Clary looked up from pondering the question of how a tuberose was different from a regular rose, to see Simon looking at her with puzzlement in his brown eyes. She said, “Well, you can’t live with Jordan forever, right? There’s college . . .”
“You’re not going to college,” he said.
“No, but I’m a Shadowhunter. We keep studying after eighteen, we get posted to other Institutes—that’s our college.”
“I don’t like the thought of you going away.” He shoved his hands into the pockets of his coat. “I can’t go to college,” he said. “My mother’s not exactly going to pay for it, and I can’t take out student loans. I’m legally dead. And besides, how long would it take everyone at school to notice they were getting older but I wasn’t? Sixteen-year-olds don’t look like college seniors, I don’t know if you’ve noticed.”
Clary set the bottle down. “Simon . . .”
“Maybe I should get my mom something,” he said bitterly. “What says ‘Thanks for throwing me out of the house and pretending I died’?”
But Simon’s joking mood had gone. “Maybe it’s not like old times,” he said. “I would have gotten you pencils usually, art supplies, but you don’t draw anymore, do you, except with your stele? You don’t draw, and I don’t breathe. Not so much like last year.”
“Maybe you should talk to Raphael,” Clary said.
“He knows how vampires live,” Clary said. “How they make lives for themselves, how they make money, how they get apartments—he does know those things. He could help.”
“He could, but he wouldn’t,” said Simon with a frown. “I haven’t heard anything from the Dumort bunch since Maureen took over from Camille. I know Raphael is her second in command. I’m pretty sure they still think I have the Mark of Cain; otherwise they would have sent someone after me by now. Matter of time.”
“No. They know not to touch you. It would be war with the Clave. The Institute’s been very clear,” said Clary. “You’re protected.”
“Clary,” Simon said. “None of us are protected.”
Before Clary could answer, she heard someone call out her name; thoroughly puzzled, she looked over and saw her mother shoving her way through a crowd of shoppers. Through the window she could see Luke, waiting outside on the sidewalk. In his flannel shirt he looked out of place among the stylish New Yorkers.
Breaking free of the crowd, Jocelyn caught up to them and threw her arms around Clary. Clary looked over her mother’s shoulder, baffled, at Simon. He shrugged. Finally Jocelyn released her and stepped back. “I was so worried something had happened to you—”
“In Sephora?” Clary said.
Jocelyn’s brow furrowed. “You haven’t heard? I would have thought Jace would have texted you by now.”
Clary felt a sudden cold wash through her veins, as if she’d swallowed icy water. “No. I—What’s going on?”
“I’m sorry, Simon,” Jocelyn said. “But Clary and I have to get to the Institute right away.”
Not much had changed at Magnus’s since the first time Jace had been there. The same small entryway and single yellow bulb. Jace used an Open rune to get in through the front door, took the stairs two at a time, and buzzed Magnus’s apartment bell. Safer than using another rune, he figured. After all, Magnus could be playing video games naked or, really, doing practically anything. Who knew what warlocks got up to in their spare time?
Jace buzzed again, this time leaning firmly on the doorbell. Two more long buzzes, and Magnus finally yanked the door open, looking furious. He was wearing a black silk dressing gown over a white dress shirt and tweed pants. His feet were bare. His dark hair was tangled, and there was the shadow of stubble on his jaw. “What are you doing here?” he demanded.
“My, my,” said Jace. “So unwelcoming.”
“That’s because you’re not welcome.”
Jace raised an eyebrow. “I thought we were friends.”
“No. You’re Alec’s friend. Alec was my boyfriend, so I had to put up with you. But now he’s not my boyfriend, so I don’t have to put up with you. Not that any of you seem to realize it. You must be the—what, fourth?—of you lot to bother me.” Magnus counted off on his long fingers. “Clary. Isabelle. Simon—”
“Simon came by?”
“You seem surprised.”
“I didn’t think he was that invested in your relationship with Alec.”
“I don’t have a relationship with Alec,” said Magnus flatly, but Jace had already shouldered past him and was in his living room, looking around curiously.
One of the things Jace had always secretly liked about Magnus’s apartment was that it rarely looked the same way twice. Sometimes it was a big modern loft. Sometimes it looked like a French bordello, or a Victorian opium den, or the inside of a spaceship. Right now, though, it was messy and dark. Stacks of old Chinese food cartons littered the coffee table. Chairman Meow lay on the rag rug, all four legs sticking straight out in front of him like a dead deer.
“It smells like heartbreak in here,” said Jace.
“That’s the Chinese food.” Magnus threw himself onto the sofa and stretched out his long legs. “Go on, get it over with. Say whatever you came here to say.”
“I think you should get back together with Alec,” said Jace.
Magnus rolled his eyes up to the ceiling. “And why is that?”
“Because he’s miserable,” said Jace. “And he’s sorry. He’s sorry about what he did. He won’t do it again.”
“Oh, he won’t sneak around behind my back with one of my exes planning to shorten my life again? Very noble of him.”
“Besides, Camille’s dead. He can’t do it again.”
“You know what I mean,” said Jace. “He won’t lie to you or mislead you or hide things from you or whatever it is you’re actually upset about.” He threw himself into a wingback leather chair and raised an eyebrow. “So?”
Magnus rolled onto his side. “What do you care if Alec’s miserable?”
“What do I care?” Jace said, so loudly that Chairman Meow sat bolt upright as if he’d been shocked. “Of course I care about Alec; he’s my best friend, my parabatai. And he’s unhappy. And so are you, by the look of things. Take-out containers everywhere, you haven’t done anything to fix up the place, your cat looks dead—”
“He’s not dead.”
“I care about Alec,” Jace said, fixing Magnus with an unswerving gaze. “I care about him more than I care about myself.”
“Don’t you ever think,” Magnus mused, pulling at a bit of peeling fingernail polish, “that the whole parabatai business is rather cruel? You can choose your parabatai, but then you can never un-choose them. Even if they turn on you. Look at Luke and Valentine. And though your parabatai is the closest person in the world to you in some ways, you can’t fall in love with them. And if they die, some part of you dies too.”
“How do you know so much about parabatai?”
“I know Shadowhunters,” said Magnus, patting the sofa beside him so that the Chairman leaped up onto the cushions and nudged at Magnus with his head. The warlock’s long fingers sank into the cat’s fur. “I have for a long time. You are odd creatures. All fragile nobility and humanity on one side, and all the thoughtless fire of angels on the other.” His eyes flicked toward Jace. “You especially, Herondale, for you have the fire of angels in your blood.”
“You’ve been friends with Shadowhunters before?”
“Friends,” said Magnus. “What does that mean, really?”
“You’d know,” said Jace, “if you had any. Do you? Do you have friends? I mean, besides the people who come to your parties. Most people are afraid of you, or they seem to owe you something or you slept with them once, but friends—I don’t see you having a lot of those.”
“Well, this is novel,” said Magnus. “None of the rest of your group has tried insulting me.”
“Is it working?”
“If you mean do I suddenly feel compelled to get back together with Alec, no,” said Magnus. “I have developed an odd craving for pizza, but that might be unrelated.”
“Alec said you do that,” said Jace. “Deflect questions about yourself with jokes.”
Magnus narrowed his eyes. “And I’m the only one who does that?”
“Exactly,” Jace said. “Take it from someone who knows. You hate talking about yourself, and you’d rather make people angry than be pitied. How old are you, Magnus? The real answer.”
Magnus said nothing.
“What were your parents’ names? Your father’s name?”
Magnus glared at him out of gold-green eyes. “If I wanted to lie on a couch and complain to someone about my parents, I’d hire a psychiatrist.”
“Ah,” said Jace. “But my services are free.”
“I heard that about you.”
Jace grinned and slid down in his chair. There was a pillow with a pattern of the Union Jack on the ottoman. He grabbed it and put it behind his head. “I don’t have anywhere to be. I can sit here all day.”
“Great,” Magnus said. “I’m going to take a nap.” He reached out for a crumpled blanket lying on the floor, just as Jace’s phone rang. Magnus watched, arrested midmotion, as Jace dug around in his pocket and flipped the phone open.
It was Isabelle. “Jace?”