She met his eyes for a moment. There was a challenge in them, and something more, as if he were daring her to explain her reluctance. With a scowl she stalked over to the desk and snatched the telephone out of his hand.
She didn’t have to think before dialing. Simon’s number was as familiar to her as her own. She braced herself to deal with his mother or his sister, but he picked up on the second ring. “Hello?”
Jace was looking at her. Clary squeezed her eyes shut, trying to pretend he wasn’t there. “It’s me,” she said. “Clary.”
“I know who it is.” He sounded irritated. “I was asleep, you know.”
“I know. It’s early. I’m sorry.” She twirled the phone cord around her finger. “I need to ask you for a favor.”
There was another silence before he laughed bleakly. “You’re kidding.”
“I’m not kidding,” she said. “We know where the Mortal Cup is, and we’re prepared to go get it. The only thing is, we need a car.”
He laughed again. “Sorry, are you telling me that your demon-slaying buddies need to be driven to their next assignation with the forces of darkness by my mom?”
“Actually, I thought you could ask Eric if you could borrow the van.”
“Clary, if you think that I—”
“If we get the Mortal Cup, I’ll have a way to get my mom back. It’s the only reason Valentine hasn’t killed her or let her go.”
Simon let out a long, whistling breath. “You think it’s going to be that easy to make a trade? Clary, I don’t know.”
“I don’t know either. I just know it’s a chance.”
“This thing is powerful, right? In D&D it’s usually better not to mess with powerful objects until you know what they do.”
“I’m not going to mess with it. I’m just going to use it to get my mom back.”
“That doesn’t make any sense, Clary.”
“This isn’t D&D, Simon!” she half-screamed. “It’s not a funny game where the worst thing that happens is you get a bad dice roll. This is my mom we’re talking about, and Valentine could be torturing her. He could kill her. I have to do anything I can to get her back—just like I did for you.”
Pause. “Maybe you’re right. I don’t know, this isn’t really my world. Look, where are we driving to, exactly? So I can tell Eric.”
“Don’t bring him,” she said quickly.
“I know,” he replied with exaggerated patience. “I’m not stupid.”
“We’re driving to my house. It’s in my house.”
There was a short silence—bewilderment this time. “In your house? I thought your house was full of zombies.”
“Forsaken warriors. They’re not zombies. Anyway, Jace and the others can take care of them while I get the Cup.”
“Why do you have to get the Cup?” He sounded alarmed.
“Because I’m the only one who can,” she said. “Pick us up at the corner as soon as you can.”
He muttered something nearly inaudible, then: “Fine.”
She opened her eyes. The world swam before her in a blur of tears. “Thanks, Simon,” she said. “You’re a—”
But he had hung up.
“It occurs to me,” said Hodge, “that the dilemmas of power are always the same.”
Clary glanced at him sideways. “What do you mean?”
She sat on the window seat in the library, Hodge in his chair with Hugo on the armrest. The remains of breakfast—sticky jam, toast crumbs, and smears of butter—clung to a stack of plates on the low table that no one had seemed inclined to clear away. After breakfast they had scattered to prepare themselves, and Clary had been the first one back. This was hardly surprising, considering that all she had to do was pull on jeans and a shirt and run a brush through her hair, while everyone else had to arm themselves heavily. Having lost Jace’s dagger in the hotel, the only remotely supernatural object she had on her was the witchlight stone in her pocket.
“I was thinking of your Simon,” Hodge said, “and of Alec and Jace, among others.”
She glanced out the window. It was raining, thick fat drops spattering against the panes. The sky was an impenetrable gray. “What do they have to do with each other?”
“Where there is feeling that is not requited,” said Hodge, “there is an imbalance of power. It is an imbalance that is easy to exploit, but it is not a wise course. Where there is love, there is often also hate. They can exist side by side.”
“Simon doesn’t hate me.”
“He might grow to, over time, if he felt you were using him.” Hodge held up a hand. “I know you do not intend to, and in some cases necessity trumps nicety of feeling. But the situation has put me in mind of another. Do you still have that photograph I gave you?”
Clary shook her head. “Not on me. It’s back in my room. I could go get it—”
“No.” Hodge stroked Hugo’s ebony feathers. “When your mother was young, she had a best friend, just as you have Simon. They were as close as siblings. In fact, they were often mistaken for brother and sister. As they grew older, it became clear to everyone around them that he was in love with her, but she never saw it. She always called him a ‘friend.’”
Clary stared at Hodge. “Do you mean Luke?”
“Yes,” said Hodge. “Lucian always thought he and Jocelyn would be together. When she met and loved Valentine, he could not bear it. After they were married, he left the Circle, disappeared—and let us all think that he was dead.”
“He never said—never even hinted at anything like that,” Clary said. “All these years, he could have asked her—”
“He knew what the answer would be,” said Hodge, looking past her toward the rain-spattered skylight. “Lucian was never the sort of man who would have deluded himself. No, he contented himself with being near her—assuming, perhaps, that over time her feelings might change.”
“But if he loved her, why did he tell those men he didn’t care what happened to her? Why did he refuse to let them tell him where she was?”
“As I said before, where there is love, there is also hatred,” said Hodge. “She hurt him badly all those years ago. She turned her back on him. And yet he has played her faithful lapdog ever since, never remonstrating, never accusing, never confronting her with his feelings. Perhaps he saw an opportunity to turn the tables. To hurt her as he’d been hurt.”
“Luke wouldn’t do that.” But Clary was remembering his icy tone as he told her not to ask him for favors. She saw the hard look in his eyes as he faced Valentine’s men. That wasn’t the Luke she’d known, the Luke she’d grown up with. That Luke would never have wanted to punish her mother for not loving him enough or in the right way. “But she did love him,” Clary said, speaking aloud without realizing it. “It just wasn’t the same way he loved her. Isn’t that enough?”
“Perhaps he didn’t think so.”
“What will happen after we get the Cup?” she said. “How will we reach Valentine to let him know we have it?”
“Hugo will find him.”
The rain smashed against the windows. Clary shivered. “I’m going to get a jacket,” she said, slipping off the window seat.
She found her green and pink hoodie stuffed down at the bottom of her backpack. When she pulled it out, she heard something crinkle. It was the photograph of the Circle, her mother and Valentine. She looked at it for a long moment before slipping it back into the bag.
When she returned to the library, the others were all gathered there: Hodge sitting watchfully on the desk with Hugo on his shoulder, Jace all in black, Isabelle with her demon-stomping boots and gold whip, and Alec with a quiver of arrows strapped across his shoulder and a leather bracer sheathing his right arm from wrist to elbow. Everyone but Hodge was covered in freshly applied Marks, every inch of bare skin inked with swirling patterns. Jace had his left sleeve pulled up, chin on his shoulder, and was frowning as he scrawled an octagonal Mark on the skin of his upper arm.
Alec looked over at him. “You’re messing it up,” he said. “Let me do that.”
“I’m left-handed,” Jace pointed out, but he spoke mildly and held his stele out. Alec looked relieved as he took it, as if he hadn’t been sure until now that he was forgiven for his earlier behavior. “It’s a basic iratze,” Jace said as Alec bent his dark head over Jace’s arm, carefully tracing the lines of the healing rune. Jace winced as the stele slid over his skin, his eyes half-closing and his fist tightening until the muscles of his left arm stood out like cords. “By the Angel, Alec—”
“I’m trying to be careful,” said Alec. He let go of Jace’s arm and stepped back to admire his handiwork. “There.”
Jace unclenched his fist, lowering his arm. “Thanks.” He seemed to sense Clary’s presence then, glancing over at her, his gold eyes narrowing. “Clary.”
“You look ready,” she said as Alec, suddenly flushed, moved away from Jace and busied himself with his arrows.
“We are,” Jace said. “Do you still have that dagger I gave you?”
“No. I lost it in the Dumort, remember?”
“That’s right.” Jace looked at her, pleased. “Nearly killed a werewolf with it. I remember.”
Isabelle, who had been standing by the window, rolled her eyes. “I forgot that’s what gets you all hot and bothered, Jace. Girls killing things.”
“I like anyone killing things,” he said equably. “Especially me.”
Clary glanced anxiously toward the clock on the desk. “We should go downstairs. Simon will be here any minute.”
Hodge stood up from his chair. He looked very tired, Clary thought, as if he hadn’t slept in days.
“May the Angel watch over you all,” he said, and Hugo rose up from his shoulder into the air cawing loudly, just as the noon bells began to ring.
It was still drizzling when Simon pulled the van up at the corner and honked twice. Clary’s heart leaped—some part of her had been worried that he wasn’t going to show up.
Jace squinted through the dripping rain. The four of them had taken shelter under a carved stone cornice. “That’s the van? It looks like a rotting banana.”
This was undeniable—Eric had painted the van a neon shade of yellow, and it was blotched with dings and rust like splotches of decay. Simon honked again. Clary could see him, a blurred shape through the wet windows. She sighed and pulled her hood up to cover her hair. “Let’s go.”
They splashed through the filthy puddles that had collected on the pavement, Isabelle’s enormous boots making a satisfying noise every time she put her feet down. Simon, leaving the motor idling, crawled into the back to pull the door aside, revealing seats whose upholstery had half-rotted through. Dangerous-looking springs poked through the gaps. Isabelle wrinkled her nose. “Is it safe to sit?”
“Safer than being strapped to the roof,” said Simon pleasantly, “which is your other option.” He nodded a greeting to Jace and Alec, ignoring Clary completely. “Hey.”
“Hey indeed,” said Jace, and lifted the rattling canvas duffel bag that held their weapons. “Where can we put these?”
Simon directed him to the back, where the boys usually kept their musical instruments, while Alec and Isabelle crawled into the van’s interior and perched on the seats. “Shotgun!” announced Clary as Jace came back around the side of the van.
Alec grabbed for his bow, strapped across his back. “Where?”
“She means she wants the front seat,” said Jace, pushing wet hair out of his eyes.
“That’s a nice bow,” said Simon, with a nod toward Alec.
Alec blinked, rain running off his eyelashes. “Do you know much about archery?” he asked, in a tone that suggested that he doubted it.
“I did archery at camp,” said Simon. “Six years running.”
The response to this was three blank stares and a supportive smile from Clary, which Simon ignored. He glanced up at the lowering sky. “We should go before it starts pouring again.”
The front seat of the car was covered in Doritos wrappers and Pop-Tart crumbs. Clary brushed away what she could. Simon started the car before she’d finished, flinging her back against the seat. “Ouch,” she said reprovingly.
“Sorry.” He didn’t look at her.
Clary could hear the others talking softly in the back among themselves—probably discussing battle strategies and the best way to behead a demon without getting ichor on your new leather boots. Though there was nothing separating the front seat from the rest of the van, Clary felt the awkward silence between her and Simon as if they were alone.
“So what’s with that ‘hey’ thing?” she asked as Simon maneuvered the car onto the FDR parkway, the highway that ran alongside the East River.
“What ‘hey’ thing?” he replied, cutting off a black SUV whose occupant, a suited man with a cell phone in his hand, made an obscene gesture at them through the tinted windows.
“The ‘hey’ thing that guys always do. Like when you saw Jace and Alec, you said ‘hey,’ and they said ‘hey’ back. What’s wrong with ‘hello’?”
She thought she saw a muscle twitch in his cheek. “‘Hello’ is girly,” he informed her. “Real men are terse. Laconic.”
“So the more manly you are, the less you say?”
“Right.” Simon nodded. Past him she could see the humid fog lowering over the East River, shrouding the waterfront in feathery gray mist. The water itself was the color of lead, churned to a whipped cream consistency by the steady wind. “That’s why when major badasses greet each other in movies, they don’t say anything, they just nod. The nod means, ‘I am a badass, and I recognize that you, too, are a badass,’ but they don’t say anything because they’re Wolverine and Magneto and it would mess up their vibe to explain.”