I reappeared in a dark alley, sliding my wings into my skin so that they lay tucked against my spine and made me look like a normal human being. Thinking that my current outfit would draw attention to myself when I made my way out of the alley and onto the bustling sidewalk, I pictured an outfit in my head and watched as the strange leather one that I was wearing before seemed to shift and change. It turned into a black dress that was low cut enough to show a little bit of cleavage and also had a hemline that stopped halfway up my thighs, leather boots with heels that were sharp enough to stab someone, and it showed off the tattoos I had that covered my entire body. It was all royal blue and seemed to flow and ebb all over in flames. I watched as a crowd of multi-colored glowing eyes watched me, nodding in respect as they observed my every move. I nodded back, acknowledging their presence before deciding to use my power to make my tattoos disappear, also changing my golden cat eyes black. As I took my first step out towards the sidewalk, an arm looped around my neck and pulled me back, a gun at my temple and stinking breath fluttering at my ear in excitement.
"What is a pretty woman like you doing out here in a place like this?" a man asked, and I groaned internally in exasperation. The eyes that were watching me all sharpened and I was the only one who had ears that could hear the sound of the low growl they were making. I knew that they would leap at the man if I needed the help.
"None of your business," I said in annoyance, not making a move yet to break free and trying to signal that I didn't need assistance. "Now, I suggest you let me go right now before I make you regret being within ten feet of me."
"Oh, I'll let you go. Right after I've had my way with you first."
I tightened my muscles, just about to strike at the man when I heard a shout coming from the edge of the alley. Another man was running from the crowd on the sidewalk and making his way over to them, determination seeming to just course off of him. For some reason, my heart started to flutter like a hummingbird and my soul pulled uncomfortably. That was when he stepped into a patch of light for a second and I saw who it was, paling in disbelief and freezing up. It was him. The one I had been keeping a deal with Xavier for to keep alive, my mate back when he was immortal.
"Let her go," he told the man with the gun. The eyes in the shadows turned to the newcomer, then back to me, noticing the fact that both our souls were exactly the same before nodding once more and leaving us alone. I cursed my bad luck as I watched them go, waiting to see how this all played out.
"I won't!" the stinking man behind me said. "She's mine and you'd best run along now before I shoot you!"
My impatience rose to incredible heights and the moment the man pointed the gun away from my head, I grabbed hold of his arm and flipped him over my shoulder. He landed hard on his back as I kicked his gun arm, watching as the gun slid off into the darkness and away from the man. With a look of fear, he scurried back down the alley until I couldn't see him anymore. When I turned back to look at my "savior," I saw his look of awe and surprise.
"What?" I asked exasperatedly.
"Nothing, it's just…" he started, pausing for a few seconds to figure out the words he wanted to say, "I've never once seen a woman throw a man twice her size over her shoulder like that in heels that skinny. And I've been around a lot of women who are strong." He gave me a wan smile, hoping I would understand.
I just stood there staring at him for a minute before I finally spoke up when it looked like he was about to squirm uncomfortably from my look. "Well, I'm quite unique and a force to be reckoned with."
His smile was back at my words and he extended his hand for me to shake as he said, "My name is Ryker. I'm sorry that we had to meet under these circumstances."
Always a gentleman when he needs to be, I thought with nostalgia before saying, "Mine is Deirdre or Dey for short."
For a second, it looked as if there was finally a glimmer of recognition in his eyes and I was shocked. Not one of his reincarnations had ever gotten this far before. He didn't let go of my hand, instead just rubbing his thumb against my skin. I had to work hard to suppress a shiver.
"Why do I feel as if I know you from somewhere?" he asked quietly, not meeting my eyes for a few seconds before finally looking at me. "I also feel like you were someone who was important to me somehow, but we just met so I don't know how that could be possible."
I saw in my peripheral vision to my right that a pair of glowing green eyes reappeared and started growling menacingly. Both Ryker and I turned to look as a large black wolf stepped out of the shadows, glaring at Ryker as it moved towards him. I was about to step in between the two when I heard Ryker chuckle quietly.
"I knew that you were still mad, but to show yourself to a regular human… Now that is reckless."
Even in my shock, I stopped the wolf from shifting back into a human when I noticed its fur start to ripple, giving it a look that told it no and shaking my head slightly. With a little triumphant gleam in the wolf's eyes, it stepped back into the shadows with a growl that sounded like a laugh. My head was reeling as Ryker turned back to me. How did he know about the werewolves, I wondered, and why in the world wasn't he afraid of them. That was when it finally dawned on her. He's a Shadowhunter in this reincarnation.
"Maybe you aren't a regular human," Ryker said, glancing over at me. "You saw the werewolf. Not only that, but you didn't even freak out. And you did flip that guy over your shoulder impressively."
He stood there for a bit, mulling over his thoughts as I did the same. He shook his head as if that would clear his mind before he grabbed my hand and dragged me towards the crowd on the sidewalk. I fought him a little but not enough that it would reveal my true strength to him. He kept us walking until we reached a taxi, opening the door for me and allowing me to get in first before following me in. He gave the cab driver the address and off we went, passing a bunch of clubs on the way that I had planned on going to tonight.
"Well, there goes my night," I mumbled to myself, watching the people walk along the sidewalk without a care.
"Why? What did you have planned?" he asked, startling me a little.
"It's already been a rotten night, so I had planned on going clubbing."
I could feel his eyes on me even though I kept mine focused on the scenery passing by as he said, "I can take you out later if you want."
I knew for a fact that it would be a bad idea, but I didn't say so. It took about ten minutes to finally get to what humans would see as a large abandoned old church. Luckily, I could see that it was quite the elaborate charm and saw what it really looked like. It was a church, but it was light and well taken care of. So this is where the Shadowhunters reside, I thought to myself. Not once in all my years had I been in there, but I guess I was about to see it since Ryker took my hand once more after we got out of the cab and led me towards the front gate. I was deeply hoping that stepping over the threshold wouldn't reveal who I really was. I'd had that happen once before and this was the one time I had to care. Revealing my true self to his reincarnation was one of the deal breakers with Xavier. As I stepped through the gate, I let out a sigh of relief when neither my eyes, tattoos, nor wings were shown. He led me up to the stairs to large wooden doors, which just opened by themselves.
"So… what am I doing here?" I asked him, taking in my surroundings.
"I think you're like me. A Shadowhunter. I mean, how else could you see the wolf or beat that guy in the alley?"
Well, you're half right, I thought to myself. "What's a Shadowhunter?" I asked him, figuring that not asking that question would make him suspicious.
"A person who has angel blood running through their veins. In other words, someone who is half human, half angel."
I thought back to all his other reincarnations and not one of them had come back so close to an angel. I was starting to worry, not sure what this all meant. Dragging me from my thoughts was my cell phone, ringing loudly and using a ringtone that could only mean it was one person. I pulled it out of my bra and hit the answer button before putting it up to my ear.
"I think it's about time for another job," Xavier said, sounding haughty. "Especially since I know you're at Shadowhunter headquarters. What are you doing there?"
"It doesn't matter," I told him, striving to stay calm.
"Alright. There's a few items there that I need you to swipe. You can do that tomorrow before I send you to a different part of the country later in the week. Find a couple intricate gold rings and an electrum whip made of silver and you'll be done there."
"Oh, and Dey? I suggest you keep your true identity a secret. We both know what will happen if you don't. I will kill him."
The other end of the line went dead and I wanted to throw my phone into the ground. "Who was that?" Ryker asked curiously. "I'm only asking because you look like you want to kill someone right now. Is it some ex-boyfriend of yours?"
"He wishes he could date me," I growled, deciding then to just put my phone away before I actually did break it. "And you still haven't answered my question. What am I doing here?"
"If I'm right and you are a Shadowhunter, then you need to stay here. You need to be trained in case you get attacked by demons or Downworlders."
"I think I'll be ok," I grumbled, rolling my eyes before turning around to walk back outside.
Before I could even get close to it, he grabbed me by the forearm and spun me back around. He looked extremely angry and I saw worry as well, which confused me more. We had a stare off, neither one of us looking away since we were both determined in our ways. Maybe I was going crazy, but I could have sworn that he was leaning in slowly to kiss me so I turned my face away quickly. When I looked back, I saw his expressions go blank.
"You have to stay," he told me, using the tone of voice a parent would use when chastising their errant child. "I don't want you staying somewhere on your own where you won't have any protection. That would be extremely irresponsible and the Lightwoods would have my head when they got back from their trip to Idris."
"If you stop talking to me like that, then fine. I'll stay. Now step aside. I have some exploring to do."
I shook off his hand and walked through the great hall to a large corridor. I was highly tempted to stretch my wings and fly down the hallways, but I thought better of it for fear of meeting up with someone in this place. So instead I ran, pretending the rush of the wind was fluttering through my feathers. I heard faint footsteps from somewhere within this strange place and increased my pace until I reached another large set of wooden doors. I burst through them, noticing happily that it was a huge library. I listened for a few seconds and noted that no one was in the room with me so I unfurled my wings and jumped into the air. I slowly made my way around the room, every so often I would hover while reading an excerpt from a book before putting it back. Finally, I picked one that was a compendium of all the magic creatures of the world, including the angels. I flew up higher until I reached a marble ledge just below one of the windowsills that was farther back in the room. Just as I had sat down, I heard movement outside the door so I quickly slid my wings back into place as the door opened slightly. I saw Ryker's head peek inside before he opened it just enough to walk inside, then shut it behind him. He looked around the room for a while before eventually looking up just enough to notice me.
"How in the world did you get up there?" he asked in shock.
"I climbed," I said simply, not willing to reveal what truly happened to allow me my new perch.
"Then you must have jumped really high off of that bookshelf because there should be no way you could get up there on your own."
"I took gymnastics as a kid," I lied, shrugging my shoulders and going back to my book. As I looked down somewhat, I noticed a glass case that held two rings that could be the ones I needed to steal. I stored it in my memory before flipping through the pages of the book.
"Which book is that?" Ryker asked curiously, moving closer to the wall with my windowsill.
"Just one that has all the magical creatures. I became curious."
"You could have just asked me instead of going to all that trouble."
"True, but I do much better with books. There's a much better chance that they won't lie to me or do something drastic that could affect my wellbeing," I said calmly, looking away from my book just long enough to see Ryker about to try climbing up the bookshelf to get to me.
With a sigh, I dropped the book down to him, watching as he gave a startled noise but still managed to catch it. I then stood up straight, stretched my back by leaning backwards enough that my spine made crackling noises, then hopped down onto the top of the nearest bookshelf in front of me. I landed lightly on my feet and then jumped again, spinning around to grab a shelf halfway down with one hand. Then I pushed off lightly and did a backflip, landing crouched down on the balls of my feet before straightening up once more.
I noticed his look of surprise and awe once more and said quietly, "I don't have a fear of heights."
"Are you even human?" he asked quietly, looking a little pale.
I didn't understand at first why he would ask that, thinking maybe he had somehow figured out what I was. "Do you have a fear of heights?" I asked calmly.
The look in his eyes was all the answer I needed, regardless of the fact that he tried to deny it. Imagine that, a fear of heights, I thought to myself, another thing that shouldn't be possible. This whole day was starting to wear on me in more ways than one. None of the other reincarnations had a problem with heights. It was then that I really wanted to show him my wings, the desire to do so was strong. However, I kept my wings tightly pressed against my spine so that I couldn't reveal myself.
"You are," I said, smiling a little.
"I can't help it," he groaned. "And it's only crazy heights that make my fear act up."
I rolled my eyes and grabbed the book from his arms, leading the way out of the library. Once out in the hallway, a maid or worker was standing there, looking quite shocked to see us there.
"Ryker, what are you doing here?" she asked. "I thought someone else was going to watch over the Institute while the Lightwoods were out."
"No one else was available, so I am the only one qualified enough," he explained to her.
"Who's she?" the maid asked suspiciously.
"I believe she's a Shadowhunter. She's just untrained and I think she should stay here until she is ready to defend herself."
"So long as she doesn't try to betray us like others have, she is perfectly welcome here," the maid said, cracking a smile for me before walking down the hall. "I'll have dinner set in fifteen minutes for the both of you."
"Here, I'll take you to your room," Ryker said, walking down a corridor to the left.
I followed behind him, feeling my wings push against my skin, the feathers feeling like razors. I had to stop walking as we reached a corner, hunching over as I fought to keep my wings in place. I heard Ryker stop and turn around, then run over to me. I felt my wings push harder, feeling my skin stretch and a couple feathers nearly pushed through the slits in my back. With a growl, I fought hard and managed to shove them back against my spine, using magic to keep them in place temporarily.
When I stood back up straight, Ryker asked me, "Are you ok? You looked like you were in pain."
"It's nothing," I told him, shaking my head.
He nodded then, taking my hand and leading me down a few more corridors before we reached a long hallway full of doors. He explained how this was where all the Shadowhunters lived, then showed me which rooms were already occupied. My room was near the end of the hallway and considerably larger than the other rooms. It was all made from marble except for the bed, the frame made out of a dark wood. The bed sheets were a dark blue, which was also the theme color for the whole room it seemed. I took a few steps in, marveling at the loveliness of this area that was now mine. I had never had a room that I could call my own before and it was nice.
"My room is right across from yours, in case you need something in the night," Ryker explained, looking a bit sheepish for some reason. "Do you like your room?"
"It's perfect," I whispered, moving to sit down on the bed gently. I moved my hands over the comforter slowly, loving the feel of it. I smiled a bit and looked around, admiring the room some more.
"Wow, that's the first time I've seen you smile. Beautiful."
I set the book down beside me, not knowing how to respond to him and feeling a strange sense of shyness. I happened to look up, seeing large wooden beams high up near the ceiling, which would give me plenty of room to fly up there and use the beams as a perch. I heard Ryker shut the door, which made me look back at him as he took a few steps closer to me. He grabbed a chair that was sitting in front of the desk near the door and dragged it closer, flipping it backwards and sitting down in it so that he could lean his arms on the back of it.
"So tell me," he said, gazing at me curiously, "what were you doing in that alley?"
Thinking up a quick lie, I said, "I'm not familiar with these parts, so I made a bit of a wrong turn trying to find a certain club I've heard about. Accidents happen all the time."
"Next time, just know that clubs aren't found in alleys like that," he laughed, smiling at me.
"But sometimes, the best things are found in dark places," I told him, serious as can be.
He cocked his head to the side slightly, as if examining me in a new light. "Before I forget, do you have an apartment or something here in New York? We can go get your possessions and have them moved here."
I didn't look at him for the longest time before I finally answered with, "I don't have any possessions to get. What I have with me now is all I've ever needed."
"You don't even have an extra set of clothes? Are you homeless?"
"I've never needed an extra set. And I guess you could say I'm homeless, but not in the sense you're thinking of. I just travel a lot and don't have a place to settle down."
"Don't you ever get tired of travelling?"
"Not when that's all I've ever known for the longest time," I told him. "After a while, it becomes second nature to never stay in one place for too long."
There was a knock at the door, the maid letting us know that the table was set and the food was ready for us. Ryker offered me his arm and I looped mine through his, letting him lead me to the dining area. It didn't take all that long to get there, the way there was easy for me to remember. My stomach was growling, the human part of me demanding sustenance. The food laid out for us was roast beef and mashed potatoes, making my stomach growl more.
"Your stomach growling makes me wonder when was the last time you've had anything to eat," Ryker said, laughing a little.
"It's definitely been a while," I told him, laughing as well.
He pulled out a chair for me near the head of the table, allowing me to sit down before pushing my chair back into place. I thanked him as he sat down beside me, giving me that smile that I had already begun to like seeing. He pulled my plate closer, giving me a large helping of both before passing it back to me and starting on his own. His pile of food was much larger than mine, which seemed to prove the age old saying that males ate way more than females. He was just lucky my immortal side didn't need food or I could probably out eat him any day. The food was better than anything I've had before, especially since I was used to eating takeout, something that would sustain me just enough before a big job.
Since I didn't have as much food as him, I finished fast and looked more at this room. There were a bunch of pictures sitting on cabinets and every other flat surface. There was one that had a family portrait from a decade ago, showing two dark haired adults, two dark haired children, and one light haired child standing almost imperceptibly at a distance. There was another portrait that was from a few years back that showed everyone older, the light haired child now an adolescent who was trying his very best to pretend that he was alright but obviously wasn't. Then, there was one more picture that caught my eye. This one had just the children and a newcomer, a young woman with bright red hair standing beside the blonde teen, both of which seeming very happy.
"The dark haired people in the pictures are the Lightwoods," Ryker said, noticing my interest in the photographs. "The blonde one is Jace Wayland and the redhead is Clary. They're relatively 'new' to the family."
"So where are they?" I asked curiously, noting since entering this place that it seemed awfully quiet here.
"They're all in Alicante, which is the capitol of Idris. Idris is where all Shadowhunters are originally from."
"Why is it that you aren't with them?"
"I'm here to watch over the Institute. They couldn't leave without having a house sitter, so to speak."
"So that's why you aren't in any of the pictures they've got strewn across the room?" I asked sarcastically.
"I'm not a part of their family, so yes. The only reason I was put up to this task is because I happened to be here at the right time."
"Why are you here?" I asked him, now extremely curious.
"I've been entrusted with the task of finding a thief. This thief left for here from Los Angeles not that long ago and I followed after them."
I instantly had a chill travel down my spine and a sinking feeling in my stomach. My last location before arriving here had been L.A. I had been careful about the job since starting it, so I wasn't sure how anyone had caught on. Unless Xavier had given them a tip to shake things up a bit.
Hiding my anger, I asked, "Why are you chasing after this thief? From what I've heard so far, this doesn't seem like something Shadowhunters get involved with."
"Under any other circumstance, you'd be right," he told me, looking me straight in the eyes. "But this particular thief is stealing important magical items that we fear will get into the wrong hands. Not only that, but this thief is stealing them in such a way that we believe they have to be a Downworlder or a demon. There's no other explanation for it."
"Why do you say that?" I asked.
"Because the thief shuts down the buildings with magic and leaves with whatever they stole so fast that no one can stop them. And after tonight's theft, I believe that they must possess wings."
I need to adapt, I told myself quickly, not sure what to do next. "How do you know all this?"
"I have an anonymous tipster who lets me know where the thief will strike, what they'll steal, and when they'll steal it."
I was going to kill Xavier. I was going to make it bloody.