Not many of the surface know much about the underbelly of what they think to be perfect. They don't have to worry if their neighbor is a blood-thirsty monster, or if the monsters underneath their child's bed is real.
There are people designed to make sure that it stays that way, so that pandemonium and chaos don't break out once people discover that the monsters they say are just legends and myths are, in fact, quite real.
These people are the medium between the darker edges of existance and the lighter side. Their job is thankless, as mundanes — humans — don't know that they exist, and the monsters that the mundanes are protected from despise these protectors.
They are known as Shadowhunters. And you are one of them.
Not a very good one, however. Though you do excel in some aspects rather than others. You know how to put up a glamor that's as solid as a brick wall and you know how to use seraph blades, but you aren't very useful when it comes to runes, and you're just as likely to harm than do any actual good.
It isn't for lack of trying, however, and you've gone over hundreds upon hundred of runes and tried to memorize them, but they get jumbled and knotted in your brain like wires pulled too tightly.
And because you aren't very good at using a stele, you're often left behind if there's no one to Mark you or if no one can be bothered to make sure you haven't tripped down a flight of stairs and killed yourself.
And because you're often left at home with Max — something that doesn't really bother you, Max is a good kid —, boredom tends to take over. And when boredom takes hold of you, you've been known —
"If Maryse sees you playing with a weapon like that, she's going to have a heart-attack."
— to do stupid things. Very stupid things. You glance towards the speaker who's eyes are the color of honey and are locked upon the weapon that you're tossing over and over in your right hand.
It's one of your seraph blades, one that you've fondly named Amitiel, and the blade gleams in the dying sunlight from the window. It's indeed true that if Maryse finds you doing this, she'll lecture you on why seraph blades shouldn't be used in such a manner, her mouth tight with fury.
And even though Maryse isn't your mother, she terrifies you when she's angry. "But it's my blade," you protest mildly despite your better judgement, "and it's not like I—" You toss it and it comes back down, nicking your index finger. "Ow."
You bend to pick the blade up, examining your bleeding finger with mild interest before you stick it into your mouth before turning towards Jace, who looks slightly amused. "This is your fault," you accuse. "You distracted me."
Jace shakes his head, the amusement dying from his face. "And this is why you should never be unsupervised."
Though he means it in a teasing tone, it strikes a raw nerve deep within you and your eyes narrow as anger flares in your body. "Because after all, I'm such a terrible Shadowhunter, who knows what I could do if left on my own."
Jace blinks, as if not expecting you to become irate with him. This furthers your anger for some reason before he says, "I didn't—"
"You were thinking it," you cut him off and you stand, placing Amitiel on the table with enough force that, if it were made of normal glass, would shatter. "I know that's what everyone thinks. I can't even Mark myself."
Jace stares at you before he opens his mouth, his voice quiet. "That isn't it. You're just —"
"Impulsive? Irresponsible?" He doesn't reply, and you scoff, the sound bitter. "I'm not deaf, Jace. I'm not like you, or Isabelle, or Alec — I'm not perfect. But I try. I try."
Your voice, you note with horror, has begun to crack with the effort to keep from crying, and you press the heel of your palms to your eyes, struggling not to show weakness in front of Jace who seems to enjoy mocking people for their weaknesses.
You shift and unclip your belt from your jeans, where your stele and other seraph blade are hung, though you pocket your witchlight and move towards the door. Jace calls your name when you reach the door, and you ignore it, not looking back as you shut it behind you.
Walking, you muse, is a wonderful way to clear one's mind of everything that is bothersome — but of course, with your luck, you have thoughts that won't leave you alone.
Shoulders squared against the cold wind that tangles your hair around your face, you shove your hands into your pockets and trudge down the sidewalk, eyes on the ground. Mulling over what you'd said to Jace before leaving, your hands curl and your lips tighten.
You've spent hours upon hours studying the runes commonly used, drawing them until your hand cramped and your eyes blurred and training by yourself until your muscles screamed and threatened to give out.
You've worked yourself to the bone — and it hasn't gotten you anywhere. It isn't fair, you think bitterly. It isn't fair.
Sometimes, you think that God must've spat on you when you'd been born into a family of Shadowhunters, though you're grateful that your body is strong enough to bear Marks. Still, it seems to be ironic — you can bear Marks, but can't write them worth anything.
You're drawn out of your self-pitying party when you begin hearing whispers and you lift your head, eyes sliding to the right. There are two men standing across the road from you, their eyes locked upon you. Their skin is pale — too pale to be entirely human and they're gaunt, as if they haven't been fed properly.
Subjugates. The name for them rises in your mind and you tense, instincts shifting to autopilot. You hadn't bothered to use an invisibility rune nor had you bothered with a glamour, which means they could have been watching you for quite some time.
They begin walking across the street towards you and you don't move, wondering what they want with you. The first, a thin willow-like man with pale blue eyes is the first to speak. "Nephilim," he rasps, "my master wants to speak with you."
"And if I don't want to go?" Your eyes dart warily between them and when the second moves to place a hand over your mouth, you do as any sane person would — you bite him.
Your teeth sink into his hand and he hisses at you, though you don't let go, tasting blood as you clamp down. You let go, however, as something heavy cracks across your head and you stumble, stars dancing in your vision.
Taking advantage of your momentary dizziness, they fall upon you, and something hits you again, turning your vision to black.
When you wake, your legs are tied together, though your arms are free. Your head throbs as you attempt to sit up, and you groan. "Did someone get the number of that semi?"
Laughter fills the air, and it isn't the kind of laughter that is particularly amused, nor is it human. Your eyes narrow, and you strain to see through the darkness, eyes falling upon a man with soft, pale blonde hair and bright green eyes.
Vampire. He seems to read the dislike on your face because his features turn to that of disgust as well and he says,
"Believe me, little nephilim, I don't particularly like you being in my house either."
"Because I need your blood," he says, examining his fingernails which, like the rest of him, are pale and finely cared for. He stands, moving towards you. "How nice that you've already rid yourself of your weapons, nephilim."
You curse inwardly, wishing you hadn't left your weapons belt on the table back at the Institute. The vampire approaches you and you roll, wincing as something small and hard in your pocket digs into your thigh. And then you blink, shoving a hand into your pocket.
Your fingers close around something small and cold, and it takes you a moment to realize what it is. My witchlight. The vampire, unfortunately, notices the movement and bends, pulling your hand away before he takes the stone that sputters dimly in his hand.
Eyeing it with interest, he turns it over in his palm before he says, "Such a pretty little stone. It'll be a nice addition to the things I've taken from you nephilim." At your look, he smiles humourlessly, though malice burns brightly in his eyes. "Oh yes, I've killed quite a few of you. How easily you die. I would have thought Raziel would make his children a little...sturdier."
He sets the stone down and picks up a stele, making sure that you see it before he places it back and your eyes narrow. "It's illegal to make subjugates out of mundanes," you breathe, hoping to stall as long as possible. "I'll report you to the Clave."
A hand cracks across your face, and you can feel blood dripping down the side of your face. "You won't be doing anything after tonight, little shadowhunter," he hisses, and his eyes gleam.
You swallow thickly and roll away from him, your leg bumping into into the table. Something rattles atop it, and you still before you duck your head so that the vampire can't see the smirk that writes itself across your face.
A cold hand touches your cheek and you look up, finding the vampire leaning down to the point where his nose is almost touching yours. "Maybe the Clave will see how foolish their nephilim are for thinking that they can keep all of us in line."
"Hardly," you state dryly. "You're just another of a million other downworlders who thinks he can put us in our place. Sorry to tell you, but the angel blood sort of makes us all full of ourselves. I'd like to think it's charming."
The vampire snarls and you shift, swinging your bound feet into his knee. He tumbles with a roar and you leap up, toppling over the table and knocking the witchlight and stele to the ground. You fall to the ground as well, snatching both items up.
"You," he hisses, "you stupid little bitch!"
The witchlight blazes underneath your fingers and you shove it into the vampire's face, making him recoil as you work at the knot binding your feet together. It comes free and you leap to your feet, one hand clutching the witchlight and the other gripping the stele.
Darting to the side, the hand that holds the witchlight comes up and slams into the face of one of the vampire's subjugates and he crumples, blood spilling down his front. You can't hope to win this without your weapons, and you search for another way to win, doubtful in your abilities when it comes to runes.
Something slams into your side and you hear something pop in your side as you're knocked to the ground, stele rolling underneath a giant dresser. You roll to your feet and ignore your aching side, searching.
A small can of oil and a box of matches — most likely for lamps — catches your eye and you dart for it, unscrewing the cap of the can and tossing the liquid. It splashes over the two subjugates and the vampire turns, eyes wild with fury.
"You're going to die," he snarls and reaches for you. You smirk, dragging a match across the ignition piece, holding it up. The vampire stills, and your eyes narrow.
"Burn in Hell," you tell them, spitting a mouthful of blood at the vampire's feet before you toss the match at the vampire. The reaction is instant as the vampire goes up in flames and gives an unearthly wail of agony, just black shadow within the hungry flames.
The fire moves to the oil coated subjugates when one of them gets too close, and they begin screaming as you back towards the window, slamming your elbow into it. The glass shatters and you leap, plummeting towards the ground.
Okay, so maybe you should have looked before you leapt because it's a good three stories up, and your leg buckles beneath you with a sickening crack, sending you sprawling on the grass, dazed.
The building before you has begun to go up in flames as you push yourself up, and you grin before looking down at your leg, which is twisted at an awkward angle and most definately broken.
And you don't have a stele, much less do you remember the healing rune.
You pale. "Shit."
"There are rumors going around about a vampire trying to get the downworlders to revolt against us," says Alec and Jace comments,
"Isn't there always?"
Alec ignores him, his brow furrowing as he opens his mouth to speak, though he's cut off as a voice says,
"Oh. Don't worry about that."
Three sets of eyes snap towards you and you lean in the doorway, examining the dirty crescents of your nails before looking up and you wave. "Hi."
"What on Earth—" Begins Isabelle, but she's cut off as Jace takes a step forward.
"You're bleeding," he says, voice tight and eyes narrowed as he continues, "I thought you went for a walk."
"I did," you answer. "And I got sort of kidnapped, but not really. Also, what ever happened to saying 'hello?' I did walk here on a broken leg, after all."
Alec pulls out a chair, and you hobble forward, sinking down into it with a grateful sigh, resting your aching muscles. "Tell us what happened," the elder Lightwood demands, and you sigh before beginning to recount your tale of awesome adventure (your words, not theirs) and by the time you've finished, they look exasperated.
"What? I didn't have a stele, and I lost the one I found," you say, folding your arms across your chest. Alec sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose, but you almost think that he's hiding a smile before he says,
"Come on. We need to tell mom and dad."
"I can't," you say, and when he blinks at you, you glance towards your leg. "My leg. I really broke it."
"So you walked home," says Isabelle, "on a broken leg. Whatever happened to cellphones?" You fish yours out of your pocket and wiggle it at her. There's a crack in the screen, a result of hitting the ground from three stories up. She rolls her eyes.
Alec clears his throat. "Izzy, come with me to tell mom and dad. Jace, I'm entrusting you with getting [Y/N] to the infirmary."
Jace says nothing, and you watch them go before turning to Jace. "You heard him, Jace. Chop chop!"
Jace's lips twitch before he pulls his stele from his pocket and bends, rolling your pant leg up. His lips pull into a grim line as he examines the grotesque twist and says, "You really did break your leg."
You blink. "Uh, yeah. Why would I lie about something like that?"
His look says that he would be the one to do that sort of thing, and you're inclined to agree as he presses the tip of the stele to your leg. "What are you doing?"
"Pain killing rune," he says, and when your face falls, he blinks. "What's wrong? Do you like pain? Because no offense, that's kind of sick."
"Yes, being in agonizing pain gets me all hot and bothered," you reply sarcastically, rolling your eyes. "No. It's just that...in some book that I read, when the heroine was in pain, she..." You duck your head, aware of the fact that your face is red and you can feel Jace's gaze on you. "She got her love interest to kiss her to distract her from the pain."
Silence. You feel incredibly stupid and go to say so, though Jace beats you to it as he says, "[Y/N]. Look at me."
You refuse, and it takes the gentle coaxing of his fingers underneath your chin to lift your head and you wonder if he's going to mock you for hoping that something like that would happen. But he leans forward and quite suddenly, he's kissing you.
His lips are soft and warm and taste faintly of beeswax, your hand coming up to tug on the sleeve of his shirt before he breaks away. "Jace."
"Well," he says, a crooked smile on his lips. "Did it work?"
You tip your head in thought and then grimace as agony sears through your leg. "You know what? Give me the rune too."
And all he does is laugh.
"Tell me why," you begin the next day, "I have to wear this thing?"
You point accusingly to the bulky covering on your leg and Jace grins. "To 'teach you a lesson'," he says, air quotations around the words. "Maryse's idea."
"I'm glad she's not my mom," you mumble, and you fold your arms behind your head as you lean back. "But I'm stuck here until my leg heals."
Runes had taken care of the other injuries, that being a broken rib and the scratch on your cheek, but Maryse had been adamant on letting your leg heal the mundane way, if only to keep you from doing something incredibly stupid.
You shift and grimace when it sends pain shooting down your leg, and Jace gives you a look of concern and thinly veiled amusement. "Does it hurt?"
"Yes," you say through gritted teeth, and he grins. "Why are you smiling?"
"I know how to fix that," he says, and he leans in. This time you're ready for him, lips meeting briefly before he breaks away. "How's that?"
"Still hurts," you say, and he stares for a moment before he says,
You roll your eyes and tug him forward. "Shut up and kiss me," you order and he complies, lips meeting yours again. It's then you decide that a week with this cast won't be so bad, as long as you have Jace to help you with the pain.