A/N: Okay, so, The Firm has set up a monthly prompt challenge. Rather than try and create a new fic for each one, I'm just shoving them all into one fic right here.
And, this one's late because, well, pre-AP-testing overload…even for those of us who currently have no AP's. *shrugs*
April 2009 Prompts:
Cursing under his breath, damning MI6, Alaskan eco terrorists, and God and his stupid creation of weather under his breath, Alex trudged through the tundra before him, glancing back almost constantly, ears on alert for the sound of snowmobiles.
Not that he could do too much against them. Pulling his rifle closer to his body, he reached a thinly gloved hand into the snow reaching almost up to his waist, and brought some snow up to his mouth and shoved it in.
He knew that trying to 'drink' snow wasn't quite the smartest idea when desperate. He'd learned that in the SAS well enough – while snow would give you water, melting it would take energy you desperately need. But at this point, Alex didn't give a damn. He was tired, hungry, thirsty, and he hadn't had anything else in his stomach in two days.
He turned on his cell phone again, checking time, date, and service. Time and date matched up to his mental clock and calendar, while there was still absolutely no service.
He switched it off.
Running on autopilot, Alex scanned the area again, before detachedly checking over his rifle again, his body moving of its own accord.
Seeing that everything within his immediate control was all right, Alex checked the sun yet again – falling. He would need to find some place to sleep, and soon.
Glancing around, Alex saw nothing but snow, a few raggly, dead trees, and…that was about it.
The trees were exactly the place those fucking eco terrorists would look first. Then, they would remember he was a little smarter, and head towards the ice in the other direction, and then to the hills a bit further along in the same direction.
Alex headed for the trees.
Shaken snow fell on top of Alex as he used his hands to dig a hole into the side of the tree, but he ignored it and kept digging.
The snow was waist deep all around when he checked how deep it actually went, but thanks to snow shoes and his own light weight, his feet, when he walked, sank only a few centimeters at the most.
Reaching the trees, Alex had simply pulled off said shoes, to let his weight sink in dramatically further (about half way up his shins), and then started using the shoes to dig.
Soon enough, he dug deep enough that when he stood in the sloping hole, the part by the tree reached just below his waist, and his feet would still be fairly shielded.
Using the displaced snow and some branches he broke off the tree, he created a brace, packing the snow on top of it, and hiding the hole from view, without his shelter collapsing on him.
At last finished, he collapsed into the impromptu shelter, and leaned his head against the tree trunk, keeping the rifle positioned in his hands to shoot in an instant.
He so desperately wished he had even a fucking lighter, right now, to warm his fingers. Instead, keeping the gun carefully cradled in his lap, he shoved his hands between his legs and pressed his thighs together, too cold to get a hard on from the contact, but the body heat enough was enough to marginally warm his hands.
Listening carefully one last time, Alex leaned his head back, admiring the intricate, crystalline patterns of the small speck of frigid dihydrogen monoxide on his knee…a.k.a. frozen water.
He smiled as he remembered stories Jack would tell about it from when she was a child, making all sorts of frozen figurines in the yard, carrot noses and pebbled eyes and smiles and all. They'd made a few, themselves, over the years, before…
Sighing, he shut his eyes and let sleep claim him, no longer caring whether it would be for a night or for eternity.
Alex blinked as he looked up. He was where he fell asleep…but he wasn't cold.
He looked up, and squinted. He couldn't be seeing right. And yet…
John Rider smiled. "Of course."
"So I'm dead, then?"
John Rider just shrugged. "I don't know…are you?"
Yet another blink, Alex cursing the cold, making him confused.
"C'mon, Alex – let's go for a walk."
Alex nodded, and got up, not wondering why his rifle had mysteriously vanished, and followed his father…noticing that as they walked, their feet didn't sink into the snow.
"Where are we going?"
"I was planning on asking you that," John said.
"You…seemed rather ambivalent as you fell asleep."
Alex frowned in confusion. "Ambivalent?"
"Sleeping for a night versus sleeping for eternity?"
Alex looked around him, fairly convinced he was in the latter, right now. The trees had disappeared, despite their short travelling distance, and they were simply standing on an endless stretch of snow and ice, the only thing lighting their way being the stars in the sky, horizon to horizon.
And John, himself. Alex isn't sure how he is lighting the way, but he is, bathing them in a silvery glow, despite there being no moon, tonight.
"Are you leading me to my death?" Alex asked, thinking of the clichéd phrase.
John laughed again. "That would imply you were still alive."
Alex was getting fed up with this. Blinking in confusion yet again, Alex turned to his father and said, "Well…when people die, someone usually comes to take their soul to the afterlife."
"And you think that in this case, that's me?" John asked, bemused. Alex nodded. "I hate to break it to you, Alex, but I'm just hitching a ride, in this case. You're the one leading."
"Oh, lovely," Alex muttered. "What next, the Hogwarts Express?"
"Quoting Deathly Hallows?" John asked, with a quirk on his lips, before his expression became serious. "But no, no train to take you to the afterlife."
Alex sighed. "Damn. I always thought of it as such a nice train, too."
John shook his head. "We don't exactly have a past of simplicity, do we? Did you really expect the choice to be as simple as getting on a train?"
"I'd hoped so," Alex said, with a shrug. "Considering life is complicated, I was hoping the afterlife wouldn't be."
"Life isn't fair," John said. "Why should the afterlife be any different?"
"Fair enough," Alex said, before turning, yet again, trying to figure out where they were. "So…what is this, then?"
"Technically? A hallucination. Your organs are shutting down from lack of warmth and food, and now that you're asleep, your brain is starting to feel the effects."
Alex nodded. "And un-technically?"
"That's up to you."
"I should've known you'd be so cryptic," Alex said. "Why can't anyone from the afterlife give a straight answer? Reminds me of Morgan Freeman. He always plays those kinds of characters."
John laughed. "Yea, well…he's got a long rap sheet of these things."
Alex sighed, before looking around again. "So…I'm hallucinating, possibly of my death. What? I choose whether or not to board the train?"
John shrugged. "Do you want to?"
Alex blinked. "Is it that simple?"
"It's your head – of course it is."
"Will…will Mum and Ian be there?"
John's smile answered the question, and Alex look up at the stars. Where Ian was. Where his mum was.
John raised an eyebrow, waiting for an answer.
A cryptic smile. "I figured as much. The job is hard enough to walk away from, in and of its own right…and even more so when you realize how many people – innocent people – are depending on you."
Why was everything suddenly fading? The sky was fading lighter and lighter, in with the stars, while the snow seemed to grow fainter and fainter, more white, but more translucent.
"I'm proud of you."
He smiled, just as he started falling, through the ice, into the great opening that appeared beneath him, John calling out to him.
"We'll miss you…you know that, right?"
Alex tried to nod.
He wanted to tell them…
He had to say something else, too…
Alex blinked, shifting in his snow shelter, pulling the rifle to his shoulder and aiming at the source of the voice even before he completely woke.
"Whos'ere?" he mumbled.
"Cub, it's me," a fairly familiar voice said.
"The one and only," the MI6 agent said, crouching in front of Alex, barely inside the little snow shelter. "C'mon – how long have you been out?"
Alex almost blindly reached for his phone, and, looking at the date on it, sat up in the snow, alarmed. "Two days!"
That conversation with his father had taken two days? Or had falling taken two days?"
"That explains it," Ben said. "I was sent in to infiltrate a different sect, and when I heard you were gone, managed to figure out where your trail left off from those other guys, and continued from where they lost you."
Alex nodded slightly. "Okay."
Ben frowned. "You're sluggish," he said bluntly. "C'mon, let's get you back to civilization."
Letting himself be manhandled, Alex quickly got on a snowmobile behind Ben, clutching the older man tightly, looking up at the stars as they started driving off.
I miss you, too.
A/N: Did I mention my other thing was that I was never going to actually say the prompts in the fic, just do my best to imply it? Oops. Well, now you know.
Reviews are always met with much love.