Ali woke up in her new room. She missed all the metal rock posters and the tiny Buddha in her old room. This room was barren. No decorations lined the walls, no sign of life. The air in it was just as dead.
She heard a knock at her door. JC Herondale walked into the room. His exercise clothes hung perfectly to his body. This was definitely the man every girl wanted. Everyone, but Ali. This man was too perfect, shiny and golden. Christian had always said she was attracted to the dark. He thought Ali needed the morose and morbid to survive. It could be true. JC Herondale would be a lot more attractive to her if he was imperfect and scarred.
He smiled at her. She covered her eyes. It was too early in the morning to be blinded by perfect white teeth. “Will’s downstairs setting the table. Breakfast is starting.” Ali picked up the alarm clock by her bed. It was one of the few pieces of decoration in the room. Of course, it also served a functional purpose. The alarm clock was lit up by a giant neon blue six. She groaned.
JC took that as invitation to walk further into her room. “Christian needs to move out of his place. Will and I cleared our schedules today.” They were already moving Christian out of his place? Boy, do they move fast. Then it hit her. Christian’s parents. They would have woken by now and known Christian was not home.
She jumped out of bed, reaching for a pair of jeans that had been laid out for her. JC watching her jump around the room in a borrowed T-shirt and batman underwear. He tossed her Will’s button up. Ali’s fingers fumbled with the buttons, so he buttoned it quickly for her. JC became surprised by her lack of reaction. She didn’t react at all to him being close to her. Instead she ran off to brush her teeth. When she was done, she ran straight out the door. JC running to catch up with her.
Ali saw Christian at the table with Will and her uncle Anthony. Today they were eating Grits. “Christian Cornelius, how can you be sitting there when your parents are already awake!” Christian’s spoon dropped from his hand. His face full of understanding. “Oh Shit.” Will put his own spoon down. “What’s the problem?” Christian jumped off the kitchen stool, grabbing his jean jacket. Ali turned to Will. “Can you drive?” He nodded, Anthony handing him a to-go bag and a set of car keys.
Christian and her ran out of the kitchen towards Sleipnir. Texas dirt was caked on her car. He saw her panic. Christian grabbed her shoulders. “We can get your car cleaned after.” Ali pinched her cheeks and took a deep breath. She could do this. The inside of Sleipnir was burning hot. Her steering wheel burning her fingers. Sleipnir roared to life and JC and Will showed up with a Ram truck from around the corner.
Normally, Ali would compliment them on the car, but today she couldn’t do that. As soon as she heard the click of Christian’s seat belt, she floored Sleipnir from zero to hundred. The Spanish Church disappearing quickly in the background. The whole ride only took ten minutes. When they drifted into the Cornelius’ driveway they were shocked to see a few cop cars, a large black truck and Christian’s parents smiling. Will’s truck slowly pulling in behind them.
All four of them got out of their cars. Christian’s mom smiling when they saw him. “Ok, maybe we did die.” Christian said. Ali nodded. There was no way that this was his actual parents. “Christian, I am so happy to hear about what you did!” His mother called out from across the driveway. Ali and him walked up towards his parents. That’s when they noticed it. The two cops were Kazimer and P’or. Well, an altered Kazimer and P’or. Ali turned to the black truck. She wasn’t shocked to see Demyon and Augustine. She was shocked to see them in priest attire.
Christian’s father Isiah smiled at his son. “I can’t believe you saved a bus full of orphans two nights ago. “ P’or and Kazimer looked at him and winked. Christian shrugged awkwardly. “It was luck of circumstances.” He pulled his son in for a hug. “Don’t be so modest, Christian. You even stayed throughout the next day to help the church.” He pushed his father away. He wasn’t the type of person to be comfortable with false achievements. “That was because Ali insisted we go all the way back with them.” Isiah Cornelius turned to Ali and for the first time in her life he smiled at her. “Thank you, Aliya. You made my son a better man today.” Deborah Cornelius forcing back a scoff. She would never like Ali.
Demyon and Augustine got out of the car. Their hands full of paperwork. “I have talked things over with Father Damian. He has agreed to offer your son a place in the Church Internship program.” said Augustine. The Corneliuses turned to Demoyn. “Really Father!” breathed his mother. Demyon nodded his head. The woman hugged him. His face turning red. “You will have to fill out this paperwork that it is ok for the boy to be in our custody for the summer.” explained Augustine. His father quickly grabbed the papers. Ali watched him smooth them out on his car and carefully sign each page.
Christian’s mother now hugging Christian. “My boy. They are going to fix you.” Christian’s face went red. They were talking about the gay thing. The thing about him they never acknowledged. He pulled away from his mother. Isiah Cornelius smiling sympathetically at his son. When the paper work was finished, Christian’s little sister Mary-Alice came running out with a suitcase. Him being gone meant she got the larger bedroom. Ali could feel his pain. The mark that was put on her yesterday throbbing. Her hand reflexively going to the mark. This is what it meant to be parabatai.
She put her hand on his. She could feel him relax. “My parents also signed me up for the internship.” Their faces immediately lost all happiness. It took them a few minutes to recover. “That’s nice, dear.” replied his mother. Ali pulled Christian to her car. “Sorry, Mrs. Cornelius. We are just so excited to go back and help the Orphans. Can we catch up another time?” The two looked at each other. They clearly wanted to say more to their son. Ali would not let them hurt him more. She pushed him into the car.
Kazimer, P’or and everyone else turned to look at them. She just nodded and started reversing the car. When Sleipnir was out of the drive way she picked up the speed. Ali knew going back to the Dallas Institute would not help him. Instead, she would take him to his favorite place, University Park. The Southern Methodist University had a nice lawn area that he enjoyed relaxing on. That would be the place to take him.
“Ali. Can we go somewhere else this time?” He whispered. She turned to Christian. The big rough rodeo man looked like he was about to burst into tears. “Sure, C. Where do you wanna go?” His hands began fumbling with his belt buckle. “Can we go back to the Dallas Institute? They have a church room.” She pulled her wheel hard to the left. The car drifting into the other lane. She switched the gears in her car and floored it. It didn’t matter if she didn’t want to go back there yet. It didn’t matter if she despised the Church. All that matter was a private church was all Christian wanted.
They arrived at the Institute before anyone else. Christian taking his time to get to the room. When they reached the doors to the altar room he stopped. “You don’t have to come in Ali.” That was her cue. She was supposed to leave him alone. She nodded and he walked into the room alone. The doors slamming shut in her face. She never knew what he said to G-d, but whatever it was, it was something that he could only say in private. She had to respect that, even if it killed her.
A few minutes passed and she heard the doors of the Institute open. Everyone making their way towards her. When JC went to ask where Christian was, Will stopped him. Most of them filing out of the hall. Augustine didn’t. “If it is ok Aliya, may I wait here instead for young Christian?” She wanted to say no. Everything in her wanted to yell at him not to be there for her Christian. But the parabatai mark made her knowledge of his feelings stronger. This is something he wanted. Ali did the opposite of what she wanted, she let him wait and she headed towards the kitchen.
It was time to explain…
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.”