"Look, we have all the money we could want," said Sebastian. "Buy clothes. And you'll be ruling this place in a few weeks. You can run your favorite jacket up the flagpole and fly it like a pennant."
Jace laughed, that soft rich sound Clary loved. "I'm warning you, that jacket is sexy. The Institute could go up in sexy, sexy flames."
"Be good for the place. Too dismal right now." Sebastian grabbed the back of Jace's current jacket with a fist and pulled him sideways. "Now we're going. Hold on to the books." He glanced down at his right hand, where a slim silver ring glittered; with the hand that wasn't holding on to Jace, he used his thumb to twist the ring.
"Hey," Jace said. "Do you think-" He broke off, and for a moment Clary thought that it was because he had looked up and seen her-his face was tilted upward-but even as she sucked in her breath, they both vanished, fading like mirages against the air.
Slowly Clary lowered her head onto her arm. Her lip was bleeding where she had bitten it; she could taste the blood in her mouth. She knew she should get up, move, run away. She wasn't supposed to be here. But the ice in her veins had grown so cold, she was terrified that if she moved, she would shatter.
Alec woke to Magnus's shaking his shoulder. "Come on, sweet pea," he said. "Time to rise and face the day."
Alec unfolded himself groggily out of his nest of pillows and blankets and blinked at his boyfriend. Magnus, despite having gotten very little sleep, looked annoyingly chipper. His hair was wet, dripping onto the shoulders of his white shirt and making it transparent. He wore jeans with holes in them and fraying hems, which usually meant he was planning to spend the day without leaving his apartment.
"'Sweet pea'?" Alec said.
"I was trying it out."
Alec shook his head. "No."
Magnus shrugged. "I'll keep at it." He held out a chipped blue mug of coffee fixed the way Alec liked it-black, with sugar. "Wake up."
Alec sat up, rubbing at his eyes, and took the mug. The first bitter swallow sent a tingle of energy through his nerves. He remembered lying awake the night before and waiting for Magnus to come to bed, but eventually exhaustion had overtaken him and he had fallen asleep at around five a.m. "I'm skipping the Council meeting today."
"I know, but you're supposed to meet your sister and the others in the park by Turtle Pond. You told me to remind you."
Alec swung his legs over the side of the bed. "What time is it?"
Magnus took the mug gently out of his hand before the coffee spilled and set it on the bedside table. "You're fine. You've got an hour." He leaned forward and pressed his lips against Alec's; Alec remembered the first time they had ever kissed, here in this apartment, and he wanted to wrap his arms around his boyfriend and pull him close. But something held him back.
He stood up, disentangling himself, and went over to the bureau. He had a drawer where his clothes were. A place for his toothbrush in the bathroom. A key to the front door. A decent amount of real estate to take up in anyone's life, and yet he couldn't shake the cold fear in his stomach.
Magnus had rolled onto his back on the bed and was watching Alec, one arm crooked behind his head. "Wear that scarf," he said, pointing to a blue cashmere scarf hanging on a peg. "It matches your eyes."
Alec looked at it. Suddenly he was filled with hate-for the scarf, for Magnus, and most of all for himself. "Don't tell me," he said. "The scarf's a hundred years old, and it was given to you by Queen Victoria right before she died, for special services to the Crown or something."
Magnus sat up. "What's gotten into you?"
Alec stared at him. "Am I the newest thing in this apartment?"
"I think that honor goes to Chairman Meow. He's only two."
"I said newest, not youngest," Alec snapped. "Who's W.S.? Is it Will?"
Magnus shook his head like there was water in his ears. "What the hell? You mean the snuffbox? W.S. is Woolsey Scott. He-"
"Founded the Praetor Lupus. I know." Alec pulled on his jeans and zipped them up. "You mentioned him before, and besides, he's a historical figure. And his snuffbox is in your junk drawer. What else is in there? Jonathan Shadowhunter's toenail clippers?"
Magnus's cat eyes were cold. "Where is all this coming from, Alexander? I don't lie to you. If there's anything about me you want to know, you can ask."
"Bull," Alec said bluntly, buttoning his shirt. "You're kind and funny and all those great things, but what you're not is forthcoming, sweet pea. You can talk all day about other people's problems, but you won't talk about yourself or your history, and when I do ask, you wriggle like a worm on a hook."
"Maybe because you can't ask me about my past without picking a fight about how I'm going to live forever and you're not," Magnus snapped. "Maybe because immortality is rapidly becoming the third person in our relationship, Alec."
"Our relationship isn't supposed to have a third person."
Alec's throat tightened. There were a thousand things he wanted to say, but he had never been good with words like Jace and Magnus were. Instead he grabbed the blue scarf off its peg and wrapped it defiantly around his neck.
"Don't wait up," he said. "I might patrol tonight."
As he slammed out of the apartment, he heard Magnus yell after him, "And that scarf, I'll have you know, is from the Gap! I got it last year!"
Alec rolled his eyes and jogged down the stairs to the lobby. The single bulb that usually lit the place was out, and the space was so dim that for a moment he didn't see the hooded figure slipping toward him from the shadows. When he did, he was so startled that he dropped his key chain with a rattling clang.
The figure glided toward him. He could tell nothing about it-not age or gender or even species. The voice that came from beneath the hood was crackling and low. "I have a message for you, Alec Lightwood," it said. "From Camille Belcourt."
"Do you want to patrol together tonight?" Jordan asked, somewhat abruptly.
Maia turned to look at him in surprise. He was leaning back against the kitchen counter, his elbows on the surface behind him. There was an unconcern about his posture that was too studied to be sincere. That was the problem with knowing someone so well, she thought. It was very hard to pretend around them, or to ignore it when they were pretending, even when it would be easier.
"Patrol together?" she echoed. Simon was in his room, changing clothes; she'd told him she'd walk to the subway with him, and now she wished she hadn't. She knew she should have contacted Jordan since the last time she'd seen him, when, rather unwisely, she'd kissed him. But then Jace had vanished and the whole world seemed to have blown into pieces and it had given her just the excuse she'd needed to avoid the whole issue.
Of course, not thinking about the ex-boyfriend who had broken your heart and turned you into a werewolf was a lot easier when he wasn't standing right in front of you, wearing a green shirt that hugged his leanly muscled body in all the right places and brought out the hazel color of his eyes.
"I thought they were canceling the patrol searches for Jace," she said, looking away from him.
"Well, not canceling so much as cutting down. But I'm Praetor, not Clave. I can look for Jace on my own time."
"Right," she said.
He was playing with something on the counter, arranging it, but his attention was still on her. "Do you, you know... You used to want to go to college at Stanford. Do you still?"
Her heart skipped a beat. "I haven't thought about college since..." She cleared her throat. "Not since I Changed."
His cheeks flushed. "You were-I mean, you always wanted to go to California. You were going to study history, and I was going to move out there and surf. Remember?"
Maia shoved her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket. She felt as if she ought to be angry, but she wasn't. For a long time she had blamed Jordan for the fact that she'd stopped dreaming of a human future, with school and a house and a family, maybe, someday. But there were other wolves in the police station pack who still pursued their dreams, their art. Bat, for instance. It had been her own choice to stop her life short. "I remember," she said.
His cheeks flushed. "About tonight. No one's searched the Brooklyn Navy Yard, so I thought... but it's never much fun doing it on my own. But if you don't want to..."
"No," she said, hearing her own voice as if it were someone else's. "I mean, sure. I'll go with you."
"Really?" His hazel eyes lit up, and Maia cursed herself inwardly. She shouldn't get his hopes up, not when she wasn't sure how she felt. It was just so hard to believe that he cared that much.
The Praetor Lupus medallion gleamed at his throat as he leaned forward, and she smelled the familiar scent of his soap, and under that-wolf. She flicked her eyes up toward him, just as Simon's door opened and he came out, shrugging on a hoodie. He stopped dead in his doorway, his eyes moving from Jordan to Maia, his eyebrows slowly rising.
"You know, I can make it to the subway on my own," he said to Maia, a faint smile tugging the corner of his mouth. "If you want to stay here..."
"No." Maia hastily took her hands out of her pockets, where they had been balled into nervous fists. "No, I'll come with you. Jordan, I'll-I'll see you later."
"Tonight," he called after her, but she didn't turn around to look at him; she was already hurrying after Simon.
Simon trudged alone up the low rise of the hill, hearing the shouts of the Frisbee players in the Sheep Meadow behind him, like distant music. It was a bright November day, crisp and windy, the sun lighting what remained of the leaves on the trees to brilliant shades of scarlet, gold, and amber.
The top of the hill was strewn with boulders. You could see how the park had been hacked out of what had once been a wilderness of trees and stone. Isabelle sat atop one of the boulders, wearing a long dress of bottle-green silk with an embroidered black and silver coat over it. She looked up as Simon strode toward her, pushing her long, dark hair out of her face. "I thought you'd be with Clary," she said as he drew closer. "Where is she?"
"Leaving the Institute," he said, sitting down next to Isabelle on the rock and shoving his hands into his Windbreaker pockets. "She texted. She'll be here soon."
"Alec's on his way-," she began, and broke off as his pocket buzzed. Or, more accurately, the phone in his pocket buzzed. "I think someone's messaging you."
He shrugged. "I'll check it later."
She gave him a look from under her long eyelashes. "Anyway, I was saying, Alec's on his way too. He had to come all the way from Brooklyn, so-"
Simon's phone buzzed again.
"All right, that's it. If you're not getting it, I will." Isabelle leaned forward, against Simon's protests, and slipped her hand into his pocket. The top of her head brushed his chin. He smelled her perfume-vanilla-and the scent of her skin underneath. When she pulled the phone out and drew back, he was both relieved and disappointed.
She squinted at the screen. "Rebecca? Who's Rebecca?"
Isabelle's body relaxed. "She wants to meet you. She says she hasn't seen you since-"
Simon swiped the phone out of her hand and flipped it off before shoving it back into his pocket. "I know, I know."
"Don't you want to see her?"
"More than-more than almost anything else. But I don't want her to know. About me." Simon picked up a stick and threw it. "Look what happened when my mom found out."
"So set up a meeting with her somewhere public. Where she can't freak out. Far from your house."
"Even if she can't freak out, she can still look at me like my mother did," Simon said in a low voice. "Like I'm a monster."
Isabelle touched his wrist lightly. "My mom tossed out Jace when she thought he was Valentine's son and a spy-then she regretted it horribly. My mom and dad are coming around to Alec's being with Magnus. Your mom will come around too. Get your sister on your side. That'll help." She tilted her head a little. "I think sometimes siblings understand more than parents. There's not the same weight of expectations. I could never, ever cut Alec off. No matter what he did. Never. Or Jace." She squeezed his arm, then dropped her hand. "My little brother died. I won't ever see him again. Don't put your sister through that."
"Through what?" It was Alec, coming up the side of the hill, kicking dried leaves out of his path. He was wearing his usual ratty sweater and jeans, but a dark blue scarf that matched his eyes was wrapped around his throat. Now, that had to have been a gift from Magnus, Simon thought. No way would Alec have thought to buy something like that himself. The concept of matching seemed to be beyond him.
Isabelle cleared her throat. "Simon's sister-"
She got no further than that. There was a blast of cold air, bringing with it a swirl of dead leaves. Isabelle put her hand up to shield her face from the dust as the air began to shimmer with the unmistakeable translucence of an opening Portal, and Clary appeared before them, her stele in one hand and her face wet with tears.
Chapter 4 : And Immortality
"And you're totally sure it was Jace?" Isabelle asked, for what seemed to Clary like the forty-seventh time.
Clary bit down on her already sore lip and counted to ten. "It's me, Isabelle," she said. "You honestly think I wouldn't recognize Jace?" She looked up at Alec standing over them, his blue scarf fluttering like a pennant in the wind. "Could you mistake someone else for Magnus?"
"No. Not ever," he said without missing a beat. His blue eyes were troubled, dark with worry. "I just-I mean, of course we're asking. It doesn't make any sense."
"He could be a hostage," said Simon, leaning back against a boulder. The autumn sunlight turned his eyes the color of coffee grounds. "Like, Sebastian is threatening him that if Jace doesn't go along with his plans, Sebastian will hurt someone he cares about."