Watching him Stephanie noticed the slight limp in his left leg, no one really noticed it or maybe no one really cared to notice. It had been a full month since the incident at his house and since that time he disappeared for a full two weeks coming back only just yesterday, sighing in frustration Stephanie stood up and dusted the dirt off her pants before striding over to him. Plopping down beside him Stephanie ignored the whispers of the other students, opening her book bag she withdrew a Ziploc bag and pulled out her sandwich, splitting it in two, giving Alex the bigger half. Munching on her half Stephanie ignored the stare Alex gave her and focused on her lunch, smiling into her sandwich as Alex picked up the other half and started eating it. Finishing her sandwich Stephanie placed a water bottle in front of Alex and grabbed her spare bottle taking a sip from it and opening her bag of chips. Opening the water Alex looked at Stephanie as he took a swig and finished off the rest of the sandwich, watching her eat her chips Alex took another drink from the bottle, not at all surprised when Stephanie handed the remaining chips to him, taking them from her Alex finished them off and drank the rest of the water.

"I've written down all of the assignments you have missed and have taken all of the notes you need for the exams this Friday," Stephanie murmured softly as she placed her water bottle back into her book bag and cleaned up her mess, standing up Stephanie placed a folded piece of paper in front of him, "after school you can come and retrieve the assignments." Watching her leave Alex opened the piece of paper and read the contents before crumbling it into a ball and throwing it into the trash bin.

Tossing her bag by the steps Stephanie sighed and pulled her hair free from the hair tie running a hand through her hair, walking into the kitchen Stephanie opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water, leaning against the counter Stephanie slowly sipped the water and let her mind wander before shaking her head and walking out of the kitchen and into the living area. Sitting on the floor Stephanie grabbed the remote control and turned on the television flipping through the channels before stopping on the history channel.

"Mistress an Alex Rider is at the gates requesting entrance he says you invited him."

"Yes, let him in and show him to the study if you would please and after that you are dismissed for the day."

"Of course Mistress until next month," nodding her head in response Stephanie sighed and stood up stretching her arms over her head and hearing a slight pop, hearing the door to the study opening and the closing Stephanie headed over towards the study.

Looking around the study Alex quickly took in the details and the surroundings slightly impressed, he would never have guessed or pegged Stephanie to be the rich type, for she did not flaunt it. Hearing footsteps coming down the hall Alex watched as the door was opened Stephanie standing in the entrance way, nodding his head slightly he watched Stephanie nod back before entering and closing the door behind her.

"You have the assignments?" Alex questioned watched as she grabbed the manila folder and holding it out for him, taking it from her, he opened it and quickly thumbed through it before closing and walking towards the door, "thank you."

"I have a proposition for you Alex." Pausing Alex turned slightly to stare at Stephanie his gaze cold and unwavering.

"What kind of proposition?" Smiling Stephanie gestured for him to sit as she took up the chair behind the desk, watching as Alex paused momentarily before taking the seat.

"You are favoring your right leg more than your left meaning that you have injured yourself, every now and then you subconsciously grab your ride side, not to mention there is some dried blood on your neck," Stephanie stated as she watched Alex's reaction before continuing, " it's obvious to me you are working for an organization in which you are not allowed to say anything to anybody, it is obvious to me that they do not care for your well being or you do not inform them when you are hurt. You are failing school by missing so many days of school and if you do not pass the GCSE's you will not be able to continue your education and be able to get a job….that is if the organization decides to let you go to continue a normal life. The deal is this Alex, I'll help take care of your wounds and patch you up when you need to be patched up, I will feed you and help you whenever you need something, I will be a reprieve from the organization you work for and they will never know I exist."

"Sounds nice and all but what do you get out of this?" Alex questioned, smiling softly Stephanie reached across her desk and turned the picture frame around so Alex could see it.

"They were just like you and when they needed my help I did what I could, but the last time they needed my help I was unable to do anything and I lost them."

"And what does this have to do with me?"

"I don't want to see the same thing that happened to them happen to you," Stephanie replied softly as turning the photo back around and gently caressing it. Watching her Alex thought over everything she had said, he knew she was telling the truth it was in her eyes, if he agreed she would be someone he could come to trust who had no interaction with MI6, meaning no manipulation or lies. It was obvious that there was more to Stephanie than he thought possible, leaning forward so his elbows rested on his knees Alex watched as she placed the photo frame back before turning to look him.

"I'll agree to your proposition, on a few terms of mine. For one no lies, if you know something you tell me, two don't question me on what I do or where I go, three no one is to know about us we will act like we don't know each other and today at lunch never happened, if you do that again then you will be discovered." Beaming Stephanie smiled brightly and reached her hand across the desk, grasping her hand in his Alex shook it.

"You got yourself a deal." Stephanie answered withdrawing her hand and standing up, Alex doing the same thing. Following her out of the study Alex took in the rest of the surroundings, pausing every now and then to stare at some of the photos hanging on the walls. Stopping at the entrance to the kitchen Alex watched as Stephanie pulled out various items and began setting up to cook, rolling up his sleeves Alex took up beside her and began pealing the potatoes. Smiling softly Stephanie began to hum a soft tune as both her Alex prepped and cooked dinner a tentative understanding and bond forming.

-Five Months Later-

"Stop squirming you are only making it worse."

"Well then stop poking and prodding it damn it that burns."

"I wouldn't have to poke and prod if you would only stop moving around so much."

"I wouldn't move if you would stop pouring that stuff all over my open wounds."

"Would you rather it get infected and your skin to rot off completely?"

"Of course not, but can't you use something else, something that doesn't sting so badly?"

"Oh just stop whining and suck it up I am almost done….there finished mister whiner."

"Hush you." Laughing Stephanie capped the bottle of alcohol and placed it back into the medical kit along with the rest of the medical supplies she had taken out in order to clean Alex's new wound, "yeah yeah laugh it up." Alex mumbled grabbing a clean shirt and throwing it on, ignoring Stephanie's muffled chuckles.

"Well, now that you are cleaned and patched why don't you head down to the kitchen and get some of the stir-fry I cooked for dinner." Stephanie stated some chuckles escaping every now and then at Alex's pout, waving his hand Alex left the bathroom and headed towards the kitchen the smell of Stephanie's cooking still ever so tantalizing. Grinning Stephanie placed the medical bag under the bathroom sink and washed her hands, following after Alex where she found him spooning a large amount of food onto his plate. "How did the mission go?"

"Could have gone better if you ask me," Alex replied sitting down.

"What happened?" Stephanie inquired as she filled her won plate and sat down from across Alex, grabbing her chopsticks and bowing to Alex, him doing the same, before digging in.

"There wasn't enough information on the enemies and because of that I went in completely unprepared." Alex replied taking a bite, nodding her head in understanding Stephanie knew to end the subject there.

"There is a history exam in two days from now on the Korean War there is also a Math exam at the end of this week. I also got your homework assignments and projects from your other teachers. I was able to get the notes from some of your classmates and filled in most of the gaps for you so it should make it a lot easier for you," grinning cheekily Alex nodded his head and resumed eating a comfortable silence surrounding them as they finished their dinner together.

"I meant to ask you, how did you receive that bruise on your arm?" Alex inquired staring at the discolored bruise.

"Some of the boys at school thought it would be funny to pick on the silent nerdy foreign girl." Stephanie replied shrugging her shoulders in nonchalance as she continued eating, noticing the way Alex's form tensed momentarily before relaxing. "They were dealt with before they could cause me anymore harm." Smiling softly at Alex's concern for her, they had come a long way to be so comfortable with each other earlier in the beginning things were hard and difficult not to mention their personalities clashed with each other horrible making things even harder, but after that one fatal mission things completely changed between them thus forming the bond they held now.

"I've been given a month reprieve before my next assignment I figured until then we could catch up and do some of the things we have been planning." Alex stated finishing up the last of his stir-fry and pushing away the plate watching in amusement as Stephanie shoved the last piece of chicken into her mouth some rice stuck to her cheek. Reaching over Alex brushed it off earning a deer in the head light look, chuckling Alex shook his head and leaned back as Stephanie grabbed her napkin and wiped her face, a blush spreading across her face.

"Sounds good to me," Stephanie answered as she stood up grabbing her plate and Alex's, "Now why don't you go and get some rest I'll clean up the kitchen tonight and get everything ready for school tomorrow."

"Alright," Standing up Alex walked towards his room, pushing open the door Alex smiled seeing a clean set of sleeping clothes on his bed.

Cleaning the dishes a lot yelp could be heard from the direction of the bathroom, grinning wickedly Stephanie began the countdown.

'One, two, three, four and,'

"STEPHANIE, TURN THE WATER HEATER BACK ON DAMNIT." Laughing Stephanie clutched the sink, "IT'S NOT FUNNY DAMN IT." Laughing even harder Stephanie collapsed onto the ground, holding her sides only to laugh even harder at the sight off a soapy and bubbly Alex, who glared at the hysterical form of his companion.

"I…I….hahahahhahahahahahhahahha." Stephanie burst out not being able to form any words, growling Alex glared at her and stomped back towards the bathroom, Stephanie's laughter following him, he would get his revenge on her.