This One-Shot is set in Point Blanc, just after Alex makes his escape from the School.
It takes place primarily from Wolf's perspective and covers the slightly AU time between Alex making a break for it and him returning to the school with the SAS.
So, er.. Possible spoilers if you still haven't read the second books.
This one-shot is dedicated to Amitai - a Christmas present (because I didn't finish it before XMas) and a thank-you fic for all her wonderful writing. If you like Alex Rider and aren't already a fan of hers, get over there now!
This is my first AR fic, so characterisation is likely to be shoddy. It was also completely re-written twice, because I kept changing my mind about just how AU it was going to be.
I'm also exhausted as I finish and post this, on Christmas Eve 2006! Please forgive any grammatical and spelling errors I didn't catch!
(Also, Muchos lurve to Cassie for her kindness in helping me spell check!)
A Point Blanc AU
Seeing him was a shock.
They hadn't been told who the agent was; they'd just been ordered into a chopper and briefed en route.
An unspecified agent had sent a distress call. They were to watch their designated area and recover the agent, should he break confinement and make a dash for freedom.
Several different units had been dropped and concealed into the area surrounding the school. Their unit had been placed towards the edge of the forest, running down the slope. They'd stood by with skis ready and waited for orders.
They'd heard gunfire.
Knowing the agent had nowhere to go but down towards the valley, they'd cut down the side of the woods, keeping close to the harsh rock of the mountain wall beside them. They'd beaten the agent to the end of the forest, but remained in hiding so as to take care of any potential pursuers.
They needn't have worried. A belch of flame coupled with a muffled explosion announced the death of one pursuer and the second one had been taken care of the instant the agent left tree cover.His team - though completely professional - were nevertheless amused and ever-so-slightly awed by just how 'James Bond' the moment had been. Moving with a grace so instinctive and smooth that it looked choreographed, the agent had grabbed his snowboard and twisted in mid-air to attack his armed, snowmobile-mounted pursuer. The man had ended up crushed by his own bike.
The agent had then pulled up to a harsh stop, his breath clear in the air even from their distance. He seemed to wait for a moment, listening for further pursuit, before taking off again.
They'd hastened to follow, their white suits doing a good job of camouflaging them should he look behind once more, but he didn't – too focused on the treacherous route before him. His board seemed to be damaged, judging by the harshness of the impact and effort the agent in front of them had to execute in order to turn it. At first they'd been content to merely watch his back until they reached the base of the mountain and ran out of snow. That was until their eye-in-the-sky lookout (equipped with a powerful telescopic lens half a mountain away) had reported the Agent was headed directly into the arms of a machine-gun ambush.
Their team would arrive only in time to pick up the pieces.
Then - incredibly - the Agent had managed to catch a train.
They'd pulled to an incredulous halt as the Agent – who'd managed to actually pull ahead of them through sheer speed – took a ballsy gamble and fought both momentum and ice to escape the ambush at the last second.
They'd had a moment of indecision over whether to lay low and call in a different unit to pick up the agent or to blow their cover and wipe out the guard force below before tracking the snowboarding, train-jumping spy.
Their orders had been clear. Unless there was no other option, they were to maintain discretion. The safety of the potential hostages inside the school depended on Grief being unaware that outside forces were closing in.
Their caution had proved unnecessary, though. The two guards at the base of the valley wasted no time in hauling their gun into the truck behind them and taking off down the road. At that moment, EIS reported that the agent had been flung from the train at the first bend in the track. The landing had looked uncontrolled and violent.
The agent wasn't moving.
Their team was closest to his position, so it was their team that raced to the bottom of the mountain, shucked off their skis and raced along the tracks to the crash-site.
And now they were there.
Fox and Eagle were keeping watch for hostiles, whilst Snake – who had the most medical training of the four of them – moved automatically to asses the status of the downed agent.
Wolf, however, just stood there. Staring.
Sprawled on the icy ground, wrapped in twisted strands of barbed wire, bleeding heavily from the head and looking very young and very small, was a very familiar body.
Snake glanced up at him, then back at the body. Blinking, he did a double-take. "Shit. It is Cub." He confirmed, shock pausing his hands for a moment. He quickly shook it off, however. Weird reunions weren't a good enough excuse to let his training slip. "He's breathing, but his pulse is all over the place. We've gotta get him outta here. Give us a hand."
Wolf moved to help, automatically shouldering his rifle and kneeling on the other side of the still body. Closer to, he noticed that the frost-coated ground around the boy's head and neck was stained dark with the blood that coated half his face. One of his arms had smashed into a metal fence pole and was possibly broken, whilst his left leg had caught on and dragged a length of barbed wire with it.
He didn't want to look at the twisted remains of the – he could see now – makeshift snowboard."He may have spinal injuries but there's not a whole lot I can do about that." Snake reported. "You're going to have to carry him back. We've gotta get out of here and back to the safehouse before I can do any more." Snake was moving as he spoke, gingerly shifting the kid's potentially broken arm around and tying it to his chest. Wolf gestured towards the last two in his team, who nodded their understanding, then he turned back to the boy. Rapidly, he shifted his rifle so it was slung securely across his back, then carefully slid an arm under the boy's knees and back. He began to lift the limp body, when a hiss from Snake stopped him.
Glancing down, he realised that the barbed wire had not only caught in the ski suit but had somehow managed to slice into the flesh beneath as well. Snake inspected it briefly, before simply slipping a pair of wire-cutters from one of his many pockets and severing the metal. It would have to be dealt with later.
It was freezing and Cub was heavier than he should be, but their team was well conditioned and had no problem literally running towards their next destination. Once they arrived at their safehouse, they would code in for orders.
It was just past midnight when Snake sat back from the still-unconscious body of their team's youngest and most unorthodox member.
Eagle and Fox were stationed in the main room, keeping an eye on the various monitoring and communication equipment installed there. Their safehouse was basically a reinforced hut half-buried in snow run-off from the mountain and set deep enough into a cluster of trees that it couldn't be seen from the road. The entire shell of the hut was false, with rotting boards and broken window frames. The interior, however, was a little better.
There was a kitchen, stocked with emergency rations for a good period of time – just in case. The shack also had an internal, underground generator and a single separate bedroom for any soldiers requiring either quarantine or more serious treatment than basic field med could provide.
It was in this sparse bedroom that they'd stripped off Cub's reinforced ski suit and got down to some serious patchwork.
Wolf was leaning against the wall now, as Snake rubbed the back of his neck and hunched in the single chair by the bed.
"I can't believe he's so well off." The man muttered, seemingly to himself.
It was true. From what they'd seen – gunfire, half-baked snowboard against a deadly mountain and a high-speed crash with two of his limbs literally strapped into an immobile position – it would have been far more likely for the kid to have a bullet wound or three, not to mention a snapped neck, twisted or snapped spine and broken legs or arms.
Instead, all he had were patches of severe bruising that would hurt like a bitch but were essentially ok, a relatively-mild puncture wound in one calf – it hadn't been deemed in need of stitches, despite how nasty it had looked – a badly twisted ankle and a head wound with possible concussion still lingering.
It could have been so much worse.
Some of the bruises staining his markedly-smaller body weren't caused by high-speed impact with the ground, but rather bullets impacting with his suit. Several had lodged in it, and one or two had come close to piercing the suit. Whatever this new material was, it was lighter than a standard kevlar vest would be (it'd have to be, or else the kid wouldn't be able to move around in it) but it also wasn't as foolproof. One of the bullets had clipped his calf, which had been the same opening that the barbed wire fence had caught in. Cub's tumble had caused the wire to twist and dig into his flesh. The wound wasn't huge, but the wire had been mud-encrusted and rusty. They had some basic supplies in safehouse, one of which was an emergency tetanus booster. They'd injected that and a bunch of antibiotics and painkillers lay ready to be force-fed to him as soon as he regained consciousness.
Which was another concern.
have woken up by now. If only from the pain. Even smelling salts
weren't budging him.
Snake was reasonably sure that the kid didn't have any major spinal injury, but the head trauma was undeniable. Even now, blood leaked sluggishly from the hasty stitches, staining the temporary bandage taped over them. Various other cuts and bumps were found decorating his skull, none of which boded well.
Wolf grit his teeth, silently. He may not have liked the kid... may have actively sought to get him binned, but that didn't mean he wanted him hurt! He didn't know why the kid had been with their unit, he certainly didn't know what the hell MI6 thought they were playing at by sending the kid off to 'play spy'... But he did know that the sight of him, lying limp and broken on the freezing ground with no-one coming for him but Wolf's own team... that sight had twisted something inside him. Something Wolf hadn't even known existed before.
And that was making him angry.
"Orders are to keep him here and debrief him as soon as he regains consciousness." Wolf passed on, his voice low. "Until we know what he's found, we can't move in. Arrangements are being made to explain his disappearance."
Snake looked up, nodded, then returned his gaze to the unnaturally still teen before him.
"Surreal." He murmured. "I thought the kid was some director's idea of 'nothing's too good for my son' survival training. But here he is, working for MI6."
Wolf snorted and shifted his weight.
"You're not gonna start sobbing, are you?" He mocked. Snake grinned at him as he rose to his feet and stretched tiredly.
"Nah. I'm just surprised, that's all. I mean, the kid was a surprisingly tough little bugger even in the two weeks we knew him… but damn. I just saw this kid pull some crazy shit." He paused for a moment, eyes distant as he remembered, then laughed softly. "I can't even believe it... little Cub? Snowboarding against machine-gun-wielding hostiles, disarming a guy on a snowmobile in mid air, taking several bullets in the back and apparently not even noticing... Then he slides into an ambush and has only - literally - seconds to get out... And does so. All by himself." He chuffed a laugh and half-smiled at Wolf. "I guess I can't help but be impressed. That was some sharp manuvering."
"More like divine intervention." Wolf grumbled, though he couldn't stop the answering smile that tugged at his own lips.
There was a
moment of silence, before Wolf pushed off the wall and nodded his
head towards the door.
"You go sleep. We'll take shifts watching him, so tell Fox to come in in a couple of hours."
Snake nodded. "Try and wake him up every now and then." He advised as he walked. "If he's still out cold by dawn..." He stopped, shrugged, then shook his head and left the room.
Wolf walked over and took the vacant chair.
"You'd better wake up." He addressed the silent body. "You've got priority information. You have a duty to wake up and report."
There was a stretch of silence as Wolf stared at Cub's blank, bruising face. After a few minutes, his jaw visibly clenched and the man looked away.
He felt dirty.
It was six hours later that Fox burst through the door. Cub was waking up.
By now, each teamember had taken their turn watching over the kid. Each one had sat and stared at a face that wasn't even shaving yet, but was still nicked with cuts and blemished with stitches. Each one had grown more and more desperate for the kid to just wake up, so they could see for themselves that he was ok. Then they could get his report, send him home under protective escort and very firmly recommend in their reports that such a young Agent wasn't utilised again.
The room was already small, but it seemed smaller with four men standing around the bed.
Cub's face was no longer so horribly blank. Instead, pain tightened his face and his limbs twitched weakly as he struggled to wake up. Fox had grabbed the meds, looking like he was just waiting for the kid to open his mouth long enough to shove them in.
It was fair enough, though. Kid had got to be in some serious pain.
"Cub?" Snake prompted, keeping his voice soft and light - non threatening. "Can you wake up a little for us?"
The teenager did as asked, eyes dazed as they flicked from body to body. He swallowed, hard.
"Clones." He croaked, voice so tight and dry that they weren't sure they were hearing him properly. Fox offered the meds and some water. Cub took the water but waved off the meds.
"Clones." The kid repeated, a little more clearly. "Dr Grief has clones of himself. He's surgically altering them to match the kids he's 'helping'. When the clones have learnt enough of the kids' mannerisms to pass as them, he's gonna send them out instead of the kids. He's gonna kill the kids." His breath caught and he coughed, painfully. One arm wrapped shakily around his ribs. Snake had reported that none of them were obviously broken, but hairline fractures couldn't be ruled out without x-rays.
Wolf, for his part, was stunned. What kind of kid woke up in pain and in a strange place and the first thing out of his mouth was a report?
What the hell had MI6 done to the kid?
Cub, for his part, just closed his eyes tightly, breathed through the obvious pain he was in, and continued.
They learnt the location of the hostages. They were given an estimated time plan, based upon how many kids remained to be studied. They were informed of how it was unlikely that they knew he had been a spy, at time of his escape, but were now most likely suspicious and could be prompted to up their timetable because of it.
It wasn't until after his voice had gone raw and his breathing rapid and shallow that they collectively shook off their stupor and leapt into action. Snake and Fox worked together to get the kid breathing properly - Fox actually took his field knife and crushed the tablets to mix in the water, so the kid could down them easier - whilst Eagle went to code in their new information.
Wolf ended up taking the chair by the bed, as the others went back to sleep until the new orders came in.
Cub's eyes were closed now. His face was still pale and pinched with pain, but the painkillers were heavy enough that he should drop off to sleep within the next ten minutes or so. He'd been concerned whether or not they should do that, seeing as they'd worried about excessive head trauma previously, but Snake insisted it would be fine. People who were capable of giving clear, chronological and rational reports were generally considered to be 'out of the danger zone'.
Eventually, Wolf spoke.
"I'm impressed, Cub."
He wasn't expecting his words to cause the reaction they did. The moment he started talking, Cub's eyes had snapped open, pupils wide. His body had almost completely sat up, one arm ripping the blankets away from legs struggling to make a break for it, before he'd either recognised Wolf's voice, or remembered where he was.
Like a string had been cut, the boy slumped back down on the bed, shaking slightly. Wolf froze, half-risen from his chair. He'd started to stand automatically at Cub's frantic movement. His own heart rate had picked up in reaction to Cub's instinctual panic.
Whatever he'd been expecting.. that had not been it.
"Sorry." The kid whispered, trying to tug his blanket back on with trembling hands. Wolf finished rising to his feet, then slowly leant over and did it for him. He noticed that Cub's eyes watched his every movement, even though the kid didn't say a word.
He supposed it was fair enough. The kid may recognise him as on the same side, in general terms, but he'd been a total bastard to him the last time they'd met... It was natural to be wary of him.
The thought still made him feel a little sick, though.
"It's fine." Wolf said belatedly, sinking warily back into his chair. His pulse was still racing, ready for action, and judging by the way the pulse point on Cub's throat was fluttering, so was the kid's.
"Sorry." He added, more than a little uncomfortably.
Cub said nothing. Half-lidded eyes continued to watch him. The kid was wiped - clearly struggling to stay conscious, yet just as clearly determined not to let his guard down with Wolf in the room.
"It's ok." Wolf found himself reassuring. "We're in a safehouse. You're going to be fine. As soon as we're clear to move out, we'll take you to a hospital where they can patch you up a little more delicately.. then the next thing you know, you'll be on your way home."
Cub just continued to stare at him. Just when Wolf was beginning to think the kid had fallen asleep with his eyes open, the boy shifted painfully and blinked slowly.
"Doubt it." The kid muttered, tongue still a little thick and slow. Before Wolf could reply, he continued.
"Why go with whatever schematics you've got lying around when first-hand information could be used? At the very least, they're going to want to wring every last thing I can remember about the layout of that place out of me. Then... maybe... I..." The kid yawned, unwillingly deeply and certainly painfully - judging by the twisted look on his face and the way his breath cut off sharply. Wolf found himself holding his own breath and forced himself to let it out.
"You should sleep." He said
at last. Watching the kid battle his own exhaustion on top of his
meds was almost painful.
"Don't worry.." He added, guessing at some of the reasons the kid was so reluctant. "Me and the guys'll watch your back. You can trust us to take care of you."
A sleepy - yet clearly suspicious - look was his only reply.
"Really." He affirmed. "You're part of our team, Cub. We may not have liked it, but..." His voice dropped, almost a murmur now. "..you earned it. You know? You're one of us and I personally owe you for helping me not get binned, right? So you can trust us, Cub. You can trust me. I got your back."
The teen was silent for a long moment. Then, barely audible, came a soft "'Alex."
Wolf blinked. "Sorry?" He asked, wondering if the kid was remembering something else to report, or just slipping away into sleep already.
"My name. It's Alex."
Wolf blinked again. Cub... Alex... was staring at him, eyes intense. Normally, a soldier kept his real name closely guarded.. there were quite a few damn good reasons they used code names in the field. From what he'd seen of him so far, he knew Cub must know and understand that.
So the fact that he was offering his name anyway...
Wolf nodded, slowly.
"Mine's James." He replied quietly, eyes never leaving the kid's.
Something in those eyes relaxed then, some tension the he hadn't even realised the kid had held.
The kid's lips twitched in the slightest of smiles, before bruised eyes closed and his face visibly relaxed.
He was out cold in seconds.
And Wolf was left with a feeling a sense of almost-awe, at the trust placed in him by a teenager who had no good reason to give it.
Two days later, Wolf was watching Eagle fit Cub out in some 'close enough' sized gear.
He was feeling dirty again.
The doctors had reported that the kid's most recent waking memory had been of being thrown from the train. When Wolf had insisted that Cub had spoken to them coherently and with a definitive awareness, they'd merely shrugged the incident off.
Apparently it was not uncommon. Head trauma on top of a highly stressful situation, on top of Cub's age... all these factors combined made Cub's current level of recovery almost-miraculous. A little short-term memory loss was brushed off as inconsequential.
It wasn't inconsequential to him.
Seeing Cub watching him with wary eyes had struck him cold inside. Obeying orders and manipulating the teen into accompanying them back to the institution had left a foul taste in his mouth.
Watching Cub be issued camouflage gear, but no bullet-proof-vest or gun to protect himself with was making him nauseous.
Eagle looked the same, his face hard and dark.
Cub just looked tired. He probably thought his 'team's dark looks were over his inclusion on this op. In a way, they were. Just not aimed at him, but rather for him. Regardless, the kid kept his head bent over some blueprints MI6 had turned up, making corrections here and there and marking places of note for the squads to familiarise themselves with.
Wolf felt his mouth set into a hard line of discontent.
It was bad enough that Cub was being sent into an inevitable battle-zone without proper protection, but he was also under the impression that he would need to watch his back from his own damn team, as well as the enemy. Whatever moment of rapport and understanding the two of them had achieved in the safehouse had been utterly deleted by the same trauma that had driven home just how capable their team's youngest member was.
At that moment, perhaps sensing Wolf's intent gaze, Cub looked up.
locked gazes, Wolf still frowning darkly and Cub almost utterly
Almost instantly, the teen's head (still bandaged for Christ's sake!) shot back down again.
Wolf scowled even
harder. He wanted to sort this out with the kid, with Alex, to let
him know that he could depend on him.
Unfortunately, their transport had already arrived. Weapons were picked up, skis were strapped on.
They were moving out.
All Wolf could do now was watch Cub's back, just like he promised.
And maybe one day, he and Cub could have another shot at the whole 'getting along' thing.
It probably wouldn't be easy.. but.. he got the feeling that it'd definitely be worth it.
Was it too awful? Will I regret this when I wake up and both eyes are working?