Izzy frowned. "Shadowhunters live by an honor code, werewolf," she said, and for a moment she was all arrogant Nephilim, and Jordan remembered why so many Downworlders disliked them. "Clary saved a Lightwood. I owe her my life. If I can't give her that-and I don't see how she has any use for it-I can give her whatever will make her less unhappy."
"You can't give her Simon. Simon's a person, Isabelle. He goes where he wants."
"Yeah," she said. "Well, he doesn't seem to mind going where she is, does he?"
Jordan hesitated. There was something about what Isabelle was saying that seemed off, but she wasn't completely wrong either. Simon had with Clary an ease that he never seemed to show with anyone else. Having been in love with only one girl in his life, and having stayed in love with her, Jordan didn't feel he was qualified to hand out advice on that front-though he remembered Simon warning him, with wryness, that Clary had "the nuclear bomb of boyfriends." Whether there had been jealousy under that wryness, Jordan wasn't sure. He wasn't sure whether you could ever completely forget the first girl you loved either. Especially when she was right there in front of you, every day.
Isabelle snapped her fingers. "Hey, you. Are you even paying attention?" She tilted her head to the side, blowing dark strands of hair out of her face, and looked at him hard. "What's going on with you and Maia, anyway?"
"Nothing." The single word held volumes. "I'm not sure she's ever going to stop hating me."
"She might not, at that," Isabelle said. "She's got good reason."
"I don't do false reassurances," Izzy said, and pushed the tequila bottle away from her. Her eyes, on Jordan, were lively and dark. "Come here, werewolf boy."
She'd dropped her voice. It was soft, seductive. Jordan swallowed against a suddenly dry throat. He remembered seeing Isabelle in her red dress outside the Ironworks and thinking, That's the girl Simon was messing around on Maia with? Neither of them was the sort of girl who gave the impression you could cheat on her and survive it.
And neither one of them was the sort of girl you said no to. Warily he moved around the counter toward Isabelle. He was a few steps away when she reached out and pulled him toward her by the wrists. Her hands slid up his arms, over the swell of his biceps, the muscles of his shoulders. His heartbeat quickened. He could feel the warmth coming off her and could smell her perfume and sweet tequila. "You're gorgeous," she said. Her hands slid around to flatten themselves against his chest. "You know that, right?"
Jordan wondered if she could feel his heart beating through his shirt. He knew the way girls looked at him on the street-boys, too, sometimes-knew what he saw in the mirror every day, but he never thought about it much. He had been so focused on Maia for so long that it never seemed to matter beyond whether she would still find him attractive if they ever saw each other again. He'd been chatted up plenty, but not often by girls who looked like Isabelle, and never by anyone so blunt. He wondered if she was going to kiss him. He hadn't kissed anyone but Maia since he was fifteen. But Isabelle was looking up at him, and her eyes were big and dark, and her lips were slightly parted and the color of strawberries. He wondered if they would taste like strawberries if he kissed her.
"And I just don't care," she said.
"Isabelle, I don't think-Wait. What?"
"I should care," she said. "I mean, there's Maia to think about, so I probably wouldn't just rip your clothes off blithely anyway, but the thing is, I don't want to. Normally I would want to."
"Ah," Jordan said. He felt relief, and also the tiniest twinge of disappointment. "Well... that's good?"
"I think about him all the time," she said. "It's awful. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before."
"You mean Simon?"
"Scrawny little mundane bastard," she said, and took her hands off Jordan's chest. "Except he isn't. Scrawny, anymore. Or a mundane. And I like spending time with him. He makes me laugh. And I like the way he smiles. You know, one side of his mouth goes up before the other one-Well, you live with him. You must have noticed."
"Not really," said Jordan.
"I miss him when he's not around," Isabelle confessed. "I thought... I don't know, after what happened that night with Lilith, things changed between us. But now he's with Clary all the time. And I can't even be angry with her."
"You lost your brother."
Isabelle looked up at him. "What?"
"Well, he's knocking himself out to make Clary feel better because she lost Jace," said Jordan. "But Jace is your brother. Shouldn't Simon be knocking himself out to make you feel better too? Maybe you're not mad at her, but you could be mad at him."
Isabelle looked at him for a long moment. "But we're not anything," she said. "He's not my boyfriend. I just like him." She frowned. "Crap. I can't believe I said that. I must be drunker than I thought."
"I kind of figured it out from what you were saying before." He smiled at her.
She didn't smile back, but she lowered her lashes and looked up at him through them. "You're not so bad," she said. "If you want, I can say nice things to Maia about you."
"No, thanks," said Jordan, who wasn't sure what Izzy's version of nice things was, and feared finding out. "You know, it's normal, when you're going through a tough time, to want to be with the person you-" He was about to say "love," realized she had never used the word, and switched gears. "Care about. But I don't think Simon knows you feel that way about him."
Her lashes fluttered back up. "Does he ever say anything about me?"
"He thinks you're really strong," Jordan said. "And that you don't need him at all. I think he feels... superfluous to your life. Like, what can he give you when you're already perfect? Why would you want a guy like him?" Jordan blinked; he hadn't meant to run on like that, and he wasn't sure how much of what he'd said applied to Simon, and how much to himself and Maia.
"So you mean I should tell him how I feel?" said Isabelle in a small voice.
"Yes. Definitely. Tell him how you feel."
"Okay." She grabbed for the tequila bottle and took a swig. "I'll go over to Clary's right now and I'll tell him."
A small flower of alarm blossomed in his chest. "You can't. It's practically three in the morning-"
"If I wait, I'll lose my nerve," she said, in that reasonable tone that only very drunk people ever employed. She took another swig out of the bottle. "I'll just go over there, and I'll knock on the window, and I'll tell him how I feel."
"Do you even know which window is Clary's?"
She squinted. "Nooo."
The horrible vision of a drunk Isabelle waking up Jocelyn and Luke floated through Jordan's head. "Isabelle, no." He reached up to take the tequila bottle from her, and she jerked it away from him.
"I think I'm changing my mind about you," she said in a semi-threatening tone that would have been more frightening if she'd been able to focus her eyes on him directly. "I don't think I like you so much after all." She stood up, looked down at her feet with a surprised expression-and fell over backward. Only Jordan's quick reflexes allowed him to catch her before she hit the floor.
Chapter 7 : A Sea Change
Clary was on her third cup of coffee at Taki's when Simon finally walked in. He was in jeans, a red zip-up sweatshirt (why bother with wool coats when you didn't feel the cold?), and engineer boots. People turned to look at him as he wove his way through the tables toward her. Simon had cleaned up nicely since Isabelle had started getting on his case about his clothes, Clary thought as he headed toward her among the tables. There were flakes of snow caught in his dark hair, but where Alec's cheeks had been scarlet from the cold, Simon's remained colorless and pale. He slid into the booth across from her and looked at her, his dark eyes reflective and shining.
"You called?" he asked, making his voice deep and resonant so that he sounded like Count Dracula.
"Technically, I texted." She slid the menu across the table toward him, flipping it to the page for vampires. She'd glanced at it before, but the thought of blood pudding and blood milk shakes made her shudder. "I hope I didn't wake you up."
"Oh, no," he said. "You wouldn't believe where I was..." His voice trailed off as he saw the expression on her face. "Hey." His fingers were suddenly under her chin, lifting her head. The laughter was gone from his eyes, replaced by concern. "What happened? Is there more news about Jace?"
"Do you know what you want?" It was Kaelie, the blue-eyed faerie waitress who had given Clary the Queen's bell. She looked at Clary now and grinned, a superior grin that made Clary grit her teeth.
Clary ordered a piece of apple pie; Simon ordered a mix of hot chocolate and blood. Kaelie took the menus away, and Simon looked at Clary with concern. She took a deep breath and told him about the night, every gritty detail-Jace's appearance, what he had said to her, the confrontation in the living room, and what had happened to Luke. She told him what Magnus had said about dimensional pockets and other worlds, and how there was no way to track someone hidden in a dimensional pocket or get a message through to them. Simon's eyes grew darker as she spoke, and by the end of the story, he had his head in his hands.
"Simon?" Kaelie had come and gone, leaving their food, which was untouched. Clary touched his shoulder. "What is it? Is it Luke-"
"It's my fault." He looked up at her, eyes dry. Vampires cried tears mixed with blood, she thought; she had read that somewhere. "If I hadn't bitten Sebastian..."
"You did it for me. So I'd live." Her voice was gentle. "You saved my life."
"You've saved mine six or seven times. It seemed fair." His voice cracked; she recalled him retching up Sebastian's black blood, on his knees in the roof garden.
"Assigning blame doesn't get us anywhere," Clary said. "And this isn't why I dragged you here, just to tell you what happened. I mean, I would have told you anyway, but I would have waited for tomorrow if it weren't that..."
He looked at her warily and took a sip from his mug. "Weren't that what?"
"I have a plan."
He groaned. "I was afraid of that."
"My plans are not terrible."
"Isabelle's plans are terrible." He pointed a finger at her. "Your plans are suicidal. At best."
She sat back, her arms crossed over her chest. "Do you want to hear it or not? You have to keep it a secret."
"I would pluck out my own eyes with a fork before I would give away your secrets," Simon said, then looked anxious. "Wait a second. Do you think that's likely to be required?"
"I don't know." Clary covered her face with her hands.
"Just tell me." He sounded resigned.
With a sigh she reached into her pocket and drew out a small velvet bag, which she upended on the table. Two gold rings fell out, landing with a soft clink.
Simon looked at them, puzzled. "You want to get married?"
"Don't be an idiot." She leaned forward, dropping her voice. "Simon, these are the rings. The ones the Seelie Queen wanted."
"I thought you said you never got them-" He broke off, raising his eyes to her face.
"I lied. I did take them. But after I saw Jace in the library, I didn't want to give them to the Queen anymore. I had a feeling we might need them sometime. And I realized she was never going to give us any useful information. The rings seemed more valuable than another round with the Queen."
Simon caught them up in his hand, hiding them from sight as Kaelie passed by. "Clary, you can't just take things the Seelie Queen wants and keep them for yourself. She's a very dangerous enemy to have."
She looked at him pleadingly. "Can we at least see if they work?"
He sighed and handed her one of the rings; it felt light but was as soft as real gold. She worried for a moment that it wouldn't fit, but as soon as she slipped it onto her right index finger, it seemed to mold to the shape of her finger, until it sat perfectly in the space below her knuckle. She saw Simon glancing down at his right hand, and realized the same thing had happened to him.
"Now we talk, I guess," he said. "Say something to me. You know, mentally."
Clary turned to Simon, feeling absurdly as if she were being asked to perform in a play whose lines she hadn't memorized. Simon?
Simon blinked. "I think-Could you do that again?"
This time Clary concentrated, trying to focus her mind on Simon-the Simon-ness of him, the shape of the way he thought, the feeling of hearing his voice, the sense of him close. His whispers, his secrets, the way he made her laugh. So, she thought conversationally, now that I'm in your mind, want to see some naked mental pictures of Jace?
Simon jumped. "I heard that! And, no."
Excitement fizzed in Clary's veins; it was working. "Think something back to me."
It took less than a second. She heard Simon, the way she heard Brother Zachariah, a voice without sound inside her mind. You've seen him naked?
Well, not entirely. But I-
"Enough," he said out loud, and though his voice was caught between amusement and anxiety, his eyes sparked. "They work. Holy crap. They really work."
She leaned forward. "So can I tell you my idea?"
He touched the ring on his finger, feeling its delicate tracery, the leaf-veins carved under his fingertips. Sure.
She began to explain, but she hadn't yet reached the end of her description when Simon interrupted, out loud this time. "No. Absolutely not."
"Simon," she said. "It's a perfectly fine plan."
"The plan where you follow Jace and Sebastian off to some unknown dimensional pocket and we use these rings to communicate so those of us over here in the regular dimension of Earth can track you down? That plan?"
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