyes widened and she turned.
"Get in the car," Chase said roughly, darting around the front. "We've got to get back."
Angie slid into the car and held on tight as Chase wove through traffic, going far above the speed limit. He shot through red lights and stop signs, nearly hitting a few pedestrians, but his hands were tight on the wheel and his face was set. He looked firmly resolved, and Angie admired his loyalty.
Chase slammed on the brakes, looking at the Institute in horror.
"What's happening?" Angie said in a low voice. Chase held out a hand to silence her, then whispered,
"Grab your weapons and run."
"I haven't got any," Angie said, paling. Chase turned to her, his eyes slits.
"What kind of a Shadowhunter are you, not bringing weapons with you?" Angie resisted the urge to punch him as she clambered out of the car, and caught the stele he threw to her.
"Its name is Ithuriel," Chase called to her, and she gripped it tightly as they slipped into the Institute.
Inside, it was absolute chaos.
People were running around, their brightly colored hair looking like blue, green, purple, and red flames. Their clothes looked very natural, their faces almost elven. Chase let out a sort of growl, muttering, "Faeries. Stupid, stupid."
"What do we--"
"Fight," Chase replied. "Don't leave my side."
Chase darted away towards the staircase, where Clary was attempting to fend off three faeries, who brandished evil-looking weapons in their hands. Clary stabbed one of them and nearly beheaded another, but a fourth was creeping up behind her, flames sparking from its fingertips. Chase threw a dagger at it and it fell to the floor, dead.
"I thought we didn't kill Downworlders!" shouted Angie, ducking as a jet of flame whizzed over her head.
"We don't!" Chase yelled back. "Save for when they attack us!"
Angie was standing halfway across the main foyer from Chase, and the faeries nearly had her surrounded. Chase spotted her and brandished his dagger, but Clary cried, "No! You could hit her!"
"I've got good aim," Chase said steadily. "She just needs an escape route."
Before Angie knew what was happening, two faeries had collapsed and she had knelt intoa forward roll across shattered glass and splintered wood, and the faeries were in a loose semi-circle, feet behind her. Angie darted up onto to the stairs and vaulted onto the other end of the foyer, landing on her feet with Chase's stele still in her hand.
A flash of blond hair caught her eye. It was Forrest, darting to push someone to the side. A blade flew, from another Shadowhunter or a faerie, no one could tell, and landed hilt-deep in Forrest's chest. He froze for a moment, staring down at the wound the blade had created, and then swayed, collapsing in a heap on top of shards of broken glass.
"Forrest!" cried Angie, and darted towards the eighteen-year-old. Due to the fact that he was all over the place, folded in on himself and half-extended, the blade had been driven deeper into him, and he was dying faster. Angie looked up, and saw a faerie smirking from one of the beams.
On instinct, Angie chucked the stele as hard as she could. It arced up into the air, soaring towards the faerie, and the flat edge of the blade hit the creature square in the forehead, knocking it backwards and off of the rafter beam, so it fell down on top of its brethren. Angie turned back to Forrest, disregarding the loss of her weapon and Chase's stele.
Blood seeped out of his chest, and Angie closed her eyes as she wrenched the dagger out, letting it fall from her hand with a clang. The blood had stained Forrest's white shirt red, and Angie looked around desperately for something to staunch the bleeding. A mad cackle pierced her ears, and she whipped around, grabbing a sharp piece of glass and throwing it hard.
"Get away from him!" she screamed, and the faerie spun away in shock, glass impaled in its arm. Angie let a torrent of tears stream down her face as she ripped off her jacket and pressed it to Forrest's chest. He blinked his eyes open, and their normally clear blue was hazy. Angie was reminded forcibly of Ethan, but she wadded up the material and attempted to aid Forrest.
"What's...happening....?" he rasped, his voice hoarse.
"Shh," Angie soothed, brushing his hair back from his face. "You're going to be all right."
"No..." he choked, "I'm not. Where'd all the faeries go, I want to...I want to fight."
Angie looked around, the faeries were gone. Jace was helping Clary to her feet, Zaf retrieving a few weapons from the ground. Tori and corin were breathing heavily, long scratches down the sides of their arms and faces. Chase knelt behind Angie.
"Forrest," he said softly, evidently frozen in some state of shock. He touched the Mark on the back of Forrest's hand. "Why wasn't I there to protect you?"
Forrest laughed, a soft, rugged noise, and reached out to grip Chase's shoulder. "You were. You always have been."
"I wasn't," Chase whispered, protesting. "I--"
But Forrest had already closed his eyes, relinquishing his hold on Chase's shoulder. He leaned his head back against the wall on which he was propped up, his limbs now splayed peacefully around him. His ragged breathing slowed until it was almost nonexistent, and Chase let out a low snarl.
"Which...where....faerie....kill..." he spluttered, his knuckles turning white around his other stele.
"Blue hair," Angie recalled, "devillish sort of grin. I hit him in the head with your stele."
Chase flashed her a brief grin, and the two stood up as Clary and Jace came over, their arms around each other. "What happened?" Clary whispered.
Chase seemed abruptly incapable of coherent speech, so Angie answered for him.
"Forrest. He's dead."
Chapter Eight - MeanEdit
" You, with your words like knives and swords and weapons that you use against me
You have knocked me off my feet again got me feeling like I'm nothing
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard, calling me out when I'm wounded
You, pickin' on the weaker man "
- -- Taylor Swift, Mean
Chase looked at his feet and picked at a bit of fuzz on the end of his sweater. It was the day of Forrest's funeral, and they were just wrapping him in the white shroud to burn him.
Because Shadowhunters fought in black clothes, they were all clad in white, the color of funerals. Though Chase believed white drew the color out of everyone, he had to admit that Angie and Zaf both looked rather good in the pale color.
"Did you know," Chase said turning to Angie, "that white is actually all of the colors put--"
"Shh," Angie hushed him without turning, her eyes still on Forrest's covered body. A man in a hooded, parchment-colored robe glided up to the body with a torch, and lit the cloth on fire. Angie closed her eyes, sinking into her chair with the rest of the crowd.
"Ave atque vale," Chase said quietly, raising his hand as though in farewell.
"Hail and farwell," Angie whispered, and Chase was surprised that she knew what it meant. He nodded slowly, his eyes on the leaping flames. A few minutes later, all that was left of Forrest was an urn full of ashes. Clary accepted it from the robed man with tears in her eyes, and she rested her head on her husband's shoulder. Chase patted his mom on the back, and she wrapped an arm around his shoulders, hugging him.
"That could have been you," she whispered, and Chase laughed bitterly.
"It wouldn't have been. Forrest was always there to protect me. I wasn't there for him."
"Chase. It wasn't your fault. There was nothing you could have done," Clary insisted, turning to Jace for help. He shrugged, and Chase knew his father had experienced the same thing when he was Chase's age. Betrayal, bitterness, and utter loss.
"I could've killed that faerie," Chase said stubbornly, brushing his mother's arm away. "I'm going home. I'll be in my room."
Chase hurried away, his hands in his pockets. He sped through the trees behind the Institute until the giant, looming, church-like building came into view. The towers and ornate outer decorations had never looked more inviting as Chase slipped through the back door near the garden and took a short-cut up to the stairs. Leaping them three at a time, he darted through the long hallways, his breath coming short and quick.
Flinging open one of the nondescript doors, Chase hurtled himself into his room and collapsed on his bed, slamming the door behind him. Holding his head in his hands, Chase refused to cry, but the image of the battered and bloodied Forrest just kept coming back to him. His sarcasm and arrogance at the funeral had been something to hide behind, but with no one to use it against, he was weaponless.
There was a soft knock on the door, and Chase turned, feigning sleep. He pulled his legs up to his chest, ignoring whoever was asking to come in.
Chase stayed silent, his eyes on the window across from his bed. He let his head sink into the pillow, and didn't flinch as Zaf eased the door open.
"Chase, I know you're not asleep. No decent person sleeps like that." Chase rolled over, snorting, and sat up.
Zaf's dark hair was thrown over her shoulder, carelessly wavy, and her friendly eyes were concerned. She was leaning against the doorframe, her arms crossed. She had changed out of her mourning clothes and was wearing a v-necked blouse and jeans, a headband in her hair. Her legs were crossed.
"Maybe I'm not decent," he contradicted, swinging his legs off the bed and leaning on his bedpost, mirroring Zaf.
"Decent enough to date my sister," Zaf countered, tossing her hair. Chase grinned.
"I don't know if anyone's decent enough up to Star's standards."
"Mm," mumbled Zaf, and she was staring over Chase's head. Chase turned, and noticed the column of smoke rising from behind the trees. He swore softly, and fumbled with something in his pocket. Zaf crossed the room and laid a hand on his arm, her eyes kind. "Chase."
Chase closed his eyes and leaned back against his bedpost, covering his face with a hand. He told himself not to cry, he forced himself not to break down in front of Zaf - but he couldn't help letting a tear seep down his face.
"Ch-Chase?" Zaf asked hesitantly, reaching out a hand. "Chase, it's all right. People die all the time. Forrest was just another one of those people. His death...it's not something you could have prevented. Raziel probably mapped it out the moment Forrest was born - it was something that was uncontrollable. Bound to happen."
"It wouldn't have happened," Chase growled, "if I hadn't left the Institute this morning. If I hadn't seen Angie in the greenhouse. If Angie hadn't been up there, I wouldn't have--"
"Chase," Zaf interrupted. "It was going to happen. So shut up and deal with it like the man you are."
"None of this would have happened if you hadn't yelled at Angie this morning," Chase said, his eyes hardening. Zaf's hands balled into fists and she stalked into the room.
"So it's my fault, is it? I wouldn't have yelled at Angie if you hadn't kissed her!" Zaf said, raising her voice. She jabbed a finger at Chase, and whirled around, her hair flying. She made to leave, but Chase kicked the door shut.
"You're the one that set me up with her!" he said, his voice loud and angry.
"I did not! You just want to blame everyone for something you did" Zaf shouted, her voice so loud now that Chase was surprised no one came running.
"Maybe I do! But in case you haven't noticed, Forrest was my parabatai!"
"He was like a brother to me!" Zaf retorted, her cheeks flushed. Chase kicked the bed in annoyance, and crossed his arms tightly, as though he was trying to restrain himself from throwing a punch.
"He was more than a brother to me! He was better than a best friend! He was like...like..." Chase struggled to find a word.
Zaf smirked. "Like Star?"
"Star...don't...don't you dare bring Star into this!"
"She's my sister," Zaf said loftily, somehow managing to keep her voice low. "The same to me as Forrest was to you."
"This has no relevence!" Chase yelled. "God, Zaf, why does everything have to revolve around you? Why can't--"
"Revolve around me?" Zaf laughed derisively. "More like around yourself. 'Oh, Mother can't take me to the Iron Sisters', 'I don't want Star to have to take me to the Silent Brothers' 'Forrest's death was harder on me than anyone else'," Zaf mimicked. "Yeah. It totally revolves around me."
"My point exactly," Chase said, his voice deadly quiet. "This is your problem."
"It's not my problem!" Zaf yelled. She drew her dagger, her knuckles white around the hilt. Chase laughed. "Shut up!"
Chase took out his stele and set it on the bed behind him, spreading his arms wide. "Come at me," he offered, grinning arrogantly.
Zaf darted towards Chase, but he was already leaning against the wardrobe, laughing lazily. "Can't catch me."
"Shut up!" yelled Zaf, and she twirled the dagger between her fingers, her eyes swiveling around the room, trying to anticipate where Chase would move next. She feigned to the right just as he darted to the left, and she flung the dagger to where his chest would be - and screamed in frustration as it impaled, hilt deep, in the drywall where Chase had been a moment before.
"Close. But not close enough," Chase mocked. He was crouching next to his bed, his stele in his hands.
"Ooh, gonna fight me like a man now?" Zaf taunted, wrenching her dagger out of the wall.
"I always fight like a man. It's you who needs to man up."
"Me?" Zaf snorted. "Man up, right."
Chase darted forward, his stele out, and nicked Zaf in the shoulder. She ducked back, wincing, and clapped a hand to the blood that was staining her shirt. She growled, her face hardening into a sort of snarl, and flung her dagger at him a second time. Chase ducked into a kneeling position to avoid the dagger, and stood back as Zaf pulled it out of the wall again.
Zaf aimed a kick at Chase, but he darted away, causing Zaf's foot to hit the wall. She hopped on one foot in pain, and Chase smirked. "Try not to hurt my walls anymore, please."
"I hate you!" Zaf yelled, and before Chase knew it, he felt a stunning blow across the face, and then the door slammed open again.
Time seemed to slow down, as Corin pulled Zaf away from him, he lunged out, fighting against Angie, who was attempting to restrain him. Chase grabbed Zaf's hair and pulled, and the girl screamed, turning and writhing in Corin's grip, reaching for Chase's arm. She was still brandishing her dagger, and she flung it at Chase in a last desperate attempt to cause pain.
The blade clipped Chase on the cheek, and he relaxed, raising a hand instinctively to his face. He drew his hand away, and it was smeared with blood. His eyes burned, and he broke free of Angie's grip and lunged toward Zaf. Corin flung the younger girl out of the way, and Zaf gave a cry of pain - the shoulder Chase had clipped hit the bed post. It left a spatter of blood on the dark wood, and Corin winced.
"What'd you do to her?" she asked in a low voice. Chase struggled against the strong hands that held him from Zaf, and before he knew it, he was panting with the effort of attempted escape.
"Nothing," Chase gasped, and he went limp against the hands that restrained him - his father's.
Chase was dimly aware of Zaf being tugged out of the room by dark-haired Corin, and he saw Angie flat against the wall opposite him, her eyes wide with fear. Her eyes met Chase's and she froze, then turned and ran out of the room.
Chase was still breathing heavily when the rune his father drew on his back started to take effect.
He succumbed to the darkness.
Chapter Nine - EuphoriaEdit
Forever, ’till the end of time
From now on, only you and I
We’re going up-up-up-up-up-up-up "
- -- Loreen, Euphoria
People looked so much more peaceful when they slept, Angie thought. Their faces weren't marred by any emotion, their muscles not stiff with apprehension - they were completely relaxed.
Angie was seated in the plastic chair next to Chase's bed in the infirmary, Clary across from her on the other side of her son. One of her slender hands was folded over Chase's, while her other was sketching his face. Her dark curls fell into her face, and she cast a tranquil glance up through her eyelashes at Angie. "You can go if you want," she said softly. "I'll call you if he wakes up."
Angie shook her head, but stood up regardless. Chase mumbled something, but his eyes remained closed. Angie patted him on the hand somewhat awkwardly, and slipped towards Zaf's bed on the other side of the ward.
Zaf's dark hair was splayed on the pillow around her head like a large halo, her features calm and unperturbed. Angie settled into the chair next to her bed, her hands folded in her lap. Both Chase and Zaf had to have Marks for unconsciousness drawn on them so they would stop struggling. Angie had nearly been hit by Zaf's flailing arms before the Mark took action and Zaf grew limp in Corin's arms.
"Chase is a sucky idiot," Zaf muttered, her eyes opening. Angie grinned. "How long have I been out?"
"Two days," Angie replied slowly. Zaf rolled her eyes and attempted to push herself up, but winced and attempted to stifle a cry of pain. The thin white material that covered Zaf's bandaged shoulder was soon soaked with blood, and Zaf cursed under her breath. Angie stood up, looking towards Clary. "Clary? Zaf's...she's bleeding again."
"Stupid, stupid," muttered Zaf, wrapping her hand around her arm. "Do something, will you?"
"Magnus!" called Clary, upsetting her sketchapd and pencils. She bent to pick them off the floor, and Chase's eyes flicked open. Clary groaned. "It's like taking care of two-year-olds," she muttered, then raised her voice. "Magnus! Zaf's bleeding again!"
A young, dark-haired man appeared in the doorway of the hospital office, his arms crossed. His black hair was gelled up in spikes around his head, his clear eyes lined with dark eyeliner and sparkly eyeshadow. His fingernails were coated in blank nail paint, and he was dressed most absurdly. He wore a purple velvet vest over a satiny blue shirt, and rainbow trousers with gold suspenders.
Zaf closed her eyes and sank into her pillow. "Get the warlock away from me," she groaned. "His sparkliness hurts my eyes."
The warlock, Magnus, laughed, and patted Zaf on the shoulder. She winced, but didn't cry out, just clenched her fists around the thin blanket covering her. "Relax," Magnus said, but his voice was edged with amusement. Zaf's eyes flicked open long enough for her to shoot a glare at the shiny warlock, before she mumbled something distinguishably rude about warlocks. Magnus didn't flinch. "Everybody out."
Clary and Angie started to leave, but a voice behind them made them stop.
"Hang on," Chase said, propping himself up. "What about me?"
"Can he walk?" Magnus asked, glancing up to Clary. She shrugged.
"Can you walk?"
Chase rolled out of the bed and collapsed in a heap. He did, however, stand up, and follow them out of the room. He grinned at Angie, whose gaze only held coldness. Her hand was clenched over one of Clary's pencils, and she was tense as she dropped it into Chase's mother's hand.
"What?" Chase asked, pretending to be self-conscious. "Does this ensemble make me look fat?" He gestured to the tight bandaging around his chest. "I think it make sme look attractive. You know, me lacking a shirt and all." He blinked slyly at Angie, who rolled her eyes. Clary patted her son on the shoulder with a dry smile.
"I think Angie likes you a great deal more when you're clothed, Chase," she said, and walked away. Chase blinked after her, and then shrugged, turning to Angie.
"She's my mom. I guess she doesn't find me as attractive as you find me."
"Get over yourself," Angie said, rolling her eyes and walking away. Chase grinned.
"Young love, Ang! Young love!"
"Hey Zaf," Chase said cheerfully. Zaf closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep. "That doesn't work on me, you know. I'm angelic. I detect your sleep state and awake state."
Zaf flailed an arm out and thwapped Chase on the elbow. She rolled over, murmuring.
"What's that I hear?" Chase asked, grinning.
"Chase is a sucky idiot," Zaf said with a bit more clarity. Chase recoiled, though remained unruffled.
"You know, it's said that hostility is just a subliminated form of sexual attraction," Chase said, leaning back and sitting on the bed next to Zaf's. He folded his arms, evidently waiting for Zaf to open her eyes. "And you're obviously not asleep."
"I was," Zaf said, sitting up and opening her eyes. "Until you came in here and woke me up."
"Aaaah, you still love me," Chase said, grinning.
"You love my sister," Zaf corrected. "Or, rather, you did love her. Star isn't going to be happy when she comes back and finds out about your thing for Angie."
"Pff," Chase snorted. "Star likes me. And I don't have a 'thing' for Angie."
"Rght. It's developed into a relationship-where-you-kiss-in-the-middle-of-a-ball, hasn't it?"
"Shut up," Chase said playfully, waving a hand in Zaf's direction. "So when can you leave this place? It's a bit...I dunno...frightening."
"You don't know frightening until you've seen Magnus at work," Zaf warned. "So don't talk about frightening to me."
"Mm, does he shoot sparkly ponies out of his finger tips and make rainbows shoot like lasers out of his eyes?"
"Not that frightening. But close." Chase nodded awkwardly, and then hesitated for a moment, his eyes slightly darkening.
"I-is your shoulder better?" Zaf's eyes narrowed as she replied.
"No, it's not," she said curtly. "Magnus said I should be back on it in a few days, though. It was a...a well-placed blow, though."
"Thanks," Chase said smoothly. "My wall feels the pain."
Chapter Ten - ColorsEdit
" I'll wear your colors my dear
Until you're standing right here
Next to the one who adores you
Whose heart is beating for you
Like a lighthouse guides a shipwrecked sailor safely from the sea
I'll wear your colors 'til you come back home to me "
- -- April Smith, Colors
The screech of metal-on-metal rang in Angie's ears as she darted back and forth, her stele glowing in her hand. She heard footsteps behind her and twirled around, thrusting her stele forward. Chase sidestepped swiftly, and lunged forward, stele out. Angie spun, parrying his blow. She felt a sharp jab on the left, and knocked Tori's stele out of her hand. Zaf replaced Tori while Chase tried to slip in a blow. Zaf and Angie parried blows for a few moments, before Angie pushed Zaf's stele up under her friend's chin. Zaf stumbled back, defeated, just as Chase dropped down from the rafters.
As Chase came at her, Angie feigned to the right, and then slipped around behind Chase and slammed the flat edge of her stele into his back. Chase spun on his heel, lashing out with his dagger. Angie's elbow stung, but she whipped her stele around and nearly skewered Chase. Instead, the blade got lodged in the wall. Angie didn't move as Chase neared her.
"What, did you get taught by Zaf or something?" he laughed, his eyes bright. Zaf mimed punching Chase from where she stood, off to the side.
Chase brandished his dagger, eying Angie's lack of weapons. "Surrendering, I take it?" Angie grinned, and her reply was clear as Chase lunged toward her. She spun, avoiding him, and when he made to slice her arm, she caught his wrist and forced it up, her fingers tightening until he dropped the blade. Chase drew his stele and mumbled its name, waiting for the blade to flare up with angelic power. He flung it at Angie, who ducked easily, and plucked it out of the wall.
Chase, weaponless, stood frozen in the middle of the mats. He looked nearly shocked for a moment, then threw back his head and laughed. Angie shared an appraising glance with Zaf and Tori, who shrugged.
"You're sixteen?" Chase asked in a choked voice, his eyes still bright with laughter. Angie nodded. "Damn, you're good, Branwell."
"I was a Shadowhunter before, not a mundane," Angie replied, rolling her eyes and tossing Chase his stele. He caught it nimbly.
"Mm," Chase mumbled, his eyes glazed as he stared at his stele. He slid it into his belt, and gestured for Zaf and Tori to follow him. "It's almost dinner."
Clary and Jace were already seated at the long table in the dining room, their heads bent over books and papers, their meals pushed aside. Chase cleared his throat, and his parents glanced up, their murmurs dying. "Chase," Clary said. "How'd the training session go?"
Chase was about to reply, but Zaf cut him off with a smile. "It was great. For us, rather. Chase, not so much. Angie disarmed him with her bare hands." Chase let out a protesting snort, and Clary laughed, standing up and pushing her chair back. She stretched, yawning widely.
"I guess we should congratulate the girl that was able to humble my son," Clary said jokingly, and Chase looked somewhat miffed.
"Mother," he said, "I am not humbled, and I never shall be."
"You take after your father, then," Clary said, glancing briefly at Jace. He was leaning back in his chair, tipping it so it was standing on two legs. His hands were folded behind his head and his feet were propped up on the table. Mud had already stained the white tablecloth, and Clary clucked disapprovingly. Jace's golden gaze was as cool as ever as he eyed Angie.
"Sit down then," Clary said, shuffling the papers and stuffing them at her husband. "Take those away, the children are probably hungry. Tori, call your sister, please. And get Corin as well."
Tori nodded and hurried towards the elevator. They all heard the ding of the elevator as it arrived, and the slam as Tori closed the grille. Angie settled into the seat beside Zaf, and waited as Clary poked her head into the kitchen. "Bridgette? We're all ready."
There was a shouted reply and Clary drew back, taking her seat across from Angie. Jace settled down at the head, to Angie's left. Corin, Tori, and Ellie (in Tori's arms) arrived soon after, and took their places as a skinny girl with black pigtails came out with their food.
Zaf brought a spoon full of soup to her lips, and then recoiled, slopping the thick liquid into her lap. She glared at Angie, who had sniggered, and defended herself. "It's hot!"
Chatter filled the room as the group began to chat amongst themselves, Jace and Clary resuming their earlier conversation. Corin and Tori bent their heads together, and Ellarie giggled as Chase crossed his eyes. "Is it usually like this?" Angie whispered to Zaf. She nodded.
"Usually louder. Especially when my sister's here," she added. Angie looked surprised.
"You have a sister?"
"Yeah. Star. She's in Idris, at the moment, doing some eighteen-year-old stuff. She's pretty cool. It was originally her idea to come here, you know, to Seattle. I tagged along after a spat with our parents in New York, and then Mom became the Inquisitor, so she was really busy, and Dad sort of...well, he left when I was young, and Star and I...we had to live on our own. What about your parents?"
"My dad's dead," Angie said quietly, and was forcibly reminded of Clary's words after Angie's mom had left her.
Angie was even more shocked when Zaf repeated them, her voice almost hysteric. "Never believe a man is dead until you see his body."
Chapter Eleven - You Are a TouristEdit
" Because when you find yourself the villain in the story you have written
It's plain to see
That sometimes the best intentions are in need of redemptions
Would you agree?
If so please show me "
- -- Death Cab For Cutie, You Are a Tourist
Tori's fingers flew across the piano, nimbly hitting every key with precision. Her hair was held up in a top knot, and only a few stray strands fell into her face. Her eyes were dark in contrast against her pale skin, and she faltered for a moment. Hitting the wrong key, she stood up in frustration and slammed her hand down on the piano. A chorus of notes escaped, and Tori slammed the key-cover shut, kicking the stool aside as she stomped away. Her hair tumbled out of its bun as she slumped against the wall, leaning her head against the cool surface.
The dark colors of her bedroom made everything look large, and made the space feel cramped. Tori shut her eyes and hugged her knees. She was vaguely aware of someone else entering the room, but refused to acknowledge them.
The voice that whispered her name in her ear wasn't one that Tori had expected. She opened her eyes and saw Corin sitting next to her, her own dark hair rolling off of her head in delicate, precise waves. Her dark eyes glimmered with something other than concern.
"Corin," Tori said quietly. "What do you want?"
Corin paused for a moment, though she was not hesitating. Everything about her - her posture, her voice, her stance - led Tori to believe that she was completely confindent of her following words. "I have a plan."
Tori laughed softly, though her eyes betrayed her interest. "Isn't that what they all say?"
"Chase has said it often enough," Corin said, and Tori stiffened. Corin smiled. "I know you like him. But you're related, you know."
"We're not," Tori said stiffly. "I'm a Fairchild, and he's a Herondale."
"Clary's mother was a Fairchild. Jocelyn," Corin replied, raising her eyebrows slightly. Tori frowned.
"That doesn't mean we can't be together!"
"I used to think that as well. I loved him. I knew what it was like. But now he loves Angie, and that's that. There's nothing you can do to change him."
"I could do anything," snarled Tori, her fists clenching. "You don't know what I could do."
"You don't know what I could do," Corin said smoothly. "Which brings me back to my plan."
"Y-You're going to kill Chase?" Tori asked uncertainly, her eyes dark. Corin smiled darkly.
"No. I'm going to kill Angie."
Angie shrugged on her jacket, tucking a stray lock of hair back up into her ponytail. She smoothed the creases out of the denim and hurried into the elevator. Zaf and Tori were waiting for her.
While Zaf was standing up straight, Tori was slouched against the metal bar, resting her head against the glass of the elevator. She looked annoyed, as though the rattle of the golden grilles was annoying the crap out of her. Angie frowned, but Zaf waved a hand.
When the elevator arrived at the ground floor with a ding, Tori stormed out. Zaf and Angie followed more slowly, Angie's eyes curious while Zaf's were dismissive. "C'mon," Zaf said quietly, gesturing towards the front door.
Zaf threw open the heavy doors, letting in a blast of cold air and a flurry of snowflakes. Though it was almost the end of February, it was still snowing, and hard. Zaf had the hood of her puffy red jacket pulled up over her head, but her dark hair kept fluttering out. Angie hugged her arms, blinking rapidly in the blinding whiteness of the falling snow.
A tall man stood in the doorway, a dark figure against a pale backdrop. Zaf stared at him for a moment, then turned and let out a yell.
"Mrs. Herondale, there's a faerie at the door!" she shouted. Clary's red head appeared on the landing, and she spotted the figure at the threshold. She nearly slipped as she descended the winding staircase, but caught herself and skidded to a halt.
"Evertin," Clary said in acknowledgement. "Come in."
The figure stepped inside, brushing snow off of his sleeves. Zaf closed the door, and yelled for one of the housekeepers to come sweep up the puddle caused by the melted snow that had gotten inside. Angie turned to look at the faerie - Evertin.
He had long green hair that he kept tucked behind his pointed ears. His skin was very pale, like porcelain, and his eyes were a vivid shade of violet. His lips quirked up at the corners, and he barely contained a smirk. Clary made a disapproving face that only Angie saw, but led Evertin into the dining room, allowing Angie and Zaf to follow. Corin, Tori, and Chase joined soon after. Jace was already seated at the head of the table, his hands folded over a stack of papers.
"Well?" Jace snapped. His face was flushed, his eyes brighter than normal.
"Take a seat," offered Clary to Evertin. He remained standing, but raised a hand to grip the back of a chair. His expression hardened as his eyes met Jace's, but he turned smoothly to Clary and delivered his message.
"We faeries live a long time, Shadowhunter. We don't forget things. We know what you did eighteen years ago, we know what you created. Made of iron, silver, gold, and steel, so as to repel all Downworlders. We can't even touch him," Evertin said delicately. His voice was as smooth as silk, yet as sharp as a blade. "You may have made him, Shadowhunter, but only we know how to destroy him."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Clary said, drawing herself up. Though her voice was steady, everyone seated at the table could see clearly through her lie.
"You might not," Evertin sniffed, "but your husband does. I can see it in his eyes. And he regrets it. He regrets creating the boy and he regrets marrying you."
Clary looked shocked and angry, but she made no move to stop him as the faerie whisked from the room, and stepped outside, as briskly as the air that raged outside the Institute. Clary staggered, as though the faerie's words were a blow she had just recovered from. Jace rose from his seat, putting a hand on Clary's shoulder, but she brushed it off with an impatient gesture.
"You regret him?" Clary said softly. "You regret me?"
Jace snorted, pulling Clary into an embrace. Chase mimed vomiting behind his parents, but Zaf flicked him and he fell still and silent.
"What are you, a two-year-old?" Zaf hissed. Chase grinned, and started to reply. Angie slapped him, her mouth a firm line. Chase shot the two girls a glare and sank into his seat with a scowl.
Clary pulled herself out of her husband's grasp. "Faeries don't lie."
"They say what they think. They think it's true, but Clary, it's not!"
Clary turned to glance at the children assembled at the table, and closed her eyes. She dragged her hands through her hair, blinking furiously, and then said in an even, tart voice, "We don't need to discuss this now, Jace. Not in front of the children."
Jace exhaled loudly, and nodded. "You're right. Let's go."
The two adults exited.
Chase stared after them, confused. "What boy?"
Zaf put her head in her hands, tilting her head so her eyes were angled towards Chase. "They created a boy. They have a son. Gee, I wonder."
"I'm not stupid, Zaf. But I know I'm not made of metal."
Zaf let out a snort. "Your heart is."
She stormed away.
Chapter Twelve - I Will Follow You Into the DarkEdit
" No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark
If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the NOs on their vacancy signs "
- -- Death Cab for Cutie, I Will Follow You Into the Dark
Angie crossed her legs, putting her palms and her knees and attempting to center her balance and concentration. She focused on the flickering flame in front of her, her eyes nearly closed.
A snap of fingers near her ear, mader her start, her leg spazzing and nearly knocking over the candle. Angie's arm swung around to collide with whatever had moved at her ear. Breath stirred in Angie's ear, and she felt arms close around her front and drag her up.
"Let go of me," Angie complained, kicking Chase. He laughed, wheeling her around to face him.
The dark-haired boy held his arms open, gesturing for Angie to draw her stele and attack him. Angie's eyes were drawn to his cocky expression, his bright eyes, and the moment he threw back his head to laugh she whipped out her stele and threw it, clipping Chase's left side and ripping his shirt. Chase smiled, drew his dagger, and advanced, arm out, legs wide.
"Hand to hand combat," Angie requested, her eyes gleaming. She knew that was the area in which Chase was the most weak (if he could be considered weak at all), and she planned to thwart and exploit him, to finally beat him, just one more time.
Chase drew back the dagger, aiming for the beam above Angie's head. The blade sank into the wood with a thud. "Come at me."
Angie darted to the right, laughing as Chase took her movement for a feign, and sidestepped, crashing right into her. Chase grabbed her wrists, pulling her towards him, and she brought her leg up, kneeing him in the stomach. Though Chase barely flinched, his grip loosened and Angie was able to whirl around, her elbow crashing into his chest and unbalancing him. As he stumbled, Angie dodged a flailing limb and shoved him.
Chase was on the verge of tumbling over, but he righted himself and lunged out with a leg, doing what appeared to be a sort of karate move. Angie grabbed his ankle and wrenched it to the left. Despite the unbalancing move, Chase stayed upright on his one leg, swaying a bit but remaining standing.
Chase laughed, his straight, white teeth glittering in the dim light of the training room. He gently pried Angie's hand from his ankle, leaning gracefully forward on one leg. "I'm a flamingo," he said, flapping his arms. Angie laughed. "Now get up on the beams and practice your flips."
Angie let Chase help her up and secure her to the beam, making sure her rope was firmly knotted. Angie skittered up the ladder on the side of the room, making the short, quick, precarious jump to the rafter, flinging her arms out to help herself balance.
Chase called out the name of a flip, and Angie darted to the center of the beam, raising her arms and shuffling forward until her toes hung off the edge of the narrow wooden plank. Bunching her muscles, she rolled on the balls of her feet, which were just on the edge of the rafter, and readied herself to jump.
The door banged open, startling Angie, and she lost her balance. The air rushed up around her, causing her hair to whip into her face, so she was blind, save for a backdrop of dark red curls.
She expected to feel a sharp tug as the rope caught her, and dug into her ribs, but no such sensation came, just a loud shearing noise and the feeling of a sped up fall. Angie braced herself, already curling into a ball, when she felt arms on her back and behind her knees, and she opened her eyes.
She laid in Chase's arms, his eyes sparkling with amusement. Corin and Tori stood in the door, astounded, Corin's hand still on the door. Zaf hovered right behind them, and when she saw Angie in Chase's arms, her eyes hardened. "Chase," Zaf said firmly. "I request that you set my friend on the floor and step away from her."
Chase grinned. "Sorry, Zaf. But doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on you just isn't my highest priority at the moment--"
"Shut up," Zaf said.
A few moments later, Angie found herself halfway across the training room with Zaf's long fingers wrapped tightly around her upper arm. Angie regained her footing and stopped, causing Zaf to half-pull her arm out of its socket. Zaf turned unwillingly.
"What was Chase blathering on about?" she asked cautiously, eying Zaf's furious expression.
"It happened a long time ago," Zaf said dismissively. "C'mon, we're going to be late for lunch."
The two descended the staircase quickly, when Zaf froze, suddenly, her hand on the banister and her eyes wide. Her face drained of color, and she nearly slipped, but she kept her balance, gazing in awe at the woman at the bottom of the stairs.
The woman had long, beautiful black hair that she held up in a bun on the top of her head, and she had dark eyes. Her pale arms were long, and elegant, her fingers narrow and nimble. She was tall, and thin, and very elegant. Her cheeks were rosy with happiness, her eyes shining with something that resembled relief.
"Zaffie?" The woman's eyes widen, and Zaf darts down the stairs and into her mother's arms.
"Mom," Zaf whispered, her voice muffled by her mother's gear.
"Isabelle?" Clary appeared out of the dining room, nearly bouncing with excitement. "Jace!" she yelled over her shoulder, "Isabelle's here!"
Jace was at Clary's side in a moment, his eyes shining. "Isabelle," he breathed. Isabelle smiled.
"Yes, yes, I'm wonderful, I know." But she accepted hugs from Clary and Jace, before turning back to her daughter, a smile still plastered on her face. "Star's doing well in Idris, she'll be home in about a week."
"Really?" Zaf's face lit up, making her seem younger, and for a moment she seemed like a little girl, like Ellarie, clinging to her mother. Angie grinned.
"Yes, Zaffie. She's coming home."
Chapter Thirteen - Dark SideEdit
" Don't run away
Don't run away
Just tell me that you will stay
Promise me you will stay "
- -- Kelly Clarkson, Dark Side
Over the next few days, Zaf was noticeably more cheerful and happy in the presence of her mother. Isabelle had seemed to take a liking to Angie, and was constantly chatting with her and her own daughter about the best ways to conquer demons, and the demons she had encountered.
"Your mother is awesome," Angie whispered to Zaf as Isabelle swept out of the room. Her long, inky hair fanned out across her shoulders, blowing slightly in the drafty corridors of the Institute.
Zaf grinned, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "Yeah, she is, isn't she?"
"I take it you don't see each other a lot?" Angie asked quietly. The two stood up, pushing their chairs in, and exited the room as well.
"Not much, no. But when I do...I dunno, it's just great. Growing up without a father was difficult, but now I feel that my mother makes up for his absence, and that I never really...I don't know, the loss isn't as hard on me as it used to be. It's kind of...nice," Zaf replied, shaking her head in response to Angie's first question.
"Well, I didn't have a father either. He was killed when I was a young girl." Zaf raised her eyebrows, and opened her mouth, but Angie cut her off. "I know, 'Don't believe a man is dead until you see his body'. I was at his funeral. It was a closed casket. I think he was...I think he was killed by demons, and they didn't want to show his body."
"In that case, then, you'll never know if he really was dead. It's pretty easy to bury an empty casket."
"I know, I know," Angie said with a sigh. She leaned against the banister of the staircase, crossing her arms and crossing her feet at the ankles, bending her knee and putting her weight on her left leg. "So...when I came here, I admit, I expected more demons. It was pretty hard to take care of 'em all by myself, you know."
Zaf snorted. "You only 'took care' of the ones we didn't. But you are right," she added hastily as Angie opened her mouth, leaning forward, "the rate of demons has drastically increased. You've been here...what....a week? We haven't had any demons since."
"Maybe it's just my aura," Angie joked. Zaf rolled her eyes, and the two passed the stairs and headed towards the elevator. "Why don't you guys just take out the stairs or the elevator and use one mode of transport? Both are ancient!"
"I dunno," Zaf said, slamming the grille shut. "Old times' sake, maybe?"
"Yeah, I s'pose."
The two were silent as they ascended, and when the elevator stopped on the second floor, both stepped out at the exact same time. Angie shut the grille behind her and turned back to Zaf, who was already hurrying down the hallway.
"Where are we going?"
"I'm going to prepare something for my mother. You can do what you like," Zaf said, waving a hand.
"I'll be in the library, then, if you need me," Angie decided, turning. Zaf had already disappeared around the corner, grinning like a madman.
A rustle among the potted plants startled Angie, but she saw nothing else, and continued down the long hallway.
The library was a very large room, it was two stories tall, and a beautiful golden-brown color. There were balconies on the second floor, behind which there were more bookshelves. The ground floor had rows, and rows of the dark oak shelves, lined with books of every color, shape, and size.
Angie stepped out onto one of the balconies, breathing in the musty yet fresh and crisp scent of books and paper. She hurried between the shelves until she reached the staircase, and then darted down it, eyes scanning the shelves.
"Gray Book, Gray Book, Gray Book," she muttered under her breath. "Gray Book...let's see..."
A long, drawn-out scream made Angie freeze in her tracks. She heard frantic footsteps, sounding as though they were right behind her, and turned slowly, her hand going to her belt - or, rather, where her belt would have been if she was wearing it. She was weaponless.
Angie darted behind a bookcase and yanked a few books off the second shelf to the top, stepping up on top of the stack and pushing herself up so she could peer into the empty area in the center of the library.
At first, she saw no one, so she hesitantly stepped out from behind the bookcase. The scream rang in her ears, and she broke into a run, nearly certain that she had seen a dark figure at the end of one of the rows of shelves. She hurtled to a stop, however, once she reached the center of the library.
All was quiet.
And then she heard a clatter of shoes and a flurry of curses, and she whirled around.
Chase was standing with his back to her, his dark hair a sharp contrast against his pale skin. His arms were wrapped around something in front of him, and he spun around. Angie nearly screamed, but Chase merely grinned easily at her.
A struggling, ginger-haired figure was in Chase's arms, a squirming, green-eyed woman that Angie knew better than anyone else in the world.
"Mom!" Angie cried. She whirled around, looking for a weapon, anything, something to throw at Chase, something to get him to--
"Angie!" cried Anna Branwell helplessly. "Help--"
Angie staggered back, as Chase dropped Anna and drew the dagger at his belt. He knelt beside Anna, raising the dagger. Angie nearly fainted from fear, and stumbled towards Chase, ready to pry the dagger from his hands, but he had already moved it down--
Blood spurted from Anna's chest, she spasmed, crying out, tears of pain and fear running down her face. "Mom!" screamed Angie.
Time seemed to slow.
Angie, halfway to her mother, collapsed in a heap, the world rolling around her. Curls of her dark red hair dropped in front of her eyes, her vision went black. She could feel her limbs jerking, her foot connecting with something soft, and she tried to push herself out of her stupor, to sit up, to scream at Chase, to punch him, to hurt him, to yell at him, to bring her mother back to life, but she knew all seven were impossible, she could hardly breathe--
Yells filled her ears, a vindictive yell and a frightened, terrified, horrified yell that she knew only moments later had come from her own mouth. Angie raised her head, coughing, and saw Chase discarding the dagger and laughing, throwing back his head and opening his mouth wide.
Angie flung herself at Chase, raking her nails down the side of Chase's face. Her nails left no mark on Chase's face, but he lashed an arm out and flung her back.
She was vaguely aware of figures darting into the room around her, as she lay, stunned, on her back.
Angie let her eyes close.
Chapter Fourteen - Safe and Sound
" Don't you dare look out your window darling
Everything's on fire
The war outside our door keeps raging on
Hold on to this lullaby
Even when the music's gone "
- -- Taylor Swift, Safe and Sound
Smoke curled up into the second level of the library, fogging the domed glass windows. Flames licked up the columns, blood spattered the walls. Figures darted, some chasing each other, others fleeing. Flashes of bright color in the smoke, in the fire, blues, greens, purples. Loud, screeching, inhuman cackles, long, drawn-out, human screams. Two figures were already brought to the ground on their knees in front of the curling smoke, their heads in their hands, their fingers knotting in their own hair.
Shouts of despair rose into the air like steam, and a dark figure on the second floor balcony smirked in satisfaction. Arms crossed, leaning easily against a bookcase, paying no attention to the battle raging below.
A crumpled figure lay in a heap on the ground, red hair strewn across a pale face. Her features were twisted in pain and fear, and at the approach of a dark-haired boy, her eyes snapped open. She let out a scream, flailing out with her limbs, kicking the boy who came closer.
"Get away from me!" she yelled, her voice as loud as the high-pitched whines of the demonic sprites around her.
The boy looked baffled, as he started towards her, she struck him across the face with the back of her hand, and he drew back, a red mark swelling on his face. He was already covered in numerous scratches and bruises, a large tear down the side of his shirt - but he scooped the girl up, ignoring her protests.
"You killed her!" screamed the girl, trying to kick him. "You killed my mother!"
"Angie, shut the hell up!" shouted the boy. "I'm trying to help you!"
"You killed her!" the girl repeated, her voice so high it was nearly derisive. "You're going to kill me, let go of me, Chase, let go of me!"
The boy - Chase - took one last fleeting glimpse at the battle behind him, and ran, full-out, his feet pounding on the floor. He shouldered the door open, and entering the corridor was like plunging into darkness. Chase, however, knew the Institute very well by now, and was able to run to the infirmary, where he deposited Angie and whisked back to the battle.
Angie went limp as darkness overwhelmed her.
"She'll live," a voice said shortly. Angie awoke, dimly, though she didn't open her eyes. She had a splitting headache, and her whole brain felt fuzzy, sluggish, blank. Just trying to think hurt.
"Angie?" a voice whispered at her ear, "Angie, can you hear me?"
Angie opened her mouth, of course she could hear him--
But found that her mouth didn't work. Angie tried to grunt, to grumble, but her throat wasn't functioning properly, she could make no sound. She opened her eyes.
The first thing she would have liked to see was not the head of her mother's killer, his eyes concerned as though he had done nothing wrong, looking as handsome and as well-groomed as he had when he killed Anna Branwell. Angie screamed, loudly, and tried to kick Chase.
"Angie!" Chase grabbed Angie's wrist. "Shut up! I don't know what you're talking about!"
"You killed my mother!" cried Angie hysterically. "And let go of me!"
"I won't let go of you," Chase said in a low voice, "until you explain what the hell you're talking about."
Angie, breathless, stopped struggling and went limp, shutting her eyes and speaking through clenched teeth. "I was in the library last night. And you came in, and you killed my mother."
Chase dropped Angie's wrist. "Angie, I swear by the Angel - I didn't kill your mother. Last night...something horrible happened, Angie, it wasn't--it was bad."
"Are you going to tell me what it was?" snapped Angie. Chase smiled darkly.
"Last night, a demon entered the Institute. Yes, we know, that's not supposed to happen," Chase added at the look on Angie's face, "so someone on the inside let it in. And it wasn't just any demon, it was a Greater Demon, Agramon, the Demon of Fear."
"He makes you see what you fear most," Angie said softly. She paled. "Oh, Chase, I--"
"I understand," Chase said, and accepted Angie's hug.
"I'm so sorry," Angie whispered. "So, so sorry."
Chapter Fifteen - Many of HorrorEdit
" Cause when my back is turned
My bruises shine
Our broken fairytale
So hard to hide "
- -- Biffy Clyro, Many of Horror
"I still can't believe the faeries abandoned their seat on the Council," mused Angie. Chase grinned, leaning over her shoulder to scan the page she was reading.
"Yeah. If another species of Downworlders abandon, it won't be an even war. We could die out." Chase's eyes scanned the page lazily. "Mm. He dies, you know," Chase interrupted, pointing at a name in the book. Angie turned, scowling, and slammed the book shut on his finger. Chase pulled back, and dangled his hands between his knees. "It's what I do best." Angie snorted.
The two were sitting outside the Institute on the grand marble steps. The gentle breeze ruffled their hair, and birds chirped. The snow was melting, creating gray puddles every few feet, but beneath the large covered porch of the Institute, the Shadowhunters were unaffected.
Angie stood up, stretching. Chase ruffled her hair, but for once, she didn't mind. Zaf was waiting for them just inside the doors, leaning against the banister and smirking. "You know," she said, following Chase and Angie, "with what's going on, I can't seem to believe you two have time for being all lovey-dovey."
Chase turned to look at her, his eyes bright. "Silly Zaf. I'll always have time for love." Zaf made a face, and Angie laughed from in front of the two of them.
Thankfully, things had settled down since the recent battle. Everything had been explained to Angie, and she had recovered from the shock of what Agramon - the Greater Demon of Fear - had shown her. Clary had explained that after Angie collapsed, Zaf had re-entered the library, looking for her, and seen her unconscious. She had then called for Clary, Jace, Chase, Corin, Tori, and the rest of the Shadowhunters. After their arrival, the faerie knight Evertin had arrived with the news that the faeries had abandoned their seats on the Council, and were declaring war on the Shadowhunters. The first battle of the war had started in the library, over Angie's unconscious body. Chase had then spotted her, and attempted to get her to the infirmary. She had fought him, remembering his role in what Agramon had become.
"Angie?" Isabelle poked her head out of the dining room. "Angie, you're mom's here."
"Really?" Angie didn't sound surprised, and Isabelle must have heard it in her voice, for she raised a heavily-penciled eyebrow.
"You don't sound surprised."
"That's becuase I'm not," Angie said, and stepped past Isabelle and into the dining room. "Mom?"
Anna Branwell was standing at the window, her back to Angie. Her hands were clasped loosely behind her back, and when she turned, her face was illuminated by the outside light. Relief washed over her, and she wrapped Angie in a hug.
"I've missed you," Angie whispered, burying her face in her mother's hair. Anna held Angie at arm's length, examining her.
"You're looking thin--"
Isabelle rolled her eyes. "Clary hasn't been starving her, Anna. It's probably because she was nearly killed last week--"
Anna turned sharply to face Isabelle. "What?"
Angie's eyes widened, and she shared an astonished glance with Zaf and Chase. Zaf hastily said, "May we borrow Angie for a moment?"
Anna paid her no attention as she began to shout at Isabelle. Zaf turned Angie around and half-dragged her out of the dining room. Chase followed more slowly, a grin spreading across his face.
"Well, I'm assuming Isabelle didn't tell my mother what happened," Angie said as she followed Zaf into the elevator. Zaf punched the button for the top floor, and leaned against the wall of the elevator as it began to move.
"I guess not. Mother can be...she forgets to explain things some times."
"That's an understatement," Angie replied uncertainly, and Chase and Zaf laughed.
Silence fell, each Shadowhunter thinking their own thoughts. Angie wondered if the faeries' threat - and abandonment - would result in any more battles. If so, would those battles conflict with the now ever-frequent demon sightings? Would the Shadowhunters be torn between--
Zaf threw the golden grille open and hurried down the hall. Angie and Chase followed her down the carpeted hallway, their low voices not quite reaching Zaf.
"The greenhouse?" Angie's voice rose as she stopped outside the door. "I dunno, Zaf, if this means you're going to yell at me--"
"Please." Zaf rolled her eyes. "I won't." She held open the door for Angie, letting it fall shut on Chase. He pushed through it irritably, shooting Zaf an annoyed look.
"That was unnecessary."
Zaf rolled her eyes for the second time, but said nothing until the three were seated around a large pot. Zaf dug her fingers impatiently into the soil, and uprooted the silver-leafed plant. She handed it to Chase, who ripped off a leaf. "Don't eat it," Zaf said irritably. "That's wolfsbane."
Chase grinned, and was about to reply when the greenhouse door banged open. All three started, and turned.
Clary was standing in the door, her hands gripping the door frame. Her red hair was frizzing around her face, and her green eyes were wild.
"The vampires have abandoned their seat on the Council."