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Universal Constant

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Prompt #1- Mistakes

 

Variation One: Mistaken Identity – obviously, strippers in the downworld would dress up as law enforcement aka shadowhunters (also available in Russian)

 

There’s a loud rapping on the door to Magnus’ loft. Loud enough that it cuts through the sound of music and laughter and general carousing that can only be associated with Magnus Bane’s birthday party.

“Hello?” calls out a serious and seriously sexy sounding voice from the other side. “I’m here on shadowhunter business with the Clave – I’m looking for the High Warlock Magnus Bane.”

“Oh my God,” says Magnus, eyes widening in realization. He turns around to look at the crowd at large and whispers in scandalous glee, “Did you guys get me a stripper?

Not waiting to hear an answer, Magnus walks over to his foyer. With a flick of his wrist, he unlocks the door and throws it open and – oh, yes. Standing there with his arm braced for another knock is possibly the finest specimen Magnus has ever laid eyes on – tall, dark, and delicious, dressed impeccably in shadowhunter black and with a severe expression on his face.

Magnus isn’t surprised when he spots the deflection rune tattoo marking the side of his neck. It’s clearly and quite cleverly placed there for maximum enticement – it’s certainly tempting Magnus because if this man wasn’t a hired professional, Magnus would already be running his tongue along those stark black lines.

Magnus also spots a seraph blade strapped to his thigh. How precious.

“Well, hello,” purrs Magnus. “What a delightful surprise. Come on in, shadowhunter.”

“Magnus Bane?” says the stripper, following Magnus into the loft. “I’m Alec Lightwood, acting Head of–”

Lightwood,” says Magnus. “Well, if anyone can make me have pleasant associations with that name, I’m betting it’ll be you. Though for now maybe I can call you – Alexander, was it?”

“It’s Alec,” he says shortly, looking around at the guests warily. “Are you having a party? This is somewhat of an emergency and I’d like to speak with you privately–”

A private showing. Magnus has never felt so blessed. Is this Raphael’s doing? He's always been Magnus’ favourite. Who else could maneuver a situation like this so that Magnus can get maximum enjoyment, while shielding their own eyes from the decadence of the human body?

Frowning, Alec says, “Mr. Bane?”

Mr. Bane.

Magnus’ mouth goes dry.

Well. That settles it.

“Of course, my dear,” he says smoothly. “Just this way to one of my guest rooms.”

Alec follows him with brisk efficiency. Is this part of his character? Will this play into whatever routine he’s going to put on for Magnus? Who did Magnus need to send a 'thank you' note and a gratuitous fruit basket to tomorrow morning?

All very important questions.

Once the door shuts behind them, Magnus conjures up a wine glass and settles down into a plush settee. He wants to be comfortable for this.

Raising an eyebrow in a manner that shouldn’t be as sexy as it is, Alec says, “I’d prefer to stand.”

“Of course you would,” says Magnus, delighted. “The floor’s all yours, darling. Did you bring your own music? It’s all right if you didn’t – I’ve quite literally got everything at the tip of my fingers.”

He snap said fingers to demonstrate. When the low, sultry beats start to reverberate through the room, Alec’s eyes widen. His face starts to bloom a charming shade of pink.

“Mr. Bane, there’s – there’s been a misunderstanding,” he says, and suddenly he’s not looking at Magnus anymore. Well, that won’t do, thinks Magnus. Not when he’s got such wonderful eyes. “I came here to hire you – the details are classified until you accept, but there’s a werewolf trafficking–”

“I admire your commitment to the character,” says Magnus. “But maybe you can just get started and ‘arrest’ me for something? What’s the last thing I did to break that may have broken the Accords? Ah, that’s right, I–”

“Stop!” bursts out Alec, and Magnus reels back, startled. “Don’t say anything that can incriminate you, by the angel – you’re supposed to be the High Warlock! I’m a shadowhunter, not some – some incubi stripper–”

“Okay... that’s racial prejudice because strippers definitely come from all walks of life,” says Magnus out of instinct, a slow and horrible realization dawning on him. Without Magnus’ conscious direction, the music changes into the Jaws soundtrack. “Are you telling me you’re actually a Lightwood? And you’re here on Clave’s business?”

“Yes!” says Alec, looking relieved. Then– “Wait a minute, all those people outside–”

“They think you’re currently giving me a lapdance, yes.”

Alec looks like he’s going to pass out, his lovely eyes opened wide. “I need to get out of here – no,” he corrects himself, looking agonized. “I need you to come with me.”

“Slow down there, shadowhunter,” says Magnus, gathering his wits. This is not how he wanted things to go when he opened the door to find the most gorgeous man of this century standing there. “What exactly are you trying to hire me for? I demand payment upfront.”

“I don’t have any gold on me,” says Alec, frowning.

Magnus rolls his eyes. Gold. Typical shadowhunter.

“But I need you to help me track down the man who we think is the lynchpin behind this werewolf tracking operation,” continues Alec, and Magnus finds himself standing straighter, becoming more alert. “So you can – take my blade as collateral or something. I can fight with something else if it comes down to it. And–” Alec pulls out a truly atrocious looking wallet. “I have some mundane money in here, you can have whatever that is.”

Magnus peers inside. “This is three thousand dollars,” he says flatly. “Are you kidding me?”

“No,” says Alec impatiently. “Every second we wait is another second a werewolf is getting kidnapped. Are you in?”

Something strange and disbelieving starts to take form in Magnus’ chest. “You’re really going to give me this to coerce me into rescuing werewolves?”

“Yes?”

Magnus shakes his head.

“Keep your blade, Alexander,” he says. “And yes, I’m in. Let’s go take down some bad guys.” He adds, “I’ll keep the cash though.”

Back at the party, something fragile and priceless falls to the ground and shatters. Magnus hears Dorothea’s tipsy voice say, “Fuck, someone find a warlock to magic that back together before the stripper’s done with Magnus.”

That fierceness in Alec just a moment ago squashes down again to something flustered.

“Maybe we can just leave through the window,” he mutters, back to looking anywhere but at Magnus.

“Yes, good idea,” agrees Magnus hastily. He takes a moment though to lock the door and set the sexy music back on. This way, no one will look for him until the morning.

 


 

Variation Two: Missed Chances – the darkest timeline; if 1x12 never happened, and the unhappiness that ensues

 

Alec sits at the hard chair in his office at the Institute, staring blankly at the documents in front of him. There are words there, a lot of important words, but Alec can’t bring himself to concentrate on what they are.

It’s been one of those days.

Out of all days, how could there be a shax demon raid, the emergence of a werewolf serial killer, and a surprise Clave inspection all on a Monday?

Was this the universe telling him that he had fucked up really bad somewhere along the way?

It’s been six months since Alec had been promoted to the Head of the New York Institute after the wedding to Lydia, and it took only the six months after that for Alec to finally admit to himself that he was unhappy. There’s a big gaping hole in his life that he just can’t fix, a dull ache under his ribs that feels like an acid eating away at his soul.

He tells himself he has to quell these feelings, that he has no right to be unhappy – he's fulfilling his duty and he has his dream job, the job that he’s wanted ever since he was a child and he could barely reach his father’s desk, scribbling pretend decrees in crayon.

Now, it’s his own desk, his own office – this is what he was born to do, what he’s always wanted to do.

But its days like these, when the office feels imposing and barren, when Alec questions everything he’s ever done and whether it was all worth it.

Lydia definitely can sense it – sometimes when she thinks Alec is asleep, all she does is run a soothing hand in continuous circles over his back and whispers, “I’m sorry, Alec. I’m so, so, sorry,” and he can’t bear to face her.

Izzy and Jace look at him with different eyes now, with an expression that Alec can’t really place – pity, worry? Alec doesn’t know.

And Magnus.

Something painful clenches in Alec’s chest.

Alec has tried in every which way to move on, but he can’t. The sensations haunt him – his rapidly beating heart, his quickened breath – Magnus’ laugh when they had stayed up all night talking – memories turned dreams. He clutches onto the fragments tightly, reliving them every night so he can never forget.

There are nights where he curls into bed, screams silently into his pillow, even with Lydia lying only a few feet away.

There are days where he rubs at his skin painfully hard when he washes his hands, as if trying to erase the marriage rune tattooed under his knuckles.

It’s the gnawing loneliness that brings him to think about the what ifs, the should’ve, the could’ve.

What if he said ‘yes’ to Magnus that one time before the wedding? What if he had called the wedding off? Gave up everything, to take a chance at love instead?

Would he be happier then?

What if, what if, what if.

--

Magnus sits in his plush VIP booth at Pandemonium, surrounded by his posse of scantily clad admirers, an attractive crowd from which Magnus believes he’s slept with all of them at least once in the last six months (possibly, he really can’t tell them apart anymore). He stares blankly at the writhing mosh pit in front of him as they dance the night away without a care in the world.

The blue strobe lights beat down brightly on the club, the bass booming, and the room hot – so many sensations to bring him to the present, but Magnus is the furthest that he can be from there, trapped in the recesses of his mind.

It’s a dangerous place that makes him do stupid things. Magnus doesn’t like to venture here often, but he finds himself here more likely than he would like to admit.

Like the night before Alec’s wedding. He had indulged a little too much, finally cracked open that 100 year-old whiskey, and downed the whole bottle in one sitting.

Only to wake up the next day, three hours after the ceremony.

He had felt like a fool, a traitor to Ragnor’s memory. Worst of all, he had felt like in the ten hours he laid passed out on his couch in a drunken stupor, he had missed what could have possibly been one of the biggest turning points of his life.

Catarina tells him to move on. Stop helping those silly little shadowhunters who don’t give a shit as they ruin downworlder lives, who stomp on our dignity and hearts, and treat us as if we aren’t human.

But Magnus can’t.

When Magnus first saw Alec, alarm bells went off so loudly in his head it echoed through his ears – fate. It’s as if a fishing line was cast and hooked right into his centre, reeling him towards this shadowhunter named Alexander Lightwood, like a moth to a flame.

And like a moth, he's flown too close and he's gotten burned – the painful sting of a missed opportunity that rings of loneliness and loss.

He can't help it though. Even now, Alexander burns so bright that Magnus is always aware of where he is. Even if Alexander makes every attempt to postpone meetings with him (often sending Izzy in his place), makes detours in the halls, and overtly avoids his gaze.

The forbidden fruit – Magnus knows he’s playing a dangerous game every time he lingers too long and stares a little too deep. He can feel Maryse smirking behind his back every time he’s at the Institute (in fact, he feels the increased business with the Institute is Maryse subtly trying to rub something in his face).

He feels so tired nowadays – there are nights where he can’t fall asleep and he just lies there alone in his gigantic bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering where it went all wrong.

What if he fought harder? What if he showed up at the wedding?

Would he be happier then?

What if, what if, what if.