He still regretted the chaos he’d wrought and he regretted his refusal to speak to Clary. He sat up stiffly, his head heavy and his skin felt two sizes too small. His eyes swept over the destruction around him.
The table lay against the far wall, huge chunks of wood gouged from it’s surface. The chairs were splintered beyond recognition. The wardrobe hung open, it’s doors off kilter from broken hinges. Papers littered the floor and clothes hung from splinters on the walls.
His body ached. He’d never felt this much…weariness, he guess was the word…for doing almost nothing. The drumbeat pounding through his skull made his stomach churn and bubble. Bracing his feet on the floor, he pushed himself up, only to stumble sideways as the ship rocked slightly.
Memories flashed through his mind as his vision swam. A flash of red darting through tall grasses. White blonde and stark black laying side by side, a book shared between them. A man looming over him, his face shrouded in darkness.
Jace blinked furiously, trying with only moderate success to shake away the visions. He knew he’d have to work through them, but he was loathe to start anytime soon. He needed some time. He needed a break from the craziness his life had descended into. He needed…Clary.
x . x . x . x . x
He crept quietly down the hallway, peeking in doors to his left and right. His frustration mounted as he was met with storage, the pantry, Isabelle’s room (where he’d promptly been thrown out with a swift kick to his ass), the back entry to the galley where he found Simon dozing listlessly in a random chair, and finally to another staircase leading down.
He sighed and stepped carefully down each step, not willing to test the boundaries of his already precarious balance. He peeked into a door to his right, his eyes lighting as he found it full of hammock bunks. He scanned each of the room’s occupants in the weak moonlight streaming through the porthole, his brow furrowing when he found no trace of fiery red hair.
He retreated silently, unwilling to wake the crew members he hadn’t really been keen on interacting with. He was still talked about mercilessly and they made no secret of their general ambivalence toward him. In turn, Jace stayed away and pretended to ignore the whispers.
He spun around and cracked open the door to his left. Here was what he had come searching for. There was his little redhead…nestled between two men.
His eyebrows rose nearly to his hairline as he took in the scene before him. Magnus was nearest to him, though his face was buried into the curls cascading around Clary’s head. Her face was tilted towards the Quartermaster’s, her breath fanning lightly across his cheek and ruffling the no-longer spiky hair. Alec was wedged between Clary and the wall, her back to his front. His arm was slung casually over her waist, his fingers tangled in the soft fabric of her tunic. Their legs were all tangled together and Jace’s breath caught in his throat at the sheer…perfection of the vision in front of him.
He remembered everything. He’d been completely, irrevocably in love with Clary as a child…a feeling that was surging back faster than the tide. He remembered playing with Alec and even Isabelle the few times Clary was otherwise occupied. He remembered the day Magnus was brought before his father-he’d been filthy and painfully thin.
Jace shook himself out of his musings as he watched the trio in front of him. He knew there were some unorthodox relationships on board, but he’d never known Clary was a part of any of them. There was a curious crushing disappointment surging through his chest. Even if Clary by some miracle returned the feelings that had re-awakened in him even more since his memories had returned-there was no way he could share her. His heart ached at the thought of it.
He stood there for what felt like hours, just gazing down at the sleeping pirates. He stepped inside the room, shuffling as quietly as possible to the chair across the room. He sat heavily, his elbow falling to his knees as his chin came down with it. His brow furrowed as he stared at the bed, lost in thoughts of what might have been.
x . x . x . x . x
The moon was high in the sky when it happened. A clap of thunder sounded in the distance and Clary jolted upward. Jace reared back, his eyes widening as he watched her fingers spark and her hair flutter as if a gust of wind had ripped through the room.
“Shit! Magnus! Alec!”
Her eyes swept the room, landing on Jace as her nose wrinkled in confusion. “Jace?”
His reply was cut short as the ship heaved mightily as a splintering crash echoed all around them.
The men were awake now, flailing to untangle themselves from each other and their Captain. Clary rolled her eyes and scrambled over the top of them, flashing erotic bits of flesh at Jace in the process.
He shook his head forcefully to clear it, but was thrown forward as another violent collision rocked the ship.
Clary tugged on a pair of breeches, lacing them quickly as she darted to the door. Jace followed quickly, leaving Magnus and Alec behind.
“Attack. Although who’d be daft enough to attack The Institute I have no idea.”
Clary darted through the halls, banging on doors as she went. She ignored her bare feet, though Jace could feel splinters digging into his own as he ran, stumbling gracelessly behind her.
A lithe jump found Clary up on deck, her head whipping wildly from side to side. Isabelle pushed past him, shoving him roughly out of the way as she scaled the ladder to the deck.
“Stay down there.” Clary commanded, her eyes never resting in one spot as she barked demands to the rest of her crew. When he didn’t answer, her head swung around, her eyes pinning him in place. A fire burned deep inside those brilliant green orbs and he could see the thrill of battle filling her.
He nodded once and she darted away, grabbing swords and daggers as she strapped them to her person. He lost sight of her in the crowd before he felt a pair of hands grabbing his shoulder.
“You need to come with me.” The small woman, Aline he thought, beckoned him to follow her as a stream of men rushed by them.
x . x . x . x . x
The ship took a pounding, the unsuccessful cannonballs splashing perilously close to the hull of the ship. Every dull thud he heard against the ceiling made him jump. Every shrill scream or hoarse cry made his heart seize, imagining the worst. Imagining Clary-hurt, broken, covered in blood. Imagining her leaving him. Leaving him to fend for himself in the cruel, unforgiving world when he’d only just found her again.
Hours passed as he sat, hunched over in a small room with no windows. He heard everything, though it was muffled and indistinct. His mind ran wild with visions of blood and torture and pain. He couldn’t take it anymore. He cracked the door open, peeking out to see if Aline was still guarding him.
Jace’s breath whooshed out in relief as he saw a deserted hall. He crept forward, noting the diminished noise from above and he prayed that this conflict was over…and that it fell in their favor. He paused momentarily. He’d lumped himself in with the pirates. The people who had kidnapped, but never mistreated him. The people who had given him back a piece of himself that he wasn’t even aware had been missing. Yes-he was definitely a part of them.
He climbed carefully up the ladder, blanching as he saw a crimson stream dripping into a puddle underneath. With shaking hands, he pushed the hatch upwards, bracing himself for what he was about to see.
But nothing could have prepared him for the sight that met his eyes.
The pirates, his pirates, were still heavily engaged in battle. He saw Alec whip past him, whooping in delight as he brought a sword down through another man’s neck. The severed head dropped heavily to the deck and rolled toward him, it’s eyes glaring dully at the young prince. He gagged and fought back the bile rising in his throat. He climbed carefully to the deck, pausing to pick up a short dagger that had been cast aside.
Magnus was above the deck, balanced on a branch of the mast, his strange cat like eyes darting back and forth through the action. Every so often Jace saw his hand twitch outward, saw his lips mutter slightly as he helped from up above.
Isabelle danced gracefully around the quarterdeck, spinning around the various bodies and weapons strewn haphazardly about. Her arm slashed out and he saw a whip locked tightly in her fist. A dagger in her other hand sliced neatly through the throat of the man advancing toward her. His companion rocked backward as Isabelle crouched slightly, a feral smile twisting her face into a mockery of her beauty. The man stumbled backward as she leapt, falling heavily on top of him. Her movements were lost in the fabric of her skirts, though the feet flailing around underneath her gave Jace a good indication of the torture being inflicted.
He turned away from the female pirate, his eyes searching for the Captain as the mass of bodies pressed close, then retreated. The ebb and flow of battle confused him. Jace didn’t know where to look or who was fighting against them.
He stumbled backward suddenly as a man heavily spattered in blood stalked toward him, tripping over the arm of a dead body. His jet black hair was spiked upward, whether by oil or blood he didn’t know. The menacing smile on his face terrified Jace, who scrambled backward as he brandished the dagger clumsily.
The blue of the man’s eyes sparkled mischievously as he cornered Jace against the mast. He bowed his head low, his hand shooting out to grip the prince’s roughly.
“Surely, you wouldn’t be wanting to harm your own cousin, now would you? Your majesty?”
Jace’s eyes flew open wide as the man merely adjust his grip on the dagger, making it more secure.
The man spun away, shielding Jace slightly with his own body. “Later, boy. At the moment, we’re a little busy.”
A flash of red shot across his vision and Jace shoved the man in front of him roughly. He started toward the small girl, watching in horror as a brute of a man chased after her.
“Clary!” His horror grew as he saw the man raise his arm, a dagger clutched in his hand carelessly. And his heart stopped as the man brought his arm down, releasing the dagger.
Time stopped. Clary spun, her eyes widening in horror. But she wasn’t looking at the dagger headed straight for her heart. Her eyes were fixed on Jace, confusion and panic clear in those mossy green depths.
The silver blade stopped inches from her body, freezing in midair as Jace rushed toward her, his arm stretched out to her. Her eyes swung to the man who’d been behind her, only to find nothing but a scorch on the deck.
Her head whipped around as she took in the frozen chaos around her. She gasped as Jace skidded to a halt in front of her, slipping slightly in the blood coating the wood planks.
His hands found her face, his eyes sweeping rapidly over her features as if searching for any injuries. “Clary! Are you alright?!?”
He seemed to finally realize what had happened and his eyes swept around, growing larger and larger. The men and few women on board were frozen in graphic, horrific depictions of violence. He faced her again, those golden eyes sweeping over her form as he began to shake.
“Clary, did I just…did I use…magic?!?”