Hummingbird Lane was just as relaxed and cozy as it sounded. Neat little houses lined the street, all with their own characteristics that reflected the individualism of their owners. And house number 121, was no different...though, the same could not be said for its current residents.

Had the nearby families been aware of their rather famous (at least in MI6 circles) next door neighbor, the upcoming block party would be far at the back of everyone's mind.

However, that was not the case. In fact, Alex Rider had lived at 121 for two months before he got his first visitor.

The small, but comfortable home was within fifteen miles of Jack's parents, and Alex had seen them almost every weekend since his arrival in the United States. Though they had been noticeably concerned upon learning that Jack was his only remaining parent figure, and that she planned on keeping that position for a very long time, they had grown to accept it.

Sam, Jack's father, now planned on taking Alex golfing sometime during the approaching weekend. He had sworn to familiarize Alex with American sports, and both adoptive grandparents seemed to enjoy his company and the opportunity to spoil someone they considered in great need of spoiling.

Jack had stepped on Alex's foot when he tried to politely decline their gifts, and somehow he had grown accustomed to their public displays of affection; this included cheek pinching (luckily only given to him on Mrs Starbright's side), hugs, one-armed-squeezes, and bright smiles.

He was the grandson they had never had, and Alex tried to fill that role to the best of his ability.

Upon hearing the doorbell ring one morning, Alex was rightfully under the impression that it was Jack's parents coming to check up on him. Jack had recently taken a job teaching foreign people how to adjust to the American way of life, and vice versa.

For those American's moving to Europe, endless explanations on what exactly a 'loo' was, came close to driving her barmy. However, she liked working there, and was grateful for a job she was actually quite good at, having lived in London many years herself.

The morning sun cast a telling shadow on the curtains covering the front-door window, and it was immediately clear that this was not anyone Alex was expecting. First, the shadow was far too lean to be from either of the Starbright seniors; Mrs Starbright lived by the rule "Never trust a lean cook" and though he grumbled about his pudge quite often, Mr Starbright was quick to tell anyone that he was in love the moment Mrs Starbright's homemade biscuits passed his lips.

Having been trained in stealth, Alex was quick to press himself into the wall before the intruder could lean forward and look through the small gap in the curtains.

There were multiple reasons for a stranger to be on his doorstep. Unfortunately, all the good reasons sounded rather stupid in his head, and that only left bad reasons.

A memory came back to him, a terrible, life shattering memory that had sent him to Hell and back.

It did not have to be three in the morning for the bearer of bad news to arrive on one's doorstep.

Alex wondered if he would hear words similar to what Jack had heard almost two years ago now if he was to open the door.

"Mr. Rider? I wonder if we could come in..." This would of course would be followed by, "...a car accident...called the ambulance...intensive care...nothing we could sorry."

An impatient knock interrupted his brooding, and Alex jumped away from the wall, trying to shake those bad thoughts away from him. He had a new life now. No more distressing home calls for him.

"Come onnnn, I didn't come all the way from bloody Kent to wait here on your horrifyingly cute porch all bloody that a pink flamingo in your yard?"

A muddy ditch. Trying his best to stay conscious as rain pounded down on his wounds, careful hands that would not let him pass into that black eternity. Healing and comfort found in a small cottage near the woods. These memories and more attacked him when that voice reached his ears.

Alex strode forward and threw open the door.

Nathan turned from where he had been surveying the yard and the pink flamingo that occupied it. Bemused eyes looked at him, and though a delighted smile tried it's best not to appear, it failed astoundingly.

All Alex could think to say was, "That's not my flamingo."

Nathan adjusted the backpack slung over one arm and grinned so wide, that Alex was surprised he could talk at all.

"Really? Then, may I ask why it is in your yard?"

"No. What I mean is, that one is not mine, mine is blue." With this, Alex stepped out onto the porch and pointed at the bright blue flamingo guarding the corner of the house.

Beaming cheekily, Alex turned and waited for Nathan to reply. But what could one say to that?

It was rather fortunate that for all those things that can not be quickly said in words, can be said in actions. Before even his remaining spy tendencies could react, Alex had been enveloped in a tight hug.

Oh, the gossipy next door neighbor would have a blast with this Alex thought amusedly as he hugged Nathan back.

About five seconds before it would have become awkward, Nathan pulled back and grinned. "I was beginning to think you didn't live here, and that the flower lady had lied to me."

"Flower lady?"

"Yeah, her name is...Petunia, or Daisy-"


"Yeah! That one, she gave me the address where I could reach you, but don't tell anyone. It's apparently a big secret...which makes me wonder, should we be standing out here like this?"

Alex was thoroughly confused, but walked with Nathan inside. "Miss Jones gave you my address?"

Nathan shrugged and walked curiously around Alex's kitchen. "Well, yeah. I was a bit surprised too, I mean...they kind of took extreme means to keep you safe, with the move and all. Though, I was expecting you to go by a different name nowadays."

He cast a grin at Alex, "You would make a good Mr Bond, or perhaps, a Mr Fleming-the mastermind behind it all!"

Rolling his eyes, Alex did what his uncle had always done when the rare company arrived; he got out the tea kettle.

"Not that I'm unhappy to see you, because I'm not...but, what in the world are you doing here?"

Nathan looked down at his hands, finding something interesting under one fingernail.

"Um...well, do you remember me telling you that my Mum lived in the United States?"

Alex nodded and fetched the tea bags out of the cabinet.

"I tried moving in with Dad after you left. I guess I just started thinking about how you had not seen your family in a really long time...because they all died,"

Alex snorted here, and Nathan grimaced. "That came out wrong-but, I mean you have not seen your family, because you can't. Where as I had not seen my family, just because they ticked me off."

Shamefaced, Nathan bit his lip and met Alex's gaze. "I just...I had to at least try to get along with them after that."

It was a weird feeling, knowing that you had impacted someone hard enough that they would go and make a huge life altering decision because of it. For a second, Alex's throat felt rather tight.

"So, I tried to get along with my dad. But, he has a tendency to fish around in people's business. He found out where I had lived, and remarked that he had seen something on the news about kidnapping survivors being pulled out of the woods in that region...he asked if I knew anything about it, because the television had been rather vague."

There was something in Nathan's voice, that filled Alex with a sort of dread.

"Nathan, you didn't tell him-"

"Alex, please hear me out."

"Nathan! I just got away from that horrible place, I left a bloody country to escape that! My home, my few friends I had left-don't bloody tell me that you've just ruined it for me!"

If the tea kettle had not gone off, Alex was sure he could have ranted for hours.

"No, no, no...settle down, it is not that serious. Just..." Nathan took a deep sigh, as if the situation had done more to his nerves than it had Alex's. "Just, sit down, please."

Alex did, but he took his time and got himself a cup of tea first before sitting on the opposite side of the table.

"Okay, please don't interrupt."

Nathan looked for confirmation from Alex and grudgingly, Alex nodded.

"My dad, is a struggling journalist. He used to have his own column that went into uncovering problems in the British government. It was popular for a while, and then he went and wrote an article about a certain mayor...and his three girlfriends he saw while on 'business' trips."

Alex had heard of that article, and the backlash the author had received when it turned out to be false.

"He was desperate to get his high-profile position back, and a great story would have done that. You have to understand, he has a way of sniffing out a story-seriously, he says he can smell gossip and news worthy stories. It gets annoying, "I can sniff out a problem, anytime, anywhere!""

Nathan shook his head, and Alex raised an eyebrow, and stirred some sugar into his tea.

"Anyway...when I gave him very little, and very vague information about how I lived, where I lived and who I met while I was away, he got more curious. He traveled to where I lived, Alex. He met and talked to people who had seen me around town, and get this! He found out where I had lived, and worked, and started talking to Toni."

Alex remembered Toni, the odd man that worked with Nathan and had given them a ride into town.

"Well, Toni didn't know any better, and I guess he mentioned you. You were not from around, you looked beat up...he started talking to more locals who remembered when the MI6 men stormed their town, a few even swore they had seen the rescue, though that was impossible. And, then he went to the police station. It took some persuading, but someone must have mentioned you, and...well, that was all he needed."

"What do you mean?"

"He knew you had a lot to do with the kidnapping, though none of the papers mentioned a teen being taken, and none of the papers mentioned that the people kidnapped were involved with MI6. It was the perfect reason to keep digging, he had bits of info, but not enough yet to make a great story. So, I'm not sure exactly where he went, or how he got it...but he got pictures of you, crashing through the roof of-like, a conference room."

Alex paled.

"Yeah...he showed me the picture," Nathan said, "he could tell from my face that I recognized you."

"What did you do?"

"Well, I could not let him leak anything to the press. I thought any publicity for you was bad publicity, so...I got in touch with one of those men you were held captive with."

Alex had been taking a swallow of his tea, and almost choked.

"How did you get their number? Who was it...Wolf?"

"They tracked me down about three weeks after you were admitted into the hospital."


"Well, yeah, three of them came to see me," Nathan paused for a second, and seemed to smile into thin air, "I thought they were like..the mob or something at first."

Alex could understand that, they certainly had seemed an intimidating group to him back at Brecon Beacons.

"They told me who they were, and thanked me for helping you, and then they gave me their contact information so that I could call them if I was ever in any trouble."

"They did that for you?"

"They did that for me, because of you. And so, I called-what's his name, Fox? Yeah, so I called him up and told him about the story my dad was writing."

"What happened?"

"They...took care of it. Dad was pretty much done with the story by then, I mean, he was so excited about it too! But, I couldn't let him give that to anyone, it was not his story to tell. They shut him up, took all his stuff, made him sign a piece of paper stating he would never look into writing another story about you for fear of punishment by law-it was all very official."

Nathan reached behind him to his backpack, and pulled out a dark green folder.

"I...I kind of snuck this out before they could come and destroy everything. I thought you might want to read it, it really does sum you up. And, though I know you are happier being an anonymous savior, I couldn't help thinking...wouldn't it have awesome if it did get printed?"

He laid it in front of Alex, and the first words printed in large, black letters read: Unknown Hero Revealed: British Intelligence Using 14 Year Old as Spy!

Alex stared down at the words. Feeling cold and a bit like he was in a dream.

"All those oblivious kids at your school, all the teachers who shook their heads at your absence-they'd all know the truth. They'd all know just how much you've sacrificed to keep them safe. You didn't even get anything out of it, you'd be hailed as a national treasure, best-selling books would be written about you, you'd be on talk shows, and be offered places in the best universities..."

Nathan seemed alight with the possibilities, awestruck by all that could happen...if only Alex wanted it to.

" don't want that kind of future for yourself," Nathan said, and he smiled in resignation.

Alex looked up from where he had been reading the article against his better judgment.

It spoke of many of his miraculous feats, Nathan's dad had looked into his life and revealed the death of his parents and uncle. He'd mentioned many of Alex's skills, and made suggestions about how exactly he had gotten involved with MI6, and if that was indeed all he was involved with.

He'd done a lot of work, no one was ever supposed to know this much about him. All this research, and it was now useless...unless he was to use it.

Alex looked up, and saw the curious look on Nathan's face.

"Er...are you still living with your dad?"

Nathan gave him a look.

"No," he replied slowly, "After I told him to leave you alone, and he continued researching anyway, I decided I could not stay with him. So, I called up my mum. I'm staying with her now in a little suburb called Kent, and looking for a job. I should have went to her in the first place, at least she would not have tried to expose you like this."

Alex looked away, his fingers still on the report about him and all of the things kept secret.

"You know, I never considered that you might actually want the...the attention, but I did not think about all that comes along with it. The appreciation, the respect you'd receive. I mean, that someone would go to such extreme measure to help people he had never even's unheard of. Though, here's not really information there about what went on in these missions, about the people you met and saw die-there are tons of blank spaces...but, you could fill them in."

Alex looked up at Nathan, and there was as stillness between them.

"Alex, if you really want this. You are the best person in the world to do it. What would they do, throw you in jail for telling the truth about how you were blackmailed by the government? By then it would be too late, and the world would cry out for the person that had saved them to be released."


Nathan said he could not stay and that he had a job interview the next morning, but he gave Alex his address, home phone number and a promise that whatever Alex decided to do he would not get mad at him.

"You do deserve the fame, and a lot more. I couldn't be mad at you if you got all that...just, think it through first, and thanks for all you did for me, I'm a lot closer to my Mum now. I...just, thanks," Nathan had said. Then, as if he wasn't sure if he should, he had given Alex a quick hug before jumping into the cab he'd called and driving slowly away down the suburban street.

Following his departure, Alex spent a lot of time sitting in his living room and staring at nothing. The radio was on, but it was only background noise for Alex's thoughts.

On the coffee table sat an open letter Alex had received a few days ago, this is what it read:

Dear Alex,
Sorry I could not play guard for you one last time in your hometown, I was a bit under the weather. I'm all better now, and am seriously thinking about a career change while I spend my seven week paid vacation with my family. It was hard enough almost losing them all the first time, I don't think I can do that again. My mum was starting to think I really was gone for good, and my cousin had already started looking into funeral arrangements. Can you believe that? I'm not mad, it is just hard to think that a few more days in that place, and I really believe my family would have had to lay the memory of me in the ground. I've included a picture of them, aren't they a funny looking bunch? I really missed them, so thanks for getting me out of there, I really don't think I'd be alive if it hadn't been for you. If you are ever in my area, there's a bed with your name on it, I'd love for you to meet my family, even if I can not tell them everything.
Take care, and don't study too hard in school. Take a vacation, God knows you deserve it.
Love, Snake. (Allen)

The photograph lay beside the letter, and they really were a funny looking family, but that could only be accredited to the fact that all of them either were sticking tongues out, or had fingers in each others ears, had blown up their cheeks, or stared cross eyed at their noses.

Though Alex had gotten a smile due to seeing Snake with cross eyes, it was just as funny hearing his real name. Allen...Alex never would have guessed that.

Alex was not sure what had happened to the other member's of K-Unit, at one time they had checked in on him sporadically by phone or e-mail, but he could not help but feel that maybe they wanted a little distance from all things that reminded them of their months spent together in Hell. And how could he blame them for that?

Because of this, Alex took his time replying to their inquiries about his health, and just what he was getting up to in America. He did not want to seem clingy or needy, they had their own lives, it was about time he got one too. Maybe he could find a job that paid well, and later a career...but not one that involved death. He'd see far too much of that, thank you very much.

Though Miss Jones had hinted that she suspected Alex knew something of Yassen's amazing disappearance from MI6 custody, she had not pressed him for information...and, he may have been wrong, but Alex got the feeling she thought the whole escape was rather amusing.

Though Alex had expected to never hear from Yassen again, last week he was surprised to find a postcard in his mailbox. It had a lovely picture of the Easter Islands on the front, and a short unsigned message on the back.

'Wonderful views here,' the neat text read, 'much better than prison bars, and the cuisine is not half bad either. Hope you are taking care of yourself.'

It was short, rather blunt and a bit mysterious...Alex did not need a signature to decide it was from a certain escapee.

With no MI6 bothering him, Alex had turned his full attention to his schooling. He was dreadfully behind, and he would have to work through the summer if he wanted to graduate along with his other peers, but it was possible, he had been assured of that by both his teachers and Jack.

"You're brilliant Alex, you couldn't have survived as long as you did if you weren't," she had told him one night, when he'd admitted his concerns.

School was hard to get used to, after being away from it for so long, it seemed rather alien to him. The kids were friendly enough, but Alex had not been making a large effort to make friends, he could not help the thought that he would disappear again. Why would anyone want to make friends just to be torn away from them?

He'd been taken away from his friends so many times before, until he only had one he could depend on any longer...and that friend currently resided in a different country.

The phone rang in that moment, and Alex pulled himself out of his grey thoughts to grab the phone off the kitchen counter.



What the hell, Alex thought, had Nathan set off a chain reaction? Was Eagle going to barrel down his door next?

"Cub? I'm sorry, do I have the wrong number?"

"No! No, sorry. You just caught me off guard, sorry, Fox. Um...hi."

"You wouldn't be so surprised if you actually checked your e-mail."

Alex could hear the worry in Fox's voice, and see the crease in between his eyebrows as if he was right in front of him.

"Sorry," Alex muttered, pulling out a chair and slumping into it.

"What's going on, Cub? I keep trying to get in touch with you. You really worried me. Are you just too busy, because that's fine, you need to get your life back in order...but, I don't think that is all there is to it."

Worrying his lip wasn't enough to work off the nervous energy, and Alex got up to pace.

"I'm sorry, I just thought that maybe you might need some space-"

"And you thought the same about the others? Wolf, Snake...Hell, even Eagle has been trying to get in touch with you, what's going on?"

Frustration had Alex running a hand through his hair, and as it went up, Alex could not help but stop to look at the scars. The difference in skin tone was not obvious unless you were looking at the scar...which Alex did quite a lot of lately.


"I...I just don't know what to say. I mean, I just did not want you guys to think...I didn't want to take up your time, you have lives too."

The remorseful sigh filled up the speaker, and for some reason, it made Alex want to cry.

"Alex, you don't understand. We lived with you in a confined space for months, I know more about you then I know about some of my close family! We went through things together that ties people together. Whether you like it or not, you are part of my life now. It's the exact same with Eagle, Snake and Wolf...I'm sure even Yassen feels that way, not that we'll ever be able to ask him."

The only sound was Alex's sneakers on the floor as he paced along the length of the kitchen.

"You can't just go and shut everyone out either. You say that you felt they did not have time for you-bullshit. You are shutting us out, and it's not healthy. I know you, you probably go through the motions at school, not getting close to anyone because you're tired of being hurt. I know it sucks, Hell Alex, I still have nightmares, but you can not lock people out. That's the worst thing you can do, trust me, I've tried it."

Alex stared out the window, finally stilling his restless feet. He needed to hear this.

"But, do you know what will happen once you let people back in? You'll realize, that you are okay. It won't happen quickly, it is not an overnight kind of thing. But just watch, one day, you are going to wake up, and think, you know what, I'm going to be okay. You are going to get pass all this shit, and be a stronger person for it."

Alex closed his eyes, and willed himself to believe it.

"Jack had to have a talk with my gym teacher the other day," Alex said after a long silence.

Fox did not interrupt, he always had been a good listener. "We play a lot of soccer, and I always get picked to be a skin. They have two teams, those wearing shirts and those not, it helps the teacher keep track of everyone...but, I almost always get picked to play a skin. But Fox, I don't want them to see."

"Alex..." Fox sighed again, and Alex could see him in his mind's eye running a hand through his hair, trying to find words of advice that would help.

"And, I keep getting out of it by faking sick, but Jack got a note from the gym teacher, and she had to go down and explain to the teacher why I did not want to take my shirt off."

After a moment of silence, Fox cleared his throat, sounding rather worse for the wear now.

"I imagine her explanation was a bit more realistic than the truth."

"Yeah," Alex replied quietly, "she told him I'd been abused by a family that adopted me."

"Oh, Alex."

"I know there weren't a lot of options...but, it still sucks, you know? Because now the stupid guy looks at me with this look in his eyes-and I hate it. I haven't been a skin since, but I hate that she had to lie. And it feels like everyone knows what she told him, I do you go back to what was normal? Sometimes, I'm not even sure what normal was for me! Hell, I know more about planning escape routes than I do about Algebra. And who cares about World War two when I used to feel like I was fighting a war every single day!"

Alex took a second to breath, and realized how alive he felt. He had not ranted to anyone in a long time. To just admit all his worries and fears, even the ones that might seem was such a relief.

"I can't help you in the way I want. I'd like to take all this shit away, Alex."

"It just feels like so much sometimes, when you hear all the other people in school crying in the hall about their problems...and they seem like nothing, and it is just hard to remember that what might not seem big to me, could be a huge problem for them. When you can remember a time when you were fretting about being shot in an hour, getting a bad grade on a project just seems like shit in comparison," Alex said, a tired un-amused laugh coming out before he could stop it.

Fox took another deep breath, and spoke with quiet reassurance. "Cub, you're going to be so strong one day."

The sureness in Fox's voice almost did it for Alex, but he managed to hold back the tears, and exchange them for a deep breath.

"The sad thing is, I used to think I was strong."

"You are, Cub. Don't let anyone tell you different, you've gone through more than most people could even dream of. But, just think, you know how your old problems seemed like nothing? One day you will look back, and realize that you had nothing to worry about. You are going to overcome this, just like you've overcome everything else. You are an amazing person, and if anyone can do it, I know you can."

Alex smiled, "You sound really sure of yourself, Fox."

"Cub, I'm more sure of that, than anything in the entire world. You, are going to overcome this. And it starts by you picking up the phone, and talking to your friends-that means me, Eagle, Snake, and yes, even Wolf."

"Ughhh, him too?" Alex faked a groan.

There was a short laugh, and hearing it made Alex happier than he had been all week.

"Yeah, even Wolf. I know he's a bastard, but he's our bastard."

Alex burst out laughing, and Fox was silent for a moment.

"That sounded really, really, wrong, now that I think about it," he murmured, and Alex found himself laughing again. He'd missed this.

"It's really good to hear you laugh, you really worried me. I was talking to Snake the other day about visiting you if you did not make contact soon, you are going to have to call him and the others before they raid your home."

Alex nodded, before noting that Fox could not see him. "I will, I promise."

"Thanks, I don't want you to ever feel like you have no one to go to. I'm always here if you ever need to rant, or just want to talk. I'm serious, if you disappear like this again, I will come over there and kick your ass so hard the boot print will still be there a week later. And then, you'll have to deal with the rest of the team as well. You won't be able to sit for a month."

Alex grinned at the floor.

"Thanks Fox," Alex said quietly, knowing that there was a lot more in those two words than just appreciation. Such sincere thankfulness was not something Alex felt everyday, but it was nice to know he still had people he could feel blessed to know.

"You're welcome. Next time I call, I want to hear that you went out for sports, or went out to see a movie, or vandalized the cafeteria...or maybe not the last one."

Alex rolled his eyes, "Will do. Thanks for calling, I..."

"I understand," Fox said, and there was indeed understanding in his voice.

"Okay," Alex looked around the kitchen, knowing the conversation had ended, but not sure how to say goodbye.

"I'll talk to you later, and you'd better answer, unless you are out doing stupid teenage stuff, in that case, have fun."

Alex smiled, "Bye, Fox."

"Bye, Alex."

When you know there are people, who will trust you to make the right decision, no matter how hard that decision is to make, you feel bad for even thinking of doing something else.

For a few moments, Alex had enjoyed fostering the idea of being respected by millions.

But, after hearing Fox's speech over how strong he already was, and just how much more he was going to grow into that strength...he knew what he had to do.

Going to the mantle above the fireplace, Alex reached up for the full box of matches.

Never doubting that he was making the right decision, Alex struck a match and watched the little flame catch on the logs inside the fireplace. He tossed the match in as well, and strode to the kitchen table where he took up the large article that would bring him fame, and fortune. It would bring his respect that he deserved, and bring fire down upon the heads of those that had done him wrong.

Alex looked down, scanning over the headline again as he walked slowly back to the fireplace and sat in front of the growing flame Indian style.

"Unknown hero, indeed," Alex muttered, ripping the title of the article in half. The sound of ripping paper made him smile, and the smile only grew when the flames caught the paper and the edges blackened.

Everything Nathan had said was true, except one thing.

You didn't even get anything out of it, he'd said. That wasn't true, and even though he had not recognized it when he should, Alex knew it now. He thought he wanted respect, a tiny payment for all that he had done...but, he already had that respect, and he had not gained it by publicity.

No, the respect he had earned came from hard work, and suffering. Staying strong when everyone wanted to see him fail.

Through all this, his main supporters, were men he had equal respect for. Fox, Eagle, Snake, Wolf, and Yassen; they had gone through a traumatic experience with him, stayed with him when he was ill and barfing his guts out, made jokes in time when he thought he would never smile again.

That kind of friendship could only be formed when a man is willing to give up his life for another. Alex had that kind of friendship, and though he had taken it for granted, as he tore that article to bits, he swore he'd never do that again.

When the last bits of the article burned up, Alex stood and went for the phone.

His life seemed to be at a bit of a standstill, but he was only helpless if he allowed himself to be.

The phone rang once, and Alex turned toward the large living room window. Unlike the windows at Alex's old home back in England, which had multiple panes, this held one large piece of glass. Nothing blocked his view of what waited outside, if he would just step out into it.

Again, the phone rang and a blue bird flew past the window perching on the neighbor's newly planted apple tree. Alex found himself thinking about how long it had been since he'd gone outside just to enjoy the sunlight...maybe after this he'd take a walk. Or read that book Jack had gotten him as a belated birthday present. Or finally take up Sam's offer to take him golfing...

He was about to hang up, the phone on its fifth ring, when a man answered, sounding groggy but alarmed.

"'Ello?" He cleared his throat. "Cub? You there?"

"Hey Wolf, I'm sorry, did I wake you up?"

There was a rustling, like Wolf was sitting up or pushing off sheets. "Yeah, bloody time difference can be a pain-but I'm glad you called. How you've been?"

Alex stuffed one hand in his pocket, seriously thinking over his answer. How was he?

"Not too great, to tell you the truth," Alex said honestly, then he paused, and Wolf seemed to hold his breath as there wasn't a sound from the other side of the line. "But...I think that will change soon."

Wolf exhaled, making Alex smile because he knew him so well.

"You want to tell me about it?" He seemed hopeful.

And so, Alex did.

Last Author's Note: Hello all! Wow, writing this has been like closing a chapter of my life. I've been writing this since I was fifteen, and I'll be twenty this November! Good grief. I kept adding to this, and taking away-then adding more at the last second! ^_^
I could not have this chapter come off as happy go lucky, if you've even glanced at this fanfic, you've glimpsed my horrid attempt at torture, and know there are mental, physical and emotional wounds that comes with such an experience. At the same time, I hope I ended it on a hopeful note. Though Alex obviously has a lot to get through, he will be stronger for it, and will lead an amazing life without anymore interference!

Now, I'm going to tell ya'll something that not many people know about me. Because, I'm ecstatic about it, and want to share my happyness! I was born at home, and, if you are one of the few that are born at home, you are not automatically assigned a SSN. Well, my parents didn't get me a social security number. I'm sure you must know what comes along with not having a SSN. No job, no college, no driver's licence even! I could not even claim the scholarships I had the grades to apply for. I was homeschooled, and then when my parents got a divorce, I started to try and get one...that was almost three years ago. Well, this last Saturday...I came back from the fair, (deep fried Oreos anyone?) and in my mailbox, was my SSN. I was totally shocked, because, after a while...I started to think I would never get it. But, it happened, and I'm so thankful. It's been terrible trying to get it, I could tell you horror stories about the process. One lady at the SSN office would not help because, according to her, there was a possibility I had been abducted from Canada as a child. _ Someone's been reading too many thriller novels.
So, I'm overwhelmed at the moment with possibilities. I have a lot of stuff to do, but I'm super excited about the future, and I hope it will be full of new experiences-all of them good! I really want to travel, and now that I can actually get a passport, maybe I will!

Enough of that! Now, onto my thanks. Thanks you readers! You've been amazingly patient, and helpful, critical in the best of ways, and honest when I needed it! Thanks you for the amazing feedback, and messages, (I adore messages!) they were my fuel when I really felt like giving up! There will be more stories, both Harry Potter and Alex Rider, check out my yahoo group or Tumblr for more info. Thanks again, and please leave a comment for this very. last. chapter!