"I feel tired," Jace confessed. "If I could sleep a few more hours..."
"Of course. Of course you can." Isabelle's fingers pushed his hair back, out of his eyes. Her tone was firm, absolute: fierce as a mother bear protecting her cub.
Jace's eyes began to close. "And you won't leave me?"
"No," Alec said. "No, we won't ever leave you. You know that."
"Never." Isabelle took his hand, the one Alec wasn't holding, and pressed it fiercely. "Lightwoods, all together," she whispered. Jace's hand was suddenly damp where she was holding it, and he realized she was crying, her tears splashing down-crying for him, because she loved him; even after everything that had happened, she still loved him.
They both did.
He fell asleep like that, with Isabelle on one side of him and Alec on the other, as the sun came up with the dawn.
"What do you mean, I still can't see him?" demanded Clary. She was sitting on the edge of the couch in Luke's living room, the cord of the phone wrapped so tightly around her fingers that the tips had turned white.
"It's been only three days, and he was unconscious for two of them," said Isabelle. There were voices behind her, and Clary strained her ears to hear who was talking. She thought she could pick out Maryse's voice, but was she talking to Jace? Alec? "The Silent Brothers are still examining him. They still say no visitors."
"Screw the Silent Brothers."
"No thanks. There's strong and silent, and then there's just freaky."
"Isabelle!" Clary sat back against the squashy pillows. It was a bright fall day, and sunlight streamed in through the living room windows, though it did nothing to lighten her mood. "I just want to know that he's all right. That he isn't injured permanently, and he hasn't swollen up like a melon-"
"Of course he hasn't swollen up like a melon, don't be ridiculous."
"I wouldn't know. I wouldn't know because no one will tell me anything."
"He's all right," Isabelle said, though there was something in her voice that told Clary she was holding something back. "Alec's been sleeping in the bed next to his, and Mom and I have been taking turns staying with him all day. The Silent Brothers haven't been torturing him. They just need to know what he knows. About Sebastian, the apartment, everything."
"But I can't believe Jace wouldn't call me if he could. Not unless this is because he doesn't want to see me."
"Maybe he doesn't," Isabelle said. "It could have been that whole thing where you stabbed him."
"I was just kidding, believe it or not. Name of the Angel, Clary, can't you show some patience?" Isabelle sighed. "Never mind. I forgot who I was talking to. Look, Jace said-not that I'm supposed to repeat this, mind you-that he needed to talk to you in person. If you could just wait-"
"That's all I have been doing," Clary said. "Waiting." It was true. She'd spent the past two nights lying in her room at Luke's house, waiting for news about Jace and reliving the last week of her life over and over in excruciating detail. The Wild Hunt; the antiques store in Prague; fountains full of blood; the tunnels of Sebastian's eyes; Jace's body against hers; Sebastian jamming the Infernal Cup against her lips, trying to pry them apart; the bitter stench of demon ichor. Glorious blazing up her arm, spearing through Jace like a bolt of fire, the beat of his heart under her fingertips. He hadn't even opened his eyes, but Clary had screamed that he was alive, that his heart was beating, and his family had descended on them, even Alec, half-holding up an exceptionally pale Magnus. "All I do is go around and around inside my own head. It's making me crazy."
"And that's where we're in agreement. You know what, Clary?"
There was a pause. "You don't need my permission to come here and see Jace," Isabelle said. "You don't need anyone's permission to do anything. You're Clary Fray. You go charging into every situation without knowing how the hell it's going to turn out, and then you get through it on sheer guts and craziness."
"Not where my personal life is concerned, Iz."
"Huh," said Isabelle. "Well, maybe you should." And she put the phone down.
Clary stared at her receiver, hearing the distant tinny buzz of the dial tone. Then, with a sigh, she hung up and headed into her bedroom.
Simon was sprawled on the bed, his feet on her pillows, his chin propped on his hands. His laptop was propped open at the foot of the bed, frozen on a scene from The Matrix. He looked up as she came in. "Any luck?"
"Not exactly." Clary went over to her closet. She'd already dressed for the possibility that she might see Jace today, in jeans and a soft blue sweater she knew he liked. She pulled a corduroy jacket on and sat down on the bed beside Simon, sliding her feet into boots. "Isabelle won't tell me anything. The Silent Brothers don't want Jace to have visitors, but whatever. I'm going over anyway."
Simon closed the laptop and rolled over onto his back. "That's my brave little stalker."
"Shut up," she said. "Do you want to come with me? See Isabelle?"
"I'm meeting Becky," he said. "At the apartment."
"Good. Give her my love." She finished lacing her boots and reached forward to brush Simon's hair away from his forehead. "First I had to get used to you with that Mark on you. Now I have to get used to you without it."
His dark brown eyes traced her face. "With or without it, I'm still just me."
"Simon, do you remember what was written on the blade of the sword? Of Glorious?"
"Quis ut Deus."
"It's Latin," she said. "I looked it up. It means Who is like God? It's a trick question. The answer is no one-no one is like God. Don't you see?"
He looked at her. "See what?"
"You said it. Deus. God."
Simon opened his mouth, and then closed it again. "I..."
"I know Camille told you that she could say God's name because she didn't believe in God, but I think it has to do with what you believe about yourself. If you believe you're damned, then you are. But if you don't..."
She touched his hand; he squeezed her fingers briefly and released them, his face troubled. "I need some time to think about this."
"Whatever you need. But I'm here if you need to talk."
"And I'm here if you do. Whatever happens with you and Jace at the Institute... you know you can always come over to my place if you want to talk."
"Pretty good," said Simon. "He and Maia are definitely together now. They're in that ooky stage where I feel like I should be giving them space all the time." He crinkled up his nose. "When she's not there, he frets about how he feels insecure because she's dated a bunch of dudes and he's spent the past three years doing military-style training for the Praetor and pretending he was asexual."
"Oh, come on. I doubt she cares about that."
"You know men. We have delicate egos."
"I wouldn't describe Jace's ego as delicate."
"No, Jace's is sort of the antiaircraft artillery tank of male egos," Simon admitted. He was lying with his right hand splayed across his stomach, and the gold faerie ring glittered on his finger. Since the other had been destroyed, it no longer seemed to have any powers, but Simon wore it anyway. Impulsively Clary bent down and kissed his forehead.
"You're the best friend anyone could ever have, you know that?" she said.
"I did know that, but it's always nice to hear it again."
Clary laughed and stood up. "Well, we might as well walk to the subway together. Unless you want to hang around here with the 'rents instead of in your cool downtown bachelor pad."
"Right. With my lovelorn roommate and my sister." He slid off the bed and followed her as she walked out into the living room. "You're not just going to Portal?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. It seems... wasteful." She crossed the hall and, after knocking quickly, stuck her head into the master bedroom. "Luke?"
"Come on in."
She went in, Simon beside her. Luke was sitting up in bed. The bulk of the bandage that wrapped his chest was visible as an outline beneath his flannel shirt. There was a stack of magazines on the bed in front of him. Simon picked one up. "Sparkle Like an Ice Princess: The Winter Bride," he read out loud. "I don't know, man. I'm not sure a tiara of snowflakes would be the best look for you."
Luke glanced around the bed and sighed. "Jocelyn thought wedding planning might be good for us. Return to normalcy and all that." There were shadows under his blue eyes. Jocelyn had been the one to break the news to him about Amatis, while he was still at the police station. Though Clary had greeted him with hugs when he'd come home, he hadn't mentioned his sister once, and neither had she. "If it was up to me, I would elope to Vegas and have a fifty-dollar pirate-themed wedding with Elvis presiding."
"I could be the wench of honor," Clary suggested. She looked at Simon expectantly. "And you could be..."
"Oh, no," he said. "I am a hipster. I am too cool for themed weddings."
"You play D and D. You're a geek," she corrected him fondly.
"Geek is chic," Simon declared. "Ladies love nerds."
Luke cleared his throat. "I assume you came in here to tell me something?"
"I'm heading over to the Institute to see Jace," Clary said. "Do you want me to bring you anything back?"
He shook his head. "Your mother's at the store, stocking up." He leaned over to ruffle her hair, and winced. He was healing, but slowly. "Have fun."
Clary thought of what she was probably facing at the Institute-an angry Maryse, a wearied Isabelle, an absent Alec, and a Jace who didn't want to see her-and sighed. "You bet."
The subway tunnel smelled like the winter that had finally come to the city-cold metal, dank, wet dirt, and a faint hint of smoke. Alec, walking along the tracks, saw his breath puff out in front of his face in white clouds, and he jammed his free hand into the pocket of his blue peacoat to keep it warm. The witchlight he held in his other hand illuminated the tunnel-green and cream-colored tiles, discolored with age, and sprung wiring, dangling like spiderwebs from the walls. It had been a long time since this tunnel had seen a moving train.
Alec had gotten up before Magnus had woken, again. Magnus had been sleeping late; he was resting from the battle at the Burren. He had used a great deal of energy to heal himself, but he wasn't entirely well yet. Warlocks were immortal but not invulnerable, and "a few inches higher and that would have been it for me," Magnus had said ruefully, examining the knife wound. "It would have stopped my heart."
There had been a few moments-minutes, even-when Alec had truly thought Magnus was dead. And after so much time spent worrying that he would grow old and die before Magnus did. What a bitter irony it would have been. The sort of thing he deserved, for seriously contemplating the offer Camille had made him, even for a second.
He could see light up ahead-the City Hall station, lit by chandeliers and skylights. He was about to douse his witchlight when he heard a familiar voice behind him.
"Alec," it said. "Alexander Gideon Lightwood."
Alec felt his heart lurch. He turned around slowly. "Magnus?"
Magnus moved forward, into the circle of illumination cast by Alec's witchlight. He looked uncharacteristically somber, his eyes shadowed. His spiky hair was rumpled. He wore only a suit jacket over a T-shirt, and Alec couldn't help wondering if he was cold.
"Magnus," Alec said again. "I thought you were asleep."
"Evidently," Magnus said.
Alec swallowed hard. He had never seen Magnus angry, not really. Not like this. Magnus's cat eyes were remote, impossible to read. "Did you follow me?" Alec asked.
"You could say that. It helped that I knew where you were going." Moving stiffly, Magnus took a folded square of paper from his pocket. In the dim light, all Alec could see was that it was covered with a careful, flourishing handwriting. "You know, when she told me you'd been here-told me about the bargain she'd struck with you-I didn't believe her. I didn't want to believe her. But here you are."
"Camille told you-"
Magnus held up a hand to cut him off. "Just stop," he said wearily. "Of course she told me. I warned you she was a master at manipulation and politics, but you didn't listen to me. Who do you think she'd rather have on her side-me or you? You're eighteen years old, Alexander. You're not exactly a powerful ally."
"I already told her," Alec said. "I wouldn't kill Raphael. I came here and told her the bargain was off, I wouldn't do it-"
"You had to come all the way here, to this abandoned subway station, to deliver that message?" Magnus raised his eyebrows. "You don't think you could have delivered essentially the same message by, perhaps, staying away?"
"And even if you did come here-unnecessarily-and tell her the deal was off," Magnus went on in a deadly calm voice, "why are you here now? Social call? Just visiting? Explain it to me, Alexander, if there's something I'm missing."
Alec swallowed. Surely there must be a way to explain. That he had been coming down here, visiting Camille, because she was the only person he could talk to about Magnus. The only person who knew Magnus, as he did, not just as the High Warlock of Brooklyn but as someone who could love and be loved back, who had human frailties and peculiarities and odd, irregular currents of mood that Alec had no idea how to navigate without advice. "Magnus-" Alec took a step toward his boyfriend, and for the first time that he remembered, Magnus moved away from him. His posture was stiff and unfriendly. He was looking at Alec the way he'd look at a stranger, a stranger he didn't like very much.