AN: So I'm about five minutes late, and this isn't that good, but I hope you can forgive me. :P Written for The Firm's June prompt challenges, metal and sarcasm. (Hope you can tell where I used them!)

Disclaimer: I do not own Alex Rider.

"Stand up." The voice sounds like scratching metal, making his hairs stand on end and his ears ring. Ian complies, not because he is afraid (or so he tells himself), but because at the moment, not standing would accomplish nothing at all. He can feel a gun press itself against his scalp, the cool metal burning a ring where it lands. The gun nudges him forward, and with the blindfold covering his eyes he can barely tell what's going on.

He's in a basement, he knows. Even without his eyes he can see this. The cool and steady drip drip coming from somewhere in front of him and to his right, the dank and slightly earthy smell of underground that sinks its way into his nostrils...there is simply nowhere else he can possibly be. As he walks in front of the gun, he can tell by the way the floor slopes and pitches that it might not be a basement after all. The realization is not a happy one. If it isn't a basement, then it's a cave. He kicks a pebble a moment later and his opinion is cemented.

Something screeches moments later, like a door that hasn't been opened in too long. The gun pushes him through roughly and he almost falls. Hands coming from every direction grab at him and push him until his face is scratching against a hard wall, his hands bound behind him. The gun is still pressed against his scalp, reminding him that one wrong move can end his life.

He hears footsteps, new ones, over the heavy breathing of the grunts in the room. Suddenly, though, even that goes silent, as if they are all holding their breath. His face roughly pressed to the wall, Ian's mouth forms a slow grin. So the head honcho has finally arrived.

"Get out." The man's voice is smooth and commanding. Ian hears no protest from the grunts as they file out, just the shuffling of their feet as they scrape against the rocky cave floor. A few more echoing steps and the gun against his neck twitches. Ian suspects that it has changed hands.

Suddenly the man is breathing onto his neck. "Ian Rider. How I hoped that someday we would meet." He can feel the man move backward, and his breath is gone.

Ian ignores the use of his real name and instead focuses on the second half of the sentence. "I'm sorry, but I don't think I know you. Care to introduce yourself?"

The man says nothing, but Ian imagines that he can see the smile on his face. All insane people share a certain quality to their smile, Ian thinks. "I think you do know me, Ian. Perhaps not personally, but every agent in MI6 knows my name. Would you care to take a guess?"

Ian doesn't take the bait. "Nope, sorry, not coming up with anything."

Suddenly his head has been wrenched from its position on the wall, with someone's fingers in his hair. He barely has a second to protest before it is slammed back. He can feel warm blood moving quickly down his face, but he says nothing.

"Listen, Rider." The man--Ian suspects it is Yassen Gregorovitch, the assassin he hoped to never meet--spits out the name like it is a poison. "I do not wish to kill you. But you have become entangled in my plans for the last time. If I see you again, you will be facing the barrel of a gun, and then you will die. Do I make myself clear?"

Ian smiles. "Crystal. But I still have a question."

"Oh?" Ian can tell that despite himself, the man is curious.

"Did you really have a thing for my brother?"