Ali’s uncle had taken her into the Institute’s library. It was a large Spanish Matador themed room. A large stained glass window depicting the descent of an Angel on it was the center piece of the room. Everyone sat below it, rainbow light refracting onto their skin. Grace and Amalia so characteristically silent in the corner. JC and Will flipping through books at the table. Christian busy chatting with Augustine about Warlocks and fashion commitment. The three Lost Boys sitting by each other whispering. Her uncle waiting silently at the head of the table. His eyes clouded over in thought.
The doors to the library opened and a tall man in grey robes seemed to float into the room. Everyone stood up, Ali slowly following them. JC ran to greet the man, shaking his hand. “Brother Cassiel.” The man floated closer to them and Ali and Christian looked upon him in shock. The man’s face was completely mutilated. His mouth and eyes were stitched shut. Large black markings swirled around his face.
Do not be alarmed, young ones. I am not a monster. Ali heard a voice in her head. She looked around the room. Everyone seemed calm and relaxed. We, Silent Brothers, communicate telepathically. You have not lost it. Ali turned to look at Christian, he seemed relaxed. Everything was still alright. Your desire to protect young Christian Blackthorn is noble. However, there is no need. He is more reassured then you. You are the one whose thoughts are on edge. Ali cursed in her head, the mutilated man smiling in real life. It was not a pretty picture to look at.
I believe you wish to reenter your family’s world. Do you not young, Blackthorns? Christian was smiling from ear to ear. All of this was proof to him that religion had merit, that the world indeed did function on some higher organization and plan. To her this was just a necessary requirement to keep going through her days. The whole room heard Christian say yes in his head. However, Ali remained silent. Her father’s meditation classes finally coming in handy. Brother Cassiel tilted his head at her. Still she said nothing.
I do not wish to force open your thoughts, young Blackthorn. I will if I must, though. Ali summoned the memory of her father reading to her on his lap the stories he had of her mother. Your admiration of your father is admirable, but it is misplaced. The room around them seemed to be filled with nervous energy. JC speaking up to break the tension. “Ali. Brother Cassiel is the most reliable Silent Brother I’ve ever met. You can trust him.” She thought he was naive. To trust was to be vulnerable. Brother Cassiel seemed to agree with her. Your mother on the other hand did not believe that. She often saw the good in people. Unlike you, you seem much more suited to this lifestyle then she was. The way you think, little Blackthorn, is how a soldier would think. You wait to know what the law allows you to kill. Christian looked at her from across the room, discomfort on his face. Where was it coming from?
“Ali, this could be your best bet.” Christian said out loud. Indeed. I am breaking rules to help you. No one else would stay silent about your burning hatred. Will you become a Shadow Hunter or not? Ali looked around the room. At all the people in black, tight fitting clothes, their bodies marked in runes. Did she really want to become like them? Texas was hot enough without the burden of wearing all black. Her father, her mother they surely had a reason to to keep her from this. Kazimer was smiling on the other side of the room. She inhaled deeply. This was her world now. “Go ahead, Brother Cassiel. Mark me.”
The Brother nodded and the room went into action. All of sudden everything became a blur. People began moving furniture, drawing marks on the floor, lighting candles, finding clothes. Grace Ravenscar pulled her into a bathroom, forcing her to change into a dark red dress. Her blonde hair was perfectly pinned up with a silver pin. Ali’s favorite locket the only thing from before staying on her. She was pushed out of the bathroom, led barefoot to the center of the circle. Instructed to carefully, step over the chalk lines. Christian waiting for her in a dark red suit. Before I begin I must ask you two something. Christian smiled at the man. Do you wish to become Parabatai? Your bond is close enough, but the choice is yours. Ali held her breath. This wasn’t something she could answer and be rejected afterwards by Christian. He looked at her, smiling.
She could see the love he had for her in his eyes. All the doubt and sadness washing away instantly. This was her best friend. I am not stepping into this world without her. He said in all of their heads. Ali just nodded at the man. The ceremony itself was fairly quick. They both recited an Oath, swearing loyalty to the Angel Raziel. Christian animated by the parts on the Angel’s courage, justice and mercy. Ali on the part of self sacrifice. Then, Brother Cassiel, moved forward, inscribing symbols on them. Christian screamed. Ali, bit her lip and grabbed his hand. All of his strength crushing her.
I ask you two again. Do you wish to commit your lives to each other. To be buried in the same grave and feel each other’s pain. Ali nodded immediately. She would always be here for Christian. Then I ask you two to choose witnesses, of your commitment for each other. Will and JC stepped forward, each holding up a paper with a symbol on it. Ali’s uncle walked forward, lighting three rings of fire on the ground. Grace and Amalia handing her and Christian a magic wand. You have chosen William Carstairs and JC Herondale as your witnesses. Now you two must recite the Oath and carve the mark of Parabatai on each other.
The Oath came floating into her head. Her and Christian reciting:
Entreat me not to leave thee,
Or return from following after thee—
For whither thou goest, I will go,
And where thou lodgest, I will lodge.
Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.
The Angel do so to me, and more also,
If aught but death part thee and me.
Then she looked at JC who was holding up the paper symbol in front of her. It was a simple enough rune. She looked at a hurting Christian, nudging him to show her where he wanted it. Where the anti-tattoo kid would chose a permanent mark. He pointed at his right forearm. She carefully drew the rune on his forearm. Watching his expression slowly relax as the rune neared completion. When it was his turn to draw, she looked at herself. No where visible on her she wanted a rune. Ali used the wand to tear her dress, much to the dismay of everyone around them. She pointed to her ribcage. Christian smiled and drew the rune. At first it stung, like an uncomfortable heat, but then it faded.
You two have promised to commit your lives to each other and to The Clave. And so you wrote, it will be. He raised his arms and the fire roared higher, snuffing itself out. She felt a wave of dizziness overcome her. She fell backwards into JC’s arms. Christian falling into Will’s. The Silent Brother turned around and headed for the door. I must go and report to The Clave Evelyn Blackthorn’s daughter has been found and has taken the pledge. Expect a visit from the Inquisitor, soon Anthony Blackthorn. He left the room, without another word. Demyon cracking up laughing. “All of your ceremonies are so pretentious.”
JC and Will nodding. “They really do get tedious at times.” Sighed Will, heading for the nearest chair. Anthony Blackthorn glared at him. “If it is so tedious you and JC will be in charge of cleanup.” JC groaned and threw a book at Will. He caught it and put it down on the table. “My niece and her parabatai shall be escorted to their rooms. Come.” He walked past the circle and everyone, as people slowly started filing out behind him. JC and Will heading the opposite direction.
Christian grabbed her hand, the one now marked with an eye, and pulled them out the door. His excitement coming off of him in waves. Her uncle took them to the front foyer. The Three Lost Boys and The two girls saying goodbye at the door. They had to return to check on the market and the children. Augustine went to hug Christian goodbye, but stopped when he saw Ali’s glare. Instead he gave him a nervous peck on the cheek and ran out the door.
Next her uncle showed Christian to his room. It was right next to Will Carstairs. Christian had never had a room so large. There was so many opportunities for him to make the perfect bedroom here, unlike the one he had on home. Across from his room was JC Herondales and hers. Her room was smaller then Christians, but it had a large balcony, facing where the sun would set. “Your mother always preferred cozy rooms.” Said Anthony Blackthorn. Ali thanked him and excused herself. There was no more talking she could take tonight. When the door closed she let herself fall on the large canopy bed. Too much had happened to her today. Too many decisions had to be made.
She heard a tap on her veranda doors. Slowly, she dragged herself from her bed to them. They opened and an acorn rolled to her feet. She bent down and picked it up. It cracked open, a little piece of parchment paper falling out.
Be careful, Ali.
The paper and acorn disintegrating after she read it. So her father was alive. He had learned about what she had just done. What a hypocrite.
Ali turned from the balcony to find a Will Carstairs standing in her doorway. He held a large box in his hand. “I know you are tired, but I thought maybe I could show you something.” Ali looked at the kid like he was the stupidest kid she ever met. How could she be related to him. JC popped his head into the door. Christian soon showing up. Did none of this people every dial down to one.
“Ali! They have the Great Debaters.” Said Christian excitedly. Of course they even had her favorite movie. JC slapped his back. “Curtesy of the William Carstairs movie collection.” Ali looked at Christian. He was like an Engizer Bunny. “Come on, Ali. We were supposed to see it anyways tonight.” She sighed and followed them out the room. These people…
Ali walked slowly towards the Institute’s kitchen. It was predictable they would be there. One could say it was obvious immediately that it was the central gathering place of this micro community.
Ali’s steps were heavy as she headed towards the people. If it was up to her she would the predictable and obvious gathering place for her own little corner. Explaining things for people and sharing their emotions was not an activity she enjoyed. If it was up to her she would have nothing to do with it.
However, when it came to Christian she would do anything uncomfortable for him. He was her family and right now it seemed he was the only family she really had. All these people around her she didn’t trust. That connection they expected for her to automatically form was not there.
The large carved wooden doors stood before her. Behind that door was a group of bodies that she somehow could already feel. As she had thought, they all gathered there to hear from her about the situation. Ali’s hand rested on the thick wood. If her father was here he would smile and say something awkward like, “They don’t make doors like this anymore.”
He was not here. The father she knew apparently would never be here. The tweed wearing gentle clockmaker never really existed. It was just a figment of her imagination. Ali sighed and pushed the door open. They all looked up at her.
The man that claimed to be her uncle, Anthony, stood waiting behind the island. He seemed to have just started taking out food. Was this man’s solution to everything cooking? JC seemed to be annoyed. “How long are we going to have to wait for him to come out?” Will sighed as if he was used to such disrespectful behaviour. “JC…”
Ali narrowed her eyes at him. JC Herondale was the most annoying man she had ever met. He was entitled, arrogant and beyond rude. JC was the sort of person that the English language had yet to find a perfect word to describe his complete absurdity. A shinning asshole of a human being. “There is no need for you to wait for him.”
JC smiled at her. “I’m glad you are planning to wait alone. I have things to do.” Kazimer scoffed. “Admiring yourself in the mirror again.” The young shadow hunter simply smiled. “We all know the others do the admiring, Warlock.”
Ali just turned away from them. People were too much sometimes. “Where are you going?” She looked back to the owner of the gentle voice, Amalia BLANK. It was a soothing and calm voice. It was a voice she had imagined her mother might of had. “Out.”
She opened the doors again. There was no need to explain anything to such ridiculous people. “Where are we going?” Ali turned to see JC behind her. His hand on her shoulder. When did he get behind me! A cocky smile emerging on his face at the sight of her confusion. “Surely, you didn’t think you could just go out alone.”
Her teeth ground together at the thought of him accompanying her. “I don’t need YOUR supervision.” Will appeared besides him. “We do make okay company.” Grace scoffed. “As if you two could entertain anyone.” Kazimer nodded his head. “Outside of the bedroom they have no abilities what so ever.”
Ali’s hand covered her face. How did these conversations get so derailed. JC and Will were smiling. JC wrapping his arm around Will’s shoulder. “Do you hear that Will. Your bedroom skills have finally become notorious in the Downworlders clubs.” Will pushed him away laughing. “Mine? Don’t you mean yours. It seems they finally remembered you.” The two cracking up laughing.
A grumbly sort of groan interrupting their laughter. “Idiots.” The two turning to look at Ali. “You two are complete idiots. There is no way we are related to either of you.” JC leaned closer to her. “Someone needs to just admit you are embarrassed. I saw how red you got the first time this topic was brought up.” Will took a step back. “JC…”
JC had succeeded. Ali had forgotten her frustration with the previous event and was now completely annoyed at him. She swung to punch him. He dodged it with ease. As well as the follow up kicks, jabs and finger pokes.
Anthony Blackthorn sighing. “Now, now kids. Settle down. There is no need to interact with Downworlders in the first place.” Demyon stood up from where he was sitting. “And that is our cue to leave.” His brother shaking his head. “That may be for the best.” The two girls standing up to follow them out.
Ali on the other hand was completely red in the face and blocking the door. “NO. I am the one leaving this forsaken place.” Everyone in the room froze for a moment before chuckling to themselves. JC being the one to speak. “Shouldn’t you be a little more grown up by now.” Ali reached over for one of the plates on the bar area and threw it at JC. He simply hopped out of the way. Ignoring everyone’s reactions she ran out of the room. “DON’T FOLLOW ME.”
JC turned to look at Will. “We are following her right?” His parabatai nodded his head. “If I lose her again mom will kill me.” Anthony Blackwell turning to the guests. “You can leave now.” Kazimer nodded his head. “It would be my pleasure to abandon you all.” His hand raised as he opened a portal. The others walking through it quite quickly. Demyon stopping for a moment to smirk at JC. The two never got along. “I can’t wait to see you cut up sunshine.” The warlock disappearing through the portal.
Will turning back to Anthony. “I don’t know if we’ll need dinner.” The older man smiled. “I’ll leave it in the fridge just in case.” He nodded his head. JC was already drawing a tracking rune. “She better be going somewhere slightly entertaining.” Will could only shake his head. If she was going somewhere that JC found entertaining the night would be a bigger hassle then he wanted it to be.
Ali slipped into her beloved car and screamed. “THOSE IDIOTS.” She took a few deep breaths to try and calm down. Lashing out in Sleipnir was an unforgivable crime. Nothing about the car was to be hit or bruised due to outbursts. After she collected herself she turned on the radio and floored it out of the area.
A black challenger pulled into a boring lot. Nothing around it seemed very exciting or unique. However, her father had taken her to a hole in the wall place once that had food that was absurdly delicious, Phoebe’s Diner. It was a bit of a drive from where she came from but she could relax in the diner without anyone she knew being there.
Ali entered the store and waved at the staff who recognized her before sitting down at a table. A cup of decaf, a bowl of shrimp & grits and a possibly slice of some sort of heaven for dessert was all she wanted right now. A tangled mess of headphones came out of her pocket as she started to zone out to peaceful folk music. A sigh of relief. “Everything is perfect.”
A world ending voice interrupted her comfort from behind her. “I’m sure. Since I’m here.” She turned around to see JC and Will standing there to her horror. Ali pulled her earbud out. “No. No, you can’t be here.” JC pulled a chair over and sat down on it backwards. He leaned forward to smile at her. “And why not?” Will pulled over his own chair and relaxed. Ali looked at the two of them desperately. “Because this is my happy place. Mine.”
JC cracked up laughing. “Happy place? I mean come on… You just hand these things to me on a silver platter.” Will shook his head. “Be nice.” The waitress came over with a large smile on her face. “Ali, who are these two fine gentleman you brought along.” Will smiled at her. “Her cousin.” The waitress turned to JC. “And you, handsome?”
With a quick smirk at Ali, he smiled at the waitress. “Her cousin’s single friend.” The waitress giggled to herself. Ali groaning. Will, however, seemed to just scan over the menu. He was too used to this. The waitress smiled brightly at him. “My name is Cherry… In case you were waiting to ask.”
JC leaned forward to gently take her hand in his. As if he was acting out a romance movie he gracefully shook her hand. “JC.” Ali watched her face turn a pale pink. It was disgusting. She turned to look at Will exasperated. He was supposed to be the one who kept him on a leash. Will looked up at the waitress. “Some tacos please.” She nodded her head.
JC taking a peak at the menu. “Pancakes.” The waitress nodded her head. Before walking away he dropped a line that should have not come off well but somehow entranced her. “I have a bit of a sweet tooth… I may need a Cherry on top.” She disappeared clinging the menus to her chest and giggling like a school girl.
Ali put her head down on the table. “I can never eat here again.” JC’s face appeared next to her. “You’re welcome.” She sat straight up. Her attention turning to Will. “Isn’t this too much? I lost my father, joined your cult and got your magic tattoos. Shouldn’t something of mine be off limits?” Will sighed. “I’m not allowed to lose you two.” JC turned his chair so he was now sitting properly. “You should be honoured to spend all your time with us.”
Ali looked completely exasperated. This was too much. Way too much. She was being caged like a some sort of flighty bird. “I will disappear if I have to be stuck with you.” JC seemed to find it as a challenge rather then a fact. “You can try.” Will coughed to signal Cherry’s return. Ali gratefully reaching out for the coffee. The magic of caffeine was not to be underestimated.
She put her earbud back in resigned. The music and even the food that eventually came was not enough to cheer her up. Every time she looked up she either saw JC trying to capture their waitress or Will scrolling through his phone. When she was done eating Ali finally spoke again. “You two can at least pay the bill.” JC turned to look at her. “Why do you think I brought Mundane money?” She turned to look at Will. He shook his head no as well. Her fist clenching beneath the table. “You two ordered food expecting me to pay for it…” They both nodded their heads. Ali gritting her teeth. “Did you two ever stop to consider I may not have the money for it.”
They both turned to look at each other. Will being the one to remark. “We’ve never had that problem.” I groaned. These two were the worst existences on this planet. JC leaned forward. “Don’t look so mad. It’s not like we don’t have a reward waiting for you.” Ali sighed. If he said the reward was him… JC’s face lit up. “You get to train tomorrow with me.”
She slammed the money on the table startling the rest of the guests. Ali reaching forward for Will’s glass of water and dumping it over JC’s head. “No, just NO.” She walked out of the restaurant. Will quietly smiling at his parabatai. “Aren’t you playing it up just a bit too much?”
JC cracked up laughing as he ran his fingers through his hair. The females of the restaurant swooning a bit at the sight of him. “I can’t help it. She really is fun.” Will shook his head. “You’ve known her for two, three days now. You can’t know what she will do if you push her too far.” JC only smiled. “That’s why you aren’t pushing her as well. Right, Mr. Supportive and Loving Cousin?”
Will narrowed his eyes at JC. “We were ordered to keep them bound to The Clave. Don’t push them too far.” JC only stood up and smiled. “Relax, Mr. Strategist. I know how far I can push her. She’ll completely run into your arms for support.” Will stood up annoyed. “You are too confident in yourself.” The two leaving the restaurant to see Ali in her car waiting. JC smiled at Will. “See.”
Will smiled at Ali, completely ignoring JC’s comment. “Thank you for waiting for us.” She rolled her eyes at him. “You are going to follow me anyways.” JC ran around to the other side of the car. “Will, you can take the truck. I’ll go with your cousin.” Ali immediately locked her car doors. “No chance.” JC only shrugged. “Guess I’ll have to draw runes on your car door.”
Ali turned to Will. He looked at her sympathetically. “Just let him in for the ride home. I promise to give you and Christian a reward you actually like.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “How do I know you can actually give me a reward I’d like.” Will smiled at her. “If you don’t like it you can freely stab JC.” JC looked up at him annoyed. “Et Tu.”
Ali nodded her head immediately. She had never realized until that moment that violence was a form of stress relief. Cutting up JC was going to be a great reward. She couldn’t wait for Will to fail. Ali unlocked the doors to spare her car from his wicked runes. “One ride, Creeper.” JC ignored her and slid into the car. Will shaking his head and heading to their truck. Ali pulling out of the lot.
JC leaned back into the seat as they were driving. “At least your music choice isn’t that bad.” She ignored him. “Your driving isn’t so bad either. Ali you may make a wonderful chauffeur for Will and I.” Ali continued to take deep breaths doing her best to ignore him. Soon she would either get a true reward for putting up with all of this or get to cut this moron up.
JC continued talking. “I guess for long lost relatives you can score about an 83. Higher than Christian. I’d give him about a 67.” Ali’s grip on the wheel got very tight. “Don’t talk about him like that. Don’t let his name even leave your lips.” Christian was hers to protect. He can’t say such things about him.
JC laughed. “Are you sure you aren’t his over protective mother?” She took more deep breaths to ignore him. “From everything I’ve seen you don’t really have your own life. Your a mother and a clock maker’s assistant. Becoming a shadow hunter may save you from your tedious existence.” Annoyed Ali sped up and drifted the car.
She turned to see JC smiling. “That was fun.” Ali drove off the highway road into the desert and parked the car. She turned off the car and hopped out. Her screams fading into the night. “Aaaaaaaaaaaah!” Ali crouching down to the ground. This was too much. Way too much. She can’t remain calm anymore. She can’t remain collected. “Daaaaaaaad.”
The most unwelcome voice appearing behind her. “Calling for dad… That says a lot.” Ali stood up towards him. JC looked unbelievably calm. She couldn’t stand it anymore. Ali swung to hit him. “Shut up. Shut up and go away already.” The two beginning to fight.
JC didn’t seem to struggle that much in the beginning. He was calm and focused. Everything about him was part of the fight. Ali on the other was rage and frustration in the beginning. She was letting everything spill out. “Because of you my father is gone! My mother is gone!” Ali lunged towards him.
JC sighed and caught her in a hold. Ali struggled. “You idiots forced me into choosing to join a cult. You made behave to work harder to protect Christian.” He spoke for the first time since they started fighting. “Did we? You made all those choices alone.” Ali began to hit his body to no avail. “What was I supposed to do!”
Tears formed in her eyes. JC could feel them dropping onto his arm. “That’s my job. That’s always been my job. I protect Christian.” JC sighed and turned her to face him. “How can an incompetent child like you protect Christian. You don’t even know how to protect yourself.” Ali looked up at him. Barely able to make him out clearly through the tears.
JC swiped her leg so she fell onto the ground. “See? You can’t do it. Give up.” Ali kicked out at him. JC jumping up to avoid it. She shouted at him. “I hate you.” He crouched down and sighed. “Nah. You don’t. You do want to be me though.” Ali lunged at him. JC rolling her so she was beneath him. “If you wanted to be this close to me there where other ways to do it.”
Ali struggled against him. “As if!” She tried to pry him away with her knees. “I am never going to like you.” JC pinned her down harder. “Fixing your denial is too much of a hassle. Just stay down and calm down.” Ali kneed him as hard as she could. Besides, a grunt of pain from JC he remained on top of her. He was very intent on keeping her pinned down. “Can’t you just be grateful that I am going out of my way to help you.”
She head butted him. “You aren’t helpful at all.” JC looked down at her annoyed. “I’m not? From what I can see you need to shout and cry.” Ali glared at him. JC was the truly the worst creature on the planet. “Stop talking as if you know anything.” He stayed on top of her but sat up, freeing her arms. “I know enough about someone needing to shout and work of stress” Ali didn’t move. She only looked up at him.
He smiled down at her. “Even over protective mothers have to stop for a moment to scream.” Nope. She was never going to have a good opinion about him. Ali sat up so she was facing him. “Are you going to get off me any time soon?” JC’s smile got wider. “Are you calm enough to enter the Institute, not freak out over your son’s trauma, and enjoy a night with Will.”
A smirk appeared on her face. Will, huh… “I get it now. You are obsessed with Will. You think we are similar because of him.” She cracked up laughing. JC looking irritated for the first time. “What are you even talking about. Have you gone crazy?”
Ali continued to laugh. “How could I have not seen it. This entire time. You just want me to think about Will.” She fell back down onto the ground laughing. “Your the Mr. Annoying and he’s Mr. Wonderful.” Different sort of tears began to fall. “Ahaha.”
JC looked down at her completely annoyed. “Don’t think we are the same as you two! We are not the same.” Ali continued to laugh. “Right… Completely different.” JC leaned back down towards her. “We are different, mundane. Do you understand me?” She shook her head no. “Yea, I get it. Mr. Annoying and Mr. Wonderful are different then us.”
Now JC was the one looking exasperate. “How am I supposed to explain how she went insane.” Ali pushed JC off of her. It was surprisingly easy this time. The piled up weight of the last few days had started to fall away from her. She would never say it outlaid but he was right that she needed to scream it out. All of it had to be released if she was going to be able to stay controlled through all of what was to come.
She headed back towards the car. “Come on.” Ali and JC headed back towards the Institute. When they pulled into the lot a more refreshed looking Ali turned to JC, “Nothing has changed. I still don’t like you.” He could only smirk at her. “That’s because your head isn’t right.”