Lights, Camera, Action

Author's Note: A mash-up of "This World Inverted" and Supernatural's "The French Letter", Jalec style. Technically not AU, I guess, since it's vaguely set in the future. Mentions of canon Malec.

***

One moment they’d been running through the Seelie forest from a particularly nasty demon, the next they more or less stumbled through a portal and found themselves… in a suddenly very fake-looking Seelie forest.

There was no time to gape, however, because the demon came bursting through, growling. Jace whipped out his Seraph blade, only to stare at it in shock - instead of the usual gleam of adamas, it was very obviously made from some form of plastic and absolutely useless. Luckily Alec’s arrows were still sharp enough to do damage, and the next moment the demon was dust.

Unfortunately right then the portal they’d come through also disappeared, leaving them stranded among plastic trees and fake flowers. They looked around in complete confusion, trying to take in the fact that they were apparently on some sort of stage, and Jace began to swear, “Fuck the Seelies and their fucking portals!” When Alec raised a puzzled eyebrow, he elaborated, “This must be one of those alternate dimensions, like the one Clary and I went to when we were hunting Valentine using Jocelyn’s weird portal shard.” He gestured at himself, then at Alec. “And obviously this is another world without magic, because I can’t feel our parabatai bond. Can you?”

Cocking his head, Alec focused and nodded, frowning. “You’re right, it’s gone. It’s not broken, though, it simply doesn’t exist.” They shared a relieved look at that, but then Alec added, “How come we still have runes, though?”

Instead of an answer Jace took out his stele and passed it over his iratze, only to frown when nothing happened. Looking at it more closely he huffed, “Also plastic. This world has no more magic than the one Clary and I visited.”

“Then why the hell do we still look like Shadowhunters, even if all our gear is plastic? And what is up with this fake Seelie forest?” Alec asked rhetorically, aware that Jace had no more answers than he did. Sharing a look, they simultaneously began walking through the trees, moving as carefully as if they were approaching a demon nest. They soon realized that they were in a huge warehouse, which did not only contain the “forest” but also cameras, lights and a labyrinthine warren of other stages with familiar-looking scenes.

“We’re in a fucking movie studio!” Jace exclaimed, looking as confused as Alec felt. They’d come to a halt in what was a pretty decent copy of the Institute, right down to a weapons rack, the contents of which were unfortunately as fake as everything else. Still, Jace grabbed a knife that was at least made of hard plastic, figuring he could do some damage with this if necessary. Alec was still holding his bow at the ready, scanning the room, so he was the one who spotted the door with the green Exit sign.

They emerged into bright daylight, blinking and trying to orient themselves. Before they could decide on a course of action, however, a frazzled-looking woman came running up to them. “Alec, Jace, where the hell did you disappear to? No, don’t tell me; if I don’t know, I don’t have to lie to Val. Again.” Jace and Alec exchanged confused glances, which seemed to be their standard expression in this world. However, before they could decide on anything to say, the woman was bustling away, murmuring under her breath, “At least they were wearing clothes this time…”

That was how they found themselves seated in a trailer, a bunch of people fussing over them with brushes, hairspray and makeup. Jace scrunched up his face in disgust but let them work, laughing when he caught sight of Alec’s utterly unimpressed expression in the mirror. After a while, the procedure began to feel almost soothing, and Jace closed his eyes, letting them refresh his runes for the next take. A warm, dry palm slid against his, and Jace smiled, enjoying the tingling sensation that spread from where Alec’s thumb was drawing small circles on the sensitive skin of his wrist.

“Oh, that feels good!” he half-moaned, ignoring the amused chuckles from the crew. They were used to their antics, this was tame.

Subsequently Alec didn’t sound embarrassed in the least when he teased, “You’re so easy.”

“Well, we got interrupted before, excuse me for being a bit keyed up.” Jace shot his boyfriend a mock-disgruntled glare out of the corner of his eyes. “And you’re the one who can’t keep his hands off me.”

“Oh, I wasn’t complaining,” Alec grinned, squeezing Jace’s hand. Carol had finished fussing with his artfully casual mop of hair, and now he got up and came to straddle Jace in his chair, ignoring the chorus of protests that erupted. “I’ll be careful.”

With that he leaned in and claimed Jace’s lips in a kiss that was all promise. He did, however, keep his promise and didn’t mess up the hard work of the hair and makeup crew. Instead he stood up again, ignoring Jace’s whine of protest and watched while Toby and Maureen finished up prepping Jace. Then the door to the trailer opened, and Isabelle came in with the latest script rewrites. “There you go. Learn it, live it. Val likes your improv as much as the next person, but do try to follow the story.”

Alec nodded dumbly as his world shifted, staring at his sister, who was wearing a very un-Izzy-like sundress with sensible flats. A look into Jace’s shocked face told him that they were both back. Taking the scripts from Izzy, Jace grabbed Alec’s arm and pulled him to the corner, whispering urgently, “Shit, I almost forgot about that - we have to focus, or we get lost in this reality.”

“Great. So we just… forget who we are? Become actors, who share our names and who are apparently a fucking couple?” Alec looked less embarrassed than Jace would have expected, even if he couldn’t quite meet Jace’s gaze. At least no one would think it strange for them to huddle in corner, but for good measure Jace opened one of the scripts and held it up for both of them to see. Alec squinted at the lines of dialogue. “Oh look, our characters are parabatai. It’s so weird - our entire lives are part of a tv show here!”

Jace flipped to the front page and grinned triumphantly. “And I think I know why! It says the show, which is called Shadowhunters, by the way, was created by Valentine Morgenstern… and Magnus Bane.” When Alec showed no sign of understanding, he elaborated, “In the world Clary and I went to, Magnus was still a warlock, with magic, he just didn’t use it. He was a psychic, of all things, one of those with crappy ads on tv! So maybe here he’s using his magic to look into other worlds and uses what he sees to write this show.”

Alec nodded, a plan already forming. “Alright, that makes sense, I guess. So we find him and tell him to get us back somehow.”

“Guys,” Izzy interrupted, looking decidedly annoyed. “Did you forget that you have an interview before the next scene?”

They shared a nervous look, not sure how they were going to succeed in pretending to be these other versions of themselves, but they didn’t seem to have any choice except play along until they got a chance to find Magnus. Stiffening his posture, Jace gave Alec an encouraging nod. “We can do this. It’s not that different from being glamored.”

“You’re the one who’s good at that sort of stuff,” Alec protested lamely, following Jace out. He wasn’t sure if it was play-acting or the other personality reasserting itself, but when Jace reached out for his hand, he didn’t flinch, just held on tight until they reached the interviewer. There they let go of one another, only for Jace to drape himself against Alec’s side, giving the woman his most winning smile.

She smiled back, utterly charmed, and asked, “Should we begin right away?” At their nods she continued, “So, you play Dominic and Matthew - they’re… parabatai, is that’s what it’s called?”

“Yes, it’s a special bond between warriors in the world of the Shadowhunters.” Jace launched into his usual spiel, and Alec fell easily into his role, inserting the odd comment and elaborating when necessary. By now they practically could do this in their sleep, and soon Jace’s hand was inching around Alec, slipping into the back of his pants. Suppressing a shiver, Alec elbowed him gently, hoping the interviewer hadn’t noticed, but Jace just grinned. “Dom and Matt are practically soulmates, and I love playing that. Alec makes it easy.”

“Yes, I’ve heard that the two of you are… close.” The interviewer’s eyebrow rose in visible excitement. Inwardly Alec rolled his eyes. They didn’t make a secret of their relationship but they also hadn’t officially come out, figuring it would lead to exactly the kind of question they were being asked now: “But the parabatai relationship is platonic, isn’t it?”

Not quite trusting Jace to toe the party line, Alec replied, “Yes, it’s an incredibly close bond, closer than pretty much anything. I think it’s very important that audiences see men who love each other unapologetically, without it being sexualized.”

“Not that anyone could blame Dom for sexualizing Matt,” Jace inserted, ignoring Alec’s death glare. “Just look at this gorgeous human being…”

Fighting a blush, Alec talked over him, “Dom might have feelings for Matt, that’s something we’re kind of exploring, but it’s definitely a… a taboo in Shadowhunter society.” As he spoke, he felt a weird sense of deja vu, leaving him disoriented. Luckily, the interviewer was wrapping up, and Alec managed to keep up the facade until she was gone. Then he turned to Jace, hissing, “Jace! Jace, it happened again!”

The speed with which Jace released the hold he’d had on Alec made it obvious that he, too, had come back to himself. He shook himself like a wet dog. “Angel, this is weird! I wasn’t in the other world long enough for this to be a problem. The way I, he feels… Alec...” He stared at his parabatai, a myriad of unspoken words filling the air between them, but in the end he only said, “We have to find Magnus, and soon.”

This time no one stopped them, and they quickly found the warlock, who was wearing weirdly hipster-looking clothes and needed some convincing before he believed that this wasn’t a prank. When he did, he seemed way too excited and peppered them with questions about their world.

“Research, I bet,” Jace whispered to Alec while Magnus was looking through a spell book. “He’ll use this on the show, just you wait.”

Alec didn’t respond, preoccupied with watching this version of his boyfriend bemusedly, asking himself whether what had been going on with Jace constituted cheating. Technically it wasn’t actually them, but he could clearly remember everything he’d done, everything he’d felt, kissing Jace, holding him. Before he could talk himself into a full-blown guilty conscience, Magnus turned around and announced, “Alright, I haven’t done any real magic in forever, I’ll need some ingredients to create the portal. While I’m gone, you two better get that scene done.”

He ignored their protests, apparently much more assertive than his counterpart, and more or less threw them out of his office with directions to the set. There they were greeted by none other than a smiling Valentine Morgenstern, and Jace started forward, fists clenched, only to be stopped by Alec’s arm around his chest. Jace stiffened, still furious, but then he relaxed into his boyfriend’s embrace, half-turning to press a kiss to his cheek.

“Mr. Wayland, Mr. Lightwood,” Val interrupted, “how nice of you to join us.”

Stepping apart, they apologized to their long-suffering producer and the rest of the crew before settling into work mode. Jace hadn’t lied to the interviewer, he did love working with Alec, and they quickly fell into their normal rhythm. It was a training scene, showing off Matt and Dom’s parabatai bond and giving some important exposition for the current storyline. Time went by quickly, the fight choreography somehow coming even more easily than usual. Finally the director, Luke, called for a break. “Alright, Jace, Alec, time to get the runes applied for your shirtless scene.”

“They know what’s good for ratings,” Jace smirked and rounded in on Alec, kissing him soundly before heading towards the makeup trailer. However, before they reached it, Magnus intercepted them, making Jace whine, “Ah no, not more rewrites, please, Magnus! We just spent two hours hitting each other, now I’d like to sit in makeup and relax while staring at shirtless Alec.”

“Jace, please focus,” the writer urged, but it took him creating a glowing parabatai rune over his palm for them to come back to themselves. Magnus exhaled in relief. “Alright, now, let’s get you home.”

In his office, he created a portal, and gestured for Jace and Alec to go through. Alec made to move, but Jace stopped him with a hand against his cheek, looking at him intently as if trying to memorize something. Alec let him do it, even relaxing into his touch, but his expression was puzzled. Jace explained in a low voice, “Once we’re back, everything will go back to normal. But I guess… I guess I want us to have this one memory of just us.”

Alec stared at him for a moment, then he nodded, a half-smile on his lips, and replied softly, “One memory. I... I’d like that.”

With that he leaned down and met Jace in a gentle kiss.

It didn’t last long, but it was sweet as molasses and filled with words they’d never say out loud. When they separated, Magnus was regarding them quizzically. “It’s been a while since I peeked into your world, but I take it the parabatai taboo still applies.” His smile was genuinely sympathetic. “Here, the two of you are good together - I’m sorry if you don’t get to have that in your world.”

They exchanged a rueful smile, but there was no regret in Alec’s voice as he stated simply, “We have… enough. We’re parabatai.”

“Parabatai,” Jace echoed fiercely. They both looked at the portal, knowing what lay waiting on the other side of it. Without hesitation they stepped through, side by side, and their bond flared back to life.

***

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