“You told them where to find her!”
Clary’s eyes were wide as she slouched on the plush sofa. Jace was next to her, twiddling with her fingers as they waited for someone to remember they were there.
“I had no choice, Luke! This is the pr-”
“The price she had to pay, we know. Except she didn’t do anything wrong! You’re the one who chose to run away from Valentine. You’re the one who chose to leave Clary with me and return to the Clave. You’re the one who has made nothing but questionable decisions. And now your daughter has to pay the price?!” Luke scoffed as his hand raked through his hair.
“Now Luke, I’m sure Jocelyn-” Maryse snapped her mouth shut quickly as the werewolf shot her a frosty glare.
“Don’t defend her Maryse! If this was about Alec or Isabelle or Max, what would you do?”
The Lightwood matriarch looked pained, her gaze darting between her two old friends.
“Yeah. You would never take out your issues on them. Or even Jace! I just-” With an exasperated noise that Clary struggled to put a name to, Luke spun on his heel and stalked from the library.
Jocelyn relaxed her defensive stance, slowly spinning around to face her daughter, her eyes widening as they took in the man sitting next to her.
“Clary! Get away from him!”
The duo just blinked at her, clearly confused as to why she was all of a sudden freaking out.
“Uh…no?” Clary said sardonically, delighting in the red hue her mother’s face was taking on.
Jocelyn stalked forward, ripping Clary’s hand out of Jace’s and trying to tug her off the sofa. Clary raised both eyebrows in surprise at her mother’s lackluster attempts to drag her away.
“Seriously? That’s all you’ve got?!” She craned her head to the side, her eyes sparking in mischief as she looked toward Maryse. “Wasn’t she supposed to be one of the best Shadowhunters of your day?”
Jocelyn choked out a disgruntled huff, rearing back as if she’d been slapped. “Clary, you can’t possibly feel safe around him! He’s-he’s…”
“He’s the one who kept Valentine from taking me, so I think I feel quite safe around him, thanks.” Jocelyn grit her teeth at Clary’s sass, tugging again at her arm as she attempted to pull her off the sofa.
“Honestly Jocelyn. You can’t manage to lift a tiny little girl? How much can she weigh, 90 pounds?” Maryse Lightwood tutted as she stood slowly, calmly striding toward the sofa where her adopted son sat with Clary. She leaned her hip against the edge of the leather, her fingers raking through Jace’s tangled hair in an affectionate way. “I heard about what happened. You both must be starving. Come on, let’s get you something to eat.”
Jace groaned, sinking further into the cushions, ducking his head behind Clary’s back in a futile attempt to hide himself. “Please tell me Isabelle isn’t the one cooking!!!”
Maryse laughed as Clary reached around her to smack him lightly on the back. He peeked out from underneath a curtain of her bedraggled hair, grinning sheepishly. “You seriously have no idea how bad it is. We could totally chase the demons back to their dimension with her…uh…food.”
“No, she hasn’t been in the kitchen for the last few days. And she’s been holed up with Max ever since you…took off.” Jace cringed away from Maryse’s glare.
“I said I was sorry. And, hey! It turned out fine. See?” Clary giggled at the charming grin Jace cast up at Maryse, who actually flushed slightly as she shook her head.
“Alright, alright. Let’s get you two fed and then you both need sleep.”
Jace shot to his feet, bending slightly as he offered his calloused hands to Clary. She stared for a moment, utterly confused by his actions. And even more confused by the feelings that welled up in her chest as she took in the warmth glowing from his eyes.
“But-we’re not done here young lady!” Jocelyn’s voice echoed shrilly around the open space. Her foot stomped angrily on the hardwood floors, and Clary glanced over her shoulder.
“Oh go fornicate yourself with a rake, mother dearest.”
x . x . x . x . x
They’d been at the Insitute for over a month. And Clary was about to lose her mind. Luke commuted to his bookstore everyday, her mother flitted in and out, saying nothing more than “Clave business!”, while the Lightwoods carried on as they always had.
And Clary was going to murder someone violently if they didn’t let her leave soon.
“How can you do it? Stay cooped up in here all the fucking time?!?” Clary glared at Jace, who was lounging on the bed in the room she’d been given, tossing a dagger into the air repeatedly and catching it by the hilt.
He was the only bright spot in this whole debacle. Like her, he hadn’t been permitted to leave. After their run in with Valentine, that she could barely remember since she was only semi-conscious, the adults had decided to quarantine the two for the foreseeable future.
Much to Clary’s annoyance, it had actually been Luke who’d argued vehemently FOR that outcome, while Jocelyn had been of the opinion that it’d be perfectly safe for them to go out. She’d been overruled, mostly due to Robert and Maryse Lightwood siding with Luke. And since were Jace’s guardians, their decision held more weight than Jocelyn’s. Not to mention Clary would never deliberately go against Luke. He’d been the only good part of her life for so long-he was her father in every way that mattered. And she never wanted to disappoint him.
She was startled out of her thoughts as Jace sat up, sighing roughly. “Believe me, this isn’t easy for me either. But-I don’t want to disobey Maryse and Robert. I may be an adult, but they’re still the only parents I ever really had. My father wasn’t…well-yeah.”
Clary’s features softened as they so often did when she looked at the golden man before her. She was no closer to deciphering her feelings than she’d been when they’d met. She was supremely confused, yet every single time she tried to corner Luke to ask he managed to escape with an odd look on his face. Almost resigned-which, again, was confusing.
“Do you think they’d let us just go get something at Taki’s? I can’t pretend to like Isabelle’s food today-I just don’t have the energy.” Jace smirked at Clary’s words, pursing his lips to hold back the grin threatening to break across his face.
“Doesn’t hurt to ask. Maybe Alec and Isabelle can come too. An extra layer of protection?”
Clary wrinkled her nose and Jace laughed, ruffling her hair as he stood, towering over her of course. “Alec hates me.”
“He doesn’t hate you. He just…takes awhile to warm up to people.”
Clary rolled her emerald eyes as Jace grabbed her hand, his fingers twining with her as he tugged her gently along. They wandered the corridors, ducking their heads into room after room after room-not finding anyone.
“Seriously? Where could they have gone?!?”
Clary shrugged, her patience finally coming to it’s end. “No idea. And I don’t care.” She faced Jace, a hard look on her dainty features. “I am going to Taki’s. Are you coming?”
x . x . x . x . x
Their waiter smiled at Clary’s enthusiasm and winked as he deposited a bottle of syrup in front of her. Jace scowled, grabbing his plate from the waiter’s hand.
“If you need anything, ask for me. Name’s Dave.”
Jace snorted. “Dave? Wow, manly name there Dave.” He jolted in his seat as a tiny foot propelled itself into his shin.
“JACE!” Clary sighed as she turned her sights to the waiter once again. “I’m so sorry, he’s just-a little bit….wait.”
Jace raised his eyes from where they’d been focused on his waffles as he meticulously filled every single square with syrup.
His eyes swept the diner, taking in the oddities that Clary had already noticed. Their waiter-Dave-was frozen as he leaned over their table, a smarmy grin directed at Clary. The other patrons sat motionless and silent. And-the biggest one of all, at least to Jace’s eyes-was the glimpse into the kitchen, where Meliorn was flipping a burger-which was frozen in midair.
“Uh, Jace? What just happened?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
Clary’s eyes widened as they gaped at something directly over his shoulder and Jace spun quickly in the booth, his hand immediately resting on his dagger.
And his breath caught in his throat as he caught sight of Valentine. Except-not.
This man was obviously younger, his face unlined in a youthful way. His eyes, identical to Clary’s, sparked with mischief rather than maliciousness. And his lithe, lean body was less ravaged by unkind years.
“Who are you?” Clary’s voice wavered, though when Jace chanced a glance over his shoulder he saw her standing, her body braced in a defensive stance.
The boy’s eyebrows furrowed. “What? But-you don’t know?”
Jace slid out of the booth, stepping quickly to Clary’s side as he pulled a seraph blade from his waistband.
“Obviously not. So if you’ll kindly-uh, unfreeze everyone, we’ll be leaving.” Jace’s hand gripped Clary’s arm tightly as he dragged her back a few paces, their eyes still glued to the mysterious man before them.
They spun to exit, only to find the door locked. Jace tugged, both hands yanking fruitlessly on the doorknob as Clary cast wary glances over her shoulder.
“Are you quite done?”
“Let. Us. Out.”
“I can’t. I need to get you somewhere safe.”
Clary pulled her seraph blade out of her waistband, whispering its name quickly as she crouched. Jace abandoned his efforts on the door and mimicked her actions, falling into the familiar fighting stance he’d long since mastered.
Without another word, Clary charged. The man looked taken aback at her ferocity and stumbled backward as she advanced rapidly.
His green eyes widened in fear as he threw his hands up. “I’m not going to hurt you! I just-”
“That’s what Valentine said. Who the fuck are you?! His loyal fucking minion?!”
Clary swiped with her blade, the man jumping back as he sucked in his stomach, barely avoiding her attack. Jace circled silently behind the counter and approached him from the back. He shook his head as he crept by the frozen diners and employees, slightly unnerved at their wax-like appearances.
“Clary! Stop! I don’t want to hurt you!”
Jace’s head whipped around as he heard a muffled shriek that sounded distinctly feminine. With that motivation coursing through his veins, he sprung up and over the counter, landing directly in front of the man who now held a struggling Clary, her arm twisted up behind her back.
“Let her fucking go and maybe I won’t kill you.” Jace’s blade whirled, coming to rest mere millimeters from his Adam’s apple, grazing Clary’s hair in the process.
“I told you both! I don’t want to hurt her!” He gently shoved her forward, releasing her arm and raising his again immediately. “She’s in danger. I need to get her somewhere safe.”
His pleading words echoed in the frozen diner.
“And why exactly do you care?” Clary questioned, green eyes narrowed as they swept over the man from head to toe.
His hands dropped and Jace inched forward, his arm twitching with the need to protect Clary.
“I care because-” He sighed, his head dropping in defeat. “I’m Jonathan. I’m your brother, Clary.”