Hundreds of fingers quickly dancing across computer keyboards. Pens frantically flying over notebooks, sticky pads, and whiteboards. Orders being yelled across the room.
These were the sounds of pure and utter concentration, and frankly, it drove me insane. Everybody else in the office was completely focused, unbothered by all the noise. I could already feel a headache beneath my temples as I stared at my computer screen, reading the same word over and over again.
He had completely vanished. We almost had him, we were right behind him...but then he disappeared.
The Clave had been chasing Magnus Bane for years, but with no luck. It was one of the best top secret organizations on earth that captured everything from drug lords to powerful warlocks, thanks to always being a few steps ahead of the criminals. The Clave's motto was that "nothing is impossible", as they confided in their employees that consisted of the finest lawyers, detectives, spies and superheroes and heroines on the planet. They had never failed a single mission until the notorious Blink came along.
He had appeared out of nowhere, right when things had started to calm down in the chaotic town of New York City. His very first crime was to blow up a random building in the heart of the city, endangering the lives of many, but luckily only taking a few.
These kinds of acts had carried on throughout recent years as they slowly grew more gruesome. People had been found nearly tortured to death, their lives clinging on by a thread threatening to break at any second.
None of his victims were women or children, only men with seemingly nothing in common. Nobody knew his motives, which made it that much harder to stop him. I had seen his first attack with my own eyes, as well as many others that came after, and I saw the fury in his eyes. He killed with no remorse, a quality I never thought I would see in him.
Yeah, I knew him. I knew him way before he became a cold-hearted murderer.
I, Alec Lightwood, joined The Clave 15 years ago when I was only 13 years old, mere days after I had discovered my supernatural abilities. The first person I told was Magnus Bane, who was my best friend at the time, directly after he told me about his powers. The second person I told was my father, someone I had idolized my whole childhood.
He was the reason for my involvement with The Clave because he was the CEO. He explained everything about the corporation; about how it was top secret and that I had to swear not to tell anyone, not even my little sister Izzy. He took me to his job and showed me off to his colleagues, claiming that I would be the greatest superhero of all time. That day was the first time he told me that he was proud of me.
It didn't happen again.
A few days later Magnus and I had a...falling out of sorts. He promptly moved away without saying goodbye, making me accidentally tell my father about my sexuality in the middle of my hysteria. He never looked at me the same way, and I never looked at him the same way either.
My role model turned out to be a homophobic asshole.
I had been working for The Clave ever since that day, despite the hard time my so-called dad was giving me. Never congratulating my successes and blaming me for the companies' flaws. It got even worse once "Blink" came into the picture 5 years ago. I had helped a ton by knowing his real name; nobody else but me and The Clave knew that Blink and Magnus Bane was the same person. His real name helped us get on the right track, but he was incredible at covering up his tracks. It made us just as helpless in the end.
However, we got a tip 4 months ago that he was in Indonesia, about to go on a meeting with a sex trafficker. We had since then been on his trails, trying to chase him into a corner. We had succeeded, cornering both him and the sex trafficker into an underground dungeon in downtown Jakarta. We were about to hit two flies with one stone, everything was perfect, until...he vanished. He had gone up in smoke, literally, leaving a lifeless criminal on the cold ground.
That was 2 months ago, and there had not been a single trace of him since.
His disappearance was the reason for every staff member's agitation, filling the room with a thick tension that you could practically cut with a knife. The office had been like this every day for a month, and it didn't help that there had been an increasing amount of explosions and accidents in New York. There was only so much my head could take before collapsing.
It might actually be splitting open, I think I feel something...something hitting the back of my head... I whipped around, almost giving myself a case of whiplash, only to see Lydia with a shit-eating grin, holding a handful of paper ninja stars.
"What do you want?" I groaned, letting my throbbing head hit the desk.
"Nothing, just wanted to make sure you were awake." She skipped over to me as she let the remaining ninja stars cascade into the trash can, her heels clicking for each step before planting herself on a chair beside mine.
"Shouldn't you be working on our case? Robert won't be happy if he sees you slacking," I yawned, stretching my arms over my head before playing with a pen.
Lydia shuddered at the mention of our boss but replied with the same, happy smirk.
"Yeah, because you are working so hard. But come on, Alec, lighten up a bit. We've already come so far, we practically have him-" I gave her The Look. "Okay, fine, we've gotten nowhere, but sulking won't make it any better."
"I am not sulking, I'm just-"
I was cut off by the door bursting open, shattering the nervous energy into a million pieces, immediately halting the noisy atmosphere. Robert Lightwood, the head of The Clave, came thundering into the room. His face was as red as the bottom of Lydia's heels.
He was holding a heap of papers in his hand, flinging it around so violently that a few pieces drifted down to rest around his Italian leather shoes. He looked around until his gaze bore into my own eyes. His finger rose to point straight at me before his voice filled the office.
He was like an enraged bull, his hoof ferociously scraping the ground before going in for the attack.
"You!" He took a few thunderous stomps until he was right in front of me. "You piece of shit. I've given you more than enough time to at least get a hunch about where that little menace is, but what do you have? NOTHING! Nothing at all, not even a single fucking clue. I trusted you. I thought that you could make me proud for once, but I was wrong. You're just a worthless, good for nothing nuisance. You have always been nothing more than a burden, and that will never change. You better get your fucking head straight and start doing something useful before I fire your sorry ass."
A spray of spit shot out of his mouth for every word that he uttered, it would've been quite humorous if he wasn't insulting me. He dropped the stack of papers on my desk with a sense of finality before rushing out of the room.
Blink's disappearance had made him manic. Nobody had ever seen him this furious before. My coworkers guessed that it was because we had never let anyone slip out of our hands this many times before, but I knew the truth.
Magnus wasn't just a villain in my father's eyes, he was also the man who turned his son gay.
"I mean, it was definitely better than yesterday" Lydia whispered once the door closed again, trying her best to comfort me.
I forced out a humorless chuckle, thankful for her efforts that sadly fell a bit too short to make any difference. I had gotten used to my father's outbursts, it didn't hurt nearly as much as it did the first few years of my career. I'd already learned that he only spewed a bunch of empty threats.
I sighed deeply before standing up abruptly. I hadn't noticed that it had been quiet ever since Robert left the room, every eye trained on me and my every move.
I barely knew any of my coworkers that well, especially because I had the most different tasks. I was the only superhero left in the staff, the others had either retired or simply left to get away from our ticking time bomb of a boss. We did have a few warlocks, but they got sacked as soon as Blink emerged. My father thought that they could've been on his side.
The majority of the team were spies who went undercover to find clues and leads and were to follow the suspects until they found it appropriate to call me in. They had tried making me a part of the undercover crew, but I was too tall and too clumsy. They usually didn't need me, they could usually get by on their own with their decades of combat training. However, they had to call me in if they were dealing with somebody with supernatural abilities.
Needless to say, I hadn't been in action ever since Blink vanished.
"I'm going on a walk," I said curtly as I threw a quick look in Lydia's direction before walking out.
The sound of my footsteps echoed across the long, empty corridor, it reminded me of a hospital. The walls were painted a bright white with only a few metal doors decorating its plain appearance. I stopped in front of the third door, peeked in through the small window and swiped my card in the lock.
The opening door revealed our very own lab, filled with gadgets that are probably decades ahead of the rest of the world. Bodysuits that are water-, fire- and bulletproof and equipped with knives, guns and other weapons hidden in the most inconspicuous of places. Blades that could cut through diamond. Flying cars that are invisible to everyone but the driver. It had everything you could ever need in a fight, even against the most powerful warlock in history.
A glass box stood in the middle of the laboratory, displaying a sword that had been cut into two, blood-dripping pieces. It had belonged to my father. He used it a few years ago to slay Asmodeus; arguably the most vile creature that walked this earth. The showdown had lasted for hours, and it almost felt like it would be impossible to defeat him...until it happened. My father struck him right in the chest, using so much power he broke the sword in half. He became a legend after that, an idol to every enhanced individual. He quickly ended his career as a superhero after that, probably wanting it to end on a high note.
Too bad he didn't let people see the real man behind the facade.
"Daydreaming again, Alec?"
I woke from my long trail of thought, turning around to the sight of my mother in a lab coat and her usual tight knot on the top of her head.
She was also part of The Clave, she was the scientist who made most of the items in the room, including the legendary blade. Isabelle and Max were the only ones in the family who didn't know about our business, to them and every other outsider we were a regular law firm. I usually told Izzy everything, which made it incredibly hard to continuously lie to her.
"No" I lied sharply, avoiding her judging gaze.
"Well, I did hear that your father gave you another one of his lectures," she said nonchalantly while eyeing her new project. "I don't always agree with his ways of going about it, but he does have a point if you are here instead of using your time to work. You know how stressed out he's been recently."
Ah, there she goes again. Always supporting him, always backing him up. Never taking my side.
She wasn't a bad mother, she honestly wasn't. She took the news about my sexuality much better than my father, she even brought me a plate of dinner every night to my room when he locked me in for a week. She cooked my favorite meal when the yelling became exceptionally bad and left a few pieces of wrapped chocolate in my pockets after doing the laundry. She did all that because she didn't want to speak up against him, didn't want to tear our family apart. At least not more than it already had.
"I know" I mumbled, although the knot in my stomach told me to scream.
"Then you should go and get some work done."
Her cold tone felt like a stab to the stomach, the cold clump growing just a smidge bigger. I could feel tears stinging behind my eyes as I briskly exited.
I didn't turn left to my office, but towards the door that led to the street. I hadn't realized how stuffy I felt until I was gasping greedily for fresh air. I stumbled forward, forcing my heavy feet to move along the sidewalk.
I needed to clear my head. I needed to get my father, my mother and Magnus out of my mind.
The cold air bit my cheeks and turned them red, my breath puffing out in the shape of small clouds. It made me regret not taking my jacket with me. The people all around me were wearing light coats, some even hats, and gloves, as November was right around the corner.
Maybe I should just buy a coat? I can barely think when it's this cold.
I weaved through the mass of rushing people as I tried to look through the windows of the shop, hoping to see a jacket of some sort. I had barely managed to see a glimpse of a furry coat when...everything stopped.
I halted mid-step, turning to see everyone frozen like statues all around me. I glanced at a woman directly beside me, her visible mist of breath completely still in front of her mouth. I took a few tentative steps towards her and waved my hand in front of her eyes that did not move, though the mist whirled away from her lips. A little kid a few feet ahead of me was hovering slightly in midair, in the middle of a jump, his small hands barely reaching over his head. Not even the cars were moving.
Except for one.
A strange sound rang in my ears as I turned around to see a dirty, flying Volvo. It hovered at least 20 feet up in the air, sparks, and rays of red light engulfing it. The driver was moving; his hands frantically scratching his seatbelt with eyes as big as saucers that were looking at him. Blink. Magnus Bane.
He's here. In New York. Right in front of me.
Blink was flying a few feet away from the car, facing the driver with a terrifying expression. His eyes glowed like liquid gold with cat-like slits for pupils, glaring into the other man's soul, quashing and stripping it of any confidence. The seatbelt slowly snaked it's way around his neck.
"P-Please, p...please," he gasped out, the color of his face darkening alarmingly fast.
Blink's eyes caught on fire, blazing and burning, stretching out his hands to shoot out beams that scorched and rattled the filthy car. The man let out a shriek.
"You know what you did." His voice boomed across the street and filled every crook and crevice with extraordinary authority and power. Unlike my father's empty threats, his words were heavy with purpose and a promise of cruelty. "You didn't give those girls any mercy, therefore you don't deserve any."
He backed away a few steps, rolling his shoulders back and flexing his arms as if gaining momentum. Balls of light grew in each hand, whirring around and around until he threw them on the hood of the car. It immediately went up in flames, the driver still trying to claw his way through the door. I couldn't watch it anymore.
My mouth moved on its own accord, the word leaving my lips without my brain fully permitting it to. I pushed the button on my watch that deployed my suit. A cold liquid crawled over my body, tickling me as it wrapped and coiled around my arms, torso, legs, and feet like several snakes slithering through the grass. The blue and white color glistened in the afternoon sun that peeked over the dark clouds, before solidifying like cement. A big, bold B decorated my chest in shining gold as my cape fluttered in the wailing wind.
Blink's head whipped around, startled, looking very much like the terrified owner of the Volvo.
"H-How...you...see?" he spluttered, apparently not believing his gleaming eyes.
His distracted mind made the car waver dangerously in the air, swaying closer and closer to the ground while the fire burned taller and closer to the pedestrians. Blink swung around again, his arms doing some sort of graceful dance that conjured up a white bubble surrounding the vehicle. The flames licked the edges, but never crossed them.
His gaze roamed around the street as his hands discharged sparks uncontrollably, the bubble flickering ever so slightly.
I took a few tentative steps forward, cautious, and watched Magnus struggle to hold the Volvo upright as he peeked at me several times with a droplet of sweat clinging onto his forehead. I jumped off the ground until I was level with him, my hand stretching out to him before I halted in the middle of the action.
It felt weird. I had faced off against him a million times, why did this one time feel so different? He always either disappeared or immediately attacked me as soon as he saw me. Why was he acting differently all of a sudden?
I opened my mouth, closed it as I changed my mind, then opened it again.
It was like I had set off a bomb.
The bubble burst, sending the Volvo tumbling down onto the street and rolling several times. It finally came to a stop, landing on its wheels, the roof completely squashed, before charging towards the pedestrians at an unexpected speed. It was approaching a mother and a little child. The wheels skidded, the tires on the verge of popping off their rims, but somehow managing to accelerate.
Time wasn't frozen anymore, people had started to move as if nothing had happened. It didn't take long before screams filled the air when people noticed the danger going right at them. The mother and the child was still in the middle of the road, frozen like deers in headlights with the vehicle only a few meters away.
I punched the invisibility switch as I ran. I ran as fast as I could, thanking my super-speed as I barely managed to stop in front of the pair, my arms stretched out to receive the car. The impact felt like nothing, I had dealt with much heftier objects. However, my heart felt like it was made of lead. It was the first time Magnus attacked a woman and a child.
I looked up to the spot where Blink had been a moment before, which was now vacant and empty.
I hadn't hallucinated it, the crowd was still stirring and I could hear frantic voices speaking into cell phones with the sound of sirens echoing in the distance. I stood up, my eyes not leaving that spot.
He was here. In New York. Right in front of my eyes.
I glanced at the blood-stained driver's seat, the man hidden under the collapsed ceiling. There was no question about it; he was dead.
The sudden ringing of my ringtone brought me out of my stupor, my hands automatically fishing my phone out and clicking on the green icon. Izzy's worried voice instantly blasted into my ear.
"Alec! Oh my god, finally. I've called you several times!" I looked down at the screen, confirming that I did indeed have 3 missed calls from her. "I just heard that a car exploded right outside your office. Are you okay?"
"Yeah." I glanced at the wrecked Volvo, still sizzling and creaking while it gently swayed from left to right. "I'm okay."