There is something about living by a strict routine. It gives you a sort of certainty, that can be very calming.
You know when you will get up, get breakfast, go to work.. some people would call it monotonous or even boring, but Alec liked it. He was okay with doing the same things day after day without any changes. He knew what will happen, what to expect and he was more than happy with it.
He opened his eyes, staring up at the white ceiling. There was something sad, how familiar he became with every single crack on the wall, with every dirt on the white paint.
“Chop-chop Lightwood. Breakfast is ending in 15 minutes.” Alec turned onto his stomach, pressing his head into his pillow with a disapproving growl.
He was happy with consistency but waking up to Raphael’s voice every damn morning was something he wouldn’t mind missing out on his daily schedule.
“Do you find some twisted satisfaction in this, huh?” Alec asked as he walked out of the room, one hand ruffling with his messy hair while he raised his other in front of his mouth as he yawned.
“These moments are the highlights of my days which is, now that I think about it, is very alarming.” Raphael said deadpanning as he turned the page of some old magazine. It was one of those tabloids, full of lies and drama and the entire image looked so surreal, he wondered if he was still dreaming, having a vivid nightmare perhaps.
“Did you know about the new fast and furious movie?” Raphael asked Alec earning a few slow blinks from Alec as his brain tried to take in the random question.
“Hate to be the one bringing the bad news but I’m certain that a 9th is coming out soon.” Alec answered as he took the magazine from the man, his eyes looking for the publication date. “It’s from 2013 you jackass.” Alec threw it back with a laugh.
Raphael just shrugged as he got up as they made their ways towards the canteen with the hope that they will be able to grab a bite before having to head for work.
Alec looked around, not looking for anyone in particular as his eyes took in all the faces around them. He knew every single one of them. The new ones, the ones who came in the same time as him and the ones whose been here for longer.
Coming into this place twice, initially after his first sentence, then coming back after his trial.. were completely different. He remembered how screwed he felt the first time he walked into the now familiar building. The C block. How scared he was, not knowing what will happen, what to expect.
He remembered meeting Catarina, who was the first person being nice to him despite him being in prison. He remembered listening to Simon going on and on about the rules and general stuff and how he warned him about different allies.
He remembered meeting Ragnor in his office once he got him as his councilor.
He could recall the first time he met Raphael, in the bathroom and how he saved the guy’s ass from getting beaten on his first day.
He remembered Jonathan and their first encounter, how the man threatened him the first moment he had a chance.
He remembered all the people, the ones who’ve been here, the ones who were still here and those who were gone now.
Luke, Underhill, Elias, Meliorn, Jonathan, Lorenzo, Raj, Aldertree, Marshall..
Every single one of them.
Committing a murder while in prison wasn’t on his to-do-list. It changed everything.
To this day, he still caught the occasional stray glances people gave him when they thought he couldn’t see them. He saw mixed emotions in those eyes, fear, wariness, respect, surprise, admire and even gratefulness.
Sometimes he wondered if people even understood what he has done and how much it cost him.
He received 5 years for his first crime and got an additional 15. That 1825 days jumped to 7300 days. He didn’t even want to think about how old he will be when he gets out.
There were days when he thought about that when as an if, instead, but right now, everything was quiet. He didn’t have to sleep with one eye open and that was all he ever wanted.
He was smarter than to believe that the peace was permanent. There might be no major conflict in the block but that was a fragile state. A single person could march in any moment and cause a shitstorm with one word.
He nodded towards Luke and the others as he stepped into the line, grabbing a tray from the stack on his left.
“Thought you guys were skipping breakfast today.” Meliorn said with a smile when he spotted them from the other side. He patted his hand on a cloth before grabbing a plate.
“This one – Raphael nodded towards Alec – was having his beauty sleep.”
“I remember the amount of time Magnus asked me to sneak out some baps for him so he could sleep in for a bit longer.” Meliorn said nostalgically with a smile.
Alec sucked in a breath as his eyes got glued on a spot in front of him. It’s been a long time since anyone uttered his name. For a reason.
What happened on that day when Alec plead guilty to give Magnus a second chance in life was something that not many people knew about. Alec never talked about it to anyone so the ones who did must have got the information from Magnus, like Raphael, Luke, Catarina, Ragnor and Simon. He wasn’t sure who else knew about it, but it didn’t matter.
He thought about the man every single day. The first few months were the hardest. There wasn’t a single corner of their block where he didn’t see the ghost of the man. Every time he stepped into a room, turned onto a corridor, opened a door, he desperately hoped to spot the man. It was something terribly selfish, he wanted the man to be free, to be out, but it didn’t mean he wouldn’t miss him. He didn’t know how much he meant for him until he was gone.
Despite the constant void in his heart, he didn’t contact the man, not even once. He didn’t accept his phone calls and he didn’t let him to visit him. He didn’t know if he ever tried, he requested him being banned from contacting him in any shape or form as soon as Magnus placed a foot out of the prison.
He often thought about the reason behind his decision and once again, he realized it was the usual selfishness.
One would think he did it for the sake of the man, but in reality, he did it for the sake of himself.
Missing someone who was absent from your life was hard. But missing someone who was part of your life on and off, was just agonizing. He didn’t want to see him, hear his voice or smell his cologne.
His memory was everywhere, in the books of the library, in the water of the shower, in the darkness of the movie nights.. and that was more than enough for his heart to bear.
He occasionally pondered how Magnus felt about Alec shutting him off completely. Was he angry? Disappointed? Hurt? Or maybe happy? Relieved? He didn’t see Alec around himself in everything, he didn’t hear his laugh in the silence, and he didn’t feel the phantom tenderness of his touch on his skin at night. Magnus was free. Free of prison, free of Alec, free to move on. And Alec hoped that he did, he hoped he was happy, that he started a new life, that he was able to leave it all behind.
“Hey.” Raphael pushed him slightly and Alec snapped out of his thoughts as he realized that they were waiting for him.
“Sorry. Uhm.. I just grab some tea.” He said, still miles away, along with his appetite.
“As you wish.” Meliorn sighed before raising his voice for the guy behind them. “Who’s next?”
He was permanently working in the laundry room along with Luke, Raphael and Underhill. They worked in synch together and Alec enjoyed the banters that were part of their day.
“I’ll go down to grab the next load.” Underhill said as he dropped the last hoodie on the top of the others. Alec used to love going down with the lift, but that was a long time ago. He never does anymore. There are way too many memories haunting him in the metal cage, down in the dim-lighted corridor.
“What day is it?” Alec turned around the guy. He was new. Woolby or something. He had long blond hair and was tall and slender. He was quiet and rarely talked. He seemed to get along with Luke more than others.
“Wednesday.” Raphael answered, not surprised by the question. It was easy to lose track of time when every day was the same.
“Thanks.” He murmured as he went back to folding.
“Why?” Alec asked.
“The new ones are coming today. My brother is among them.” He answered as he looked into Alec’s eyes.
“I’m sorry.” Alec said and he truly meant it. As much as he would appreciate Jace’s company, he knew that seeing him in here would kill him at the same time.
The guy just shrugged almost as if he couldn’t care less but Alec assumed that even if he did, he wouldn’t share it with them.
They worked for the next few hours, Alec listened to the others talking but he wasn’t really saying much.
“Blah. Would someone tell Meliorn to dial it down on the vegetables? I feel like a fucking rabbit.” A guy said with a grimace as he poked a piece of broccoli with disgust on his face.
“If you have an issue with it, go on and tell him yourself Fade.” Raphael answered without looking up from his plate.
Alec didn’t really care that Meliorn preferred serving vegetables over rice or fries. After eating the food her sister cooked, pretty much anything went down without an issue.
“Woolsey isn’t eating either.” Fade said, spreading his arm. Oh, so not Woolby. Alec took a mental note to remember the guy’s name the next time.
“He isn’t eating because his brother is among the new ones. He’ll be here in like 15 minutes.” Underhill said as he raised his cup to his mouth.
“What the fuck is going on with Pangborn and Blackwell?” Alec asked as he watched the two men from further apart. They looked surprisingly nervous, on edge as they whispered to each other.
Alec watched as Raphael opened his mouth, but he shut it abruptly, his body tensing as his head snapped towards someone. Alec followed his gaze and spotted Simon coming towards them.
He could tell that something was up. The boy was walking with a normal speed, but he was visibly nervous.
“Lightwood, Santiago.” He said with a serious tone before nodding towards the entrance, indicating that he wants to talk to them privately.
Alec raised an eyebrow as he got up along with Raphael.
“What did you do?” Alec whispered to Raphael as they followed the man outside.
“Nothing, as far as I know.” He answered without his usual remarks.
“What is it?” Alec asked with a frown as they stopped a few meters from the entrance. Lewis looked livid as he looked around before starting to whisper in a hurry.
“Listen. No matter what happens, the two of you will have to get attached at the hips. Don’t go anywhere alone. Always be surrounded by people. The more the better. No lonely library sessions, no skipping movie nights.” He was talking fast, and Alec had to focus on every word to make sense.
“Ragnor is looking into how this could have happened. It shouldn’t have that’s for sure, but there is nothing we can do. Just… try to stay low.” He said nervously as he looked around frantically. People started to leave the canteen, the corridor getting busier and busier.
“Dios. Lewis. Calm down. What are you on about?” Raphael asked, his hand grabbing onto Simon’s shoulder as if he wanted to shake him to snap out of whatever state of mind he was in currently.
“You didn’t hear?” He looked at them with wide eyes, his mouth comically open.
“Hear what?” They asked at the same time, both confused.
“Valentine has been placed back into the C block.” As if on cue, the door opened, and Valentine Morgenstern walked in with a smile on his face, followed by two guards. He looked at the other inmates, most of them looking at the man in disbelief. He couldn’t blame them. The man was a monster. Even bigger than his son.
Alec heard the whispers and knew that some of the people were looking at him, waiting for his reaction, but Alec had no idea what to expect. Fuck. He killed the man’s son. Morgenstern coming back wasn’t a coincidence, even if it’s been over a year ago. It must have taken him some time to arrange his translocation. Alec didn’t know if it was a good or a bad thing that he had to wait this long for his revenge.
On one head, he had time to come to terms with it, on the other hand, he must have had plenty of time to think about how to kill Alec.
The man was looking around as a king arriving back to his kingdom, smile wide on his lips as he enjoyed the different reactions his mere presence earned from others.
“Home, sweet home.” He said with a smile so wide it almost stretched along his entire face, giving him the look of a Cheshire-cat. “Raphael.” He said happily as he spotted the boy, Alec could hear Raphael’s breath getting caught in his throat as the man walked towards them, slowly.
“Valentine.” Raphael gritted through his teeth as he looked at the man.
“And you.. you must be Alexander Gideon Lightwood.” He said, almost amused as he looked up at Alec. Alec, despite being taller, felt intimidated by the man. Knowing all the things he has done in the past, he would be a fool not to.
“I didn’t think anyone would have the balls to kill my son.” He said and the fact he was still smiling made Alec feel unspeakably uncomfortable.
“I didn’t have much choice.” Alec said, voice low and deep.
“Yeah.. I heard about the story. Gossip is a bitch, isn’t it?” The man said with a short laugh.
“Dinner is over, why don’t you all go back to your cells?” Simon asked and as much as Alec appreciated the idea, he knew that it wouldn’t be that easy.
“Why? Is it against the rules to have a chat?” Valentine looked at Simon, eyebrows in pretended curiosity.
“No. It is not.” Simon said with confidence in his voice and Alec realized that the boy could still surprise him, even to this day.
“Very well then, let me have a private chat with Mr Lightwood here.” Alec had to restrain himself from letting out a snort, considering that they were surrounded by others but nodded slightly at Raphael and watched as they walked over a few meters from them before looking back at the man.
“Is this the moment when you will threaten me and tell me to watch my back?”
“Oh no. I’m not my son. I’m smarter than him. I let my actions speak.” The man said with a smirk that was holding more than his words.
“That’s rich coming from someone who is in prison.” Alec snorted.
“Well, I can’t argue with that. I had my weak moments. But I don’t want to talk about the bad decisions that got me arrested.” The man said with a wave of his hand.
Alec didn’t answer but he didn’t tear his eyes off the man.
“You know.. as much as I know how much pain in the ass my son was, he was still my blood. And you murdered him. I can’t just forget that.”
“And here I thought you were being honest with your no threatening speech.” Alec said and this time, he didn’t even try to stop himself from rolling his eyes.
“If I wanted you dead, I could have got that sorted months ago, or even better, I could have done it myself the moment I came back. Slitting your throat before anyone could do as much as blink.”
“Why didn’t you?” He asked, crossing his arms.
“As much as it surprises you, there are bigger monsters in the D block than me. I wanted to get out.”
“Took you long enough.”
“Oh no, I could have come back a lot earlier, but I wanted to wait until everything was ready.” The man said as he shook his head with a tiny chuckle.
“What do you mean?” Alec asked, even if he was mortified of the answer.
“You see, killing you would be easy. Obviously. You aren’t as tough as everyone thinks you are. But all I would gain is extra years and on top of that, it wouldn’t be satisfying. I mean.. I’ve killed more people than I care to admit, killing you would just be another number. Meaningless.”
Alec felt something creeping up on his back, something remotely similar to fear and dreadfulness. He wanted to shake it off, but it was clutching to him, moving closer and closer to his heart.
“Why would I take your life away in an instant, when I can make you suffer and watch you breaking without laying a finger on you?” The man asked tilting his head and Alec heard a voice screaming in his head, but he couldn’t make out the words, his heart drumming too loud in his chest.
“The perks of being a top criminal, is having people everywhere, waiting for my commands to act. Ready to do whatever I ask them. So, when I asked my people to help me bring you a surprise, they were so eager to do so, even if it took them over a year. But better later than never, right?” His smile was feral, almost sinister.
There is a calm before the storm. When everything is still and quiet. You can already feel it in the air, but there are no thunders and lightings just yet. But the moment it truly arrives, it destroys everything.
Alec head snapped towards the double doors as they opened, the new people arrived.
He could feel the air thickening as it does when thunder is at hand. The tension was palpable and the moment the latch that was keeping the doors slammed shut was removed, numerous thuds began to echo in the block. Small thunders they were, bringing closer still, a storm like no other. A storm very few could escape unscathed. Numerous men entered, new prisoners, new faces--
He felt his heart stopping and dropping, his blood running out of his face as his eyes stopped on the last person. He was breathless, shaking. He heard people gasping, Raphael letting out a shocked Spanish curse, Valentine laughing, but through all of that, he heard his own voice, strange, almost unknown to his own ears as he spoke quietly.