“Simon,” she said. “Enough.”
Simon shot her a look as if to say, Whose side are you on? but Clary ignored him. She was still watching Jace as they turned onto Kent Avenue. The lights of the bridge behind them lit his hair to an unlikely halo. She wondered if it was wrong that she was glad in some way that the men who’d taken her mother were the same men who’d killed Jace’s father all those years ago. For now, at least, he’d have to help her find Jocelyn, whether he wanted to or not. For now, at least, he couldn’t leave her alone.
“You live here?” Simon stood staring up at the old cathedral, with its broken-in windows and doors sealed with yellow police tape. “But it’s a church.”
Jace reached into the neck of his shirt and pulled out a brass key on the end of a chain. It looked like the sort of key one might use to open an old chest in an attic. Clary watched him curiously—he hadn’t locked the door behind him when they’d left the Institute before, just let it slam shut. “We find it useful to inhabit hallowed ground.”
“I get that but, no offense, this place is a dump,” Simon said, looking dubiously at the bent iron fence that surrounded the ancient building, the trash piled up beside the steps.
Clary let her mind relax. She imagined herself taking one of her mother’s turpentine rags and dabbing at the view in front of her, cleaning away the glamour as if it were old paint.
There it was: the true vision, glowing through the false one like light through dark glass. She saw the soaring spires of the cathedral, the dull gleam of the leaded windows, the brass plate fixed to the stone wall beside the door, the Institute’s name etched into it. She held the vision for a moment before letting it go almost with a sigh.
“It’s a glamour, Simon,” she said. “It doesn’t really look like this.”
“If this is your idea of glamour, I’m having second thoughts about letting you make me over.”
Jace fitted the key into the lock, glancing over his shoulder at Simon. “I’m not sure you’re quite sensible of the honor I’m doing you,” he said. “You’ll be the first mundane who has ever been inside the Institute.”
“Probably the smell keeps the rest of them away.”
“Ignore him,” Clary said to Jace, and elbowed Simon in the side. “He always says exactly what comes into his head. No filters.”
“Filters are for cigarettes and coffee,” Simon muttered under his breath as they went inside. “Two things I could use right now, incidentally.”
Clary thought longingly of coffee as they made their way up a winding set of stone stairs, each one carved with a glyph. She was beginning to recognize some of them—they tantalized her sight the way half-heard words in a foreign language sometimes tantalized her hearing, as if by just concentrating harder she could force some meaning out of them.
Clary and the two boys reached the elevator and rode up in silence. She was still thinking about coffee, big mugs of coffee that were half milk the way her mother would make them in the morning. Sometimes Luke would bring them bags of sweet rolls from the Golden Carriage Bakery in Chinatown. At the thought of Luke, Clary’s stomach tightened, her appetite vanishing.
The elevator came to a hissing stop, and they were again in the entryway Clary remembered. Jace shrugged off his jacket, threw it over the back of a nearby chair, and whistled through his teeth. In a few seconds Church appeared, slinking low to the ground, his yellow eyes gleaming in the dusty air. “Church,” Jace said, kneeling down to stroke the cat’s gray head. “Where’s Alec, Church? Where’s Hodge?”
Church arched his back and meowed. Jace crinkled his nose, which Clary might have found cute in other circumstances. “Are they in the library?” He stood up, and Church shook himself, trotted a little way down the corridor, and glanced back over his shoulder. Jace followed the cat as if this were the most natural thing in the world, indicating with a wave of his hand that Clary and Simon were to fall into step behind him.
“I don’t like cats,” Simon said, his shoulder bumping Clary’s as they maneuvered the narrow hallway.
“It’s unlikely,” Jace said, “knowing Church, that he likes you, either.”
They were passing through one of the corridors that were lined with bedrooms. Simon’s eyebrows rose. “How many people live here, exactly?”
“It’s an institute,” Clary said. “A place where Shadowhunters can stay when they’re in the city. Like a sort of combination safe haven and research facility.”
“I thought it was a church.”
“It’s inside a church.”
“Because that’s not confusing.” She could hear the nerves under his flippant tone. Instead of shushing him, Clary reached down and took his hand, winding her fingers through his cold ones. His hand was clammy, but he returned the pressure with a grateful squeeze.
“I know it’s weird,” she said quietly, “but you just have to go along with it. Trust me.”
Simon’s dark eyes were serious. “I trust you,” he said. “I don’t trust him.” He cut his glance toward Jace, who was walking a few paces ahead of them, apparently conversing with the cat. Clary wondered what they were talking about. Politics? Opera? The high price of tuna?
“Well, try,” she said. “Right now he’s the best chance I’m going to have of finding my mom.”
A little shudder passed over Simon. “This place feels not right to me,” he whispered.
Clary remembered how she’d felt waking up here this morning—as if everything were both alien and familiar at the same time. For Simon, clearly, there was nothing of that familiarity, only the sense of the strange, the alien and inimical. “You don’t have to stay with me,” she said, though she’d fought Jace on the train for the right to keep Simon with her, pointing out that after his three days of watching Luke, he might well know something that would be useful to them once they had a chance to break it down in detail.
“Yes,” Simon said, “I do.” And he let go of her hand as they turned through a doorway and found themselves inside a kitchen. It was an enormous kitchen, and unlike the rest of the Institute, it was all modern, with steel counters and glassed-in shelves holding rows of crockery. Next to a red cast-iron stove stood Isabelle, a round spoon in her hand, her dark hair pinned up on top of her head. Steam was rising from the pot, and ingredients were strewn everywhere—tomatoes, chopped garlic and onions, strings of dark-looking herbs, grated piles of cheese, some shelled peanuts, a handful of olives, and a whole fish, its eye staring glassily upward.
“I’m making soup,” Isabelle said, waving a spoon at Jace. “Are you hungry?” She glanced behind him then, her dark gaze taking in Simon as well as Clary. “Oh, my God,” she said with finality. “You brought another mundie here? Hodge is going to kill you.”
Simon cleared his throat. “I’m Simon,” he said.
Isabelle ignored him. “JACE WAYLAND,” she said. “Explain yourself.”
Jace was glaring at the cat. “I told you to bring me to Alec! Backstabbing Judas.”
Church rolled onto his back, purring contentedly.
“Don’t blame Church,” Isabelle said. “It’s not his fault Hodge is going to kill you.” She plunged the spoon back into the pot. Clary wondered what exactly peanut-fish-olive-tomato soup tasted like.
“I had to bring him,” Jace said. “Isabelle—today I saw two of the men who killed my father.”
Isabelle’s shoulders tightened, but when she turned around, she looked more upset than surprised. “I don’t suppose he’s one of them?” she asked, pointing her spoon at Simon.
To Clary’s surprise, Simon said nothing to this. He was too busy staring at Isabelle, rapt and openmouthed. Of course, Clary realized with a sharp stab of annoyance. Isabelle was exactly Simon’s type—tall, glamorous, and beautiful. Come to think of it, maybe that was everyone’s type. Clary stopped wondering about the peanut-fish-olive-tomato soup and started wondering what would happen if she dumped the contents of the pot on Isabelle’s head.
“Of course not,” Jace said. “Do you think he’d be alive now if he were?”
Isabelle cast an indifferent look at Simon. “I suppose not,” she said, absently dropping a piece of fish on the floor. Church fell on it ravenously.
“No wonder he brought us here,” said Jace disgustedly. “I can’t believe you’ve been stuffing him with fish again. He’s looking distinctly podgy.”
“He does not look podgy. Besides, none of the rest of you ever eat anything. I got this recipe from a water sprite at the Chelsea Market. He said it was delicious—”
“If you knew how to cook, maybe I would eat,” Jace muttered.
Isabelle froze, her spoon poised dangerously. “What did you say?”
Jace edged toward the fridge. “I said I’m going to look for a snack to eat.”
“That’s what I thought you said.” Isabelle returned her attention to the soup. Simon continued to stare at Isabelle. Clary, inexplicably furious, dropped her backpack on the floor and followed Jace to the refrigerator.
“I can’t believe you’re eating,” she hissed.
“What should I be doing instead?” he inquired with maddening calm. The inside of the fridge was filled with milk cartons whose expiration dates reached back several weeks, and plastic Tupperware containers labeled with masking tape lettered in red ink: HODGE’S. DO NOT EAT.
“What, Hodge? He just likes things in order.” Jace took one of the containers out of the fridge and opened it. “Hmm. Spaghetti.”
“Don’t ruin your appetite,” Isabelle called.
“That,” said Jace, kicking the fridge door shut and seizing a fork from a drawer, “is exactly what I intend to do.” He looked at Clary. “Want some?”
“Of course not,” he said around a mouthful, “you ate all those sandwiches.”
“It wasn’t that many sandwiches.” She glanced over at Simon, who appeared to have succeeded in engaging Isabelle in conversation. “Can we go find Hodge now?”
“You seem awfully eager to get out of here.”
“Don’t you want to tell him what we saw?”
“I haven’t decided yet.” Jace set the container down and thoughtfully licked spaghetti sauce off his knuckle. “But if you want to go so badly—”
He seemed awfully calm, she thought, not scary-calm as he had been before, but more contained than he ought to be. She wondered how often he let glimpses of his real self peek through the facade that was as hard and shiny as the coat of lacquer on one of her mother’s Japanese boxes.
“Where are you going?” Simon looked up as they reached the door. Jagged bits of dark hair fell into his eyes; he looked stupidly dazed, Clary thought unkindly, as if someone had hit him across the back of the head with a two-by-four.
“To find Hodge,” she said. “I need to tell him about what happened at Luke’s.”
Isabelle looked up. “Are you going to tell him that you saw those men, Jace? The ones that—”
“I don’t know.” He cut her off. “So keep it to yourself for now.”
She shrugged. “All right. Are you going to come back? Do you want any soup?”
“Do you think Hodge will want any soup?”
“No one wants any soup.”
“I want some soup,” Simon said.
“No, you don’t,” said Jace. “You just want to sleep with Isabelle.”
Simon was appalled. “That is not true.”
“How flattering,” Isabelle murmured into the soup, but she was smirking.
“Oh, yes it is,” said Jace. “Go ahead and ask her—then she can turn you down and the rest of us can get on with our lives while you fester in miserable humiliation.” He snapped his fingers. “Hurry up, mundie boy, we’ve got work to do.”
Simon looked away, flushed with embarrassment. Clary, who a moment ago would have been meanly pleased, felt a rush of anger toward Jace. “Leave him alone,” she snapped. “There’s no need to be sadistic just because he isn’t one of you.”
“One of us,” said Jace, but the sharp look had gone out of his eyes. “I’m going to find Hodge. Come along or not, it’s your choice.” The kitchen door swung shut behind him, leaving Clary alone with Simon and Isabelle.
Isabelle ladled some of the soup into a bowl and pushed it across the counter toward Simon without looking at him. She was still smirking, though—Clary could feel it. The soup was a dark green color, studded with floating brown things.
“I’m going with Jace,” Clary said. “Simon …?”
“Mmgnstayhr,” he mumbled, looking at his feet.
“I’m going to stay here.” Simon parked himself on a stool. “I’m hungry.”
“Fine.” Clary’s throat felt tight, as if she’d swallowed something either very hot or very cold. She stalked out of the kitchen, Church slinking at her feet like a cloudy gray shadow.
In the hallway Jace was twirling one of the seraph blades between his fingers. He pocketed it when he saw her. “Kind of you to leave the lovebirds to it.”
Clary frowned at him. “Why are you always such an asshat?”
“An asshat?” Jace looked as if he were about to laugh.
“What you said to Simon—”