Hi everyone! This is the first fic I'm posting here. I've written other fanfictions before, but they're all on tumblr for people to laugh at my obsessions *coughcoughTolkiencough*

Also, a note - this is not going to be a romance. This is my own spin on the 'Alex meets a girl who also has a broken past theme' and I'm hoping to make it as original and fun as possible without having any romance as any significant impact on the plot.

Disclaimers: I don't own Alex Rider or any other characters from the series mentioned in this fic. My only original one is Danielle du Nuit :)

And now, onto chapter one! Hope you enjoy!

By sunrise, Alex Rider had been awake for three hours.

He got to watch as the sun's sleepy light slowly crept across dark clouds that had hung over London for nearly a fortnight.

Sunrise. Time for coffee.

Alex reluctantly stepped away from the windows and set his violin back in its velvet-lined case. His fingertips tingled after practicing at, as his neighbors in the flat below often said, two in the bloody morning!

In Alex's defense, he had tried soundproofing. It wasn't his fault that violins were so loud, and he did try to use a mute.

His phone chimed as he set water to heat in the hotpot and poured instant coffee grounds into the bottom of a mug that read SUPERSPY in large red print across the front. The mug was a Christmas gift from Tom Harris, who thought the whole thing hilarious. Alex distinctly remembered throwing a couch cushion at his head.

His days of spying had been over for barely four years, as his nineteenth birthday passed three days ago. Alex was enjoying his retirement by indulging another love: music.

The thrill of performing music memorized by muscles and mind, the soaring feeling that made his heart beat and his lungs breathe; that was what he lived for. All the words he never said came spilling out in cries of anguish disguised as art.

None of the critics knew that, of course. They just wrote "fantastic interpretation of Steitz!" or "a beautiful marriage of technique and improvisation, Alex Rider. . ."

Yes, his real name. It didn't matter how inconspicuous he was; if someone wanted him dead, they would find him.

Performance high was a soaring spiral just strong enough to make Alex. . . happy. For a few moments, everything was right with his world. There was no MI6, no gravestone in the cemetery, no bullet-proof glass in his windows.

Music was, quite literally, the air he breathed.

Speaking of music, it was now 5:58 a.m. and he had an appointment at a nearby cafe at 7.

Alex hurried through his shower and dressed in a button down shirt and slightly rumpled khakis (he really should consider doing laundry sometime soon) . With his hair still wet, he left his flat and locked each of the 5 locks behind him before careening down the stairs.

Alex never took the lift if he could help it.

He knew he was running late; it was 7:05 a.m. and his flat was four blocks away. Without looking he dodged a silver Mercedes and sprinted across the street. Already the streets were becoming thick with foot traffic - commuters, tourists, the like. Alex arrived at the cafe, Dana's Delights (not nearly as shady as the name seemed to imply), and snagged a small table near the door.

He glanced at his reflection in the glass storefront and winced.

From his spot in the corner, Alex could watch the door for anyone who looked like a pianist to enter. He was supposed to meet his new accompanist today (his old one had a mental breakdown) but the only pianist-type he saw was the girl sitting at the upright next to the bar.

The cafe filled rapidly with patrons coming for breakfast; there was an elderly couple who bickered over sections of the newspaper, an exhausted-looking mother with two small children, a man wearing an Italian suit, and a tall fellow with a tastefully groomed beard.

Absently, Alex touched his own face and rued the fact that he barely needed to shave.

Alex tugged at the collar of his shirt, sweating despite the chilly February weather.

A smiling waitress came to take his order. Alex ordered coffee and croissants, then checked his watch. 7:15.

At least I'm not late, he thought, a wry grin curling at his lips. Well, not comparatively.

The pianist at the bar launched into a lovely rendition of Chopin's Waltz in E minor.

Alex's thoughts had just lost themselves between the tumbling notes when a loud series of clanks on the lower octaves startled him. The pianist stood up, running her hands through her hair, and snatched a cup of coffee of the top of the piano before turning and hurrying across the cafe.

Alex paid her no heed until she plopped down in the chair across from him. Her fair hair fell over her face. "Sorry! I got carried away. I was a few minutes early and it was seven, you weren't here- ah, I mean you were-"
"I was late," He stated, shrugging. "Got distracted."

"Oh," she huffed out a breath, sitting rigidly in her chair. Her hand gripped the coffee cup like a lifeline. "So, you're Alex Rider."

"Yes." Alex grinned. It was so nice to hear those words spoken by a civilian, not a government official. "I am. Danielle, is it?"

She nodded. "Danielle du Nuit."

"Of the night?"

"Yes. You speak French?"

"A little." A lot, actually. He was fluent. However, most up and coming classical musicians weren't fluent in four languages, so Alex downplayed that fact. His childhood was not up for discussion in any interviews, nor was his work history. One of the most useful things MI6 had done when he retired was to upload enough about him to the internet that it would be impossible to divine anything else besides his history as a musician.

Actually, that was probably the only useful thing Blunt had done. Not that he did it himself.

Danielle took a sip of coffee. "Well. Hi, then. What pieces are you working?"

"Uh," Alex intelligently replied as he tried to gather his thoughts, which was difficult as he was running on three hours of sleep. "Paganini and Bach."

"Okay, but what pieces?" Danielle gave him a tentative grin. "I want to know just how much better than me you are, so I can start applying for another job now rather than later."

Alex snorted. "No. You're not going anywhere, I need an accompanist. I'm playing Caprice four and the Chaconne."

"Okay, so you're the violin of violins. I can work with that."

Alex bit back a smile. "In terms of piano/violin music, I've got scores for a Chopin nocturne, Dvorak eleven, and Danse Macabre." Face heating up, he sheepishly glanced at the table. "My, ah, old accompanist took all the other ones."

"What happened?" Danielle sat forward, her eyes alert and twinkling. Her silver-painted nails tapped impatiently against her cup in a relentless tick tick tick.

Alex let out a groan and rubbed his eyes. He did not want to answer that question and didn't think he legally could.

"She wanted to go on tour, and I prefer to stay in England." It wasn't a preference so much as a mandate, a condition for his retirement. For 'personal safety' was Jones' explanation when what she really meant was 'so no one captures and tortures sensitive information out of you'.

"Ah, that makes a partnership rough." Danielle tossed a piece of her hair over her shoulder. "Well, I'm fine with staying here."

"Glad to hear that. We can rehearse at my studio if that's alright with you. It's above my flat."
She pursed her lips. "Where do you live?"

He gave her his address, and her brow furrowed. "Are you joking?"

He frowned. "No."

"God," she breathed out a sigh and twisted the glittering ring on her left hand. "This is so stupid."

"What is?" Alex asked.

"Your building . . . it's the same one I live in. I'm on the fourth floor."

"Ah. Mine's the thirteenth."

"Yes, you just said that."
Alex's face burned as he realized that he was being less professional and more nervous-exhausted-stressed. His skills really were slipping.

"Is that still okay with you?"

She gave a small shake of her head. "It's fine. I'm just surprised."
"What a coincidence," he casually replied, thinking to himself that perhaps their close proximity wasn't so accidental after all. One thing he learned was that there are no coincidences, only carefully orchestrated events. He glanced at Danielle again. She wore a white, sleeved blouse and jeans that looked naturally worn instead of mechanically so. She didn't appear any more fit than the average woman, and obviously wore those jeans frequently. Her proficiency on the piano wasn't faked; he just heard her play.

So, not an assassin, he thought to himself. Then what?

Danielle narrowed her eyes at him. "Why are you staring at me?" there was an edge to her voice.

Alex blinked. "What brings you to London?"
WIth the same guarded tone, she replied, "I'm looking for work. That's why the Academy contacted you."

"Ah. Sorry, Danielle. You look familiar, is all. I've probably seen you leaving the building."

He wondered about the fear that flew across her face before she nodded once and began rambling about Chopin's piano etudes, the first pieces she learned, with forced lightness injected into her ramblings.

Alex merely smiled and nodded at the appropriate places, watching the man from earlier out of the corner of his eye.

Now the bearded figure sat hunched against the opposite corner. Despite the warmth of the cafe, his hat was pulled over his eyes and he had a thick scarf wound around his throat.

Alex knew what was going to happen a second before it did. He launched out of his seat and tackled Danielle, sending them crashing to the floor as two bullets shattered the glass right where his head had been.

Shards of window panes rained down on Alex and Danielle. He sprawled over her, trying to shield her upper body with his. Her eyes were squeezed shut and the color was rapidly draining from her face.

Alex pushed himself to his feet, almost slipping on the glass that littered the floor, and tugged at her arm. "Danielle! Are you hurt?" even as he spoke his eyes skimmed her from head to toe. No signs of bleeding or any other injuries, but she cradled her left wrist to her chest.

"N-no," she stuttered, but Alex was already pulling her up. Customers were streaming out of the cafe; not a single one stopped to see if either of them were harmed. Alex frantically searched the crowd for the bearded man, but in the wake of incoming sirens, people had scattered across the opposite side of the street.

"Go back to your flat!" Alex yelled over the noise as three police cars screeched to a halt outside. He ushered her out the swinging door and turned left. Officers were rapidly assembling, kneeling behind their vehicles as the last few customers exited the cafe. Alex made sure that he and Danielle slipped away before anyone thought to ask the civilians for witness statements.

"Hurry, run!" Alex prodded Danielle in the back.. She flinched, but jogged down to the next block and turned left. After making a last-ditch search for the would-be assassin, Alex followed her. Better not to be around when the police started digging.

The beard, hat, and scarf landed with a wet plop in one of the many puddles littering the narrow alley. He stepped over them all, dismantling the gun as he walked and distributing the pieces in various dumpsters. By the time he reached the other end, his suit and tie were unblemished and he stepped out into the street, looking just like every other Londoner.

Britain thought that Alex Rider was forgotten.

They were wrong.

Hmm... one review? Yes, that sounds good because I've barely been on this site for more than a day. One review before the next chapter is uploaded :)