CHAPTER 9- Worth it.
AN: And here we are, the last chapter. I can't believe you're still reading, lol. For those I've lost along the way, I am truly sorry. The moment I considered a sequel, this was always the direction I was heading. I didn't set out to write something that could compare to Deaths Door. I set out to write something completely different, with just a hint of familiar, so that there could be no comparison. Happy reading, and until next story time. Cheers.
Alex fidgeted nervously as he waited in his room. This was it, the last step he had to take. He looked into the mirror again to check out what he was wearing. Nothing fancy, just a jumper and jeans, but he couldn't help it.
Catching sight of his face, he smiled. He'd come a long way in the past few months. The lessons had been hard learned, but he wasn't likely to forget them any time soon. There was still a cold hardness to his eyes that he didn't think he'd ever be rid of. He had saved the world a few times, after all, and suffered horribly for it.
But there was life in them, once again. After so long of simply wishing his life would end, Alex felt alive again, and almost human. A month of regular therapy and workouts with Elise had done both his mind and body some good. The flashbacks had been reduce to almost non-existent, and his nightmares, while still quite terrifying, came only after a particularly difficult session with Elise.
He had taken back control of his life. MI6 had conceded to his request, unhappily, but had done so nonetheless. He wasn't ready to go back to work yet, but it was coming soon. It would take time for word to get out, since it had to be carefully filtered through certain channels.
He was coming along just fine in school. He'd even started to try and regain some of his previous friendships. Tom Harris was a little more skittish around him than he used to be, but they were both working on it. He still had to be careful about hiding his body, but that didn't bother him so much anymore. He'd come to realize that those scars were badges of honor. Talisman's that meant he had, yet again, managed to survive the almost impossible.
He'd risen a rank in his Karate, and K Unit had started teaching him Close Quarters Weapons Maneuvers. They hadn't particularly been thrilled with his decision, but they hadn't hampered it, either. They had simply done the best they could to make sure he was as prepared as he could be for whatever he might face next.
He'd let them in, and in exchange, had become part of a unit. If sometimes Fox or Eagle couldn't remember whether they were Uncles or Teammates, he didn't mind. Wolf was doing his best as a father figure, which in itself was sometimes worth a few laughs, and Snake had become the wise Uncle he went to for advice.
It had taken a lot, that first time. He'd had a nightmare about Dexter, and Elise had warned him about not talking about it. Not talking about made it secret, forbidden, and wrong. He'd never thought of it like that before, but he knew instantly she was right.
Quinn had caught him making coffee in the kitchen at four am. He had waited until the coffee was brewed before asking about it. Alex had screamed quite loudly. There had been something in his voice, like he was expecting Alex to reject him again. Alex had been shocked to discover how much that had hurt.
So he'd started talking. And found he couldn't stop. He had even cried a little. Quinn had been surprised, pleased, and sympathetic, but never overbearing. He'd allowed Alex to talk as he would, or wouldn't, at his leisure. They had talked for an hour.
That had been the first time, but definitely not the last. He'd even accepted Wolf into his private boundaries, though he still preferred to talk to Quinn. Humor had returned to the house, and he felt secure in the relationship he have developed with each man. It wasn't perfect. He still had a long way to go, no matter how far he'd come, but they were working on it, and it was good. If he wasn't quite open to being loved, he was at least open to being cared about.
Jack had even written him, at last. He had been thrilled to hear from her, and that she was doing well. She had even written the letter in German, to make sure he was keeping up with his languages. Feeling a little impish, he had written a letter back to her in Spanish, not one of her best languages.
Life was settling down into a tolerable pace for him. He didn't feel like it was all spinning out of control anymore, he didn't feel helpless.
Wolf knocked on the door to his room. "Are you going to come down and actually meet her, or just stay up here?"
Alex smiled nervously. "Can I take door number two?"
Wolf chuckled. "I don't know why you're so nervous. It's only my mother." But he did understand. He knew this was a big step for Alex. Meeting Clara, his mother, was the last step Alex had to take in being fully accepting of being part of a family. "She brought brownies."
"What if-" Alex cut himself off. The question would have made him vulnerable, and that still wasn't a place he was comfortable coming from. "I'm coming."
Wolf nodded and went back downstairs. He knew what Alex had been about to ask. A year of insecurities and fears weren't going to go away with only a month of therapy and a taste at a normal life, however temporary that taste might be.
Alex had made his decision to stay in business, and there was nothing any of them could do about it. Nor would they have tried, he thought. Had his parents gone through any less anxiety when he had decided to join SAS?
Probably not. They had accepted what, and who, Alex was when they'd adopted him. If anything, K Unit as a whole was proud of him for taking back his life from MI6, for standing up and making his voice heard.
That they hadn't particularly liked what he had to say was their issue, not his.
"Is he coming?" Quinn asked quietly.
"He says he is. He's nervous. You didn't tell him about the time she beaned you with the frying pan for swearing, did you?" Wolf asked, suspicious.
Snake laughed. "Nope. Just about the time she kicked Fox out of the house for daring to smoke a pipe, except it was raining so hard he couldn't keep it lit."
"Ha! And he deserved it too!" Clara replied haughtily. She pointed at Snake. "So did you, for that matter. Just because you're soldiers doesn't mean you have to talk like one!"
"But you love me best, right Clara?" Eagle asked around a mouthful of brownies.
Wolf snorted. "As only a mother could, I'm sure."
Eagle stuck out his tongue as Clara patted his head indulgently. "You're just jealous, Dan."
"Why? You had to adopt my mother because yours didn't bloody want you," Wolf fired back.
Eagle grinned. "Yours makes better brownies, too."
"That'll be enough of that! Potty mouths, the lot of you! That poor boy doesn't stand a chance of having a decent raising!" Clara clucked over the laughter.
"Actually, I think I'm teaching them a thing or two, so it's a toss up as to who's raising whom," Alex put in quietly. He was standing at the doorway of his kitchen, and had been watching for a while.
Clara smiled. "Let me look at you. Daniel didn't tell me you were so handsome!" She came right into his personal space without so much as a second thought. Nor did she comment when he immediately backed up a little. She studied him carefully. "Those eyes have seen the world go round a time or two, I think."
K Unit was quiet now. Alex smiled. "Or two. But it's still turning, and in the end, that's all that really matters, right?"
Clara smiled sadly. "It's a heavy burden to bear, holding it up."
"But worth doing," Alex replied. Of that much, at long last, he was sure.
Clara chuckled. "Yes, I suppose it is. Welcome to the family, Alex."