Simon knuckled his chin, as if he could stare the tower down. “Biegen might not have admitted to anything, but he pretty strongly hinted that the Toolmakers deal whatever Maria’s father was strung out on. The crowd around the firehouse said the firemen were hit with sleeping gas. One happenstance, twice coincidence – we’re not up to three times enemy action yet, and I’d rather it stayed that way. So. Thoughts on how to avoid any little drug tricks?”
“I have one.”
Malachy raised a brow. Ja’far’s stance was controlled, but to anyone who’d watched Simon for years, the magician might as well have shouted I’m going to hate myself for this.
Simon weighed that stance himself. Sighed, and rested both hands on his surprised friend’s shoulders with a resigned, mischievous smile. “Ja’far. Malachy breaks bones. Tiburon’s slit a few throats in his time. And you must think I’m thick as a brick wall if you think I haven’t noticed your part in keeping my shenanigans down to just twisting our local press into verbal pretzels, instead of, oh, actually starting a cult. If you think I’m going to be upset with you for using something shady you know to save lives, especially ours, think again. What do you need to do, and what do you need from us to do it?”
“I….” Ja’far stood stiff, where a less controlled man would have licked his lips in pure nerves. “I mentioned certain… aspects of the past that Aladdin and I have been able to restore.” A heartbeat’s pause. “Whatever poisons they use, I’m likely to be immune.”
“That’s fine for you,” Drakon started.
“This is where things get complicated,” Simon cut him off. “You’re not going in there on your own, Ja’far. Even if you probably would be able to leave them all dead before they knew you were there. I won’t let you take that burden on top of everything else. I won’t,” Simon repeated, when Ja’far started to object. Leaned in, and pressed his forehead to white-streaked brows, until the man gave up and breathed.
“I won’t,” Simon said again, softly, fingers kneading the magician’s shoulders. “We’re in this together. So if you don’t want my hands dirty, find another way. Because whatever we do, I will be right there with you.” He let go, and grinned. “Besides, Baal says Sei says you have another idea, and it sounds interesting.”