Disclaimer: Characters are not mine! Duh! All of them belong to the wonderful Anthony Horowitz.

Chapter One: The Deal

"You are the ones shaping our future. Make your own decisions……..," droned the principle on the stage of the spacious auditorium. It was career day at Brookland Prep. Rows upon rows of hard plastic chairs seated the entire student body as they listened to the uninspirational speech that the principle was spouting. Even the staff had looks on their faces that spoke of boredom created by years of hearing the same speech over and ever again. The students, however, were far from quiet. Spit balls flew across rows and notes were passes from hand to hand. None of the students were paying much attention to the presentation and the teachers made half-hearted attempts to stop them.

Choices, my arse!, thought Alex bitterly. He was never given a choice when Blunt and Mrs. Jones made him go on a mission. Hell, they even blackmailed him with Jack's visa. That was where this whole mess started. A decision that changed his whole life. It was not like he could say no either, he had saved the world at least seven times over. However, it was Jack's expression that cut him to the heart. Each time he came home, a little more scarred from his missions. Jack, the woman he though of as his sister, was afraid that he wouldn't come back one day. Alex wondered about that too, what if he died? He shuddered and shifted in his seat.

As Alex squirmed in his seat, he felt cold metal touch the skin of his back. He felt assured by the weight of the small Beretta 92FS stuck in the waist of his jeans. It had been his dad's. He had found this gun as he was perusing the boxes in the attic of his house. It fit perfectly into his hand. This little weapon was the catalyst for a lot of changes recently. He reminiscened happily while listening to the monotone speech that was still going on stage.

Alex Rider dialed the Royal & General Bank using the special phone that M16 had given him. All he had to do was press seven and it would direclty route him to into the main office of Blunt and Mrs. Jones without the hassle of contacting them through the front desk.

Mrs. Jones had picked up half-way through the first ring. That was fast, Alex had thought.

"Hello Alex, is something wrong?" asked Mrs. Jones in a worried tone.

"No, not at the moment, but I would like to request a meeting with you too," smirked Alex.

"A meeting? About what?" said Mrs. Jones, a bit unsure.

"We can discuss this at the meeting. Can I come now?" said Alex.

"Alright, I'll send someone to pick you up." Answered Mrs. Jones. Ever since that horrifying incident outside headquaters which nearly lost her favorite agent, Alex, she became extremely wary of transportation safety. She always had a soft spot regarding Alex.

Soon a black Range Rover pulled up to the entrance of the Royal & General Bank and out walked a teenage boy. Shaking the blond hair out of his eyes, he proceeded to enter this high-end bank. He nodded to the receptionist and continued into the elevator which took him to the 14th floor even though there was not a button for it.

Mrs. Jones and Blunt were waiting for Alex in the meeting room. As he walked down the hall, several people glanced curiously at him.

One person even asked in a nasally tone, "Lost, are you?"

Alex replied mockingly, "No, I work here." He smirked and walked away. He could literally feel the guy's glare burning a hole in his back and the astonished gazes of the others.

"Hello Mrs. Jones, Mr. Blunt"said Alex in a pleasant tone as he sat down on the other side of the desk that the two spymasters were sitting on.

"What brings you here today?" asked Mrs. Jones, while unwrapping a peppermint and popping it into her mouth.

Without beating around the bush, Alex said, "I am here to make a deal. You people have used me way too many times. What did I get out of these missions? Pain and horror. I have seen too much. Much more than I need to at this age. I'm only fourteen! Don't get me wrong, I am proud that I saved all those lives, including my own. However, I want something for myself. It is simple. I want sufficient payment for all the missions I have completed for you. I can't live my life off of Uncle's Ian's money." Mrs Jones look relieved, thinking it was only money that Alex wanted, but Alex wasn't finished.

"I also want the permission to carry around this gun," said Alex as he pulled it from his backpack, "during school. I know you don't even allow me to have a gun during missions, but I don't feel safe. Look at it this way, if you can't even protect me outside your own headquarters, how do you expect me to be safe at a school?"

Mrs. Jones winced and said, "Hold on, let me discuss this with Mr. Blunt." Both Mr. Blunt and Mrs. Jones put there heads together and spoke through heated whispers. After a few more minutes of intense arguments, Mr. Blunt resignedly nodded and Mrs. Jones looked triumphant.

Mr. Blunt said, "We will pay you and give you permission for the gun. We trust you will handle it accordinly and show no one at school. However, what will you give us in return?"

Alex gritted his teeth and said, "I shall be available to you in the future, if and only if you protect Jack, while I am away."

Both spymasters looked astonished at this turn of events. They always knew Alex hated going on missions, but they weren't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Mr. Blunt said, "Great. I shall event put your name on the record and give you full agent status. Here is your agent number…….."

A sharp prod in the back broke him away from his musings. He turned around to glare at the offender.

Alex saw Brian grin at him stupidly saying, "You can't even get a job can you? Always sick or getting stoned if the rumors are true. No one would want to hire you, you loser."

"I do have a job," said Alex through clenched teeth. Tom, his best friend, put arm on his shoulder, ready to restrain him if necessary.

"Oh? A job, selling crack?", sneered Brian.

"No, that would be your job. Mine needs skill and intelligence which you have little or none of." Smirked Alex as he turned back around to face the front.

"Why, you little….." Brian said, but was cut off by a fearsome glare by a teacher standing next to row. "This isn't over, Rider."

Alex didn't answer.