A/N: Immediately Post-Scorpia, and Part I of my Night Cast Series.
The first chapter is a little slow, but it'll get better by the end of this first chapter, I promise.
EDIT: After discovering Alex's birthday to be probably around mid-February, and knowing that the post-Scorpia time-frame is set mid-October, I've editing some of the details to match up, mostly concerning Alex's birthday. It has no impact on the overall story.
"Happy recovery to you…happy recovery to you…happy recovery, dear Alex…happy recovery to you…"
The blonde teenager on the hospital bed blinked in the obnoxious hospital light as Jack's voice slowly floated around him. Slowly, he turned over to look towards the red-headed American.
"Huh?" he managed, one eye open and slightly slurred. She giggled at him.
"Alex! Your doctor officially declares you out of the danger zone. You'll recover, full on!"
Figures. No wonder the woman butchered the happy birthday song for this sake.
"What about sleep?" he said, groaning a little, still drowsy from the pain medication.
Her smile suddenly flattened in concern.
"Well, if you want to sleep, sleep! You obviously still need it. But before you do…"
She pulled out something from a plastic bag – he could hear the rustle – out of his sight on the floor by the bed, before bringing up the clear, plastic box.
He gasped and sat upright, wincing but letting the pain from his chest pass as he grinned at the cake before him. Small on its own, but large enough for just two people.
"Thick, lemon-vanilla cake, diced strawberry in the middle, chocolate frosting, and minty sprinkles on top. Do you really think I'd forget your 'favorite cake in the whole wide world'? Especially after being shot?"
He smiled and held out his arms as she hugged him.
"You're getting spoiled, Alex, with all the stuff you've been getting as 'get-well' presents and 'sorry you were shot' presents…as depressing as that is."
"What's depressing about your famous Dream Day Cake?" he asked happily, already pulling off the lid of the box.
"Alex! You don't even have forks or plates, yet."
He didn't even pause.
"I have fingers, don't I?"
She laughed again, pulling out a few paper-plates and forks, anyway, while helping him open the box, what with Alex still not fully coherent, and fingers not as dexterous, from his drug induced sleep.
For a little while, they remained content with just arguing over the cake, and the different football teams on the TV at that moment, along with the latest movies coming out, and general pointless chatting Alex had come to miss so much.
"…so can we settle on a Doctor Who marathon?" Alex finally said about plans for the weekend when he went home.
She grinned and nodded, and he rolled his eyes. But he wasn't going to complain. Arguing about the most mundane things was nice.
There was a knock at the door, and Dr. Hayward came in with a smile.
"Hello, Alex," he said. "Enjoying your impending discharge?"
"Mm, please, put that cake away…don't you know it's rude to taunt a diabetic with a cake as good looking as that?"
"It's sugar free…" Jack said with a wink. The doctor laughed good naturedly as he walked over to adjust the IV and give Alex a check-over.
"If all goes well, you'll be out of here by tomorrow morning," he said after a few moments.
"Finally!" Alex said with a joyous fist pump. He'd already spent over ten days in here – anymore, and he'd go crazy.
Another round of laughs.
"So," Alex said after a moment. "When can I go back to school?"
"Not for another two weeks, at least," the doctor said. "You need to rest!"
"You must be the only boy in England who wants to go back to school," Jack said while putting the lid back on the cake she baked that morning, fresh for her charge's birthday.
He shrugged. "I'm just really behind is all."
Jack's face seemed to harden for a second, but the doctor just shook his head.
"Well…with your 'special status', I'm not surprised at all."
A few more medical things, mostly the doctor telling Alex how often to come in for physical therapy, the amount of rest he should take, and what he needed to know about his pain meds once he left the hospital.
Alex sighed when the doctor left.
"Just one more day and I'm out of here…Jack? What's wrong?"
The red head sighed.
"I'm thinking on how to get you a full-time tutor."
"You are so far behind…" she said. "I think I'll get you one later today.
"You need it, Alex. Bloody MI6 and all – hell, they should be providing you with a tutor. There's a lot of stuff they should be doing-"
"But they won't," Alex cut in. "So let's just forget it and get back to that cake."
She smiled wryly.
"You and that cake…"
"Well, it's the only thing you'll cook that takes longer than ten minutes," Alex said. "I mean…why do you think I like to do all the cooking, most of the time?"
Alex didn't even flinch, but only smiled, when she thwacked him upside the head for that.
A day later, Alex was discharged.
They stopped briefly at home, but both also decided the house was too boring on such a bright and sunny day.
So, they went to the park, instead.
And obviously, Alex had to act like a child in the park.
"Alex…Alex…come back here!"
Laughing, Alex ran between the trees in the park with Jack's hat in his fingers as she chased after him. It was great to run without having to run for his life again, even if it did mean dull, throbbing aches from his chest.
That, though, did cause him to slow down as Jack caught up to him, both of them stopping for a rest. Alex smiled as he leaned against Jack's chest and she wrapped her arms around him comfortingly, sneakily taking back her hat, but sitting down right beside him against a large tree trunk.
Both were panting – despite being in pain, Alex was still a fast runner – but it was nice, not panting from fighting for his life, but just running away with a friend's hat.
"Are you all right?" Alex said laughingly, pointing to the leaves in her hair. She scowled mockingly.
"Damn you and your legs."
He pouted good naturedly.
"But Jack, it was fun!"
She shook her head.
"What on Earth am I going to do with you?" she said. After a moment, she paused. "How are you?"
He knew what she was asking about.
"My chest it fine. Sore, but fine."
"It feels horrible to have to ask about a bullet wound."
"I'll be fine," Alex said. Then he smiled. "After we get some ice cream."
"…are you seriously using your bullet wound to get some ice cream out of me?"
"Well, it's working. Come on, up we go…"
Helping each other up and heading towards the edge of the grove of trees, Alex laughed as Jack tripped over roots and was hit in the face again with a branch. Even after being shot, Alex was still more graceful in between the trees…though it'd simply become more of an instinct than anything else.
Later, he'd reflect on this moment.
Alex's eyes skimmed over the scene in front of them, the people in the trees, the grass beyond, as he waited for Jack to right himself.
He didn't notice the man when they started walking.
Jack, however, did notice…if just a split second too late.
"Alex…why is that man watching us?" she asked under her breath while Alex tried to argue vanilla ice cream over chocolate.
Alex immediately tensed up, while both of them kept talking after wards to keep up appearances.
He paused at a moment, as if thinking about the ice cream.
"It's not a good thing when someone's watching you. Ever."
She nodded slightly.
"Turn in the other direction?" She offered, already changing her direction just slightly to veer away.
Alex nodded…and then he made the stupidest mistake of his life – and Jack's.
He looked back.
And the man noticed – and sprung into action.
He sprinted forward and towards them…
…with a gun in his hands, eyes on the pair in the trees.
At least Jack knew when to listen to Alex.
Alex led them both, running away from the man, trying to stay near the edges but still in the denser parts of the trees.
A bullet hit a tree trunk over their shoulder. Jack screamed but Alex grabbed her hand and tugged her along, away from the probably-Scorpia-sent killer.
"Jack," Alex said. "Don't stop – just zig zag!"
Alex fought the urge to shut his eyes as far too many memories came with that sound. Almost immediately came to him the memories of a training exercise in Malagosto while training under Scorpia. At the very least, he learned quite a bit under Scorpia.
The man must have a lot of bullets on him. Or he was new, and stupid. He really hoped it was the second one…but knowing Scorpia, not likely.
Alex yanked Jack behind a wall of trees, before pulling her forward again, jumping over some brush and hiding there for a moment.
They heard the footsteps keep going, and Alex momentarily sighed in relief.
"Shit," Alex said after a moment.
"Alex," Jack said, pale and shaking. "Why don't…you looked…scared shitless?"
Alex gave her a grave look.
"I'm used to it."
For a moment, her watery blue eyes bore deep into his own.
One loaded word that almost made Alex shake his head, say it was a joke. But instead, he simply leaned his head and turned to look through the leaves. The lack of response answered Jack's question.
"Alex," she said. "How can-"
"I'll explain later," he said.
"Look, it's simple: I piss people off when MI6 does or doesn't send me someplace, and they have a tendency of coming after me with guns."
She shook her head, a single tear already sliding down her normally cheerful face.
"Alex, you shouldn't be-"
"Well I am…now please, quiet down – I need to listen. It's important."
She swallowed and nodded as Alex listened carefully.
Shit, those footsteps were heading back their way.
Jack's eyes widened, and so did her lips a moment later, so Alex clamped a hand over her mouth, hissing a low "shhh" into her ear while the man passed by yet again, until the footsteps faded.
Alex silently pointed in the opposite direction, trying to use the shadows as a small cover, though it was of little help.
"Back to the park," Alex whispered. "We can get some help."
Meanwhile, Alex was already pulling out the iPhone Smithers had sent him for a 'get well' gift, dialing Smithers' number on speed dial.
"Smithers!" Alex said lowly when he was sure the killer was well away. "Listen, track the signal in the GPS – Jack and I are being chased by someone with a gun, probably Scorpia."
"What?! Right away! I'll get Blunt on it. Listen, on the back, tap the Apple logo of the phone three times, and when the logo sticks out, twist it once counter-clockwise and push it back down. That should activate an emergency signal to get Blunt's attention until I can get to him."
"Thanks," Alex said, almost breathless while running.
For a moment, he and Jack found some more bushes, just near the edge of the trees, and close to the creek, while he stopped behind a rock and did as Smithers told, Jack watching in confusion but amazement.
"Are you all right?" Jack asked again.
Actually, Alex's chest was on fire again, but he wasn't going to say that. He smiled and nodded, asking the same of her with the same answer.
"All right," Alex said. "About twenty meters to our left is a road – if we can get on it, cross the street before the man catches up, we can go into the mall and get lost in the crowds. Scorpia won't dare let him shoot in a place to public."
"Are you sure?" she asked. "They don't exactly seem to care about human life."
"Maybe, but right now, they've only got MI6 after them specifically, and even they need to keep up a form of politics. Killing one MI6 agent won't get major attention, as opposed to a mall full of people. Besides, this man can't have that many bullets, and it would take too long to search for us – he'd have to find us later."
"You're not an MI6 agent."
With that, they ducked as Alex faintly heard more footsteps.
Running, searing pain, running, searing pain. Alex did his best to work through the pain, just like his uncle had always taught him. Pain was a simple relay of neuro-electric signals in the body to alert you that something was wrong. You knew what was wrong, so pain was pointless.
"Left," Alex forced out through clenched teeth, and pulled her out, towards the street, and the creek, and where more people were.
Jack followed behind, tripping for just a moment, both of the smiling in relief as finally, someone else came into view – a man in a food-stand.
And he seemed to see the man with a gun behind them.
He pulled out the phone, also beckoning to them, while Alex sighed in relief as another BANG went off from the gun behind them.
It was then that Alex noticed the resistance on his hand.
He turned back to see Jack slowing down…
On her chest.
Just by her heart.
"Jack…" Alex said in horror. Immediately, he pulled her behind another series of bushes, giving them a momentary cover from the gunman, as he did his best to press his hand over the wound, feeling her warm blood seep between his fingers.
"Please, Jack, just hang on, all right? I did, you can too, please…"
"…Alex…" she said, her eyes wide in pain and shock, but mostly shock. "…be careful…all right?"
"Yes, I will, I promise, just stay fucking here, stay with me-"
"Don't get hurt," came out the hoarse whisper.
"I won't, if you stay," Alex said, not even noticing his tears landing on his hand and her wound. He was sobbing and he didn't even notice. "Please…"
"…love you, remember that, I love you," she mumbled, already her eyes glassing over. "I always loved you…stay all right…"
"No, Damnit, don't leave!" Alex said.
"…'ll miss you…love you…" she mumbled.
Alex pressed down on her bullet wound, but a moment later, he felt for himself as her pulse faded and she went still, blood leaking out at a steady pace now with no leftover pulse to push it.
"Jack…please…no…." Alex said, his chest aching horribly in a way that had nothing to do with the bullet lodged in there just two weeks prior.
But that mental image, he knew, would be seared into his memory forever. Jack, the cheerful, loving, red-headed American, lying on the ground, covered in blood from her gaping bullet wound, her face frozen in shock, skin pale and cold…
And most of all, her horrifying stare right into Alex's dark brown eyes. Those baby-blues were what he would remember most of this for the rest of his life – lifeless eyes.