A Dame To Kill For ||
The woman who stood before him was a regular. Jace recognized the tattoos, the splatter of blotched yellow and green that crawled up her forearm and disappeared underneath a ragged sleeve. She had six needles today and he exchanged them without comment, handling them with gloved hands and disposing of them in the infectious bin hanging below the counter.
“Nice watch,” she said, nodding at the piece strapped to his wrist. Her eyes were deep-set and sallow; she might have been pretty once, and Jace ducked his head.
“Thank you. My–” (Boyfriend, best friend) “–brother gave it to me,” he said. Her gaze sharpened as light hit the chrome finish, already assessing the street value of the piece, but Jace remained where he was, determined not to shrink away. “We have counseling services available if you’re interested. The counselor’s with someone right now, but if you don’t mind waiting…”
“Fuck off,” she snapped, grabbing her package and shrinking back. The lobby was otherwise empty and she spun on her heel and bolted for the door, smacking into Clary as the redhead stepped inside.
Jace sighed. “What was that all about?” Clary asked, shrugging off her jacket as she stepped behind the counter. She was always a little early for her shift, and Jace enjoyed the time they spent together; Simon had been a mutual friend but he’d never really talked to her before he’d started volunteering here.
“I may have suggested counseling but it spooked her,” he said, and Clary nodded sympathetically. “I know I’m not supposed to push it on them, but… I don’t know how else to help. Giving them clean needles seems like taking a band-aid to a gaping chest wound.”
“The only thing that will really help is to clean up the streets for good,” Clary said, and Jace nodded glumly. He’d come to the same conclusion quite a long time ago, though in his case the guilt went quite a bit deeper than neighborly altruism. Three weeks ago, Robert had ordered him to start ‘helping out’ at the warehouse, having judged him worthy of being part of the business after he’d taken care of the Simon problem.
What he’d seen there– the extent of their operations into the drug trade, the commonplace violence that his brother so expertly orchestrated– had made him speak up, inadvertently challenging Alec’s authority in front of his men. Perhaps they’d come to an understanding in regards to their relationship in private, but out there… Out there, Jace was just another problem to be handled.
If you want to help junkies so badly, go volunteer at the needle exchange, his brother had snapped in frustration, and so Jace had.
He’d grown closer to Clary here, had grown to enjoy her company and her friendship, had even been over for dinner with her mom and step-dad a couple of times. Jace liked the Fray-Garroways; they were probably the only normal family he knew.
“I mean, if there was no supply then they wouldn’t be able to get it anywhere,” Clary continued. “Luke’s been trying to clean up for a while now, but the Lightwoods are just too lawyered up. Everyone knows they own this city, but no one will talk.”
Of course they didn’t. Robert had seen to it that anyone who might have done so was either paid off or dead. Jace said nothing as he pulled off his gloves, quietly acceding his place behind the counter to his friend. Brief goodbyes were exchanged before he logged himself out of the system, the Wayland name glowing at him from the screen.
Alec had told him that he was a Lightwood now, but after everything he’d seen… did Jace really want to be? His father had been Robert’s best friend and doctor; he stitched up bullet holes and knife wounds in a clinic that Robert had setup in one of their warehouses, had technically been guilty of malpractice but even then… Even then, he’d done no harm.
No, Michael Wayland had never partaken of any of the vices that the Lightwoods so casually peddled, and the money that Robert paid him to be their doctor was far more modest than the original sum he’d offered. Michael had been a good man, Jace knew this, and he had a horrible feeling that if his father could see him now, he’d be so very disappointed.
It was almost midnight and the night air was crisp and cold as Jace slipped out of the building, stuffing his hands in his pockets as he slowly walked towards the subway. This part of town was rougher than he was used to, but he refused the car and the driver that Maryse had offered him on principle. Volunteering at the needle exchange wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it was his, and letting Lightwood money touch any part of it didn’t sit well with him.
A loud crash roused him from his thoughts, and Jace stopped short, eyes widening as he heard a soft cry coming from the alley up ahead. Instinct drove him forward, peering into the darkness as he beheld the woman he’d just served. She was on the ground, needles strewn around her and she grasped her head.
“Are you hurt?” Jace asked, kneeling beside her. “Hang on, I’m going to call 911.” One hand steadied her even as he pulled his phone out, trying in vain to remember what he knew about head trauma. It didn’t look like she was bleeding, but the alley was dark and if she’d banged herself up in a drug-induced stupor, who knew where else she’d been injured?
“Nice phone,” the woman said, and her voice was surprisingly lucid. “Nothing personal, man.” It took a split-second for what she’d said to register, but by then it was too late.
Jace barely had a chance to turn before his peripheral vision caught the edge of a second, larger figure looking behind him, and then there was a stunning pain in the back of his head before everything went black.