Disclaimer: Don't own Alex Rider

Disclaimer: Don't own Alex Rider.

A/N: This assumes Sabina didn't return home after the new year. It's spread across two chapters because my chap1 was too long and we had to half it.

Alex Rider, at long last, had proof that defying death was worthwhile.

In front of him sat Sabina Pleasure, sipping hot chocolate, smiling flirtily at the twenty-something waiter, and giving Alex all the San Francisco gossip.

He was half-listening. Over the past five weeks he'd been updated on all aspects of her life. School, real friends, so-called friends, ex-boyfriends. Sabina made it sound like a TV show. Now familiar with most of the main characters, Alex was able to let her voice wash over him, nodding here and there, smiling here and there, and allowed his mind to drift to his favourite activity. Marvelling at how perfect his life had been for the whole of December.

Sabina had arrived at his door one evening in November, when Alex was not long home from nearly loosing his eyes, as well as various other members of his anatomy. Oh, and finding out that his godfather had murdered his parents. He hadn't been feeling too crazy about his life. But Sabina turned it all around. She was staying with her parents in Notting Hill, while her father followed a new story, and Alex had seen her almost every day since that evening. Tom had been quite despairing of him, but conceded that it was better to never see Alex because he was with Sabina rather than never see him because MI6 were playing Russian Roulette with his life again.

Tom had noticed the change in Alex. Alex had noticed the change in Alex. He was actually relaxing. Right now, in a cheery cafe on a crisp January morning, he had nothing more on his mind than whether he wanted marshmallows, cream and/or sprinkles on his drink. And Sabina. He might not be listening properly, but that was only because, compared with the girl sitting in front of him, everyone else paled into insignificance.

She was beautiful. She was the kind of girl that turned heads, that earned Alex begrudging nods of admiration from all the boys and young men that passed them on the street.

Alex watched her emphatic gestures, smiling at her emerald-green nail polish which matched her tight t-shirt, not exactly responsible winter-wear. He watched her flick her dark hair away from her face, sitting so close to him that he could smell her shampoo. He stared into her eyes.

He couldn't remember ever feeling this happy.

"You are listening, aren't you, Alex?" A perfectly arched eyebrow, lips teased into a smile.

"Partly" he admitted with a smile.

"I might have to throw something at you" she warned.

"Now I'm mostly listening."

She grinned at him. Then abruptly grew more serious. "I've really missed you, Alex" she lowered her voice, as if anyone else was listening. Their tiny table was an island amidst the quiet hubbub of the cafe.

"What, since your parents took us and Jack out to dinner last night? He was pushing for light-hearted.

But Sabina wasn't going to let him away with it. She reached across the table and placed her fingers on his hand. His skin tingled.

"You know what I mean. And I have really missed you. Since Richmond bridge I've had something like twelve boyfriends and none have lasted more than a couple of days. Doesn't that tell you something?"

"You have a short attention span."

She stuck her tongue out at him. "It tells me that I've spent all this time trying to compensate for missing you. And now I've got you, you're not getting away again!"


She started chatting again. He loved to hear her voice. He was glad she had plenty of observations about herself and other people because things got awkward when they talked about him. One subject could easily lead to another and it wouldn't take long to wind up at MI6 or one of any wealthy, crazy and very deceased villains. And related topics.

It was all behind Alex now. Memory. Names and numbers. History. He was going back to school tomorrow, and he was going out with Sabina forever. He was going to give his football club more support. Spent time with Jack. With Sabina. With Tom. With Sabina some more. The kids at school would come round to him when he stopped disappearing. He'd work for his exams and he'd spend the rest of his time having fun. Sabina had reminded him about fun.

This was his life now. Blunt had told him that Scorpia had backed down. Anyone who'd ever had a serious grudge against him was now dead. He was safe. It was perfect. He was putting them all out of his mind. From now on his future was going to be normal. Well, as normal as being with Sabina Pleasure could possibly be. He smiled to himself.

"Anyway" Sabina said, scraping her chair back from the table. "I'm going to the bathroom. And I don't want you flirting with that red-head that's been watching you while I'm away, okay?"

"What, like you were flirting with our waiter?" He pretended to be indignant, turning his head to see where the girl was. She was over to his left, with her friend. She blushed when he looked round and her friend giggled.

Sabina rolled her eyes. "The waiter doesn't count, He's too old for me." She eyed the red-head, then leaned over and kissed Alex on the cheek. "There. Sealed it." She smiled wickedly, snatched up her handbag, and cat-walked her way to the toilets.

Alex sat back in his seat contentedly, cheek buzzing. He'd finished his hot chocolate a few minutes ago, and absentmindedly flipped the plastic spoon into his fingers, stirring the chocolate remnants around the bottom of the mug. He eyed the other customers for a moment, the place was nearly full, but lowered his gaze. He still hadn't fully assimilated himself to regular life. He was still suspicious. In one glance he'd picked out five or six perfectly innocent people who were potential MI6 or Scoria members. It was ridiculous. At least he was getting better. He'd been in here two weeks ago and spotted nearly ten.

A man brushed past him. Alex didn't look up. He was heading for the counter. No, he wasn't. He was sitting down. In Sabina's seat.

Alex jerked his head up. John Crawley sat in front of him. John Crawley from the Royal & General. AKA MI6. "Alex, it's important. I need you to leave with me immediately."