“Are you sure they meant Simon?” Isabelle asked, but there was no conviction in her voice. “Maybe …”
“They were talking about how stupid the Downworlder had been to believe that they’d just send him back to New York without questioning him. One of them said that he couldn’t believe anyone had had the gall to try to sneak him into Alicante to begin with. And Malachi said, ‘Well, what do you expect from Valentine’s son?’”
“Oh,” Isabelle whispered. “Oh my God.” She glanced across the room. “Jace …”
Jace’s hands were clenched at his sides. His eyes looked sunken, as if they were pushing back into his skull. In other circumstances Alec would have put a hand on his shoulder, but not now; something about Jace made him hold back. “If it hadn’t been me who brought him through,” Jace said in a low, measured voice, as if he were reciting something, “maybe they would have just let him go home. Maybe they would have believed—”
“No,” Alec said. “No, Jace, it’s not your fault. You saved his life.”
“Saved him so the Clave could torture him,” said Jace. “Some favor. When Clary finds out …” He shook his head blindly. “She’ll think I brought him here on purpose, gave him to the Clave knowing what they’d do.”
“She won’t think that. You’d have no reason to do a thing like that.”
“Perhaps,” Jace said, slowly, “but after how I just treated her …”
“No one could ever think you’d do that, Jace,” said Isabelle. “No one who knows you. No one—”
But Jace didn’t wait to find out what else no one would ever think. Instead he turned around and walked over to the picture window that looked over the canal. He stood there for a moment, the light coming through the window turning the edges of his hair to gold. Then he moved, so quickly Alec didn’t have time to react. By the time he saw what was going to happen and darted forward to prevent it, it was already too late.
There was a crash—the sound of shattering—and a sudden spray of broken glass like a shower of jagged stars. Jace looked down at his left hand, the knuckles streaked with scarlet, with a clinical interest as fat red drops of blood collected and splattered down onto the floor at his feet.
Isabelle stared from Jace to the hole in the glass, lines radiating out from the empty center, a spiderweb of thin silver cracks. “Oh, Jace,” she said, her voice as soft as Alec had ever heard it. “How on earth are we going to explain this to the Penhallows?”
Somehow Clary made it out of the house. She wasn’t sure how—everything was a fast blur of stairs and hallways, and then she was running to the front door and out of it and somehow she was on the Penhallows’ front steps, trying to decide whether or not she was going to throw up in their rosebushes.
They were ideally placed for throwing up in, and her stomach was roiling painfully, but the fact that all she’d eaten was some soup was catching up with her. She didn’t think there was anything in her stomach to throw up. Instead she made her way down the steps and turned blindly out of the front gate—she couldn’t remember which direction she’d come from anymore, or how to get back to Amatis’s, but it didn’t seem to matter much. It wasn’t as if she were looking forward to getting back and explaining to Luke that they had to leave Alicante or Jace would turn them in to the Clave.
Maybe Jace was right. Maybe she was rash and thoughtless. Maybe she never thought about how what she did impacted the people she loved. Simon’s face flashed across her vision, sharp as a photograph, and then Luke’s—
She stopped and leaned against a lamppost. The square glass fixture looked like the sort of gas lamp that topped the vintage posts in front of the brownstones in Park Slope. Somehow it seemed reassuring.
“Clary!” It was a boy’s voice, anxious. Immediately Clary thought, Jace. She spun around.
It wasn’t Jace. Sebastian, the dark-haired boy from the Penhallows’ living room, stood in front of her, panting a little as if he’d chased her down the street at a run.
She felt a burst of the same feeling she’d had earlier, when she’d first seen him—recognition, mixed with something she couldn’t identify. It wasn’t like or dislike—it was a sort of pull, as if something drew her toward this boy she didn’t know. Maybe it was just the way he looked. He was beautiful, as beautiful as Jace, though where Jace was all gold, this boy was pallor and shadows. Although now that she looked at him more closely, she could see that his resemblance to her imaginary prince was not as exact as she’d thought. Even their coloring was different. It was just something in the shape of his face, the way he held himself, the dark secretiveness of his eyes …
“Are you okay?” he said. His voice was soft. “You ran out of the house like …” His voice trailed off as he looked at her. She was still gripping the lamppost as if she needed it to hold her up. “What happened?”
“I had a fight with Jace,” she said, trying to keep her voice even. “You know how it is.”
“I don’t, actually.” He sounded almost apologetic. “I don’t have any sisters or brothers.”
“Lucky,” she said, and was startled at the bitterness in her own voice.
“You don’t mean that.” He took a step closer to her, and as he did, the streetlamp flickered on, casting a pool of white witchlight over them both. Sebastian looked up at the light and smiled. “It’s a sign.”
“A sign of what?”
“A sign that you should let me walk you home.”
“But I have no idea where that is,” she said, realizing. “I snuck out of the house to come here. I don’t remember the way I came.”
“Well, who are you staying with?”
She hesitated before replying.
“I won’t tell anyone,” he said. “I swear on the Angel.”
She stared. That was quite an oath, for a Shadowhunter. “All right,” she said, before she could overthink her decision. “I’m staying with Amatis Herondale.”
“Great. I know exactly where she lives.” He offered her his arm. “Shall we?”
She managed a smile. “You’re kind of pushy, you know.”
He shrugged. “I have a fetish for damsels in distress.”
“Don’t be sexist.”
“Not at all. My services are also available to gentlemen in distress. It’s an equal opportunity fetish,” he said, and, with a flourish, offered his arm again.
This time, she took it.
Alec shut the door of the small attic room behind him and turned to face Jace. His eyes were normally the color of Lake Lyn, a pale, untroubled blue, but the color tended to change with his moods. At the moment they were the color of the East River during a thunderstorm. His expression was stormy as well. “Sit,” he said to Jace, pointing at a low chair near the gabled window. “I’ll get the bandages.”
Jace sat. The room he shared with Alec at the top of the Penhallows’ house was small, with two narrow beds in it, one against each wall. Their clothes hung from a row of pegs on the wall. There was a single window, letting in faint light—it was getting dark now, and the sky outside the glass was indigo blue. Jace watched as Alec knelt to grab the duffel bag from under his bed and yank it open. He rummaged noisily among the contents before getting to his feet with a box in his hands. Jace recognized it as the box of medical supplies they used sometimes when runes weren’t an option—antiseptic, bandages, scissors, and gauze.
“Aren’t you going to use a healing rune?” Jace asked, more out of curiosity than anything else.
“No. You can just—” Alec broke off, flinging the box onto the bed with an inaudible curse. He went to the small sink against the wall and washed his hands with such force that water splashed upward in a fine spray. Jace watched him with a distant curiosity. His hand had begun to burn with a dull and fiery ache.
Alec retrieved the box, pulled a chair up opposite Jace’s, and flung himself down onto it. “Give me your hand.”
Jace held his hand out. He had to admit it looked pretty bad. All four knuckles were split open like red starbursts. Dried blood clung to his fingers, a flaking red-brown glove.
Alec made a face. “You’re an idiot.”
“Thanks,” Jace said. He watched patiently as Alec bent over his hand with a pair of tweezers and gently nudged at a bit of glass embedded in his skin. “So, why not?”
“Why not what?”
“Why not use a healing rune? This isn’t a demon injury.”
“Because.” Alec retrieved the blue bottle of antiseptic. “I think it would do you good to feel the pain. You can heal like a mundane. Slow and ugly. Maybe you’ll learn something.” He splashed the stinging liquid over Jace’s cuts. “Although I doubt it.”
“I can always do my own healing rune, you know.”
Alec began wrapping a strip of bandages around Jace’s hand. “Only if you want me to tell the Penhallows what really happened to their window, instead of letting them think it was an accident.” He jerked a knot in the bandages tight, making Jace wince. “You know, if I’d thought you were going to do this to yourself, I would never have told you anything.”
“Yes, you would have.” Jace cocked his head to the side. “I didn’t realize my attack on the picture window would upset you quite so much.”
“It’s just—” Done with the bandaging, Alec looked down at Jace’s hand, the hand he was still holding between his. It was a white club of bandages, spotted with blood where Alec’s fingers had touched it. “Why do you do these things to yourself? Not just what you did to the window, but the way you talked to Clary. What are you punishing yourself for? You can’t help how you feel.”
Jace’s voice was even. “How do I feel?”
“I see how you look at her.” Alec’s eyes were remote, seeing something just past Jace, something that wasn’t there. “And you can’t have her. Maybe you just never knew what it was like to want something you couldn’t have before.”
Jace looked at him steadily. “What’s between you and Magnus Bane?”
Alec’s head jerked back. “I don’t—there’s nothing—”
“I’m not stupid. You went right to Magnus after you talked to Malachi, before you talked to me or Isabelle or anyone—”
“Because he was the only one who could answer my question, that’s why. There isn’t anything between us,” Alec said—and then, catching the look on Jace’s face, added with great reluctance, “anymore. There’s nothing between us anymore. Okay?”
“I hope that’s not because of me,” said Jace.
Alec went white and drew back, as if he were preparing to ward off a blow. “What do you mean?”
“I know how you think you feel about me,” Jace said. “You don’t, though. You just like me because I’m safe. There’s no risk. And then you never have to try to have a real relationship, because you can use me as an excuse.” Jace knew he was being cruel, and he barely cared. Hurting people he loved was almost as good as hurting himself when he was in this kind of mood.
“I get it,” Alec said tightly. “First Clary, then your hand, now me. To hell with you, Jace.”
“You don’t believe me?” Jace asked. “Fine. Go ahead. Kiss me right now.”
Alec stared at him in horror.
“Exactly. Despite my staggering good looks, you actually don’t like me that way. And if you’re blowing off Magnus, it’s not because of me. It’s because you’re too scared to tell anyone who you really love. Love makes us liars,” said Jace. “The Seelie Queen told me that. So don’t judge me for lying about how I feel. You do it too.” He stood up. “And now I want you to do it again.”
Alec’s face was stiff with hurt. “What do you mean?”
“Lie for me,” Jace said, taking his jacket down from the wall peg and shrugging it on. “It’s sunset. They’ll start coming back from the Gard about now. I want you to tell everyone I’m not feeling well and that’s why I’m not coming downstairs. Tell them I felt faint and tripped, and that’s how the window got broken.”
Alec tipped his head back and looked up at Jace squarely. “Fine,” he said. “If you tell me where you’re really going.”
“Up to the Gard,” said Jace. “I’m going to break Simon out of jail.”
Clary’s mother had always called the time of day between twilight and nightfall “the blue hour.” She said the light was strongest and most unusual then, and that it was the best time to paint. Clary had never really understood what she meant, but now, making her way through Alicante at twilight, she did.
The blue hour in New York wasn’t really blue; it was too washed out by streetlights and neon signs. Jocelyn must have been thinking of Idris. Here the light fell in swatches of pure violet across the golden stonework of the city, and the witchlight lamps cast circular pools of white light so bright Clary expected to feel heat when she walked through them. She wished her mother were with her. Jocelyn could have pointed out the parts of Alicante that were familiar to her, that had a place in her memories.
But she’d never tell you any of those things. She kept them secret from you on purpose. And now you may never know them. A sharp pain—half anger and half regret—caught at Clary’s heart.
“You’re awfully quiet,” Sebastian said. They were passing over a canal bridge, its stonework sides carved with runes.