This is so long over due that words cannot sufficiently say how horribly sorry I am. TRIGGER WARNING for torture.

Alec rubbed at his wrists absent-mindedly. They had already begun to chafe from the iron, skin cracked and bleeding from the constant abrasion. His gaze sought out something to distract him. He had already counted the bars to his cell. He counted the rivets that held together those bars. He'd counted the cracks in the floorboards beneath his feet, and yet still no one came. Valentine was keeping him waiting, for what purpose he did not know. Yet despite his attempts to distract himself, his thoughts kept drifting back to Magnus. Where was he? What was Valentine doing to him? Was he even still alive? No, he would not think that. Would not allow his mind to drift to that awful conclusion. Ragnor was already lost to them; he would not doubt that Magnus was still alive. For if the opposite was true, then Alec truly would be alone. The thought of Magnus was what was keeping him strong, firm in his will to protect those he loved. And if that was taken from him, then it was only a matter of time before Valentine got what he desired.

He wondered what his parents would think of him now. His mother would have been right. He was just some foolish boy trying to be a man. He was barely out of his youth; no one in their right mind would have chosen him for such an important task. And yet, there had only been him. A starry-eyed youth, bent on seeking out his dreams. A dream, that in the end had only caused the destruction of his whole life and the lives of those he loved. How foolish he had been.

The sound of rusty iron scraping against wood snapped him to attention. The door to the brig opened slowly, the rusty creak resounding off the walls. The man that entered was shrouded in shadows, the single lantern in the room not enough to illuminate his features. The man paused, looking at Alec in stony silence. Alec stared back just as intently. He would not show weakness by looking away. Surprisingly enough, the man broke eye contact first, his gaze falling down to the floorboards as he walked towards Alec's cell. He grabbed a set of keys from his belt and hastily fit one to the cell door. The man let out a frustrated grunt, it was the wrong key. And the next one. Alec peered closer, his ears picking up the tiny jangle of the keys. Was the man's hands shaking? Alec looked closer. Indeed, his hands were shaking and if Alec squinted hard enough he could see sweat glistening on his brow. Was the man frightened? Of him? The thought alone made him bark out a laugh. The man startled, dropping his keys in a tangle to the floor.

Alec wiped a stray tear from his eye, smiling weakly. "You do not need to fear me," he said quietly. "I'm a merman not a monster." The man did not deign to reply to him, just gathered his key ring and finally opened the gate to Alec's cell. He grabbed the chain that connected Alec's cuffs to the floor and released it from its lock. Tugging impatiently at the end of the chain, he led Alec out of the cell and into the bowels of the ship. The way was dark and Alec stumbled at the man's fast pace. In a matter of minutes he was tripping up the stairs, wincing as the man repeatedly pulled on his cuffs. When he emerged he was surprised to find that he was on the deck of the ship, the sun slowly making its descent. He looked around in surprise; the whole crew seemed to be there. They were in the middle of the ocean, why weren't they at their stations? The Morningstar was just floating adrift with no direction or purpose. Her sails weren't even up.

The rest of the crew seemed just as fidgety as the man who had brought him up, a man who he now recognized as one of the riggers. He had never bothered to learn the names of the other crewmembers, most of them being under either Valentine or Blackburn's thumb. Distantly, he thought he recollected the man's name was Samuel, or maybe Simon? Was the whole crew really afraid of him? Alec was baffled once again. He was harmless. Sure he wasn't human, but he wasn't going to attack them like a rabid dog. He'd been on this ship for months; surely the men knew he was not some mindless beast.

A sudden hush overtook the men; the nervous mumbling that had erupted when Alec appeared suddenly cut off. Alec looked around and found the cause of the silence. Valentine had come on deck. And one thing became frighteningly clear to Alec in that moment. The men weren't afraid of him. They were afraid of Valentine.

Valentine stared at him with barely contained glee, his black eyes twinkling dangerously. It took all of Alec's willpower to not shudder. He didn't want Valentine to know that he had such an affect on him. It would only give the man more power over him than he already did, and Alec couldn't have that. He raised his chin defiantly, refusing to drop Valentine's gaze.

To his surprise, Valentine smiled. Alec had never seen the man smile before, nor would he ever desire to again. His grin was all teeth, his lips cracked open in an obscene imitation of joy. The expression made him look manic. His cool and distant façade had finally cracked, revealing the obsessive man beneath. Valentine had been searching almost his entire life for someone like Alec-for this opportunity- and now that it was finally in his grasp he was mad with triumph. Alec could see the crew eyeing Valentine warily. Surely they thought him mad. After all, he had shot and captured his own crewmembers; certainly the rest of them feared they were next to be suspect of being a mermaid. Valentine may have satisfied his need for proof, but Alec doubted the rest of the crew was so ready to believe.

Valentine motioned at the man still holding Alec's chain. Alec stumbled as he was suddenly yanked forward once again. The man tied the length of his chain around the mast and then stepped back like Alec was a disease that was catching. Valentine stalked towards him at a leisurely pace, before stopping mere inches away from Alec. The man's pupils disappeared into his dark irises, making him look inhuman. Alec blinked rapidly, trying to shake the sense of falling he was experiencing.

When Valentine finally spoke, it was the words that Alec had been dreading all along. "Where are they?" he asked. Alec returned his intense stare dolefully. "Where's whom?" Suddenly thick fingers gripped his chin, Valentine's fingers digging painfully into his jaw. "Don't play with me boy," he hissed out, his voice like ice. "I have no patience for games."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Alec gritted out. Valentine threw him down in disgust. The men cast uneasy glances at each other, perturbed by Valentine's behavior. He could still see the disbelief in their eyes. They would never fully support Valentine in his mad endeavor as long as he lacked proof.

Valentine motioned at one of the men, standing off to the side. The man scurried away at the silent command. Alec's eyes trailed after him, unsure of what he was doing. His focus was broken, however when he felt strong fingers grip his chin. "You know exactly what I'm talking about," Valentine hissed out, his breath ghosting over Alec's face. Alec struggled against the ironclad grip, but Valentine's fingers were like a vice. "And believe me," he hissed. "Soon you'll be singing like a canary." Alec defiantly stared back into the blackened shells of Valentine's eyes. There was a deep-rooted hatred gleaming in Valentine's eyes; a hatred so vast that Alec wondered how it could be contained in a sole man. The man had spent so many years chasing down even the slightest whisper of his people, that the mere thought of finding Alec's entire colony had him cracking at the seams. The zealot beneath the captain's carefully crafted exterior was finally emerging.

"You'll never succeed," Alec whispered. Valentine's eyes narrowed into slits at his words. His lips slid into a sneer as he grinned maliciously at Alec. "Oh, but I shall."

Alec recoiled at the sudden shock of water as it poured over him, spluttering from the cold. Valentine's grip on him loosened, only to push him backwards, his body slamming onto the deck. Alec shook the water from his eyes, only to find the entire crew staring down at him, horror in their eyes.

"You can't win against me Alec," Valentine's voice rang out, his voice carrying over the rest of the crew's murmurs. Alec's gaze finally focused on what they all seemed to be staring at. His legs were not the creamy white skin he had grown so accustomed to seeing. Instead, blue scales glistened with droplets of seawater.

"Because now you are truly and utterly alone."

(line break)

Alec's eyes restlessly flitted along the wood grain of the boards above him. He couldn't see much else from his position as it were. He was strapped to a table, barely able to move a muscle. After Valentine's little show on deck, some of his lackeys had dragged him down here to a room he'd never been in before. After they had secured him to the table they had left, confident enough that he couldn't escape they hadn't even posted a guard. And here is where he remained, staring listlessly at the ceiling, dark thoughts clouding his mind.

Any hope of getting the crew on his side was dashed as soon as that seawater touched his skin. Their apprehension over Valentine's behavior ceased as the disbelief bled from their expressions. He had been so adamant that Valentine would not succeed, putting on a defiant act in front of the crew. It was all for naught. Valentine now had not only the crew's loyalty, but their belief as well. And belief was a powerful force, one that had sent Alec's people into hiding for over half a millennium.

Where was Magnus? The last time that Alec had seen him, they'd both been in cages. Hours had passed since he had last seen his lovers face, maybe even days. Time was a meaningless concept now. His only hope now was that Magnus would get out of this alive. He had lost any hope for himself. Valentine would make sure he found his end one way or another. He just hoped that Magnus wouldn't get caught in the crossfire.

The sound of the door creaking open broke Alec out of his thoughts. He strained his neck, trying to catch a glimpse of whoever had entered the room. He shouldn't have been surprised to see the shock of white-blond hair in the room, but Valentine's presence was never a welcome sight. Valentine was followed close behind by another one of the crewmembers. Alec couldn't see what he was carrying, but he heard the unmistakable thud of a heavy object being dropped to the floor. After depositing whatever it was he was carrying, the man left the room, leaving him alone with Valentine.

Alec rested his head back on the table. He wouldn't give Valentine the satisfaction of seeing him squirm. He took a deep breath, steadying his nerves. Valentine suddenly leaned over him, pinning him with his lifeless stare. Alec stared back defiantly, clenching his jaw as he tried to restrain himself from spitting in the man's face. Alec couldn't keep himself from flinching when Valentine moved towards him. Instead of the cruel ministrations he was anticipating, Valentine's touch was surprisingly gentle. Valentine almost reverently brushed aside Alec's hair that had drooped into his eyes. Alec felt nauseous at the touch, desperately wanting to pull away.

"Astounding," murmured Valentine, his gaze never leaving Alec. "One would never guess that you were an abomination," his voice as cold as artic waters. Valentine's curious gaze had turned clinical, and he pushed himself away from the table that Alec was bound to. Valentine disappeared from Alec's line of sight. Suddenly the icy cold grip of fear flooded into his bloodstream. He had been struggling to remain impassive in the face of Valentine's malevolence but now he could feel his carefully built façade crumbling. His chest rose and fell rapidly as he struggled to fill his lungs with air. Maybe this is what drowning felt like.

Valentine's voice startled Alec out of his state of panic. "Now I realize that you feel a need to protect the rest of your retched kind." Valentine suddenly came back into Alec's field of focus, but it was what Valentine was holding that garnered all of Alec's attention. "However, I feel that with enough persuasion you'll tell me what I want to hear." The dim light of the cabin glinted off the wicked curve of the flaying knife that Valentine twisted between his fingers. Valentine dragged the tip of his knife along the curve of Alec's jaw. The frigid touch of the blade against his clammy skin caused goose bumps to erupt along his arms. Valentine's cruel caress nicked just below his chin and he could feel the blood beading along his skin. Bile rose in his stomach as he was faced with the horrible reality of what was about to occur. Valentine leaned down and suddenly his legs were bathed in the lukewarm sensation of seawater. Alec could feel his scales emerge form his skin, reacting to the presence of the salt water without his consent. Alec was alerted to the fact that Valentine had moved further down the table by the now familiar prick of the blade. Alec hissed in pain as the tip of the knife wedged its way beneath one of his scales, the motion agonizing in its slowness. Valentine of course didn't stop at just one.

As each scale came away, Alec's control slipped bit by bit. The pain was agonizing; Valentine digging out each scale like it was some rock wedged in-between his boots. Tears streamed down his cheeks, but Alec no longer cared about keeping a brave face. He knew this was just the beginning; that Valentine was just getting started, and the foreboding sense of what was to come scared Alec shitless. Alec heard the unmistakable drip from the bucket of seawater before he screamed in agony. Alec tasted blood in his mouth. He had bitten the inside of his cheek trying to choke down his pain. The sting of the salt water against his bloodied legs was quite possibly the worst sensation he'd ever experienced.

It felt like an eternity, lying there on that table as each of the scales on his legs were painstakingly removed. Alec's tears had long tried up, a small gasp of pain accompanying every bit of himself that he lost. His legs were like an exposed nerve, the grain of the wood was as abrasive as a rock and the very air stung. Worst of all was the seawater that was constantly poured over his bloody legs. It felt like a hundred knives jabbing into the muscles of his legs all at once. Through it all, Valentine did not say a word. His silence was unnerving as he methodically carved up Alec's legs. A cry was ripped out of him as he felt a large chunk of his scales being ripped off, a portion of his flesh going with it. Alec twisted in agony, his movements futile in his attempt to escape the grip of his capture. A scream tore from Alec's throat as Valentine dumped seawater onto the fresh wound. The sound of his own fear and pain echoed loudly in Alec's ears before he passed out.