Jace vs. Daniel - The Bree Despain Edition!
The *Real* Reason Daniel Didn't Go After Grace The Night She Found Out What He Did
Daniel clutched at his moonstone necklace, gripping it so tight the porous rock bit into the tender scar in his palm. He’d punctured his hand only moments before to show Grace how he could heal his flesh over with just the power of his own concentration. But really, he’d done it to feel the pain. To feel the cutting of his guilt. And because he’d wanted to scare her.
She ran. She knew what he was now—she knew what he’d done—and she ran. Just like he knew she would. Just like he’d wanted her to.
But that’s not what he really wanted, was it?
Grace blamed herself now for what Daniel was—for what he’d done three years ago. But that wasn’t true. Not at all. He needed to tell her that. Stop her from running. Wipe that look of anguish from her face.
“Wait!” Daniel shouted. He let go of his moonstone and darted out of his basement apartment and up the cement steps into the yard. “Stop, Gracie, please.”
He was too late. She was already driving away, the taillights of her car flashing brighter as she paused momentarily at the 4-way stop at the end of the street. And then she was gone.
Daniel heard a small gasp. He looked up and saw a girl he recognized from school, staring at him from across the street. A small white dog pulled at the leash in her hand. Her cheeks flushed pink and Daniel remembered that he was shirtless. The girl pulled a cell phone from her pocket and started texting as she hurried away with her yapping dog.
Daniel shook his head. He could go after Grace. Chase her down. Stop her before she got home. He was fast enough, no doubt about that.
But as Daniel took the first step to go after Grace, his sensitive ears picked up a swooshing noise, like metal slicing through air. His muscles tensed and he jumped sideways, just as the metallic flash of a knife went sailing by. The point of the blade nicked his neck. It was a small cut, but it burned like acid.
Silver. Daniel barely had time to process that thought before another blade came flying at his throat. He jumped out of the way just in time. The dagger lodged in the trunk of an old aspen tree in the yard.
“Where the hell . . . ?” Daniel cast about in the moonlit yard, searching for his invisible attacker.
“Well, if that’s your destination of choice, I’ll be happy to send you back there,” a voice said as he noticed a shadowed figure leaning against the railing of the porch. His arms crossed in front of his chest. The light from the porch lamp glinted off a silver blade—longer than the others had been—in one of his hands. “That’s where Downwolders belong after all.”
“Down . . .what?”
“Downwolders? Demons? Scum of the Earth?” The guy with the sword took a step closer. The light from the porch illuminated his blonde hair. Weird tattoo-like markings painted his arms.
“Who are you?” Daniel wiped at his burning neck. His fingers came away sticky with the blood that trickled from the silver-caused wound. It would take a while to heal. “What do you want?” He wracked his brain, trying to remember if he’d crossed this stranger before—Daniel had crossed a lot of people in the last few years.
“Jace.” The blonde guy uncrossed his arms and held his sword in front of him. “As for what I want, that’s easy. You. Dead.”
Jace let out a shout, almost like he relished the moment, and lunged at Daniel with his sword. Daniel countered out of the way. Jace flew past him and then stopped short and spun around. He slashed at Daniel, but Daniel darted out of his reach.
“Whoa. Take it easy. What did I ever do to you?”
“You exist,” Jace said. “I know about the girl who disappeared from that party in the city the other night. And the old lady who got attacked on this porch. Not to mention what happened to that little kid yesterday. And your Downworlder stench is all over every one of the crime scenes. I don’t normally attack your specific breed. But if you’ve gone rabid, then somebody has to put you down. That’s what Shadowhunters do.”
Shadowhunters? Daniel had heard of them once. They were like the Urbat—back before the Urbat lost their way and became worse than the very demons they’d sworn to protect humans from.
“I’m not what you think I am,” Daniel said. “Well I am, but not . . . I didn’t do what you think I did. You can’t prove anything—”
“You are a monster,” Jace said. “I tracked you here. I heard what you told that girl—what’s her name, Grace?—about what you did to her brother. That’s cause enough for me to take you down.” Jace smiled. “Besides, it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to kick somebody’s ass.”
He lunged at Daniel again. Daniel dodged the attack. It took all his strength not to lash out at this guy. Jace had been right about one thing, Daniel was a monster. Or at least he had one inside of him. One that ached for a good fight.
Screamed for it.
And that’s exactly why Daniel couldn’t do anything.
If Daniel let the monster out—let it have any control at all—it would take over and finish this Jace person. Rip him to shreds. And then what?
Go for Grace?
Yes, now that the monster knew that Grace was the one, it would definitely go for her next. It would kill her.
Daniel’s muscles ached and flared as the monster tried to break free. His body convulsed and he clutched at his moonstone necklace.
“Please,” Daniel said, ducking under the swing of Jace’s silver sword. “I don’t want to fight you.”
“Then stand still and let me kill you already. I’ve got places to be tonight.” Jace kicked Daniel in the stomach.
Daniel flew back and hit the trunk of the aspen tree. His bare shoulder knocked into the silver hilt of the dagger that had lodged in the trunk only minutes before. The dagger fell to the ground. A stinging burn blistered up on his skin where the silver had touched him. He pushed himself away from the peeling bark of the tree. His side ached and he knew at least one of his ribs was cracked.
“But I also don’t want to die,” Daniel said and an electric feeling washed through him—like that connection he’d felt when he first held Grace’s hand in the Garden of Angels—and he realized that he really did mean what he’d just said. For the first time in his life, he had something to live for.
Jace shouted and came at him with all his might, swinging the sword with ruthless force. In a lightning quick move, Daniel’s hand shot out. He slammed it against Jace’s arm, knocking the sword from his grasp. The silver thing went flying across the yard. Daniel’s other fist slammed against Jace’s jaw. Jace stumbled back, rubbing his face. A look of shock blinked in his eyes, but then he narrowed them. “So the passive little puppy act was just that, huh?” Jace smirked. “Good. This will be more fun.”
No, Daniel thought, his body shaking even more. He’d done too much. He was in real danger now of losing control. Jace came at Daniel with bare hands this time. He smashed his fist into Daniel’s cheek—repaying the blow Daniel had landed on him. Jace’s other fist slammed against Daniel’s side, into his broken ribs.
Daniel shouted with pain and fell to his knees. He took another blow to the head from Jace. Then another and another. Spots blurred his vision. The night suddenly felt blacker and thicker. Another blow would render him unconscious, and then he’d be at the mercy of this hunter who meant to kill him.
Daniel could try reasoning with Jace. Tell him about Grace. Tell him why he’d come back to Rose Crest. Tell him who was really responsible for all those attacks. But he could see it in Jace’s eyes, nothing he could say would stop him. Jace was convinced Daniel was a demon who needed to be exterminated.
Daniel leaned forward on his knees. His head bowed and his hands buried in the cold, dead, grass. But as he felt the rush of air of Jace’s fist sailing toward his head to deliver the final blow, he felt something hot and metallic against his fingertips in the frozen lawn.
With a burst of super-speed, Daniel snatched up the hot metal thing in his hands and rocked back on his knees. He knocked Jace’s fist out of the way just as it was about to land against his forehead and pounced at him like a mountain lion. Jace went sailing backward. He slammed into the ground—with Daniel on top of him.
Jace gasped for air and Daniel could tell that the wind had been knocked right out of chest. Daniel pinned Jace’s arms down with his knees, and held the point of the dagger he’d found in the grass to Jace’s throat. The silver of the dagger’s hilt seared Daniel’s hand. But Daniel gritted his teeth against the pain and held the knife closer against the pulsing vein in Jace’s neck.
Jace tried to say something but no sound came out. He still hadn’t regained his breath.
“Hear me now,” Daniel said, trying to hide the agony in his voice. His body shook like an earthquake erupting in his bones. He wouldn’t be able to keep the monster from breaking free for much longer. “I am not who you think I am. I did not do the things you think I did. If you leave now, you will live.” Daniel grunted. The blazing of the knife in his hand only made the demon inside of him angrier for a kill. “But I promise you this: If you don’t leave now, if you try anything, anything at all—You will die.”
Jace blinked and nodded.
Daniel backed away. He stood, gripping the dagger in front of him and let Jace get up.
Jace clutched his hand against his chest and coughed. “I underestimated you,” he rasped.
“Yes. You did.”
“Clean up whatever the hell is going on in this town, or this won’t be the last time you’ll see me.”
Daniel grunted in agreement. Jace stumbled to the street. He climbed onto a bullet bike that was stashed behind the bushes in the neighboring yard.
Daniel watched Jace drive out of sight. He listened for another few minutes, straining his super-hearing as far out as he could, until he was sure the Shadowhunter was really gone. With a scream of pain, he released the knife. It fell to the ground next to his bare feet. The acidic silver, gripped in his palm so long, had burned through his flesh, exposing the sinew in his hand.
He fell to his knees again, and tried with all his might and concentration to heal the wound. But the stubborn burn wouldn’t ease.
And now there was no way that he could go after Grace tonight—before it was too late.
How could he ever win her trust back now?