Fatherhood

He never signed up for being a father. No, that was John. John who was married. John who had a kid. Something that was indescribably dangerous and frankly foolish for someone in their line of work. But you couldn't stop John with words of reason. He knows; he tried. No, John was too much of sentimentalist.

That was where the two thick as thieves brothers were different. If their ever came a choice between his brother's life and the mission, he knew without a doubt which one he'd choose. And with only a tinge of guilt, he knew his brother would choose the exact opposite. The knowledge only made him love and disdain his brother even more. The MI6 got smart to this and never gave them missions together anymore.

Ian wasn't a fool. He didn't know how long he would live in this job. Not only was their no point to getting attachments, it was dangerous. They could be used against you. They could be pulled into the line of fire, like John's wife. So, unlike his brother, Ian kept cold, and firm, and impassive….

No, he definitely didn't sign up to be a father…

But that didn't change the fact that fatherhood was thrust upon him now.

Alexander John Rider…Alex. Slightly small for his age of ten months. He was so small and pale and looked like he would break so easily. Completely vulnerable to his environment. Utterly and completely dependent on Ian.

He wasn't used to this, having another life dependent on his. He was used to working alone. Himself, his guts, and his intelligence against whatever enemy he was fighting at the time. Not this. Definitely not this.

But here was his nephew, just a baby but already looking so much like his late father, including the blonde tufts of hair on his head. Sleeping peacefully, not knowing that his parents were dead, not knowing the danger he was in himself, not knowing that the last of his family had no clue how to take care of him, not knowing the web and lies and deceit and intrigue he was being thrown into the midst of.

Ian was no fool. He knew that the MI6 was not going to let the Rider legacy die with him, Ian. So Ian vowed to make sure Alex was ready.

"What now?" groaned Ian; it was three-thirty in the morning. He got begrudgingly out of bed. It had been a week. A week since his brother's death, a week since Alex came into his custody. A week of being woken up at night by a wailing baby.

"Don't you want to sleep? He asked the child as he leaned over the boy's crib. Alex' sobs that had had been suppressed at the sight of his uncle continued anew. "Apparently not," the man muttered to himself

Picking the wailing child up in his arms he began to pace around the room.

"Calm down," he said in a not so soothing voice. He wasn't very good at this. Helen would know how to do this. Hell, even John would know.

He didn't miss them more than at that moment.

Ian didn't deal with parenting problems in the normal way. He heard that Alex was being bullied in grade school so he enrolled the boy in self-defense and martial arts classes. Needless to say, it solved the problem.

When Ian had finally settled in a comfortable house (he was usually a drifter because of his job), he realized it was time to get a permanent housekeeper to watch Alex when he was often away on business. That was where Jack came in. She was a young, good-hearted, fun-loving American girl who was in desperate need of a job. Not to mention she and five-year-old Alex got on really well.

It wasn't until a few years later, when he had missed another one of Alex's birthdays, that he realized that Jack was a better parent then he ever was.

Everything was part of the plan, part of the training.

The weekend excursions were saved for extreme sports. All holidays were taken in a foreign country that forced Alex to learn the language. He could never let an opportunity go wasted.

He was glad that Alex liked such excursions, enjoyed rock climbing and scuba diving and rifle shooting and visiting other countries. If he hadn't, he might have gotten suspicious as to why his uncle always suggested such activities.

And every now and then, Ian forgot the plan and found himself having fun too.

"We'll have the whole weekend."

"Really?"

"Have I ever let you down?"

"Do you really want me to answer that?"

Ian chuckled. If the kid could joke about it, he was okay.

They said when you die you see your life flash before your eyes. Ian found out that was very true, the only sad thing was that the scenes he saw were mostly ones he regretted.

Leaving his brother's wedding reception half way through…

Seeing his partner die because he hesitated…

Leaving crying four-year-old Alex with an unknown babysitter as he left for a job…

Forgetting to call on Alex's twelfth birthday, having him mad at him for a week once he came home…

The look of disappointment on his nephew's face only about a week ago when he had canceled their sailing trip last minute…

He should have been a better father. He should have cared more. He should have stuck around. He should have got attached.

And knowing the life that the MI6 had planned for him makes him wonder if he should have forgot the plan along time ago and let Alex, just for a little while, be a kid.