City of Ashes – Chapter 4: THE CUCKOO IN THE NEST

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Chapter 4: THE CUCKOO IN THE NEST

“ORANGE JUICE, MOLASSES, EGGS—WEEKS PAST THEIR sell-by date, though—and something that looks kind of like lettuce. ”

“Lettuce?” Clary peered over Simon’s shoulder into the fridge. “Oh. That’s some mozzarella.”

Simon shuddered and kicked Luke’s fridge door shut. “Order pizza?”

“I already did,” said Luke, coming into the kitchen with the cordless phone in hand. “One large veggie pie, three Cokes. And I called the hospital,” he added, hanging the phone up. “There’s been no change with Jocelyn. ”

“Oh,” Clary said. She sat down at the wooden table in Luke’s kitchen. Usually Luke was pretty neat, but at the moment the table was covered in unopened mail and stacks of dirty plates. Luke’s green duffel hung across the back of a chair. She knew she should be helping with the cleaning up, but lately she just hadn’t had the energy. Luke’s kitchen was small and a little dingy at the best of times—he wasn’t much of a cook, as evidenced by the fact that the spice rack that hung over the old-fashioned gas stove was empty of spices. Instead, he used it to hold boxes of coffee and tea.

Simon sat down next to her as Luke cleared the dirty dishes off the table and dumped them into the sink. “Are you okay?” he asked in a low voice.

“I’m all right. ” Clary managed a smile. “I didn’t expect my mom to wake up today, Simon. I have this feeling she’s—waiting for something. ”

“Do you know what?”

“No. Just that something’s missing. ” She looked up at Luke, but he was involved in vigorously scrubbing the plates clean in the sink. “Or someone. ”

Simon looked quizzically at her, then shrugged. “So it sounds like the scene at the Institute was pretty intense. ”

Clary shuddered. “Alec and Isabelle’s mom is scary. ”

“What’s her name again?”

“May-ris,” said Clary, copying Luke’s pronunciation.

“It’s an old Shadowhunter name. ” Luke dried his hands on a dishcloth.

“And Jace decided to stay there and deal with this Inquisitor person? He didn’t want to leave?” Simon said.

“It’s what he has to do if he ever wants to have a life as a Shadowhunter,” said Luke. “And being that—one of the Nephilim—means everything to him. I knew other Shadowhunters like him, back in Idris. If you took that away from him—”

The familiar buzz of the doorbell sounded. Luke tossed the dishcloth onto the counter. “I’ll be right back. ”

As soon as he was out of the kitchen, Simon said, “It’s really weird thinking of Luke as someone who was once a Shadowhunter. Weirder than it is thinking of him as a werewolf. ”

“Really? Why?”

Simon shrugged. “I’ve heard of werewolves before. They’re sort of a known element. So he turns into a wolf once a month, so what. But the Shadowhunter thing—they’re like a cult. ”

“They’re not like a cult. ”

“Sure they are. Shadowhunting is their whole lives. And they look down on everyone else. They call us mundanes. Like they’re not human beings. They’re not friends with ordinary people, they don’t go to the same places, they don’t know the same jokes, they think they’re above us. ” Simon pulled one gangly leg up and twisted the frayed edge of the hole in the knee of his jeans. “I met another werewolf today. ”

“Don’t tell me you were hanging out with Freaky Pete at the Hunter’s Moon. ” There was an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, but she couldn’t have said exactly what was causing it. Probably free-floating stress.

“No. It was a girl,” Simon said. “About our age. Named Maia. ”

“Maia?” Luke was back in the kitchen carrying a square white pizza box. He dropped it onto the table and Clary reached over to pop it open. The smell of hot dough, tomato sauce, and cheese reminded her how starved she was. She tore off a slice, not waiting for Luke to slide a plate across the table to her. He sat down with a grin, shaking his head.

“Maia’s one of the pack, right?” Simon asked, taking a slice himself.

Luke nodded. “Sure. She’s a good kid. I’ve had her over here a few times looking out for the bookstore while I’ve been at the hospital. She lets me pay her in books. ”

Simon looked at Luke over his pizza. “Are you low on money?”

Luke shrugged. “Money’s never been important to me, and the pack looks after its own. ”

Clary said, “My mom always said that when we ran low on money she’d sell one of my dad’s stocks. But since the guy I thought was my dad wasn’t my dad, and I doubt Valentine has any stocks—”

“Your mother was selling her jewelry off bit by bit,” said Luke. “Valentine had given her some of his family’s pieces, jewelry that had been with the Morgensterns for generations. Even a small piece would fetch a high price at auction. ” He sighed. “Those are gone now—though Valentine may have recovered them from the wreckage of your old apartment. ”

“Well, I hope it gave her some satisfaction, anyway,” Simon said. “Selling off his stuff like that. ” He took a third piece of pizza. It was truly amazing, Clary thought, how much teenage boys were able to eat without ever gaining weight or making themselves sick.

“It must have been weird for you,” she said to Luke. “Seeing Maryse Lightwood like that, after such a long time. ”

“Not precisely weird. Maryse isn’t that different now from how she was then—in fact, she’s more like herself than ever, if that makes sense. ”

Clary thought it did. The way that Maryse Lightwood had looked recollected to her the slim dark girl in the photo Hodge had given her, the one with the haughty tilt to her chin. “How do you think she feels about you?” she asked. “Do you really think they hoped you were dead?”

Luke smiled. “Maybe not out of hatred, no, but it would have been more convenient and less messy for them if I had died, certainly. That I’m not just alive but am leading the downtown pack can’t be something they’d hoped for. It’s their job, after all, to keep the peace between Downworlders—and here I come, with a history with them and plenty of reason to want revenge. They’ll be worried I’m a wild card. ”

“Are you?” asked Simon. They were out of pizza, so he reached over without looking and took one of Clary’s nibbled crusts. He knew she hated crust. “A wild card, I mean. ”

“There’s nothing wild about me. I’m stolid. Middle-aged. ”

“Except that once a month you turn into a wolf and go tearing around slaughtering things,” Clary said.

“It could be worse,” Luke said. “Men my age have been known to purchase expensive sports cars and sleep with supermodels. ”

“You’re only thirty-eight,” Simon pointed out. “That’s not middle-aged. ”

“Thank you, Simon, I appreciate that. ” Luke opened the pizza box and, finding it empty, shut it with a sigh. “Though you did eat all the pizza. ”

“I only had five slices,” Simon protested, leaning his chair backward so it balanced precariously on its two back legs.

“How many slices did you think were in a pizza, dork?” Clary wanted to know.

“Less than five slices isn’t a meal. It’s a snack. ” Simon looked apprehensively at Luke. “Does this mean you’re going to wolf out and eat me?”

“Certainly not. ” Luke rose to toss the pizza box into the trash. “You would be stringy and hard to digest. ”

“But kosher,” Simon pointed out cheerfully.

“I’ll be sure to point any Jewish lycanthropes your way. ” Luke leaned his back against the sink. “But to answer your earlier question, Clary, it was strange seeing Maryse Lightwood, but not because of her. It was the surroundings. The Institute reminded me too much of the Hall of Accords in Idris—I could feel the strength of the Gray Book’s runes all around me, after fifteen years of trying to forget them. ”

“Did you?” Clary asked. “Manage to forget them?”

“There are some things you never forget. The runes of the Book are more than illustrations. They become part of you. Part of your skin. Being a Shadowhunter never leaves you. It’s a gift that’s carried in your blood, and you can no more change it than you can change your blood type. ”

“I was wondering,” Clary said, “if maybe I should get some Marks myself. ”

Simon dropped the pizza crust he’d been gnawing on. “You’re kidding. ”

“No, I’m not. Why would I joke about something like that? And why shouldn’t I get Marks? I’m a Shadowhunter. I might as well go for what protection I can get. ”

“Protection from what?” Simon demanded, leaning forward so that the front legs of his chair hit the floor with a bang. “I thought all this Shadowhunting stuff was over. I thought you were trying to live a normal life. ”

Luke’s tone was mild. “I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a normal life. ”

Clary looked down at her arm, where Jace had drawn the only Mark she’d ever received. She could still see the lacelike white tracery it had left behind, more a memory than a scar. “Sure, I want to get away from the weirdness. But what if the weirdness comes after me? What if I don’t have a choice?”

“Or maybe you don’t want to get away from the weirdness that badly,” Simon muttered. “Not as long as Jace is still involved with it, anyway. ”

Luke cleared his throat. “Most Nephilim go through levels of training before they receive their Marks. I wouldn’t recommend getting any until you’ve completed some instruction. And whether you even want to do that is up to you, of course. However, there is something you should have. Something every Shadowhunter should have. ”

“An obnoxious, arrogant attitude?” Simon said.

“A stele,” said Luke. “Every Shadowhunter should have a stele. ”

“Do you have one?” Clary asked, surprised.

Without responding, Luke headed out of the kitchen. He was back in a few moments, holding an object wrapped in black fabric. Setting the object down on the table, he unrolled the cloth, revealing a gleaming wandlike instrument, made of a pale, opaque crystal. A stele.

“Pretty,” said Clary.

“I’m glad you think so,” said Luke, “because I want you to have it. ”

“Have it?” She looked at him in astonishment. “But it’s yours, isn’t it?”

He shook his head. “This was your mother’s. She didn’t want to keep it at the apartment in case you happened across it, so she asked me to hold on to it for her. ”

Clary picked the stele up. It felt cool to the touch, though she knew it would heat to a glow when used. It was a strange object, not quite long enough to be a weapon, not quite short enough to be an easily manipulated drawing tool. She supposed the odd size was just something you got used to over time.

“I can have it?”

“Sure. It’s an old model, of course, almost twenty years out of date. They may have refined the designs since. Still, it’s reliable enough. ”

Simon watched her as she held the stele like a conductor’s baton, tracing invisible patterns lightly on the air between them. “This kind of reminds me of the time my grandfather gave me his old golf clubs. ”

Clary laughed and lowered her hand. “Yeah, except you never used those. ”

“And I hope you never have to use that,” Simon said, and looked quickly away before she could reply.

Smoke rose from the Marks in black spirals and he smelled the choking scent of his own skin burning. His father stood over him with the stele, its tip gleaming red like the tip of a poker left too long in the fire. “Close your eyes, Jonathan,” he said. “Pain is only what you allow it to be. ” But Jace’s hand curled in on itself, unwillingly, as if his skin were writhing, twisting to get away from the stele. He heard the snap as one bone in his hand broke, and then another…

Jace opened his eyes and blinked up at the darkness, his father’s voice fading away like smoke in rising wind. He tasted pain, metallic on his tongue. He’d bitten the inside of his lip. He sat up, wincing.

The snap came again and involuntarily he glanced down at his hand. It was unmarked. He realized the sound was coming from outside the room. Someone knocking, albeit hesitantly, at the door.

He rolled off the bed, shivering as his bare feet hit the cold floor. He’d fallen asleep in his clothes and he looked down at his wrinkled shirt in distaste. He probably still smelled like wolf. And he ached all over.

The knock came again. Jace strode across the room and threw the door open. He blinked in surprise. “Alec?”

Alec, hands in his jeans pockets, shrugged self-consciously. “Sorry it’s so late. Mom sent me to get you. She wants to see you in the library. ”

“What time is it?”

“Almost midnight. ”

“What the hell are you doing up?”

“Couldn’t sleep. ” It looked like he was telling the truth. His blue eyes were surrounded by dark shadows.

Jace ran a hand through his tousled hair. “All right. Hang on a second while I change my shirt. ” Heading to the wardrobe, he rummaged through neatly folded square stacks until he found a dark blue long-sleeved T-shirt. He peeled the shirt he was wearing off carefully—in some places it was stuck to his skin with dried blood.

Alec looked away. “What happened to you?” His voice was oddly constricted.

“Picked a fight with a pack of werewolves. ” Jace slid the blue shirt over his head. Dressed, he padded after Alec into the hallway. “You have something on your neck,” he observed.

Alec’s hand flew to his throat. “What?”

“Looks like a bite mark,” said Jace. “What have you been doing all night, anyway?”

“Nothing. ” Beet red, his hand still clamped to his neck, Alec started down the corridor. Jace followed him. “I went walking in the park. Tried to clear my head. ”

“And ran into a vampire?”

“What? No! I fell. ”

“On your neck?” Alec made a noise, and Jace decided the issue was clearly better dropped. “Fine, whatever. What did you need to clear your head about?”

“You. My parents,” Alec said. “My mother explained why they were so angry after you left. And she explained about Hodge. Thanks for not telling me that, by the way. ”

“Sorry. ” It was Jace’s turn to flush. “I couldn’t bring myself to do it, somehow. ”

“Well, it doesn’t look good. ” Alec finally dropped his hand from his neck and turned to look accusingly at Jace. “It looks like you were hiding things. Things about Valentine. ”

Jace stopped in his tracks. “Do you think I was lying? About not knowing Valentine was my father?”

“No!” Alec looked startled, either at the question or at Jace’s vehemence in asking it. “And I don’t care who your father is either. It doesn’t matter to me. You’re still the same person. ”

“Whoever that is. ” The words came out cold, before he could stop them.

“I’m just saying. ” Alec’s tone was placating. “You can be a little—harsh sometimes. Just think before you talk, that’s all I’m asking. No one’s your enemy here, Jace. ”

“Well, thanks for the advice,” Jace said. “I can walk myself the rest of the way to the library. ”

“Jace—”

But Jace was already gone, leaving Alec’s distress behind. Jace hated it when other people were worried on his behalf. It made him feel like maybe there really was something to worry about.

The library door was half open. Not bothering to knock, Jace went in. It had always been one of his favorite rooms in the Institute—there was something comforting about its old-fashioned mix of wood and brass fittings, the leather-and-velvet-bound books ranged along the walls like old friends waiting for him to return. Now a blast of cold air hit him the moment the door swung open. The fire that usually blazed in the huge fireplace all through the fall and winter was a heap of ashes. The lamps had been switched off. The only light came through the narrow louvered windows and the tower’s skylight, high above.

Not wanting to, Jace thought of Hodge. If he were here, the fire would be lit, the gas lamps turned up, casting shaded pools of golden light onto the parquet floor. Hodge himself would be slouched in an armchair by the fire, Hugo on one shoulder, a book propped at his side—

But there was someone in Hodge’s old armchair. A thin, gray someone, who rose from the armchair, fluidly uncoiling like a snake charmer’s cobra, and turned toward him with a cool smile.

It was a woman. She wore a long, old-fashioned dark gray cloak that fell to the tops of her boots. Beneath it was a fitted slate-colored suit with a mandarin collar, the stiff points of which pressed into her neck. Her hair was a sort of colorless pale blond, pulled tightly back with combs, and her eyes were flinty gray chips. Jace could feel them, like the touch of freezing water, as her gaze traveled from his filthy, mud-splattered jeans, to his bruised face, to his eyes, and locked there.

For a second something hot flickered in her gaze, like the glow of a flame trapped under ice. Then it vanished. “You are the boy?”

Before Jace could reply, another voice answered: It was Maryse, having come into the library behind him. He wondered why he hadn’t heard her approaching and realized she had abandoned her heels for slippers. She wore a long robe of patterned silk and a thin-lipped expression. “Yes, Inquisitor,” she said. “This is Jonathan Morgenstern. ”

The Inquisitor moved toward Jace like drifting gray smoke. She stopped in front of him and held out a hand—long-fingered and white, it reminded him of an albino spider. “Look at me, boy,” she said, and suddenly those long fingers were under his chin, forcing his head up. She was incredibly strong. “You will call me Inquisitor. You will not call me anything else. ” The skin around her eyes was mazed with fine lines like cracks in paint. Two narrow grooves ran from the edges of her mouth to her chin. “Do you understand?”

For most of his life the Inquisitor had been a distant half-mythical figure to Jace. Her identity, even many of her duties, were shrouded in the secrecy of the Clave. He had always imagined she would be like the Silent Brothers, with their self-contained power and hidden mysteries. He had not imagined someone so direct—or so hostile. Her eyes seemed to cut at him, to slice away his armor of confidence and amusement, stripping him down to the bone.

“My name is Jace,” he said. “Not boy. Jace Wayland. ”

“You have no right to the name of Wayland,” she said. “You are Jonathan Morgenstern. To claim the name of Wayland makes you a liar. Just like your father. ”

“Actually,” said Jace, “I prefer to think that I’m a liar in a way that’s uniquely my own. ”

“I see. ” A small smile curved her pale mouth. It was not a nice smile. “You are intolerant of authority, just as your father was. Like the angel whose name you both bear. ” Her fingers gripped his chin with a sudden ferocity, her nails digging in painfully. “Lucifer was rewarded for his rebellion when God cast him into the pits of hell. ” Her breath was sour as vinegar. “If you defy my authority, I can promise that you will envy him his fate. ”

She released Jace and stepped back. He could feel the slow trickle of blood where her nails had cut his face. His hands shook with anger, but he refused to raise one to wipe the blood away.

“Imogen—” began Maryse, then corrected herself. “Inquisitor Herondale. He’s agreed to a trial by the Sword. You can find out whether he’s telling the truth. ”

“About his father? Yes. I know I can. ” Inquisitor Herondale’s stiff collar dug into her throat as she turned to look at Maryse. “You know, Maryse, the Clave is not pleased with you. You and Robert are the guardians of the Institute. You’re just lucky your record over the years has been relatively clean. Few demonic disturbances until recently, and everything’s been quiet the past few days. No reports, even from Idris, so the Clave is feeling lenient. We have sometimes wondered if you’d actually rescinded your allegiance to Valentine. As it is, he set a trap for you and you fell right into it. One might think you’d know better. ”

“There was no trap,” Jace cut in. “My father knew the Lightwoods would raise me if they thought I was Michael Wayland’s son. That’s all. ”

The Inquisitor stared at him as if he were a talking cockroach. “Do you know about the cuckoo bird, Jonathan Morgenstern?”

Jace wondered if perhaps being the Inquisitor—it couldn’t be a pleasant job—had left Imogen Herondale a little unhinged. “The what?”

“The cuckoo bird,” she said. “You see, cuckoos are parasites. They lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. When the egg hatches, the baby cuckoo pushes the other baby birds out of the nest. The poor parent birds work themselves to death trying to find enough food to feed the enormous cuckoo child who has murdered their babies and taken their places. ”

“Enormous?” said Jace. “Did you just call me fat?”

“It was an analogy. ”

“I am not fat. ”

“And I,” said Maryse, “don’t want your pity, Imogen. I refuse to believe the Clave will punish either myself or my husband for choosing to bring up the son of a dead friend. ” She squared her shoulders. “It isn’t as if we didn’t tell them what we were doing. ”

“And I’ve never harmed any of the Lightwoods in any way,” said Jace. “I’ve worked hard, and trained hard—say whatever you want about my father, but he made a Shadowhunter out of me. I’ve earned my place here. ”

“Don’t defend your father to me,” the Inquisitor said. “I knew him. He was—is—the vilest of men. ”

“Vile? Who says ‘vile’? What does that even mean?”

The Inquisitor’s colorless lashes grazed her cheeks as she narrowed her eyes, her gaze speculative. “You are arrogant,” she said at last. “As well as intolerant. Did your father teach you to behave this way?”

“Not to him,” Jace said shortly.

“Then you’re aping him. Valentine was one of the most arrogant and disrespectful men I’ve ever met. I suppose he brought you up to be just like him. ”

“Yes,” Jace said, unable to help himself, “I was trained to be an evil mastermind from a young age. Pulling the wings off flies, poisoning the earth’s water supply—I was covering that stuff in kindergarten. I guess we’re all just lucky my father faked his own death before he got to the raping and pillaging part of my education, or no one would be safe. ”

Maryse let out a sound much like a groan of horror. “Jace—”

But the Inquisitor cut her off. “And just like your father, you can’t keep your temper,” she said. “The Lightwoods have coddled you and let your worst qualities run rampant. You may look like an angel, Jonathan Morgenstern, but I know exactly what you are. ”

“He’s just a boy,” said Maryse. Was she defending him? Jace looked at her quickly, but her eyes were averted.

“Valentine was just a boy once. Now before we do any digging around in that blond head of yours to find out the truth, I suggest you cool your temper. And I know just where you can do that best. ”

Jace blinked. “Are you sending me to my room?”

“I’m sending you to the prisons of the Silent City. After a night there I suspect you’ll be a great deal more cooperative. ”

Maryse gasped. “Imogen—you can’t!”

“I certainly can. ” Her eyes gleamed like razors. “Do you have anything to say to me, Jonathan?”

Jace could only stare. There were levels and levels to the Silent City, and he had seen only the first two, where the archives were kept and where the Brothers sat in council. The prison cells were at the very lowest level of the City, beneath the graveyard levels where thousands of buried Shadowhunter dead rested in silence. The cells were reserved for the worst of criminals: vampires gone rogue, warlocks who broke the Covenant Law, Shadowhunters who spilled each other’s blood. Jace was none of those things. How could she even suggest sending him there?

“Very wise, Jonathan. I see you’re already learning the best lesson the Silent City has to teach you. ” The Inquisitor’s smile was like a grinning skull’s. “How to keep your mouth shut. ”

Clary was in the middle of helping Luke clean up the remains of dinner when the doorbell rang again. She straightened up, her gaze flicking to Luke. “Expecting someone?”

He frowned, drying his hands on the dish towel. “No. Wait here. ” She saw him reach up to grab something off one of the shelves as he left the kitchen. Something that glinted.

“Did you see that knife?” Simon whistled, standing up from the table. “Is he expecting trouble?”

“I think he’s always expecting trouble,” Clary said, “these days. ” She peered around the side of the kitchen door, saw Luke at the open front door. She could hear his voice, but not what he was saying. He didn’t sound upset, though.

Simon’s hand on her shoulder pulled her back. “Keep away from the door. What are you, crazy? What if there’s some demon thing out there?”

“Then Luke could probably use our help. ” She looked down at his hand on her shoulder, grinning. “Now you’re all protective? That’s cute. ”

“Clary!” Luke called her from the front room. “Come here. I want you to meet someone. ”

Clary patted Simon’s hand and set it aside. “Be right back. ”

Luke was leaning against the door frame, arms crossed. The knife in his hand had magically disappeared. A girl stood on the front steps of the house, a girl with curling brown hair in multiple braids and a tan corduroy jacket. “This is Maia,” Luke said. “Who I was just telling you about. ”

The girl looked at Clary. Her eyes under the bright porch light were a strange amber green. “You must be Clary. ”

Clary admitted that this was the case.

“So that kid—the boy with the blond hair who tore up the Hunter’s Moon—he’s your brother?”

“Jace,” Clary said shortly, not liking the girl’s intrusive curiosity.

“Maia?” It was Simon, coming up behind Clary, hands thrust into the pockets of his jean jacket.

“Yeah. You’re Simon, right? I suck at names, but I remember you. ” The girl smiled past Clary at him.

“Great,” said Clary. “Now we’re all friends. ”

Luke coughed and straightened up. “I wanted you to meet each other because Maia’s going to be working around the bookshop for the next few weeks,” he said. “If you see her going in and out, don’t worry about it. She’s got a key. ”

“And I’ll keep an eye out for anything weird,” Maia promised. “Demons, vamps, whatever. ”

“Thanks,” said Clary. “I feel so safe now. ”

Maia blinked. “Are you being sarcastic?”

“We’re all a little tense,” Simon said. “I for one am happy to know someone will be around here keeping an eye on my girlfriend when no one else is home. ”

Luke raised his eyebrows, but said nothing. Clary said, “Simon’s right. Sorry I snapped at you. ”

“It’s all right. ” Maia looked sympathetic. “I heard about your mom. I’m sorry. ”

“Me too,” Clary said, turned around, and went back to the kitchen. She sat down at the table and put her face in her hands. A moment later Luke followed her.

“Sorry,” he said. “I guess you weren’t in the mood to meet anyone. ”

Clary looked at him through splayed fingers. “Where’s Simon?”

“Talking to Maia,” Luke said, and indeed Clary could hear their voices, soft as murmurs, from the other end of the house. “I just thought it would be good for you to have a friend right now. ”

“I have Simon. ”

Luke pushed his glasses back up his nose. “Did I hear him call you his girlfriend?”

She almost laughed at his bewildered expression. “I guess so. ”

“Is that something new, or is this something I’m already supposed to know, but forgot?”

“I hadn’t heard it before myself. ” She took her hands away from her face and looked at them. She thought of the rune, the open eye, that decorated the back of the right hand of every Shadowhunter. “Somebody’s girlfriend,” she said. “Somebody’s sister, somebody’s daughter. All these things I never knew I was before, and I still don’t really know what I am. ”

“Isn’t that always the question,” Luke said, and Clary heard the door shut at the other end of the house, and Simon’s footsteps approaching the kitchen. The smell of cold night air came in with him.

“Would it be okay if I crashed here tonight?” he asked. “It’s a little late to head home. ”

“You know you’re always welcome. ” Luke glanced at his watch. “I’m going to get some sleep. Have to be up at five a. m. to get to the hospital by six. ”

“Why six?” Simon asked, after Luke had left the kitchen.

“That’s when hospital visiting hours start,” Clary said. “You don’t have to sleep on the couch. Not if you don’t want to. ”

“I don’t mind staying to keep you company tomorrow,” he said, shaking dark hair out of his eyes impatiently. “Not at all. ”

“I know. I meant you don’t have to sleep on the couch if you don’t want to. ”

“Then where…” His voice trailed off, eyes wide behind his glasses. “Oh. ”

“It’s a double bed,” she said. “In the guest room. ”

Simon took his hands out of his pockets. There was bright color in his cheeks. Jace would have tried to look cool; Simon didn’t even try. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. ”

He came across the kitchen to her and, bending down, kissed her lightly and clumsily on the mouth. Smiling, she got to her feet. “Enough with the kitchens,” she said. “No more kitchens. ” And taking him firmly by the wrists, she pulled him after her, out of the kitchen, toward the guest room where she slept.

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