City of Fallen Angels – Chapter 7: PRAETOR LUPUS

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Chapter 7: PRAETOR LUPUS

The bottle slid out of Simons hand and crashed to the floor, where it shattered, sending shards flying in all directions. “Kyles a werewolf?”

“Of course hes a werewolf, you moron,” said Jace. He looked at Kyle. “Arent you?”

Kyle said nothing. The relaxed good humor had gone out of his expression. His hazel eyes were as hard and flat as glass. “Whos asking?”

Jace moved away from the window. There was nothing overtly hostile in his demeanor, and yet everything about him implied a clear threat. His hands were loose at his sides, but Simon remembered the way he had seen Jace, before, explode into action with almost nothing, it seemed, between thought and response. “Jace Lightwood,” he said. “Of the Lightwood Institute. What pack are you sworn to?”

“Jesus,” said Kyle. “Youre a Shadowhunter?” He looked at Simon. “The cute redheaded girl who was with you in the garage-shes a Shadowhunter too, isnt she?”

Taken aback, Simon nodded.

“You know, some people think Shadowhunters are just myths. Like mummies and genies. ” Kyle grinned at Jace. “Can you grant wishes?”

The fact that Kyle had just called Clary cute did not seem to have endeared him to Jace, whose face had tightened alarmingly. “That depends,” he said. “Do you wish to be punched in the face?”

“My, my,” said Kyle. “And I thought you all were so gung ho for the Accords these days-”

“The Accords apply to vamps and lycanthropes with clear alliances,” interrupted Jace. “Tell me what pack youre sworn to, or Ill have to assume youre rogue. ”

“All right, thats enough,” Simon said. “Both of you, stop acting like youre about to hit each other. ” He looked at Kyle. “You should have told me you were a werewolf. ”

“I didnt notice you telling me youre a vampire. Maybe I thought it was none of your business. ”

Simons whole body jerked with surprise. “What?” He glanced down at the shattered glass and blood on the floor. “I didnt-I dont-”

“Dont bother,” Jace said quietly. “He can sense youre a vampire. Just like youll be able to sense werewolves and other Downworlders when youve had a bit more practice. Hes known what you are since he met you. Isnt that true?” He met Kyles icy hazel eyes with his own. Kyle said nothing. “And that stuff hes growing on the balcony, by the by? Thats wolfsbane. Now you know. ”

Simon crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Kyle. “So what the hell is this? Some sort of setup? Why did you ask me to live with you? Werewolves hate vampires. ”

“I dont,” said Kyle. “Im not too fond of their kind, though. ” He jabbed a finger at Jace. “They think theyre better than everyone else. ”

“No,” said Jace. “I think Im better than everyone else. An opinion that has been backed up with ample evidence. ”

Kyle looked at Simon. “Does he always talk like this?”

“Yes. ”

“Does anything shut him up? Other than getting the crap beaten out of him, of course. ”

Jace moved away from the window. “I would love for you to try. ”

Simon stepped between them. “Im not going to let you fight with each other. ”

“And what are you going to do about it if . . . Oh. ” Jaces gaze trailed up to Simons forehead, and he grinned reluctantly. “So basically youre threatening to turn me into something you can sprinkle on popcorn if I dont do what you say?”

Kyle looked baffled. “What are you-”

“I just think you two should talk,” Simon interrupted. “So Kyles a werewolf. Im a vampire. And youre not exactly the boy next door either,” he added to Jace. “I say we figure out whats going on and proceed from there. ”

“Your trusting idiocy knows no bounds,” Jace said, but he sat down on the windowsill, crossing his arms. After a moment Kyle sat down too, on the futon couch. They both glared at each other. Still, Simon thought. Progress.

“Fine,” Kyle said. “Im a werewolf. Im not part of a pack, but I do have an alliance. Have you heard of the Praetor Lupus?”

“Ive heard of lupus,” said Simon. “Isnt it a kind of disease?”

Jace gave him a withering look. “Lupus means wolf,” he explained. “And the praetorians were an elite Roman military force. So I guess the translation is Wolf Guardians. ” He shrugged. “Ive run across mentions of them, but theyre a pretty secretive organization. ”

“And the Shadowhunters arent?” said Kyle.

“We have good reasons. ”

“So do we. ” Kyle leaned forward. The muscles in his arms flexed as he propped his elbows on his knees. “There are two kinds of werewolves,” he explained. “The kind that are born werewolves, with werewolf parents, and the kind that get infected with lycanthropy through a bite. ” Simon looked at him in surprise. He wouldnt have thought Kyle, slacker-stoner bike messenger, would have known the word “lycanthropy,” much less how to pronounce it. But this was a very different Kyle-focused, intent, and direct. “For those of us who are turned by a bite, those first few years are key. The demon strain that causes lycanthropy causes a whole raft of other changes-waves of uncontrollable aggression, inability to control rage, suicidal anger and despair. The pack can help with that, but a lot of the newly infected arent lucky enough to fall in with a pack. Theyre on their own, trying to deal with all this overwhelming stuff, and a lot of them turn violent-against others or against themselves. Theres a high suicide rate and a high rate of domestic violence. ” He looked at Simon. “The same goes for vampires, except it can be even worse. An orphaned fledgling has literally no idea whats happened to it. With no guidance, it doesnt know how to feed safely, or even to stay out of sunlight. Thats where we come in. ”

“And do what?” Simon asked.

“We track down orphaned Downworlders-vampires and werewolves whove just been Turned and dont know what they are yet. Sometimes even warlocks-some of them dont realize what they are for years. We intervene, try to get them into a pack or a clan, try to help them control their powers. ”

“Good Samaritans, arent you. ” Jaces eyes glittered.

“We are, actually. ” Kyle sounded like he was trying to keep his voice neutral. “We intervene before the new Downworlder can get violent and hurt themselves or other people. I know what would have happened to me if it hadnt been for the Guard. Ive done bad things. Really bad. ”

“How bad?” asked Jace. “Illegal bad?”

“Shut up, Jace,” said Simon. “Youre off duty, okay? Stop being a Shadowhunter for a second. ” He turned to Kyle. “So how did you end up auditioning for my crappy band, then?”

“I didnt realize you knew it was crappy. ”

“Just answer the question. ”

“We got a report of a new vampire-a Daylighter, living on his own, not with a clan. Your secrets not as secret as you think. Fledgling vampires without a clan to help them can be very dangerous. I got dispatched to keep an eye on you. ”

“So, what youre saying,” said Simon, “is not just that you dont want me to move out now that I know youre a werewolf, but that you wont let me move out?”

“Right,” said Kyle. “I mean, you can move out, but Ill come with you. ”

“Thats not necessary,” said Jace. “I can keep a perfectly good eye on Simon, thank you. Hes my neophyte Downworlder to mock and boss around, not yours. ”

“Shut up!” Simon yelled. “Both of you. Neither of you were around when someone tried to kill me earlier today-”

“I was,” said Jace. “You know, eventually. ”

Kyles eyes shone, like a wolfs eyes at night. “Someone tried to kill you? What happened?”

Simons gaze met Jaces across the room. A silent agreement not to mention the Mark of Cain passed between them. “Two days ago, and today, I was followed and attacked by some guys in gray tracksuits. ”

“Humans?”

“Were not sure. ”

“And you have no idea what they want with you?”

“They definitely want me dead,” said Simon. “Beyond that, I dont really know, no. ”

“We have some leads,” said Jace. “Well be investigating. ”

Kyle shook his head. “Fine. Whatever it is youre not telling me, Ill find out eventually. ” He got to his feet. “And now, Im beat. Im going to sleep. Ill see you in the morning,” he said to Simon. “You,” he said to Jace, “well, I guess Ill see you around. Youre the first Shadowhunter Ive ever met. ”

“Thats too bad,” said Jace, “since all the ones you meet from now on will be a terrible letdown. ”

Kyle rolled his eyes and left, banging his bedroom door shut behind him.

Simon looked at Jace. “Youre not going back to the Institute,” he said, “are you?”

Jace shook his head. “You need protecting. Who knows when someone might try to kill you again?”

“This avoiding Clary thing of yours has truly taken an epic turn,” Simon said, standing up. “Are you ever going home?”

Jace looked at him. “Are you?”

Simon stalked into the kitchen, retrieved a broom, and swept up the broken glass from the smashed bottle. It had been his last. He dumped the shards into the trash and walked past Jace into his own small bedroom, where he stripped off his jacket and shoes and flung himself down onto the mattress.

A moment later Jace came into the room. He looked around, his light eyebrows raised, his expression a mask of amusement. “Quite a space youve got here. Minimalist. I like it. ”

Simon rolled onto his side and stared at Jace in disbelief. “Please tell me youre not actually planning on staying in my room. ”

Jace perched on the windowsill and looked down at him. “You really dont get this bodyguard thing, do you?”

“I didnt even think you liked me all that much,” said Simon. “Is this one of those keep-your-friends-close-and-your-enemies-closer things?”

“I thought it was keep your friends close so you have someone to drive the car when you sneak over to your enemys house at night and throw up in his mailbox. ”

“Im pretty sure thats not it. And this protecting me thing is less touching than creepy, just so you know. Im fine. Youve seen what happens if someone tries to hurt me. ”

“Yes, I have,” said Jace. “But eventually the person whos trying to kill you is going to figure out about the Mark of Cain. And then theyre either going to give up or find some other way to come at you. ” He leaned against the window frame. “And thats why Im here. ”

Despite his exasperation Simon could find no holes in this argument, or at least not one big enough to bother with. He rolled onto his stomach and buried his face in his arms. Within minutes he was asleep.

He was walking through the desert, over burning sands, past bones whitening in the sun. He had never been so thirsty. When he swallowed, his mouth felt as if it were coated with sand, his throat lined with knives.

The sharp buzzing of his cell phone woke Simon. He rolled over and clawed tiredly at his jacket. By the time hed pried the cell phone loose from the pocket, it had stopped ringing.

He turned it over and looked to see who had called. It was Luke.

Crap. I bet my mom called Clarys house looking for me, he thought, sitting up. His brain was still fuzzy from sleep, and it took a moment for him to remember that when he had fallen asleep in this room, he hadnt been alone.

He looked quickly toward the window. Jace was still there, but he was clearly asleep-sitting up, his head leaning against the window glass. Pale blue dawn light filtered past him. He looked very young like that, Simon thought. No mockery in his expression, no defensiveness or sarcasm. It was almost possible to imagine what Clary saw in him.

It was pretty clear he wasnt taking his bodyguard duties all that seriously, but that had been obvious from the beginning. Simon wondered, not for the first time, what the hell was going on between Clary and Jace.

The phone started buzzing again. Propelling himself to his feet, Simon padded out into the living room, pressing the talk button just before the call went to voice mail again. “Luke?”

“Sorry to wake you up, Simon. ” Luke was, as always, unfailingly polite.

“I was awake anyway,” Simon lied.

“I need you to meet me in Washington Square Park in half an hour,” said Luke. “At the fountain. ”

Now Simon was seriously alarmed. “Is everything okay? Is Clary all right?”

“Shes fine. This isnt about her. ” There was a rumbling sound in the background. Simon guessed that Luke was starting up his truck. “Just meet me in the park. And dont bring anyone with you. ”

He clicked off.

The sound of Lukes truck pulling out of the driveway woke Clary out of uneasy dreams. She sat up, and winced. The chain around her neck had gotten caught in her hair while she slept, and she drew it off over her head, carefully pulling it free of the tangles.

She dropped the ring into her palm, the chain pooling around it. The little silver circlet, stamped with its pattern of stars, seemed to wink up at her mockingly. She remembered when Jace had given it to her, wrapped in the note hed left behind when hed gone off to hunt down Jonathan. Despite everything, I cant bear the thought of this ring being lost forever, any more than I can bear the thought of leaving you forever.

That had been almost two months ago. She had been sure that he loved her, so sure that the Queen of the Seelie Court had not been able to tempt her. How could there be anything else she wanted, when she had Jace?

But maybe you never really had someone, she thought now. Maybe, no matter how much you loved them, they could slip through your fingers like water, and there was nothing you could do about it. She understood why people talked about hearts “breaking;” she felt as if hers were made of cracked glass, and the shards were like tiny knives inside her chest when she breathed. Imagine your life without him, the Seelie Queen had said-

The phone rang, and for a moment Clary felt only relieved that something, anything, had cut through her misery. Her second thought was, Jace. Maybe he couldnt reach her on her cell phone and was calling her house. She dropped the ring on her bedside table and reached to lift the receiver out of its cradle. She was about to voice a greeting when she realized that the phone had already been picked up, by her mother.

“Hello?” Her mother sounded anxious, and surprisingly awake for so early in the morning.

The voice that answered was unfamiliar, faintly accented. “This is Catarina from Beth Israel hospital. Im looking for Jocelyn. ”

Clary froze. The hospital? Had something happened, maybe to Luke? He had pulled out of the driveway awfully fast-

“This is Jocelyn. ” Her mother didnt sound frightened, but rather as if shed expected the call. “Thank you for calling me back so soon. ”

“Of course. I was glad to hear from you. You dont often see people recover from a curse like the one you were suffering from. ” Right, Clary thought. Her mother had been in Beth Israel, comatose from the effects of the potion shed taken to prevent Valentine from interrogating her. “And any friend of Magnus Banes is a friend of mine. ”

Jocelyn sounded strained. “Did my message make sense? You know what I was calling about?”

“You wanted to know about the child,” said the woman on the other end of the line. Clary knew she ought to hang up, but she couldnt. What child? What was going on? “The one who was abandoned. ”

There was a catch in Jocelyns voice. “Y-yes. I thought-”

“Im sorry to say this, but hes dead. He died last night. ”

For a moment Jocelyn was silent. Clary could feel her mothers shock through the phone line. “Died? How?”

“Im not sure I understand it myself. The priest came last night to baptize the child, and-”

“Oh, my God. ” Jocelyns voice shook. “Can I-Could I please come down and look at the body?”

There was a long silence. Finally the nurse said, “Im not sure about that. The bodys in the morgue now, awaiting transfer to the medical examiners office. ”

“Catarina, I think I know what happened to the boy. ” Jocelyn sounded breathless. “And if I could confirm it, maybe I could prevent it from happening again. ”

“Jocelyn-”

“Im coming down,” Clarys mother said, and hung up the phone. Clary gazed blankly at the receiver for a moment before hanging up herself. She scrambled to her feet, ran a brush through her hair, tossed on jeans and a sweater, and was out her bedroom door just in time to catch her mother in the living room, scribbling a note on the pad of paper by the telephone. She looked up as Clary came in, and gave a guilty start.

“I was just running out,” she said. “A few last-minute wedding things have come up, and-”

“Dont bother lying to me,” Clary said without preamble. “I was listening on the phone, and I know exactly where youre going. ”

Jocelyn paled. Slowly she set her pen down. “Clary-”

“You have to stop trying to protect me,” Clary said. “I bet you didnt say anything to Luke, either, about calling the hospital. ”

Jocelyn pushed her hair back nervously. “It seems unfair on him. With the wedding coming up and everything-”

“Right. The wedding. Youre having a wedding. And why is that? Because youre getting married. Dont you think its time you started trusting Luke? And trusting me?”

“I do trust you,” Jocelyn said softly.

“In that case you wont mind me coming with you to the hospital. ”

“Clary, I dont think-”

“I know what you think. You think this is just like what happened to Sebastian-I mean Jonathan. You think maybe someones out there doing to babies what Valentine did to my brother. ”

Jocelyns voice shook slightly. “Valentines dead. But there are others who were in the Circle who have never been caught. ”

And they never found Jonathans body. It wasnt something Clary liked to think about. Besides, Isabelle had been there and had always been adamant that Jace had severed Jonathans spine with the blade of a dagger and that Jonathan had been quite, quite dead as a result. She had gone down into the water and checked, shed said. There had been no pulse, no heartbeat.

“Mom,” Clary said. “He was my brother. I have a right to come with you. ”

Very slowly Jocelyn nodded. “Youre right. I suppose you do. ” She reached for her purse where it hung on a peg by the door. “Well, come on, then, and get your coat. The weather forecast says it might rain. ”

Washington Square Park in the early morning was mostly deserted. The air was crisp and morning-clean, the leaves already thickly covering the pavement in sheets of red, gold, and dark green. Simon kicked them aside as he made his way under the stone archway at the south end of the park.

There were few other people around-a couple of homeless men sleeping on benches, wrapped in sleeping bags or threadbare blankets, and some guys in green sanitation uniforms emptying the trash cans. There was a guy pushing a cart through the park, selling doughnuts and coffee and pre-sliced bagels. And in the center of the park, by the big circular stone fountain, was Luke. He was wearing a green zip-up Windbreaker and waved when he saw Simon.

Simon waved back, a little tentatively. He still wasnt sure he wasnt in some kind of trouble. Lukes expression, as Simon drew closer, only intensified Simons foreboding. Luke looked tired and more than a little stressed out. His gaze, as it fell on Simon, was full of concern.

“Simon,” he said. “Thanks for coming. ”

“Sure. ” Simon wasnt cold, but he stuck his hands into the pockets of his jacket anyway, just to give them something to do. “Whats wrong?”

“I didnt say anything was wrong. ”

“You wouldnt drag me out here at the crack of dawn if nothing was wrong,” Simon pointed out. “If it isnt about Clary, then . . . ?”

“Yesterday, in the bridal shop,” Luke said. “You asked me about someone. Camille. ”

A flock of birds rose, cawing, from the nearby trees. Simon remembered a rhyme his mother used to recite to him, about magpies. You were supposed to count them and say: One for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a wedding, four for a birth; five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret thats never been told.

“Right,” Simon said. He had already lost count of the number of birds there were. Seven, he guessed. A secret thats never been told. Whatever that was.

“You know about the Shadowhunters who have been found murdered around the city this past week or so,” Luke said. “Dont you?”

Simon nodded slowly. He had a bad feeling about where this was going.

“It seems Camille may be responsible,” said Luke. “I couldnt help but remember you had asked about her. Hearing her name twice, in a single day, after years of never hearing it at all-it seemed like quite a coincidence. ”

“Coincidences happen. ”

“On occasion,” said Luke, “but they are rarely the most likely answer. Tonight Maryse will be summoning Raphael to interrogate him about Camilles role in these murders. If it comes out that you knew something about Camille-that youve had contact with her-I dont want you to be blind-sided, Simon. ”

“That makes two of us. ” Simons head had started pounding again. Were vampires even supposed to get headaches? He couldnt remember the last time hed had one, before the events of these past few days. “I met Camille,” he said. “About four days ago. I thought I was being summoned by Raphael, but it turned out to be her. She offered to make me a deal. If I came to work for her, shed make me the second most important vampire in the city. ”

“Why did she want you to work for her?” Lukes tone was neutral.

“She knows about my Mark,” Simon said. “She said Raphael betrayed her and she could use me to get back control of the clan. I got the feeling she wasnt enormously fond of Raphael. ”

“Thats very curious,” said Luke. “The story as Ive heard it is that Camille took an indefinite leave of absence from heading up the clan about a year ago and made Raphael her temporary successor. If she chose him to lead in her place, why would she move against him?”

Simon shrugged. “I dont know. Im just telling you what she said. ”

“Why didnt you tell us about her, Simon?” Luke said very quietly.

“She told me not to. ” Simon realized how stupid this sounded. “Ive never met a vampire like her before,” he added. “Just Raphael, and the others at the Dumont. Its hard to explain what she was like. Everything she said, you wanted to believe. Everything she asked you to do, you wanted to do. I wanted to please her even though I knew she was just messing around with me. ”

The man with the coffee and doughnut cart was passing by again. Luke bought coffee and a bagel and sat down on the edge of the fountain. After a moment Simon joined him.

“The man who gave me Camilles name called her the ancient one,” Luke said. “She is, I think, one of the very, very old vampires of this world. I imagine she would make most people feel fairly small. ”

“She made me feel like a bug,” Simon said. “She did promise that if in five days I didnt want to work for her, shed never bother me again. So I told her Id think about it. ”

“And have you? Thought about it?”

“If shes killing Shadowhunters, I dont want anything to do with her,” said Simon. “I can tell you that much. ”

“Im sure Maryse will be relieved to hear it. ”

“Now youre just being sarcastic. ”

“I am not,” said Luke, looking very serious. It was at moments like this that Simon could put aside his memories of Luke-Clarys sort-of stepfather, the guy who was always around, who was always willing to give you a ride home from school or lend you ten bucks for a book or a movie ticket-and remember that Luke led the biggest wolf pack in the city, that he was someone to whom, at crucial times, the whole Clave had listened. “You forget what you are, Simon. You forget the power you have. ”

“I wish I could forget it,” Simon said bitterly. “I wish if I didnt use it, it would just go away. ”

Luke shook his head. “Power is a magnet. It draws those who desire it. Camille is one of them, but there will be others. Weve been lucky, in a way, that its taken this long. ” He looked at Simon. “Do you think that if she summons you again, you could get word to me, or to the Conclave, letting us know where to find her?”

“Yes,” Simon said slowly. “She gave me a way to contact her. But its not like shes just going to show up if I blow a magic whistle. Last time she wanted to talk to me, she had her minions surprise me and then bring me to her. So just having people hang around with me while I try to contact her isnt going to work. Otherwise youll get her subjugates, but you wont get her. ”

“Hmm. ” Luke looked considering. “Well have to think of something clever, then. ”

“Better think fast. She said shed give me five days, so that means by tomorrow shes going to expect some kind of signal from me. ”

“I imagine she will,” said Luke. “In fact, Im counting on it. ”

Simon opened the front door of Kyles apartment cautiously. “Hey there,” he called, coming into the entryway and hanging up his jacket. “Is anyone home?”

No one answered, but from the living room Simon could hear the familiar zap-bang-crash sounds of a video game being played. He headed into the room, holding in front of him like a peace offering the white bag of bagels hed picked up from Bagel Zone on Avenue A. “I brought breakfast. . . ”

His voice trailed off. He wasnt sure what hed expected would happen when his self-appointed bodyguards realized hed sneaked out of the apartment behind their backs. It had definitely involved some form of the phrase “Try that again, and Ill kill you. ” What it hadnt involved was Kyle and Jace sitting on the futon couch side by side, looking for all the world like newly minted best friends. Kyle had a video game controller in his hands, and Jace was leaning forward, his elbows on his knees, watching intently. They barely seemed to notice Simons entrance.

“That guy over there in the corner is totally looking the other way,” Jace observed, pointing at the TV screen. “A spinning wheel kick would put him out of commission. ”

“I cant kick people in this game. I can only shoot them. See?” Kyle mashed some buttons.

“Thats stupid. ” Jace looked over and seemed to see Simon for the first time. “Back from your breakfast meeting, I see,” he said without much welcome in his tone. “I bet you thought you were very clever, sneaking off like that. ”

“Medium clever,” Simon acknowledged. “Like a cross between George Clooney in Oceans Eleven and those MythBusters guys, but, you know, better-looking. ”

“Im always so glad I have no idea what youre vacantly chattering about,” said Jace. “It fills me with a sense of peace and well-being. ”

Kyle set his controller down, leaving the screen frozen on a close-up of an enormous needle-tipped gun. “Ill take a bagel. ”

Simon tossed him one, and Kyle headed into the kitchen, which was separated from the living room by a long counter, to toast and butter his breakfast. Jace looked at the white bag and waved a dismissive hand. “No, thanks. ”

Simon sat down on the coffee table. “You ought to eat something. ”

“Look whos talking. ”

“Im out of blood right now,” Simon said. “Unless youre offering. ”

“No, thanks. Weve been down that road before, and I think were better off as just friends. ” Jaces tone was as lightly sarcastic as ever, but this close up, Simon could see how pale he looked, and that his eyes were ringed with gray shadows. The bones of his face seemed to be sticking out more prominently than they had before.

“Really,” Simon said, pushing the bag across the table toward Jace. “You should eat something. Im not kidding. ”

Jace glanced down at the bag of food, and winced. The lids of his eyes were grayish blue with exhaustion. “The thought makes me sick, to be honest. ”

“You fell asleep last night,” Simon said. “When you were supposed to be guarding me. I know this bodyguard thing is mostly a joke to you, but still. How long has it been since you slept?”

“As in, through the night?” Jace considered. “Two weeks. Maybe three. ”

Simons mouth opened. “Why? I mean, whats going on?”

Jace offered the ghost of a smile. “I could be bounded in a nut shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. ”

“I actually know that one. Hamlet. So youre saying you cant sleep because youre having nightmares?”

“Vampire,” said Jace, with a tired certainty, “you have no idea. ”

“Hey. ” Kyle came back around the counter and flung himself down in the nubby armchair. He took a bite out of his bagel. “Whats going on?”

“I went to meet Luke,” Simon said, and explained what had happened, seeing no reason to hide it. He left out any mention of Camille wanting him not just because he was a Daylighter, but also because of the Mark of Cain. Kyle nodded when he was done. “Luke Garroway. Hes the head of the downtown pack. Ive heard of him. Hes kind of a big shot. ”

“His real name isnt Garroway,” said Jace. “He used to be a Shadowhunter. ”

“Right. I heard that, too. And now hes been instrumental with all the new Accords stuff. ” Kyle glanced at Simon. “You know some important people. ”

“Important people are a lot of trouble,” Simon said. “Camille, for instance. ”

“Once Luke tells Maryse whats going on, the Clave will take care of her,” said Jace. “There are protocols for dealing with rogue Downworlders. ” At that, Kyle looked at him sideways, but Jace didnt seem to notice. “I already told you I dont think shes the one trying to kill you. She knows-” Jace broke off. “She knows better than that. ”

“And besides, she wants to use you,” Kyle said.

“Good point,” said Jace. “No ones going to off a valuable resource. ”

Simon looked from one of them to the other, and shook his head. “When did you two get so buddy-buddy? Last night it was all, Im the most elite warrior! No, Im the most elite warrior! And today youre playing Halo and giving each other props for good ideas. ”

“We realized we have something in common,” said Jace. “You annoy us both. ”

“In that vein, I had a thought,” Simon said. “I dont think either of you are going to like it, though. ”

Kyle raised his eyebrows. “Lets hear it. ”

“The problem with you guys watching me all the time,” Simon said, “is that if you do, the guys trying to kill me wont try it again, and if they dont try it again, then we wont know who they are, and plus, youll have to watch me all the time. And I assume you have other things youd rather be doing. Well,” he added in Jaces direction, “possibly you dont. ”

“So?” said Kyle. “Whats your suggestion?”

“We lure them out. Get them to attack again. Try to capture one of them and find out who sent them. ”

“If I recall,” said Jace, “I had this idea the other day, and you didnt like it much. ”

“I was tired,” Simon said. “But now Ive been thinking. And so far, in my experience with evildoers, they dont go away just because you ignore them. They keep on coming in different ways. So either I make these guys come to me, or I spend forever waiting for them to attack again. ”

“Im in,” Jace said, though Kyle still looked dubious. “So do you just want to go out and wander around until they show up again?”

“I thought Id make it easy for them. Show up somewhere everyone knows Im supposed to be. ”

“You mean . . . ?” said Kyle.

Simon pointed to the flyer taped to the fridge. MILLENNIUM LINT, OCTOBER 16, THE ALTO BAR, BROOKLYN. 9 P. M. “I mean the gig. Why not?” His headache was still there, full force; he pushed it back, trying not to think about how exhausted he was, or how hed push himself through the gig. He had to get more blood somehow. Had to.

Jaces eyes were shining. “You know, thats actually a pretty good idea there, vampire. ”

“You want them to attack you onstage?” Kyle asked.

“Itll make for an exciting show,” said Simon, with more bravado than he really felt. The idea of being attacked one more time was almost more than he could stand, even if he didnt fear for his personal safety. He wasnt sure he could bear to watch the Mark of Cain do its work again.

Jace shook his head. “They dont attack in public. Theyll wait till after the show. And well be there to deal with them. ”

Kyle shook his head. “I dont know. . . ”

They went a few more rounds, Jace and Simon on one side of the argument and Kyle on the other. Simon felt a little guilty. If Kyle knew about the Mark, hed be a lot easier to persuade. Eventually he cracked under the pressure and reluctantly agreed to what he continued to insist was “a stupid plan. ”

“But,” he said finally, getting to his feet and brushing bagel crumbs off his shirt, “Im only doing this because I realize that youll both just do it whether I agree or not. So I might as well be there. ” He looked at Simon. “Who would have thought protecting you from yourself would be so hard?”

“I could have told you that,” Jace said, as Kyle threw a jacket on and headed to the door. He had to work, hed explained to them. It appeared he really was a bike messenger; the Praetor Lupus, despite having a badass name, didnt pay that well. The door closed behind him, and Jace turned back to Simon. “So, the gigs at nine, right? What do we do with the rest of the day?”

“We?” Simon looked at him in disbelief. “Are you ever going home?”

“What, bored with my company already?”

“Let me ask you something,” Simon said. “Do you find me fascinating to be around?”

“What was that?” Jace said. “Sorry, I think I fell asleep for a moment. Do, continue with whatever mesmerizing thing you were saying. ”

“Stop it,” Simon said. “Stop being sarcastic for a second. Youre not eating, youre not sleeping. You know who else isnt? Clary. I dont know whats going on with you and her, because frankly she hasnt said anything about it. I assume she doesnt want to talk about it either. But its pretty obvious youre having a fight. And if youre going to break up with her-”

“Break up with her?” Jace stared at him. “Are you insane?”

“If you keep avoiding her,” Simon said, “shes going to break up with you. ”

Jace got to his feet. His easy relaxation was gone; he was all tension now, like a prowling cat. He went to the window and twitched the curtain back restlessly; the late-morning light came through the gap, bleaching the color in his eyes. “I have reasons for the things I do,” he said finally.

“Great,” Simon said. “Does Clary know them?”

Jace said nothing.

“All she does is love you and trust you,” said Simon. “You owe her-”

“There are more important things than honesty,” said Jace. “You think I like hurting her? You think I like knowing that Im making her angry, maybe making her hate me? Why do you think Im here?” He looked at Simon with a bleak sort of rage. “I cant be with her,” he said. “And if I cant be with her, it doesnt really matter to me where I am. I might as well be with you, because at least if she knew I was trying to protect you, that might make her happy. ”

“So youre trying to make her happy despite the fact that the reason shes unhappy in the first place is you,” said Simon, not very kindly. “That seems contradictory, doesnt it?”

“Love is a contradiction,” said Jace, and turned back to the window.

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