Chapter 12: Last House on the Left

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“Are you sure this is a good idea, love?”

Clary rolled her eyes at her boyfriend as she strapped another dagger to her thigh. “Do you have a better idea? We need answers and this is the best lead we have. Unless you’d like to go back to the Institute…”

Alec snorted as Jace’s face drained of color. “I think that’s a no. Where are we meeting him again?”

Clary faced her boyfriend’s parabatai, eyeing him warily. She hadn’t quite gotten used to him treating her as more than gum stuck on his shoe.

“An apartment Luke owns upstate. It’s big enough that I can open a portal right into the living room. He’s going to track that portal and follow, that way there’s no way to ambush us without giving us a massive warning.”

Isabelle raised an eyebrow, her hands on her hips. “I still don’t understand this whole ‘creator’ thing. Are you sure it’s safe?”

Clary nodded, glancing to Magnus for confirmation. “She’s very powerful. I trust her with my life-and I trust her with yours.” He nodded to Alec, squeezing his hand lightly. “If that’s not a glowing endorsement then I don’t know what is.”

Jace chuckled as he pulled Clary into his arms, his chin resting against the top of her head. He took a deep breath, steadying his nerves for what they were about to embark on. This would make or break them-either they’d get the answers they needed or they’d end up dead. One of those outcomes was just not going to work for him.

“Alright, let’s get this over with.”

Clary nodded, stepping out of his arms as she pulled her stele out of her pocket. She raised it up above her head, tracing a complicated pattern of lines into the air. An odd shimmer started, radiating outward as a gust of wind burst around them, ruffling the sheer curtains.

“Come on. It’s now or never.”

Clary grabbed Jace’s hand, yanking him into the swirling vortex she’d created, glancing over her shoulder as the trio following them. She was buffeted from side to side as they traveled through nothingness, bracing her feet at the last second. She smirked as the Shadowhunters thudded against the ground, giggling as Jace scowled up at her. Magnus shook his disorientation away as he leaned heavily against a nearby wall. He would definitely never get used to traveling that way.

“Come on guys. Brace yourselves. He’s coming.”

Jace jumped to his feet, wrapping his arms around the small girl in front of him. His hands itched to grab a weapon as the rune over his heart pulsed with a nervousness he himself wasn’t feeling. His lips found their way to her hair, his nose nuzzling her gently as she fidgeted in his arms.

The bare wall in front of them distorted, twisting in on itself as a portal opened. A lithe figure stepped through, shaking his head minutely as he regained his footing on the hardwood floor.

Clary watched the portal warily, waiting for any uninvited guests to spring through. Much to her surprise, the portal snapped shut immediately.

Alec cleared his throat, gesturing toward the homey living space Luke had set up years ago. “Why don’t we sit?”

Jonathan nodded, inclining his head toward Clary and Jace as he walked ahead, clearly noting how uncomfortable the other Shadowhunters were around him. He settled into a plush chair, leaving the longer seats for the others.

“May I ask what prompted you to call me? Last I heard you were quite….vehemently against accepting my help.”

Clary smirked as she glanced to Jace. His lips were pursed and he was glaring daggers at her brother, his hands gripping her own tightly. “We had an…incident. Basically I was poisoned and-”

“WHAT?!? By who?! When? What the hell, you said you were keeping her safe!”

Jonathan had jumped to his feet, his eyes glittering manically as his hands fisted in his dark hair. He glared at Jace as he spat accusations, clearly unnerved.

“Whoah, whoah. It was unfortunate, but it was in no way Jace’s fault.” Clary stood slowly, her hand still gripped tightly in her boyfriends. Her other hand reached forward tentatively, running down her brother’s arm gently. “Just-chill. Alright?” She glanced around and sighed. “Seriously? Put the weapons away!”

Jace glanced at his parabatai, smirking as he realized both he and Isabelle had drawn as many weapons as they could wield. They’d been steadily creeping forward until Clary had called them off.

“Sit down. Now. Before you have an unfortunate accident and end up as a toad.” Magnus threatened calmly from his seat, a strange protectiveness shining out of his eyes.

“So, what can you offer us then? If you’re so concerned about Clary, then help us.” Jace appealed as Jonathan sunk back down, his hand running down his face tiredly.

“I have a safe house. It’s actually…well-I grew up with mundanes. They took me in. No one in our world knows I exist either. You’ll be safe there.” Jonathan grinned slightly. “And Simon has been clamoring to meet you cause I-uh…kinda won’t shut up about you.”

Clary smiled, a genuine one, and Jonathan’s heart stuttered in his chest. He was absolutely ecstatic to get this chance with his sister. He’d grown up the same way she had-hidden in plain sight, trained secretly-he knew the resentment and isolation that caused. He was lucky enough to have Simon. And she’d finally found Jace-something he’d prayed to the Angel for.

“Give us a few minutes. Please.” Isabelle tacked on the pleasantry at Clary’s withering glare, smirking as the red head rolled her eyes.

Jonathan nodded, standing slowly as he glanced around. “I’ll be out on the porch. I like the cool weather.”

Clary watched him go as Alec and Isabelle crowded around the couch she sat on with Jace and Magnus. They began speaking in low voices, though she couldn’t concentrate on their words. All she saw was the fleeting look of absolute longing on her brother’s face.

“We’re going.”

Her words effectively silenced the rest of them, all their eyes swinging to focus on her. She stared right back, one after the other, her face a mask of determination. Her emerald eyes met Jace’s amber ones and he glanced between them, trying to pick out every nuance she’d let him. Slowly he nodded, a resigned sigh escaping his perfect mouth.

“Alright, we do this your way. But you stay vigilant, you hear me?” He pulled her onto his lap, his arms twining around her slim body. “I can’t-I couldn’t…if something happened-I just…”

“Shhhhh. It’ll be fine. You’ll see.” Her lips pressed softly to his, Jace’s eyes drifting closed in momentary bliss.

“Go get him. We might as well get this over with.”

Alec grumbled as he stalked off to follow Jace’s instructions, his hand still firmly gripping a dagger.

x . x . x . x . x

“I don’t understand why we couldn’t just-”

Jonathan tried to hide the smile as Isabelle continued to bitch about their walk. He’d drawn a portal, coming out roughly a mile from his house. And Isabelle was not a happy camper. Despite her stellar fighting skills, which he’d observed over the past month as he’d looked for Clary, she seemed to be astoundingly lazy.

Alec rolled his eyes as well, swinging his hand linked with Magnus’ as they strolled down the suburban sidewalk.  “So, where exactly is this place?”

“It’s maybe-” Jonathan glanced around. “-another half mile. It’s a nice neighborhood; big houses, big yards, ours backs onto the woods. Nice.”

Clary bumped her shoulder to his and she dragged Jace forward. “This is…nice.” Jonathan raised an eyebrow. Jace snorted as Clary threw her hands up in frustration. “Can absolutely everyone do that but me?!?”

The group snickered and joked amongst each other as they walked, slowly getting comfortable with Clary’s brother. Soon enough they found their way into a neighborhood where the houses were further spaced, large trees obscuring most of the home fronts.

“Last house on the left.”

“You do know they made a horror film about that, don’t you?” Jonathan smirked at Magnus, casually pulling a set of keys out of his pocket. He led them up the front path to the stairs, shoving the key unceremoniously into the lock. He twisted, cursing under his breath as the metal resisted. The tumblers finally caught, and he ushered them into a dim foyer. He shut the door behind them, shrouding the group in darkness as he groped for the light switch.

“Sorry. Simon’s all into that eco stuff. He’d have my balls in a vice if I left the lights on.” Jace snorted as the other two men winced, shuffling awkwardly in place.

A soft clinking sounded from the back of the house and Jonathan led the way, calling out into the darkness as he walked. “Simon, I thought you were at school! Didn’t you have a cla-”

Jace’s eyes shot wide as he took in the scene before him. Jonathan had frozen mid-sentence as he caught sight of the kitchen’s occupant. There in front of the stove, wearing a frilly apron and an oven mitt, was Valentine.

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