"No," he said. "No, it isn't."
Clary sat back. "You don't just get to say no."
"This plan involves me! I get to say no! No."
Simon patted the seat beside him as if someone were sitting there. "Let me introduce you to my good friend No."
"Maybe we can compromise," she suggested, taking a bite of pie.
"'No' is a magical word," he told her. "Here's how it goes. You say, 'Simon, I have an insane, suicidal plan. Would you like to help me carry it out?' And I say, 'Why, no.'"
"I'll do it anyway," she said.
He stared at her across the table. "What?"
"I'll do it whether you help me or not," she said. "If I can't use the rings, I'll still follow Jace to wherever he is and try to get word back to you guys by sneaking away, finding telephones, whatever. If it's possible. I'm going to do it, Simon. I just have a better chance of surviving if you help me. And there's no risk to you."
"I don't care about risk to me," he hissed, leaning forward across the table. "I care about what happens to you! Dammit, I'm practically indestructible. Let me go. You stay behind."
"Yes," Clary said, "Jace won't find that odd at all. You can just tell him you've always been secretly in love with him and you can't stand being parted."
"I could tell him I've given it thought and I completely agree with his and Sebastian's philosophy and decided to throw in my lot with theirs."
"You don't even know what their philosophy is."
"There is that. I might have better luck telling him I'm in love with him. Jace thinks everyone's in love with him anyway."
"But I," said Clary, "actually am."
Simon looked at her for a long time over the table, silently. "You're serious," he said finally. "You'd actually do this. Without me-without any safety net."
"There isn't anything I wouldn't do for Jace."
Simon leaned his head back against the plastic booth seat. The Mark of Cain glowed a gentle silver against his skin. "Don't say that," he said.
"Wouldn't you do anything for the people you love?"
"I'd do almost anything for you," Simon said quietly. "I'd die for you. You know that. But would I kill someone else, someone innocent? What about a lot of innocent lives? What about the whole world? Is it really love to tell someone that if it came down to picking between them and every other life on the planet, you'd pick them? Is that-I don't know, is that a moral sort of love at all?"
"Love isn't moral or immoral," said Clary. "It just is."
"I know," Simon said. "But the actions we take in the name of love, those are moral or immoral. And normally it wouldn't matter. Normally-whatever I think of Jace being annoying-he'd never ask you to do anything that went against your nature. Not for him, not for anyone. But he isn't exactly Jace anymore, is he? And I just don't know, Clary. I don't know what he might ask you to do."
Clary leaned her elbow on the table, suddenly very tired. "Maybe he isn't Jace. But he's the closest thing to Jace I've got. There's no way back to Jace without him." She raised her eyes to Simon's. "Or are you telling me it's hopeless?"
There was a long silence. Clary could see Simon's innate honesty warring with his desire to protect his best friend. Finally he said, "I'd never say that. I'm still Jewish, you know, even if I am a vampire. In my heart I remember and believe, even the words I can't say. G-" He choked and swallowed. "He made a covenant with us, just like the Shadowhunters believe Raziel made a covenant with them. And we believe in his promises. Therefore you can never lose hope-hatikva-because if you keep hope alive, it will keep you alive." He looked faintly embarrassed. "My rabbi used to say that."
Clary slid her hand across the table and laid it atop Simon's. He rarely talked about his religion with her or anyone, though she knew he believed. "Does that mean you agree?"
He groaned. "I think it means you crushed my spirit and beat me down."
"Of course you realize you're leaving me in the position of being the one to tell everyone-your mother, Luke, Alec, Izzy, Magnus..."
"I guess I shouldn't have said there would be no risk to you," Clary said meekly.
"That's right," said Simon. "Just remember, when your mother's gnawing my ankle like a furious mama bear separated from her cub, I did it for you."
Jordan had only just fallen back asleep when the banging on the front door came again. He rolled over and groaned. The clock by the bed said 4:00 a.m. in blinking yellow numbers.
More banging. Jordan rolled reluctantly to his feet, dragged on his jeans, and staggered out into the hallway. Blearily he jerked the door open. "Look-"
The words died on his lips. Standing in the hallway was Maia. She was wearing jeans and a caramel-colored leather jacket, and her hair was pulled up behind her head with bronze chopsticks. A single loose curl fell against her temple. Jordan's fingers itched to reach out and tuck it behind her ear. Instead he jammed his hands into the pockets of his jeans.
"Nice shirt," she said with a dry glance at his bare chest. There was a backpack slung over one of her shoulders. For a moment his heart jumped. Was she leaving town? Was she leaving town to get away from him? "Look, Jordan-"
"Who is it?" The voice behind Jordan was husky, as rumpled as the bed she'd probably just climbed out of. He saw Maia's mouth drop open, and he looked back over his shoulder to see Isabelle, wearing only one of Simon's T-shirts, standing behind him and rubbing at her eyes.
Maia's mouth snapped shut. "It's me," she said in a not particularly friendly tone. "Are you... visiting Simon?"
"What? No, Simon's not here." Shut up, Isabelle, Jordan thought frantically. "He's..." She gestured vaguely. "Out."
Maia's cheeks reddened. "It smells like a bar in here."
"Jordan's cheap tequila," said Isabelle with a wave of her hand. "You know..."
"Is that his shirt, too?" Maia inquired.
Isabelle glanced down at herself, and then back up at Maia. Belatedly she seemed to realize what the other girl was thinking. "Oh. No. Maia-"
"So first Simon cheated on me with you, and now you and Jordan-"
"Simon," Isabelle said, "also cheated on me with you. Anyway, nothing's going on with me and Jordan. I came over to see Simon, but he wasn't here so I decided to crash in his room. And I'm going back in there now."
"No," Maia said sharply. "Don't. Forget about Simon and Jordan. What I have to say, it's something you need to hear too."
Isabelle froze, one hand on Simon's door, her sleep-flushed face slowly paling. "Jace," she said. "Is that why you're here?"
Isabelle sagged against the door. "Is he-" Her voice cracked. She started again. "Have they found-"
"He came back," said Maia. "For Clary." She paused. "He had Sebastian with him. There was a fight, and Luke was injured. He's dying."
Isabelle made a dry little sound in her throat. "Jace? Jace hurt Luke?"
Maia avoided her eyes. "I don't know what happened exactly. Only that Jace and Sebastian came for Clary, and there was a fight. Luke was hurt."
"Is all right. She's at Magnus's with her mother." Maia turned to Jordan. "Magnus called me and asked me to come and see you. He tried to reach you, but he couldn't. He wants you to put him in touch with the Praetor Lupus."
"Put him in touch with..." Jordan shook his head. "You can't just call the Praetor. It's not like 1-800-WEREWOLF."
Maia crossed her arms. "Well, how do you reach them, then?"
"I have a supervisor. He reaches me when he wants to, or I can call on him in an emergency-"
"This is an emergency." Maia hooked her thumbs through the belt loops on her jeans. "Luke could die, and Magnus says the Praetor might have information that could help." She looked at Jordan, her eyes big and dark. He ought to tell her, he thought. That the Praetor didn't like getting mixed up in affairs of the Clave; that they kept to themselves and their mission-to help new Downworlders. That there was no guarantee they would agree to help, and every likelihood that they would resent the request.
But Maia was asking him. This was something he could do for her that might be a step down the long road of making it up to her for what he'd done before.
"Okay," he said. "Then, we go to their headquarters and present ourselves in person. They're out on the North Fork of Long Island. Pretty far from anywhere. We can take my truck."
"Fine." Maia hoisted her backpack higher. "I thought we might have to go somewhere; that's why I brought my stuff."
"Maia." It was Isabelle. She hadn't said anything in so long that Jordan had almost forgotten she was there; he turned and saw her leaning against the wall by Simon's door. She was hugging herself as if she were cold. "Is he all right?"
Maia winced. "Luke? No, he-"
"Jace." Isabelle's voice was an indrawn breath. "Is Jace all right? Did they hurt him or catch him or-"
"He's fine," Maia said flatly. "And he's gone. He disappeared with Sebastian."
"And Simon?" Isabelle's gaze flicked to Jordan. "You said he was with Clary-"
Maia shook her head. "He wasn't. He wasn't there." Her hand was tight on the strap of her backpack. "But there's one thing we know now, and you're not going to like it. Jace and Sebastian are connected somehow. Hurt Jace, you hurt Sebastian. Kill him, and Sebastian dies. And vice versa. Straight from Magnus."
"Does the Clave know?" Isabelle demanded instantly. "They didn't tell the Clave, did they?"
Maia shook her head. "Not yet."
"They'll find out," said Isabelle. "The whole pack knows. Someone will tell. Then it'll be a manhunt. They'll kill him just to kill Sebastian. They'll kill him anyway." She reached up and pushed her hands through her thick black hair. "I want my brother," she said. "I want to see Alec."
"Well, that's good," Maia said. "Because after Magnus called me, he sent a follow-up text. He said he had a feeling you'd be here, and he had a message for you. He wants you to go to his apartment in Brooklyn, right away."
It was freezing out, so cold that even the thermis rune she'd put on herself-and the thin parka she'd swiped from Simon's closet-weren't doing much to keep Isabelle from shivering as she pushed open the door of Magnus's apartment building and ducked inside.
After being buzzed up, she headed up the stairs, trailing her hand along the splintering banister. Part of her wanted to rush up the steps, knowing Alec was there and would understand what she was feeling. The other part of her, the part that had hidden her parents' secret from her brothers all her life, wanted to curl up on the landing and be alone with her misery. The part that hated relying on anyone else-because wouldn't they just let you down?-and was proud to say that Isabelle Lightwood didn't need anyone reminded herself that she was here because they had asked for her. They needed her.
Isabelle didn't mind being needed. Liked it, in fact. It was why it had taken her longer to warm up to Jace when he had first stepped through the Portal from Idris, a thin ten-year-old boy with haunted pale gold eyes. Alec had been delighted with him immediately, but Isabelle had resented his self-possession. When her mother had told her that Jace's father had been murdered in front of him, she'd imagined him coming to her tearfully, for comfort and even advice. But he hadn't seemed to need anyone. Even at ten years old he'd had a sharp, defensive wit and an acidic temperament. In fact, Isabelle had thought, dismayed, that he was just like her.
In the end it was Shadowhunting they had bonded over-a shared love of sharp-edged weapons, gleaming seraph blades, the painful pleasure of burning Marks, the thought-numbing swiftness of battle. When Alec had wanted to go out hunting alone with Jace, leaving Izzy behind, Jace had spoken up for her: "We need her with us; she's the best there is. Aside from me, of course."
She had loved him just for that.
She was at the front door of Magnus's apartment now. Light poured through the crack under the door, and she heard murmuring voices. She pushed the door open, and a wave of warmth enveloped her. She stepped gratefully forward.
The warmth came from a fire leaping in the grated fireplace-though there were no chimneys in the building, and the fire had the blue-green tinge of enchanted flame. Magnus and Alec sat on one of the couches grouped near the fireplace. As she came in, Alec looked up and saw her, and sprang to his feet, hurrying barefoot across the room-he was wearing black sweatpants and a white T-shirt with a torn collar-to put his arms around her.
For a moment she stood still in the circle of his arms, hearing his heartbeat, his hands patting half-awkwardly up and down her back, her hair. "Iz," he said. "It's going to be okay, Izzy."
She pushed away from him, wiping at her eyes. God, she hated crying. "How can you say that?" she snapped. "How can anything possibly be okay after this?"
"Izzy." Alec drew his sister's hair over one shoulder and tugged gently at it. It reminded her of the years when she used to wear her hair in braids and Alec would yank on them, with considerably less gentleness than he was showing now. "Don't go to pieces. We need you." He dropped his voice. "Also, did you know you smell like tequila?"
She looked over at Magnus, who was watching them from the sofa with his unreadable cat's eyes. "Where's Clary?" she said. "And her mother? I thought they were here."
"Asleep," said Alec. "We thought they needed a rest."
"And I don't?"
"Did you just see your fiance or your stepfather nearly murdered in front of your eyes?" Magnus inquired dryly. He was wearing striped pajamas with a black silk dressing gown thrown over them. "Isabelle Lightwood," he said, sitting up and loosely clasping his hands in front of him. "As Alec said, we need you."