My first official day in Brecon Beacons was—dare I say it—relaxing.

I hadn't been assigned a unit yet, so the Sargent gave me the day off, told me to familiarize myself with the camp, but there was no need. I remembered most of the layout from my ten days in training before Stormbreaker. My things were in my duffle, stored securely in the Selection Candidate Barracks until further notice.

I was sitting on the edge of the spacious lake, staring out over the water, the setting sun reflecting over the rippling surface.

After I'd fled the Pleasures', I'd disappeared. I wouldn't allow MI6 to find me—I wouldn't survive if they threw me back into missions like I'd done before. I'd used some old contacts from my MI6 days—Smithers included—and had some documents forged to make me eligible for SAS service. They forged a completely new birth certificate, a GCSEs certificate, crafted recommendation letters, even set up fake Facebook accounts for a tragically deceased sister and her husband, as well as inventing new parents. I was now nineteen-year-old Matthew Smith.

I sighed, running a hand through my dyed hair. I'd given it serious thought. I could settle down, get a normal job in some foreign country, and the risk of MI6 finding me would have been much, much lower. Hell, even my enemies would have a harder time finding me. I could've waited tables, sold train tickets, anything.

But I realized I would've gone crazy. As much as I hated MI6, hated the things I'd seen and done for them, what I'd become for them, the…adrenaline, the rush of danger…I'd become a junkie. Like someone who took a hit of narcotics and couldn't stop running back. I'd drive myself mad, doing some mundane task day after day after day.

That's what I told myself, anyhow.

The guilt still ate at me. MI6 had destroyed me. Destroyed my family, every single one of them. However, when I thought of the missions…

I'd saved millions of people.

And I felt guilty for running, when millions more may die because I wasn't there.

I shook my head, angry. I was being egotistical. I couldn't save everyone, no matter who I was. Sixteen-year-old superspy be damned, I couldn't save everyone.

So, my compromise was the SAS. I'd still be…helping. Saving people.

I could save Sabina. I couldn't save my parents, or Ian, or Yassen, or even Ash, or Ja-

Or her. And...I wanted to be able to save people.

And…my memories with K-Unit were bitter, but…MI6 had left me to rot so many times. And in the short time I'd been with the SAS, I'd seen teamwork, and trust, and camaraderie. I'd seen brotherhood, and friendship.

And no matter how many people had died in my life, I was only human. I wanted a family. But I knew it couldn't last. After all, everything I'd done to get into this camp was a lie.

But no matter what I'd seen, what I'd done, I was sixteen. I was damaged. And I wanted someone, anyone, to rely on.

So, I became Matthew Smith. I'd scripted the character. He was a wallflower. He preferred to watch, but he had a sense of humor. He was intelligent, but not cocky. And he didn't take anything lying down.

I'd been selfish and based him off of myself. I couldn't…let myself go, I guess. I needed to preserve who I was, if only for what was left of my sanity.

"Matthew, right?" A voice said behind me. It hadn't surprised me, and he noticed. I turned, standing, coming face to face with Travis. He was much taller than me, but he had an easy smile and air of mischief.

"That's me," I said, sticking my hand out. "Travis, right? Communications."

"Yeah," he said, giving me a firm handshake. "Shit, man, you are just a kid."

I shrugged. "I guess I'm young. Wasn't cut out for uni."

"Well, congratulations on passing Selection," he said, clapping me on the shoulder. "Sargent wants to see you; Kimberly—I guess Hawk, now—and I already have units. I'm Owl now, S-Unit."

"Thanks," I said, leaving him and heading towards the Sargent's office. "And congratulations."

I'd been nervous that the Sargent would recognize me, but I'd changed a good bit since my time here, and I'd dyed my hair black. Hopefully, it would be enough.

I knocked on his door, entering at the brusque reply from the other side. I walked in, taking in the room in an instant. Three men were standing off to the side in relaxed positions, curious looks on their faces. The Sargent was seated behind his desk, arms crossed over his chest.

"At ease!"

I snapped into position, feet spread, shoulders relaxed, hands clasped behind my back.

"L-Unit, this is your new sharpshooter and weapons consult, Matthew Smith." The Sargent looked at me, eyes thoughtful. "Normally he'd be too young to be sharpshooter, but his skills and knowledge are impressive. Matthew, your new name is Jaguar, understand?"

I nodded once, a small smile gracing my features. Jaguar. I liked it. I felt like…it suited both me and Matthew.

"This is your new unit, L-Unit. Men, introduce yourselves."

"I'm the unit leader, Lion," the first man said, and boy, did he look it. He stood at least half a foot taller than me, probably more, with broad shoulders and a muscular frame. His hair was cut short and his eyes were sharp and clever, but I could tell he wasn't a stick in the mud. He looked to be in his mid to late twenties. We shook hands; he had a strong grip.

"Communications specialist, Tiger," the next man said. He was short. Not shorter than me, but he probably only had a few inches on me. He wasn't nearly as muscular as Lion, but he was lithe and lean, probably agile and quick, like me. Though he was communications, you could tell he didn't speak much. He was a little younger than Lion, probably closer to mid-twenties. He looked intelligent as well. I'd have to be careful; they all seemed fairly observant.

"I'm Bear, I'm the medic," the remaining man said with a grin. When I pictured the code-name "Bear," I pictured some huge, hulking man with a scowl and an aggressive attitude, but this man was the exact opposite. Already he was bouncing on his toes, full of energy and excitement, grinning like a maniac. He looked closest to me in age—early twenties, no older than twenty-four, if that. He didn't look particularly book smart, but I knew better than anyone that appearances could be deceiving. He must've been intelligent, to be a medic.

"I guess I'm Jaguar," I said, giving them a loose smile and relaxing my posture, trying to make myself look non-threatening. "Sharpshooter, weapons expert."

"So, how old are you, exactly?" Tiger asked, his expression curious, stance agitated.

"Nineteen," I said, voice emotionless.

"Sergeant, you gave us the baby," Lion complained, but I could tell, at least from him, that it was good-natured. Tiger, not so much.

He growled, much like a tiger might, and said, "Sharpshooter? He's going to shoot his damn eye out."

Bear seemed to be a bit apprehensive, obviously used to Tiger's stand-offish behavior. Lion, being leader, tried to smooth things over, settling a hand on the man's shoulder. "Tiger, he's new. You haven't seen him in action yet. Let's be optimistic, yeah?"

Tiger folded his arms.

I turned to the Sergeant. Matthew Smith—and consequently Alex Rider—didn't take anything lying down. "I'd like to thank you, sir," I said, looking him dead in the eye, showing him that I was serious.

The Sargent blinked, seemingly surprised, and eyed me suspiciously. "For what, Jaguar?"

I allowed the tiniest, tiniest smirk to come over my features as I eyed my new unit mates. "For not codenaming me 'Dorothy.'"

For a moment, no one spoke. Then Bear collapsed in laughter.

"Lions, Tigers, and Bears," he breathed, almost choking. "Oh, God, we never even realized it, mates. We're a regular Oz reunion, aren't we?"

Lion had an amused look on his face, but he wasn't quite laughing. I could tell Tiger was going to be the one to win over, because he was less than amused. In fact, he looked downright unimpressed.

The Sargent, who was trying very hard to remain expressionless had the smallest smile on his lips. "All of you, get out of my office. You're raising my blood pressure."

We filed out, Lion supporting a still-cackling Bear, and Lion said, "Do you want to grab your things? I reckon they're still in the Selection barracks."

"Yeah, I'll get them," I said, turning. "Where's the L-Unit cabin?"

"Don't worry, I'll send Bear to meet you at the mess when he's calmed down some," Lion replied, shoving his two unit mates ahead of him. "We'll do proper introductions tonight, yeah, kid?"

For the time being, I ignored being called "kid" and nodded, a tendril of nervousness worming its way through my stoicism at the thought of really getting to know my unit.

"—going to get someone killed," Tiger's voice filtered through the thin door as I stopped abruptly, heavy duffle slung over my shoulder as Bear and I stood there. "He's an inexperienced kid. He needs to be put in a new unit. He's nowhere near ready for active duty."

"C'mon, give him a shot," Lion said, sounding a bit exasperated. "Yeah, he's new, but the Sargent wouldn't have put him with us if he wasn't skilled. We'll evaluate him tomorrow, alright?"

Bear gave me a sympathetic look and shoved the door open. "We're back!"

Tiger and Lion both looked at us, and Tiger looked quickly away, reading a book in his bed, the top bunk on the right. The title, I noticed, was in Russian. As expected of a communications expert, I supposed.

"Jaguar, you can have bottom bunk on the left," Lion said with a smile. "It's the only one unoccupied."

"Thanks." I set my bag down, kicking it under the bed, and sat down to peel off my mud caked books. Weather in Wales truly was a nightmare.

"So, tell us about yourself," Bear said, sitting cross-legged on his bunk. He was underneath Tiger. Lion chose to sit in one of the chairs in the room, so he could see me.

I gave a slight chuckle, running a hand through my hair to get it out of my eyes. I knew it wasn't regulation, but no one had said anything so far, so I hadn't cut it—another part of my old self I wanted to keep. "Not much to tell, really," I said, leaning against the wall. "What do you want to know?"

"What made you want to join the SAS?" Lion asked.

Oh. A tough question. "Well, I didn't have a lot of options, and I wanted to serve my country in some way. I wasn't cut out for regular military, so SAS seemed like my best option." Not a lie, exactly.

"What's your family like?" Bear asked, leaning forwards expectantly. "Got a girlfriend back home?"

"No girlfriend," I said with a wry smile.

"Well, then what about family?"

"Nothing special."

My tone must have warned them off the subject, because it didn't come up again.

Mostly, it was just Lion and Bear asking me questions about myself. Matthew answered some, and Alex answered others. Tiger continued to read, but after he'd been on the same page for ten minutes, I knew he was listening.

"Any issues I should know about?" Bear asked, suddenly growing a bit more serious. "As medic, I mean. If you've got any medical conditions, I need to know in case you get hurt."

Oh, my. How to answer.

"Well," I said slowly, looking away from him. "I sometimes take painkillers for an old injury, but I don't think it's anything to worry about."

This was in reference to my snipe wound. It had been over a year, but it had left me with a constant ache in the scar tissue, since it had healed improperly. My escapade during my time in the hospital—the one with the burning building and the improvised tightrope—had seen to that. It had also left me with a minor heart condition which left me with a lower-than-average blood pressure, and made me more sensitive to trauma around my heart.

"Mind if I examine it later?" He said nonchalantly. Obviously it wasn't a big deal to him. It was to me.

"Yes, actually," I said, pretending to be embarrassed. It was a reaction Matthew would have. On the inside, though, as Alex, I was terrified. I had scars littering every part of my body. I didn't want them to see that. "If it's alright, I'd…rather keep it to myself."

Bear blinked. "Oh. Well, I suppose, then. Just…what's it affect, if you don't mind my asking?"

I guess I could answer that. "It's a heart condition."

"Got it," he said, and let the matter drop.

I didn't fail to notice Tiger's piercing eyes.

"So," Lion said, resuming the Q&A session. "You're a weapons expert, eh?"


"Know a lot about guns?"

I smirked. "You could say that."

"Any other talents?" Tiger asked, a slight sneer in his voice. "Speak anything besides English? Any training in hand-to-hand? Basic field medicine?"

"Tiger, don't—" Lion began to chastise, but I interrupted him.

"I'm fluent in six languages, including English, and I can get by in a few others."

A second of silence, and then Bear laughed. He saw my expression and stopped abruptly, saying, "Oh, bloody hell, you're serious."

"What languages, then?" Tiger asked, his expression challenging.

"English, Spanish, French, Russian, Japanese, Italian."

"You expect me to believe that?" He asked in Russian, his accent flawless.

"I do, actually," I responded in Japanese. "I wouldn't have said it otherwise."

His brow furrowed. "So, we got the boy genius, huh?" He scoffed.

"What about martial arts?" Lion asked, looking confused at the conversation we'd just had. I guess he didn't speak either language.

"Black belt in tae kwon do, and first dan in karate," I said. "I was a well-rounded child, I suppose."

"I'll have to test that tomorrow," Lion grinned. "We've got your evaluation. I'm a black belt in Brazilian Jiu jitsu, so we'll see how we match up."

I smiled in his direction. "Looking forward to it."

"So, any field medicine knowledge?" Bear asked.

I held my hands up, and embarrassed expression flicking across my face. "You've got me. Nothing there."

"Well, thank God for small miracles," Tiger huffed, going back to his book.

Yeah, I thought. Tiger was definitely the one to win over.

A/N: Heeeey! Hope you guys liked Chapter 1 (the first chapter was just a prologue). Okay so, this is L-Unit. K-Unit comes in later; they're definitely a huge part of the story, and I promise there WILL be some definite hurt Alex overprotective / concerned K Unit, but that's going to be in tandem with L-Unit, and I want to get them introduced and established before I screw it up with K Unit XD

Mae: Thanks so much! I hope you liked this chapter!

Kc: Thanks so much! I'm so glad!

Guest (This is amazing...): Omg thank you so much, that's so nice to hear! I'm so happy you're excited for it; I hope you liked this chapter!

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