Waking early, Wolf woke Fox and Snake, before he relieved Eagle from his shift. They all had had a part in keeping each other safe.
The two hour shifts worked well, and Wolf was pleased to note that everyone had at least slept a little. Wolf tied his laced up boots while glancing up to watch Snake who was checking on Cub.
"It would be a bad idea to wake him, and I'm not sure we could even if we wanted to," Snake said, his brow crinkled. "Sleep helps heal, and rest is one of the many things he needs right now."
Wolf nodded, not knowledgeable enough in the medical area to disagree.
"Fox, you're in charge of Cub. If he gets too heavy Snake or Eagle can take over for a bit." Fox nodded at Wolf's words and carefully picked up Cub.
A better form of transporting the young man would have been to make a carrying table out of branches, and that is probably what Wolf would have done had the situation been different. They did not posses the means to make many things that would have come in handy, so K Unit did what they were trained to do and made do with what they had.
Snake had changed Cub's bandage earlier, Wolf had watched as he carefully folded the bloodied material. He'd thought Snake would throw it away, but instead he had placed it in an unused pocket.
"Don't want to draw animals to this area with the smell, they could track us down," Snake explained at Wolf's stare.
As unlikely and ridiculous as Wolf found that, he didn't feel the energy to argue, and something so simple wasn't worth fighting over.
They moved out, all of them hungry but not having the time to stop, or the light to look for food. It was still early, the sky different hues of bright blue to light pinks.
"We're not going to go back and find the creek," Wolf said quietly. He seemed disconcerted, more so than any of them had seen him before.
"We're trusting the words of a killer, then?" Fox's voice showed his dislike at the idea, and Wolf's shoulders stiffened.
"I'm doing this for Cub, Fox." Wolf sighed slowly, "I don't like it any more than you, trust me on that. But, either way, we are in need of medical attention--all of us probably have a few problems, but Cub's is the worst. And even though we might be going out of the way because of what that guy said, what other choice do we really have?"
"And," Snake said, ready to back Wolf up, "Gregorovich had no reason to lie. He seemed pleased just to get Forest and run back to whatever place they came from."
"Probably a place called Hell," Eagle muttered, while looking side to side in a comic fashion.
"Wouldn't doubt it, those bloody interfering hunters probably came out of there with them," Fox said with a shake of his head.
"They need to be taken care of, remind me to mention it to the sergeant--"
Wolf laughed, "Trust me, you'll be telling this story to more that just the sergeant. A SAS helicopter crashed, the pilot died and four men and a teen barely survived. Even with the newspapers and telly being quiet when it comes to military matters, I wouldn't doubt if this made the news. Our names might even have been mentioned--"
"Oh, shite," Eagle said, "I bet my mum thinks I'm dead."
Snake didn't look so sure. "You're…well, you Eagle. Energetic, headstrong…much too verbal for Wolf or anyone else with a short amount of patience, she's probably thought you were dead tons of times!"
Fox shifted Cub carefully so he was laid over one shoulder.
"I did get into a bit of trouble here and there," Eagle murmured.
A slight embarrassed look came over Eagle's face, "Well…maybe more then a bit of trouble. I had the tendency to piss off the neighbor's dog, they had a huge fence and I'd sit on a crate and tease him by looking over the edge."
Wolf snorted with laughter, but Eagle was far from done.
"Then, one day he got through the fence…tore four boards off in the process. Yeah," Eagle muttered, "I don't like remembering that."
Fox chuckled, but he stopped when Alex moved. "Guys--Wolf, stop for a second. Snake, come check Cub, I think he's waking."
Alex woke in parts. He noticed the voices, they sounded both grimly worried and hopeful.
"….Cub? If you can hear me, I don't want you sitting up."
Snake's voice came from above him, and his side was prodded painfully--no, it was not the touches causing the pain, that was coming from an injury. As his head cleared, Alex could feel the injury but with that feeling came the pain.
He swallowed a groan, making a choking sound in the process. Alex reluctantly opened his eyes, not positive that his surroundings were something worth seeing.
Fox was bent over his head, his eyes studying Alex's face.
He moved back as Alex looked up at him through squinted eyes. By moving back though, he let the sun hit Alex's eyes. Turning his head sharply away from the sunlight, Alex weakly lifted a hand to block his eyes and peered at his surroundings without sitting up.
It was embarrassing to see so many people hovering over him as he lay helpless and more than a little confused. Wolf had his arms crossed, watching guardedly as Alex stared up at them and looked around.
"How do you feel Cub?" Snake asked as he brought out a flask of water so Alex could drink when he felt like it.
"Bloody awful," Alex replied. His voice was hoarse and he drank slowly from the flask
Snake handed him. "What happened?"
Seeing the traded glances and the unsure faces, Alex frowned. "All I remember is this shooting pain in my side. I think I blacked out shortly after that."
"Er…uh," Snake said eloquently, "why don't you sit up Cub….Slowly!" Snake warned, as Alex tried to sit up too quickly.
He'd tried to sit up fast, and halfway up his head suddenly felt extremely dizzy. Making a face, Alex placed a hand on his pounding head and sat up the rest of the way. The pain made him re-think his action, and the queasiness in his stomach grew to an alarming amount.
"The man who captured you accidentally let his knife slip." Wolf spoke unexpectedly,
Alex turned to look at him, his side aching with the slight movement. "We were tracking him--we didn't get you in time, he'd already stabbed you."
Alex looked for the man they spoke of; there was no one around except for themselves.
"What--where'd he go? You didn't kill him did you?" Alex's eyes grew alarmed, and Wolf shook his head.
"As much as we wanted to, we didn't."
"Where is he, then?"
Eagle cleared his throat. "While you were unconscious, we decided you were a trouble magnet."
Eyebrows furrowed in confusion, Alex began to get angry, the pain fueling him. "Damn it, would you just tell me where the hell he is?!"
"He was saved--"
"--by this man who seemed to know you. Yassen Gregorovich," Eagle finished. He received an annoyed look from Snake for cutting into his explanation. "Do you know him? Is he a relative gone bad, an ex-lover--"
Fox laughed and Eagle stopped his dramatic words to grin. Alex had his mouth slightly open, a horrified expression on his face at Eagle's chose of words.
"What? God, how much has happened since I've been out--"
Alex's stomach rolled, he knew what was going to happen a moment before it did. Groaning, he rolled over and immediately vomited the small amount he had in his stomach.
Continuing to dry heave painfully, Alex noted someone had put a comforting hand next to his neck. It squeezed his shoulder and when Alex was done the owner of the hand offered him a flannel. Alex took it with a thankful look and wiped off his sweaty brow.
Then, he paused.
"Is this the same flannel we all washed off with a few days ago?"
His only answer was a smirk from Wolf.
"Ew," Alex said and tossed it away from himself. "So, what did this Yassen character look like--and what did he say?"
"We gathered he was Russian, or at least he had an accent that made us think so. Blond with blue eyes, sharp features and slim build--that's about all as far as a description. I think he was just going to grab Forest and go."
"The guy who took you in the first place, that was his name. Anyway, he saw you and then it got weird."
Alex smiled in bemusement, "How so?" Fox opened his mouth to answer, and Snake handed Alex his water flask to drink from.
"He seemed…concerned over your condition and when we asked him why he evaded the question. Gregorovich had threatened Snake, so Wolf had to put his gun down. He could have killed us, I'm still surprised he didn't," Fox said.
Wolf borrowed the flask of water from Alex to drink deeply. "We need to keep moving, and if you can't talk and walk at the same time then what are you doing on my team?"
Grinning, Wolf looked at the sky and the suns position to try and make out the time.
"It's still early, but the faster we get there the better…if there's actually anything there to see," Wolf ended with a mutter. He lifted the gun, and waited for the others.
Alex was confused, "Get where?"
"Well…er, we might not be as far from SAS camp as we thought. Gregorovich seemed to think it was only a day away, so we're going to try it," Fox waited for Alex's reply, looking torn between amusement and dislike of their plan.
"Whose idea was this?" Alex asked. Frankly he was amazed. Wolf actually agreed to head off who knows where--what had happened to his 'follow the stream' plan?
"It was Wolf's idea."
"Oh," Alex said softly, surprise showing on his face.
"Yeah, yeah, can we please leave now?" Wolf said impatiently. "Cub, you still look ready to pass out--Fox, Snake, help him walk…Unless you'd rather be carried?" At Alex's expression, he continued, "I didn't think so. Eagle, you can carry the luggage."
Pulled to his feet, Alex let himself be led by Snake and Fox. No, he didn't want to be carried. Apparently that had already happened and the idea of being carried around like a limp rag doll was none too pleasing.
Even though he had to lean heavily against Fox's side, it was better than feeling useless and a burden in someone's arms.
A burden or not, K Unit showed no irate feelings towards Alex even as he lagged behind with Fox and Snake on either side. Even Wolf, who had eagerly shown his dislike towards Alex before, was quiet and patient. The trees thinned letting the sunlight fall on them.
The heat warmed his skin and Alex held back a sigh of relief.
He'd been growing cold, and his skin felt sore where the wet clothing had rubbed against him. When they stopped for water, Alex rolled up his sleeves.
He had a cut on one hand from where they had trampled a patch of thorny brambles. They had found a few wild blackberries amongst the brambles, but it was not enough to sooth the ache in his stomach.
"The first thing I'm going to do when we get back is eat--and they'd better offer me some better food than that mush in the mess hall," Eagle warned.
"I think that's all they have," Fox said pityingly.
"No, I saw the sergeant with a turkey leg a few days before we left, they have a secret stash," Eagle said, whispering the words like he was speaking of a conspiracy.
"Did those blackberries you ate have bugs on them? Or better yet, are you sure they were blackberries?" Wolf said, amused at Eagle's rant.
"I just want to sleep, then leave this place and go home," Alex muttered. "I knew it was going to suck when I found out who I was going to be staying with--er." His widened eyes and the smile that threatened to break onto his face told Wolf that Alex had meant to say that.
"I've said it before, brat," Wolf said, taking on a mock stern expression, "just because you're hurt doesn't mean I won't come over there--"
"--and give me a big hug," Alex interrupted, blowing a raspberry in Wolf's direction.
Snake rolled his eyes but stood in front of Alex when Wolf headed their way. "Now Wolf, the kid's been knocked around the last day or so, he probably has brain damage."
"Yeah," Eagle agreed sarcastically, "we know he wouldn't tease if he was feeling normal."
Alex just smirked at Wolf over Snake's shoulder.
"Let's go," Wolf said, exasperation making him sound wound up as he led the way.
It got darker faster than Alex thought it should. His day had not been fun, so the saying, 'time flies when you're having fun' didn't apply to this situation.
He had been kept busy though, if trying to hide his pangs of pain, chatting, bickering and laughing counted as being busy.
Up ahead, Eagle moved closer to Wolf's side in a swift natural movement. But, his shoulders were tense. As if by instinct Alex tried to quicken his step and leaned forward slightly.
"Shouldn't we be there by now?"
Wolf turned his head slightly; it was difficult to make out his words without it becoming obvious that he was trying to listen.
"We'll go another mile, or two," Wolf said. "If we don't find anything…then I guess we were had." He shrugged, but his tight lips and narrowed eyes showed how angry he would be if that was the case.
Alex was still thinking over these words when something caught his eyes.
The sun was almost completely down…so what was making the pine needles far above his head gleam like that? The trees he had his eyes on were far away so he could only see the upper part of the tree, and as he walked, the gleam disappeared.
Alex frowned, and then decided it was his imagination.
But it wasn't.
A mile of more walking, then, he looked up and saw it. As they walked it had been hidden by trees, and if one of them had noticed it before it would have appeared to be a star. In the clearing they stood in now, Alex could see that it was no star.
It was a lamp, or more appropriately, a streetlamp.
"Cub?" Fox had been tugging him, trying to get him moving while Snake stared ahead with tired eyes. "What--oh," the last word was said softly. Fox had seen the light, and though it took him a minute, his eyes lit up with realization.
"Wolf! Look to your right. Is that what I think it is?"
Wolf twisted around to look back at them, his eyes going to the light Fox pointed at.
"Yeah, a large star. Make your wish F--Fox--" he stumbled to a halt a cocked his head to the side. "That…that's not a star is it?"
Coming back to where they stood, and dragging Eagle with him, they all stared at the lamppost in the distance. "I guess we start heading that way now," Snake said, his voice soft.
The answer was obvious when Wolf started that way in a fast walk.
Five minutes later, they stood under the lamppost staring up at it. The area was cleared off, the ground showed signs of recent use.
"This is either a training area, probably for running long distances, or it's a road," Fox said decisively and took Alex's arm away from his shoulders so he could bend down.
Leaning on Snake, Alex watched as Fox studied the dirt and gravel mix.
"There are footprints, all going that way," he pointed to the left and then looked at Wolf. "The track probably goes in a large circle, which way would you go?"
Wolf looked uncertain, and then he shrugged. "One way might be a little longer than the other, but either way--we're back. Both sides of the track will lead us where we want to go, let's go left though, that's where everyone else was headed."
Alex's arm was picked up and placed over Fox's shoulder again as they helped him walk at a faster pace. They all seemed to be under a sudden bout of liveliness, the pain even dimmed at the prospect of finally being back. Alex snorted with laughter.
"What?" Fox asked, not turning his eyes away from the road.
"I spent most of my time here cursing the people that forced me to come…and now I'm glad to be back," he laughed.
Fox thought his words over, and then traded a look with Snake over his head, "At least your final days here won't be as bad."
"What makes you say that?" Alex asked.
"Well…for one you won't have to worry about us antagonizing you anymore. I think we've grown past that," he said with a gentle smile.
"Even Wolf?" Alex asked quietly, his face unsure and slightly amused.
"Wolf's probably changed the most. Don't go and pick at him or try to cause trouble…he was really worried about you while you were unconscious," Snake murmured and Alex frowned.
"I'm not…brittle, just a little blood loss and I might need some stitches, nothing to get too concerned about," Alex said uncomfortably.
Jack and Ian were the only adults he had really seen express concern for him--then there was the secretary at his school, but she was motherly to a few other students besides him.
"I get the feeling you've had a few injuries before that were 'nothing to be concerned about'," Fox said, his calm words not matching the apprehensive look on his face.
"I've broken my arm before," Alex said with a shrug, not hearing the sarcastic underlining in Fox's statement. "Then I sliced my knee open once, because I fell out of my friend's tree and landed on a piece of glass. Had to get a few stitches that time."
When he did not get a reply, and it was too dark to properly see Fox's and Snake's expression. Alex resisted shrugging and continued to concentrate on walking.
Even though he despised talking about his injury, and had spent a few minutes trying to make the wound seem less important than it was, he had to admit, it was hurting more than earlier.
He felt cold, and Alex had fought back shivers a few times. He knew this was from blood loss, but the effects still managed to discomfort him.
His knees felt weak, if it wasn't for his stubbornness he was sure to have fallen over earlier. Injured or not, he was still with K Unit and their opinion of him…well, it mattered now, to him at least.
When had it started mattering to him, he wasn't sure. It must have happened somewhere between rescuing Wolf, Fox and Eagle from the intrusive hunters, and seeing and hearing their reactions when Alex had told them of MI6's plans for him.
"I see more lights up ahead," Wolf said.
Alex looked up sharply from where he'd been staring morosely at his feet. The act made him dizzy and the earth shifted for a moment before he found his balance.
Snake was looking at him concernedly when he righted himself, "Okay?"
"Yeah," Alex replied, "just a little dizzy."
Snake nodded, but still looked him over with trained eyes, "You look a bit shaky, I think you'd better let someone carry--"
"No!" Alex snapped, and then regretted it when Eagle and Wolf turned to stare back at them. "I'm fine," Alex said in a quieter, calmer voice.
Snake didn't answer, and nothing else was said as they started up a hill. Alex had not been running on this track, but there were usually a few hills in the running tracks, he hoped this was the only one they would come across.
As loath as Alex was to admit it, he was feeling worse than he had just ten minutes ago. He hadn't drunk anything in over two hours; they had run out before he'd had a chance at the water flask.
Gravel rolled down the hill as Alex barely managed to pick his feet up for each step. He ignored the glances he got from Snake and even Wolf, the weakness and pain he felt must have started showing on his face.
The wound had long ago stopped bleeding, but Alex felt that with a wrong step he could stumble and pull at the tender skin beneath his ribs.
They reached the top of the hill and Alex could see it now.
A group of tents, a few buildings that were the mess hall and a few sergeants' offices. In the distance there were more tents where the less fortunate slept, it was a farther walk to the loo and everything else if you were assigned to sleep there.
Luckily and unluckily, Alex had gotten stuck with K Unit. And while they had a good spot in the SAS camp, he had had to put up with them and their dislike of him.
They started down the hill.
"I can't believe we're here," Eagle said. Tiredness and hunger apparently were not enough to stop even Eagle from a sudden bought of chatter.
"I want a hamburger, and my bed. When I say my bed I mean the one I left at home, not that uncomfortable bunk they give you and call it a bed. I also want a bath--you don't want to know about the things I have living on me--"
"Then please don't tell us!" Wolf begged and tried to descend from the hill at a faster pace.
Alex half grinned, one hand grasping at Fox's shirt sleeve to keep from slipping.
"Hey Snake, I know you didn't study this in your classes, but I have a rash on my--"
"My God, shut up!" Wolf half yelled and Eagle burst into laughter.
Alex snickered, but stopped when one of his legs gave way.
Snake caught him roughly but Alex could feel the effects of ignoring the injury. They were too much to ignore, even as he felt himself being pulled to his feet, Alex knew he would just fall again.
And fall he did, even as he heard Wolf curse and Eagle being told to run for help. Then he blacked out.
Alex had been to a hospital a few times. Two times for when he had injured himself doing childish stunts, and once when Ian had broken a rib on one of his travels he did for…the bank.
The hospital could have been a different one every time Alex went, but in a way they would all be the same. Boring wall paper in warm colors that were meant to hide dirt, short carpets with swirls in the pattern and of course there was the smell.
Antiseptics and old people was how he would have described it if someone asked.
The small emergency room at the SAS training facility was different from where Alex had been before. There was no carpet, nothing in sight that was supposed to give him a feeling of comfort…but frankly, all Alex wanted was the feeling of the mattress under his back, even as thin as it was.
Turning his head, he saw the rest of K Unit in a similar position.
He had woken a few hours after passing out to find himself being treated. They had quickly given him a sleeping drug so their treatment of his side wound could go on uninterrupted.
He had drunk a glass of water earlier. The chalky taste that covered his tongue had been enough to inform him it had been spiked with a painkiller, but Alex had not complained about the lack of warning. His side felt odd with the stitches in place, and the painkiller numbed any feeling in his lower stomach.
There was a window beside his bed, the plain curtain pushed aside and letting rays of sunlight hit Alex's sheet covered legs.
Turning his head again, Alex looked over at K Unit. He could make out Snake's light hair, but besides that he wasn't aware if they were awake and ignoring him, or still asleep.
Pulling his knees up, Alex carefully used his hands to push himself into a sitting position. Lying down he could not make out the stitches of his injury.
The one who had treated him last had left his hospital night shirt unbuttoned. Alex pulled one side of the fabric away from his side and bent his head at the odd angle to check the damage.
He'd seen stitches before, on himself and on others, but they still managed to disturb him.
The black surgical thread looked odd against his pale skin. Against his will, Alex was reminded of scenes from a horror film he'd once seen with Tom, the antagonist in the film had stitched the victims mouth closed.
Frowning, Alex tried to rid himself of that thought. Honestly, why had he let himself be dragged to the theatre?
Alex shifted to place his bare feet on the cold wooden floor. The bed springs creaked and whined as he moved; wincing in light embarrassment at making so much noise, Alex peered at the others and was pleased when they continued to sleep.
There appeared to be no nurses around, the entire building seemed to be abandoned.
From outside the thin walls he could hear commands being shouted as the sergeants woke the soldiers, or ordered them to do this or that.
Getting out of bed slowly, Alex started walking one of the three doorways connected to the main room, one of them had to lead to the bathroom. The first doorway he opened was a supplies cabinet.
Shelves full of bandages, peroxide and other common medical items, filled one side.
Glancing over to the other side of the cabinet before shutting the door, Alex saw vials and bottles identified by the white tags taped to them. Alex recognized some as pain relievers, blood thinners, but he was at a loss to name the other vials.
Shutting the closet with a last curious look towards a vial containing a green liquid, Alex turned and entered another room, this one was the bathroom and Alex shut himself in for privacy.
The floor was laid with white tile, the tub was white and there was an arm hold to help the injured soldiers when it came to getting into the tub or shower. Alex didn't need to use the tub, it seemed he had been washed down while unconscious.
Even though the thought made him cringe, he imagined washing off would be uncomfortable with the stitches in his side. Plus the doctors might want him to keep the area dry for a few days, there was a clear paste over the wound and stitches, probably to help the healing process and Alex wouldn't want to wash it off. He used the restroom then turned to the large mirror above the sink.
It had been a long time since he had seen himself…if that made any sense.
His expression was pale, more so than normal. Alex blamed it on blood loss and maybe even shock, going from the humid air to the air conditioned room was quite a change; he felt cold in this environment.
His open shirt and thin pajama pants didn't help. Alex leaned forward, his eyes were still their chocolate brown, but around the iris they were red from exhaustion.
There was a long scratch on his forehead, whether it was from running into a low hanging branch or from someone hitting him, Alex didn't know.
It had scabbed during the night and was easily seen as it stood out dark against his skin.
Shaking his head self-consciously, Alex pulled his bangs over his forehead and in the process he hid the ugly mark.
Splashing warm water on his face, Alex dried off with the surprisingly soft towel that hung from a ring.
When he entered the main room to go back to his bed, Alex found Wolf and Fox conversing in low voices.
They looked up at him as he entered the room. Both sets of eyes went to his side and eyed the stitches and irritated skin. Alex crossed his arms over his chest pointedly and they looked back up at him, Fox looked a bit sheepish.
"Sorry," he muttered, a hesitant smile coming over his face. "Looks like they patched you up okay, how do you feel?"
Alex thought it over. How did he feel? Tired, even after getting a full night's sleep, and a bit…dazed.
"I think the drugs they have me on are still working," he said in explanation and ran a tired hand through his already mussed up hair.
"Everything a bit fuzzy?" Wolf asked, understanding in his eyes. Alex got the feeling that Wolf knew just how he felt and wondered when the man had injured himself badly enough to have been put on pain medication.
"Yeah, fuzzy might be a good word for it."
"It'll wear off," Fox assured him and Alex sat on his bed as Fox moved over to make room for him. "Of course, in thirty minutes to an hour it'll wear off--then you'll need to take the medication again or be in a lot of pain."
"You're reassuring," Alex muttered.
Wolf grinned, but Snake woke up in that moment and stretched. "Mhh, I should get hurt more often, these beds are much better than those little bunk things."
"Considering you only have to worry about your ankle, I bet you'll be back with your 'little bunk things' pretty soon, so enjoy it while you can." Wolf seemed to enjoy the sad frown that came over Snake's face and Alex rolled his eyes.
"Sadist," Alex muttered and Wolf chuckled.
A stern looking woman entered the building, they turned to look at her.
When her eyes saw Alex, she frowned. "You have only been out of the operation room for five hours, get back in your bed."
Wolf grinned as she scolded, Alex subtly gave a rude gesture in his direction, but Wolf only grinned wider which caused Alex to sigh.
"It's bad enough that you're injured in the first place--in a training camp for soldiers no less!" The nurse continued, oblivious to their sign language and grins. But as she talked, Alex felt his smile fading.
"Now, I won't ask why you're here, I know better than that." The nurse tucked the sheets around the bed effectively trapping Alex underneath. "But, you should know that your parents or guardians wouldn't want you walking around when you're injured, so stay put! I won't be the one informing your mum or dad that you got an infection because you disobeyed orders."
With that, the nurse pressed her hand against Alex's head. She 'hmm-ed' but whether it was in approval or disapproval, Alex wasn't sure. Then, she left and the echo of her heeled shoes trailing behind.
An uncomfortable silence overcame them. Alex wished the nurse hadn't brought up his parents; it made him think of the reason he was here. Apparently, it did the same to K Unit.
Snake cleared his throat, "So, we should have been back a few days ago," he stopped and looked at Alex. "Do you think they'll be sending you off soon to go on your…mission?"
Seeing Snake's hesitation at saying the last word, some of Alex's ire that had been rising at the subject calmed back down. He stared down at his clasped hands.
"I imagine so, the mission won't wait. I'll just have to be careful with this," Alex said and gestured at his uncovered side."
They were all quiet. Eagle awoke and blinked at them in confusion before sitting up and keeping quiet as well.
"I don't think there's any harm in asking, and I'm kind of ashamed at not asking earlier since I've thought about it once or twice. But, what's your name?" Fox asked.
Alex blinked. He hadn't thought about their names and he wondered what could have made Fox think of a question like that. But, he could see no reason to deny them the knowledge, so he shrugged.
"Alex Rider," he said solemnly.
Fox seemed to think the name over, then he nodded. "It fits," he said, and while Alex felt bemused over those words the others had started nodding as well.
"Yep, like one of those cool names for the heroic, if a bit reckless, heroes," Eagle agreed.
Alex laughed in surprise and shook his head, but in his mind he remembered the fear he had felt when trying to pull Wolf out of the fire, and the incredible determination that wouldn't let Alex leave the man to die amongst the flames.
Maybe he had been…a little heroic.
He had no time to think it over, the door was opened and their sergeant came through the doors, a man his size followed, by the coat, hat and expression, Alex got the feeling that this man held a higher position.
"Good evening gentleman," he said, his tone not over friendly, but polite.
"These are the soldiers that came into contact with Gregorovich, all of them," the sergeant informed the man, his eyes going to Alex last. Alex noticed a blue lapel on his coat reading 'Epson' as the overhead gave the sergeant a look.
Epson, nodded. "To get right to the matter, I would like you to tell me of your confrontation with Yassen Gregorovich. He is dangerous, and any information we can get could be useful."
Wolf, Fox and Snake traded glances, wary and slightly surprised looks. So, Gregorovich was dangerous…then why had he helped them?
The sergeant pulled out two foldable chairs for himself and Epson. They say and waited for someone to begin.
Wolf cleared his throat when he realized no one was going to speak and everyone was giving him encouraging glances, "We had stopped for a break, Cub went to use the loo before we headed off again," Wolf stopped as Alex laid his head in his hands.
He was tossed between feeling embarrassed and grimly amused.
"Er…sorry," Wolf muttered before continuing.
Epson seemed amused and glanced at Alex before turning his attention back to the story teller. Wolf repeated the event of the past two days in great detail, it was interesting for Alex to hear of the events from Wolf's point of view.
"I decided to follow the instructions given by Gregorovich," Wolf said. "By night fall we had seen the street lights that lit the running track, we followed it here."
There was a silence that insinuated the story was complete. Epson stood, "Thank you. I hope you get well soon Mr. Rider," he continued not using Alex's code name.
"Why do you think they wanted to know all that?" Eagle asked.
"I'd rather know just how dangerous Gregorovich really is. Do you think he's involved with whoever shot us down?"
Wolf sighed, "I don't know Snake, I want to ask but I'm not sure they'd appreciate our…curiosity."
"We'd probably get sacked--and we don't even have a job yet to get sacked from!"
Alex lay back down, his eyes were growing heavy even as the amount of sunlight pouring through his window told him it was getting close to noon.
K Unit lowered their voices as they talked over possibilities, and Alex was soon fast asleep.
He awoke to an empty room. K Unit was gone. A fleeting disappointment crossed Alex's face, then the door opened, sadly it was not anyone he wanted to see.
"Hello Mrs. Jones," he said out of politeness.
As she walked towards him, he thought quickly of what he could have said, 'Are you feeling guilty enough to leave me and Jack alone now? No? But look at this gaping wound in my side! My pain relievers have worn off by the way, I might start screaming in agony any second, so you might want to cover your ears--'.
His mental thoughts were very eager to carry on. He blamed it on the drugs. Alex had a few more things he would have liked to have said, all of them not very nice.
There was a bit of fear he felt as seeing Mrs. Jones here, would she tell him good news or bad?
"Hello, Alex," she started sitting lightly on the bed across from his.
He studied her expression, it was professional…but he saw a glimmer of sadness.
"You're still going to force me to work for you, aren't you?"
She didn't answer and Alex sighed.
"You'll leave tomorrow morning and have two days of recovery before your mission. Your injury was unfortunate, but the doctors assure me that you can still perform your duties well enough, and the job is not difficult. We don't require you to do any work that may cause you harm."
Alex just stared at her. She pressed her lips into a thin line, "Do you have any questions?"
He had many, "Who is Yassen Gregorovich, and does he know me or anyone related to me?"
If anyone would know of a 'dangerous' person as Gregorovich was said to be, it would be Mrs. Jones. How could someone in her position not know?
"I was wondering if you would ask," she said, her expression saying she was not looking forward to asking the question. "To give the entire truthful answer would be idiotic on my part, but as I know you'll not be content until you know as much as possible, I'll give you an edited version. Yassen Gregorovich is an assassin. He works for an organization that recently became…irate with us."
Mrs. Jones shifted and crossed her ankles while bringing out a peppermint from a jacket pocket. "The helicopter crash you went through was because of that organization, and when you were kidnapped from your unit, that was also because of this organization. They were testing a recently acquired member. You met him, he's the one that kidnapped you. I do believe he failed the test. If he hadn't, then Gregorovich would not have had to interfere."
Alex had a bad feeling in his stomach. If this organization got mad enough to attack an aircraft leaving a SAS base, he knew that Forest was without a doubt, dead.
"He knew me," Alex said.
Mrs. Jones bit into her peppermint, a sharp cracking noise filling the air as she did.
"That goes into the information you don't need to know Alex--"
"But if it involves me, don't I have a right to know? What if I run into him again?"
Taking a deep breath, Mrs. Jones clasped her hands. "Listen to me, Yassen Gregorovich is a ruthless murderer who kills for money. He has enough of it to retire, but he can't. He's too good at what he does. If you ever find yourself meeting him, it would be wise of you to run away."
"Cowards run away," Alex breathed, his voice barely perceivable.
Alex was certain he saw Mrs. Jones' hands clench as she leaned forward. "To meddle with Gregorovich is to wish for death, and to wish for death is a coward's part."
Not liking his words being twisted to be used in arguing against him, Alex frowned. A creak in the door made them both look up. Wolf stood there looking like a child caught in the act of doing something naughty.
Mrs. Jones turned back to Alex, "I'll leave you to heal. Alex, remember what I said."
Wolf and Mrs. Jones past each other trading nods of acknowledgment. Alex pulled his knees up and collapsed against the pillows, the displeased frown still on his face.
"How are you?" Wolf began stiffly.
Alex realized he had another reason for feeling slightly grumpy and bitter, his pain relievers were wearing off, adding to the mess of emotions.
"I'm okay," he lied, and when Wolf saw through that and raised an eyebrow, he re-phrased his answer. "The medication is wearing off, and Mrs. Jones just pissed me off."
Wolf stood up and crossed the room to search through some plastic bottles before coming back with one. "Here," he said handing two white pills to Alex and poured him a glass of water.
"Are you supposed to mess with the doctor's stuff?" Alex asked dubiously. He took the offered pills though and washed them down with the water.
"What they don't know won't hurt them, and I was trying to make your discomfort go away. You really want to argue?" Wolf looked at Alex, both his eyebrows raised in question.
Alex shrugged. "I didn't think so," Wolf said in a sing song voice.
"You're leaving tomorrow then," Wolf continued, his words not formed as a question. Alex looked at him suspiciously.
"Just how much did you hear?"
"All of it," Wolf replied, not looking embarrassed at all.
Alex found he couldn't be annoyed and he turned his head away to look out the window as a group marched past on their way to lunch.
"Alex," at his name, Alex stilled.
It sounded weird coming from Wolf's mouth, different, but not in a totally negative way.
Wolf glared at his nails as if he'd found a terribly annoying splinter. "I hope you're planning on listening to Jones. Don't go looking for trouble on this mission, knowing you, you'll probably find it without looking."
"Don't you think I have a right to know about Gregorovich and why he told us the way here? That's not normal behavior--if anything he should probably have killed us to keep his and Forest's identity safe!" Alex couldn't comprehend why others could not understand his curiosity when it came to this.
"Then don't go and press your luck!" Wolf hissed in the same tone as Alex. "He let you live, maybe he has kids and felt it wrong to kill you, and so he left us alive as well--Lord knows you'd probably have died without me out there protecting your sorry arse."
Alex knew Wolf was baiting him to get away from the subject at hand, he didn't feel ready to give up the argument, but he knew he wouldn't win. Wolf was just as stubborn as he was, if not more so.
"Excuse me? Who pulled your unconscious body out of a burning helicopter? Your extremely heavy unconscious body I might add!"
Wolf snorted, "Just because you're a wimp--"
"I don't want to stay near the burning helicopter that could have easily have gotten us back here in a lot less time!" Alex mocked, his voice going high and girly.
"I got kidnapped while using the bathroom!" Wolf mocked back at him.
Of course, someone cleared their throat behind them. They looked up in surprise, the nurse glared back at them. A doctor in a white coat standing by her side.
Wolf blanched at the woman's face. "I'll be taking my leave now." He stood and walked toward the door, the nurse and doctor had moved to one side and were going through some notes on a clipboard.
As Wolf pulled the door open, he paused and turned back. "Hey, Alex?"
Alex had not stopped watching him out boredom, "Yeah?"
"Call me sometime, you can tell me how all this goes for you," he invited lightly.
Alex blinked. 'All this' meant his upcoming mission of course, and even though Alex wouldn't say he and Wolf were exactly best friends, he found himself enjoying the idea of telling someone besides Jack how his mission had gone.
Considering her reaction to learning Alex was being used in the first place, she might not even want to hear of it.
"I'll do that Wolf," Alex said. "Hey! I'm probably leaving early…so could you tell the others I said 'bye'?"
Wolf nodded after a moment. "Yeah, I'll do that," he answered, his words echoing Alex's.
Alex sat back with a satisfied nod and Wolf left. Only a few moments after Wolf had left, the doctor came forward.
"Alright Mr. Rider, let's see that side wound please," he said in a cheerful enough tone.
Alex sighed very lightly but pulled his shirt aside. Cheerful or not, he was quickly developing a hearty dislike to hospitals.
The black car pulled up, too close to Alex not to be the car he had been waiting for.
As the driver stepped out to help Alex if needed, he noticed the man was the same who had driven him here all those days ago. The man stared at Alex without trying to be obvious, and Alex wondered if he had changed that much.
A few men had stopped to watch the driver and Alex as they loaded Alex's bag into the back. The news of what had happened to K Unit had spread fast around the camp, and the men who had once disliked Alex's presence now seemed to hold an amount of respect for him--others were wary of him and only the sergeant had offered a congratulations and a firm handshake for his 'actions in a time of danger.'
He'd also been assured the hunters in the area would be taken care of.
It was still rather early and Alex knew K Unit was likely still asleep. He took a look around the training camp once more as he climbed into the back of the car. Alex couldn't truthfully say he'd miss it.
As the engine started, one of the soldiers waved his hand. Alex didn't know him, he had not bothered learning names, but as they began to pull out he waved back.
Fastening the seat belt and leaning back in the comfortable seat, Alex sighed.
It seemed he was finally leaving the mockery of hell…but would his first mission show his what hell really was?
Or maybe everything would be fine like Mrs. Jones seemed to believe.
Either way, it would be a few days before Alex really had to worry, but before then, Alex figured he had some time to rest. Closing his eyes, he listened to the gravel grinding under the wheels of the car and in a few moments he was asleep.
Authors Note: Happy turkey day everyone! (Early turkey day, but, oh well). For the vegetarians, happy tofu turkey day! *Stares at last sentence in horror*
I think I made a big mistake in this chapter involving K Unit learning his name now, even though they had already called him Alex in previous chapters…I suck. By the way, has anyone been lucky enough to get Crocodile Tears? Please don't tell me how it ends, I've not bought it yet, sniffle.
First chapters of upcoming stories, polls, avatars/icons, can be seen first at my Yahoo group! Link in my profile if you're interested. Thanks for reading and reviewing!