Shadow World: Deception

Having inexplicably strange visions for months will bug your mind and every time Alex Wainwright ignores it, it just keeps on coming back - again and again. After the Dark War, she thought it was all over, that the secrets she have can be buried with her when she died. But she was wrong.

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3. Chapter 2: New York Institute

~~~

“Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.”
― André Malraux

 

Chapter 2: New York Institute

~~~

Bits and pieces of rain patters down Alex's black umbrella as she strolls the unfamiliar streets of New York City. The traffic's already heavy and the mundanes were all busy to go to school or work, to take the usual morning walk, to hang out and catch up, to breathe and think, or maybe to go home at last.

Even in the midst of spraying raindrops, the sun's ray show a glimpse of its glory and she couldn't help herself but pause to look up the dark turning pale blue skies. Sprinkles of water washes her face and she jerks her head back to the street, just as the grey clouds turn darker, the fog becomes thinner, and the traffic light turns red.

How good it is to live their life, isn't it? A life of a mundane. Mundane - a term used in the shadow world referring to humans who doesn't have the angel nor demon blood; those who see plainly of what is the world but not of what really lies beneath and beyond it. Mundanes who live normally and have normal problems to deal with. That the things they worry can't even be considered an inch close compared to those who risked their lives everyday for them. For a fact, lucky to have these warriors to protect them for what they're blind to see from birth.

Shadowhunters commonly glamour themselves whenever they went out the institute, especially when they’re on a mission. All to prevent mundanes from being involve in their business, for not knowing about it is much better and safer.

Despite of that, Alex chooses to walk unglamoured (where you are visible to mundanes), in such an early hour of five twelve in the morning. Not that this routine is fairly different, but because she wants to hide in plain sight. To whomever she's hiding herself from - only she knows.

But Alex has been thinking thoroughly the events of what happened last week (the dream most of all), as the soft tap of her converse, her backpack and suitcase behind, strolls the cobbled wet street could be heard coming closer to the New York Institute. Eyes straight on the way, when she rounded the corner and stops to fish out the vibrating phone in her pocket. Numbers appear on the screen with no picture or name to identify who. Since Alex kept a low profile, who would've think to call her?

Possibly some of her shadowhunter friends in Shanghai? New Delhi? Manila? Or Wales? But most of them were dead, and there’s nothing she could think of. Her gaze lingers at the numbers on the screen before it ended up as a missed call. She was half way of putting it back her pocket, when her phone vibrated again. This time, she stares at the digits longer and intently than the first, and somehow it strengthens her thoughts that maybe she knew the caller.

With a deep breath, her thumb fumbled upon the ignore button. Thinking that it is way better not knowing what the caller may want and suffer by its consequences. Besides, she happens to be alone after the Mortal and Dark Wars, earning no friends to trust at all. Only those whom she knew by face or name in the clubs she's been to every night, or those shadowhunters she met whenever she hunts demons. There’s no one who might care if ever she went missing or worse – if she died.

Her thoughts starts to go deeper, when she finds herself standing by the enormous gate of the institute. In the mundane's eyes, this is just an ordinary cathedral with no beauty nor life at all. Let’s say, a piece of junkyard abandoned church; not to be touch for it is dark, haunted, and creepy. But, unwrapping the glamour that surrounds it, you're able to see its outstanding glory.

The rain starts to die down and she folded her umbrella and slipped it to the side of her backpack. Looking at the old cathedral, then around the deserted place, she pulls out a metal stick with a granite like tip. A stele.

Then a shriek is heard, followed by murmurs of voices. Instincts told her it was danger so she followed the sound, putting down her backpack and stele on her belt and unglamouring her red-bronze bow by her shoulder. She walked lightly until she reached the side of the institute. She hid herself by the wall, before she leaned her head out to see who it can be.

There in the alleyway below the metal stairs, is a girl about sixteen. She’s standing beside the trash bin, pinned on the wall, her mouth covered by the man’s hand who towers her, grimacing and speaking to her maliciously. Hair was styled in a bun and is in a shade of auburn (reddish-brown), almost matching the brown dress she’s wearing. The man, on the other hand, has hair as dark as his style in his expensive leather jacket, and Alex couldn’t ignore the fact that his outfit reflects his character.

A stray cat passes by tumbling a trash bag at the girl’s yellow jelly shoes. “This is your last shot Helena. One wrong move and you know what.”

Mundanes. Alex whispered, wondering what on earth they’re doing near the institute. The man puts his hand down and the girl found her chance. She tried to run, but the man hugged her from behind. She screamed, punching his arms weakly, as two more guys appeared. Huge, muscularly body like wrestlers, one shorter than the other. She knows it wasn’t their job to interfere with human fights, but it seems that this Helena girl was something else and there’s no one out there to help.

“Let her go.” Alex said as calm as possible, showing herself with a bow loaded with an arrow, pointing it to the man’s head. Her boots walking on the wet asphalt without a sound to get a closer look at them.

The man chuckled. “So this is your knight in shining armour, a lady cosplaying robinhood?” The girl lift up her face to look at Alex, but her obvious expression indicates that she doesn’t know who her savior is.

“I said. Let her go.” Alex said more firmly, and stopped a good ten meters away from them.

“Then what? You’re gonna fly that straight to my brain?” He laughed again with his men except for the girl who’s staring down Alex. Studying her from her boots, to her ripped-skinny jeans, to her long sleeve bronze blouse, to her blue scarf and to her face. Their eyes locked but Alex drifted hers away just as two arrows fly in one blink.

The two guards fell and cry in curses of pain when the arrow landed both on their shins. “Next one…” The man looked at Alex in horror who return it with just a simple smirk. “As you requested.” She points the arrow back on his head.

“Boss, I told you it was a waste of time.” Grumbled the shorter guard who’s now standing to help his friend.

“Shut the hell up, Bob!” Then he thinks twice, eyes staring in slight horror and defeat to Alex. He curses and pushes the girl go, as he yelled for his driver who helped them to hop in the car. When the car leaves, Alex slings the bow by her shoulder and put the arrow to the sheath on her back.

“Could’ve hit it better, but that injury should last a week or so.” Alex said turning to the girl who’s smiling. She’s about 5’4 while Alex stands tall in 5’9.

“It was a good hit. Thank you for helping me out there. He’s some asshole who wanted to take me as his bride but I don’t want to and I don’t care about all the money and shit.” She explained with sheer confidence that made Alex smile.

“Your welcome, Helena.”

“Oh.” The girl waved her two hands. “He’s the only one who calls me that. I’m Helene Simmons.” She offered her hand and Alex took it.

“Alex Wainwright.” Lie. A lie she wasn’t ready to expose. Not yet, not until she’s face to face with her brother. This can only start whispers of how and why, if she tells Helene who she really is.

“Cool. Do you live down this neighborhood when that noise bother you and you came to my rescue?” Now, Alex is thinking whether Helene knows of the Shadow World or not.

“With a bow and arrow?” Alex asked, a bit of sarcasm shown, and Helene goes to inspect her again when she spotted Alex’s stele hanging like a normal pen by her belt.

“You’re a shadowhunter.” She look Alex up and down and nods. “But, how come I haven’t seen you around before?”

“Because I’ve just arrive here an hour ago?” Alex suggestively smiled. “Do you live in the institute?” Helene nods and both of them starts to walk.

“Yes. For over a year.”

“A mundane with the Sight. I see.” They rounded the corner to the street where the gate stood.

“Where did you came from?”

“Japan.”

“Cool. But you’re too pretty and blondie to be Japanese or at least with Asian blood. I’m not saying that they aren’t pretty, they’re good-looking people too. I remember years back crushing on that guy who starred in Ruruoni Kenshin. Please don’t misunderstand that. I suck at demonstration explanation of things.” Helene folded her hands in plead with battering eyelashes, same with those cute anime cartoon girls you see onscreen.  

Alex chuckled. “You’re good, and it’s because my family originated from Wales and not in an Asian country. Both of them were pure-born shadowhunters who lived and stayed in Idris for I think forever.” Lie number two and probably not the last. Well, for Alex that was only a part lie, since there’s some truth in it.

Helene opened the gate and Alex walked in with her suitcase. “Ah, so I guess your parents allowed you to go off alone?”

“Not exactly, they’re dead. Valentine killed them.” Alex replied, and Helene sensed the sharp tone in it, feeling the cold bars as she close the gate, pausing to wish she shouldn’t have ask. It was so blunt and straightforward as if the matter was as simple as accepting gifts on Christmas, but it wasn’t.

“I’m sorry.” Helene said.

“No need for sympathy. But, thank you.”

Alex gave a sad smile, and Helene could see nothing in her eyes. It was empty and hollow, void of any emotions, and if there is, Helene is sure it’s mostly pain. But the plain face of Alex in front of her proved Helene that Alex isn’t someone to take easily. So she changed the subject for the better.

It’s five minutes to six and the sun is rising, when they took the steps to the double doors of the institute. It’s been so long since Alex stepped in one, and she always got the feeling of being inside a castle.

“Oh well then you need a place to stay. I should assign you a room, I’m sure Jace wouldn’t mind or Clary.” Helene starts to open the huge high doors, pulling out the cord hanging by her neck revealed to be a key. “Besides, isn’t it also the institute’s job to cater shadowhunters who are in need of a shelter?” Alex gave her a small smile and nods. “And since you’re my first guest in my days at the institute, do make yourself comfortable. I couldn’t think of other ways I can to repay what you did earlier other than my hospitality. It could’ve been worse.”

Alex looks around for any signs of living, but it seems the inhabitants, except for Helene - as far as she’d observed, are still asleep.

“Lucky coincidence.”

“Mmm… Maybe, but such true shadowhunters have that heart to help.”

“That’s kind of you.” Helene smiled at Alex’s compliment, a sign of thanks. “What are you doing out there earlier?” Alex then wondered aloud as the door closes with bolts and bolts of mechanical automaton lock behind them. Only Nephilims and those who they entrusted can open these doors. “You don’t need to answer that, I’m not in the position to ask.”

“No, no. It’s okay. I just did my usual morning job of throwing the garbage away. But, never did I expect Martin would jump out of nowhere and caught me off guard. My brothers would probably kill him if they find out and I’m pretty sure they will.”

“Tough brothers huh?”

Helene rolled her eyes. “They are. Well, not Noah exactly. But both of them are overprotective.”

Alex let out a sigh, seeing the cathedral’s hall. Old muddy pews lined in rows, tiles broken and some pieces are missing, statues and vases arrayed in a long table on each side, the pulpit’s red carpet stained and ripped apart – all left to rot. At least this is how it look in mundane eyes, compared to what really is a hall – stone walls were crafted as if a cave, the drapes are of blue, white, and gold. The chandelier glistens with the sun escaping through the window cracks, and it was quite a scene to witness. Alex shrug with a smile as they walk silently. They reach the corner at the far end where the elevated platform stands waiting to be use for ceremony, and in front of them is what looks like a birdcage but in reality is an elevator.

“I’m not even allowed to have a boyfriend, you know. Wait… Let’s rephrase that. I’m not even allowed to have crushes.”

Alex laughed. “Lucky you.” Helene frowned and her brows furrowed, as she slides the door open and she walked in.

“I don’t understand how you can call that lucky. But as I’ve concluded, you all guys wear that typical boring aura of serious looking faces.”

Alex laughed even more. “I never thought I would hear someone brave enough to say that.”

Helene’s lips twitched into a smile and she invites Alex to go in. “Come in. Time’s ticking by fast and I need to cook breakfast, unless Rona already did, for those short-hot headed bosses.”

“Do you mean Jace?” Alex took her place beside Helene as she watched Helene punch the button number two and off they went up.

“Yes. But, I’m glad he’ll not be home till this afternoon, I’m referring to someone else.”

“Are they on a mission?” Alex asked instead, dodging to ask who might be the someone else.

“I guess. They’ve been investigating Christy Law’s death. She was a werewolf, who went missing for about two days, and earlier at one in the morning, her body was found hanging in the middle of Brooklyn Bridge.”

The elevator tings and they step out the door. “Did the mundanes saw it?” Alex inquired interested, looking at her intently as both of them scan the hallways. Passing doors and doors of rooms, paintings, statues, and weapons at display.

“Some of them maybe, but surely they did the memory charm. Luckily though her sister arrived immediately, and phoned Jace about the incident.” Alex only nods, while she watch the second floor before her. The stairs of ancient polished marble stands in the middle, and even they could’ve taken the stairs, it’s still good to use the elevator for a short rest. “Then he called the Silent Brothers to investigate and they did the magic to glamour the bridge while they took off her body from the rope. I knew it’s gonna be a long investigation since no one saw of the incident. Nobody saw how she got there, or who hung her, knowing they’ve posted guards near the place.”

They rounded left when Alex replied. “Odd case is it.”

“Definitely. Jace and his team went on for further investigation and Clary rang me just when I was to go out. Telling me that they would be home for lunch, or maybe a little late in the afternoon. Simple confirmation of my good guessing.” Alex smiled at how Helene is so genuinely kind to her.

Helene opens the last door on the row. “Here we are. Perfect for a girl like you.”

“Thanks.” Alex smiled, and she walked in to check the room. It was cozy and decent, with a nice bed covered in cream linen at the center that lays horizontally when you enter, a night stand and a vanity table is on either sides. A wardrobe stood at the foot of the bed alongside the bathroom. There’s a study table symmetrical to the door where a lampshade, a piece of paper and ink lay. “Nice.” She said dropping her backpack on the bed, as Helene left her suitcase beside it.

“Have you ate breakfast?” Alex shook her head no and smile.

“Oh shucks! Well, join us then.” Helene grab her arm so fast that Alex barely even got time to say no, then Helene closed the door and took her to wherever.

~~

“This was so delicious. I never tasted a chicken sandwich like this before.” Alex chewed the last piece of sandwich left in her mouth and the dark-haired lady at her 40’s smiled with a short nod of thanks.

“Rona says she’s grateful to hear that from you.” Helene transcribed, putting down a pitcher of orange juice down the table. Rona bows and walk out of the dining room to the kitchen, or to wherever that beaded curtain may lead to. “Ronnalyn Portman was our cook here, our chef rather because she’s that real good. She has the Sight like any mundanes in this place. But her ability to talk was taken, when a demon attacked their house over a year ago. You know, when that Sebastian came to destroy the universe and our damn peaceful lives. Thankfully, they were saved by shadowhunters in time before those Endarkened steal their lives away. Her husband Carl is also here with their 8 year old son Troy. Sometimes, I help her with the duty when I’m done with my own chores.”

Alex knew of how tragic and terrible the Mortal and Dark War was, experiencing it first hand is something. She sighed heavily. “That’s terrible.” Helene nodded, and Alex changed the subject.

“So how long have you been serving the Nephilim?” Alex asked in wonder while she downs a drink of the freshly squeeze orange juice.

“A year and a half. I’m with my brothers. We’re the only ones left.” Helene said, taking a bite of her sandwich, crossing her arms, and leaning by the counter.

Alex understood what Helene meant by that. There’s no forgetting of that horrible past. They too, like the Portman’s were affected by what Sebastian Morgenstern did. “I’m sorry.” She only managed to say, but Helene just waved her off.

“It doesn’t matter. Enough of my background story, let’s go to yours. I have this feeling that you have a lot to tell.” Helene finishes her sandwich and takes a gulp of her juice as she waits for Alex’s response. “You told me you’re from Japan, what was it like?”

Finish too with her drink, Alex smiles up to her. “It’s quaint and provincial at least to where I’ve stayed. But to the city, it’s almost like New York. It’s my previous institute before I choose New York, to see the beauty of it.” What a lie, Alex thought to herself. But there’s no better words for an explanation that wouldn’t raise suspicions. She exhaled, feeling the oddness of the air.

Helene nods, before Alex added. “I wanted also to see Jace and talk to him.”

“Oooohhh. Is he like your idol, or favorite star, or something of the sort?” Helene wriggled her brows with her face smirking up in interest.

“No! It was something else.”

Alex smiled then laughed, when Helene begins her story with Jace. That she witnessed how Jace terribly hated ducks, in which Alex too shudder at the thought. They were in the middle of laughing when two men entered the dining area. The short guy of 5’7 tall has the same brown locks and eyes like Helene, built and manly looking. The other one was around 6’4 tall with sparkling green eyes and dark hair, strongly built, but not too much and is strikingly gorgeous.

“Don’t tell me its sandwich again.” The short one said, grabbing an apple by the counter and nodding at Alex as he takes a bite.

“Can’t you just be grateful that Izzy didn’t cook breakfast today?” Helene argued throwing a rag at his face, which he only drops at the counter. A sorry look appeared by Helene’s face and Alex mouthed ‘it’s okay.’ “And can’t you be more polite? We have a guest here, if you aren’t too blind.”

The guy look at Helene when she patted him on the shoulder. “Nolan, this is Alex.” She gestured to Alex who stands up to shake his hand.

“Nice to meet you.” Nolan smirks and takes her hand, but before he could plant a kiss on Alex’s knuckles, she pulled her hand back with a thin long smile.

“Nolan’s one of my brothers, and that one over there is Felix Monteverde.”

Felix has his head in the refrigerator, but he didn’t look up when Helene mentioned his name. Only when he grabs his can of pineapple juice that he looks up at them. “Oh hey, dwarfie. You should practice that more often.” He smiles and waves, closing the ref’s door and popping the can open.

Helene rolled her eyes, knowing what Felix meant by that. She usually was a late sleeper and by that, a late riser too. The only reason of her waking up early was the news that woken up the entire institute. “For your information, again. I’m an inch taller than Clary. So, stop calling me that, giant.”

Nolan and Felix laughed. “Wo-ho. Is that the only mocking word you can impart with your sister?”

Nolan shrugs. “Nah… She has a mind of her own.”

Alex watch Felix carefully while he talks to Helene. Then he face her smiling and walk to her direction, and she felt sick. It’s like a sudden pang of nuisance hit her badly and affect her head to imagine things with Felix. Laughing along with him in some joke, running from something in frightened faces, talking in hush intimate voices, and more she barely can get a hold of. The world seems to revolve slowly around her, as he walked closer and closer to her.

Strange.

‘No kidding.’ She told her mind as Felix offers a handshake which she gladly took. “I’m Alex.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, mademoiselle.” He has a British accent and there’s a jolt of electricity when they did the handshake. Not only that, but the feeling that she heard of his voice before, the way he called her mademoiselle, his stare, his gesture, everything – all seems to be a glimpse of a de ja vu. But, Alex acts like nothing happened. Who would want to scare a handsome young lad at the first meeting, right?

“What happened to your face?” Helene asks Felix suddenly and he touches his bruised right cheek. Felix turn his face away, and puts Helene’s hand down.

“We’ve encountered some trouble earlier.” Felix replied, hopping on the end of the center bar isle, and continues drinking his can of pineapple juice.

“And how did it go?” Helene wondered, looking to his brother and Felix.

“Failed, somehow.” Nolan said who’s already by the dining table, sitting and eating a sandwich he whined about minutes ago.

“You went with Charlie?” Both nodded in Helene’s question. Then a dark haired girl enters, in a full gear, the black and green sword glowing by her hip. She’s an inch smaller than Nolan, with a cute oval face, small pinkish lips, and hazel brown eyes. Her head was bent down the tablet, tapping the screen as she made her way to the aisle.

“The abrupt silence when I entered. Have you all seen a ghost or am I another one of your main dishes?” She asks a little annoyed and when she puts down the tablet, clips a stray strand of her locks to her ear and looks up, she first saw Alex.

“You’re alive.”

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