There had been no monologue, no grandstanding. Blunt had simply pulled the trigger, the bullet slamming into Alex's head at the same time as Eagle's bullet took Blunt in the back of the neck. There had been a collective gasp from the crowd, a few girls had screamed, then silence had fallen.
Now, two weeks later, Tom was finally coming to terms with the death of his best friend. He no longer woke up shaking, the image of Alex's limp body burning into his eyelids. He could get through the day without staring blankly into space. When he thought of Alex, it wasn't just his bloody corpse, but of the times they had together before that.
And then he'd ditch school and spend the rest of the day in the park where he and Alex used to play football. The teachers tried to be understanding, they really did, but he could see the flicker of doubt in their eyes – was he turning out like Alex? Was he going to start skipping school for weeks at a time?
Tom didn't know the answer, yet, and he was too busy mourning his best friend to care.
A/N: This is the ALTERNATIVE ENDING. It was written for Iamawsome because of their comment that "it would be kind of cool if [I] killed him" and for reachforthesky for thinking it would be poetic justice if Alex got shot. What can I say? I couldn't resist.
And now, please don't kill me. The real chapter is right below!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything!
There was a gunshot, loud in the virtual silence of the yard.
Blunt keeled forward, blood pooling from the base of his skull.
Behind him, Alex could make out Eagle, a rifle supported on his shoulder.
Slowly, the soldier walked forward and prodded the man professionally with his foot.
"You ok, Cub?" he asked and Alex nodded.
"Mrs Jones isn't going to be happy with you," commented Alex. "She wanted him alive."
"She would have been far less happy if I had let him shoot you," pointed out Eagle.
"Come on," said Wolf, appearing behind Eagle. "We'll take you to the Royal and General."
Alex nodded and crossed the silent playground. Tom caught him up at the gate. Alex raised an eyebrow as he saw that his friend was clutching Emily's hand. That was a new development.
"You really are hopeless, you know?" said Tom exasperatedly. "We just manage to convince our class that you're not a spy and then someone comes to Brooklands to kill you!"
"I didn't exactly have a choice," protested Alex, slugging his best friend on the arm.
"Don't you two have school about now?" asked Alex, sourly.
"Yeah well, it's not like I'd be learning anything anyway."
"Tom," said Alex, warningly.
"Fine," grumbled Tom.
"Bye, Alex!" called Emily as she dragged Tom back towards the school.
It didn't take long for them to reach the bank, where Mrs Jones was waiting for them in the lobby.
"Alex," she said relieved. "Are you ok? Did you get hurt?"
Alex shook his head. "I'm fine, Mrs Jones," he insisted.
"Good," she smiled. "I think we should have a talk, though. I guess you will want an explanation?"
"Come up to my office," she said. "We can discuss it there."
Her office was nicer than Blunt's, thought Alex. For a start, it had a nicer view, and a few personal touches subtly placed so that they would give nothing away about the owner while still making it less lifeless than Blunt's. It reminded Alex of his uncle's office, for the brief time he had visited it – just bigger.
"Sit down, Alex," invited Mrs Jones, indicating the chair in front of her desk.
He sat down, and then to his surprise she moved her chair so that she was facing him at ninety degrees. It was somehow less formal than talking directly across the desk.
"You know that your father was a double agent," said Mrs Jones, and Alex frowned. What had this to do with his father?
He nodded his confirmation and Mrs Jones sent him a brief smile.
"What you probably did not know, was that when he withdrew, he was the best agent we had. At that point, Blunt was deputy of MI6 and the head was a man called Aaron Ruskin. Ruskin was set to retire a few months after your father pulled out of Scorpia. Blunt had been the obvious choice, but... well, when John returned, complete with Scorpia training techniques, a high level of experience with, and intel on, a growing threat to the British government. Some people thought that your father would be a better choice. He was just as good at his job as Blunt and, if we are honest, better liked. Ruskin heard these whispers and discreetly offered the job to him. But your father didn't want it. He wanted to retire to France with you and your mother. So Ruskin let him. Unfortunately, Blunt had heard of the job offer made to John. If Blunt ever had a fault, it was pride. He hated your father, simply because he was offered the job before Blunt and worse, turned it down. Blunt could never forgive him. And... I don't think he ever forgave you."
"Hold on," said Alex, incredulously, "You mean he tried to kill me because my father was better liked than him?"
"You have to understand, Alex. You come in here-"
"At his insistence."
"Be that as it may. You come in here and at fourteen or fifteen, have the perfect record and don't even want it. To Blunt, you must have seemed like your father all over again."
"And so he tried to put a bullet in my head?"
"Well... it was probably the reason he sold you to Scorpia, and I have reason to suspect that he is the reason that Scorpia found out where you lived. But I think that you causing him to lose his job was more likely to be the reason he tried to, ah, 'put a bullet in your head'."
Alex didn't quite know how to respond really. It seemed a little over the top to him, but he had heard similar stories on several of his missions. He guessed that there wasn't much difference between being a madman and spending your life analysing their actions.
Just then, the intercom buzzed.
"Mrs Jones?" came the tinny voice.
"We have a Mr Bray in the reception asking for an Alex Rider. The receptionist tried to dissuade him, but he claimed that Alex was a student of his."
Alex's eyebrows shot up in surprise.
"So what do we do now?" he asked, looking at his boss.
"William?" said Mrs Jones, "Can you take Mr Bray to Alex's office? Alex and I will meet him there as soon as we can."
"I have an office?" asked Alex surprised.
"All agents have an office," said Mrs Jones. "Just because you are... unofficial... doesn't mean you don't have one. It's just not your name on the door."
"Where is it?" asked Alex curiously.
"It's your uncle's old office, though I must confess to having had the flagpole removed."
Alex smiled. "Aw, I was hoping I would have my own personal adventure playground," he joked.
"Before we go to see your teacher, there is one more thing I would like to discuss with you."
Alex cocked his head to the side in curiosity.
"You are an exceptionally good agent. You're success rate is unmatched in the entire history of this agency." She paused and looked at him. "I want you to become an official agent. With proper health care and psychological evaluations and pay."
Alex looked up sharply.
"You would also be licensed to carry a gun with you and speed restrictions wouldn't apply to you, when reasonable, although I would be inclined to suggest that you pass your test first."
"We'll sort out your contract at a later date. I'm sure I can find a way to give you back pay for the missions you have already completed for us – and I will do my best with the CIA and ASIS as well, though I can make no guarantees."
Mrs Jones looked at him expectantly.
"And if I refuse?" he said.
"Then I will allow you to walk out of those doors and you will never here from us again. We will continue to pay for Dr Joyner and I will give you a number to call should any of your... enemies find you."
"It sounds like a good offer," said Alex, quietly.
"Could you really put it all behind you?" asked Mrs Jones quietly. "Go back to being a normal teenager, with normal worries? Not even wonder what is happening here?"
"No," he admitted. "I think I would like to be an official agent. It has to be better than unofficial, right?"
"Would you like to think about it?" she asked politely.
Alex sighed. "To be honest, I've been thinking about this decision for over a year, though I never thought the offer would be made."
Mrs Jones smiled. "Shall we go and see your teacher then?"
Mr Bray stood up as they entered. He had a photo of Alex and his uncle clutched in his hand.
"This isn't a bank," he said quietly.
"Mr Bray. I think we need to talk. We need your help to control the situation that occurred at your school this morning."
"Who are you?" he asked.
"I'm Mrs Jones. I am head of MI6."
"And what is Alex doing here?" asked Mr Bray. "He isn't in trouble, is he? Because I know that thing with his guardian last term was unfortunate, but he would never have-"
Mrs Jones held up a hand. "Please believe me when I say that Alex is not in any trouble at all. But before we continue this conversation, you must understand that everything said in this building is classified. You cannot tell anyone and you will be asked to sign the official secrets act before you leave. In fact, let's take care of the now, shall we?"
"I'm sorry, what?" said Mr Bray confused.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Mrs Jones produced a document.
"Please sign by the pointers, Mr Bray," she instructed.
Bemusedly, Mr Bray complied, the straightened up.
"What on earth is going on?" he asked, "I do not appreciate having my students almost shot right in front of my school and then dragged off without a word!"
"I hardly think 'dragged' is appropriate, Mr Bray," said Mrs Jones, sternly. "Alex was perfectly willing to come here, and K-Unit would hardly drag Alex anywhere."
"K-Unit?" asked Mr Bray, mystified.
"The SAS unit who collected him from your school."
"Oh... and why is Alex here? Are you sure he isn't in trouble?"
"No," smiled Mrs Jones. "He is not in trouble. He is, in fact, our top agent."
There was a brief, startled pause. "I'm sorry," said Mr Bray, faintly, "I thought you just said that a fifteen year old boy was your top agent."
"There were... unusual circumstances. And Alex proved too good at his job to just let him go."
"So... all those illnesses, those injuries. He got them working for you?!"
"Sir, that really isn't the issue here," interrupted Alex, quietly.
"In the last year you have spent more time out of school than in it! Didn't they care how your education was suffering?"
"My predecessor was less than scrupulous," admitted Mrs Jones. "He was fired and awaiting trial for treason. He died this morning when he sought to get revenge on the agent who he perceived to have cost him his job."
Mr Bray turned to look at Alex. "You were the agent," he said.
Alex nodded, though it wasn't a question – just a statement of fact.
"I'm sure you can understand why we need your help with damage control. As Ian Rider is now dead, and has been for over a year, we will release his statement as a spy. We will say that his enemies have been hunting Alex for the past year, and the man who attacked Brooklands this morning was one of them. Alex has had to be taken away from school for his own protection. It was these enemies who shot Miss Starbright."
Alex shrugged at Mr Bray's astounded expression. "A good lie is two parts truth and one part lie. Spin it right and they'll swallow it whole."
"You learnt that for your missions?" asked Mr Bray, snidely.
"No," said Alex turning away. "My uncle taught me."
Mr Bray sighed. "Why don't you just stop?" he asked, exasperatedly.
"Who else would do it?" said Alex.
"Anyone! An adult!"
"It's in my blood, sir. I've been prepared to do this since before I could walk."
Mr Bray looked at him disbelievingly.
"Mr Bray," said Mrs Jones, "Perhaps it would help you to understand if you knew that if it were not for Alex, everyone in your school would have died. He has saved all your lives multiple times."
Mr Bray looked at his student, and the determination in his eyes, and suddenly realised that Alex had already made his decision.
He sighed. "I guess I understand why the disappearances won't stop now, Alex, and... and I want you to return to Brooklands anyway."
Alex looked up, and Mr Bray was taken aback by the simply gratitude in the teen's face. It made him squirm inwardly with guilt about almost expelling the child in the first place.
"What changed your mind?" Alex asked, quietly.
"I think you've got it hard enough, without me adding to the load. You deserve a semblance of normality."
"Thank you, sir."
Twenty minutes later, Alex sauntered into the Humanities classroom.
Several mouths fell open.
"Rider?" exclaimed Freeman.
Alex rolled his eyes. He just had to pick the class with him in it. Just his luck.
"Mr Rider, please take a seat!"
Alex smirked up at the teacher. "Right away, sir."
One of the girls at the back blushed slightly, and he smiled at her. Her blush deepened. Sliding into a seat by the window, Alex smiled to himself.
It would be all over the school by lunchtime, he knew.
Alex Rider was back.
A/N: And that's the end! I can't quite believe it! Anyway, I hope you liked the last chapter. I would apologise for the awful cliff hanger last chapter... but I'm bound to do it again, in another story, so I'd better not.
Oh, and huge thank you to prone2dementia for beta-ing this for me. And to Timon x3 for encouraging me to re-write it when I lost the entire fic for the second time, back before I started posting it. And to Aimael for all the really nce reviews and concrit throughout the story... and to everyone who has reviewed in general.
I still can't believe I actually FINISHED! Wow...
Anyway, review and tell me what you thought! And what story should I start to post next!