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After Darkness, Light (Post Tenebras Lux)

Chapter Text

Holding On To You

…………………….

Kit padded down the maze of hallways from his room and groggily shuffled into the massive kitchen on the main floor of the London Institute. He entered to find Jaime Rosales already sitting at the counter, clutching a warm mug of tea in his hands and eating a breakfast biscuit.

Kit made himself a cup of tea and joined his friend at the counter. While he had reluctantly acclimated to the flavor of the typical black tea favored in London, it did not have the same energizing effect as coffee. He would have to remember to pick some up the next time he bought groceries.

“When are Dru and Thais arriving?” Jaime asked through a mouthful of crumbs.

Kit yawned. “Later today, I think. I will have to double check with Jem, since he’s been in contact with the Academy for recruiting.”

As if summoned by the mere mention of his name, Jem Carstairs appeared in the doorway, looking immaculate in a grey herringbone suit and a red tie that made the silver streak in his hair stand out.

Kit still found it strange to be living with Jem at the Institute instead of in Devon with Tessa and baby Charlotte. Kit reflected idly on the day six months ago when they had received the news that Evelyn Highsmith, previously the head of the London Institute and a crabby, old hag-- ave atque vale --had passed away in her old age. Alec, Magnus, and Jace had portaled to Cirenworth in Devon, and requested that Jem take over as temporary head of the institute. Kit knew that he had only agreed as a favor to Jace for the sole purpose of grooming Kit to eventually take on the responsibility.

Not all members of the Clave had been in support of this considering Jem’s previous role as a Silent Brother, and, though he didn’t show it often, still harbored deep sorrow for all his memories tied to the London Institute. He had completely denounced his life as a Shadowhunter after the Dark War, though Kit suspected that denouncing Shadowhunter life was easier said than done. Once a Shadowhunter, always a Shadowhunter.

There was also the fact that Kit had only spent the last three years of his life as a Shadowhunter, something he knew would cause Johnny Rook to roll over in his grave, and his prior association with illegal Downworld activities caused the Clave to be distrustful. Jace and Alec had both vouched for him, pointing out that he was more than capable due to his time with the Blackthorns and the last few years under Jem’s tutelage, and Kit found he could no longer disagree with them. In the end, Alec had the final say as Consul of the Clave-in-exile, and there had been no further disagreement on the matter. And to Kit’s surprise, he had found himself excited to step into the position when he was ready--he was capable, and he was influential. He just needed to stop second guessing himself.

“Magnus is portalling Dru and Thais in later this evening, after the graduation ceremony concludes,” Jem confirmed for Kit. “I need to go back to Devon for a few days, but I’m only a phone call away.” Kit nodded in understanding. He knew how much Jem missed Tessa and their child, and if he could go with, Kit would have in a heartbeat. Charlotte was almost three years old now, with a full head of soft brown curls, much like her mother’s, and Jem’s dark brown eyes. Kit adored her, and had taken pride in being an older brother.

“Tell Charlotte her brother misses her.”

Jem smiled warmly at Kit, before reaching out and pulling him into a strong and loving embrace. “You will have to come back to Cirenworth with me one of these times. Tessa misses you a great deal.”

Kit’s heart tugged at the sentiment. He wasn’t sure he would ever get used to the way Jem and Tessa had adopted him into their little family and filled his life with more love than he had ever imagined possible. He knew his father had loved him--had protected and shielded him his entire life, in fact--but with his adoptive parents he had not only been loved and protected, but more importantly, he had been free. “Maybe once everyone gets settled in.”

Jem released him and ruffled his blonde waves affectionately before exiting to the grand stone entryway. A few minutes later, Kit heard the familiar whooshing sound of a portal and knew that Jem was gone. He felt a slight pang of nervous excitement and loneliness in his absence, knowing he was acting Head of the Institute while Jem was away.

Kit returned to sit at the marble counter with his friend. Jaime had come to London during his travel year, and had simply decided that he wanted to stay. Jaime was like that. He often did exactly what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it with little, if any, consideration for others. Kit and Jaime had formed a casual friendship over the years, and Kit appreciated the light banter and humor he typically brought to any room. When he wasn’t falling asleep over his breakfast, that was.

“Hey, vacca stulta. Don’t you have somewhere to be right now?” Kit jabbed him in the ribs, remembering that Jem had assigned Jaime to look into the recent raid at Hatton Gardens, and report back if there was anything usual in the form of demonic or Downworlder involvement.

Jaime clutched his hands to his heart in mock hurt. “Why must you insult me so early in the morning—and in Latin of all things?”

Kit laughed heartily., “One; it’s almost ten and, two; you make it far too easy. Besides, it’s not nearly as fun to call you a stupid cow in English.”

Jaime rolled his eyes, “Cierra la boca puta.” But the insult died on his lips as he jumped up from his seat. “Wait, did you say it’s ten? Shit, shit, shit. I have to go!”

“You might want to take a look in the mirror before you go. Or shower. You reek of alcohol.”

Jaime used the back of his spoon to check out his reflection, confirming that he indeed needed a shower. His dark, curly hair was stuck up in all directions, and a blurred image of an exotic dancer was stamped across his cheek, suggesting that he passed out with his face resting on the back of his hand. He sniffed himself quickly, made a face that Kit found humorous and grumbled as he quickly left the room, muttering something along the lines of, “Damn whiskey.”

Kit continued to sip at his tea in the morning silence, and allowed his thoughts to drift to the Blackthorns. He thought of Julian and Emma--they had officially taken over as Heads of the Los Angeles Institute shortly after Kit left, and he had been in contact with them on occasion over the years--mostly, if not entirely, for the fact that Kit was to be Head of the London Institute and he needed to foster relationships with the other Institutes as much as possible. Mark and Cristina were busy mending relation between Shadowhunters and the Unseelie Court now that Kieran was the king, so Kit had only seen them once at Jace and Clary’s wedding, a year after Kit moved to Devon. It’s not that he didn’t care about any of them--it was still just too much for him sometimes. Missing them. It made his heart ache with longing.

Yet he knew the ache in his chest would ease--just enough, when Dru and her friend arrived later that evening.

His thoughts wandered back to August, twenty thirteen:

Kit was holding a fussing baby Charlotte, only four months old at the time, while Tessa opened a shimmering portal to the New York Institute. Jem, Kit and the baby stepped through first, and Kit had to hand Charlotte over to Jem while he reoriented himself. He was still affected by the portal magic, though it was getting easier each time, and reached out to brace himself against the nearest wall while the world stopped tilting sideways.

“CHRISTOPHER JONATHAN HERONDALE!” an irate voice yelled from somewhere behind him, but he didn’t turn around to face it--yet. “That better be your blonde head I see over there.” The female voice was getting closer, and he had the fleeting impulse to disappear back through the portal. “I swear By the Angel, I will murder you in your sleep if you so much as think about going back through that portal!”

Damn. Okay, then.

Kit managed to plaster a smile on his face as he turned to face Drusilla Blackthorn. She stopped in front of him with her arms crossed over her chest, a scowl on her face, and his smile faltered. She was wearing a black, knee-length dress, decorated with lace at the elbows and neck, and white skulls along the edge of the slightly flared skirt. It was something you’d find at a Hot Topic, and it was exactly the sort of dress Dru would wear to a wedding.

“I don’t know whether to hit you or hug you, you complete ass of a Herondale.”

Kit shrugged sheepishly, hiding the pain that bloomed in his chest at the familiar feeling of guilt. He had stuffed his hands in his pockets, feeling an overwhelming sense of discomfort. He had known coming back for the wedding was a bad idea--the worst idea, in fact--since he had decided to leave in the first place. “For what it’s worth, I’ve missed you, Dru.”

She ignored the comment, choosing instead to remind him exactly why it was a bad idea to be there. “I know what you and Ty did. Is that why you left?”

He couldn’t mask the look of shock that passed across his face, and felt a slight flush in his cheeks at the mention of Tiberius Blackthorn. “How did you--it doesn’t matter. Yes, and no,” he answered truthfully. Helping Ty attempt to bring his twin back from the dead had been the most stupid decision of his life--topped only by the moment he confessed his feelings, expecting it to change things.

She glared at him, expecting him to elaborate.

He didn’t.

“Is Ty--?” Is Ty what--okay? Still tied to Livvy’s spirit? Still infuriatingly beautiful? “Is he here?”

She shook her head. “He’s at the Scholomance. He has exams, but...even if he didn’t, I don’t think he would have come.”

The news was a blow Kit was not anticipating. He ignored the voice in the back of his head telling him he was the reason Ty wouldn’t have come, because it didn’t matter. “He went to the Scholomance?”

“Does that surprise you?”

He thought about it for a moment. “I guess. He had stopped talking about wanting to go after Livvy--”

“You left us.” You left Ty, is what she had the courtesy to keep to herself.

A million different thoughts scattered through his mind, and he felt something like a lead weight settle in the pit of his stomach. He focused instead on her sea-blue eyes, gazing at her pleadingly, “I’m sorry that I left. I should have said goodbye to you. It was...selfish of me.”

“Kit?”

He was pulled abruptly from his ruminating by a concerned voice and a warm hand to his shoulder. He shook the remnants of memory from his mind and peered up into the hazel eyes of the only other resident at the London Institute other than himself and Jaime--Dalton Sungrove, a mundane with the Sight who ascended from the Academy six months ago. His mundane name was Morris, but he had chosen Sungrove for his Shadowhunter name in homage to the street he grew up on in the suburbs of Orlando.

“Is everything alright?”

Kit nodded. “Sorry, I was thinking about Dru and Thais’ arrival later.” It was a half truth. No need to share that he was also absent-mindedly thinking of a different Blackthorn with steely gray eyes. Those thoughts always led to Kit needing a distraction--or needing to be alone. Fortunately, Dalton had served as an excellent distraction in recent months, with his sun-kissed Florida tan and soft brown hair bleached in streaks by endless days in the sun. He looked like a surfer; he was definitely nice to look at.

Ah, fuck it. In moments Kit was on his feet and tangling his fingers in the wavy locks, pressing himself desperately into Dalton’s strong grip, his now cold tea long forgotten on the counter. Dalton’s hands came to rest on either side of Kit’s face, and he deepened the kiss greedily, his warm tongue searching Kit’s mouth impatiently. Kit lowered his hands to Dalton’s waist, pulling him closer. He felt, more than heard, Dalton groan against him and forced himself to pull away.

Dalton mumbled something incoherently and tugged Kit back to him with a smile, teasing, “Don’t think you can get rid of me that easily,” and placed a gentle kiss on Kit’s brow.

Kit returned the smile and brushed a stray lock of hair out of Dalton’s eyes. “Rain check? I have errands I need to run.” He was about to pull away entirely when he added, “You could come with...if you aren’t doing anything else today.”

Dalton’s face lit up at the request, “Anything to get out of tediously polishing every piece of silver in this place for the third time. I’m beginning to think Jem secretly enjoys watching me suffer.”

Kit laughed at the idea. The irony of it was that it was exactly the sort of thing Jem’s parabatai would have done, and Kit knew Jem well enough to know it was just one of the ways he dealt with the gaping chasm in his soul; the one that would only be knit back together when he reunited with Will Herondale in the afterlife. “Nah, I think he just knows that you need to work on your patience. There’s nothing quite like boring, tedious tasks to test one’s limits. Trust me, I know.”

 

………………………..

An hour later they were walking along the shopping district on Oxford Street in comfortable silence. Dalton still found himself amazed by the mere idea of being a Shadowhunter--let alone a Shadowhunter in London. It was a sunny day, though the spring temperatures had remained relatively low, requiring a jacket. It meant that Dalton and Kit did not need their Glamour runes for the errands they were running, as majority of their marks were covered up anyway.

Dalton reflected back to when he first arrived in London. As with most stereotypes, he had entirely expected London to be in a state of constant gloom, and had been pleasantly surprised to learn that there were just as many sunny days as there were dreary ones. The winter had been rather unpleasant compared to the mild Florida winters he was used to, but he had already somewhat acclimated to the different climates due to living in New York at the Shadowhunter Academy for two years.

Dalton glanced in Kit’s direction. The sun reflected off his hair, turning the strands to liquid gold. It curled gently around his ears and along the nape of his neck and he fought the urge to reach out and run his fingers through the gold silk. He knew Kit wasn’t overly fond of public displays of affection, and besides, they hadn’t technically made their relationship official, though they weren’t seeing other people either.

He reluctantly tore his gaze away, choosing instead to look around at the shops. “So, what exactly are we shopping for?”

Kit turned his attention to Dalton; it was clear he had been lost in thought, which was a normal occurrence, yet rarely did Kit elaborate on where his mind disappeared to so frequently. Dalton caught sight of Kit’s startling blue eyes before they turned back to the direction they were headed. “We need a few prepaid phones. And I was thinking of picking up some British horror movies to watch with Dru sometime.”

“The Institute really should invest in Netflix.”

Kit huffed, “I’ll add that to my neverending list of priorities, along with a flat screen TV, an Xbox and reliable internet.”

“Those should definitely take precedence over tedious Shadowhunter affairs. Anything else?”

Kit shrugged, “We should probably pick up some groceries on the way back. We desperately need coffee.”

The corner of Dalton’s lip curled up in a slight smirk. Kit noticed, and tossed him a curious look. “I have somewhere I’d like to take you.”

“Is that your way of asking me out on a date?”

“Maybe,” he winked.

“Fine, keep your secrets,” Kit jested. “We’re here, anyway,” he said, gesturing towards the electronics store. “I’ll be quick.” He ducked into the store, leaving Dalton on the cobblestone sidewalk.

He glanced around, earning a few strange looks from passersby, knowing his tanned skin and sun streaked hair often made him look like a tourist. He sat down on the nearest bench and waited, tapping his foot impatiently on the ground. He took the moment to assess his surroundings. Even though it was daytime, and there wasn’t likely to be any trouble, it never hurt to be cautious.

Kit returned minutes later with a small bag in hand, and Dalton’s stomach did a tiny flip as the sun’s rays lit up Kit’s hair and eyes like a beacon, startling in its intensity.

“You’re staring.”

“Duh. Have you seen you?”

Kit rolled his eyes and offered a quick little smile in response. “Help me pick out some films for Dru?”

“I know the perfect place.”

………...

It turned out Dalton really did know the perfect place. It was a shop called Pawndora’s Box, which earned a chuckle from Kit, and it was run by a group of Downworlders and mundanes with the Sight. The front area of the shop held typical mundane pawn items ranging from movies and vinyl records to antique items and historical weapons--nothing unusual to the mundane eye. But the back half of the shop; that was where the magic happened. Kit stepped through the glamoured book cases along the back wall, and found himself transported to what felt like a different universe. It keenly reminded him of the L.A. Shadow Market, and he wondered how he had never heard of this place before--even more so, he wondered how Dalton knew of the place.

He didn’t have to wait long for an answer; it was as if Dalton read his mind. “When I was at the Academy, there was a boy in my class from here who told me all sorts of stories about the London Downworld, and said that if I ever had the chance I should check out this place.”

“Where did he go after he Ascended?”

Dalton’s gaze was downcast, and Kit already knew the answer. “He didn’t survive.”

It was a risk that all mundanes with the Sight knew and accepted when they arrived at the Academy. Still, it didn’t make it any less shitty, and Kit reached out to take Dalton’s hand in his own, squeezing it comfortingly. “I’m sorry.”

Kit was aware that he had never held Dalton’s hand in public before, and the effect on Dalton was immediate. His hazel eyes found Kit’s, and in the dim lighting of the shop they looked forest green. They were full of so much affection that Kit almost wanted to pull his hand away to make it stop. Almost. Instead he tugged Dalton to him and kissed him lightly, then deepened the kiss when Dalton wrapped his free hand around the nape of Kit’s neck, tugging gently at the fine curls there. Dalton was the first to break apart, panting slightly, eyes shining with desire. “Be my boyfriend,” he blurted.

Kit’s eyes widened in shock. They’d had this conversation before, and Kit’s answer had never changed. He didn’t want a serious relationship. Relationships required too much work; too many feelings were involved, and someone always ended up hurt. But he had started to wonder if things with Dalton could be different--had started to wonder if there was actually something real between them. Kit certainly hadn’t been seeing anyone else in months, and it was apparent that Dalton was crazy for him.

Kit ignored the voice in the back of his head telling him that he wasn’t boyfriend material, that he would ultimately let Dalton down. He had never even had a serious relationship; only meaningless flirting and flings with people he never really cared about. But he did care about Dalton.

“Okay.”

“Wait, for real? You want to make this official?”

“No, I just said that because I enjoy stringing you along,” Kit replied sarcastically. “Yes, for real.”

Dalton smiled happily, taking Kit’s face in his hands and peppering him with kisses until someone cleared their throat behind them. “If you aren’t going to actually buy anything, take your sickening romantics elsewhere.”

They both turned to find a mean looking Warlock with scaly skin glaring at them. Dalton mumbled a hasty apology and pulled Kit along the row and back out into the front half of the store. Kit was laughing when they finally stopped in front of the movies, and said thoughtfully, “I wonder who broke Mr. Crocodile’s heart.”

Dalton cocked a grin and turned to the selection of horror films in front of them. “What should we get?”

Kit scanned the titles, “The older the better. Ah, here we go, An American Werewolf in London.”

“It looks perfectly cringe-worthy,” Dalton replied.

“Even better.”

They began making their way to the counter when an odd tugging sensation came over Kit; like a tether was tied around his soul, trying to pull him towards some unknown space and time. He thought about fighting it, but his curiosity got the best of him and he followed it back through the glamoured book shelves, past rows upon rows of vials and jars filled with various liquids, half of which were likely just water and food coloring. Kit had learned that trick from Johnny back in L.A.

“Kit? Where are you going?”

“I don’t know. I can feel something.”

Dalton rushed to his side and held him back for a moment. “Shouldn’t we stop to consider that it might be some sort of trap?”

Kit considered it for a moment, then dismissed the thought. “No. It’s not like that. Something is calling to me. I don’t know how to explain it.” He pulled away from Dalton and continued to let the strange pull guide him. He felt it getting warmer in his chest, so whatever it was, he was getting closer to it.

Dalton sighed in exasperation, choosing to follow anyway.

“You two again? I thought I said to get out of here if you weren’t going to buy anything.”

Kit stopped abruptly in front of a rather nondescript jewelry stand. “What does it look like I’m doing?” he snapped. It was here, whatever it was.

“Jewelry?”

Kit picked up a necklace from the stand and let it dangle from his fingers. He stared at it in wonder for a moment, realizing instinctively that it was more than just a necklace; it was a sort of amulet. Bands of bronze, silver, and gold surrounded a rough looking stone, but when he touched it, the surface was smooth. The vibrant blue-green stone radiated warmth into his fingertips.

Dalton moved to get a better look at the amulet, a puzzled expression on his face. “A rock?”

What is he talking about? Kit realized that the heartbroken crocodile dude was also staring at him quizzically. This is weird. But he played along with it, because whatever he was seeing was not what the others were seeing, and that meant he had a mystery to solve. “Yeah, I’ve been reading about the therapeutic benefits of different rocks and crystals. I guess this one just speaks to me.”

Croc the Warlock gave him a look that said he didn’t give a damn about whether it spoke to him or not. “You just gonna stand there staring at it or pay up?”

Luckily, Warcroc accepted mundane money instead of expecting a trade like many other Downworlders did; he must not have been too bright. Still, the amulet was an anomaly. Kit sensed that it was a powerful magical object, and yet somehow he was the only one who seemed able to detect it. Strange, indeed.

………..

When they arrived back at the Institute, it was already late afternoon. The sky had clouded over; it looked like it would rain. Jaime was already back from his assignment, and came out to help unload groceries, exclaiming happily when he saw that Kit had bought coffee.

“You are officially my favorite person. I could kiss you right now.” Kit saw Dalton give the other man a withering look.

“Please don’t.” While Jaime was very attractive, with his dark skin, fierce eyes and mundane tattoos along with his Shadowhunter runes, Kit had never been interested. Jaime was too much of a wild card, and far too laissez faire about relationships and feelings. Kit had wondered if there was anyone, or anything, that could actually tie Jaime down. “Did you find out anything about the heist?” he asked, changing the subject while bouncing around the kitchen, Dalton tossing him various groceries to put away.

“It was strange. At first, it appeared to be a simple mundane crime. But I think the mundanes involved were Encanto’d. When I interviewed a few of the suspects, there were startling gaps in their memories. They didn’t remember getting there, or breaking into the safe deposit facility.””

“Could they have been lying to cover their asses?”

“No. This was more than just coincidental or some corroborated alibi.”

“What was stolen?” Dalton chimed in curiously.

“Mostly jewels, but money too. Vampires don’t really have a need for all that money, but jewels….” he trailed off thoughtfully. He didn’t need to finish. For the right price, those jewels could be traded for all kinds of illegal substances or favors. The Seelie queen especially loved getting her hands on rare and beautiful items.

“We need to get a look at the safe, then. Maybe they left some other clue behind?” Kit mused. “Tomorrow night, I want you to take Dru and Thais. Get in and out as quickly as possible, take pictures, then patrol the area. It might be nothing, but we need to be sure.”

Jaime nodded. “Oh, a fire-message came through earlier from Magnus. He will be portalling in with them at promptly seven o’clock.” Kit glanced at the time; that meant an hour and a half. “We’ll order in dinner when they get here.”

“It better be Chinese.”

“Or how about you let Dru and Thais decide what they want? Don’t make me call you a stupid cow again.”

“You just did,” Dalton pointed out with a laugh.

Kit shrugged, “He’ll live.” He patted Jaime’s head in the way you would a small child, then retreated to his and Jem’s office. Jem had provided him with his own safe. It was protected against the use of an Opening rune, so Kit knew the mysterious amulet would be safe there. He would show Magnus when he arrived; see if the Warlock could tell him what it was and why it had called to him.

He entered the code for the safe, a combination of the year he was born and the number of windows on the front of the Los Angeles Institute. He would always remember, because Ty had told him. He remembered everything Ty had said to him; held onto the memories the same way a tree holds onto its leaves in the fall, not wanting to lose them. Somedays, Kit wished he could forget. Other days, the memories were the only thing that kept him going. He wondered if there would ever come a time when he no longer missed Tiberius Blackthorn. Three years hadn’t been enough to cure the ache in his heart, no matter how many other people had tried to fill it since.

He placed the strange necklace in the safe, next to his own copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. He pulled out the book and opened it; inside the front cover was tucked a drawing Kit had swiped from Julian’s collection before he left. It was of Ty. He was lounging in his favorite chair in the library, a book perched open on his lap and headphones around his neck. One of his hands was fiddling with the cord; it was wrapped around his elegant fingers. It was a beautiful rendition and Kit found himself wondering, not for the first time, how much Ty had changed since then.

A gentle knock on the door startled Kit from his thoughts and he placed the belongings back in the safe, closed it and turned to see Dalton standing there. Kit felt his heart clench slightly with guilt. Dalton was his boyfriend now; he needed to stop holding so desperately to the thought of Ty. It wasn’t fair to Dalton.

“You busy?” Dalton smirked from across the room.

Kit shook his head. “I was just going to program the phones we picked up today, but it can wait.”

“Good. I was thinking we could pick up where we left off this morning. You did promise me a rain check.”

Kit crossed the threadbare carpet, leaving behind the memories and the picture in that safe. “I did.”

Dalton’s answering grin was enough to make Kit decide then and there that he would never move on if he didn’t throw himself head first into this relationship; if he didn’t allow himself to feel something for someone else. Yes, Dalton made for a delightful distraction. However, Kit also liked Dalton.

“Your room or mine?”

“Surprise me.”

………….

Drusilla Blackthorn stood with Thais Pedroso and the rest of the Blackthorns, excluding Ty who was on assignment from the Scholomance, on the lawn of the Shadowhunter Academy. The Ascension Ceremony had held place only a few hours prior. Thankfully, Dru did not have to witness any failed Ascensions; there were only three prospective students in her class, and they had survived the process of drinking from the Mortal Cup. She had seen plenty of death in her short sixteen years, but there was something about death by Mortal Cup that keenly reminded her of the way Sebastian Morgenstern had created the Endarkened with the Infernal Cup. The thought sent shivers down her spine.

After the ceremony, a celebration was thrown together on the lawn for the graduates and their families. It was mostly Magnus’ doing, and she thought he truly had outdone himself with the enchanted chocolate fountains, bubbly non-alcoholic drinks, and the inclusion of foods from Institutes all over the world.

Her best friend, Thais, chatted animatedly with Emma and Julian, while Dru snacked on the Brazilian brigadeiros, a nod to Thais’ home Institute in Rio de Janeiro. They were probably the best chocolate truffles she had ever had.

“Druuuuuuu!” she heard Tavvy whine somewhere to the left. He was ten years old, but still small for his age. He ran over to her and clamped his arms around her hips. “Why do you have to go to London?”

“Well, because Kit needs us,” she said simply. She had known they were heading to London six months ago already when Jem took over as temporary Head of the London Institute and Kit had extended an invitation for them to join after graduation.

“If he needs you, then why did he leave us?” Nothing got past Octavian. He was bright and intuitive and would make an amazing Shadowhunter when he was of age.

“He needed to live with Jem and Tessa for awhile, that’s all.” She knew there was far more to it than that, all centering around the night Kit and Ty--well, mostly Ty-- had attempted the Necromantic ritual on the shores of Lake Lyn. Neither Kit or Ty had told her exactly what went down that night, and she hadn’t pressed them for answers. She’d be damned if she didn’t get the answers she needed during her stay at the London Institute, though. An explanation was long overdue.

“Can’t I come with you? I’m going to miss you!”

“Oh, Tavs.” she thought she was going to cry. She pried his arms off her waist and knelt in front of him so she could be face to face, staring into his Blackthorn blue eyes identical to her own. “I’ll miss you, too. You have to stay here and grow big and strong so you can go to the Academy like your big sis.”

Tavvy was crying, though, “Everyone is leaving me. Mark is barely home, Ty’s a Centurion, you’re heading to London...” he trailed off. He didn’t mention Livvy.

“Shhhh, Tavs, everything will be alright. You have Julian and Emma, Helen and Aline.” It was breaking her heart not knowing when she would see her little brother next, and she smoothed his unruly waves with one hand, leaning in to drop a kiss on his forehead. “I need you to be strong for me. We are Blackthorns. I am with you no matter how many miles separate us.” She placed a hand over his heart for emphasis.

He sniffled and wrapped his arms around her neck, nodding in the process. She picked him up and carried him over to where Julian and Emma were standing and handed him over to her older brother.

Dru saw Magnus wrap his arms around his small family before sauntering over to the group. He rubbed his hands together in a gesture that was meant to show excitement, but Dru could see that it pained him to leave Alec and the children behind, even for one night. She felt a tug within her chest. She hoped she would find a love like that someday.

Magnus smiled warmly at her and Thais. “It is time to go. Are you both ready?”

Thais, always bubbly and outgoing, seemed like she would burst at the seams with excitement. Unlike Dru, she had never been to London, and had pretty much talked non-stop about it for the last six months. Dru suspected that it had less to do with London and more to do with a certain Rosales boy with tattoos and obscenely good looks.

Dru herself had a crush on the boy in question for well over a year, but at some point she realized that he was not the type of person to date exclusively, and did not think it was worth having her heart broken over. But she considered Jaime to be one of her best friends, and if Thais could tame his wildness, then she would fully support it. As it was, Dru didn’t think Jaime even realized Thais liked him. London would be an adventure.

Magnus was busy summoning his magic to create the portal that would transport the three of them, so she took advantage of those precious moments to embrace her family tightly. Even though she had been away at the Academy for two years, moving across the globe to London felt entirely different; far more permanent.

She found Julian last, and he wrapped his sturdy arms around her, “Be safe, Dru. And remember that we are only a portal away.” She nodded against him, tears threatening to spill onto her brother’s shoulder. “And tell Kit not to be a stranger. He should know that we will always care about him and would love it if he visited once in a while.”

She breathed a laugh, “He’s a stubborn ass. He may know you care about him, but he’ll never acknowledge it.”

He laughed against her ear, “I love you, Drusilla.”

“I love you too, Jules.”

She pulled away and located her best friend, who took her hand supportively. Magnus had already magically transported their belongings, so all that was left was for them to step through with the Warlock.

Dru and Thais departed through the swirling portal with a final wave and emerged into the grand entry way of the London Institute. Dru spotted Jaime first, who practically ran into her arms, proclaiming, “My bestie is here!” and proceeded to swing her around before setting her back down gracefully. He turned to Thais, who had a small blush on her face as he pulled her into a welcoming hug. Dru winked and wiggled her eyebrow suggestively.

She looked around for Kit, who was descending the stairs with Dalton. Holding hands. When did that happen? Kit dropped the other boy’s hand when his deep sea blue eyes landed on her own and raced down the remainder of the stairs to pull her into his arms with a sort of desperation she was not anticipating.

Dru felt him sigh into her hair, almost as if he were releasing a weight. “I’ve missed you,” he murmured into her ear. He pulled away and she saw that he was smiling exuberantly. “I got something for you, today. A horror movie.”

“Did someone say horror movie?” Thais bounded over, followed by Jaime and Magnus, who must have stepped through amid all the chaos of hugging.

“Thais,” Kit said, by way of greeting. “How is everything at the Rio Institute?”

“Good, I think. Last thing I heard though, they were looking into the murder of a Shadowhunter.”

“Just one?”

“Yeah, mamãe thinks it’s just an isolated incident, but still; I hope they find whoever did it.”

Magnus furrowed his brows at the mention of the dead Shadowhunter, but didn’t say anything.

While it wasn’t completely uncommon for a Shadowhunter to go missing or turn up dead, it always filled Dru with a sense of foreboding whenever it happened. Ever since the Dark War, efforts had been made to re-populate and fill ranks, hence the renewal of the Ascension process. To hear about Shadowhunters turning up dead filled her with an acute feeling of anxiety. She reached out and gave her friend’s hand a squeeze, “I hope so, too.”

Dalton approached and hugged both girls. “Congrats, it’s good to see you two again.”

“Are you enjoying London, Dalton?” Dru asked, with a knowing glance in Kit’s direction. He smiled sheepishly in return, a blush creeping across his cheeks.

Magnus, after embracing Kit and the other inhabitants, exclaimed joyfully, “I think celebrations are in order, wouldn’t you all agree?”

“We were gonna order some food. Any requests?”

“Chinese,” came the unanimous response from Dru, Thais, and Jaime.

“Oh! I know the perfect place!” Magnus boasted. He snapped his fingers and an entire array of fried rice, lo mein, sesame chicken, and wontons appeared in front of their eyes. Dru’s mouth began to water.

Everyone migrated to the kitchen, grabbing bowls and digging into the food without abandon, chatting animatedly amongst one another. Dru smiled to herself happily, thinking that it felt like home.

……………………..

Chapter Text

In the Shadows

………...

After all the excitement died down from Dru and Thais’ arrival, Kit searched out Magnus, locating him in the library, which was no less grand than the rest of the Institute. In all honesty, Kit had never seen a Library more magnificent. He had initially wanted nothing to do with books when he moved to Devon, but Jem made him read everything from the Shadowhunter Codex to The Iliad, and had gone so far as to quiz him on the material. He had learned to appreciate the classics, and found himself perusing the shelves of the London Institute’s library anytime he was bored or in need of a literary distraction.

Magnus was admiring the rich furniture and ornate decor, lightly trailing his bejeweled fingers over the various surfaces. Kit watched the soft glow of magic at his fingertips, and knew without asking that Magnus was casting a spell of preservation over the ancient possessions. Kit briefly thought about his own Faerie magic, not that he had been able to do anything of consequence with it-- it only seemed to manifest when he was particularly emotional, more specifically whenever he was extremely angry, and it had been awhile.

One thing that had changed was that he was able to detect magic, much like he had done earlier with the amulet, but nothing quite as specific as the way the amulet drew him in. He cleared his throat, interrupting the silence apologetically, “I need to talk to you about something.”

Magnus snapped out of his reverie, pulling his hand back from the surface of an ornate globe. “My apologies, I should have asked.”

Kit waved his hand dismissively, “You can do whatever you want with those items...take some back home with you for all I care.” Magnus smirked and the globe disappeared into thin air with a wave of his hand.

The Warlock turned to him, asking, “What can I do for you? Wait, no--don’t tell me.” He scrunched his face is contemplation. “Let me guess, you finally want to hear the story of how I earned the nickname Harbinger of Debauchery?”

Kit gaped at him, “Not exactly...though maybe another time?”

“Huh, your loss. It really is an enthralling tale,” he mused, then his expression grew serious. “Not thinking of dabbling in Dark Magic again, are you?”

Kit almost punched him, but held himself back, not wanting to bring the wrath of Alec Lightwood-Bane down upon him. “Do you really think I haven’t learned my lesson?” And then some. “We’ve talked about this before. I never wanted to perform the stupid ritual in the first place.”

“One can never be too certain of these things.”

“Well, I’m not the one you should be talking to about that,” he snapped, turning away to walk out of the library, hoping Magnus would get the hint and follow him.

He did.

“Kit, I don’t bring it up because I want to make you feel bad. You have the power to inspire real change between Shadowhunters and Downworlders--lasting change that no one else has been capable of achieving. You can’t afford to make mistakes like that.”

“I won’t be able to do anything for anyone if I can’t figure out my own God damned powers.” Kit turned the corner and entered the study, feeling his frustration peak, then ebb to a simmering tension just beneath his skin. “I never even asked for any of this, Magnus. It all feels like some cruel cosmic joke.”

“You Herondales and your inferiority complexes.”

“Jace literally oozes confidence, I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Will did too,” Magnus gazed fondly at the portrait of William Herondale over the fireplace. “But underneath all that bravado and swagger you’re all just tortured souls.”

Kit said nothing as he opened the safe and pulled out the amulet. The warmth of the stone instantly seeped into this fingers and through his entire body. He handed it to Magnus. “Can you tell me what this is?”

“I take it that this is more than just some rock attached to a chain to be worn around the neck?”

“Why does everyone ask me such stupid questions?” he replied rhetorically, earning a withering look from the Warlock. “It must have something to do with my fey lineage then, because that rock called to me and lead me right to it. When I touch it, I feel warm all over.”

“Hmmm. Interesting.”

Kit continued as if Magnus hadn’t spoken. “And it’s not just some unassuming rock. I can see it’s true colors--blue and green, speckled throughout with bronze flakes. Neither Dalton or the warlock at the shop could--or you, apparently. Why?”

Magnus shook his head. He closed his eyes, and Kit watched with interest as his hands illuminated around the mysterious stone, attempting to detect the source of its magic.

“Can you sense anything?”

“Yes….though I can’t quite tell what. It doesn’t appear to be dangerous, but in any case, maybe keep it locked up for the time being?” He returned the necklace to Kit, a puzzled expression on his face. “This is a very unusual item. The fact that it called to you definitely suggests Faerie magic, but if so, it is very old magic that I am unfamiliar with.”

Kit considered this revelation for a moment, then asked curiously, “Why--no, how did it end up in some Downworld pawn shop, then? That seems too suspicious to be a coincidence.”

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

Kit replaced the artifact in the safe, feeling more confused than ever, yet exhilarated by the prospect of having a mystery to solve. He only wished that he could present it to Ty, the way he used to, and they could solve it together. He shook his head to rid it of the intruding and unhelpful thought. “Well, thank you, Magnus. I appreciate the help.”

“I only wish I could be of more assistance. I’ll do some digging and see if I can uncover anything for you.”

Kit nodded and glanced at the clock. It was late, but he was far from tired. “Do you want a drink?”

“I thought you’d never ask.”

…………..

Kit woke up the next morning with an angry hangover. Thank god he had bought coffee the day before; nothing else would cure his whiskey migraine. Except maybe more sleep. But as acting Head of the Institute, more sleep was unfortunately not an option.

He was really regretting his life choices at the moment.

He rolled out of bed unceremoniously, tangling himself in the sheets and falling flat on his face in the process. He groaned, and a knock echoed at the door. “You alright in there?”

Dru!

He groaned again, but untangled himself from the puddle of fabric on the floor and opened the door hastily. Dru stood there with a steaming mug of coffee in each hand, hair pulled back into two long, damp braids.

“Geez, you literally look like shit.”

“Wow, thanks Dru. Good fucking morning to you, too.”

She laughed, and it lit up her entire face. It struck him how much she had grown. She wasn’t thirteen anymore, not that she had ever really looked thirteen. But she had outgrown her girlish features, and grown into the curves that were as much a part of her as her Nephilim blood. “Wait...are you hungover?”

“What gave it away?” he deadpanned.

“Mostly the way you are clutching at your head as if someone whacked you with a hammer. But also, your breath smells like something dead.” She wrinkled her nose and handed him one of the mugs.

“You are a lifesaver.”

“I know.” She entered the room and took a seat in front of the fireplace. Each room had one, reminding Kit just how old the institute actually was. “Do you like it here?”

Kit sat across from her, sipping at his cup of delicious hangover cure. “It’s not L.A.; but yes.”

She was silent for awhile, and Kit wondered if she was still angry with him after all this time. “You could have stayed, you know,” she said finally, lifting her Blackthorn eyes to his. “No one wanted you to leave. We all cared about you.”

Not all of you. Kit dragged a hand through his disheveled curls. “Do we really have to talk about this?”

“You can’t avoid it forever.”

“Watch me,” he smirked.

Dru rolled her eyes and sighed in exasperation. “You’re insufferable.”

“Would I be a Herondale if I wasn’t?”

She snorted, “I think I liked you better as a Rook.”

Kit dissolved into laughter, nearly spilling the mug of hot liquid on his lap. He had missed Dru, and slipping back into their routine made Kit feel more content than he had in a long while. After Jace and Clary’s wedding, Kit had made an effort to stay in touch with Dru, visiting her at the Academy on special occasions, and Skype-ing with her late into the night, due to the time difference. She had respected his wishes to not talk about that night and had refrained from bringing up Ty, as long as Kit didn’t ask. Dru took it upon herself to acquaint Kit with Thais, even though they had met briefly at the L.A. Institute before the battle on the Imperishable Fields. His friendship with the two of them lead to Kit requesting both of them to join him in London upon graduation.

“So…” began Dru, interrupting his stream of thoughts, “You and Dalton, huh?” Dru had also introduced them on one of the occasions Kit had visited the Academy.

Kit blushed immediately and avoided her pointed gaze, choosing instead to down the last dregs of his coffee.

“Come on, I want all the details!” she begged.

“I don’t think you do.”

“For fuck’s sake. It’s not that big of a deal.”

He breathed a heavy sigh. “There’s just not much to tell. We literally made it official yesterday.”

“Are you happy?”

Kit didn’t answer for a few long moments; that was such a loaded question. Was he happy? He really didn’t know. He had felt loved with Jem, Tessa, and baby Charlotte in Devon, despite everything that had lead to him moving there. He was relieved to have Dru by his side again, and hadn’t realized how much he needed her until he was hugging her the night before. Dalton made him smile, and kept him from sinking too far into his own head. And yet… he had ripped a hole in the fabric of his own life when he left L.A.; a hole that had only just recently begun to close.

“I’m working on it.”

………..

Dru and Thais had been briefed about the Hatton Garden heist, and were in the weapons rooms together with Jaime, readying themselves to head out after sundown. Thais tossed two seraph blades to Dru, chatting enthusiastically about the mission.

“I think the biggest mystery is why the vampires needed to encanto these mundanes to do their dirty work for them. I mean, couldn’t the vamps have just waltzed right in and encanto’d the guards? It would have saved a lot of time and energy.” Thais was mostly just talking through the mission to herself, but she made a good point as she stuffed throwing knives into her belt and boot buckles.

“We should definitely not rule out the possibility of this being some sort of trap or distraction to keep us busy,” Dru agreed. “Jaime? What do you think?”

“I think all Downworlder related missions are a distraction. Sometimes it seems like we deal with Downworld politics more than we kill actual demons. Que estúpido.”

“Well maybe we’ll encounter a demon along the way for you to send back to Hell.” Dru retorted, clapping Jaime on the back. “Until then, quit your bitchin’. You get to spend quality time with your bestie.” She flashed him a brilliant grin, tossing him a set of twin daggers. He caught them with ease, and strapped them into his weapons belt.

Dru strapped two short swords to her back, and slipped extra daggers into the thigh holster attached to her belt. She held out her stele to Thais, “Do me.”

Jaime made a choking sound behind them.

“Oh, chill the fuck out Jaime.”

“You realize who you’re talking to, right? You can’t just say do me and expect me to be chill.”

Dru saw that Thais was doubled over with laughter. After a few moments she straightened up with a wicked look in her eyes. She took the stele with a wink at Jaime and said to Dru, “I’ll do you all night long, amante.” Dru watched in amusement as Jaime’s eyebrows retreated into his hairline at Thais’ sensual tone.

Dru felt the familiar stinging sensation as the adamas formed the soundless, night vision, vigilance and glamour runes on her forearms. Thais extended the stele to Dru, who traced the same runes upon the dark, unmarked skin of Thais’ shoulder blades as Jaime applied his own Marks.

Kit strode into the weapons room at that moment and held out two cellphones to Dru and Thais. “Here, I’ve programmed these with everyone’s numbers. Try not to use them unnecessarily, they only have prepaid minutes. We can get you both new SIM cards for your usual phones at some point; for now, these will do.”

“What are you and Dalton doing while we’re out?” Dru asked with a smirk.

“I just got a report about an infestation of Shax demons down by the wharfs, so we’ll be taking care of that.”

“You suck. I wanted to kick some demon ass!” Jaime exclaimed bitterly.

Dru kicked him in the shin. “Didn’t I tell you to quit your bitchin’?”

Kit laughed merrily. It made Dru happy to hear him laugh like that. His words to her that morning had stuck with her all day long. I’m working on it, he had said. It made her even more curious about what the hell happened between him and her brother. Ty would never talk about it, and if he did, he only said that he didn’t know what happened, which was likely at least partially true coming from Ty. And Kit avoided the subject like the plague. In her heart, she knew that it was about more than just the attempt to bring Livvy back; something else happened to make Kit flee to another country. And it was eating away at him.

“Better watch your back Jaime. Dru can most definitely take you in a fight.” Kit looked at her with pride in his gaze and Dru beamed at the compliment.

“I’ll make sure I don’t get on her bad side,” he replied through his teeth, nursing the injury to his shin, but a smile tugged at his lips and suddenly they were all laughing together.

Ten minutes later, the three of them emerged onto Fleet Street and took a right. Hatton Garden safe deposit facility was within a twenty minute walk from the London Institute. The brisk Spring air chilled her skin, but she didn’t mind.

She heard Thais ask Jaime, “What is there to do for fun around here?”

“That depends on your definition of fun,” he replied casually. “Regardless, I could show you a good time,” he winked at Thais, who’s cheeks flushed a deep shade of red in the dim glow from the street lamps.

Seriously?

Dru snorted. “Oh for Angel’s sake, keep flirting and I’ll break both your ankles. That would be my definition of fun.”

“Who called the ‘no fun’ police?” Thais teased. Dru shot her a look that said, don’t test me.

Thais ignored the look, and hooked her arms through Dru and Jaime’s on either side of her, “But for real, we should all hit up a club sometime.”

Jaime nodded enthusiastically, “Let’s all go tonight, after everyone is done with their missions. I know the perfect place.”

When they arrived at the building, they were surprised to find it suspiciously dark and unoccupied. The three of them ducked into an alley across the street. “This doesn’t seem right.”

Dru squinted from the entrance of the alley, “There are markings around the doors.” She pointed, “I think this place was warded.”

“Likely to protect the assets inside.”

Jaime mused, “That makes sense. Depending on the wards, that would explain why the mundanes were encanto’d.”

Both girls nodded their agreement. “Let’s check it out. While encanto’ing mundanes is not strictly against the Accords, those jewels could pose problems for the tentative alliance between Nephilim and the Downworld. They could be spelled with Dark Magic—”

“—Or used to buy allegiance. In the wrong hands….” Thais trailed off. Dru smiled slightly. It was typical for Thais to finish her sentences. The idea of having her as her parabatai crossed her mind, not for the first-- or last, time. She just hadn’t had the nerve to ask.

They crossed the street. They had already determined their plan for accessing the building under the assumption that it was guarded, however seeing that it wasn’t, they decided to just use the front entrance. Jaime scrawled an Open rune on the door, and Dru entered first, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness. Thais pulled out her witchlight behind her, illuminating the hallway in its eerie glow.

“You would think there would be some sort of surveillance on this place…”

“Not if there’s nothing left….the suspects took everything.”

“It’s sort of amazing,” Dru considered, impressed.. “A bunch of mundanes managing a heist on this scale. Even with help from vampires….that’s no easy feat.”

“Word,” Thais concurred.

They found the vault easily enough and gasped in unison at the destruction before them. Doors were wrenched open, boxes scattered all over the floor, broken and in pieces.

“By the Angel, they really did a number on this place,” whistled Jaime.

They began rummaging through the piles of broken boxes and debris scattered throughout the room, however; it became apparent that there was nothing to find. Not a single clue as to who orchestrated the heist, not that Dru really expected anything different. Vampires tended to be pretty good at covering their tracks and encanto’d mundanes were practically useless for supplying information with any value. This was just one of those situations where they would have to wait and see what came of it. The thought didn’t settle well in her stomach.

Dru kicked at an overturned safe deposit drawer in frustration, and it made a hollow sound. She furrowed her brows, “Did that sound weird to you?”

Jaime picked up the box and examined it carefully. “This has a false bottom.” He attempted to pry it open, but it wouldn’t budge.

Thais searched the room quickly, located a hammer and tossed it to Jaime. Setting the drawer down, he swung the hammer until the false bottom caved in and he could pry away the broken pieces and pulled out what appeared to be a small jewelry box.

He tossed the drawer aside and opened the small box. Dru and Thais crowded around him curiously. Inside was a gaudy looking ring, inscribed with some sort of star shaped marking on the top; no jewels, just silver, tarnished a bit along the edges.

“Seems oddly out of place compared to all the jewels that were stolen,” Thais remarked.

“You would be correct,” came a lazy drawl from the doorway. “Leave it to the Nephilim to find what the mundanes could not.” The figure, clad in dark hooded robes, approached them with a feral look in his eyes. “I’ll be taking that now.”

It took only a few moments for Dru and the others to pull out an array of weapons from their gear and face the mysterious figure. She felt very disconcerted by the fact that none of them heard the intruder until he was in the room with them. Looking at him now, it was clear he was a vampire by the pallor of his skin and the peculiar stillness with which he glided. “Are you the vampire behind all this?” Dru hissed.

The vampire ignored her, continuing his advance upon them.

Jaime stuffed the ring into an inner pocket of his gear jacket. “You’ll have to fight us first. Unless you care to tell us what’s so special about this hunk of jewelry?”

“Would that I could, but I’m on strict orders to retrieve it. No questions asked.”

That answered Dru’s initial question. “That doesn’t seem suspicious at all,” she quipped. “And who, exactly, has you on this suicide mission? Because you know that’s what this is, right? We either attempt to arrest you and bring you to the Clave, or we end up killing you to prevent you from taking this suddenly fascinating object, or you take it back to your master and he—“

“—or she,” Thais piped in.

“—kills you anyway.”

The figure continued his approach, completely unfazed. “Death is of no concern to me, little Shadowhunters.”

“Then I guess it’s your lucky day,” Jaime exclaimed.

The three of them moved in unison to surround the cloaked man. He hadn’t removed the hood, but his eyes gleamed from its shadows as if they were lit from within. Predatory. A cold chill ran up and down Dru’s spine, filling her with adrenaline. They circled up around the vampire, sizing up their opponent and waiting for him to make the first move. Technically speaking, attacking him first would be a violation of the Accords, but they already had a good case against him since he caught them unawares and made his motives more than apparent.

Jaime taunted him and the vampire hissed, revealing his shiny fangs, pearlescent in the dim lighting. Then he sprang to action at Jaime, almost fast enough to dodge the silver dagger Dru threw from behind him.

…………...

Across the city, Dalton parked the institute car near the entrance to the wharfs. Kit reached into the back seat for his Niuweidao, the Chinese oxtail saber he had received from Jem on his first birthday in Devon. Much like Emma with Cortana, Kit took comfort from the weight of the blade in its sheath on his hip. It was the first gift he had received as a Shadowhunter and he cherished the heirloom that had belonged to Jem’s mother. He still didn’t have the words to express how much it had meant to him that Jem wanted him to have it.

He took a moment to admire it now. It was a magnificent weapon; single edged blade gently curved and flared at the point, the handle wrapped in red cord curved slightly to fit perfectly in the palm of his hand, as if it were made for him. The sheath was a work of art in itself—all dark hardwood inlaid with gold filigree and inscribed with Chinese characters that translated more or less to the Shadowhunter motto we are but dust and shadows.

Kit secured the sheath to his weapons belt along with various daggers and seraph blades, then took out his stele to place runes of stamina, night vision, and agility upon his skin.

Dalton came up to him then, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder, “I can do that for you, if you’d like.”

Kit shook his head. He preferred to draw his own Marks. It was silly, but Kit didn’t want anyone who wasn’t Jem or Ty placing runes upon his skin; Ty because he had given Kit his first permanent rune right here in London, and Jem because he was the only other person Kit trusted completely. He had thought after three years he would have gotten over it, but it had stuck with him regardless.

Dalton nodded, a look of hurt passing quickly across his face. Kit had never been able to tell him why, because that would have meant explaining his history with Ty, and Kit did not feel like dredging up that part of his past yet. Kit felt a twinge of guilt for hurting Dalton; he was nothing but caring and generous. And Kit could only manage to share part of himself with his boyfriend.

Dalton had turned away again, securing his own weapons. Kit reached out to grab his wrist, pulling him in for a kiss. Dalton touched his brow to Kit’s, brown hair mingling with Kit’s golden curls, and gave him a small smile. “I know you have your secrets. I just hope you can share them with me one day.”

“I hope so, too.” And he truly did. He wanted to move on from the past; wanted it to work with Dalton. He didn’t want to keep his carefully constructed walls up around his heart all the time. It was exhausting. “Let’s go send these Shax bastards back to whatever hellish dimension they came from.”

They took off at a jog down towards the docks. They had a lot of ground to cover, so Dalton took out his Sensor. Turned out it wasn’t necessary because they whirled around the corner of a shipping container and nearly collided with one of the beasts.

Dalton ducked away and Kit leaped over his back, seraph blade coming to life when he uttered the name Azrael. He barely had time to think before slamming the glowing blade into the neck of the demon and slicing through, and falling to a low crouch. The demon exploded in a burst of ichor and Kit shielded his eyes. His forearm burned slightly from the blackish goo that splattered him. They both took a moment to gauge their surroundings before Kit scrawled a quick iratze.

Dalton spoke abruptly, “Look, there’s blood.” He pointed at the ground where the demons had disappeared. They followed the trail silently, creeping along the wharf, Dalton’s Sensor buzzing more and more erratically as they went.

They rounded another corner and gasped at the sight before them; there were at least ten of the pincered insect-like demons, all of which turned their ugly eyes on Kit and Dalton.

“Fuck.”

Dalton groaned in agreement, and they squared up to face the demons approaching them with their hungry eyes and putrid mouths.

Kit caught a glimpse of the demon lair behind the monsters, where a human girl lay unconscious on the cold ground. “Bastards,” Kit spat. “Cover me, Dalton.”

They had fought enough demons together that Dalton knew exactly what Kit meant. He reached for his throwing knives and sent them flying into the four closest demons, leaving them too startled to defend against the onslaught of Kit’s seraph blades, one in each hand now. They disappeared, and Kit heard Dalton call upon the angelic power of his own blades as he slid up beside him.

“Do we have an actual plan here?”

“First of all, killing them is the plan,” Kit replied sarcastically. “Secondly, find a way to get to the girl.”

Dalton sighed, then launched himself at the demons approaching to his left, careful to avoid the snapping pincers. Satisfied, Kit turned to face the demons to his right. He flipped a sword in his hand and threw it into the face—if you could even call it that— of the largest being. It hit its mark, directly between the soulless black depths that were its eyes. Kit caught the blade by the handle as the demon left the earthly plane and plunged it into the next, careful to avoid the armor-like shell covering its thorax.

He couldn’t dodge away quickly enough though to avoid the demon’s pincer as it sliced across his arm. There was no time to draw a healing rune. He glanced over at Dalton, who faced off against two of the parasites and was being pushed back against the side of a storage unit. Kit breathed through the pain in his arm and climbed the side of the unit. Using the height to his advantage he dropped down onto the back of one of the demons, stabbing straight down into its skull. Dalton gaped at him in awe and plunged his blade into the last demon.

They glanced at each other, breathless and exhilarated from the fight and almost completely covered in ichor. Kit could feel it in his hair, and winced slightly as the burning sensation continued across his exposed skin.

Together, they sprinted over to the girl.

Another Shax demon jumped out from the shadows as they neared her, and Kit, growing angrier and more impatient by the minute, beheaded the thing in one swift stroke. He surveyed the surroundings, and deeming it safe, returned to kneel next to the girl.

Dalton already had his fingers on her neck, checking for a pulse. A nasty gash ran from her shoulder to the inside of her elbow, her clothes bloodstained and torn. “She’s alive,” Dalton said.

Kit breathed a sigh of relief. “We need to get her to a hospital.” He gently lifted her from the ground and cradled her against his chest, not caring that her arm dripped blood down the front of his gear. She couldn’t have been more than fifteen years old.

They were almost to the car when she began to stir. When her eyes focused and she was able to comprehend her surroundings she began to thrash and scream in Kit’s arms. Kit nearly dropped her, but managed to set her gently on the ground. “Hey, please calm down. You’re hurt, we are just trying to help.”

She screamed again but then seemed to register the pain in her arm. She nearly fainted at the sight of her own blood, and Dalton caught her as she slumped to the ground. “Shhh, it’s ok. What’s your name?” he said soothingly, smoothing her sandy blonde hair tenderly. “I’m Dalton. That’s Kit.”

She glanced between them for a few moments, considering her options. Finally she said, “Amelia. What were those things?” she whispered fearfully.

Kit knew his eyes widened in shock. “You could see them?”

Her brows furrowed in confusion. “Duh.”

“Sorry, it’s just that most people don’t. It means you have something called the Sight. Give me a moment…” he trailed off. Kit took out his stele, earning a curious, wide eyed look from Amelia, and scrawled an emergency fire message. He turned back to the girl. “What were you doing out here?”

She ignored the question. “What do you mean, the Sight?”

Kit was spared from explaining when a soft shimmer appeared and a portal materialized in the air to his right. Clary Herondale stepped through the swirl of lights and colors with her parabatai, Simon.

Amelia’s light blue eyes turned to saucers as she took in the sight of the portal and the two emerging from it, shaking her head in complete awe and disbelief.

Clary rushed up to Kit and hugged him fiercely, her wild red curls framing her freckled face. “Is everything alright?

Kit gestured over his shoulder to the trembling girl, “She was attacked by Shax demons. Imagine our shock when we learned she also has the Sight.”

Simon approached the girl slowly. “Give me a moment to talk to her.” Simon was an official recruiter for the Clave, tasked with the job of explaining, in situations often similar to this one, what it meant to have the Sight and offering a place for the gifted mundanes at the Academy. They always had the choice to return to their mundane lives, but most of them didn’t once they knew about the Shadow World.

Clary nodded with a fond gaze in her eyes and Kit and Dalton followed her to give Simon and the young girl some space.

“Kit, you’re injured,” Clary pointed out.

He glanced back down at his arm. Truthfully, he had forgotten about the pincer wound. He grabbed his stele and placed a few healing runes around the wound, watching as it knit itself back together in moments. He looked to Dalton, checking him for wounds. Seeing none, he turned back to Clary, running his hand through his hair. The high from the fight with the demons was wearing off, leaving Kit feeling agitated and anxious. ”I’m sorry if I interrupted anything important.”

Clary placed her hand gently on his arm, eyes softening with a tenderness towards him that he could never resist. “Kit, you are important. And I will come to you anytime you need me. For any reason.”

He smiled, accepting the sentiment. “It’s been awhile, how are you and Jace?”

Clary beamed up at him. “Actually, I have news for you. I know Jace wanted to be here too, but I don’t think I can wait.” She reached into the bag slung over her shoulder, pulling out a small folded paper and handing it over to Kit.

He looked down, unfolding a black and white picture, and found he could not contain his excitement as he studied the ultrasound image of a tiny being that look very much like an alien. “For real? Clary, this is great news!” He hugged her tightly, noticing now that she was showing. “When?”

“August,” she said happily. “It’s going to be a boy.”

“The Angel help us, more Herondales,” he chuckled. “Let’s hope he inherits more of your qualities. One Jace is one too many on most days.”

She laughed effortlessly, “I’ll be sure not to tell Jace you said that.”

Kit shrugged, “Wouldn’t matter to me if you did. He could use a reality check once in a awhile.”

At that moment, Simon rejoined the group with the girl in tow. She was no longer crying and appeared to have calmed down immensely. “Thank you for saving me tonight,” she paused, collecting her thoughts. “I didn’t know I wanted or needed it. It’s a long story, but I ran away from my foster home….I don’t have a home to go back to, but I think I would feel at home at this….Academy,” she spoke softly and with a glance back at Simon. Yet her voice carried with it a firm confidence that impressed Kit while her words reminded him of the boy he was almost three years ago, losing his only family but gaining an entire institute, and then some, in the process.

Kit smiled at her warmly, “In that case, Amelia, when you graduate from the Academy—” He didn’t say if because he didn’t think it mattered, and he could tell that she was a fighter. “—there is a place for you here in London, if you decide to want it.”

She nodded her appreciation to him and Dalton, turning to latch on to Simon’s arm once again. Kit caught Simon by the sleeve of his jacket. “Thank you, Simon. Take care of her, okay?”

Simon smiled charmingly. “She’s in good hands, Herondale. It was good to see you.”

He disappeared back through the portal, Clary close behind. “Clary, hold up!” Kit bounded over to her. “Your picture,” he tried to return it to her.

“Oh, no. That’s yours to keep.”

“Okay. Thank you, then,” Kit replied a bit awkwardly. Clary shared the same motherly tenderness and generosity as Tessa, which unsettled him at times and made him want to crawl under a rock and never come out.

Clary gave him another quick hug and vanished through the shimmering portal with a wave at him and Dalton. He turned back to Dalton and breathed heavily, “Let’s go home. I’m exhausted and in desperate need of a shower.”

……………….

Chapter Text

Against a Sky of Doom

***

The vampire sprang into action in the middle of their circle, aiming an attack on Jaime. He was almost fast enough to dodge the silver dagger Dru threw from behind him, but not quite. The vampire collapsed to the floor with Dru’s dagger lodged between the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, rendering him incapacitated but conscious. Thais twisted his arms behind his back, securing them tightly with silver runed handcuffs.

“By the order of the Clave, you are hereby placed under arrest for the use of encanto on mundanes for the purpose of committing a crime against mundanes, and for attacking a Shadowhunter,” Thais proclaimed, tugging back the hood that covered his face.

The vampire, now bound and impaired, chuckled darkly, “By the order of the Clave, blah blah blah. You think I care about your stupid Shadowhunter laws?”

“You’re lucky we didn’t just kill you,” Dru volunteered. “Despite your apparent death wish and all, you might find that your cooperation would better serve you in the long run.”

“Spare me, Nephilim. I will say no more.”

“Jaime--”

“--Already on it.” He whipped out his stele and scrawled a fire message. “It won’t take long for Brother Shadrach to arrive.”

“A silent brother?” the vampire hissed. For all his bravado about not being afraid, he certainly looked afraid now.

“Well, we can’t very well use the Gard in Alicante anymore, now can we?” Not since the Cohort declared the city as theirs and the Clave chose to exile themselves with Alec Lightwood-Bane as Consul.

Dru stepped aside with Jaime and whispered, “What do we do with the ring?”

Solo relajate, amiga. Relax. I have a plan.”

Within minutes, Brother Shadrach did indeed appear--more like materialized out of thin air, right next to Thais. Thais nearly jumped out of her skin, before Dru heard the unearthly voice of the Silent Brother in her head—in all their heads. Dru wasn’t sure she would ever get used to the strange sensation of having her thoughts interrupted the way they did, nor would she ever get used to the complete creep factor that all Silents Brothers emanated. Jem—as Brother Zachariah—had been the only acception.

You have called upon the services of the Silent Brothers. What has transpired here tonight?

Dru, Thais and Jaime took turns filling in Brother Shadrach on the events of the evening, including the mysterious ring, which Jaime handed over without complaint. “We do not know who wants this ring, we are hoping some time in the holding cells of the Silent City will inspire some cooperation.”

Very well, came the eerie voice of Brother Shadrach again. Details of our investigation will be provided to Jem Carstairs. Dru didn’t bother arguing that the Silent Brother could just inform Kit, who technically ran everything at the Institute anyway; the Silent Brothers had their own protocols to follow, and would rarely deviate from their laws.

“Thank you for your assistance, Brother Shadrach,” Jaime sketched a small bow to the robed figure, who nodded assent and departed with the shackled vampire in tow. The vampire gave a final hiss at the three of them, before disappearing.

Dru felt herself relax immediately, but rounded on Jaime in confusion, “I thought you said you had a plan? Why did you hand over the ring?”

“Chill. It’s right here.” He pulled the gaudy ring from his inner pocket. “I simply swapped one of my rings out for this one.”

“You do realize the Silent Brothers won’t be fooled right?”

, but at least it will give us some time to do some investigating of our own.”

Dru sighed. She had to admit that Jaime was right, but she didn’t like misleading the Silent Brothers. Thais was busy snapping a few quick pictures of the crime scene.

“We should probably get out of here. We still have to do a patrol of the area.”

***

Dalton lounged on the ornate four post bed, waiting for Kit to emerge from the shower. While all the rooms in the London Institute were immaculate, Kit had possibly chosen the best one. Apparently, Kit had an inclination towards fancy things, which never ceased to surprise Dalton. Kit had replaced the previous ancient artwork in his room for a collection of Salvador Dali paintings. It piqued Dalton’s ever growing curiosity about the person Kit was before becoming a Shadowhunter.

Dalton rose from the mattress and stood in front of the fireplace, studying one of the paintings. Personally, Dalton preferred the impressionist paintings of Monet over the strange surrealism of Dali. He had to admit that he liked this one though; all golden and ivory swirls in a dark walnut frame. In an obscure way, it reminded him of some of the renditions of Jonathan Shadowhunter and the angel Raziel. And of Kit’s hair.

The door of the bathroom swung open behind him at that moment, revealing a shirtless Kit still toweling off his wet curls, ringlets turned a darkened bronze color by their dampness. Kit took Dalton’s breath away every time he saw him.

“That painting is called galacidalacidesoxyribonucleicacid.

Dalton gaped at him, “What?”

Gala--

“No, don’t torture yourself,” he laughed. “What does it represent?”

“The helical structure of DNA. Jem forced me to learn about all the famous painters. I guess it worked, because this is one of my favorites,” he smiled fondly. “Plus, it’s the original.”

Dalton found himself gaping, again, and raised his eyebrows. “And how exactly did you get your hands on the original painting?”

“I made a highly compelling agreement with the warlock who owns the museum in St. Petersburg, Florida,” he said nonchalantly, as if it were an everyday occurrence. “I can be very persuasive. She couldn’t resist my Herondale charm.”

“You know that’s not really a thing, right?”

Kit feigned mock hurt, and walked up to Dalton with all the swagger he could muster, “You care to test that theory?” he breathed. “I bet I could persuade you to do all sorts of things.”

Dalton’s tongue suddenly felt very dry in his mouth. He could barely resist Kit on a normal day, let alone when he talked like that, and they were alone in Kit’s bedroom. He placed a hand on Kit’s hip, drawing him closer still. His other hand trailed through the damp curls at the nape of his neck. “You don’t need to. I’ll do anything you ask me to do,” he whispered, nipping at Kit’s earlobe.

Kit pulled away and lifted an eyebrow mischievously, “Anything?”

“Anything.”

Kit captured Dalton’s mouth against his own, hot breath mingling in a desperate motion. Dalton dug his fingertips into Kit’s hip, toying with the elastic waistband of his sweatpants. Kit broke contact to trail kisses along his jaw, sending shivers along his spine. He sucked gently on Dalton’s ear, and Dalton somehow managed to form words that came out thick and shaky with longing, “Ask me, Kit.”

Kit’s breath on his ear made him feel weak at the knees, like he would collapse any moment. Kit was teasing him, making him impatient with anticipation.

Dalton ran his palms over the sculpted muscles of Kit’s stomach and up to his toned chest to rest on his strong shoulders. Dalton guided him until the back of Kit’s knees hit the mattress and he sat back onto the bed. Dalton laid him down and straddled him, grinding his hips just enough to make Kit squirm beneath him. Dalton removed himself from Kit and the bed, earning a grumble from the blonde.

“I will do nothing else until you ask,” Dalton teased, toying with the strings on his own waistband.

“Dalton.” Kit’s voice was low with need. His blue eyes bore into Dalton’s hazel ones, almost making Dalton give up the charade, when Kit finally spoke, “I want your mouth—”

But Dalton didn’t get to find out where Kit wanted his mouth, because a rapid series of knocks sounded at the door, followed by Jaime yelling, “Get dressed and meet us in the entry in twenty minutes! We’re going clubbing!”

Dalton turned to see Kit running a hand through his golden locks, “When the hell did they get back?’ he muttered. He got up and went to his closet, pulling out some jeans and a black button up shirt. “Jaime will literally shank us if we don’t go.”

Dalton laughed. “It’s okay, as long as you’ll dance with me?”

A hesitant look crossed Kit’s face, but then he nodded, “Okay, but to be fair, I don’t think you can handle all of this.” He gestured down at himself and flashed Dalton a cocky grin.

“Oh yeah?” Dalton wiggled his eyebrows. “I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.” With that, Dalton left Kit’s room to change his own clothes.

***

Dru perched on the edge of the chair in her and Thais’ conjoined bedroom, gazing glumly as Thais emerged from the bathroom in a tiny black dress that left very little to the imagination. Thais had curves in all the right places, her bronzed skin practically glowed, and she had long, slender legs that were accentuated by the strappy sparkling heels she slipped on her feet. Dru flopped backward into the chair with a huff of exasperation.

“Dru?”

Dru groaned in response, mumbling some variation of “I’m not going.”

Meu amor, what’s wrong?” That was her usual term of endearment for Dru, even though their relationship had always been platonic.

“You are a total bombshell, Thais. I don’t even own clothes for clubbing. I really wish you hadn’t dragged me into going along.” Dru had not moved from her desolate position in the chair, and covered her eyes with her forearms so that she didn’t have to look at her best friend as she knelt beside the chair next to her.

“I need you with me, Dru. We will find something that you will feel amazing in. I promise.” Thais pried Dru’s hand away from her face and pulled her up from the seat and dragged her over to the vanity.

Dru watched doubtfully as Thais searched both of their massive suitcases, throwing various items into a pile of potentials. Dru caught a glimpse of fishnets and wanted to find a corner to hide in forever.

Thais murmured to herself as she tossed article after article of clothing in a haphazard mountain behind her, searching for the perfect thing. She pulled out a pair of laced up black leggings Dru forgot she owned; Thais had convinced her to buy them from Hot Topic one year and she had never worn them.

Thais smiled up at her. “These are perfect. Now for the right top. We need to show off your magnificent ta-ta’s.”

Dru groaned again. She knew she should embrace her curves—they were a part of her, but she just never felt confident when comparing herself to the majority of the other female Shadowhunters in her life. It didn’t matter how many times someone told her they wished they had her curves, it never stuck.

Thais gave an exclamation of joy from her mountain, and tossed a set of clothes to Dru. “Put these on.”

Dru gaped at the items in her hands. “This is a spare vest from my gear!”

“Yup. It’s leather. Leather is sexy. See where I’m going with this?”

Dru shook her head in mute horror, but managed to drag herself to the bathroom. “This is never going to work.”

“Hold up! Here,” she tossed something red at her, and Dru saw that it was one of her bras.

“No. Absolutely, not.”

“Just humor me. Please?” Thais begged, and Dru could no longer resist her friend’s whims.

Dru reluctantly pulled the leggings on and was pleasantly surprised to find that they constricted in just the right places and were actually comfortable. So far, not a complete disaster. But it was the vest she was truly worried about. She slipped on the red lacy bra, shaking her head. Red was a good color on her, but that didn’t mean she wanted to show the lacy red fabric off to everyone at the club. She refused to look in the mirror as she tugged the vest on over her bra, buckling the front and attempting to adjust it so the red didn’t peak out as much from underneath. Other than that, it actually covered more of her skin that she was expecting.

She took a deep breath. It was the moment of truth.

Dru stepped out of the bathroom, still avoiding the mirror on the other side of the room.

Thais whistled. “Oi, mamacita. You are dressed to kill. Literally. You’ve got this dominatrix vibe going on, and it’s fabulous,” she gushed, dragging her in front of the mirror. “See for yourself.”

Dru managed to open her eyes and took a moment to study the stranger in the mirror. It was definitely not something she imagined herself wearing to go out in public, but she had a difficult time finding something to dislike about the ensemble. She had to admit it; Thais was good. The red bra peaked out just enough beneath the vest that hugged her curves and accentuated the dip of her cleavage perfectly. The laced up leggings sat high up on her waist, which narrowed and flared out over her hips into what people often called an hourglass figure.

She was pleasantly surprised to find that she liked how she looked. “Okay,” she breathed, and Thais wrapped her arms around her in excitement.

“Sit,” she demanded. Dru obeyed, letting Thais undo the two braids tying her hair back, and watched as the brown tresses tumbled down her back and over her shoulders when Thais lightly combed them out with her fingers. She pulled a section back away from Dru’s face, twisting and pinning it into place. “All done. All that’s left is shoes.” She rummaged through their belongings again to pulled out a strappy pair of red heels and tossed them to Dru.

Dru wobbled momentarily in them, then placed an agility rune upon her skin. It may have been cheating, but she didn’t care. “Thank you, Thais.”

“Always,” she beamed. “We should head down.”

“Hold on, there’s something I want to talk to you about first.” She had decided the moment she had taken a look in the mirror that it was time to face her other fear. Thais had proved to her over and over again that she knew Dru’s heart better than Dru did herself.

Thais furrowed her brows slightly, “Okay.”

Dru took a deep breath, then started. “We make a great duo. You have this ability to make me feel confident in myself when no one else can. You force me out of my shell. And in turn, I tame your wildness, just enough to keep you level headed. You are my best friend, Thais. And I would love it if you were also my parabatai--my warrior partner and literal BFF for life.”

Thais grinned, “Only if we can make that part of our official parabatai vows.”

Dru laughed joyously, and realized she had been fidgeting with a vest buckle, “Is that a yes? You’ll be my parabatai?

“No…” she hummed, and Dru felt an embarrassed flush creep across her cheeks. “That’s a hell yes!”

Dru knew her smile lit up her face; she could see it reflected in Thais’ own gleaming brown eyes. Dru felt a tear slide down her cheek; she didn’t even know she had started crying. She began laughing, and suddenly Thais was laughing with her and they were embracing each other tightly.

Dru’s happiness threatened to overflow. Parabatai. She was going to have a parabatai.

************************************************

Twenty minutes later, they had all piled out of the their uber and entered the club. Kit had been here on occasion with Jaime, which was never a dull event. Jaime led the way through the tight crowd toward the bar that separated the two rooms of the club from each other, yelling over the music that the first round was on him.

Kit gave him a thumbs up, choosing to avoid destroying his vocal chords. He glanced behind him to make sure Dru and Thais were alright, but realized he needn’t have worried. Kit knew that the two girls had each others’ backs. And now they were going to be parabatai. Dru had announced it to everyone before they left; and now everyone was in a celebratory mood.

Kit reached for Dalton’s hand and pulled him along after Jaime. The four of them found a somewhat cleared area on the dancefloor and waited for Jaime to bring them their first celebratory round.

Kit wound his arms around Dalton’s waist and pulled him closer, swaying to the melody of the music, feeling the beat of the bass pump through his body. He glanced into Dalton’s face; the bright lights glowed in his eyes and cast streaks of color through his hair. Beside him, Dru and Thais were dancing together. Kit took a moment to observe the pure joy on both of their faces, particularly Dru’s.

At that moment, Jaime returned with five shots between his hands, and passed them out. Kit raised his glass in the air and proclaimed a toast, “To Dru and Thais! On their decision to become parabatai.” Kit laughed as he saw Dru’s face scrunch up with distaste. Thais downed it a little more gracefully.

“Woo!” Jaime exclaimed, rolling his hips in time to the music. “Kit, second round is on you.”

“Please make it something better tasting,” Dru begged.

Kit pushed his way to the bar and ordered a round of mixed drinks. Jaime was all about the shots, while Kit preferred a drink that he could sip on. The music was deafening, but he didn’t really mind it. It helped drown out the chatter in his mind—about the girl from the docks and the all too intrusive thoughts of his past.

The bartender slid him the drinks with a wink and Kit smiled slightly as he handed him payment. “Keep the change.” He made his way back onto the dancefloor, taking care not to spill the five full sized drinks he managed to carry all at once.

Handing one of the drinks to Dru, he said, “Vodka cranberry. I think you’ll like this one.” She took a grateful sip and nodded enthusiastically. “Also, I didn’t get to say this earlier. But you look phenomenal.”

She smiled, “Oh, this is allll Thais. We could add personal stylist to the list of things she’s great at.”

They all pushed further out onto the dancefloor, closer to the stage where the DJ spun his tracks. Kit sipped at his drink and lost himself in the music, the lights, in Dalton. Jaime, Dalton and Kit took turns getting drinks for the group, and it wasn’t long until Kit began to feel the effects. The lights blurred and shifted around him and his body buzzed with energy. He felt slightly unsteady on his feet, but the firm arms around his waist kept him grounded.

He glanced around. Thais started dancing with Jaime at some point, so close they might as well have been one person. Kit smirked, thinking that the two of them looked good together. He vaguely wondered how Dru felt about that. He had assumed Dru had a crush on Jaime ever since she kept him hidden in her room for a few weeks. But maybe he was completely off his rocker. He turned to find Dru also dancing with a tall, handsome mundane. Good for her.

He felt Dalton’s hips grind against his own, though with a sort of disconnected, out-of-body sensation signaling that he was well and truly intoxicated. A pleasant numbing sensation had settled over his mind and he reached his arms up behind him to tangle in Dalton’s hair, writhing against him in time to the beat. He felt Dalton breathe heavily against his ear, nipping at the lobe seductively.

“You were right,” Dalton muttered.

“Hmmm?”

“About not being able to handle you. You’re driving me crazy.” Dalton’s breath was hot against Kit’s neck.

“Mmhmmm, hate to say I told you so, but…” he drawled, turning around and wrapping his arms around Dalton’s neck. He leaned in, tracing his tongue along Dalton’s jaw, ending just below his ear. “I told you so,” he teased, breathless and exhilarated from the combination of alcoholanddancingandDalton. Even his thoughts were becoming a jumbled mess.

“We could find a more private spot...finish what we started earlier,” Dalton purred. “After all, I never got to hear what you wanted me to do to you.

“Mmmmmm,” Kit managed to mutter. “Not here.”

Dalton grumbled something incoherent against his ear but kept dancing, pulling Kit tightly against him, feeling the bass and rhythm of the entrancing music vibrate through them.

Kit lost all sense of time and before he knew it, it was time to go.

“Druuuuu,” Kit swayed, perching his arm around the girl’s shoulder as they waited for their Uber. “Have I told you how much I love you? You’re like, awesome sauce, and I don’t know what I would do without you.”

She flashed him a bright grin, “If this is just the alcohol talking, I’m gonna kick the crap out of you.” Even drunk, Dru was a force to be reckoned with and Kit cringed away slightly.

“I promise, I would say this even sober….though maybe not in so many words, you know? You’re like a sister to me.”

Dru ruffled his hair affectionately. “I’m gonna hold you to that, Herondale,” she slurred. “Now where’s my future parabataiBFFforever??

“I’m literally right next to you.”

Kit burst into a fit of laughter. “Ooof. And I thought I was D-R-U-N-K.”

“Heeeey I think our driver is here,” Jaime pointed, and Kit checked his phone. It was indeed their Uber. Dru sat up front and the rest of them squished into the back seat. In fifteen minutes the driver pulled onto Fleet Street and parked in front of the Institute. The driver looked puzzled as he surveyed what was glamoured to look like an old abandoned church to mundanes.

The five of them stumbled out of the car and through the front gates. Thais was giggling at something Jaime whispered in her ear. Kit had each of his arms slung around the shoulders of Dru and Dalton, intoxicated and smiling exuberantly.

“Kit.”

Dru’s shaky voice brought him back to earth, and he glanced over to her. She had a stricken, horrified look on her face and she was covering her mouth. He didn’t want to look, didn’t want to know what caused it, but he followed her gaze anyway.

And vomited the contents of his stomach right onto the front steps of the institute.

In front of them, bound like a witch at the stake, was a naked Shadowhunter. Kit didn’t have to check for a pulse to know that the man was dead; he could tell by the slump of his body, the utter lack of life. It was instantly sobering.

Jaime breathed behind him, “Dios, what….” He couldn’t even finish his thought.

It was Thais who spoke calmly and assuredly, “It’s the same.”

“Thais, what’s the same?” Dru whispered.

“The murder my mother is investigating in Rio...this is the same.”

What the hell?

There was so much blood; it ran down the steps in a glistening pool. It was then that Kit realized where the blood was coming from. Some of the Shadowhunter’s runes had been carved from his skin, brutally. He almost vomited again. “You’re certain?”

“I’ll tell you everything, but right now we need to get him down and inside the institute.”

Kit, Dalton and Jaime rushed forward, hastily undoing the bindings and gently tugging the limp form to the ground. Dru held the doors open and they carried him inside. Kit contemplated the best place to put him, then decided on the infirmary until they could summon a Silent Brother. Kit pulled out his phone and dialed Jem’s number. It rang a few times and then a groggy voice picked up on the other end.

“Kit? By the Angel, what time is it?”

“I’m sorry Jem. I—we need you. There’s been a murder.”

There was a moment of silence on the other end, “Who?”

“We don’t know.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Jem, I hate to ask this...but Tessa, do you think—I mean, her powers would…” he trailed off. “I’m sorry, I can’t ask Tessa to involve herself in this.”

“Kit, breathe. I will ask her. There is no need for you to apologize.”

Kit did as he was told. He took a deep breath, willing himself to calm down. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and turned to find Dru standing there, fear in her eyes. He reached up and squeezed her hand reassuringly. He needed to be strong. Confident. The head of an institute.

“Ok, I will see you when you get here.” He hung up. He gave Dru a brief hug, then ordered everyone to various tasks. Summon the Silent Brothers, take pictures, cleanse the body, gather up any evidence on the steps, contact the Rio Institute, and on and on and on. All he wanted to do was sleep. But sleep would have to wait.

The next few hours flew by in a flurry of commotion. Jem had arrived with Tessa and baby Charlotte, Brothers Shadrach and Enoch were still busy investigating the body, Morena Pedroso sent over the inconclusive reports from the murder in Rio de Janeiro, and Kit was now poring over the papers with Jem in their study, trying in vain to figure out how the two murders were connected.

Jaime had interrupted some time ago to report on the findings from the heist, though that was low on the list of Kit’s concerns at the moment. That was, until Jaime had handed him the ring they found and informed him that the Silents Brothers had a “fake” ring and would likely come around asking for it. Under normal circumstances, Kit probably would have applauded Jaime for his sleight of hand. But these were not normal circumstances and Kit was exhausted, meaning he was crabby and may or may not have called Jaime a moron before locking the ring up in the safe alongside the mysterious amulet.

Kit’s brain was quickly disintegrating into mush. Words and letters blurred together on the pages before him and he realized he had reread the same sentence five times without understanding a word of it.

At that moment, Tessa walked in, carrying little Charlotte on her hip and Jem moved to be near both of them, like a magnet. The little girl gave a squeal of delight when she saw Kit and began struggling in her mother’s arms. Tessa set her down with a laugh and Charlotte dashed to Kit, jumping up into his lap unceremoniously. “Hey Char-Char, I’ve missed you sooo much!” Kit said happily, giving her a peck on the forehead and a tickle on her belly.

She fell into a fit of toddler giggles and squirmed against him, gasping for air, “No tickles! Kitty—stop!” Kit smiled at her nickname for him. When she was learning her words, she had often confused his name with kitty, which was supposed to be for Jem’s cat, Church, but was so close to the way his name sounded that she had called both of them Kitty—and it had stuck. He didn’t mind one bit, though.

“Christopher,” Tessa’s voice sounded from the doorway. He really wasn’t fond of his given name; he felt like he was in trouble anytime it was used. In this case though, he could tell Tessa said it out of concern and love. “Honey, you need sleep.”

He shrugged it off, “This is more important.”

She shook her head. “You are more important. You cannot be of any help to anyone if you don’t get some sleep. That goes for all of you, since I hear you were all out into the wee hours of the morning, celebrating.”

Kit blushed slightly. “We were,” he didn’t bother denying it.

“Then get some rest. You need to take care of yourself. The body will still be there and maybe there will be more answers when you wake.”

Kit sighed. She was right, as usual. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to close his eyes for a bit. He retired to his bedroom and passed out, fully clothed, the moment his head hit the pillow.

***

Kit woke to the sound of knocking on his door. He glanced at his clock; it was already dinner time. “Come in,” he called.

It was Dru. She looked like she had also gotten some sleep and had changed into sweatpants and a Godzilla T-shirt. “I made you a sandwich. Everyone is still pretty busy, so there was no time to make anything else.”

“A sandwich sounds great. Thanks Dru.” He took the plate from her and devoured it in moments. He hadn’t eaten anything since before heading out on mission the night before. He finally let himself wonder how the girl was settling in at the Academy, if she had been adjusting well, or if it was as overwhelming for her as it had been for him at first at the L.A. Institute.

“Dalton filled us in about the demons at the docks.” Could she read minds? “I’m glad that you called Clary and Simon. That girl was lucky you found her alive.”

He didn’t know why he said it but being around Dru made him feel like he could say anything. “She reminded me of myself. She didn’t have a family to return to. It was the least I could do for her, to give her a chance at having a purpose in her life.”

“Have you?”

“Have I what?”

“Figured out your purpose. That’s part of why you left us right? To figure out who you are?”

Kit supposed that was true, though it was not a conscious part of his decision at the time. “Yes….and no.”

She sighed, sitting down on the mattress next to him. “There you go again with those cryptic answers.”

Maybe it was because he was tired. Or maybe he was just starting to get sick of keeping secrets. “That night…” Kit began, and saw Dru stir out of the corner of his eye. “I asked Ty not to do it. Not to bring her back. I’d told him that he could survive without her. That I would be there for him, we would get through it together. But it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough. He said there was nothing if Livvy wasn’t there. I guess I fell into that category.”

Dru was silent for a long time, so long that Kit wasn’t even sure she was going to speak. “So that’s why you left,” she stated.

He nodded, “There's more, but I’m not ready to talk about it. I’m not sure I’ll ever be.”

Dru wrapped her arms around him supportively. “I can’t speak for my brother; he never told me any of this. But...do you really think he meant that?”

“He was never one to say things he didn’t mean.”

“I know. But Livvy was his twin, Kit. That loss is unlike anything else. He may not have realized what he said or understood how you perceived it.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Can I tell you something? About after you left?”

“I think it’s better if you don’t.”

Dru considered him for a moment, looked like she would speak anyway, then decided against it. “Maybe another time, then.” He smiled gratefully at her. “Did you mean what you said last night?”

He racked his brain, trying to even remember the events before returning to find the dead Shadowhunter on their front steps .

“About me being like a sister to you?”

“Oh, that!” Kit laughed. “Of course I meant that, Dru.”

She beamed at him, and it lit up her entire face. “Speaking of sisters….Charlotte is absolutely adorable.”

“I know, right?” Kit gushed.

*******************************************

Tessa and Jem were waiting for Kit in the study, enjoying a rare quiet moment together. Tessa sat on Jem’s lap in front of the fireplace and the portrait of William Herondale. Jem toyed absent-mindedly with Tessa’s hair, and she hummed at the tenderness with which he touched her; always kind, always gentle. That was her Jem.

Light footsteps sounded in the doorway, and Tessa turned her head to find Kit, looking much better than he had earlier in the afternoon when he was sleep deprived.

“Oh,” he made a surprised face when he glanced across the room.

Tessa started to get up. “Don’t worry, you didn’t interrupt anything, Kit.”

He smiled, “No, it’s not that. We have a visitor among us. Quite a cocky bastard too.”

Jem and Tessa both gaped at him. “Will? Will’s here?”

“Yes,” Kit laughed, looking off to their right. “Although I wish you could both see him, and spare me the torture of watching him pine after both of you.”

Tessa glanced over at Jem, holding his hand tightly. She knew how hard it was for him to not be able to see his former parabatai. The ache in her heart, knowing he was there in the room with them, with only Kit being able to see him, was almost too much for her. Kit’s voice snapped her out of her reverie.

“He wants me to tell you that there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about you or wish that he could be here with you. He says that Charlotte is the spitting image of you, Tessa and he is happy you and Jem have built this beautiful life together.”

Tears were flowing freely down Tessa’s face, buried in Jem’s shoulder. She could feel his trembling with the tears she knew streaked down his cheeks too.

She heard Kit’s voice break, “Will also says that he’s proud of both of you...for always taking care of us troublesome Herondales.” Kit paused, wiping a tear that escaped down his own cheek, “Thank you, Will. That means a lot to me.”

Tessa felt Kit wrap his arms around them after a few moments of quiet. It wasn’t often that he initiated affection towards them, though he accepted it readily when they did. “He loves you both, so much. But he is here for another reason.”

Tessa unlatched herself from Jem and Kit, looking at him expectantly.

“He says, ‘don’t ask how’ but he knows the name of the dead Shadowhunter.” Then, with a glance to her right, at Will, Kit smirked, “If you were alive, I’d say we could make a drinking game out of all the stupid decisions we’ve made.”

“Kit!”

“Will, don’t encourage him!”

Ignoring them completely, Kit relayed the name, “Tristan Delacroix.” Tessa watched as Kit grabbed the case files and scrawled the name on a piece of paper, clipping it to the inside of the folder. “Thank you, Will.

Tessa followed Kit’s movements with her steely gray eyes. Pride bloomed in her chest as she observed the way he held himself; more confident than he was the last time she saw him a few months ago. Staying at the institute had clearly been good for him, though she missed having him in Devon.

“Is he still here?” Jem’s voice came out in a whisper beside her.

Kit shook his head. “It’s not something he has much control over, you know? He came to relay this information and stayed as long as he could. To see the two of you.”

At that moment, Tessa felt Jem shift beside her. They had stood from their chair at some point, she wasn’t sure when. Jem quickly left the room, and she knew he just needed a moment to be alone.

She approached Kit at the desk. “You’re doing a great job here.”

“Will said the same thing.”

She chuckled, and replied fondly, “He would know, he was the head of the institute when we were married.”

“Did he ever second guess himself?”

“Would he be human if he didn’t?”

Kit let that thought settle over him for a moment. “I suppose not.”

“Kit, whatever bad choices you have made in your life….they don’t define you. I hope you know that.” She rested her hand affectionately on his shoulder. “Jem and I love you, and we will always do our best to guide you.”

Kit smiled up at her warmly, a motion that lit up his face and almost made him look like that scrawny fifteen year old boy again, though she could tell that he was much happier than he was three years ago when he came to live with them.

“This is what you want, right?”

“What, to be the head of the London Institute?” He laughed. “If you had asked me that three years ago I might have told you to go...never mind. The point is,” he corrected himself, remembering that he was talking to Tessa, “this is something I never knew I could want, because Johnny never allowed me to even entertain the idea of being a Shadowhunter.”

Tessa felt a stab of anger towards Kit’s father for hiding him away from his birthright, but at the same time, she might have done the same thing if it protected him from those who would want him dead. As it was, he was protected for now. As long as he was careful.

She rubbed her hand over his back soothingly. “You were meant for this life. With or without your Faerie magic.”

“Have you learned anything new?”

Tessa thought about all the research she had done over the previous three years, trying to help Kit figure out his magical abilities, trying to teach him to wield it or channel it in some way. They had learned early on that his powers only manifested when he was highly emotional; which, in the first few months had been often, then less and less, as he grew more mature.

She shook her head. “I wish I could tell you more, but your magic is not like mine.”

“It’s okay, Tessa. You’ve done more than enough for me.”

Tessa reached out again to ruffle his golden curls. “I’ll leave you be then. I need to find Jem.”

“I’m sorry,” Kit blurted. “I know it’s not easy for either of you when Will shows up, and only I can see him.“

“No, it’s not easy. But in a way, it’s a comfort to know that he’s still watching out for us. You don’t need to worry about how we feel though. It may hurt; but it is also a blessing to be able to hear him through you.” She saw Kit sigh, realized that he had indeed been worried about her and Jem. “You have so much love and light in you, Christopher. Don’t be afraid to let down those walls of yours. People are full of surprises.”

***

Kit had been kicked out of the study at around eight in the evening. Jem said he needed to make phone calls and take care of personal business. Kit retired to the library with everyone else and all the case papers they had accumulated. Dru and Jaime had gone out earlier to print copies of the evidence from Tristan Delacroix’s corpse, reminding Kit that he needed to talk to Jem about getting a computer and a printer for the institute. He hadn’t exactly spoken it aloud, but he aimed to bridge the gap between Shadowhunter tradition and mundane technology.

They had everything spread out across a long table, witchlights burned in the lamps around the room, casting an eerie but relaxing glow over everyone. Dalton sat next to him, their knees brushing against each other under the table. He was busy staring at the pictures. Thais was flirting casually with Jaime, Dru kept casting them withering glances, though he also noted a spark that danced in her eyes seeing them together.

“Hey,” Kit whispered, “Are they a thing now?”

Dru laughed quietly, “No, but they sure act like it.”

“Do tell her to be careful. Jaime is...well, Jaime. And Jaime does whatever he wants. I just don’t want to see her get hurt.”

“Eh, she can take care of herself,” she said confidently, but her undertone was slightly weary. “Hey, you know what would go great with all this research?”

Kit took one look at her and knew.

“Pizza,” they said at the same time.

Yes, delicious, calorie loaded carbs. “I’ll order online.” Kit pulled his phone from his pocket and ordered two large pizzas from the closest late night delivery place, then bent over the papers again, making notes when he came across similarities between the cases. So far the only things in common were the removal of the Voyance and Angelic Power runes and the fact that both were Academy ascendants. It was hardly enough to go off of.

Kit was so absorbed in his notes that he barely registered the ringing of the doorbell. Dru whacked him, “I think our pizza is here.”

“Oh, right. I’ll be right back.”

Kit rushed into the entryway and yanked the front door open, ready to inhale the pizza. He was hungrier than he thought.

But when he looked out onto the steps, it was not the pizza delivery guy who stood there gazing just past his shoulder into the grand hallway.

Time stopped and Kit’s heart nearly ceased beating in his chest.

Ty.

***

Chapter Text

Anywhere But Here

Ty.

Ty was here.

Why the hell was Ty here?

Kit couldn’t help it; his breath hitched at the sight of Ty in his Centurion uniform. He wasn’t sure how it was possible for Ty to look so good. He was still slender, but the tight, flexible material hugged his frame, perfectly accentuating his toned shoulders and arms. A belt cinched the jacket in place around his waist in a way that made Kit’s stomach turn over with the all too familiar, yet long-forgotten flutter he had grown so used to when he lived with the Blackthorns.

He was taller than Kit remembered, the uniform giving him an appearance of complete self-confidence that was at odds with the way his hands fluttered gently at his sides. His inky black hair rested lightly against the flipped up collar, curling slightly at the ends and complimenting the defined angle of his jawline.

Kit noticed, with a surge of anxiety, that Ty’s headphones were nowhere to be seen, and he found himself momentarily wondering whether Ty was forced to manage without them at the Scholomance.

Then those striking gray eyes, like cold steel, came to rest on Kit’s for only a moment, and Kit was transported back in time to a dark basement, with a beautiful boy holding a dagger to his throat. But they were no longer teenagers, and Kit was still far too angry.

He slammed the door in Ty’s face.

Dru came running into the entryway from the library. “Kit? Where’s our pizza?”

“Not here,” he snapped.

“But then...who—?” She didn’t get to finish her question, because at that moment the door swung open again and Tiberius Blackthorn strode through the doors and straight past Kit, a raging look on his face. Dru sputtered, “Ty? What on earth are you doing here? It’s late.”

Kit noticed the expression on Ty’s face shift when he saw his sister. “It seems I have been requested to help with the investigation of the dead Shadowhunters,” he replied simply. “Congratulations, by the way,” he added with a small smile.

The sound of his voice, low and clear, sent shivers along Kit’s spine.

This is not happening, Kit thought. Kit could barely think past the roaring in his head; could barely comprehend the conversation taking place in front of him. His only real thought was that he needed to escape—to get far, far away from this. It was too much. Ty wasn’t supposed to be here.

Dru caught his gaze across from him, full of concern and apprehension. Their earlier conversation replayed in his head; he could see the wheels turning in her blue-green eyes, reminding them both that he was not in any emotional headspace to deal with Ty’s arrival.

Just then, the other three entered the hall—Jaime and Thais with shocked recognition on their faces and Dalton, shifting his gaze back and forth between Kit and the newcomer, confusion written all over it. Kit vaguely wondered what his face looked like at the moment. If he just looked angry, or if his expression betrayed the inner turmoil that raged like a hurricane in his head.

Kit registered somewhere in the back of his mind that Dalton had walked up to him, had gripped Kit’s palm in his own. He saw Ty’s eyes glance at their entwined hands for a brief moment before turning his attention back to Dru. Kit wanted to pull away, to runaway; from Dalton and Ty, but most of all, away from all the memories bubbling to the surface after almost three years of pushing them to the recesses of his mind.

Then he heard Jem’s voice from somewhere in the room. “Welcome to the London Institute, Tiberius. Thank you for coming on such short notice from the Scholomance.”

Kit’s head was swimming. He felt like he was drowning in betrayal. Jem had invited Ty to London? Kit glared daggers at Jem, who didn’t so much as glance in his direction. So much for trust.

Kit couldn’t do it anymore. He turned on his heel, releasing Dalton’s hand and striding swiftly from the entryway. He heard disembodied voices behind him, some calling after him, but he didn’t turn back. And he didn’t know or care where his feet carried him. He just needed to get away.

……………..

Whatever reaction Ty had been expecting when he arrived at the London Institute, he was completely and utterly taken aback when Kit slammed the door in his face. Somehow, he was not expecting that.

It was as if he had portaled back in time. Just like that, all the hurt and loneliness he had fought so hard to escape over the last three years came crashing back down on him, and his hands began to flutter nervously at his sides. He mentally berated himself for even thinking he could do this; be here, in this place where Kit was.

I wish I’d never known you.

The words he had tried to bury deep inside himself resurfaced painfully. He almost left right then and there.

But Shadowhunters didn’t run, and he was a Centurion now. It was just another mission, and being around Kit was just part of the investigation. Then it would be over, and he would return to the Scholomance.

He was mostly running on autopilot. It was late, as Dru had pointed out. He wasn’t in the mood to take part in the idle chit chat and introductions. Besides, he knew everyone except the brown haired man that took Kit’s hand in his own, clearly trying to offer some kind of support.

Ty noticed the shift in Kit’s demeanor when Jem entered, thanking him for coming on such short notice. It was apparent then; Kit had not known he was coming. And then Kit abruptly left the hall.

It occurred to him that Kit’s anger was fully justified. At least Ty had known Kit would be here. He had chosen to take on the mission regardless of their personal history. He couldn’t help but think Jem a little bit cruel for doing it to Kit without warning.

Ty almost wanted to follow Kit. Almost. Instead, he asked to be assigned a room.

Dru lead him from the hall, up the stairs and into the west wing. “All of our rooms are on this end. Thais and I have these two,” she gestured to her right. “They are connected by a shared bathroom.”

Ty dared ask, “Which one is Kit’s?”

Dru glanced sideways at him. “At the very end. On the left.”

“I’ll take the one across from him, if it’s open.”

“It is,” she said slowly. “Are—are you sure, Ty?”

He wasn’t. But he nodded anyway.

“We ordered pizza before you arrived. I’m sure it will be here soon, if you are hungry.”

“I already ate,” he lied. The truth was he just wanted to be alone.

“Okay.” She opened the door to his room. “Let me know if you need anything,” she paused. “Where are your belongings?”

“Catarina will portal my stuff over, I just have to send her a fire message when I’m settled.”

She studied him intently for a few moments. Ty suspected Dru wanted to say something. She had a strange look on her face. And she seemed tense. He knew she was close with Kit still. The thought sent a pang through his chest.

“Ty.”

He waited.

“I want you to know that I’m always glad to see you. But I’m not sure this is a good idea.”

“He didn’t know I was coming.”

“No.”

Even though he had deduced that much for himself, he needed to know; needed to hear it. Now he was at a loss for what to do about it. He was struck with the desire to talk to him, but he knew he couldn’t.

“Do you want company?” she offered.

He turned to look at her—directly at her. She smiled at him, and he could see her shoulders relax under his gaze; knew that it meant a lot to her. “No, that’s okay. We can talk more tomorrow. I just need to settle in.”

She reached out a hand to him, allowing him the choice to make contact.

He clasped her hand in his own, giving it a gentle squeeze.

“See you in the morning, Ty.”

She left his room and he took a moment to take in his surroundings; the massive four post bed across from the fireplace, the large window looking out across the city. Like all the bedrooms in the London institute, it was ridiculously ornate and a little overwhelming in its intensity.

He scrawled a fire message to Catarina Loss, shucked his uniform jacket and sat on the bed to wait. Normally he would have liked to wander to the library or the roof, but running in to Kit again….

He felt a shift in the air beside him; didn’t even have to turn his head to know that Livvy had joined him on the mattress.

“Well that went well, didn’t it?”

He flopped backward, running his fingers through his hair in frustrated motions. “I don’t know how to be around him.”

“You literally just got here. Give him some time….” she trailed off wistfully.

He huffed a breath, “Yeah, time.”

It didn’t take long before he dozed off, with Livvy hovering just above the mattress in a curled up ball, watching him sleep.

……………..

Dru spent half an hour searching the entire institute before she located Kit in some obscure corner of a room she hadn’t even known existed. By the time she found him, the pizza she had brought with her had gone cold.

“Pizza?” she offered, slumping to sit against the wall with him.

“Not hungry.”

“Suit yourself. More for me then.” She was trying to lighten the mood, but one look at Kit’s face told her it would not work. “What do you need?” She knew it didn’t pay to ask if he was alright, it was clear he was not.

He laughed sharply, “I wish I knew.”

She knew that statement had a double meaning. He wished Jem had warned him Ty was coming, and he wished he knew how to handle the fact that Ty was there. And in the bedroom across from his, not that she was about to tell him that.

“For what it’s worth, Jem should not have done that to you. But you also can’t hide from this.”

He glanced up at her then, his blue eyes full of some emotion that she couldn’t quite place. “I don’t know how to be around him, Dru. Not after….” he trailed off.

“What aren’t you telling me?” she dared to push.

He looked tortured. She could see the options warring in his mind, like he wanted to tell her but some invisible force held him back.

“Dalton is worried about you…” she said instead. “He asked me what happened. I told him it wasn’t my place to tell. But that means you’re going to have to talk about this, Kit. It’s not something that will just go away.”

“I know.”

Silence fell between them again for a few minutes. She thought back to her earlier conversation with Kit; thought about what he said about falling into that nothing category. She didn’t think it was true. She knew Kit, and she knew her brother, mostly. Ty had cared about Kit more than he openly cared about most people. And Kit had followed Ty around like a shadow. But it was clear that they both hurt each other, and now they had a chance to reconcile. She prayed that they would.

“I think you need a distraction.”

He nodded, “What did you have in mind?”

“How about that horror movie you got for me?”

His eyes lit up. “That sounds like the best kind of distraction.”

………..………..

Kit returned to his bedroom sometime near dawn, having stayed up most of the night with Dru. They had watched the movie he picked out for her: An American Werewolf in London and it was every bit as cringeworthy as he expected it to be. But it did its job for the time being; distracted him from the onslaught of his emotions, made him laugh, made him forget about the black haired boy now residing in the institute.

But now he was back in his own room. He was exhausted, yet sleep eluded him. He had been able to deal with his fallout with Ty as long as he could pretend that Ty was happy. As long as he didn’t have to face him again or confront the past.

No matter how much he willed the thoughts away though, all those unbidden words came tumbling back to the forefront of his mind.

I love you, Ty. I love you.

I wish I’d never known you.

Fuck.

He wished he could take it all back; wished he’d never said those damning words.

If only it were that simple. It wasn’t though; he was far angrier than he thought he was. He supposed suppressing those words and feelings for so long, convincing himself Ty was happy without him, had been the opposite of helpful. He knew he hadn’t actually coped with any of it. The bad choices, his stupid confession, the rejection, the words he didn’t and could never actually mean.

He was a fucking idiot.

And Ty could go fuck himself.

Kit gave up on sleep when the first rays of light shone through his window. He slipped on his training gear and opened his door to the hallway.

And froze.

The door across the hall from him had opened at the same time. Grey eyes locked on his for one brief second before glancing away and down at—

“What the hell is that??” Kit asked incredulously.

Beside Ty was an enormous cat, with equally enormous claws that could rip him to shreds in an instant, and gleaming teeth that peaked out from its mouth. Its golden eyes bored into him unsettlingly, like it was considering whether or not to make a meal out of him.

“A Carpathian Lynx,” Ty responded matter of factly.

“A what?”

An annoyed look crossed Ty’s face. “A Carpath—“

“No, no. I fucking heard you the first time. Why is it here?”

“She’s my pet. Her name in Shadow.”

“Your pet. Right.” Kit scowled, then walked away, muttering to himself, “Fucking unbelievable.”

Just what he needed, a carnivorous animal that would likely tear out his throat in the middle of the night for a snack.

And why the hell had Ty chosen the room directly across from him? Was he trying to torture Kit?

He was still muttering angrily to himself when he entered the training room. It was still too early for anyone else to be awake, other than Ty apparently, so he could let off some steam in peace. He grabbed some throwing knives from the table, took aim at various targets around the room, hitting each of his marks perfectly. Leaving them, he picked up a bow and sheath of arrows, slinging them over his back and notching an arrow.

He wasn’t nearly as good with a bow as he was with his sword or daggers, but he wasn’t abismal either. He flipped a lever on the far side of the wall, turning to ready himself for the targets. They were set on a randomized timer, activated when the lever was pulled. It was very useful technology for training.

A target came flying out at Kit from his right. He loosed his first arrow, then another, and another, until the targets stopped coming from left, right and above and he was sweating.

“Impressive,” said a voice from the doorway. He ignored it, focusing on removing the arrows from where they were each lodged around the room. “We haven’t trained together in awhile.”

Kit turned to see Jem picking up two short swords. Kit removed his bow and arrows and caught the blade Jem tossed to him. Kit remained silent as they took their places in the center of the floor where a large image of the rune for Angelic Power decorated the tiles. Kit squared off across from Jem, ready to parry and dodge blows. He couldn’t avoid talking forever, but he sure would make Jem suffer.

“Kit,” Jem began, but before he could even finish, Kit unleashed himself. Blades clashed and clanged, filling the air with the sharp echoing sound of metal on metal. Kit dodged the arc of Jem’s blade as it slashed through the air, spinning out and away from the other man.

Kit rushed at him.

He had hoped training would rid him of some of his angry energy, but so far it wasn’t working. He felt pressure building underneath the surface of his skin; knew what was coming. There was no way he was stopping it now. He knocked Jem off his feet with a swipe of his boot, and rested the tip of his sword victoriously on Jem’s throat, letting his anger and betrayal manifest itself in his stupid, uncontrollable faerie powers.

Shock dawned on Jem’s face, and he knew it was reflected on his own.

“Your sword is glowing,” Jem stared in fascination. “You’ve never done that before.”

Kit pulled the sword back and walked to the weapons rack, replacing it on its perch. It ceased glowing the moment he released it.

He took a few deep, grounding breaths, willing the simmering magic, now balled up in the palm of his hands, to dissipate. After a few moments, he felt it recede back into himself, like a force settling in the center of his chest. At the moment, he didn’t care what it meant that he had transferred his magic into another object. All that mattered was that some of his rage had finally eased.

He heard Jem get up from from the floor; knew he could have walked out of the room, refusing to talk to Jem like an adult. But he remained in place, willing himself to calm down.

“You should have told me.”

“I know,” was all Jem said as he placed his own sword back upon its rack.

“Why?”

“We needed a Centurion.”

“You know what I meant, Jem. Why him? Why bring Ty here?”

Jem sighed, placing a gentle hand on Kit’s shoulder, turning him around to face him. “For the same reason you keep that copy of Sherlock Holmes and that sketch of Ty in your safe.” Kit felt hot tears form in the back of his throat. Of course Jem knew about that.

Jem pulled him into a hug, which Kit did not return at first. But the rein on his emotions was wearing very thin and he soon found himself crying into Jem’s shoulder.

“Kit,” he rubbed soothing circles over Kit’s back. “Do not let the past define who you are and who you want to be. Life is too short, especially for Shadowhunters. It’s time that you reconcile your past mistakes. And Ty’s. Before it’s too late.”

“It already is too late, Jem.”

“Is it? I wouldn’t be so sure.”

……………...

Ty spent the majority of his first day at the London Institute avoiding as much social interaction as he could. Kit had sent Dru to deliver the case files to him, much to his annoyance. They were adults. And Kit couldn’t even deliver them himself.

If Kit had deigned to speak to him, he would have informed him that he had more knowledge pertinent to the case.

Ty had tucked himself away in a corner of the library with Shadow curled up next to him, purring steadily against his side. The low thrum of vibration and the warmth from her body were soothing, and he toyed absentmindedly with her spotted fur.

He thought back to the day Livvy had found the dying kitten and rushed to wake him from his room at the Scholomance. It was six months after Kit left Los Angeles, and it was the first time he had genuinely smiled again.

He had nursed the kitten back to health in secret for months, until Catarina caught him sneaking out at night to feed it. He had expected her to be angry with him; to tell him that the lynx belonged in the wild. But she had offered to help him, even went so far as to cast a powerful glamour over it to make it appear like a regular domestic house cat. He was allowed to keep her in his room after that.

He’d had Catarina remove the glamour upon sending her to London. He wasn’t concerned with being kicked out of the institute, so he figured the glamour would have been pointless. Besides, Shadow rarely left his side, like his own personal guardian, but she also knew exactly when to make herself scarce.

Ty organized the files before him. He found himself wanting to present Kit the information he had gathered, like old times. He resisted that urge. This wasn’t like old times, and they weren’t Sherlock and Watson anymore. They never would be. As always, thinking of it made his heart ache for the easy friendship he had once found—and then lost, in Kit.

He heard Dru calling for him then and he alerted her to his presence in the farthest corner.

She rounded a set of books shelves, clearly in a rush. “Hey, the Silent Brothers are here. Were having a meeting in the dining hall.”

“Give me a moment.”

Dru nodded and waited patiently for him to shuffle together the documents laid out in front of him. She watched him with interest as he scratched Shadow gently behind the ears and whispered to her that he wouldn’t be gone long. She stayed put when he got up, lifting her head momentarily to look at him, then putting her head back down on her enormous paws.

They walked together in silence, Dru shaking her head slightly. “You are amazing, you know that, right?”

“Why do you say that?”

“Only you could befriend a lynx. Not exactly a normal household pet.”

He considered that for a moment. “I’m not a normal person.” He didn’t mean it in a self deprecating way, it was merely an observation he had made and accepted about himself long ago. It was neither a good or a bad thing, and sometimes it was both.

They entered the dining hall to find everyone seated at the table already with the two Silent Brothers, Shadrach and Enoch, standing at the head. Ty took a seat as far from Kit as possible, noting that Kit didn’t even turn to look at him. The brown haired man, who he’d since learned was Dalton, sat next to Kit again. Ty noticed that Dalton kept glancing curiously between Kit and Ty.

Interesting, Ty thought. Not for the first time, he found himself wondering what his relationship was to Kit. Not that it mattered.

Kit began addressing everyone assembled in the room, and for the first time, Ty detected a faint British accent in his pronunciation of certain vowels. He found that the slight intonations seemed natural, and it was rather pleasant to listen to. “Brother Shadrach and Brother Enoch have concluded their part of the investigation into the murder of Tristan Delacroix, and have further information regarding the heist that Jaime, Dru and Thais looked into the other night.”

Ty’s interest was piqued further. He made a mental note to cross reference the two investigations, in case of discovering a connection between the heist and the murders.

Brother Enoch’s voice manifested in his head suddenly and unpleasantly.

In regards to the removal of the runes of Clairvoyant Sight and Angelic Power, it has been determined that they were removed ante-mortem by use of a dagger, resulting in the severe blood loss. However, blood loss was not the cause of death. This Shadowhunter was poisoned with Hemlock.

Ty let that sink in for a moment, mentally cross-referencing his notes.

“The murder in Rio was the same,” Thais responded, echoing his thoughts. “This is hardly enough to go off of though.”

“There have been three other murders,” Ty volunteered. “Occurring over the last six months.” He avoided Kit’s gaze, though registered that he whipped his blond head in his direction when he spoke. “None of them were poisoned, however, which leads me to believe that either these are two different murderers, or the murderer changed his methods to remain undetected.”

In total, it made five murders in five different cities thus far; Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Rome, Mumbai, and now London.

“Okay,” Kit breathed. “We know that the two most recent victims were academy ascendants. What about the first three?”

“Also ascendants,” Ty confirmed. “Though what’s even more interesting perhaps, is that none of the bodies were found at their home institute. The Rio victim went missing from Buenos Aires, and Tristan was from the Paris Institute. And all five victims went missing two days before turning up dead at another institute.”

Dru piped up, “Why though? And who would be targeting them?”

“I guess that’s what we need to find out.”

“Onto other business, then. Brother Shadrach, were you able to get any information from the vampire prisoner?”

Only his name. Damien Youngblood. He’s a fairly young vampire, but already quite powerful. He has not given up the name of whoever was behind the heist. As for the ring you found, it appears that we were given a fake. Jaime Rosales, would you care to explain why you handed over the wrong ring when we requested it from you?

“Ummmm,” Jaime began. “You see—“

“I told him I wanted to see it first, Brother Shadrach . My apologies for misleading you. As it is, I haven’t even had a chance to take a look with everything else that has happened.”

Ty suspected that Kit was covering for Jaime. Though it offered an opportunity for Ty to make use of his Centurion training. “If I may, Brother Shadrach. With your permission, I would also like to take a look at this ring before you take it. There may be some connection that we are not yet aware of.”

Permission granted, Tiberius. As it stands, we have other matters to attend to. We will be taking the body with us when we leave. He will be laid to rest in the Silent City.

Kit nodded, then recited the traditional Shadowhunter farewell, “Ave atque vale. Hail and farewell, Tristan Delacroix.”

“Ave atque vale,” echoed Ty and the others, followed by a moment of silence.

The meeting resumed and Ty watched curiously as Dru leaned over to whisper to Thais, who’s face lit up happily with a vigorous nod. Ty had met Thais on occasion but it struck him at that moment how much more at ease Dru was in her presence. Like they were two halves of a whole. He had felt that way with Livvy and with Kit once upon a time, before—

“Thais and I have an announcement we would like to make to everyone, since the Silent Brothers are here,” Dru proclaimed, cutting off his dark trailing thoughts.

Thais took Dru’s hand with an excited squeeze and announced, “We have decided to become parabatai.

Ty’s heart filled with a feeling of regret so abrupt and intense that it was all he could do to stay seated. He wished he had his headphones, or Shadow beside him to ease the pain in his chest. He would escape to the roof as soon as he could; he would not break down here, in the middle of this meeting. He would not let Dru see or feel anything but happiness from him, because this was an important moment and he couldn’t project his own regret onto his sister.

He didn’t register anything else that was addressed in the meeting, and luckily none of it was directed at him. When everyone started to get up, Ty rose swiftly from his seat and made it halfway back to the library when a voice drew him out of his thoughts.

“Hey!”

Not now, he thought with dread.

Ty turned around to see Kit standing with his arms crossed over his chest, a scowl etched on his face. Ty said nothing, but crossed his arms in response. He was in no mood to be civil.

“When were you planning on telling me about the other murders? Or did you think that because you’re a Centurion now, it makes you better than the rest of us?”

Was he serious?

Ty struggled to understand what could possibly make Kit think that way. It served as a cruel reminder that neither of them were who they used to be. Ty didn’t bother answering; it would do no good to argue if that was what Kit truly believed. He turned on his heel and continued walking.

A hand gripped his shoulder and yanked him around. “I was talking to you.”

Ty’s reflexes kicked in immediately and he whipped his arm up and out, wrapping his hand around Kit’s wrist and wrenching it backwards into an unnatural and painful angle, until Kit gave a small cry of pain. Ty released him. “Don’t touch me.”

Kit straightened up with an almost murderous look on his face, followed by realization of what he just did: touching Ty without warning or permission. But he didn’t apologize, and Ty’s nerves felt like a tightly drawn bow, ready to snap at any moment.

Kit appeared to be struggling with words. In the end, he settled on, “If you’re going to be working this investigation you need to be forthcoming with your information.”

Ty bristled at the comment, “I don’t need to do anything. And you don’t get to avoid me, insult me, and demand things of me at the same time. It doesn’t work that way.”

The murderous look returned to Kit’s blue eyes, flashing like lightning in the witchlight as he glared at Ty, but he managed to keep his mouth shut.

Ty knew he could have left, but he found himself saying, “I accepted Jem’s request to work this mission because I thought...I hoped things would be different after all this time.”

Ty almost thought Kit wasn’t going to respond, but then he did and Ty desperately wished he would have walked away when he had the chance.

“Yeah, well you thought wrong. I don’t want you here.”

The words settled in his mind amid all the other unresolved thoughts and feelings and his hands began their nervous flutter at his sides again. Ty’s eyes flitted to Kit’s for a brief moment, narrowing in defiant stubbornness. Two could play this game. “So that’s how this is going to be.”

“I guess so.”

“Well that’s too bad, because I’m not leaving.”

Abruptly, Ty felt Shadow creep up alongside him, nudging his palm lightly with the top of her head. She somehow always knew when he needed her. He ran his fingers through her thick fur for comfort, and watched triumphantly as Kit backed away warily and quickly walked away.

When Kit disappeared around the far corner, Ty finally let his shoulders slump and made his way to the roof where he could be alone and remain undisturbed in his thoughts.

The night air was cool and damp on his exposed skin, but he didn’t care. He just needed to be anywhere but inside the Institute, away from the sensory overload, away from the source of his suffering.

He took a deep, shaky breath and sank to the shingled surface of the roof with Shadow curled up at his side. He leaned into her, letting her warmth wash over him, comforting him. One hand gripped and loosened anxiously in her fur; she never seemed to mind when he did that. His other hand pushed aggravatedly through his own hair and he felt unshed tears from in the back of his throat, hot and burning.

I wish I’d never known you.

I don’t want you here.

Livvy.

He should have been her parabatai. Maybe the bond would have saved her.

Her spirit appeared in front of him at that moment, and for the first time, her presence was not a comfort. She couldn’t touch him, couldn’t rub his hands between her own the way she used to.

He trembled with the sobs that spilled from within him, cracking open the wide chasm in his chest that never seemed to fully heal. But it had been months since his last meltdown. He had thought it meant he could handle this.

It was now abundantly clear that he could not, in fact, handle it.

Because he was broken.

Chapter Text

Lost With[out] You

Kit could feel the feral feline gaze between his shoulder blades as he retreated down the hall and around the corner. He took a deep, steadying breath and realized he was very much afraid of the lynx. He briefly imagined himself being torn to shreds in his sleep and chuckled darkly to no one. His untimely death was likely to come from pissing off Ty’s pet that was not a pet. How utterly poetic.

But also, at this point Kit was digging his own goddamn grave. He wasn’t sure he knew how to stop.

He hadn’t meant to be a complete asshole when he confronted Ty about the investigation, but there he was, spouting more words that he didn’t actually mean.

Well, mostly.

There was definitely a part of him that wanted to make sure Ty didn’t stay any longer than he had to.

There was also the part of him that wanted to wrap Ty in his arms and never let go again. Not that he could ever do that.

Don’t touch me.

Ty’s words echoed menacingly in his head, reminding him once again that he was the most idiotic fuck-twat to ever exist. Why did he grab Ty like that? He knew better than to touch Ty without warning or permission. What the hell was he thinking?

That was the problem. Kit didn’t think when it came to Ty. All common sense seemed to evaporate when Ty was around.

He burst into his room and slammed the door shut behind him unceremoniously. He collapsed in a heap on his mattress and bellowed into his pillow, hoping that he hadn’t alerted anyone with his outburst, yet feeling no less frustrated.

He desperately needed to get a grip on his emotions. He felt the familiar simmer of his magic underneath the surface of his skin. He knew he could destroy his entire room if he didn’t get his feelings under control, and then he would have no choice but to explain that to everyone. He had already accidentally destroyed his bedroom at Cirenworth Hall on three separate occasions.

Calm down.

He inhaled several deep, grounding breaths, just as Tessa had taught him in the first year in Devon. It was the only way to manage the magic that festered within him.

God, how he wished he could control his stupid magic.

It was either nothing at all, or complete and utter destruction. It was infuriating. He thought back to that morning in the training room when he inadvertently transferred his magic into the sword. That was the closest he had come to controlling it, but he still didn’t know how to engage it purposefully.

He reached into the drawer of his bedside table, pulling out his headphones and impatiently untangling the cords.

He was about to plug them into the jack in his phone—about to drown out his thoughts and feelings with loud, angry music, when he was interrupted by the appearance of the last person—being, rather—he wanted to see.

“Boo.” Livvy’s ghost had materialized directly in front of him and he dropped his phone and the headphones to the floor in shock.

Jesus,” he swore, picking up his phone and checking for damage.

“Not Jesus. Just Livvy,” she quipped with a smirk.

“No offense, but I’m not exactly in the mood.”

“No offense, but you’re being an ass.

Kit opened his mouth to retaliate, but found he didn’t have anything to retort. He was being as ass.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. “I don’t mean to take it out on you.”

She gazed at him for a few long moments, then floated weightlessly up onto the mattress beside him. He watched in mute fascination. Even though he was fairly used to seeing ghosts, Livvy’s spirit unnerved him. She seemed more corporeal than the others, but maybe that was because he had actually known her when she was alive. “I’m not the one you need to apologize to.”

“And I’m not the only one who has things to apologize for,” he argued. Not that Ty cared enough to apologize anyway.

Livvy’s spirit sighed, and Kit swore for a second that he felt the slight exhale of her breath on his skin. “You haven’t exactly made it easy for him.”

Kit said nothing in response.

After several long minutes of very uncomfortable silence, Livvy drifted off the bed and toward his door. She swiveled in the air and faced him one more time. He gazed at her blue green eyes, the colors muted to a soft pastel.

“You broke your promise to me, Kit,” her voice drifted across the room, sinking into his soul like a hook. “I told you not to lead him on if you weren’t planning on staying. He needed you, and you left.”

His breath seemed to leave him as guilt and anger and disappointment took its place. But he ignored those feelings. “You’re wrong. He never needed me.”

“If you really think that, then I have nothing more to say to you.”

With that, she turned and disappeared through the door, leaving Kit alone with his tormenting thoughts once again.

It seemed that the universe had it out for him though, because he had about two whole minutes of quiet torture before a rasp sounded at his door. He contemplated pretending he wasn’t there, until a voice spoke impatiently, “I know you’re in there, Kit.”

He sighed and plastered on a fake smile before opening the door for Dalton. “Hey,” he said quietly, but Dalton didn’t entirely return the smile.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” he stated. There wasn’t any anger behind it, just concern.

He thought about denying it, making up an excuse about being busy, but Dalton wasn’t stupid. He had been there when Ty arrived, he had seen Kit’s reaction. Like Dru said, he couldn’t avoid this no matter how much he wanted to.

Kit took Dalton’s hand and pulled him into the room. “I’m sorry,” he said, unable to look Dalton in the eyes.

Dalton wrapped Kit in his arms and rubbed his back soothingly. “I’m not mad at you. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

Kit sighed into the embrace, “I am now.” He found that he meant it. Dalton’s presence was comforting, and Kit found that he was finally starting to relax and the anxious mess in his head was hushing to a dull chatter. “Will you stay with me tonight?” Kit asked.

Dalton nodded into Kit’s shoulder before pulling away and removing his shirt and jeans. Kit did the same and crawled under the covers with Dalton by his side. Kit nestled against the other man’s chest with Dalton’s arm wrapped around him, pulling him closer. Dalton pressed a kiss to Kit’s brow and murmured quietly, “Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not really, but I know I should,” he admitted.

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to...there are just certain things that aren’t mine to tell. And I’m not even sure where to start.”

“How about I just ask what I want to know and you decide how much to tell me?” Dalton asked, tracing lazy circles on Kit’s arm.

“Okay.”

Kit prepared himself as best he could for Dalton’s questions, entirely uncertain whether this was a good idea.

“What was—or is—your relationship with Ty?”

Kit considered that for a moment, deciding how best to answer such a loaded question. What was his relationship with Ty? He wasn’t sure anymore.

“He was my best friend. My first real friend, actually, after my dad died and I was thrust into my new life as a Shadowhunter.” It hurt like hell to admit, but at least it was honest. Friendship had been a rare commodity his entire life, since his father had never let him leave the house without him. It wasn’t important to share that he had also wanted more than just friendship with Ty.

“How long has it been since you last saw him?”

“Almost three years.” It felt like a lifetime.

Dalton nodded in what seemed to be understanding. “I know you left Los Angeles and moved to Devon with Jem and Tessa. What happened to make you leave?”

“That’s bordering on forbidden territory.” Dalton didn’t know about the necromancy or about his faerie magic. And for now, it needed to remain that way. Dalton knowing was far too dangerous.

“What can you tell me about why you left?”

Kit took another steadying breath. “Ty’s twin, Livvy, was murdered. I tried to be there for him...but it wasn’t enough. We both said and did some hurtful things...I thought leaving was for the best.” It wasn’t much, but it was the most he could tell Dalton without exposing the real reasons.

“And was it? For the best, I mean.”

“I thought so, until last night. I didn’t think I was still so angry with him.”

Dalton was pensive for awhile, then said encouragingly, “It sounds like you just need to talk to him.”

Kit laughed in spite of himself, “Yeah, turns out every time I open my stupid mouth I only manage to make things worse.”

Dalton pulled his head back slightly to gaze into Kit’s face. He reached out his free hand to push away the hair that had fallen into Kit’s eyes, then caressed his knuckles along his cheek tenderly. “You’ll figure it out. I believe in you,” he whispered.

Kit didn’t realize how much he wanted—no, how much he needed to hear those words until they were spoken.

Kit leaned into Dalton, claiming his lips with his own in a frantic, desperate motion, trying to put everything else out of his mind. In moments, Kit was on top, straddling his hips, tangling his hands in Dalton’s sun streaked hair. Dalton dragged his fingernails along Kit’s spine, slipping his hands under the hem of his boxers and squeezing his ass firmly.

Kit circled his hips rhythmically and it didn’t take long until Dalton was panting beneath him, always impatient, begging for release. Kit traced a trail of kisses down his neck, over his sternum and the sculpted muscles of his abdomen, earning delightful little moans. He knew exactly the effect his movements and touches had on him; knew exactly what to do to make him squirm.

As expected, Dalton writhed under him as Kit grazed a finger along his boxer line, toying with the sensitive skin. Dalton let out a groan, and Kit smiled up at him wickedly.

“Tell me you want me,” Kit rasped, tugging the boxers down, only half way.

“I want you,” muttered Dalton, dark eyes boring into Kit’s with unhindered desire.

“Tell me you need me,” Kit whispered, sliding off him and pulling the boxers down the remainder of the way.

Dalton kicked them off impatiently, “I need you.” It came out as barely a whisper, lustful and throaty.

Kit parted Dalton’s legs and knelt between them. He wrapped his hand around the other man’s length, stroking him once, twice, before leaning over him to murmur in his ear, “Louder. I need to believe it.”

Dalton gasped as Kit settled himself between his legs once more.

“Now, tell me you need me,” Kit repeated, continuing to pump his hand over Dalton’s shaft.

Dalton’s breaths were ragged as he managed to utter the words Kit demanded of him, “I—shit—I need you.”

In one swift motion, Kit took him in his mouth, swirling and flicking his tongue over the tip, savoring the feeling of being needed and in control. His other hand stroked the shaft as he sucked him, gently at first, then with more enthusiasm as Dalton fisted a hand in his hair, tugging and pushing.

Fuck,” Dalton moaned. “I’m close.”

Kit increased the pace, dragging his teeth lightly across the sensitive under-skin. Dalton’s fist tightened and Kit felt the first spasms as he climaxed and spilled himself into Kit’s mouth.

Kit licked him clean and rolled onto the bed beside him. A lazy, satisfied smile ghosted Dalton’s lips as he fought to catch his breath. “Holy hell, Kit. That was—wow,” was all he managed to say.

Kit smirked, “I know, I’m good.”

Dalton shoved him playfully and pinned him to the mattress. “Don’t get cocky. It’s my turn to make you feel good.”

———————————————

Ty had returned to his room late, well after everyone else had gone to bed. The institute was quiet, and he had taken time to explore after coming down from the roof. Shadow was off somewhere, likely hunting for rodents. He would have to make sure she got enough to eat; this wasn’t the Carpathian Mountains and he couldn’t just let her roam freely around London.

His wandering had lead him back to the library, where he perused the shelves until he found a book about plant species and their relevant historical context; he figured he would look into the use of hemlock as a poison. Maybe learning more about its origins would be pertinent to the case. Regardless of whether it would be useful or not, it at least served as a distraction.

Which was what he needed at the moment. Sleep had eluded him, as his mind was preoccupied with unbidden thoughts and regrets. He knew better than to let his mind trail down that path, but it was as if he had surrendered all control the moment he entered the London Institute.

Even his usual sensory fidgets weren’t effective in calming his overactive and intrusive musings.

So he immersed himself in his studies, just as he had done over and over again at the Scholomance, taking meticulous notes of anything he found of consequence.

Eventually his exhaustion won out.

He woke up, much later than usual, to sun streaming through his windows and the book spread open over his chest.

After showering and changing into jeans and a hoodie, he wrapped his headphones over his ears and exited his room. Just like the previous morning, Kit emerged from his room across the hall at the same time, hair damp and curling.

They needed to stop meeting like this. Then Ty remembered that it was his fault in the first place, since he had chosen the room across from Kit’s on purpose. He mentally kicked himself.

Ty observed with mild curiosity as Dalton emerged beside him, hair also wet. He said, “Good morning,” and smiled warmly at Ty, who made a feeble attempt to return it while the wheels turned in his mind.

Dalton began walking down the hall, but stopped short when he realized Kit hadn’t followed. Ty was still standing awkwardly in his doorway, locked in a sort of stalemate with Kit, neither of them looking at each other.

“Are you coming?”

Kit shook his head. “I’ll be down for breakfast in a bit.”

Dalton nodded in understanding, returned to Kit’s side and placed a gentle kiss on his brow. “See you later, then.”

Ty knew his eyes widened as he finally understood why Dalton always seemed to be in close proximity to Kit at all times. Their relationship was romantic in nature. He felt a flutter of some unfamiliar emotion spread through him at the realization. Whatever it was; it was an unpleasant heavy feeling, like a rock settling in the pit of his stomach.

It was then that he realized Kit had spoken to him, and he hadn’t heard a word he said. “Sorry, what did you say?” He said sheepishly, pulling the headphones down around his neck and twining the cord around his fingers nervously.

Kit smiled, just a little. “I asked if I could talk to you.”

“Sure, what about?” He tried to sound indifferent. After the previous night, he wasn’t sure what Kit could possibly have to say to him.

“Walk with me?”

Ty followed in silence, keeping his gaze on anything but Kit’s silky golden locks.

“It seems that I have been an ass.”

Ty almost laughed, but replied flatly, “Your powers of deduction are unparalleled.”

Kit sighed, “I’m serious, Ty.”

It was the first time Kit had spoken his name since he arrived. It made Ty finally look at Kit. “Okay.”

“I’m sorry about what I said last night. About you thinking you’re better than us and about not wanting you here. It’s not true.”

Ty was thoughtful for a moment. “Why did you say those things, then?” He never understood why people said things they didn’t actually mean.

“I have a bad habit of saying idiotic things when I’m angry.”

“You should probably work on that,” he said simply.

Kit laughed, actually laughed. Ty had always enjoyed the sound, soft and melodic, and a little bit mischievous. It took him back to a time when they would stay up late solving mysteries. A time when they had always been together and Ty finally had someone other than his twin to understand him. He had mistakenly thought Kit would stay with him. But he hadn’t. And Ty had been left with nothing.

“You left me,” he blurted.

Kit stopped in his tracks. “I had to. The way you had to bring Livvy back.”

“That’s not the only reason.”

“No, and we’re not talking about it.”

“I need to know why.”

He had spent the last two and a half years trying to understand—and failing miserably. He knew he had let Kit down; knew that he should have listened when Kit begged him not to go through with the ritual. But he couldn’t. And even if he could go back and do things differently, he wasn’t sure he would have. Livvy was his twin—literally his other half. He had been lost without her. Then again, he was lost without Kit, too. He just hadn’t let himself admit it, until now.

The thoughts and feelings were all too confusing.

“Please, Ty. Let it go for now.”

The way Kit said his name, with a sort of pleading desperation, made Ty reconsider. If the roles were reversed, Kit wouldn’t have pushed Ty to talk about something he wasn’t ready to talk about. So Ty chose to let it go for the time being. Kit was at least talking to him, which was an improvement.

“Okay, something else then.” But it was then that he realized Kit wasn’t leading him down to the kitchen. “Where are we going?”

“You said you wanted to take a look at that ring Jaime found. And I have something else to show you.”

——————————

Kit found it difficult to focus with Ty’s attention on him. He tried to ignore the way Ty’s gray eyes lit up like liquid silver at the mention of a mystery to solve. He also tried, and failed, to ignore his own building excitement about showing him the two artifacts that had come into his possession in the last week.

He pulled the two pieces of jewelry from his safe and set them on the desk in front of Ty. Kit took a seat across from him, which proved to be a mistake because it gave him an unobstructed view of Ty’s striking dark hair, still damp and curling just slightly at the ends, falling in his face as he leaned forward to pick up the gaudy ring.

Kit followed Ty’s movements as he examined the ring carefully, eyes darting back and forth over the intricate detailing. He slipped it on one of his long, slender fingers and immediately took it off again, a startled and concerned expression coming over his features.

“What’s wrong?” Kit asked.

“I’m not sure. Has anyone else worn it?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

“Here,” he handed it to him, his cool fingers gently grazing his palm as he set the ring there. Kit ignored the tingling sensation that emanated from his palm as his stomach did a small back flip. “Put it on. Tell me what you feel.”

Kit obliged, sliding the ring onto his pinky finger. The effect was instant. The only way Kit could describe it was like being doused in cold water; water that washed away any and all traces of magic in his bones—Shadowhunter and faerie. It left him feeling utterly empty.

He removed the ring swiftly, expelling a deep breath when he felt the magical thrum of energy in his veins again.

It was an absolutely terrifying and disconcerting sensation, having no magic. For all Kit’s frustrated confusion about his own lack of control over his powers, it was a part of him now and he did not want to experience the loss of it.

“What the hell was that?”

“I don’t know,” Ty breathed. “Nothing good though, if that power can be used to nullify magic. But why would someone want it? Unless this person is powerful enough to harness it...to use it as a weapon.”

Kit shivered at the idea. Shadowhunters still had enough enemies in the Downworld. And the Cohort, or whatever they called themselves these days, were enemy to them all.

“Better to keep it locked up then. We may need to pay our vampire friend a visit in the Silent City.”

Ty’s eyes sparked, just slightly, at the word we. It was impossible not to feel the same pull towards him; the same detrimental need to make Ty happy. It was far too easy for Kit to get wrapped up in the same feelings and emotions that made him act recklessly and impulsively when it came to Tiberius Blackthorn. He knew that if he wasn’t careful, he would get swept back up into the same sea of chaos that had landed them in this mess of tense uncertainty in the first place. Kit didn’t want to think about it, so he pushed it all back to the deep recesses of his mind.

Ty picked up the amulet with more hesitation, dangling it from his long, slender fingers in front of him. The sunlight streaming through the window seemed to illuminate the turquoise stone from within, and once again Kit felt the strange, yet comforting pull towards the object.

“It’s not dangerous. At least, not in the same way that ring is,” he assured him. “This is what I really wanted to show you…”

“I’m not sure I understand.” Ty’s gaze was perplexed, eyebrows knitted in confusion. Clearly the effects of the amulet were still well and truly apparent to Kit only. Whatever it was, Kit could feel it’s magic in his soul; it was not a malevolent item.

“Well that makes two—three of us, counting Magnus,” Kit sighed, filling him in on the details that he shared with the warlock, but leaving out the part about his faerie lineage. He knew he could trust Ty with the information, but no one else other than Jem, Tessa and Magnus knew.

He told himself it was safer if Ty didn’t know.

Ty’s brows furrowed as he contemplated the information Kit provided him. “If it’s alright, I can contact Catarina at the Scholomance. She’ll send whatever we need.”

It didn’t surprise him that Ty had Catarina wrapped around his finger, but he raised an eyebrow in question, anyway.

If Ty noticed, he chose not to elaborate.

“If that’s all…” Ty trailed off. He started to get up, signaling that he was done with their conversation.

“Oh. Yes, that’s all,” Kit wasn’t sure why Ty’s sudden eagerness to depart surprised him—and upset him. He had just been a complete ass the night before. Did he really expect anything different?

Ty was at the door when he turned back to glance at Kit. Kit’s breath caught as Ty’s silver eyes met his for the briefest of moments. His lips parted slightly, as if he were about to say something, but then he closed his mouth again and strode out of the room, leaving Kit staring after him in bewilderment.

What had Ty been about to say?

Kit shook his head of the thoughts and secured the mysterious artifacts in the safe. He was very alarmed by what he and Ty had discovered about the ring, but more troubling still was the fact that someone was after it.

Someone who was likely very angry that their plans had been thwarted by the Shadowhunters.

Chapter Text

The Rhythm of Rain

Ty spent the majority of the next few days intentionally avoiding Kit. If Kit noticed, he did Ty the favor of not saying anything or seeking him out. Which was good, because Ty didn’t have a good explanation for it. Or any explanation, really.

There was a moment in Kit’s office where he had wanted to tell Kit that he’d missed him. That there hadn’t been a day that went by at the Scholomance where he didn’t wish Kit was there with him. But when he’d opened his mouth to say those things, nothing came out and he walked out of the study in frustration, and hadn’t spoken to him since.

He was used to thinking logically, analyzing people and situations, being able to see patterns and evidence that others missed. His Centurion training had only made him better at those things.

And yet, Kit was an absolute mystery to him--an anomaly he couldn’t quite decipher. So avoiding him was his only option if he were to remain focused on the investigation. He couldn’t afford to be distracted.

Ty’s favorite place to hide out alone was in his corner of the library. Sometimes, on the occasion when he didn’t feel like being alone, he asked Dru to join him. He had been attempting to develop a better relationship with her since Kit left Los Angeles, but then he went to the Scholomance and even though he had written her letters, a divide has remained between them.

She was with him now, poring over the same case files they’d been staring at for days. It was becoming abundantly clear that they needed more information. Ty had read everything he could about Hemlock poisoning, including its historical significance in being the cause of Socrates’ death, and had cross-referenced the murders multiple times, but it had proved profusely unconstructive.

Despite hemlock poisoning being a horrific way to die—the victim experiencing rapid loss of neurological functioning and muscle degeneration, all while the victim was fully conscious and aware, it had brought them no closer to determining who was behind it. Or more specifically, why.

Dru frustratedly tossed the files to the table in front of her, sighing in exasperation, “I give up. We’ve gone over everything. There’s nothing. Whoever is doing this is clever. Hemlock can be found pretty much anywhere and we are no closer to understanding why Academy ascendants are being targeted than we were a week ago.”

A thought dawned on Ty. He and Livvy had discovered that the Cohort was spying on the Clave-in-exhile, but efforts to figure out how had been fruitless. Still, it made him wonder aloud, “Who do we know who would want to eradicate gifted mundanes from the shadow world?”

Dru looked at him with a puzzled expression. “I don’t know. That’s the point, Ty.”

“Think about it,” Ty said. “Who thinks that mundanes and Downworlders are lesser and would want to prevent our ranks from growing?”

Her eyes widened, “The Cohort? But how?”

“That I don’t know.”

“And why remove the runes?”

Ty considered that briefly, “Because it’s symbolic. The voyance and angelic power runes are the first Marks given to Shadowhunters.”

Dru appeared lost in thought for a few moments. “If this is true, then we need to warn the Academy.”

Ty shook his head, and his fingers fluttered in his lap. He found the strings of his hoodie and began fidgeting with the frayed ends. He had already thought about that. “No. Like you said, we need more evidence. This isn’t enough to go off of. We need to keep this to ourselves.”

Ty. There will be more murders if we do nothing.”

“We won’t catch whoever is doing this if they know we are onto them.”

Dru was silent. Ty knew it was awful. He didn’t want to risk more lives, but he didn’t see another way yet. He was prepared for Dru to argue with him, to be angry and tell him it was wrong. But she didn’t. “I don’t like it, Ty. But I trust you.”

He released a breath he didn’t know he was holding. He needed his sister’s support more than he could admit out loud. Her trust, after everything he and Kit had kept from her, was as vital as the air he breathed.

“We should tell Kit our suspicions,” she said.

He huffed a breath, “You can go tell him.”

Dru pursed her lips, then frowned. “You still aren’t talking?”

Ty thought back to the morning after his breakdown on the roof. Yes, Kit had apologized for what he said. But that was barely the beginning of it. He was no closer to understanding why Kit left than he was nearly three years ago.

“He won’t tell me why he left,” he admitted, regretfully.

He braved a glance at Dru, saw the way her eyes softened. “He had his reasons.”

“He’s told you?” Ty was entirely caught off-guard by that revelation. He was curious, and a little bit jealous, which was an emotion he avoided feeling because it was uncomfortable.

“Kit is my friend. I won’t betray his trust, any more than I would betray yours if you told me what happened that night.”

“You know what happened that night,” Ty said, confused.

“I know that you both said and did some hurtful things. I also know there’s a good chance neither of you meant to hurt one another. You two just need to air out your dirty laundry.”

What?

“What does our laundry have to do with what happened?”

Dru chuckled, “Sorry, sometimes I forget that you don’t always understand euphemisms. I just meant that you two need to talk. Set the record straight.”

He imagined how Julian would have drawn that out for him, pretending to understand how those two things correlated. He thanked her anyway for explaining. “It's not that easy.”

“I never said it would be.”

***

Kit sat at the desk in his study, researching the books on ancient jewelry and artifacts that Catarina had sent at Ty’s request. Ty hadn’t offered to look through them with him, and Kit hadn’t asked him to. Things were still tense between them. Despite his effort to make amends, he was well aware that it didn’t even come close to repairing the rift between them. But he had extended the first olive branch; it was Ty’s turn to do so.

It was getting late—or early, depending how one looked at it, and the words were beginning to blur on the pages. He thought about etching an energy rune so he could continue, but the thought passed as quickly as it came and the next thing he knew he woke up with his face planted between the pages of the tome. The room around him was illuminated by muted light from the massive window. He groaned, seeing that it was raining.

He lifted his head and stretched out a kink in his neck— and froze mid action.

A pair of wild golden eyes bored into him from the doorway.

Ty’s goddamn cat. How long had it been sitting there, staring at him? Was he imagining things, or did it look like the feral cat was getting ready to pounce at him? It had slowly crept toward the desk, eyes never leaving Kit’s face.

Kit slowly reached into his desk drawer for his phone, horrified to find that it was dead.

He was trapped.

This is it. This is the end. Goodbye world, it was nice knowing you.

Kit rose from his chair slowly and climbed onto the desk. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew it did him absolutely no good; the cat could leap from the floor onto the desk in a single motion, and was a literal killing machine.

“Hey kitty, kitty,” he said nervously. “It’s cool. I’m cool. Don’t eat me, please. I don’t want to die today.”

“Kit?” He looked up to see Ty standing in the doorway, head tilted and looking at him curiously. “Why are you on top of the desk?”

Why?” he sputtered. “I don’t know, maybe because your pet wants to eat me.”

“Nonsense. Even if she did, that desk wouldn’t keep you safe.”

Of course he had to point that out.

Not the point,” he gritted his teeth.

“Wait, are you—? You’re actually afraid of her,” Ty laughed, and the sound was like a long forgotten melody, beautiful and enchanting.

“No shit, Sherlock.” The sarcastic comment came out of his mouth before he even realized what he was saying. Ty’s laughter died instantly, and Kit wanted to kick himself for being a moron. He tried to cover up his mistake. “Of course I’m afraid of her. She’s terrifying.”

Ty raised his perfect eyebrows, “She is not. And she’s not going to eat you, unless you give her a reason to.”

“Oh good, that’s very comforting,” he deadpanned.

Ty rolled his eyes, “I actually came to tell you something.” He paused, moving into the room. “Are you really going to stay up there?”

“Yep.”

“Suit yourself.” He took a seat in an oversized chair by the fireplace, and Shadow hopped up in the chair at his side, curling up and resting her head on his leg, forgetting all about her prey. Ty fiddled with the tufts of fur by her ear.

Kit merely gaped at the sight. How the hell did Ty do it? His affinity for animals was impressive. And so was the apparent bond between him and the feline. He wondered how Ty came to have the lynx as his pet in the first place.

He managed to avert his gaze from the cat that no longer seemed to care about him. He didn’t move from his perch though. “So what did you want to tell me?”

Ty filled him in on the potential revelation he and Dru had made, keeping his gaze fixated on a spot just above Kit’s shoulder. Kit listened with interest, and relished the sound of Ty’s deep, ridiculously lovely voice. He pushed that thought to the back of his mind. Now was not the time to admire Ty’s beautiful everything.

Kit did not like the idea of the Cohort being behind the attacks. But also, it was no secret that the Cohort couldn’t leave Idris, so if they were responsible, how were they managing it?

“Do you think the mysterious ring and these murders are connected?”

“I’m not sure. I think you were right the other morning.”

“About what?”

“About needing to pay your vampire prisoner a visit.”

Kit was thoughtful for a moment. “Dalton and I will go tonight. Fresh faces might do some good.”

“I’m going with you.” He said it with such finality that Kit knew there was no point arguing. Not that he would have told Ty no to helping with the investigation. But the thought of being with just Ty and Dalton on a mission set him immediately on edge. Especially after his idiotic Sherlock comment.

“Alright. We will go after dinner.”

Ty nodded, “After dinner, then.”

Ty got up from his seat. Kit watched as the lynx stretched out languidly before rising to follow her human out the door. Kit breathed a sigh of relief, finally able to remove himself from the top of his desk.

***

Kit entered the training room after breakfast in quite a mood. Ty had disappeared after the ordeal in the study and Kit was still mentally berating himself for never thinking before he opened his mouth.

He spotted Jaime with Dru and Thais on the far side of the room, chatting and laughing. He approached them, gripped Jaime by the elbow and dragged him into the center of the floor.

“You. Me. Hand to hand combat, now.”

“Well aren’t you just a fucking ray of sunshine this morning?” Jaime quipped, making Kit want to pummel him into the floor.

Kit heard laughter from the two girls standing off to the side.

“This ray of sunshine would very much like to beat your ass into the ground. Try not to disappoint me today.”

Jaime smirked, “I’ll do my best, pendejo.

It was exactly what Kit wanted. Jaime didn’t hold back when he knew Kit wanted to spar—he was not shy about taunting or hurting him.

Kit was the first to make a move, shooting a right handed jab directly at Jaime’s face. It was blocked, which left him open to a knee in the gut. Jaime doubled over for a few moments, but Kit didn’t leave him time to recover before throwing consecutive punches.

Jaime managed to raise his arms to block the majority of Kit’s blows, and backed away to circle around him. Jaime pulled his shirt off over his head which was code for “I mean business.” At least whenever they fought hand to hand. Kit had the perfect view of Dru and Thais and rolled his eyes as they blushed and giggled to each other.

Kit taunted him, “I thought I told you not to disappoint me. Come on! Don’t be a pussy!”

“You really are in rare form today, Herondale.”

His words were a distraction though, meant to keep Kit from paying attention to the fact that their circle kept getting smaller and smaller.

It didn’t work this time. Kit ducked low and swiped out his leg, trying to catch Jaime off guard, however Jaime was expecting him to do just that. He hopped out of the way, spun around behind Kit and flipped him onto his back while he was off balance.

Kit struggled to drag air into his lungs as he glared up at Jaime through his lashes.

The other man held out his hand to help him up. It was a mistake for him, as Kit used the moment of defenselessness to pull Jaime to the floor, swiftly kneeling over him and gripping him around the throat.

That was disappointing, Jaime.”

Jaime sputtered beneath him, pounding the floor three times with his free hand, signaling he had surrendered. Kit leaped to his feet, feeling confident and victorious, and quickly found himself sprawled on the floor, legs kicked out from under him.

The breath was knocked from his lungs for the second time in minutes, as Jaime pinned him to the floor. It was Kit who surrendered this time.

When he finally caught his breath, he muttered, “That was a cheap shot.”

Jaime reached out a hand to pull him to his feet, for real this time. “I never said I’d fight fair.”

Kit clapped him on the shoulder, releasing a low chuckle. “That you did not.”

“Feel better?”

“Not even a little bit.”

Dru bounded across the room to them, long brunette braids bouncing over her shoulders, and pulled Kit away and over to the daggers. She silently handed him a set and motioned for him to follow for target practice.

When they were out of hearing range from Jaime and Thais, who had preoccupied themselves with cleaning blades, Dru asked, “Wanna talk about whatever it is that has you so on edge right now?”

Kit sighed, throwing a dagger and hitting his mark perfectly. “What do you think it is?”

“Ty?”

It was always Ty. Not that he would say that out loud.

“Alright, so what happened?” She took aim and threw her dagger, landing it flush with his own. His heart swelled with pride.

“To begin with, I can’t seem to keep my idiotic mouth shut, but we’re not gonna unpack all that at the moment.”

“Good thinking, we would be here for days,” she said, jokingly.

“Very funny,” he rolled his eyes. “I’m going on mission with Dalton and Ty tonight.” The knife he threw imbedded itself into the dummy’s skull, right between the eyes.

“Oh.” Her eyebrows rose so high he thought they might disappear into her hair. “I could come with, as a buffer, if you’d like.”

He had already thought about that. It would have been a good idea, but Kit wanted to keep the vampire on his toes. That meant not having the three who apprehended him involved. “As much as I would love that...some things I just need to figure out on my own.”

She smiled at him knowingly, “I’m here if you need someone to talk to when you get back.”

“What would I do without you?”

“Suck at life, probably.”

***

Ty, Kit and Dalton approached the statue that marked the entrance to the Silent City. It was raining, as it had been all day. The wetness set Ty on edge—the feeling of wet gear sticking to skin was uncomfortable and irritating. He would rather spend a rainy day inside with Shadow and a book.

He did his best to put the thoughts and sensations out of his mind. He had left his headphones back at the institute. He knew he could have worn them; knew that Kit would have understood. But he didn’t know Dalton, and new people tended to misunderstand him. He reminded himself that it was irrational to assume—Dalton genuinely seemed like a nice guy, and he had been a mundane, meaning he didn’t have the same preconceived notions that many Shadowhunters did. But old habits died hard.

Ty observed in silence as Kit pricked the palm of his hand with his dagger and squeezed it over the goblet in the angel statue’s hand.

The entrance opened and they stepped through into the gloomy darkness. Despite the unsettling feeling of being in the Bone City, Ty was grateful for a reprieve from the steady rain. He rolled up his sleeve to draw a quick heating rune on his forearm, feeling the mild warmth spread through him.

Kit took out his witchlight, leading the way down into the endless chasms and tunnels. Ty wondered for a brief moment if it was the same witchlight he had given Kit.

There had been very minimal talking between the three of them. He didn’t mind at all, but he vaguely wondered if Kit was uncomfortable. He had noticed the way Kit’s shoulders and fists were tense on the entire walk; noticed the way Kit chose not to let Dalton place any runes on his skin before they left, noticed the way Kit kept a good distance between them.

Ty thought back to that morning. He knew Kit hadn’t meant anything by the Sherlock comment; it had been a sarcastic response brought about by fear and nervousness. It was exactly the sort of thing Kit would say. Even if he found it ridiculous to be afraid of Shadow. It had struck a nerve, regardless. Because anything to do with Sherlock and Watson, and the past that Ty had been trying to reconcile, left a vivid feeling of emptiness so strong that it had taken the majority of the day to collect himself again.

He was pulled abruptly from his thoughts when he ran right into Dalton, who had come to a halt in front of him.

“Sorry,” Ty mumbled, not meeting his warm hazel eyes.

“No worries,” Dalton replied kindly.

Ty ran a hand through his stringy wet hair. He needed to focus. Maybe it had been a mistake leaving his headphones behind.

They entered the council chambers and found Brother Shadrach waiting for them stoically.

“Thank you for your time, Brother Shadrach”

Welcome to the Silent City. Follow me.

Ty shivered. He didn’t think he’d ever get used to the intrusiveness of their voices in his head.

They followed him down levels and levels to the pits of the underground city, all the way to the holding cells. He’d never been this far down into the catacombs of the city. He knew there were endless levels and rooms full of all sorts of mysteries kept secret from the rest of the world. He was more than a little curious about what lay in their depths.

When they arrived at the cell containing the vampire, Ty watched curiously as the prisoner winced, coming forward finally to face his visitors. He had a sneer plastered across his pallid features, contempt apparent in his gaze as he sized them up.

Not that he could do much harm to them from his prison.

Kit stepped forward. “Damien Youngblood, is it?” He didn’t wait for a response before plowing on. “Did you choose that name yourself or was it given to you? Either way, it’s very unfortunate, like naming yourself Vampire McVampireson. Not very original. Or cool.”

“Piss off, Nephilim.”

“What he means,” Dalton interjected, shooting Kit a withering look. “Is it would seem that we need to ask you some questions.”

“And why would I help you?”

“Freedom. You help us, and we release you. It’s as simple as that.” Kit had returned to his serious, less sarcastic state of being.

The vampire laughed darkly, “Nothing is ever that simple with you Shadowhunters. But fine, I’ll bite.”

“Who ordered you to encanto those mundanes?”

Ty thought the vampire wasn’t going to respond. He was silent for a few very long minutes, before finally saying, “I don’t know her name. She didn’t tell me, just offered me my fair share of the jewels as long as she got the ring.”

“That’s very convenient,” Dalton mumbled.

“Do you know why she wanted that ring? Or why it is so important?” Ty asked.

“No clue,” the figure shrugged. “I don’t make a habit of asking too many questions.”

Wow,” Kit breathed. “You sure make a habit out of being entirely useless though, don’t you? I mean, first you failed to get the ring, then you were captured by Shadowhunters, now you can’t even give us any actual answers. This has been a colossal waste of time.”

Kit was definitely on edge.

But Ty had been watching the vampire closely.

He stepped forward, between Dalton and Kit, and forced himself to make eye contact. “I think you’re lying.”

The prisoner cocked his head to the side, “Oh yeah? What makes you so sure?”

“When you said you didn’t know why the ring is so important,” he began. “You shrugged, slipped your hands behind your back and looked away—typical signs of deceit. You didn’t do any of that when we asked why you encanto’d the mundanes. Ergo, you have something to hide.” Ty slipped his own hand in his pocket to hide the flutter of his fingers, pleased with his deduction. “So, I'll ask you again. Do you know why you were supposed to retrieve that ring?”

“Fine, maybe I do know. But I’m not about to tell you.”

“I thought you might say that.”

Ty pulled his hand from his pocket in a swift motion, releasing a spray of silver powder right into the vampire’s face. A stunned expression came over him before it contorted in pain. Then he passed out, falling backwards onto the stone cold ground.

Ty glanced at Kit and Dalton, who were both looking at him dumbfoundedly. He spoke quickly and quietly to the Silent Brother, “He’ll only be out for ten minutes at the most, can you let me in the cell?”

Brother Shadrach nodded silently and moved forward to unlock the cell door, allowing Ty inside.

“What are you doing?” Kit hissed.

Ty ignored him, pulled out his dagger and cut a small incision into the vampire’s forearm, holding it open with his index finger while he reached into an inside pocket of his jacket. He withdrew a small device, barely the size of his thumbnail, and slipped it into the opening. He watched with mild interest as the cut mended back together seamlessly, then wiped away the traces of blood with his sleeve.

“A tracking device,” Dalton mused. “Clever.”

“Yeah…” Kit echoed, and Ty was pleased to detect a hint of praise in his voice.

Ty felt a blush creep into his cheeks, forgetting for one small moment that they were not fifteen anymore, that things between them were nothing like what they had been. The satisfaction he had felt only seconds before was replaced with a cold anger. At himself, and at Kit.

He faced Brother Shadrach sharply and impatiently. “Give him a few days to reconsider, then release him. We’ll take care of the rest.”

He started back through the stairs and passageways, not caring whether or not the Silent Brother, Kit, and Dalton followed him.

***

Kit didn’t know what had just occurred. One minute, he was witness to Ty’s incredible intelligence and cleverness. He hadn’t been able to keep the fondness and awe from his voice, just like old times. Neither had Dalton. The next moment, it was as if Ty became a different person, cold and indifferent. And uncharacteristically disrespectful toward the Silent Brother.

Kit mumbled a hasty apology and thank you to the Brother Shadrach before following Ty back up through the levels of the underground city and out into the steadily pouring rain. If the Silent Brother was offended, he hadn’t said anything, and they parted with few words.

Ty was nowhere to be seen.

Dalton emerged behind him moments later. “What happened?” he asked.

Kit shook his head and gnawed on his bottom lip, “I honestly don’t know. Everything was fine—ish.”

“Fine...ish?”

“I talked to him, like you told me I should. I thought things were okay, but I seem to keep making a mess of things anyway,” Kit said angrily, kicking at a rock on the ground.

Dalton reached for Kit’s hand, tugging him gently into his arms. He almost resisted; he was too wound up, too anxious and agitated. “Whatever just happened back there, it is not your fault.”

“I wish that were true.” Even if he hadn’t been responsible for the sudden change in Ty’s attitude in the City of Bones, he was still plenty at fault for the rift between them. Ty didn’t act out for no reason—usually as a result of emotional stress and over stimulation. At least, that’s what it used to be. It struck him that he knew very little about Ty now.

“Kit…” Dalton held him tighter for a few long moments. “What aren’t you telling me?”

Where do I begin? Kit had far too many secrets than he knew what to do with.

Kit withdrew from the embrace, feeling like a fraud. He didn’t deserve Dalton’s faith in him—and he definitely didn’t deserve the way Dalton cared.

“Nothing,” he muttered. “Can we just go back?”

Dalton’s wet hair was plastered to his forehead, water dripping down his cheeks. His jaw clenched, just a fraction, and Kit knew Dalton was upset with him. “It’s not nothing, Kit.”

He didn’t typically get annoyed or frustrated with Dalton, but his words struck a nerve. “You already know that! I told you that what happened between me and Ty is complicated and I can’t tell you.”

“Can’t? Or won’t?” Dalton snapped.

“It’s both! I can’t tell you everything, and I won’t.”

“Why?”

Kit’s fists were clenched at his sides, and anger was building up inside him along with the thrum of magical energy that meant he needed to calm down. It was becoming more and more frequent, which was disconcerting, as it had been well over a year since he had struggled to control his emotions to the point that his magic flared so frequently.

“Because I’m ashamed!” he blurted. He didn’t really mean to say it and was surprised he had admitted it out loud. It was like the dam on his emotions erupted with the words, and suddenly he was crying, tears mingling with the rain dripping down his cheeks. “What more do you want from me?”

“I want you to trust me!”

Kit blinked in surprise. “I do trust you, Dalton.”

“Not with everything,” he sighed. “Not with all of you...scars and shame and all.”

Kit’s heart wrenched at his defeated tone. He had been so focused on how he’d been feeling since Ty arrived; on how Ty had been feeling, he hadn’t even stopped to consider how it was affecting Dalton.

“I’m sorry. Shit, I’m a fucking idiot.” He began pacing back and forth, boots squelching in the muddy ground. “Why do you even bother with me? I’m a complete mess.”

Dalton gripped Kit’s shoulder in a swift motion, turning him around to face him. The rain still showed no signs of ceasing, and they were both soaked to the bone. The street lamp in the distance cast a slight glow, turning Dalton’s skin a dark bronze.

He reached his hand up to cup Kit’s cheek. “I bother because I’m in love with you.”

Kit’s heart felt like a weight dropping into his stomach. Dalton was in love with him? The confession threw him completely off guard. He had no clue how to respond. He didn’t even know how he felt. “I—you are?”

Dalton nodded, leaning his forehead against Kit’s. He felt the rain drip from the other man’s hair and down the sides of his nose.

“I don’t know what to say…” Kit admitted. “I told you I’m not very good at this.” He gestured around him, referring to relationships and feelings. But it was more than that. Something was holding him back—or someone, rather. Despite his promise to himself that he would let go of his past with Ty, Ty’s arrival threw all of that directly out the window. He could no longer just forget that he had once been on the confessing end of these feelings, and he had been well and thoroughly rejected.

But Dalton wasn’t Ty.

“I know. I don’t expect you to feel the same way right now. But promise me that you won’t lead me on.”

The request brought him back to another time; to another memory that Livvy’s spirit had so harshly reminded him of only a few days ago. He wasn’t very good at keeping promises.

“I have the tendency to break promises, Dalton. Don’t make me promise you this.”

“Then at least say you’ll give us a real chance.”

Kit considered his request for a long moment. He wanted to give Dalton everything he was asking for. But he wasn’t sure he could. “I will do my best.”

Dalton closed his eyes tightly, and Kit assumed for a second that it wasn’t enough for Dalton; that he would end their relationship. But when he opened his eyes and gazed tenderly into Kit’s, Kit knew he had been wrong

“Okay.” Dalton placed a rain splattered kiss on Kit’s brow, took his hand in his own and tugged him along. “Let's get out of this god forsaken rain.”

***

When Ty emerged from the underground city, hands fluttering viciously at his sides and thoughts jumbled around messily in his head, he tucked himself away behind the angel statue, needing a moment to just breathe. He had tried not to be so affected by Kit, but being down there with him and Dalton felt like being trapped in a coffin, claustrophobic and compressing.

He had hoped to have more time, but only a few minutes later, he heard the shuffling of feet as Kit and Dalton came out after him. His plan had been to calm down and then wait for them outside, but now he had to choose between remaining where he was hiding or awkwardly announcing his presence.

He chose the former.

Which proved to be a tremendous mistake.

He assumed they would just head back to the institute, figuring that’s where he had gone. But then they argued—about him. And Dalton confessed feelings that made Ty want to withdraw into himself and never resurface. He didn’t entirely understand why. He had only ever wanted Kit to be happy, even if the cost was his own happiness. At least, that’s what he had told himself every day at the Scholomance.

He did, however, understand the pang that went through his chest as he sat listening in on their private conversation. He knew he was intruding. Knew he should not be there, overhearing all of it.

But there he was, drenched and shivering and miserable.

He couldn’t stop Dalton’s confession from repeating in his mind, reminding him of that fateful night at Lake Lyn. He had completely avoided thinking about Kit telling him he loved him. Had convinced himself that Kit hadn’t meant anything more than a philia or storge type of love by it, but the way Dalton had said it to Kit was much too similar to the desperate way Kit had said it to him.

His heart clenched painfully upon hearing Kit say he was ashamed. Ashamed of what? His feelings? His part in the ritual that never should have happened? But Kit had kept their secret; kept what they did to himself. He could have trusted Dalton with the information, probably, but he had chosen not to share the thing that Ty regretted more than anything in his life, because it had driven Kit out of his.

Yet, Kit was the one who was ashamed?

Ty struggled against the over stimulation and emotions--couldn’t clear the cacophony like shattered glass in his head.

When they finally departed, he emerged and ran all the way back to the Institute, as if he could escape the tide of regret and guilt that was his own doing. He thought that maybe it would clear his mind. But he was becoming less and less able to self soothe.

He burst through the front door, bolted up the stairs and into his room without a word to Dru, who had taken one glance at him and attempted to ask what was wrong.

He stripped off his sopping wet Centurion uniform, placing the pin on his bedside table, removed his extra Shadowhunter gear and stepped into the bathroom, starting a hot shower. He took a look at himself in the mirror and regretted it. He had dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep. And his skin, already pale, looked almost ghostly against his tangled black hair.

He took a very long shower, letting the warmth seep into his bones, leaving his skin flushed with heat. It soothed his nerves, somewhat. When he emerged he only had the energy to put on a pair of boxers before collapsing onto his mattress.

He reached for his headphones and was about to put them over his ears when a knock sounded at his door. He thought about not opening it, but found himself slipping off the bed, sliding on a pair of sweatpants and his sweatshirt and opening the door.

He had expected Dru, but it was Kit who stood in the hall, still dressed in his soaked gear. His golden hair stuck to his forehead and neck, droplets sliding down and disappearing under his collar. He avoided Kit’s vibrant blue eyes, focusing his gaze on a tiny freckle on Kit’s right earlobe.

“Are you alright?” Kit asked suddenly. “You left so abruptly back there...I wanted to check in on you before you went to bed.”

Maybe it was because he was exhausted, or maybe he just couldn’t regulate his emotions anymore after the day he had. Either way, Kit’s sudden concern for his well-being struck his already short nerves and he didn’t bother trying to stop himself from saying, “I don’t need you to check on me like I’m some sort of unstable child.” He knew deep down that the words weren’t true; knew he was projecting his own insecurities onto Kit, but he didn’t care. “I don’t need babysitting.”

“That’s not—I didn’t mean anything by it, Ty. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“Why wouldn’t I be? I’ve been fine for the last three years. Why do you care now?” It definitely wasn’t fair of him to say that. But he was so, so angry and confused and hurt. “Sherlock learned to do things without Watson.”

The words hit their mark, and Kit took a step away from Ty, stricken by the words he’d thrown back in Kit’s face. He blinked, and Ty thought he saw the telltale glistening of tears along his lower lashes. Kit could no longer look at him, his eyes were downcast and his hand reached behind him, fumbling for the door knob to his own room.

“I never stopped caring,” he said softly.

“I don’t believe you. If you really cared, you would have stayed.”

“I know. I’m—”

But Ty didn’t wait to hear what Kit was going to say before slamming his own door in Kit’s face and sinking to the floor on the opposite side, face in his trembling hands.

***

Chapter Text

By Its Unknown Loss

Kit awoke to toddler giggles and Charlotte bouncing up and down happily on the bed, “Kitty, wake up! Wake up!”

He grumbled in response, pulling the blanket over his head, earning him more giggles from the almost three year old. She crawled underneath the blanket, squirming along against his side and tickling him.

He gave in to her toddler whims. There was no way he was falling back to sleep with her wriggling beside him, anyway. He had grown used to it when he lived in Devon; she had crawled into bed with him almost every morning, and he had missed it immensely when he first moved to the Institute.

He pulled her into his arms and tickled her tummy, and Charlotte erupted into a fit of laughter. “That’s what you get!” he laughed, poking her in the side and burying her under a pile of blankets.

He pretended not to know where she disappeared to and when she tunneled herself out of the mountain of fabric, she responded with “peek-a-boo!”

“Oh! There you are!” he feigned surprise.

“Charlotte,” came a stern motherly voice at his door. “Enough pestering Kit. Time for breakfast.” Tessa stood just outside the doorframe, wavy brown hair pulled back into a clip at her neck. She wore a simple navy blue dress that accented her dark gray eyes nicely. There had been times when her eyes reminded him of Ty’s; comforting in the way that a sharp blade sat comfortably in his hand. It was only now that he realized he had forgotten the exact way Ty’s eyes shone like liquid silver under moonbeams. Lovely; and altogether different.

“Okay, momma.” She ceased her toddler playfulness immediately, hopping off the bed and across the room to Tessa. She turned back to Kit before taking her mother’s hand, “Kitty coming too?”

He smiled back at her tenderly, “I’ll be down in a moment Char-Char.”

“Yay!” she exclaimed happily. “Breakfast with Kitty!” She took off down the hall on her short little kid legs.

Tessa shook her head and looked up at him apologetically. “I’m sorry she woke you up.”

“No worries. She’s lucky she’s cute.”

Tessa chuckled, eyes lighting up. “You’re really very good with her.”

“Strange, since I didn’t have any siblings. Or any social interaction, really, growing up.” The thought left him feeling bitter about opportunities and experiences that he sorely lacked growing up with Johnny as his father. Not that it was all bad. At least he hadn’t thought so at the time, until he came to live with the Blackthorns and then Jem and Tessa and realized that his childhood had been anything but normal. Or good.

“You have adjusted remarkably well considering,” Tessa mused.

“Thanks,” he replied sheepishly. For some reason, receiving compliments from Tessa made him uncomfortable and he never knew how to respond. Maybe it was because he never knew his mother and never had a mother figure in his life. Johnny was never one for unnecessary affection or positive reinforcement, either.

“Is everything alright, Christopher?” She moved forward into the room, seating herself on the bed next to him. He wasn’t sure how she always knew when something was wrong, but it was uncanny and it did no good to deny it.

“Not really,” he shrugged. “Dalton told me he was in love with me.”

She was thoughtful for a short time. “You don’t seem happy about that.”

“No...I mean, I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t know what I want from the relationship yet. I’ve known him long enough, but it’s still so new. And things with Ty are…complicated to say the least. And the murders…” he trailed off, unable to really put into words the mess of thoughts in his head. “It’s all so confusing and my magic keeps flaring and I feel like I’m suffocating,” he blurted.

It was probably the most honest he’d been about his feelings in the last week. Tessa had a way of bringing it out of him.

She put an arm around his shoulders, pulling him into her side. “I’m sorry, love. That must all be very frustrating. Can I give you my advice?”

He nodded, unable to help himself. He knew she would have dropped it if he told her to, but honestly, he’d take all the advice he could get these days. Tessa had more than enough experience with complicated feelings and death and Shadowhunter affairs. Sometimes he was even jealous of the way Tessa and Jem found their way back to each other; the intense love that carried them through the decades. He wanted a love like that.

“Focus on your priorities. And if you don’t know what they are, focus on that. The rest will figure itself out.” She paused, lost in her own thoughts. “It may not seem like everything is working out, and it may take time and patience…” she trailed off. “But if you focus your energy on what’s important to you, everything else will fall into place.”

What was important to him, though?

“How will I know?”

She placed a slender hand gently over his heart, “You’ll feel it in here.”

He closed his eyes for a moment, letting her words wash over him. “Thank you, Tessa,” he breathed.

She stood and bent to drop a tender kiss to his forehead. “Come now, let's head down to breakfast. Jem, Charlotte and I are heading back to Devon after.”

“Oh…” Kit said sadly. He’d been so busy dealing with everything else that he hadn’t actually spent much quality time with any of them. “When will you visit next?”

“I’m not sure. With Charlotte's birthday at the end of the month, I don’t think I’ll be able to return. I do hope you’ll be able to come home for it? It would mean a lot to us.”

He smiled as they walked down the hall, “I wouldn’t miss it.”

“You can bring the others with if you’d like. They are always welcome.”

He nodded assent as they entered the kitchen.

Charlotte beamed up at him from the floor, “Kitty! Look, it’s a big kitty.” She pointed enthusiastically in the direction of Ty’s pet, lazily sprawled out next to her on the tiles.

Kit’s eyes widened in horror, and then he saw the corner of Ty’s mouth curve upward in a small smile, amused by the spectacle. “Be careful, Char-Char.”

“I wouldn’t let Shadow near her if she were in any danger,” Ty said matter-of-factly from his seat at the counter, not meeting Kit’s eyes.

Kit supposed he was right, and allowed himself to relax just a little. A pang coursed through him as he took a moment to gaze at Ty. His hair was disheveled, eyes dark with lack of sleep. It struck him suddenly that Ty looked unwell. But he remained silent, not daring to ask if he was alright.

Not after last night.

Sherlock learned to do things without Watson.

Ty’s words had kept him up most of the night. When he retreated into his room, he sank to the floor against his door and gave in to the tears that demanded release. Shame, anger, and despair all took turns raging like a hurricane in his mind, convincing him that he didn’t deserve to be happy. It was a small miracle that he got any sleep at all.

Tessa’s words rang through him in response. You’ll feel it in here, she had said about what was important to him. The pain in his chest as he looked at Ty told him he knew, without a doubt, exactly what was important.

Tiberius Blackthorn, you’ll be the end of me.

He sighed, and risked taking a seat next to Ty at the counter. Ty didn’t so much as look up, just continued to munch on his bowl of...chips?

Kit gaped. “What kind of breakfast is that?”

Ty’s eyes shifted to Kit’s for a fraction of a second before returning to his bowl and the newspaper in front of him. “No one here makes pancakes like Jules does...so I’m eating chips.”

Kit had actually prided himself in learning how to make said pancakes. He had asked for Julian’s recipe during one of their correspondences over the years, simply because he had missed them, and he had wanted to learn how to cook.

“That’s it. I’m making pancakes today,” he proclaimed. “Chips are not breakfast food.”

He swiped the bowl away from Ty in a swift motion and stalked to the fridge, ignoring his objections. He pulled out eggs, milk and the dry ingredients and set himself to mixing the batter.

At some point, the kitchen filled up with the rest of the institute inhabitants. Charlotte was still playing contentedly with her new feline friend, and Kit observed with an unexpected burst of fondness that Ty had joined her on the floor, showing the toddler how to be gentle, and entertaining her with one of the pipe cleaners the lynx appeared to enjoy batting around with her paw.

He glanced expectantly at Jem and Tessa, and found they were entirely nonchalant about their toddler playing a wild animal. For the first time, Kit wasn’t completely terrified of the enormous cat, and smiled, just a little, at the scene before him.

Dalton came up behind him, wrapping his arms around Kit’s waist and nuzzling into his neck. “Those look and smell phenomenal,” he purred. There was a part of Kit that wanted to shake Dalton off; it was too much physical affection in front of so many people. But after his declaration the night before, and his request that Kit try to give their relationship a real chance, he let himself relax into the touch for a long moment, and found he felt better for it.

“Go sit,” Kit urged. “They’ll be ready soon.” He gave Dalton a swift peck on the cheek and returned to the griddle, flipping the last of the pancakes expertly. He caught sight of Ty watching the exchange and felt an embarrassed blush creep into his cheeks.

Why was he embarrassed? It wasn’t as if Ty had never seen two people share an intimate moment before. Kit found himself wondering if Ty had ever been intimate with anyone while at the Scholomance, or if he currently had a significant other. For some reason, the thought bothered him. Which was stupid, because he was with Dalton, and Ty had made his feelings about Kit abundantly clear, over and over again.

He set the heaping plate of pancakes in the center of the island, everyone digging in ravenously. He watched as Ty dumped far more syrup on the cakes than was humanly necessary, relieved to see him eating. He realized that he hadn’t actually seen Ty eat much of anything since he arrived.

Kit hadn’t touched his own yet, waiting for everyone else and pleased that everyone was eating together. He realized the institute suddenly felt more like a home than it ever had.

Ty looked up at him from across the counter, gray eyes meeting blue for only a moment, before he smiled a small, yet genuine smile. “These are good, Kit.”

Satisfied, Kit finally dug into his own breakfast, devouring the pancakes happily.

…………

“Can we get matching shirts that say ‘parabatai for life’ and wear them for the ceremony?” Thais asked, looking up from her book. She lay sprawled out on her stomach on Dru’s bed, feet kicked up behind her. She was supposed to be memorizing the parabatai vows; instead, she had found some romance novel tucked away on one of the shelves in the library.

Dru chuckled, “I don’t think the Silent Brothers or the Council would be too happy about that.” Dru had actually memorized the vows a long time ago, having watched Emma and Julian prepare and take part in their own ceremony. She always knew she wanted a parabatai and it was finally becoming a reality.

Thais groaned, flipping her book shut for emphasis. “That’s the point, though.”

“It would be pretty epic,” Dru agreed. “But no. We can get them and wear them for the celebration after, though.”

“Deal,” Thais smiled happily. “Is your family coming?”

“I would imagine so, unless something else comes up. What about your mom?”

Nao sei, mother has been crazy busy lately.” She didn’t elaborate. Dru had picked up on many of Thais’ Portuguese phrases over the years, and also knew when not to press her further. Now seemed to be one of those times.

“Where do you want your parabatai rune?” Dru asked curiously after a few moments of silence.

“Right here.” Thais sat upright and placed her hand on her chest, opposite the spot over her heart. “Near my heart.”

Dru’s heart swelled with adoration for her best friend. “Mine, too,” she said.

A knock at her door grabbed her attention and she turned to find Kit leaning against the frame, golden curls lit by a ray of late afternoon sun shining through her window. She recalled a time while she was at the academy when she had a crush on him. It didn’t last long, once she realized he was very much more into boys than girls. That’s when she decided to introduce him to Dalton.

She wondered how things between them were going since Ty’s arrival. There had been a tension between them that hadn’t been there previously. But it didn’t even come close to the tension between Kit and Ty whenever they were in a room together. Not for the first time, she wished she could do something to help, but Kit was right; it was something they needed to sort through on their own.

“What’s up?” Dru asked.

“I’m sending you and Thais out on first patrol tonight. I know there aren’t many of us here but we need to get into a better patrolling routine. I’ll be making up a rotation schedule in the next few days.”

“Look at you, taking charge and shit. I like it,” Dru responded proudly.

“What’s not to like?”

“Hmmmm. I can think of a few things,” she joked and Thais chuckled next to her. She had returned to reading her steamy romance novel.

“Doubtful. I’m amazing.”

“For one, you’re not straight. Not that there’s a problem with that, but it’s kind of a bummer for the ladies,” Thais volunteered. “I’d be all over you if you were into girls.”

Dru shot her a withering look.

“What? I’m just keeping it real here.”

Kit laughed regardless, eyes lighting up merrily. “Sorry, I didn’t choose my biological preferences. Besides, aren’t you and Jaime a thing now?”

Thais huffed, “Jaime is Jaime. We danced and we flirt. But he has no clue what he wants.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Kit agreed. “I’ll be sure to kick his ass for you. He can always use a good ass-whooping.”

Dru and Thais burst into giggles, but it was Dru who spoke. “Are you sure about that? You got your ass handed to you last time you and Jaime fought.”

“That wasn’t my fault. He didn’t fight fair.”

Dru rolled her eyes, “Whatever you say, Herondale.”

Kit turned to leave and Dru hopped off the bed, following him out into the hall. “Kit, wait up.” He paused, letting her catch up. “You never told me how the mission with Ty and Dalton went.”

He groaned in response.

“That good, huh?”

“Yeah it was fucking fantastic. Like being chased by a duck or having my limbs torn off by mantid demons.” He sighed in exasperation. “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing with my life.”

“Failing, apparently?”

“Very helpful, Dru. Thanks.”

“Maybe you need to figure out what it is you actually want? You’ve been thrown into this position as head of the institute, all while trying to maintain a relationship with Dalton, deal with your fallout with Ty, figure out these gruesome murders, and Angel knows whatever else you’ve chosen not to tell me. Maybe you need to take a step back. Or, you know, quit being a stubborn jackass and actually talk about it with someone before you self-implode.”

Dru hadn’t actually meant to go off on him like that, but she was getting sick and tired of watching him self-destruct and avoid dealing with his feelings.

“It’s time you quit shutting everyone else out and start trusting that no one here is going to abandon you if you are honest with them.”

She knew she hit the nail on the head about his fear of abandonment by the way he seemed to crumple in on himself.

“There are things in my life that I’m ashamed of,” he muttered, almost to himself.

“Big deal. We all have shit to deal with. We’re Shadowhunters. It might as well be part of the job description.”

Kit grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her abruptly into an empty room, shutting the door behind them with a solid click. “Is it part of the job description to tell your best friend you love them and then run away to another country because they said nothing in response? What about being the lost descendant of the first heir, meaning you suddenly also have a claim to the seelie and unseelie courts of faerie, but no one can know that otherwise you might as well wear a giant bullseye on your back?” He paused, breathing heavily. “How’s that for honesty?”

Well, shit.

Just like that, everything made ten million times more sense. Kit leaving so suddenly, his anger at Ty, the avoidance and secrecy.

She wasn’t sure which of his two confessions was more shocking; Kit having been in love with her brother or being a lost prince of faerie. She should have been more surprised by the faerie revelation, but she couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed the way Kit felt about Ty. It seemed glaringly obvious in hindsight.

She knew she stood there gaping at him for longer than necessary before she finally found her voice again. “Ho-ly shit. That’s a lot to take in.”

“Ya think?” Kit sank to the floor, and Dru followed suit, sitting cross-legged in front of him.

“Tell me everything.”

He did.

Dru listened avidly as he recounted everything about that night at Lake Lyn, including telling Ty he wished they’d never met. She wanted to throttle both of them for being dense idiots; Kit for saying things he didn’t mean and Ty for ignoring Kit’s feelings in the first place.

She couldn’t help but gasp when he described his faerie magic and how he’d made the Riders of Mannan’s horses disappear at the Imperishable Fields. How his magic flared with intense emotions—that Ty’s arrival had sent him into a spiral of chaos and uncertainty. That he didn’t know if he could return the feelings Dalton had for him, but that he didn’t want to throw in the towel and give up, either. But most importantly, that he didn’t want to disappoint Jem and Tessa, who had wormed their way into his heart, becoming the family he wished he’d always had.

He even told her about the mysterious amulet and what the ring they found at the safe deposit facility was capable of.

She had reached for his hand at some point, squeezing tightly to let him know that she wasn’t going anywhere. She had never seen him cry—not after his father died, or even after Livvy died. But he cried freely when it came to Ty and his fears of abandonment and rejection.

It damn near broke her heart.

Two hours had gone by in the time it took to explain everything. They had sat in silence for the last ten minutes or so, as Dru processed it all.

“What are you going to do?” she asked quietly.

He huffed, “About which part?”

“All of it?” she shrugged, an inflection in her voice at the end.

“I have no idea.”

***

Kit skipped dinner in favor of running errands by himself while Dru and Thais were out on patrol. He was emotionally exhausted and entirely unable to deal with social interactions. He couldn’t deny though, that finally being able to tell someone everything was liberating. Part of him wished he had done it sooner, yet it took a good ass chewing from Dru for him to finally drop his guard for a moment—or two hours.

Now he was driving back from Oxford Street, music blasting and feeling lighter than he had in a while. Not that he had any less problems than he began with; his head just felt clearer.

He pulled up to the institute and lugged the boxes he’d picked up through the front door, depositing them in the entryway.

“Kit?” It was Dalton, just coming out of the kitchen with a bowl of cereal in his hand. He was dressed in his patrolling gear. “Where have you been?”

“I needed to go get these,” he gestured to the boxes.

Dalton squinted. “A laptop...and a printer?”

“I told you it was on my list of things to get for the Institute.”

“Right.” Dalton spooned some cereal into his mouth, coming up next to Kit.

Kit smiled in amusement. “You have milk running down your chin.” He reached out and gently wiped the liquid away with his thumb, bringing it to his lips and licking it off slowly.

Dalton’s hazel eyes darkened with longing. “Don’t be a tease,” he breathed.

“I would never,” he winked, returning to the boxes on the floor. “How good are you with technology?”

Dalton barked a laugh, “I think what you mean to ask is, how bad am I?”

“Point taken. Have you seen Ty?”

Kit noticed the way Dalton’s expression changed for only a moment to one of—annoyance? But it was gone before he had a chance to confirm it. “I think I saw him in the library earlier.”

“Everything alright?” Kit dared to ask.

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” he said. “Actually, no. About last night…”

Kit’s mind jumped to the worst conclusion, that maybe Dalton hadn’t meant what he said. That maybe he didn’t want to try to make their relationship work, after all. For all his confusion about his own feelings, he wasn’t sure he could handle Dalton’s rejection at the moment.

“I’m sorry,” Dalton said softly, and Kit prepared himself for the letdown. “I shouldn’t have pushed you so hard. About your past.”

Kit stared, processing Dalton’s apology. “Jesus, Dalton. That’s not what I thought you were going to say.”

“What did you think I was going to say?”

“Nothing, never mind. You have nothing to apologize for.”

“I do though. I don’t want you to feel pressured or rushed. I’m not going anywhere, as long as you want me.”

Kit exhaled sharply, “You are too good to me. I don’t deserve it.”

Dalton set down his bowl on the sideboard, and returned to cup Kit’s face in his hands. “You deserve everything.

Kit wrapped his arms around Dalton’s waist and leaned into him, wondering why it was so easy to make himself believe he didn’t deserve to be happy.

“Get a room already,” a voice called from the stairs. It was Jaime. “Are you ready to head out on patrol?” Kit had almost forgotten that he had paired Dalton and Jaime together for the late night patrol.

Dalton pulled away with a quick kiss to Kit’s brow. “I’m ready whenever.”

Kit reluctantly released him, “Be careful?”

He nodded and headed out into the night with Jaime. Kit grabbed his packages again and made his way to the library, setting out to locate Ty.

He found him in the back corner. He’d expected him to be reviewing cases, but instead he found him with his headphones on and a sketch pad open on his lap. In front of him, on the table, perched a large and colorful moth in a domed container.

Kit approached slowly, coming around the front of the table so as not to startle Ty. The moth fluttered nervously in the container, reminding Kit of the way Ty’s hands fluttered when he was anxious.

Ty looked up and tugged his headphones down around his neck. Kit could hear a faint melody playing from the muffs. “What are you listening to?”

Ty set the sketchpad on the table, and Kit saw just how beautifully done the drawing was. Ty’s attention to detail drew him in and he found himself staring at the piece of paper. At the delicate shading and distinct lines.

“That’s amazing, Ty,” he said, not giving him a chance to tell him what he was listening to.

“It’s an elephant hawk moth. I found it when I was up on the roof earlier. It’s a native species, so I wanted to study it.” He paused, watching the moth flit around the domed lid. “I don’t think you’d know my music,” he added.

“I’ve lived with Jem and Tessa for almost three years, try me.”

Ty hesitated, but removed the jack from his phone, allowing the music to play through the speakers. “I prefer classical; it’s not as distracting as some other music. This one is Reverie by Claude Debussy. I find it calming and peaceful. Makes me feel like my mind isn’t so cluttered…” he trailed off, eyes shifting back and forth, unable to settle on anything. “Never mind.”

“It’s nice. I can see why you like it.”

Ty returned the cord to his phone, silencing the soothing piano. “Is there something you need?”

Kit’s chest tightened at the tone, reminding him that a few compliments weren’t going to make up for the rift between them. “Yes, actually. I have a project for you; a problem to solve, if you will.”

He found a great deal of satisfaction in the way Ty’s eyes lit up at the offer. “What is it?”

“You were always good with computers.”

“Was that supposed to be a question?”

“Come with me,” he had left the boxes by the door into the library.

“Give me a moment.” He closed his sketchpad and lifted the container off the table gently. He moved to the closest window and pushed it open, just far enough to release the moth back out into the night. “Ready.”

Ty followed Kit back through the shelves, listening as he explained his conundrum.

“So I bought everything we need, but there aren’t many outlets in this giant place...and in order for all of this to work, we also need to figure out internet.”

“That’s easy. We all have smartphones. We can use them as hotspots when we need to use the laptop.”

Right, why hadn’t he thought of that?

“There are outlets in the kitchen, right?”

“Yes, but we’re not putting a computer and a printer in there.”

“I know that. Do we have extension cords? The long utility ones?”

“I’ll look. Do you want to come with?”

Ty shook his head, and Kit was bummed in spite of himself. He made his way to the basement and began digging through the storage room until he found what he was looking for. He grabbed two of the long cords, just in case, and returned to the library where Ty was just finishing unpacking the boxes.

Ty took the cords from him, left the room and returned minutes later with one end. “This will work.”

Kit observed with interest as Ty set to work setting up the laptop and the printer, installing various programs. At one point, Dru and Thais returned from their patrol with nothing to report, and headed up to bed, but not before Dru gave Kit an approving look.

Kit was content to sit in silence as Ty worked. It gave him a chance to observe Ty unabashedly; the focus with which he worked, the way his slender fingers moved over the keyboard. How his inky black hair fell into his face and he fought the urge to reach out and touch it—to push it out of his eyes the way Ty had done with Kit curls once upon a time.

He shook his head. Those were dangerous thoughts to entertain. For so many reasons.

Ty glanced over at him, catching his gaze for a moment. Kit was the one to look away first, embarrassed at having been caught staring at him.

“Why are you here?” he asked, going back to installing GPS tracking software.

Kit thought about making up some sort of excuse, but ended up opting for the truth. “I like watching you work.”

“I meant, why aren’t you angry with me?” he paused. “You should be, for what I said last night.”

Sherlock learned to do things without Watson.

It had damn near ruined him to hear Ty say those words. But it hadn’t occurred to him to be angry.

“Because you were right,” he admitted. “I shouldn’t presume to know what you need anymore. I gave up the right to know you when I left.” He felt the familiar burning sensation of tears in the back of his throat. He cleared it, trying to remain composed. “It turns out you didn’t need me, after all.” It was meant to be a compliment; Ty had clearly done well for himself at the Scholomance.

Ty didn’t respond for a very long time, so long that Kit was certain he wasn’t going to at all. He stayed where he was, watching Ty continue his work. When his hands weren’t busy with the keyboard, Kit noticed with a pang that they were trembling. He wanted to reach out to him, to still the flutter. But he could never do that.

Kit looked down at his own hands resting limply in his lap, feeling lost and miserable.

Ty’s voice, deep and clear, broke through his tortured thoughts. “I did, though.” Was it Kit’s imagination, or did Ty’s voice break at the end. “I needed you, Kit. And you left me.” Ty turned his face away, but not before Kit saw a tear glide down his cheek. He thought he felt his own heart shattering beneath the weight of a million regrets.

“I don’t—But you...you got Livvy back. That’s all you needed.”

Ty squeezed his eyes shut tightly, an action that contorted his expression into something like a grimace. “In case you didn’t notice, the ritual didn’t exactly go as planned. I didn’t get her back. Not really. And then you left me to deal with it alone.” The tears were gone and the clarity had returned to his voice. “You didn’t even say goodbye. And for some reason, you refuse to explain it to me!”

Ty rarely raised his voice, likely because he hated it when other people raised their voices around him.

Kit inhaled sharply, preparing himself for what he was about to say. “Because you said there was nothing if Livvy wasn’t there! But I was there, Ty, and it wasn’t enough for you.”

“What? That’s not—”

The confusion on Ty’s face dislodged something inside Kit.

Ty took a deep breath. “I don’t know how to explain,” he said frustratedly.

“You don’t have to. I get it.” Kit rose to his feet, already out of the library before he heard Ty calling after him. He ignored it, refusing to give in to the urge to run back to the one person who kept finding a way under his skin, destroying him bit by bit.

…..

Ty should have gone after him, but instead he’d remained rooted to the spot, unable to make his feet move beneath him. By the time he got his feet to cooperate with his brain, Kit was gone, and Ty was standing in the entryway staring out into the night through the massive front door that Kit hadn’t bothered to shut behind him.

He closed it with a thud and strode back to the library, plopping down on the floor and attempting to focus on the computer again.

It didn’t take long before he gave up. He couldn’t focus on anything but the anger and regret residing between he and Kit, like a concrete wall that refused to crumble.

I was there, and it wasn’t enough for you.

He had never wished he could go back in time more than he did at that moment. The idea that Kit thought he meant nothing to Ty—it was preposterous. And yet…Livvy always used to remind him that people didn’t always know what he was thinking or how he felt because he didn’t show it.

He thought it was obvious that Kit was important to him then—that he had needed Kit.

But had it been obvious?

Ty realized with a pang that he had never once stopped to consider what Kit had needed. And in doing so, he had very effectively made Kit feel the one thing that Ty was trying to avoid.

Loneliness.

For nearly three years, Ty hadn’t understood, and had allowed himself to place the blame on Kit for not being honest with him. For leaving without a word. It was much easier to place the blame elsewhere instead of considering the alternative.

An alternative that he finally came to terms with, now that it was quite possibly too late.

It was his own fault.

Chapter Text

Of These Chains

Kit practically sprinted all the way to the nearest late night bar and ordered two stiff drinks right off the bat. He couldn’t bare the overwhelming pressure of loneliness and regret washing over him, flooding him with feelings of worthlessness and pain. He was used to feeling insignificant, but at the moment the only thing he wanted to drown in was alcohol.

So much for his head feeling clearer. Why couldn’t he handle a conversation with Ty? Why did he have to run out like that? He didn’t even know what Ty was going to say.

He was an idiot. Nothing new there.

The bartender, a middle-aged man who went by the name of Oscar, took one look at him and poured him a shot of whiskey on the house, and Kit proceeded to drink himself into oblivion until bar close. A feat that made all too easy due to having eaten nothing since pancakes at breakfast.

Oscar was very obliging, and Kit tipped him well for his services to humanity. And for not asking any questions.

Kit staggered out to the curb. The world was spinning and tilting around him nauseatingly, like the tilt-a-whirl at the Santa Monica Pier. Blurs in the shape of people brushed past him and he realized very suddenly that he was far too intoxicated to function.

Kit!

Did he just hear his name? He whipped around, looking for the source and then deciding he had imagined it.

“Kit, you drunk moron. Get over here,” the voice hissed.

He noticed the vague outline of someone beckoning him to the corner of the bar by the alley, and made his way there. It felt like it took a million and a half years.

By the Angel, you’re a mess.”

Kit squinted at the figure. “Dru? Whyareyouhere?” he slurred.

“You called me. Remember?”

Kit pretended to think about it for a millisecond. “Nope, don’t remember.” He started to walk away, but he realized he had no clue where he was going.

“Good grief, do I need to hold your damn hand?” He gave it to her without complaint, and she pulled him into the alley. She pulled out her stele and he started laughing. “What on earth is so funny?”

Kit scrunched his face, trying to remember what was funny. “Oh! I was just thinking...I used to call those things magic Shadowhunter pencils.” He burst into another fit of giggles and stopped abruptly as she drew a rune on his forearm. It stung. “Ow.”

“You are making a scene. Why didn’t you glamour yourself?”

“Didn’t care,” he shrugged.

She huffed a long, exasperated sigh. “Considering what you just told me earlier today, don’t you think you should be a little more careful? Let's just get you home.”

He gave in, letting her drag him along. “You’re, like, the best.”

It was apparently her turn to laugh. “You’re not going to think so in the morning.”

Whynot? I always think you’re the best.”

“You’ll see,” she smirked.

It took somewhere between ten minutes and ten hours to get back to the Institute and Kit wasn’t any closer to sobering up. Dru chatted away animatedly, but truth be told, he hadn’t heard a single thing she said the entire walk back.

Kit attempted to lay down and sleep on the entryway rug upon their return, but for some reason Dru insisted that it wasn’t a good idea. He didn’t see why not, it was a perfectly comfortable rug.

Fine.

He meandered to the parlor then and attempted to lay down on the too small couch. He vaguely recalled squishing between the twins on this very couch when they had to flee to London that one time. It was the first time he had seen the ghost of Jessamine Lovelace, standing by the fireplace.

She hovered there again, giggling at him. “I’ll say this; Will enjoyed his fair share of libations, too. Is there a single Herondale who doesn’t have maladaptive coping mechanisms?”

“Guess not,” Kit shrugged helplessly.

“Shame, I was rather hoping you would break the cycle,” she tutted.

“I guess I will just be known as the failure Herondale then. It’s fine.”

“Kit, who are you talking to?”

“Nobody,” he muttered.

Jessamine’s spirit clutched at her chest in hurt and disappeared without another word, straight through the fireplace to wherever spirits disappeared to.

“Well, in any case,” Dru said, clearly not believing him. “This still isn’t your bedroom.”

“Why are you being the destroyer of fun?”

“This isn’t fun,” she said flatly, pulling him up from the couch and half dragging, half carrying him toward the hall once more.

“That’s because you’re, like, not drunk, destroyeroffun.” He smiled, a brilliant idea coming to mind. “I think it will be my new nickname for you!”

“Call me that one more time and I’ll break your kneecaps.”

“Ooooh, destroyer of kneecaps,” he whispered conspiratorially. “Even better.”

He observed with great amusement the way Dru attempted to keep a straight face. She ultimately failed, bursting into a fit of giggles. Kit found himself laughing easily beside her, gasping for breath.

His fun was ruined once again, when he stumbled into the hall and came face to face with Ty, who shifted his gaze between them with an expression of mingled curiosity and concern. “Dru...Is Kit alright?

Kit found himself lacking a filter in his drunken state. “Like you care,” he sneered. “I’m nothing to you, remember?”

Ty’s eyes narrowed, but he remained silent. If Kit expected to get a reaction out of Ty, then he was sorely mistaken.

It angered him, and he shoved Ty.

“Kit! What on earth are you doing?” Dru exclaimed. To Ty, she said apologetically, “He’s drunk.”

He ignored her outburst, focusing what little attention he could manage on Ty, glaring at him with an intensity that startled Kit. “What, got nothing to say?”

Ty set his jaw. “You seem to have made up your mind regardless of what I have to say.”

“Oh, is that so?” He shoved Ty again, with more force. He staggered back, anger burning in his gray eyes.

“What do you want from me, Kit?”

“I don’t want anything from you.”

“Then why are you picking a fight?”

Why?” Kit snapped. “Because you’re an ass, Ty. And you never think about anyone but yourself. I may have left, but maybe I wouldn’t have if you took a single fucking moment to—”

Kit never had the chance to finish, because moments later he was hurling the contents of his stomach into an ugly, giant urn. When he finally righted himself after a spell of dry heaving, Ty was long gone and Dru was glaring in accusation.

She grabbed him by the ear and pulled him all the way up the stairs and into his bedroom, grumbling and swearing.

“What the hell is your problem?”

My problem?” he argued.

“Yes, your problem,” she snapped, slapping him across the face. “I don’t care how angry you are at my brother, or how drunk you are, you don’t get to stand in front of me and insult him like that. I thought you were better than that, Kit.”

“Dru…” he began.

“No. You need to fucking listen to me. I know he hurt you. I know you feel like he didn’t care, but he did care. You leaving nearly destroyed him, Kit, and there was nothing any of us could do about it. He didn’t leave his room. He didn’t eat. He didn’t do anything. It’s a fucking miracle that he’s even here, that he even managed to go to the Scholomance. Thank the Angel that he did, and that he found that lynx, otherwise I don’t know what would have happened.”

Her explosion effectively shut him up and his clouded mind struggled to keep up—to process the meaning behind her words. He hoped he remembered this in the morning, not that Dru was likely to let him forget.

“I—Dru, I had no idea,” he uttered, so quietly that she had to lean forward to hear him.

“Of course you didn’t,” she said, with a tenderness that contradicted her previous outburst. “Look, I’m not saying this is all your fault. I know it’s not. But I told Ty this, and I’ll tell you too. You both hurt each other, and you need to figure your shit out. I’m not saying it will be easy, but you need to try.”

“I’ve tried talking to him. Every time I do, I say something stupid or run away like a fucking coward.”

“Okay,” she sighed. “Maybe you should try listening.”

…….

“Get up.”

Kit groaned, pulling the covers back over his head. He did not want to be alive. The pain in his head was overwhelming, made far worse by the memory of what he said to Ty.

“Get your sorry ass out of bed, now!” Dru ripped the blankets off him, leaving him exposed to the chilly air.

“Hey, give that back,” he grumbled.

Dru merely stood there, arms crossed—always a force to be reckoned with.

“What time is it?”

“Six o’clock sharp.”

“Please tell me you mean six in the evening; otherwise we are going to have words.

She laughed wickedly. “You wish. I told you that you weren’t going to like me this morning. Now come on, we are going for a jog.”

He leveled a stare at her. “You’re kidding right?”

She lifted an eyebrow in challenge.

“Oh, you’re not kidding,” he said, crestfallen. “Can I at least drink some coffee first?”

“Nope. No coffee, no stele.”

“Are you trying to kill me?”

She grabbed a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt slung across one of the chairs and tossed it to him. She then located his stele on the bedside table and pocketed it. Ignoring his question, she said, “Get dressed.”

“Alright, alright.”

She stalked out of the room, leaving him to contemplate his imminent demise. There was no way he was going to survive a jog with Dru in his current state of misery. He debated whether it was worse to just acknowledge how much of an ass he made of himself only a few hours ago and cut his losses. He really would rather dig himself a hole, fill it with spiders and lay in it, than leave his room for any reason.

He didn’t leave his room. He didn’t eat.

Fuuuuck.

He deserved whatever sadistic pleasure Dru got from torturing him this morning. He deserved to feel the pain and consequences of his actions. What the hell is wrong with him?

He emerged from his room ten minutes later full of dread and self-loathing. He just wanted coffee. And sleep.

He would get neither.

The first few blocks were manageable and Kit thought that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. It was a beautiful morning for spring in London, with just a light fog hanging low over the Thames that seemed to glow from within as the sun ascended through the sky.

“So how much do you remember from last night?” Dru asked after a while, jogging easily beside him.

“All of it,” he huffed. “Unfortunately.”

“Good.”

Silence stretched out between them and he wished she would just keep yelling at him. The silent disappointment was much worse.

Kit began to feel winded after not even a mile. On a good day, a mile was nothing, especially for Shadowhunters. He ran daily when he lived in Devon, but now he was already panting with exertion. He glanced at Dru, who looked as if she were out for a nice casual stroll.

“How long are we—”

“I will add on five miles if you finish that question,” she snapped.

Kit shut his mouth without argument and resigned himself to the miserable trek in silence. He didn’t even have to ask; Dru was livid with him. And he didn’t blame her. He was livid with himself.

By mile two, he thought his lungs were going to collapse and his stomach had cramped to the point he thought it would remain that way permanently.

Yet she pushed on.

At mile three, Kit’s legs were weak and his pace was sluggish. His head pounded with the ferocity of a million tiny hammers tap dancing on his skull relentlessly.

It all became too much very quickly, and he stopped abruptly, doubling over and vomiting whatever contents left in his stomach. Which turned out not to be much, since he’d heaved most of it up the night before.

“Okay,” Dru said, approaching him and pausing a good meter away. “We’re done.”

“Seriously? If I’d known that’s all I needed to do I would’ve puked my guts out two miles ago!”

“I’m surprised you even made it this far.”

“I’m sorry, Dru.”

“Nope, you don’t get to apologize to me until after you talk to Ty. And I mean really talk to him. No more of this ‘saying shit you don’t mean and running away from your problems’ bullshit.”

“I don’t think I can.”

She gripped him by the front of his T-shirt, grimacing at the material damp with sweat in her fist. “You are Kit motherfucking Herondale. You can and you will do this.”

“I realize that’s supposed to mean something, but it hasn’t done me a whole lot of good yet.”

“You are impossible!” she exclaimed, braids flying around her face as she threw her arms up in exasperation. “If you don’t talk to him today, then I will lock you both in a room together until you man up.”

“But—”

“Not another damn word.”

That shut him up for the second time in the span of thirty minutes.

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re terrifying?”

“No. Most people are smart enough not to get on my bad side.”

“Rude.”

“Don’t be such an ass then. It’s not like you, and I don’t like this version of you.” She was right, as always.

“I don’t like me very much right now, either.” He could be witty and sarcastic, especially when he was uncomfortable, but acting like a complete asshole? That wasn’t like him, and it was not fair to take his anger and insecurities out on Ty. Ty didn’t deserve it.

Ty deserved the world handed to him on a silver platter and nothing less.

Now if only he could put those thoughts into actual, tangible words.

He resolved himself to do whatever he had to do to fix things.

…….

After Kit had a long shower and a large mug of coffee, he set out to find Ty, a bundle of nerves settling uncomfortably in the pit of his stomach.

It proved more difficult than he anticipated. Either Ty was very good at being exactly where Kit wasn’t, or he wasn’t even in the Institute.

Kit resorted to leaving an old-fashioned note on Ty’s bed. He hadn’t previously been in Ty’s room since his arrival, but where Ty was typically neat and orderly to a fault, he was surprised to find that Ty hadn’t so much as unpacked the belongings he brought with him. Various books were stacked haphazardly in a pile on his bedside table with bits and pieces of paper sticking out from the pages. His suitcase sat open on the floor, clothes hanging off the sides carelessly.

To Kit, it meant that Ty had no intention of staying. The thought made him feel panicky and his palms clammy.

Even more reason to at least try to make amends.

He rummaged around for a pen and paper and set to writing his note.

“What are you doing?”

Kit’s head snapped up. Ty had apparently returned from wherever he had disappeared to.

“This looks bad, doesn’t it?” He grimaced, setting the pen back down.

“A little. Why are you in my room?”

“I couldn’t find you, so I was leaving a note for you…”

Kit could tell Ty wanted to ask why and chose not to. Instead he said, “Well you found me, so what is it that you want?”

It was too close to the way he had asked what Kit wanted from him the night before; cold and angry and sad.

You are Kit motherfucking Herondale.

Get your shit together.

“I’m sorry,” he blurted, more forcefully than he intended. Great start, Kit, you fucking moron. He pinched the bridge of his nose. “That didn’t come out like I wanted it to.”

“Clearly.” Ty was keeping his distance, still standing like a statue in the doorway. “So what exactly are you apologizing for this time? Because last time you apologized for being as ass, yet here you are again.”

Kit wasn’t sure he had ever heard Ty swear. He braved a glance at Ty’s face. The dark circles under his eyes were very pronounced, as if he hadn’t slept. The lead weight sank deeper into the pit of his stomach, leaving him feeling nauseous once again.

“Ty…” he didn’t even know how to begin. Curse Dru and her threats. He took a small, slow step toward Ty, and a deep breath along with it. “You’re right. I’ve been an ass, and you don’t deserve it. I’m sorry,” he tried again. “I’m so unbelievably sorry, for everything.”

“Everything.” Ty couldn’t look at him.

“Yes. You’re not the one who’s been an ass. I never blamed you for what happened at Lake Lyn. I should have told you the truth that I didn’t want you to bring her back. I was so focused on not losing you that I forgot to just be honest.”

Everything came tumbling out then, and it felt so good to let it out that he didn’t care if he was rambling or even making sense.

“Look, Ty...I don’t even think I’m mad at you. I’m mad at myself. I run the risk of all of this sounding like a pitiful excuse, but I just need to explain. I shouldn’t have ran out last night when we were in the library. I should have stayed and listened to you; instead, I left...again. It was very childish and unfair of me. And then I got drunk because I couldn’t handle the fact that you needed me all this time and all I did was selfishly choose to believe that I meant nothing to you so that it wouldn’t hurt so bad.”

“So what wouldn’t hurt so bad?” Ty whispered. His hands trembled at his sides. Kit wanted to take them in his own and hold them tightly.

“Missing you,” he said softly, releasing a long breath. “I’ve missed you. More than I can possibly express with words.”

Ty took a step toward Kit then with a hesitance than nearly broke his heart.

“I’ve been such an idiot. And there’s still so much for me to apol—”

“Stop.” Ty reached out and gripped Kit’s wrist, startling him. Kit looked up and found Ty’s gray eyes on him. They were a cloudy gray, like the sky before a storm, and just as intensely beautiful. “I need to say this before I think about it too much, and find that I can’t say it. I'm not good with words. Sometimes I say things…” he paused, fighting an internal battle that Kit could only guess at. “Things that are perceived wrong. And I know that I don’t always show what I’m feeling. It doesn’t always occur to me that others need that.”

“Ty, you don’t owe me an explanation.”

“Don’t.” He squeezed his wrist a little bit tighter. “I do, because I hurt you and I didn’t understand...You have to know that I never meant that you were nothing to me. You were the only thing keeping me going. And then we did that ritual and it didn’t work like it was supposed to, and I was lost—so, so lost. I just wanted her back, Kit. I didn’t realize I was going to lose you in the process.”

Kit’s skin felt like it was on fire where Ty’s hand clasped around it. Ty’s other hand was shaking uncontrollably, worrying at the cuff of his sleeve.

“Ty.”

Ty released him, and Kit longed for his touch as if it was a lifeline.

“God, Ty, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that I left without saying goodbye to you—without giving you an explanation. It was selfish of me.”

Ty’s gaze remained on Kit’s. It was unsettling, but he knew Ty was forcing himself to do it, because he thought it was important. Kit wanted to tell him that he never had to force himself to do what wasn’t natural for him, but somehow he suspected that Ty was doing it for himself as well.

“I’m sorry too...I understand now that I also acted selfishly,” Ty admitted. “It’s not something I wanted to admit, but it’s true. I was selfish. With the ritual, with your feelings, all of it. I know what you were going to say last night—that I never stopped to think about how you felt, or what you needed.”

“Ty, it’s—” What was he going to say? It’s fine? It wasn’t fine. Also, Ty was dangerously close to acknowledging that Kit had told him he loved him. It sparked the sudden desire in Kit to escape. He pushed that impulse down as far as he could; they were actually getting somewhere and he wasn’t about to ruin it by running away again.

“Do not lie to me and say that it’s fine. You’re the first person I cared about that wasn’t a Blackthorn, or someone I grew up with. You were important to me and I made you think that you weren’t and I’m scared that it’s too late to fix it...” His voice broke at the end.

Kit was stunned into silence, feeling the buildup of tears burning in the back of his throat, but he forced the words out. “It’s not. Not too late, I mean.”

“Do you mean that? You don’t...you don’t still wish you’d never met me?” Ty’s eyes shifted away from him, glistening with tears. It seemed Kit wasn’t the only one ashamed of that memory.

Kit couldn’t stop the tear that rolled down his own cheek then. He wiped it away hastily with the back of his sleeve. “I never felt that way. Those words never should have left my lips, no matter how angry I was.”

Ty nodded and after a few moments said, “It seems that we both messed up, then.”

Kit allowed himself a small smile. “It would seem so.”

……...

Ty retreated to the roof after his talk with Kit. Not because he was still angry, but because for the first time in nearly three years, he felt okay.

It was an oddly overwhelming sensation he wasn’t used to anymore—not since that night at Lake Lyn.

Forgiving Kit was no question, but forgiving himself—that proved to be an entirely different story. He couldn’t help but acknowledge that if he had paid more attention to Kit’s needs back then, they could have avoided the last three years entirely.

All stubbornness aside, he knew it did no good to entertain those thoughts. He finally knew why Kit had left, and Kit finally gave him the chance to explain. It had been remarkably easy to talk after that—after laying it all out.

Instinctively, he knew they would be okay.

He had wanted to ask about the feelings he now knew to be far from platonic, but had stopped himself from bringing it up, knowing that it didn't matter one way or another as long as Kit was with Dalton. He was self-aware enough to know that whatever complicated feelings he harbored for Kit did not matter. And that there was no reason for Kit to still feel that way about him.

What mattered now was finding a way to be Sherlock and Watson again, because despite what he had said about learning to do things without Kit, they were still better together. And always would be.

It was long after nightfall when Ty decided to come down from the roof. He found Shadow curled up at the base of the stairs, appearing to have been waiting for him. He knelt down and scratched her behind the ears, and she nuzzled her soft face into his hand, sending a wave of affection coursing through him.

Ty made his way to the kitchen with her following at his heel and rummaged around in the freezer for some kind of meat, waiting while it thawed in a bowl of warm water.

Shadow purred contentedly and made funny little noises while she ate. A wave of guilt went through him. He needed to be more mindful about her needs.

He yawned, suddenly feeling exhausted. He hadn’t slept well since coming to London—mostly due to the change in his routine, but also because of everything between he and Kit.

He allowed his tired feet to carry him back up the stairs to his bedroom. The institute was silent; either everyone was asleep already or they had gone out. Then again, it was a huge place with many rooms to hide out in without being heard or noticed.

He paused at the top of the stairs and Shadow halted beside him, ears twitching curiously.

Ty heard faint music coming from somewhere.

He followed the sound until he came to the hall with Kit’s office. Light beamed out into the hall from the room, and beautiful music along with it.

He approached hesitantly. He didn’t want to interrupt, but he was entranced. When he peeked around the doorframe, he was startled to find that the lovely music came directly from Kit, delicately yet deliberately playing a violin. He observed in secret for a few minutes, enticed by the way Kit’s lashes rested against his cheekbones as he lost himself in the instrument, the way his fingers moved over the strings confidently. He held the instrument with firm adoration, almost the way one would hold a small child.

It was apparent to Ty that Kit took great pride in handling the beautiful instrument, which undoubtedly belonged to Jem. With enough practice, Kit would play very well.

Ty fixated on every movement and every lovely note, even the imperfect ones. He could have stayed there for hours, just watching. The song wasn’t anything he recognized, but it was lovely all the same. He should have crept away in silence, leaving Kit to play in peace, but he found that his feet wouldn’t move.

“I didn’t know you played,” Ty said instead, finally managing to push his feet into the doorway. Kit stopped playing abruptly, and Ty mourned the loss of the sound. “It’s beautiful.”

Kit set the violin back in its case gently, and Ty thought about telling him not to. But he knew the moment was gone; Kit would not play now that he had an audience. “There’s a lot you don’t know about me,” he replied simply, but with a small smile. “Jem taught me. I’m nowhere near as good as him, and probably never will be.”

Ty nodded, gazing at a spot just above Kit’s shoulder. Sometimes he wished he were better at making eye contact. He’d been able to do it earlier—had forced himself to, actually. There were many things he wished he was better at, especially reading people. He used to be able to read Kit like an open book, now it was like looking through a fogged up window; you could still see, but everything was blurred.

“Is there—”

“Let me.”

They had spoken at the same time. Kit looked at him with a puzzled expression. “Let you what?”

Ty took a deep breath. He knew what he wanted to say, but getting the words out was a completely different battle.

“Let me know you again,” he breathed.

He knew it came out as barely a whisper. He braved a glance into Kit’s lovely blue eyes; eyes that had haunted his dreams for almost three years. They had widened just a fraction and the endless depths of his eyes reminded Ty of the sea—of home. Looking at Kit now, he finally felt a glimmer of understanding about why some people liked eye contact—there was vulnerability in the action. And right now he was leaving himself vulnerable and open.

Kit’s mouth opened and closed slightly, which Ty took to mean he was struggling to decide what he wanted.

“You don’t have to give me an answer now,” Ty offered. “I just need you to consider it.” He began to turn from the room when Kit’s voice brought him back.

“Don’t go,” Kit said.

Ty released a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. He moved into the room, and remembered that Shadow was still with him upon seeing the way Kit tensed. “Do you want to pet her?”

Kit raised his eyebrows in wonder.

“It might help you to not be so afraid of her.” He sat down in one of the oversized chairs again, and Shadow hopped up beside him instantly, snuggling against his side.

“Can’t she sense my fear?”

“Yes,” Ty said without preamble. “But I’m here, and if I trust you, then she will trust you.”

Kit nodded and approached slowly. He knelt down in front of Ty and the lynx, and Ty watched as Shadow lifted her golden eyes curiously.

“Put your hand out. Slowly, so she can get used to you.”

Kit did as he was told, reaching his palm out in front of her. Ty ran his hand through her fur comfortingly, murmuring words of encouragement and praise as she sniffed his hand with interest, then laid her head back down lazily.

“Good,” he said to Kit. “I think you can touch her now. Just be gentle.”

Kit glanced up at Ty for confirmation and then back down at the cat. He slowly reached forward and rested his hand on top of Shadow’s head, caressing her softly. Gaining confidence, he moved to scratch her under the chin and Ty smiled as he felt her purring contentedly against his side.

“She’s incredible, Ty.”

Ty grinned brightly, and it worked on Kit like caffeine. Kit’s answering smile was dazzling and Ty wanted nothing more than to keep it there. “I think she likes you.”

The fear had finally left Kit’s face, replaced with a look of awe that pleased Ty immensely. “How do you do it? She is a wild animal, and yet she trusts you completely.”

“Livvy and I rescued her. Livvy found her down at Dimmet Tarn, half frozen and starved. We nursed her back to health, that’s all.”

“Amazing,” Kit breathed, standing up and plopping down in the chair across from Ty.

A comfortable silence settled between them and Ty found himself getting sleepy.

“I need to—”

“I want to—”

Ty laughed. It was the second time they had spoken in unison. “You first,” he urged.

Kit shifted his gaze, looking abashed. “I want to know you again, too. That’s all.”

Ty found himself at a loss for words, so he dug his fingers into Shadow’s soft tufts of fur and smiled happily. “Okay,” he breathed quietly.

“Okay,” came Kit’s response, just as quietly.

Ty should have gone to bed, but he suddenly felt energized by Kit’s presence. He found he wanted to know everything that had happened in Kit’s life over the last few years. “Tell me everything about Devon.”

“Alright,” Kit agreed. “But only if you tell me everything about the Scholomance.”

…….

Chapter Text

Secrets and Lies

Kit sat at his desk in the study, finally preparing a daily rotation schedule, alternating who patrolled with who which nights of the week. He gave everyone different nights of the week off and gave them all Sunday nights off. He was pretty proud of it, actually. It felt good to develop of routine patrolling schedule. More than that, it felt good to take charge.

When he was done, he called Jaime into the office, tasking him with typing up the schedule and printing a copy for everyone.

“Who do you think I am?” he complained. “The fucking maid?”

Kit cast him a glare, “No, radix lecti, you just look like you need something to do.”

“Oh, so now I’m a couch potato??

“Better than a stupid cow right?”

“Barely. And why don’t you have Dru or Thais do it?”

“Are you disobeying an order, Jaime?” Kit looked at him pointedly, as if challenging him to defy him one more time.

“Ugh, fine!” He snagged the paper from Kit’s desk unceremoniously. “You suck, by the way.”

Kit shrugged with a smirk, “You’re not wrong.”

“Touché, I bet you’re pretty good at it, too,” Jaime winked with a laugh, all pretense at being angry gone.

“Good at what?” Ty appeared in the doorway and Kit thought about crawling underneath the desk.

“Oh, you know,” Jaime wiggled an eyebrow. “Things.

Ty stared at him blankly. “Never mind, I’m not sure I want to know, anyway.”

“Your loss,” Jaime said, heading out of the room, muttering to Ty as he went. “Maybe you can talk some sense into him. He keeps insisting on insulting me in Latin.”

Kit collected himself, but found he was unable to look directly at Ty, choosing instead to study his pen in great detail. “What’s up, Ty?”

Ty held up his phone, gesturing to a map with a blinking blue dot in the center. “Our vampire is on the move.”

“Any idea where he’s headed?”

“Not yet. Looks like he stopped at a Downworld bar first. I’m sure he was feeling a little depleted after his time down in the holding cells.”

“Perfect. That gives us time to get ready. It just so happens that you and I have patrol duty tonight, and we’re gonna tail him.”

Ty’s answering smile was the only thing in the world that mattered.

Kit rose from his seat and met Ty at the door. The other boy’s gray eyes glittered with amusement. “Latin?” he said with a raised eyebrow. “I very clearly recall you wanting nothing to do with the dead language.”

Kit smirked, “I may or may not have learned every swear word in Latin, just to use them on Jaime.”

“I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m actually not. That sounds exactly like something you would do.”

“Some things never change.”

Ty was thoughtful for some time, and Kit started to think their conversation was over. “You have. Three years ago, you scoffed at the idea of being a Shadowhunter, and now you are the head of the London Institute. I’d say you’ve changed quite a bit, and it suits you.”

Kit felt a small blush creep into his cheeks at the compliment. “I’m not the only one who’s changed,” Kit responded, glancing sideways at Ty. But he had to admit, Ty was right. He wondered what Ty would think of his faerie lineage if he knew. Kit was well aware that he couldn’t keep that secret forever, that his fey lineage was going to have ramifications he wasn’t even aware of yet.

Ty’s reply pulled him out of his thoughts. “I haven’t changed as much as you think.”

………

Dalton was cleaning weapons when Kit and Ty entered the weapons room, dressed in their patrol gear and Centurion uniform, respectively. Jaime had already given him his own typed up copy of the patrol schedule.

He told himself that he wasn’t upset or jealous, even, that Kit was patrolling with Ty tonight. He knew it was just a rotation schedule; everyone was paired with each other on different nights, except Dru and Thais who were paired together more often due to becoming parabatai. It shouldn’t have been a big deal.

Still, it bothered him.

Kit had told him that they had finally talked about whatever went down between them. He was glad, because it meant Kit was no longer torturing himself over something he said out of anger three years ago. But he was still withholding details from Dalton, and it left him with an uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty.

Kit came up to him then, swiping a few daggers from the table and tucking them into his belt. Dalton noticed Kit’s intricate niuweidao already secured at his hip. Kit didn’t leave on patrol or mission without it.

Dalton was aware of Kit glancing at him from the corner of his eyes. “Are you alright, Dalton? You’re scrubbing those blades awfully hard…”

He looked down at his hands. Kit was right. He set down the weapons and willed himself to get a grip. “I’m fine.”

Kit reached for his hand. “Okay…I'm definitely not an expert, but it seems like something’s wrong.”

Dalton sighed, “I’m sorry. I guess I’m just not in a great mood at the moment. There’s a lot on my mind.” That wasn’t the entire truth, but it was enough to satisfy Kit at the moment.

Kit leaned into him then, kissing him gently on the cheek and whispering in his ear, “I’ll come to your room when I get back, if you want.”

Dalton smiled in spite of his bad mood. “You know I can’t say no to you.” He reached up and tugged gently on Kit’s beautiful blonde waves. “Where are you patrolling tonight?”

Kit pulled back slightly, “Actually, we are tracking the vampire. We’ll see where that takes us, I guess.”

“Ah.” That turned out to be even more frustrating; he had wanted to be part of the ongoing investigations. He didn’t say it out loud though; didn’t want to sound as jealous as he actually was.

Kit gave him a slightly questioning look, before he started to turn away. Dalton snagged him around the waist and wrapped a hand under Kit’s jaw, pulling him in for a kiss, slipping his tongue into his mouth greedily. Kit melted into him and for a moment Dalton forgot everything else but losing himself in Kit’s warmth.

Dalton broke away briefly to say, “Just be careful.” Over the top of Kit’s head, Dalton caught Ty’s gaze and watched curiously as Ty quickly glanced away from the two of them.

“Always am,” Kit smirked back at him. “I’ll see you later, ‘kay?”

Dalton moved to work on sharpening a rack of swords and sabers, and used his spot across the room to observe Kit and Ty surreptitiously for a few long moments.

Something Kit said made Ty smile, and once again, Dalton wondered if their relationship had been more than a friendship. It was the only thing he could think of that Kit wouldn’t want to tell him about. Especially now that Dalton had confessed his own feelings. Truthfully, he had known he was in love with Kit for a few weeks now; long before they had made their relationship official. He wasn’t mad that Kit didn’t feel that way yet, but he couldn’t help wondering if Ty being in London was the reason for his uncertainty.

He had noticed that Ty never really made eye contact with anyone, seeming to prefer indirect glances. But he was looking directly at Kit now, enthralled by whatever it was Kit was telling him.

Whatever their past with each other was—really was, since Kit continued to evade the entire truth—it was very clear their relationship was different.

Dalton was so busy watching them that he forgot to be careful. The whetstone slipped from his grip and the blade sliced across his palm. He swore, clutching at his hand as the blood dripped onto the table in a crimson pool, suddenly feeling very foolish. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his stele, drawing a quick healing rune. He grabbed a cloth from the nearest shelf, cleaning up his mess hastily.

When he looked up again, Kit and Ty were still deep in their own conversation and hadn’t noticed Dalton’s frantic scrambling.

Leaving the blades unfinished, he threw the bloody cloth down and left the room, feeling the sting of the wound throbbing in time to the barrage of insecure thoughts in his mind.
………

Ty was not one to stare.

Ever.

But he found himself unable to tear his eyes away from the passionate display—as brief as it was—between Kit and Dalton.

He had never kissed someone the way Dalton was kissing Kit. The thought filled him with a strange combination of shame and excitement. Even though he was eighteen, the idea of being physically intimate with someone was so overwhelming that he had simply avoided it. Besides, there hadn’t been anyone at the Scholomance that he was even remotely interested in, in that way. It was partially his own doing; he hadn't gone out of his way to meet his classmates or make friends in the first place.

Then Dalton caught him watching and he turned away with an embarrassed flush to his cheeks. But that didn’t stop the thoughts from taking shape in his mind about what it would be like to run his fingers through that golden hair that he’d always found so fascinating. To cling to Kit again, as if he were the anchor in his sea of chaos.

He put a stop to those thoughts then, forcing himself to focus on what he was supposed to be doing: loading up with weapons. Even though he preferred not to fight, he never went on patrol or mission without being completely prepared.

Minutes later, Kit rejoined him and set to work checking over his blades and gear. For the first time, Ty noticed the red hilt of the curved blade at his side.

“You have a niuweidao? You are full of surprises.”

“Jem gave it to me on my first birthday in Devon. It once belonged to his mother, quite a long time ago. Imagine my surprise when he told me he wanted me to have it.”

Ty smiled at the thought—and at the way Kit gazed down at the weapon fondly. It wasn’t that surprising, in fact. Ty had observed Kit with Jem and Tessa over the last week and a half and it was very obvious a strong bond had formed; that they had become a family, complete with the giggling toddler who had befriended Shadow.

“Living with them, in Devon…” Ty began. “It was good for you. You seem…more sure of yourself now. Like you know what you want.” Ty was still only starting to figure out what he wanted, but he wasn’t even sure that what he wanted mattered. There was still a price to pay for upsetting the balance of life and death.

“Ah. You may be clever, Ty, but I am no closer to knowing what I want out of life than I was three years ago. I’m just much better at making people think I am.”

Ty couldn’t hold back a laugh, “Whatever you say, Kit.” But he realized there was definitely some truth behind Kit’s words—sensed it, somehow. He was aware that he knew very little about how Kit had or had not changed, besides the obvious differences. He had once thought he knew every small detail about Kit, but there was still so much to uncover; he had barely grazed the surface back then, and could hardly claim to know him now.

He wanted to ask Kit questions—to understand him better, but found himself at a complete loss for words. He opted for silence instead, focusing on applying soundless, night vision and strength runes.

He turned to Kit, gesturing at him with his stele.

Kit appeared to hesitate, before shaking his head. His soft curls fell into his face and Ty fought the urge to push them out of his eyes.

He pulled his phone out and checked the GPS tracking on their target. He was still at the Downworld Bar.

“We should—”Ty started, but Kit wasn’t paying attention. He was looking back to where Dalton had been, only moments before. Without thinking, he reached out and placed a hand on Kit’s arm. “Is everything alright?”

Kit’s focus returned, but a worried look still marked his features. He glanced at Ty’s hand on his arm, and then lifted his piercing blue gaze to Ty’s. “I don’t know.”

Ty removed his hand and looked away quickly. “We should get going.”

……….

Ty checked his phone frequently on their way to the bar, keeping tabs on the vampire’s location, but he needn’t have worried. The vampire seemed very content to remain exactly where he was.

Kit drove, and they parked a block away. He killed the engine and turned to Ty, “Do we do a stake out or go in?”

Ty weighed the options. “Even with the alliance, there’s a high probability that we are not welcome here. We have no idea who’s in there; who may have a bone to pick with Shadowhunters.

Ty watched out of the corner of his eye as the wheels turned in Kit’s mind and a smirk formed on his lips. “So what you’re saying is...it’ll be dangerous.”

“Obviously.”

“And risky.”

“Definitely.”

“Alright, alright. You don’t have to tell me twice. We’re going in.”

Ty shook his head in amusement. “You’re incorrigible.”

“I know,” he flashed a brilliant and mischievous grin that made Ty’s stomach flutter.

“We probably should have dressed more mundane.”

Kit nodded, “I’d thought about that. But they’re gonna know who we are the moment we walk in there, regardless of what we’re wearing. So we might as well just skip the charades and be who we are.”

Kit had a point. Ty felt anxious though and clenched his fists tightly in his lap to keep them from shaking. He hated bars.

Kit hesitated then with his hand on the door. “If you don’t want to go in, we don’t have to. I know you don’t like loud and crowded places.”

“You’re right. But I’m not going to let you go in by yourself, either. I have my headphones, just in case.”

“Okay,” Kit breathed. “If it’s too much, tell me and we will leave immediately.”

“Kit. I appreciate that, but I’ve learned ways to manage the sensory overload. I will be fine, I promise.”

Kit seemed to relax, and got out of the car. Ty took a deep, grounding breath and followed, mentally trying to prepare himself for what was to come.

They were stopped at the door by the bouncer; a large, burly man—a werewolf to be exact.

“Shadowhunters,” he scoffed. “What business do you have at The Infernal Haunt?

“Can’t two Shadowhunters enjoy a cold bevvy?”

“Dressed like you either own the place or you’re ready to murder people? I think not.”

“How rude. We happened to be out on patrol, checking out a report on an Eidolon demon in the area. Fortunately, for everyone involved, it seems to have been a false report. Nasty buggers, they are. Now can we come in for a drink?”

Ty was caught off guard by the ease with which Kit lied and the way his adopted British accent seeped into his speech, especially when he spoke quickly. The bouncer eyed them suspiciously, but after a few moments determined them to be a non-threat, and gestured for them to enter. He lifted his fingers to his eyes and pointed at the two of them, indicating that he would be watching.

Ty didn’t doubt the werewolf for one second.

He followed Kit to a high top table with a good vantage point and a close proximity to the back exit. The music and general loudness set Ty on edge; the bright lights making his brain feel scattered like the reflections from the disco ball. Around them, smoke drifted through the air, simultaneously bitter and sweet like burnt sugar and ashes.

The combination of it all was mildly nauseating. Ty sat across the table from Kit, immediately pulling out his headphones. He didn’t put them in his ears, just around his neck so he could fiddle with the cord, coiling and uncoiling it between his fingers. The repetitive motion kept him grounded, and he was able to glance around the room in observation, quickly locating their vampire facing away from them at the bar with a tall glass of crimson liquid in front of him.

Ty met Kit’s gaze and nodded in the direction of the Downworlder.

A young Unseelie woman approached their table, giving them a laminated drink menu and listing off the specials. Her delicate, pointed ears poked out from her silvery-white hair, and she smiled briefly at Kit, but her attention focused on Ty for longer than he found comfortable. She smiled at him warmly, and offered a special drink that she had not offered to Kit. He was vaguely aware that she was flirting with him, and had very little notion of what to do or say in response. Nor was he interested in her.

Kit spared him the embarrassment by ordering two drinks, and she turned away with a small frown. Kit’s blue eyes sparkled with amusement.

“Don’t say a word,” Ty cautioned, tugging at his sleeve. His fingers were fluttering; an autonomous response to the sensory overload. Everything about the place made his head swim chaotically, and his eyes darted around the room. There was simply too much to process.

“Ty, breathe.” Kit’s voice was soothing, like a soft blanket. “What do you need?”

“Just...talk to me. About anything—the case, or you. It doesn’t matter.”

“Not the case,” Kit responded in a whisper. “Anyone here could be listening in.”

For all the bouncer’s rudeness at the door, things were going far more smoothly than he’d anticipated. There were some strange and suspicious glances from a few inhabitants, but most had simply ignored them, preferring not to stir up trouble. The waitress returned with their drinks, winked at Ty and walked away, entirely nonplussed by his awkwardness.

“What did you order us to drink?” he asked, mostly out of curiosity, but also with some uncertainty, thinking about the other night when Kit returned to the institute drunk.

“It’s just vodka cranberry. Kind of a girly drink, but I like them. This is what I drink when I’m having a good time. Not...like the other night.”

“And what did you have the other night?”

“Whiskey.” He said it like it was obvious that it mattered.

“I wouldn’t know the difference. I’ve never drank alcohol before.” He wasn’t certain he ever wanted to. He was wary of alcohol—it made people impulsive. Still, he found himself intrigued.

“You don’t have to drink it.”

Ty slid the drink across the table, and then returned to keeping an eye on Youngblood, still sitting at the bar. “Has Livvy visited you?”

Surprise danced across Kit’s face, and he took another drink. “Oh, that’s not what I was expecting you to ask…but yes, once, since you arrived. She came to my room and yelled at me.” Ty frowned. “I deserved it, though, for being an ass. Has anything, you know, changed? Have there been any negative, umm, side effects?”

Ty hesitated. He had kept meticulous notes on everything—from how far away they could be from each other before they felt the painful tug on their connection, to the increasingly frequent moments in which Livvy’s spirit appeared to become more lucid. But he wasn’t one hundred percent sure what was happening or what it all meant.

“You don’t have to tell me. Sensitive subject and all…”

“No, it’s ok. I’m just not sure where to begin. You can read all my notes some time.”

Kit smiled at him then and Ty had to look away. The vampire had finally moved and was speaking with a hooded figure in the corner.

“Kit, look. Do you think that could be her? The mysterious hooded woman that he told us about?”

Kit observed for a few moments, sipping nonchalantly at his drink. “I don’t know. Superhuman hearing would come in handy right about now.”

Damien Youngblood turned around then, locking eyes with Ty, glaring with complete, unadulterated hatred. It occurred to Ty that maybe showering the vampire with silver powder hadn’t earned him any appreciation. Oh well. It was the means to an end, and he would do it again if it meant solving this case.

The other hooded figure disappeared in the span of a few seconds, so swiftly and slyly that Ty almost missed it. Then the vampire downed the remainder of the drink in his hand and left through the back exit into the alley.

Ty and Kit were off their stools and halfway across the space to the door in mere moments. But Ty was stopped by the waitress, who had apparently decided not to give up her flirting.

“Leaving so soon, sweetie? You just arrived,” she cooed to him, sidling up uncomfortably close and grazing a hand down his arm. It felt like pins and needles under his skin, painful and entirely unwanted. He began to back away, but she followed. “Oh, come now, don’t play so hard to get.” He froze, feeling very much trapped.

Kit had been a few steps ahead of him, but he turned now and, seeing Ty, rushed back to his side. Ignoring the faerie, Kit leaned into Ty very slowly, giving him space to adjust.

“Hey, excuse me, but I was talking to your friend,” the woman interrupted.

Kit held up a hand to silence her, before whispering softly into Ty’s ear, “Do you trust me?” Ty nodded, and Kit continued. “I’m going to touch you, now.”

Kit took his hand gently, and brought it to his lips. Ty stood rooted to the spot, unable to fully process exactly what was happening. Kit kissed the back of his hand, looking directly at the faerie woman.

“I see that you were talking to my boyfriend. And we are leaving now. So if you would remove your hand, before I remove it for you, that would be great.”

The woman gave a reproachful look, but complied and lifted her hand. “My apologies,” she mumbled, before turning on her heel and briskly walking away to another table.

Kit tugged Ty along, keeping a firm grip on his hand. Ty’s brain was still catching up, stuck on the way Kit’s lips had felt warm and pleasant against the back of his hand, entirely contrasting with the pins and needles feeling the girls’ touch had provoked. He knew it was a charade, yet it left him feeling...strange.

Then they were in the alley and Kit released his hand, leaning against the brick wall. “I’m sorry, Ty.”

Ty’s head shot up, “What on earth are you sorry for?”

“For touching you. I didn’t know what else to do. You looked so panicked and uncomfortable. I hope I didn't make it worse.”

“You gave me full warning. You have nothing to worry about.”

Kit seemed to accept that, so Ty took out his phone to check Youngblood’s location, trying to put Kit’s touch out of his mind. He held out the phone toward Kit, mouthing the words, “He’s still here.”

Everything that happened after that was a blur of commotion. Kit pushed himself off the wall, hand gripping the hilt of his saber as Ty found himself trapped against a strong force behind him with a dagger to his throat, it’s cold edge digging painfully into his skin.

“One more step and I’ll slit pretty boy’s throat.”

“Now that would be pretty stupid, even for you,” Kit quipped.

“Why are you following me?”

“Who was the hooded person you were talking to?”

“You can’t answer a question with another question!”

Across the alley, Ty made eye contact with Kit, trying to communicate that he just needed to keep the vampire talking. Keep him distracted.

Whether or not Kit actually knew what Ty wanted him to do, the talking came naturally.

“You are literally the worst vampire in the history of vampires. Threatening to kill someone with a dagger...what, did you forget you have fangs?”

So did antagonizing, apparently.

“You tell me why you two are following me and how you knew where to find me and I’ll let him go.”

“Lucky guess. Patrolling the area, wanted a drink, and what do you know? We got the added bonus of finding you, talking to a shady looking individual in a hooded robe.”

The vampire turned to Ty then, “I think your friend is lying.” Ty felt the dagger cut into his skin, and suddenly Kit was flying towards them. He caught the vampire around the neck, startling him into dropping the weapon. Ty moved away, drawing his karambits from his belt and looping his index fingers through the handles. They were defensive daggers, but they were his favorite.

Within moments, various hooded individuals surrounded them.

“Release the vampire, Kit Rook. Or should I say, Herondale?”

Ty recognized the female voice, but couldn’t place it. Kit stirred, backing away from Youngblood, looking furious.

“Hypatia Vex. To what do I owe the displeasure?”

She finally removed her hood, and so did the other figures. Vampires, warlocks, and faeries—both Seelie and Unseelie—all glared at the two of them.

“You have something that I want.”

“Bold of you to presume I know what it is or that I would even hand it over.”

“You want the ring,” Ty stated, hoping that Kit would follow his lead.

“I see things haven’t changed. He’s still the intelligent one,” Hypatia crooned at Kit. “Yes, the ring. It belongs to me.”

“You’ve sure gone through a lot of trouble to get it. But we can’t help you with that. We gave it to the Silent Brothers for safe keeping.”

“Hmmm. I think not. You forget that I’ve known you almost your entire life, Kit. I know when you are lying, just like I knew when Johnny was lying. I also know that there’s no way you wouldn’t hold on to such a mysterious item.”

“What would you give us if we hand it over to you?” Ty asked. He saw Kit shoot him a questioning look.

“What makes you think that I would give you anything? It belongs to me, and I want it back.”

“Well, you seem desperate. And desperate people tend to do anything for what they want.” He may have been internalizing a bit, but he knew desperation when he saw it. “So I’ll ask again, what will you give us if we hand over the ring to you?”

Hypatia sighed, “I suppose I could be convinced to give you answers.”

“You’re going to have to be much more specific than that,” Kit snapped.

“No, I’m not. You have twenty-four hours to hand it over. You know how to find me.” She cast a knowing glance toward the vampire, who had no idea what she was referring to. Ty wasn’t even sure how she knew about the tracking device.

She snapped her fingers and disappeared. The other warlocks followed suit, the vampires sped away, and the faeries headed back into the bar. The only one remaining was Damien, still glaring at Ty.

“I suggest you get a move on, or you’ll find your eyes gouged out and propped on sticks like cake pops.”

“I have unfinished business with you,” he directed at Ty, ignoring Kit’s threat.

“Look,” Ty began. “Knocking you out, that wasn’t personal.”

“Well, then I’m sure you won’t take this personally, either.”

In the span of two seconds, the vampire was on him, fangs buried deep in his neck, sucking greedily and violently. It only took a moment for Ty to collect himself and slash his daggers across the vampire’s stomach. He knew it wouldn’t kill him, but the vampire staggered backward, swiping his chin with the back of his hand, licking the dribble of blood that came away. Ty clutched at his bleeding neck, finally registering the throbbing pain.

Youngblood’s face looked euphoric, despite the wound knitting itself shut across his stomach. “You taste heavenly.”

“Get. Away. From him,” Kit’s voice sounded from behind the Downworlder, lethal and savage. Ty didn’t think he had ever heard Kit sound so furious.

The vampire smirked. “I see I have struck a nerve.” But when he turned around, Ty’s gasp echoed the vampire’s, and Ty couldn’t help but stare in shock. Youngblood put his hands up in front of him and backed away, “Woah. Okay, okay. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

“Damn right it won’t, you lying sack of shit. You’re lucky I’m not going to kill you right here and now.”

He sped off into the distance then, not willing to take the chance that Kit would change his mind.

Looking at Kit now, Ty wasn’t sure that he wasn’t about to go after the vampire regardless, but that wasn’t what caught his attention. Kit’s saber was in his hand, swirls of magic twining around the blade, glowing an eerie silvery blue color and casting dancing shadows across Kit’s features, illuminating his hair to a silvery gold, like pyrite.

“Kit—your sword.”

The glow faded as the fury left Kit’s face and he sighed, exhaustion seeming to take its place. He looked up at Ty then, seeing the blood dripping down his neck. He rushed over to him, sliding his saber back into its sheath. “Ty, are you okay?”

Ty could hear the panic in his voice; needed Kit to know that he was all right. “I’m fine. I just need an iratze.

Kit dug around in his jacket for the stele and ever so gently tipped Ty’s head to the side, holding his neck steady and secure with one hand while he placed the adamas tip against his skin, right next to the wound. Kit was so close to him, Ty could feel his heavy exhales on his skin; he smelled of leather and spice—like cloves and cinnamon. If he glanced down, he would see the tiny freckle on Kit’s earlobe. Instead, he closed his eyes, focusing on the prickling sensation of the healing rune as it worked its magic on the injury.

“Kit,” Ty whispered, coming back to his senses. “How did you do that? With the sword…” he clarified.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” said Kit.

………….

Kit and Ty walked back to the institute car in silence. Kit wasn’t worried about telling Ty the truth, but he wasn’t about to take the risk of some Downworlders listening in on the conversation, either.

Kit drove all the way to Blackfriars Bridge, before Ty finally asked, “Where are we going?”

“Somewhere quiet.”

He didn’t want to go back to the Institute either, so he’d decided on a place he had discovered on a late night walk during the first few weeks living at the Institute. He parked on Duchy Street, and Ty followed as Kit led him through the Bernie Spain Gardens until they emerged in front of a pier overlooking the Thames.

“This is Gabriel’s Pier.” Kit loved it for the striking view of the London Skyline; the way the lights illuminated the low hanging clouds. Sometimes, on a clear night, it reminded him of Los Angeles.

What was typically a bustling place during the day, due to the beaches and the shopping area on the wharf, was entirely dead this time of night. Kit sometimes came here when he needed to clear his head or get away from the institute for a while; whenever he needed to feel a little more mundane.

Kit led Ty to the end of the pier and they stood side by side, leaning against the rail. Kit observed as Ty took in all the sights and sounds surrounding them. He looked calm and relaxed now, a stark contrast to his panic and discomfort at the bar.

Kit felt guilty—for taking Ty there in the first place, and for putting him in danger in the alley. But more than that, he felt guilty for touching Ty the way he had. Even though it was just a charade to save Ty from the Unseelie’s advances, and even though he was dating Dalton, the fact that Ty had let him—had trusted him to get him out of that situation—

He shut down the thoughts then. It meant nothing. Whatever Kit’s lingering feelings were for Ty, it didn’t matter because Ty would never feel that way about him. It wasn’t fair to Dalton for him to even entertain the thoughts that kept popping into his head. Dalton loved him. And Kit was being an idiot.

Looking out over the reflections cast across the surface of the river, Kit exhaled slowly. “What you saw back there in the alley...turns out I’m not only the lost Herondale, but I’m also the only known descendent of the First Heir.”

“The First Heir,” Ty repeated slowly, and Kit watched out of the corner of his eye as Ty processed it. “How?”

So Kit explained everything, just as he had with Dru a few days earlier. As he did, he absentmindedly tugged on the slender chain hanging around his neck; the silver heron necklace that belonged to his mother, Rosemary. There was a part of him that would always wonder what his life would have been like if the Riders of Mannan hadn’t killed her. He wondered if, somehow, his path still would have crossed with the Blackthorns, or Jem and Tessa. His chest constricted painfully at the thought of not knowing them. It was hard to imagine his life without them now.

After a while, Kit had trailed off, leaving Ty to absorb the information; how and who he was descended from, how his magic had manifested in the first place, what he could—or couldn’t—do with his powers now. Even his suspicions that the amulet had something to do with his lineage.

He knew it was a lot to take in—it had taken him the better part of his time in Devon to come to terms with it himself.

“Well…” Ty said thoughtfully. Kit glanced at him, noticing the way his dark hair, black as night in the shadows, moved gently in the breeze. “I guess that explains more about why you left. Jem and Tessa were protecting you.”

“Yes, well, it seems I’ve made a mess of that. Who knows how many Downworlders know now that I’ve threatened that idiot Youngblood. There’s no way Hypatia Vex doesn’t know already.”

“Unless he’s more afraid of her than he is of us. Speaking of which, what do we do about Hypatia?”

Kit dragged a hand through his hair, “I’m gonna call Magnus in the morning. He was going to look into that amulet anyway and I haven’t heard anything from him since before you arrived.”

“I think you need to be more careful, moving forward.” Ty fidgeted with the cuffs of his jacket, as if uncertain about voicing his opinion.

“It was you who told me that Shadowhunters don’t run. I’m not running away from this, Ty.”

“That’s not what I’m saying.” Ty turned to face him then, still leaning against the rails. He looked him in the eyes then with an intensity that made Kit feel weak at the knees and simultaneously want to look away. It was already disconcerting enough for Ty to make eye contact with him.

“What then?”

“You have a target on your back. This—your claim to both courts of Faerie, it’s dangerous. Don’t be reckless. We need to think things through.”

The corner of Kit’s mouth turned up in a small smile.

“What did I say?” Ty asked curiously.

“You said ‘we’,” Kit smiled, feeling a blush creep into his cheeks. He turned away, unable to keep his eyes on Ty any longer. No matter how much he tried to push away the thoughts, Kit couldn’t stop thinking that Ty looked so beautiful in the pale glow from the city lights. He wasn’t sure he would ever think anyone was as beautiful as Ty.

He noticed Ty smile in response before looking back out over the water. “I just want you to be careful, Kit.”

……….

It was late when they returned to the institute, but Kit went to Dalton’s room anyway, just as he said he would. He knocked lightly on the door, half expecting Dalton to be fast asleep, but the door opened a few moments later, revealing a very tousled looking Dalton.

“You could have just come in,” Dalton said with a yawn.

“I didn’t want to disturb you, if you were already asleep.”

“I was up...couldn’t sleep,” he mumbled.

Kit entered the room, shucking off his uniform and boots and plopping onto the mattress. “Is everything alright?”

Dalton ignored the question. “How was your patrol with Ty?”

Was it just Kit, or did Dalton sound...jealous?

“Oh, just peachy.” Kit filled him in on the events of the night, leaving out a few key details. Dalton was concerned when Kit told him the vampire had injured Ty. “But on the plus side, we discovered who wants the ring.”

Dalton’s eyebrows lifted in curiosity, “And?”

“An unpleasant warlock from my past. She claims that it belongs to her. But I think she’s full of shit.” Kit looked up at Dalton from the bed. “Are you gonna come here or stand there all night?”

Dalton chuckled and crawled in beside Kit, remaining seated against the headboard. “Sorry, a lot on my mind.”

“Yeah…you said that earlier. What’s wrong? And where did you disappear to so suddenly when we were in the weapons room?”

“Oh, that? I accidentally cut myself sharpening a sword.”

Kit poked him in the side playfully, “You should be more careful.”

“You shouldn’t distract me with your good looks.”

Kit laughed in response, “Sorry, I guess I’ll have to have Magnus cast an ugly enchantment on me then.”

Dalton rolled his eyes. “It’s not just your looks I’m attracted to, Kit. It’s everything about you. Your confidence, your sense of humor. The way you care so deeply about everyone in your life. I love it all.”

“Even my secrets?”

“Even your secrets.”

“So what was bothering you so much earlier?”

Dalton pursed his lips for a moment. “It’s stupid.”

“I understand stupid.”

Dalton laughed merrily and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. “I guess I was jealous.”

Ah, so Kit was correct, after all.

“I wanted to go with tonight.”

That would have been a disaster, Kit thought, remembering the way he had kissed the back of Ty’s hand. He should not have done that. Guilt settled in his stomach and his heart felt like it was going to beat right out of his chest. Not to mention that he would have had to explain his faerie powers yet again, though if he’d been honest in the first place, maybe he wouldn’t feel so bad about keeping it from him.

“You could have said so.”

“No, it’s fine. It’s not something I should even be jealous about. Ty is your friend and I’m—”

“My boyfriend.

Dalton’s smile widened. “I was worried I had freaked you out by dropping the ‘L’ word,” he said shyly and apologetically. “It was sudden and I didn’t mean to spring it on you like that.”

“It was sudden, but no, it didn’t freak me out. Things are just…complicated lately.” That was the understatement of the century. But somehow, when he was with Dalton, everything seemed less complicated and less chaotic, and that was something Kit very much liked about being with him. It was simple and fun, and he didn’t have to worry about faeries or magic or Ty or mysterious rings and amulets.

Deep down though, Kit knew that it couldn’t last. Eventually, all those things that he didn’t have to think about with Dalton would catch up to them, and it would no longer be simple. Kit would have to decide what he wanted.

But tonight was not the night for that kind of decision making.

“Well…” Dalton gazed at him through his long lashes, hazel eyes glimmering in the faint light coming in through the window, illuminating the flecks of gold around his irises. “I can think of a few totally non-complicated things we could do,” he winked.

Kit hummed in agreement, not even the least bit sleepy. He pulled Dalton down on top of him, and wrapped his legs around his waist. Dalton propped himself over Kit by his elbows and leaned down slowly, taking his time and making Kit impatient. Kit closed the gap between them, lips meeting and tongues brushing against each other in slow, languid movements.

Their kisses were normally hot and eager, but this one wasn’t. It was as if Dalton were trying to memorize the feel of him. The curve of his lips, the flick of his tongue in Dalton’s mouth, the way their bodies pressed together greedily. It was a loving action, Kit realized with a jolt.

All of Kit’s initial fears about being in this relationship with Dalton came tumbling back to the forefront of his mind. There was no way he wasn’t going to fuck this up at some point.

But those thoughts didn’t stop him from running his fingers through Dalton’s hair, tugging at the tender strands at the nape of his neck and trailing his fingernails down Dalton’s spine. The other boy shuddered against him and traced hungry kisses down his neck and collarbone, sucking and biting gently while grinding his hips into Kit’s.

Kit’s breathing became ragged with need and longing and he pushed Dalton’s boxers down before flipping him onto his back, taking control of the moment. Dalton tugged at Kit’s underwear and he shuffled them off and onto the floor hastily. Kit kissed a trail from Dalton’s hipbone, across his stomach and chest, and sucked gently at his neck, hands roaming and caressing. He pulled away and reached into the bedside table for the lubricant, coating his fingers and seated himself between Dalton’s legs, spreading them wide.

He watched as Dalton’s face contorted in pleasure as Kit slid a finger into him, working him open slowly—in, out, in—before adding another. Dalton groaned as Kit curved his fingers inside him, hitting that sweet spot and making him squirm with impatience and desire. He took Dalton’s length into his other hand and pumped in time with his fingers, slipping a third in and letting him adjust and stretch around him.

Dalton was panting—begging for more.

“I love it when you beg,” Kit murmured before slowly withdrawing his fingers.

“Don’t. Stop,” Dalton complained, and Kit smirked down at him.

Grabbing the lube again, he coated himself, then flipped Dalton over onto his stomach, propping up his hips with a pillow. He teased the entrance with his tip, massaging Dalton’s lower back gently before sliding into him, slowly. He felt Dalton quiver, then relax around him, and Kit knew he could move. He pulled back so slowly that Dalton huffed longingly. Kit chuckled low and throaty, removing himself completely before slamming back into him, over and over. He reached out and grabbed Dalton by the hips and shoulder, pulling him into a kneeling position.

“God, Kit!” Dalton’s panting came faster and faster and Kit felt the bundle of nerves tightening within him, ready for release.

“I’m close,” he groaned and Dalton leaned forward with his hand braced against the headboard, supporting his own weight as he stroked himself.

Kit lost himself in Dalton then, thrusting quickly and greedily into him, relishing in the sensations, and hastily approaching his climax. He felt the initial spasms and pulled out, spilling himself over Dalton’s back with a satisfied moan. Dalton’s release came moments later and they collapsed in a wet, messy heap on top of each other.

“Still jealous?” Kit murmured playfully after a few moments of catching his breath.

Dalton laughed beneath him, “Not at all.”

……

Dalton woke up before Kit, taking a moment to watch the other boy as he slept peacefully beside him. It was still early morning, the sky barely glowing outside his window, but it cast a delicate sheen over Kit’s features, turning his hair into rose gold.

Dalton always thought the combination of blue eyes and blonde hair was the most attractive. On Kit it reminded him of a sunrise over the ocean, of being back home in Florida and spending his days out on the water.

He missed home, and he missed his family.

His parents had died in a car accident when he was sixteen, and he’d been sent to New York to live with an aunt after everything happened. Then Simon Lovelace, the Shadowhunter recruiter, not that he knew that at the time, approached him. He had never been close with his aunt, so he left for the Academy without a second thought on the matter. For all anyone knew, Dalton Morris was a teenage runaway who was most likely dead. And he hadn’t been back to Florida since.

Dalton Sungrove knew now that it was pretty common for Shadowhunters to be orphaned and it was something that helped him move on when he was at the Academy. It didn’t stop him from missing his mundane life, though he also couldn’t imagine not being a Shadowhunter. He imagined Kit felt similarly about it, not that he talked much about his parents or his life before, but when he did Dalton got the distinct impression that his mundane life was far from normal anyway.

He still felt a bit silly for his bout of jealousy the day before. He really had no reason to dislike Ty—and actually, he very much liked Ty. He was incredibly smart, had a pretty cool pet, and Dalton was glad that Ty had been Kit’s first friend, regardless of whatever their relationship was now. He found Ty a little quirky too, and he remembered that most Shadowhunters knew very little about mundane disorders. But he was aware that Ty was likely on the spectrum, with the way he avoided eye contact and most physical contact. The way he mostly kept to himself and seemed to use his headphones for self-regulation. He probably didn’t make friends easily, which was another reason Dalton felt like an idiot for being jealous in the first place.

Dalton let his train of thoughts wander as he watched the steady rise and fall of Kit’s chest, bare and exposed. Kit was the loveliest thing he thought he’d ever lay eyes on. He almost fell in love with Kit all over again, just watching him now.

Kit grumbled in his sleep then, and Dalton noticed the way his eyelids twitched, eyes moving rapidly beneath them.

Kit was dreaming.

“Don’t do it,” Kit mumbled in an agonized way.

Dalton wondered what on earth he was dreaming about, and contemplated waking him. He didn’t though, and Kit didn’t say anything else for a long time.

“Please,” came a whimper from the sleeping boy. “Please, I love you.”

Dalton started, and his heart began to race erratically within his chest. Who was Kit dreaming about? Part of him didn’t want to know.

Kit’s next words were an answer to his internal questions.

“I love you, Ty. I love you,” he murmured, in such a way that Dalton didn’t doubt for one second that the words were true. At least, they were true in Kit’s subconscious.

Dalton froze, feeling his chest clench painfully, and tried to tell himself that it was just a dream; that words spoken in sleep didn’t mean anything. But he was kidding himself—he knew all too well that waking thoughts and worries often manifested themselves in dreams. Knew instinctively that Kit had been in love with Ty. It was a confirmation of what he had already suspected since Ty’s sudden arrival.

He crept slowly out of bed. He didn’t want to wake Kit; didn’t want Kit to see him like this. He needed time to process before he faced Kit again, or else he wouldn’t be able to manage the feelings bubbling up inside him.

He didn’t know whether to cry or scream, but either way, he needed to go to the training room. He pulled on his training clothes and slipped as quietly as he could from his room.

With one last glance at Kit, still sleeping soundly, he closed the door with a soft click, feeling his world crumbling around him.