Lady Midnight
Page 95

 Cassandra Clare

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Julian on his knees, skinny in jeans and sweatshirt, scrubbing the floor. The kitchen had been designed by his mother, it was a piece of her, but it was also a piece of everything he’d given over the years to his family.
And he would do it again, Emma thought. Of course he would: He loved them that fiercely. The only thing that made Julian angry was fear, fear for his sisters and brothers.
He was afraid now, though Emma wasn’t sure why. She saw only the look on his face as he registered their resentment of him, their disappointment. The fire seemed to go out of him. He slid down the front of the stove until he was sitting on the floor.
“Jules?” It was Tavvy, white granules coating his hair. He shuffled close and put his arms around Julian’s neck.
Jules made an odd sound, and then he pulled his brother in and hugged him fiercely. Sugar sifted down onto his black gear, dusting it with white powder.
The kitchen door opened and Emma heard a gasp of surprise. She turned and saw Cristina gaping at the mess. “¡Qué desastre!”
It didn’t exactly require a translation. Mark cleared his throat and began stacking dirty dishes in the sink. Not so much stacking them as flinging them, really. Livvy went over to help him while Cristina stared.
“Where’s Diana?” Emma asked.
“She’s home. Malcolm Portaled us there and back,” said Cristina, not taking her eyes off the charred pots on the stove. “She said she needed to catch up on sleep.”
Still holding Tavvy, Julian stood up. There was powdered sugar on his shirt, in his hair, but his face was calm, expressionless. “Sorry about the mess, Cristina.”
“It’s fine,” she said, looking around the room. “It is not my kitchen. Though,” she added hastily, “I can help you clean up.”
“Mark will clean up,” Julian said, without looking at his brother. “Did you and Diana find anything out from Malcolm?”
“He had gone to see some warlocks he thought might be able to help,” said Cristina. “We talked about Catarina Loss. I’ve heard of her—she teaches at the Academy sometimes, Downworlder studies. Apparently both Malcolm and Diana are good friends with her, so they exchanged a lot of stories I didn’t really understand.”
“Well, here’s what we learned from Rook,” said Emma, and launched into the story, leaving out the part where Ty had almost sliced off Kit Rook’s head.
“So someone needs to tail Sterling,” said Livvy eagerly when Emma was done. “Ty and I could do it.”
“You can’t drive,” Emma pointed out. “And we need you here for research.”
Livvy made a face. “So we get stuck here reading ‘it was many and many a year ago’ nine thousand times?”
“There’s no reason we can’t learn how to drive,” said Ty, looking mulish. “Mark was saying, it’s not like it matters that we’re not sixteen, it’s not as if we have to obey mundane laws anyway—”
“Did Mark say that?” Julian said quietly. “Fine. Mark can teach you how to drive.”
Mark dropped a plate into the sink with a crash. “Julian—”
“What is it, Mark?” said Jules. “Oh, right, you don’t actually know how to drive, either. And of course teaching someone to drive takes time, but you might not actually be here. Because there’s no guarantee you’re staying.”
“That’s not true,” Livvy said. “We’ve practically solved the case—”
“But Mark has a choice.” Julian was looking at his older brother over his baby brother’s head. His blue-green gaze was a steady fire.“Tell them, Mark. Tell them you’re sure you’ll choose us.”
Promise them, his gaze said. Promise them you won’t hurt them.
Mark said nothing.
Oh, Emma thought. She remembered what Julian had said to her outside. This was what he was afraid of: that they loved Mark too much already. He would give up the children he loved to Mark without a murmur, if it was what they wanted—if, as Ty had said, they wanted Mark to take care of them. He would give them up because he loved them, because their happiness was his, because they were his breath and blood.
But Mark was his brother too, and he loved him as well. What did you do, what could you do, when what threatened the ones you loved was something else you loved just as much?
“Julian.” To everyone’s surprise, it was Uncle Arthur, standing in the doorway. He cast a brief, uninterested look over the mess in the kitchen, before zeroing in on his nephew. “Julian, I need to talk to you about something. Privately.”
Faint worry flickered in the back of Julian’s eyes. He nodded to his uncle just as something buzzed in Emma’s pocket. Her phone.
Her stomach clenched. It was only two words, not from a number but from a series of zeroes. THE CONVERGENCE.
Something had tripped the monitor at the convergence site. Her mind raced. It was nearly sunset. The convergence door would be opening—but the Mantids would be stirring as well. She needed to leave immediately to get there at the safest time.
“Did someone call you?” Julian asked, glancing over at her. He was setting down Tavvy, ruffling his hair, gently pushing him toward Dru, who was looking distinctly green.
Emma stifled a frown—wouldn’t the message have gone to him, too? Or not—she remembered him saying that his phone was nearly dead, back at Johnny Rook’s. And Diana was asleep. Emma realized she might well be the only person here who had received the convergence message.
“Just Cameron,” she said, grabbing for the first available name she could think of. Jules’s eyes shuttered; maybe he was still worried she was going to tell Cameron about Mark. He looked pale. His expression was calm, but she could feel a tense misery coming off him in waves. She thought of the way he had clung to Ty in front of Johnny Rook’s house, the way he had looked at Mark. At Arthur.
Her training said she should bring Julian with her to the convergence. He was her parabatai. But she couldn’t tear him away from his family right now. She just couldn’t. Her mind rebelled against the thought in a way she couldn’t bring herself to examine too closely.
“Cristina.” Emma turned to her friend. “Can I talk to you in the hallway?”
With a worried look, Cristina followed Emma out into the corridor.
“Is this about Cameron?” Cristina said as soon as the kitchen door shut behind them. “I do not think I am up to giving any romantic advice right now—”
“I do have to go see Cameron,” said Emma, her mind working quickly. She could bring Cristina with her to the convergence. Cristina was trustworthy; she wouldn’t mention to anyone what they were doing. But Julian had been so clearly hurt—not just hurt, gutted—by her going to the cave alone with Mark and not telling him. And so much had strained and troubled their parabatai relationship—she couldn’t do it to him again by bringing someone else with her. “But it’s not that. Look, someone needs to tail Sterling. I don’t think anything’s going to happen with him—we’re still within the window of two days—but just in case.”
Cristina nodded. “I can do it. Diana left the truck; I’ll take it. I need the address, though.”