Kit lay in the narrow Institute bed, counting tiny cracks in the moulded ceiling above him, in hopes boredom would send him off to sleep.
He shifted and rolled over, reaching for his phone. 23:47 it read.
Sighing, Kit tossed it on the bedside table. Institute training started again at six am but sleep remained elusive. He tapped his fingers against the headboard, and then traced out the small grooves carved into one corner. WH. William Herondale
Tessa’s first husband had certainly been fond of monogramming his initials across the building- the library was littered with books signed with his name, which had annoyed Kit at first. But now it was almost a game to spot the tell-tale spiky W and H in the various Institute tables or wooden wall panels.
In the tower room that was also now Kit’s, he had spotted six separate ones, plus one carving he suspected was from Tessa and Will’s daughter, reading ‘LH + JB’. He didn’t know why but that one had made his throat ache when he had found it. He had sent a photo of it to Tessa, who had replied back with a single ‘<3’.
He knew Bridget had given him the room as a nod to his last name but… given the choice, he would have preferred a different one. He wasn’t a Herondale Herondale. Not of Tessa’s line. Not like Jace. Not like the perfect Herondale warriors or brilliant strategists of the past. The Herondales that the other Shadowhunters on their travel year at the Institute expected him to be like.
So sue him, Kit thought grumpily- so he hadn’t grown up as a proto-Spartan or went through gruelling Academy training and then drunk angelic fire to get the abs, chiselled jawlines and perfect aim most Shadowhunters seemed to have.
Jem had done his best but Kit knew he was at best a mediocre, working towards competent, fighter. And while he, Jem and Tessa had talked about it and worked hard on his other skills, for many reasons, Kit couldn’t showcase them during training.
Kit had to admit to himself: he hated it here at the London Institute. He should’ve just headed back to Cirenworth after his visit with Jace and Clary in New York. But it wasn’t possible.
Therefore, for the foreseeable future, he would give as many charming smiles and paper-thin excuses as needed to skip training and ignore the sideways glances and whispers that followed when he still failed at basic Shadowhunter tasks.
Which happened more when he didn’t sleep well… Kit contemplated getting up and going for a quick wander down the Institute’s halls, wondering if movement would help stop his ruminations.
He had gone to bed fully dressed. Old habits that had formed during childhood with his father, were now resurfacing as his First Heir problems had multiplied. Given the close calls he had had at Cirenworth and New York, he knew why he was fully dressed, unable to sleep, in London on a lumpy bed. But it still sucked.
Kit also knew the real reason why he didn’t want to wander this late. During the day he kept busy enough… but at night the literal ghosts – Jessamine was way too eager to have a Herondale to talk to again – and the figurative ghosts of his past experiences at the London Institute, were too close for comfort.
Plus- there was Ty- a complication who had arrived with two other Centurions the previous evening. Kit had so far successfully avoided him.
Kit sat bolt upright, as Livvy’s voice filled his room. A couple seconds later, she popped into sight in front of him. In the moonlight, her dark hair and eerie eyes contrasted with the blinding white of her skin and even paler shade of her funeral dress.
“Livvy?” Kit relaxed his hold on the knife he kept under his pillow but felt goosebumps rise along his arms in alarm. She sounded terrified.
“Kit, Kit- Kit, you have to help- it’s Ty, he’s-” Livvy’s frantic voice pulled at something in Kit’s chest. And he forced himself to take a deep breath, even as he swung into action.
“Where is he? What’s wrong?” he demanded. Shoes and weapons belt already on, and one arm into the spare gear jacket he kept beside his bed, he pulled his go-bag from underneath the loose floorboards. In it held his stolen weapons and all essentials for a quick escape.
Livvy was hovering anxiously beside him. She hadn’t answered his question.
“Livvy- what’s wrong with Ty?” Kit tried to keep his voice calm, even as he unzipped the bag and then thought better of it. He’d bring it all. “I need to know so I can prepare.” He stood up and attempted to find the quiet center of his power. Just like Tessa had taught him. He tried to ignore the thudding of his heart.
“It’s- I don’t know, I think it’s some kind of Fae monster, it doesn’t look like any demon I’ve ever seen, it has him cornered- Kit, HURRY!”
He focused. Everything outside of his immediate vicinity went blurry, and a rushing sound filled his ears, wind swirling around him. He closed his eyes.
When he next opened them, he had teleported to a dim alley and was standing next to a bloodied and winded Ty.
Ty was on the ground, fending off a bulky multi-tentacled monster, hacking at the barbed arm that had wrapped around his leg.
Kit was vaguely aware of the horrified look Ty gave him before he had to dive out of the way, as the monster clocked onto the new arrival on the scene and sent several spiky barbs his way. Oh, they could detach from its body… not fucking good, he thought, even as his training kicked in.
But his hands closed on his empty weapons belt. Out of the corner of his eye, Kit saw his abandoned, carefully packed bag get torn apart, weapons scattering, and money fluttering, and he realised his mistake.
He scrambled to his feet. He’d have to improvise.
“Ty!” he called, and even in the dim lighting and the monster in front of him, he could see Ty’s attention snap to him.
“I can get us out of here but-” He was aware that Livvy had also re-appeared beside Ty.
He saw Ty nod, as he pulled out another blade from his own weapons belt, and cut the last bit of flayed tentacle from his leg. He pulled himself to stand.
The monster- its menacing rhino-shaped head swerving towards him, swept several tentacles back from Ty, and held them up in the air. Almost as if it were scenting for prey.
A rumbling noise filled the air and Kit realised it was the creature’s laughter.
“Ahhhh, the First Heir…” it hissed. “Finally you come to meet your doom.”
Despite the dire situation, Kit grinned. What was it with Seelie creatures and monologuing? Every. Single. Freaking. Time.
“Sorry not sorry- love to stay around and chat but we have to bounce-” he said. He started to edge towards Ty, who had also begun to move towards him.
The creature noticed and lashed out with its largest tentacle. But not towards Kit- towards Ty.
Livvy screamed in frustrated anger as the arm swung through her incorporeal body.
Without thinking, Kit flung himself forward and tackled Ty, feeling solidity of muscle and a soft oomph as they crashed towards the ground. A stinging pain passed over his back.
He had a brief moment to panic at the nearness of familiar grey eyes before he instinctively fumbled towards his power and thought: home
They were in the country. After three years hiding in rural Devon, Kit could tell the difference - something about being not in a city meant the air sounded alive…
Somewhere nearby, a small animal rustled in the bushes, while an owl hooted and the cool, late-summer wind blew over his back.
Underneath him, Ty coughed.
Kit scrambled backwards, almost falling over and despite being injured himself, Ty somehow reached out a hand to steady Kit.
Kit forced himself to take a deep breath, feeling Ty’s strong grip on his shoulder. He knew that Ty was watching him, steadily. But they both didn’t say anything, and slowly Ty withdrew his support, propping himself onto his elbows.
“Ty-Ty! Are you hurt badly? Kit- give him an iratze!” Livvy had followed them and her ghostly light shone bright, showing they were at the edge of a small clearing, outlined by a low stone fence.
Kit carefully sat back, feeling his gaze blur for a moment, almost as if he were still teleporting. Then it cleared, and Kit felt a moment of pure elation. He had never successfully managed to bring anyone with him with his power- but somehow he had managed to extricate himself and Ty from the Seelie monster situation. He’d take that win.
“I’m okay, Livvy,” Ty said, his gaze not leaving Kit.
“You’re not- you’re bleeding,” Livvy said. But her voice had softened as she took in the two of them, both sitting in close proximity and yet holding themselves in a primed position, despite the moment of danger having passed.
“Not badly,” Ty said.
There was a moment of silence again. Kit could feel the weight of the past three years catching up. At least he and Livvy had had a chance to talk briefly, those few times she had come to visit him at Cirenworth.
“Livvy’s right,” Kit said, finally. He ducked his head, pushing away the sick feeling in his stomach. “I um- the bag the monster destroyed held all my stuff, so I’m gonna have to use your stele…”
Ty dug into his gear jacket pocket, handing it to him without a word. His jacket was shredded and in the moonlight, Kit could see the oozing blood where the barbs had caught on his skin. It must’ve been extremely painful, he thought but Ty hadn’t complained.
“Tessa showed me some field medicine stuff so umm-” Kit said awkwardly.
Ty nodded, his face holding an expression of trust that Kit remembered. “Of course- you should do an assessment.” He unzipped the rest of his jacket, pulling it off, and then leaned down to pull up the remains of his gear pants, where the worst of the damage looked to be, Kit thought.
Kit carefully went through a mental checklist while Livvy settled onto a nearby log, her gaze watchful. He noted Ty’s pallor but also the intent set to his mouth, and the glinting intelligence in his eyes as he peered up at Kit, eyes occasionally flicking to trees beyond, ever the Shadowhunter, still assessing for danger. No head wounds.
Kit noted the blood- mostly from shallow wounds spread evenly across the torso and leg, but also Ty’s careful, steady breathing and equally reassuring heartbeat beneath Kit’s cold fingers, as he took Ty’s pulse. No breathing or circulation issues.
It also didn’t appear the tentacle barbs had held poison, so Kit felt confident to proceed with the normal Shadowhunter aftercare. Carefully, methodologically, he applied several iratzes, watching as Ty’s skin closed up and regained colour, though the rapidly drying blood still remained on the surface.
“Thank you,” Ty told him, as Kit handed over the stele, a shy smile peeking through, as he pocketed it. He stood, shrugging back on his jacket and Kit felt a quick flash of disappointment.
“No problem,” Kit tried to say breezily, as he also rose to his feet. But the words didn’t leave his mouth in the way he intended, and he stumbled, suddenly feeling like he was drunk.
Ty’s eyes widened in alarm. Kit heard Livvy shout something before he fell back onto his knees. His vision started to gray, even he could feel Ty’s arms reaching around him, bracing him, whispering something to him.
Kit passed out.