Why is no one talking about Valentine (“Michael”) and Jace’s training session?
He told this boy he was weak.
He told him he wasn’t a good enough, that a true shadowhunter wouldn’t let himself get hit, even while injured.
He beat him over the frickin head with a training mitt, jabbed him mercilessly, catching him at his weaknesses on purpose.
He made Jace exert himself, not giving him the chance to heal, or to rest (which is the whole point of Clary leaving him behind).
Then after all of that, he fed his poisonous teaching into Jace’s mind, convincing him again, after so many years, that love destroys, that the man he raised him to be was supposed to be special, different.
A fighter, not a lover.
This show didn’t just tell us about the parental abuse and trauma Jace experienced in his childhood. It showed us.
Alec has never known much about The Scarlet Letter; the Cabaret House that his parents run in L.A. When he is suddenly invited by them to visit during his holidays, he finally gets a chance to learn more about the family business. There he meets Magnus Bane, the suave performer who, as well as his siblings Isabelle and Jace, is the star of the show. It doesn’t take Alec long to fall for Magnus, except there’s more to The Scarlet Letter than what it seems on the surface, and what Maryse and Robert expect of their performers goes beyond simple routines.
Alec begins to uncover the dark, twisted past of his family’s business and the lengths that his parents were willing to go to keep The Scarlet Letter open. In doing so, he learns that there was a reason that he was invited so suddenly to visit and that he was more involved than he had ever wanted to be …
Alec hated airports. The flocks
of people, all too caught up in their own business to even so much as look
where they’re going; he could deal with. The bored; exhausted; and rude
receptionists, he could deal with. He could even deal with the multiple bags he
would trip over in the waiting areas just to get to the gates. But what he
could not handle, nor understand, was airport security. Anything with even a
whiff of an accent is an apparent threat, and stripping down to your bare
essentials just to prove you’re not a terrorist gets exhausting. It was one of
the reasons that Alec avoided visiting his family as much as possible. That,
and he had university to contend with …
When the security finally
stopped the awkward chit chat (once they discovered that he wasn’t a drug dealer,
the usual painfully uncomfortable ‘so why are you visiting our country? Holiday
or Business?’ followed) and released Alec from their clutches, he practically
ran to the exit. To keep it casual he walked at a brisk pace as the last thing
he needed was security deciding that he was hiding something by bolting away.
The sun attacked his eyes as
soon as he set foot outside. Alec lifted his hand to rest above his eyes
shrugged his bag back up his arm, scanning the carpark for his sister. She said
she’d come pick him up, and he had definitely told her the right time to arrive
at. Alec wasn’t surprised. Isabelle had a body clock that worked five hours
slower than everyone else’s. He should have had the forethought to tell her to
come at least two hours before his arrival time. At least then there was a
possibility of her being on time.
He was pleasantly surprised when
he saw Isabelle leaning against a car not far from the entrance. A pair of
massive sunglasses took up at least 45% of her face but Alec couldn’t mistake
her anywhere. Maybe it was the way she dressed; or the makeup she wore; or just
the simple fact that he was her sister; whatever the reason, Alec could
probably spot her out of a crowd of millions.
Isabelle looked up from her
phone as she sensed her brother approaching. “Salut frêre!” she grinned,
closing the final couple of paces and throwing her arms around Alec’s neck.
“Salut Isabelle,” Alec replied
into his sister’s hair. She had it done up in a messy bouffant; a sign that she
would be working tonight.
“God, it’s been too long,”
Isabelle complained as she released him from her embrace. “You need to visit
“University doesn’t give much
room for long distance travel,” Alec shrugged apologetically.
Isabelle tutted. She knew that
travel wasn’t the complete reason why Alec didn’t visit LA too often but didn’t
comment any further. “Mum and Dad are away for the evening however they will be here tomorrow morning so hopefully we should
be able to get breakfast together.”
Alec nodded as they headed
towards the car. The driver in the front seat wore no expression, his face as
animated as a block of wood. Alec found it extremely unnerving as Isabelle
clamoured into the back seat. He dumped his bag into the trunk of the car and
got in beside her. He wasn’t a fan of
being driven around, especially since he wasn’t the one paying for it, and
couldn’t wait to get home to gain access to his car.
“Where are Mum and Dad tonight
anyways?” he asked.
Isabelle threw her phone up into
the air and caught it again. “Something to do with an investment they’re trying
to make with some businessman to aid The Scarlet Letter,” she said. “I don’t
know the full details; all I know is that they had to go all the way to the
other side of the city for it.”
Alec frowned. “Does The Letter
need investments?” he asked.
His sister shrugged. “I don’t
know. They don’t tell me much … I’m sure Jace knows more than I do.”
The city passed by outside the
car window in a blur, Alec’s eyes unable to capture something for more than a moment
before it was gone from view. He didn’t know LA at all, the entire city
completely unfamiliar to him. He was so accustomed to Paris, where his family
originated from, but had always been fascinated with America, where most of the
Lightwoods now resided.
There was a time when all of
Alec’s family lived in Paris. They weren’t the most functional of units but
they still loved each other all the same. When their grandparents died when
Alec was ten years old, his parents Maryse and Robert were given the family
business-The Scarlet Letter- in their will. They moved to LA and left their
children with their childminder Hodge in Paris. Eventually, as they grew older,
Isabelle and Jace also moved to LA. It was rather sudden. First it was a desire
to visit their parents, the next minute they were staying to work for them.
Alec had considered moving to
join his family many times, but he had always had a desire to study medicine.
Ever since Max broke his arm when he fell off his bicycle and had to get a cast
on. He knew it would take a lot of commitment and jumping between France and
America just wasn’t feasible when studying for his Doctorate. His parents never
contacted him that much, but he always spoke to his siblings over Skype, so it
can be understood why he was slightly surprised by their invitation to come and
visit over the Summer.
To be fair, it was long overdue. It had been a year and
half since Isabelle and Jace moved. Alec couldn’t say he missed his parents to
the same degree that he missed his siblings, as it had been eleven years since
he’d last seen his Mum and Dad. It would be nice to finally visit them after so
long and get to understand what the family business entailed.
“I’m working tonight so we
probably won’t be able to get home until late,” Isabelle explained. “Saturday
nights are the best for The Scarlet Letter, although it can be overwhelming so
don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Overwhelming in what way?” Alec
Whenever Alec enquired about
what really happened at The Scarlet Letter, all Isabelle or Jace ever really
said was ‘it’s a Cabaret House’. Alec hadn’t been all too surprised by this, as
his ancestors had worked inside and been performers at The Moulin Rouge in
Paris before it was burned down. Isabelle had always explained The Scarlet
Letter as ‘a means of bringing their ancestors’ profession across the water,
with a modern twist’.
“It’s just not your scene,”
Isabelle answered. “I don’t know how to describe it, really. You’re just so . .
.” She waved her hands in the air, as if the words were going to jump from her
perfectly manicured fingers … “innocent.”
Alec grimaced. He wanted to
argue with her but he didn’t have much evidence for his defence. Besides,
arguing with Isabelle was as useful as trying to cut an orange with a spoon. He
was sure that her use of the word innocent was probably more to do with her
inability to find a better word anyways. Or so he told himself.
“A lot goes on there, all at
once,” Isabelle clarified. “It’s all very, bam!”
“Right,” Alec said. “That makes
“Well, I don’t know, do I?”
“You’ve been working there long
enough,” Alec teased, poking her in the ribs. Isabelle snickered and slapped
his hand away from her. “A year and a half is quite a while.”
Isabelle paused. For a long
moment, she just sat there, eyes blotted out by the thick black lens of her
sunglasses. She almost looked like a statue before she finally said, “Has it
really only been a year and a half? It feels like it’s been longer.”
Alec was surprised by this
answer. Most commonly, people could claim that it’s been no time at all.
Isabelle loved working at The Scarlet Letter, so at least that meant that the
time she had spent working there felt longer than it actually was.
The Scarlet Letter was on a busy
street deep in LA. Even as the sun was beginning to set and the sky was turning
pink, a steady stream of people walked around Isabelle and Alec as they stood
in the street. Many of them were entering The Letter itself, so much so that
Alec couldn’t see through the doors.
“Is it usually this busy?” he
asked as he gazed up at the blazing red lights of the Letter’s sign.
“What did you expect? It’s a
Saturday,” Isabelle murmured, her head dipped as she texted someone on her
“It’s only seven o’clock …”
Isabelle snorted with amusement.
She lifted her head and grinned. “People like to get a good seat.” She whipped
the sunglasses off her face and winked. “I bet they know I’m working tonight.”
Alec scratched the back of his
head thoughtfully. “So you’re popular?”
“Damn right I am,” Isabelle
replied. “Come on, while we’re still semi-empty.”
The term ‘semi-empty’ must have
been used very loosely by his sister. The two of them still had to jostle their
way through the entrance. Alec didn’t get a good look at the entrance corridor
due to this. The round yellow lights that lined the deep red walls were very
blinding, which didn’t help his ability to see.
Eventually, the stream of people
stopped at what looked like a ticket booth. Isabelle pushed her way to the
front and threw herself at the counter. “What’s up, Clarissa?” she declared,
folding her arms on top of the counter and leaning her weight against it.
A red headed girl, who Alec
assumed was Clarissa, appeared from underneath the office counter. “You’re back
already?” she asked, sounding surprised. “I thought you would have been
“I like to cut it fine, Clary,”
Isabelle answered. “You know, for dramatic effect. I was only there for about a
minute until Alec showed up.”
Alec finally managed to drag his
bag through the crowd and joined Isabelle in front of the booth. Clary looked
at him and grinned. “You must be Alec,” she said.
“Alec, is this Clary,” Isabelle
explained. “She keeps the masses at bay until we open.”
“Hi, ah, Clary,” Alec awkwardly
said. He wasn’t good with people he didn’t know and never managed to hide that
from his voice when he spoke. Even back home, he didn’t interact all that much
with his classmates. He spoke to them on occasion when he had to but never
socialised whenever it was unnecessary.
“Gosh, you sound just how
Isabelle did when she first moved here,” said Clary. “Minus the femininity of
Alec had to admit, he had been
surprised when Isabelle lost her accent so quickly. Both she and Jace seemed to
blend into the American culture so easy. Whenever they argued over Skype, he
could sometimes hear their accents coming through but besides that it was
barely there. Going from an environment where what he sounded like was normal
to an environment where his voice was nothing like anyone else was a bit
strange. To him, it was like everyone else were the ones talking weird, not
“Wait you see, he’ll have
suitors attempting to knock down his door when they hear his accent,” Isabelle
“I highly doubt that,” Alec
interjected, face burning with embarrassment at his sister’s words.
“You’d be surprised,” Clary
grinned, dropping into the swivel chair behind the counter. “Isabelle got
swamped when she first moved here.”
Yeah, but that’s Isabelle.
Alec wasn’t shocked by this knowledge but he didn’t think it had anything to do
with his sister’s French origins. She was smart and beautiful, any man with
half a brain would be after her. It made him uncomfortable to think about but
he knew that his sister got around. He didn’t judge her for it, it was her
right to do whatever she wanted, but that didn’t make it any easier to think
about. She was his little sister after all.
“Is Jace here?” Isabelle asked.
“Yeah, he should be. Go on
through.” Clary spun around on her seat, her upbeat grin never leaving her
Isabelle pushed away from the
counter and gestured for Alec to follow her through to a set of double doors
beside Clary’s office. Behind the door was shrouded in darkness for a moment
before Isabelle opened a thick red curtain. Light spilled in and beyond that
was an almost cavernous room, which Alec assumed was the main room.
It was so large it practically
gave him a light head as he absorbed it all. There were empty tables littered
around the wooden floor with chairs sitting on top of them. The ceiling felt
like it was miles away, reaching practically up to the heavens. As Alec looked
around with awe, he could hear Isabelle’s heels loudly clinking against the
floor as she walked ahead of him.
“Jace!” she shouted. Her voice
echoed loudly in the large empty room. “You here? Jace, get out here!”
It took a moment before blond
head appeared from offstage. Jace swaggered out to centre stage, a cheeky smirk
on his face. Alec couldn’t help smiling simply from the sight of his adoptive
brother standing there. “Bonjour!” Jace called, a jokey lilt to his voice. He
front flipped off the edge of the stage, his feet barely making a sound as they
made contact with the floor. “What took you so long?”
“Traffic,” Isabelle answered
The three of them met half way
across the room. “It’s about time you hauled ass here,” Jace told Alec,
grabbing his hand and slapping his back in welcome.
“I know, I got held up,” Alec
replied. He shrugged. “School and stuff.”
“Oh yeah, Mr Smarty Pants,” Jace
teased as Isabelle broke away from them and headed towards the stage. “How’s
that going anyways?”
“It’s tough, not going to lie,”
“Just quit and join us here!”
Isabelle called. She single handedly pushed herself up onto the stage, sitting
comfortably on the edge and returning her eyes to her phone. “You’d make an
excellent stagehand.” It was obvious from the smirk on her face that she was
joking. She, out of everyone in Alec’s family, had been the most supportive
when he told her he wanted to pursue medicine.
“Where’s Max?” asked Alec.
“With Mum and Dad,” Jace
shrugged as they made their way to the other side of the room where Isabelle
sat. “They don’t trust us to look after him.”
“It’s difficult to keep an eye
on a tiny boy with a tendency to explore around here, especially on a night as
busy as Saturdays,” Jace said.
Alec decided that that was
probably for the best. Max had always had a desire to explore and if The
Scarlet Letter got as busy as Isabelle claimed it did on Saturday nights, it
would be very easy to lose him to the crowd. Especially since Isabelle and Jace
themselves would be too busy working and Alec himself didn’t know the building
well enough to go looking if he had gone missing.
As he left his bag on the floor,
Alec noticed that the stage was covered in glitter. “What’s with the sparkles?”
Isabelle looked over her
shoulder at the stage floor, passing her palm over it thoughtfully. “You can
never get rid of all of it, so we stopped trying,” she said.
“What requires so much glitter?”
Alec frowned. Glitter was hard to remove completely, sure, but the amount that
was stuck to the floor of the stage was a lot more than the odd piece that
Jace jumped onto the stage in a
single leap. “Magnus can be excessive with it during his performances.”
His sister chuckled and shook
her head. “You’ll find out tonight. Don’t want to spoil the line-up for you.
You have to witness it first hand, like everyone else currently waiting outside.”
Alec looked behind him, at the
thick velvet curtains in which the entrance lay behind. “How long do they wait
for?” He couldn’t help wondering how long the crowds would wait for since there
was already many people outside and it didn’t even look like the place was set
“Hours on end, sometimes.” Jace
shrugged as if this were a common thing. Alec knew that his parents’ business
was popular but he had never imagined that it was line up outside for hours
like the latest iPhone was being released popular. He couldn’t help feeling
slightly daunted by it but at the same time extremely thankful for his lack of
involvement in it.
“Told you it’s very in your
face,” Isabelle grinned. “Even when we’re not open yet there’s always something
going on …”
Alec rolled his eyes and rested
his elbows on the edge of the stage. “So what type of show do you guys put on
that makes Saturdays so popular?” he asked.
“Obviously, we aren’t going to
tell you,” Jace laughed. “It has to be a surprise.”
“That worries me more than it
excites me,” Alec pointed out, which only made his siblings laugh even more.
“Don’t worry about it, big
brother,” Isabelle grinned, pocketing her phone and jumping to her feet. “I
need to get ready now or else I never will. I’ll help you find something to
wear when I’m finished.”
“What’s wrong with what I’m
wearing?!” Alec exclaimed as his sister disappeared offstage with Jace
following not far behind.
“Many things!” Isabelle called
Then, there was silence.
Alec sat on the stage alone, overlooking
the empty room. The room itself was extremely intimidating due to its sheer
size and grandeur. He didn’t know how Isabelle or Jace could stand there, right
in the centre, with hundreds of eyes on them nearly every night, and perform.
In a way, he was very jealous of the confidence they clearly had in order to do
such a thing. Alec would give himself a pat on the back if he managed to hold a
conversation with the cashier in the shop, yet his siblings were performing in
a popular establishment without any hindrance. The three of them were on
opposite sides of the spectrum.
He thought of his parents and
how much he actually dreaded seeing them the next morning. Alec knew that he
had to do it, he had to tell them, as they were the only ones left who didn’t
know. He couldn’t predict how they’d react to it but he had an awful feeling it
wouldn’t be well. At least Isabelle and hopefully Jace would be there as
support. If he had been on his own, Alec knew that he wouldn’t be even
considering telling them during his visit, even if it was about time they knew
It was becoming difficult to
hide this part of his life, even from his parents who he didn’t see often.
Being gay was something he had never been ashamed of himself, but the longer he
hid it from his parents the longer he had to keep up this façade to them that
he was going to find a nice girl and give them grandchildren. It was harder
than it sounded and most definitely extremely draining.
The idea of telling them about
it and them both turning their backs on him made Alec feel physically sick. He
had been going over how the conversation was going to go in his head for at
least the past two weeks, scenarios varying from acceptance to rejection
flooding his brain constantly. Alec’s relationship with his parents wasn’t
exactly the strongest. He barely knew them and could hardly remember them from
his childhood, but he didn’t want to ruin any chances of connection with them
by informing them that he was gay. He didn’t know what their thoughts on that
kind of thing was and he was terrified that he’d disgust them.
A voice suddenly became to
filter in through from somewhere backstage. Alec looked over his shoulder with
a frown. He didn’t recognise the voice. It was masculine but definitely not
Jace. Jace couldn’t sing to save his life and this voice was so beautiful it
was almost lulling. Alec didn’t know the song but the way it was being sung
made shivers jitter down his spine. He sat there, feeling almost entranced, and
listened for what felt like ages but in reality had only been a couple of
It stopped without warning and
Alec felt like he’d been poked with an electric prod. Like he’d been on a cloud
and was suddenly pushed off. Despite being alone, he felt slightly embarrassed
by his ability to get so caught up in the song or, more accurately, the voice
that was singing it. Maybe it was his Lightwood traits shining through but he
had a soft spot for music. Maybe not the same brand of music as the sort that
was performed at The Scarlet Letter but he had to admit that he was a sucker
for anything subtly beautiful.
It made him wonder who the owner
of the voice was. If it hadn’t been Jace, it peaked Alec’s curiosity towards
the sorts of performers that did frequent the Letter. It didn’t exactly make
him anymore excited towards having to endure the Letter on a popular night but
it did make his inquisitive nature bloom like a flower in spring. Alec had
definitely inherited the same curious gene as Max had, but only when it came to
particular things such as medicine and music.
With a sigh, Alec hopped off the
stage and slung his bag over his shoulder. He then took the stairs back up and
went backstage to see where Isabelle had disappeared off to.
He had a feeling that tonight
was going to be a long night.
Like what you read? Read up to Chapter Three here: