- City of Bones
Clary stared. “Are you kidding? Do you even know how to drive that thing? Do you have keys?”
“I don’t need keys,” he explained with infinite patience. “It runs on demon energies. Now, are you going to get on, or do you want to ride your own?”
Numbly Clary slid onto the bike behind him. Somewhere, in some part of her brain, a tiny voice was screaming about what a bad idea this was.
“Good,” Jace said. “Now put your arms around me.” She did, feeling the hard muscles of his abdomen contract as he leaned forward and jammed the point of the stele into the ignition. To her amazement she felt the motorcycle thrum to life under her. In her pocket Simon squeaked loudly.
“Everything’s okay,” she said, as soothingly as she could. “Jace!” she shouted, over the sound of the motorcycle’s engine. “What are you doing?”
He yelled back something that sounded like “Pushing in the choke!”
Clary blinked. “Well, hurry it up! The door—”
On cue, the roof door burst open with a crash, torn from its hinges. Wolves poured through the gap, racing across the roof straight at them. Above them flew the vampires, hissing and screeching, filling the night with predatory cries.
She felt Jace’s arm jerk back and the motorcycle lurch forward, sending her stomach slamming into her spine. She clutched convulsively at Jace’s belt as they shot forward, tires skidding along the slates, scattering the wolves, who yelped as they leaped aside. She heard Jace shout something, his words torn away by the noise of wheels and wind and engine. The edge of the roof was coming up fast, so fast, and Clary wanted to shut her eyes but something held them wide open as the motorcycle hurtled over the parapet and plummeted like a rock toward the ground, ten stories down.
If Clary screamed, she didn’t remember it later. It was like the first drop on a roller coaster, where the track falls away and you feel yourself hurtling through space, your hands waving uselessly in the air and your stomach jammed up around your ears. When the cycle righted itself with a sputter and a jerk, she almost wasn’t surprised. Instead of plunging downward they were now hurtling up toward the diamond-littered sky.
Clary glanced back and saw a cluster of vampires standing on the roof of the hotel, surrounded by wolves. She looked away—if she never saw that hotel again, it’d be too soon.
Jace was yelling, loud whooping shrieks of delight and relief. Clary leaned forward, her arms tight around him. “My mother always told me if I rode a motorcycle with a boy, she’d kill me,” she called over the noise of the wind whipping past her ears and the deafening rumble of the engine.
She couldn’t hear him laugh, but she felt his body shake. “She wouldn’t say that if she knew me,” he called back to her confidently. “I’m an excellent driver.”
Belatedly, Clary recollected something. “I thought you said only some of the vampire bikes could fly?”
Deftly, Jace steered them around a stoplight in the process of turning from red to green. Below, Clary could hear cars honking, ambulance sirens wailing, and buses puffing to their stops, but she didn’t dare look down. “Only some of them can!”
“How did you know this was one of them?”
“I didn’t!” he shouted gleefully, and did something that made the bike rise almost vertically into the air. Clary shrieked and grabbed for his belt again.
“You should look down!” Jace shouted. “It’s awesome!”
Sheer curiosity forced its way past terror and vertigo. Swallowing hard, Clary opened her eyes.
They were higher than she had realized, and for a moment the earth swung dizzily beneath her, a blurring landscape of shadow and light. They were flying east, away from the park, toward the highway that snaked along the right bank of the city.
There was a numbness in Clary’s hands, a hard pressure in her chest. It was lovely, she could see that: the city rising up beside her like a towering forest of silver and glass, the dull gray shimmer of the East River, slicing between Manhattan and the boroughs like a scar. The wind was cool in her hair, on her legs, delicious after so many days of heat and stickiness. Still, she’d never flown, not even in an airplane, and the vast empty space between them and the ground terrified her. She couldn’t keep from squinching her eyes almost shut as they shot out over the river. Just below the Queensboro Bridge, Jace turned the bike south and headed to the foot of the island. The sky had begun to lighten, and in the distance Clary could see the glittering arch of the Brooklyn Bridge, and beyond that, a smudge on the horizon, the Statue of Liberty.
“Are you all right?” Jace shouted.
Clary said nothing, just clutched him more tightly. He banked the cycle, and then they were sailing toward the bridge, and Clary could see stars through the suspension cables. An early morning train was rattling over it—the Q, carrying a load of sleepy dawn commuters. She thought how often she’d been on that train. A wave of vertigo swamped her, and she squeezed her eyes shut, gasping with nausea.
“Clary?” Jace called. “Clary, are you all right?”
She shook her head, eyes still shut, alone in the dark and the tearing wind with just the pounding of her heart. Something sharp scratched against her chest. She ignored it until it came again, more insistent. Barely opening an eye, she saw that it was Simon, his head poking out of her pocket, tugging her jacket with an urgent paw. “It’s all right, Simon,” she said with an effort, not looking down. “It was just the bridge—”
He scratched her again, then pointed an urgent paw toward the waterfront of Brooklyn, rising up on their left. Dizzy and sick, she looked and saw, beyond the outlines of the warehouses and factories, a sliver of golden sunrise just visible, like the edge of a pale gilt coin. “Yes, very pretty,” Clary said, closing her eyes again. “Nice sunrise.”
Jace went rigid all over, as if he’d been shot. “Sunrise?” he yelled, then jerked the cycle savagely to the right. Clary’s eyes flew open as they plunged toward the water, which had begun to shimmer with the blue of oncoming dawn.
Clary leaned as close to Jace as she could get without squashing Simon between them. “What’s so bad about sunrise?”
“I told you! The bike runs on demon energies!” He pulled back so that they were level with the river, just skimming along the surface with the wheels kicking up spray. River water splashed into Clary’s face. “As soon as the sun comes up—”
The bike began to sputter. Jace swore colorfully, slamming his fist into the accelerator. The bike lunged forward once, then choked, jerking under them like a bucking horse. Jace was still swearing as the sun peeked over the crumbling wharves of Brooklyn, lighting the world with devastating clarity. Clary could see every rock, every pebble under them as they cleared the river and hurtled over the narrow bank. Below them was the highway, already streaming with early traffic. They only just cleared it, the wheels grazing the roof of a passing truck. Beyond was the trash-strewn parking lot of an enormous supermarket. “Hang on to me!” Jace was shouting, as the bike jerked and sputtered underneath them. “Hang on to me, Clary, and do not let—”
The bike tilted and struck the asphalt of the parking lot, front wheel first. It shot forward, wobbling violently, and went into a long skid, bouncing and slamming over the uneven ground, whipping Clary’s head back and forth with neck-cracking force. The air stank of burned rubber. But the bike was slowing, skidding to a halt—and then it struck a concrete parking barrier with such force that she was lifted into the air and hurled sideways, her hand tearing free of Jace’s belt. She barely had time to curl herself into a protective ball, holding her arms as rigid as possible and praying Simon wouldn’t be crushed, when they struck the ground.
She hit hard, agony screaming up her arm. Something splashed up in her face, and she was coughing as she flipped over, rolling onto her back. She grabbed for her pocket. It was empty. She tried to say Simon’s name, but the breath had been knocked out of her. She wheezed as she gasped in air. Her face was wet and dampness was running down into her collar.
Is that blood? She opened her eyes hazily. Her face felt like one big bruise, her arms, aching and stinging, like raw meat. She had rolled onto her side and was lying half-in and half-out of a puddle of filthy water. Dawn had truly come—she could see the remains of the bike, subsiding into a heap of unrecognizable ash as the sun’s rays struck it.
And there was Jace, getting painfully to his feet. He started to hurry toward her, then slowed as he approached. The sleeve of his shirt had been torn away and there was a long bloody graze along his left arm. His face, under the cap of dark gold curls matted with sweat, dust, and blood, was white as a sheet. She wondered why he looked like that. Was her torn-off leg lying across the parking lot somewhere in a pool of blood?
She started to struggle up and felt a hand on her shoulder. “Clary?”
He was kneeling next to her, blinking as if he couldn’t quite believe it either. His clothes were crumpled and grimy, and he had lost his glasses somewhere, but he seemed otherwise unharmed. Without the glasses he looked younger, defenseless, and a little dazed. He reached to touch her face, but she flinched back. “Ow!”
“Are you okay? You look great,” he said, with a catch in his voice. “The best thing I’ve ever seen—”
“That’s because you don’t have your glasses on,” she said weakly, but if she’d expected a smart-aleck response, she didn’t get one. Instead he threw his arms around her, holding her tightly to him. His clothes smelled of blood and sweat and dirt, and his heart was beating a mile a minute and he was pressing on her bruises, but it was a relief nevertheless to be held by him and to know, really know, that he was all right.
“Clary,” he said roughly. “I thought—I thought you—”
“Wouldn’t come back for you? But of course I did,” she said. “Of course I did.”
She put her arms around him. Everything about him was familiar, from the overwashed fabric of his T-shirt to the sharp angle of the collarbone that rested just under her chin. He said her name, and she stroked his back reassuringly. When she glanced back just for a moment, she saw Jace turning away as if the brightness of the rising sun hurt his eyes.
HODGE WAS ENRAGED. HE HAD BEEN STANDING IN THE FOYER, Isabelle and Alec lurking behind him, when Clary and the boys limped in, filthy and covered in blood, and had immediately launched into a lecture that would have done Clary’s mother proud. He didn’t forget to include the part about lying to him about where they were going—which Jace, apparently, had—or the part about never trusting Jace again, and even added extra embellishments, like some bits about breaking the Law, getting tossed out of the Clave, and bringing shame on the proud and ancient name of Wayland. Winding down, he fixed Jace with a glare. “You’ve endangered other people with your willfulness. This is one incident I will not allow you to shrug off!”
“I wasn’t planning to,” Jace said. “I can’t shrug anything off. My shoulder’s dislocated.”
“If only I thought physical pain was actually a deterrent for you,” said Hodge with grim fury. “But you’ll just spend the next few days in the infirmary with Alec and Isabelle fussing around you. You’ll probably even enjoy it.”
Hodge had been two-thirds right; Jace and Simon both wound up in the infirmary, but only Isabelle was fussing over either of them when Clary—who’d gone to clean herself up—came in a few hours later. Hodge had fixed the swelling bruise on her arm, and twenty minutes in the shower had gotten most of the ground-in asphalt out of her skin, but she still felt raw and aching.
Alec, sitting on the windowsill and looking like a thundercloud, scowled as the door shut behind her. “Oh. It’s you.”
She ignored him. “Hodge says he’s on his way and he hopes you can both manage to cling to your flickering sparks of life until he gets here,” she told Simon and Jace. “Or something like that.”
“I wish he’d hurry,” Jace said crossly. He was sitting up in bed against a pair of fluffed white pillows, still wearing his filthy clothes.
“Why? Does it hurt?” Clary asked.
“No. I have a high pain threshold. In fact, it’s less of a threshold and more of a large and tastefully decorated foyer. But I do get easily bored.” He squinted at her. “Do you remember back at the hotel when you promised that if we lived, you’d get dressed up in a nurse’s outfit and give me a sponge bath?”
“Actually, I think you misheard,” Clary said. “It was Simon who promised you the sponge bath.”
Jace looked involuntarily over at Simon, who smiled at him widely. “As soon as I’m back on my feet, handsome.”
“I knew we should have left you a rat,” said Jace.
Clary laughed and went over to Simon, who seemed acutely uncomfortable surrounded by dozens of pillows and with blankets heaped over his legs.
Clary sat down on the edge of Simon’s bed. “How are you feeling?”
“Like someone massaged me with a cheese grater,” Simon said, wincing as he pulled his legs up. “I broke a bone in my foot. It was so swollen, Isabelle had to cut my shoe off.”
“Glad she’s taking good care of you.” Clary let a small amount of acid creep into her voice.
Simon leaned forward, not taking his eyes off Clary. “I want to talk to you.”
Clary nodded in half-reluctant agreement. “I’m going to my room. Come and see me after Hodge fixes you up, okay?”
“Sure.” To her surprise he leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. It was a butterfly kiss, a quick brush of lips on skin, but as she pulled away, she knew she was blushing. Probably, she thought, standing up, because of the way everyone else was staring at them.