Ten Years To Somewhere

A/N: So, here it is. If the title hasn't made it obvious, this one takes place roughly ten years after "Last Man Hiding" (the previous installment). Sorry it's so short. The next part will be coming soon, and hopefully that will make up for it.

Thanks to my awesome beta, Jusmine. ^_^ As always, remember the cookies. :D


"Hey, Wolf."

"'Lo, Cub," Wolf said, plopping down in the chair next to Alex's bed, taking care to avoid the IV line. He propped his feet up on the bedside table, dumping his bag by the

bed. "How's it been?"

"Dreadful, as usual," Alex said.

Wolf smiled. "I have something that might assist in easing the agony of boredom…"

He reached into the bag, and revealed a six-pack of beer bottles inside, before pulling just one out.

"If someone medical walks in, we'll say I'm torturing you by drinking it and not letting you have any," Wolf said, opening it and handing it to Alex, who took a grateful sip.

Good thing he was on opiate painkillers, too. This would make everything much more entertaining and bearable.

"A bit of gum in there, too, in case any of them try to smell your breath."

Alex laughed as he set the bottle on his bedside. "Thanks."

"No problem," Wolf said, just as the door opened.

It wasn't medical staff.

"ALEX!"

Almost instantly, three teenage girls were crawling into his bed and assaulting him with affectionate Embraces of Doom.

"Bloody hell, what happened?"

"Where are you hurt?"

"Where did this happen?"

"When?"

"Are you okay?"

"When are the doctors letting you out?"

"When are you going to just break out?"

"How-"

"Girls!" Wolf finally yelled.

Ah, order at last.

Alex smiled and laughed while Wolf glared sternly at the three girls. "Sorry, Uncle

Wolf," all three said at once.

"One at a time," he said. "Things will be much more efficient, that way."

"Listen to him," Jack said, walking in. "If it's one thing the SAS are based on, it's efficiency." Ben, walking in right after her, nodded in agreement.

The three girls looked sheepish, and after a few months gone, he took in how all of them looked.

He suspected they'd just come from school. Ally's football uniform was ruffled and sweaty, her hair tied back with half of it loose around her face, and a bruise was starting to form on her cheek – not surprising, considering her goalkeeping position. Taylor was wearing a jacket over her dance uniform, all-black jogging suit clinging to her form, and her own hair was still in a tight ponytail, bobby pins and all. Jordan was the only one who looked 'normal', but she was clutching her water bottle like a lifeline and she hadn't really said much when the other two were clamoring over him, so he suspected she just

came back from practicing with her band.

Ben, of course, looked not much different than usual, apart from a few more greys in his hair, though not much.

And Jack looked stunning as ever. As much as he'd mocked her, as a kid, for her near-neurotic care of her body, right now, he was seeing the benefits. Over half a century old, yet she barely looked thirty.

It was such a sharp contrast, how young Jack looked, and how old Ben did.

"All right," Ally said, sharp American accent breaking through his reverie. "How'd you get hurt, this time?"

Alex laughed. "Running through a prisoner hold, some bloke with a machine gun on a

bell tower was aiming for me – I took a jump off a cliff with a parachute, and opened it, but I still had a heavy impact."

"That sounds painful," Jordan chipped in.

"It was," Alex admitted. "I was unconscious for ages."

"Where was this, exactly?" Taylor asked.

Alex rolled his eyes. "Venice. I was dealing with what's left of Scorpia."

"What's left?" Ally asked.

"I've killed most of their leaders, so yea…" Alex said bluntly. "So, before you ask, four broken ribs – two on each side, nice and symmetrical – and a broken wrist and twisted ankle. Now, enough about me – how've you lot been?"

Immediately, the three girls jumped to recount their latest games, performances, and gigs, and practices and rehearsals, and school work, and parties.

"…so, I am telling the poor bloke to lift his knees up for the new turns – it's a jazz-ballet mix – and he can't hear me, so a minute later, he topples right over and straight into the core-line, knocking down half the class! Nearly broke the barre, too-"

"Wait, wait – did I tell you about a goal I took? Some kid kicked it in from the side – almost parallel to the front of the goal – and it slipped through my arm, but I had a knee up, so I managed to bounce it back before it went in! Even the coach said it was a good move, and he's such an ass most of the time-"

"Oh, no, wait until you hear this – our guitarist got a new guitar, but when he opened it, it was tuned all wrong, and the volume was on max, so the entire school got to hear the sound of a dying banshee when he tried to play the chord!"

Alex smiled. "I'll bet."

"C'mon," Jack said to the other two adult men. "Let's go, get some coffee, leave Alex to their not-so-tender mercies."

A round of laughter went around, but the girls suddenly took on a serious look as soon as the adults left.

"Why do I get a bad feeling about this?" Alex asked, warily.

"We have something important to ask…and we don't want Mum and Dad and Uncle Wolf in on it," Taylor said.

The only adult the three girls trusted and it had to be him.

"Ally needs some advice," Jordan said. "But she won't listen to us."

"She has a crush on a girl on her team," Taylor continued, clamping a hand over Ally's mouth, who was trying to scramble free. Rather unsuccessfully, at that. The downside of all of them being well trained in a variety of martial arts.

"And that other girl likes girls just as much as Ally, here," Jordan said.

"But Ally can't get up the guts to ask."

"And if the other girl rejects her-"

"-Ally will be crushed."

"Right, so we told her to just start with sending this cute little girl a note to start with-"

"-start out as friends, keep things light-"

"-and work her way from there-"

"-but she doesn't believe it'll work."

Alex grinned. He'd missed the twins speaking as one person, despite their occasionally polar-opposite personalities.

He looked down at Ally, and nodded at Taylor to let her go. "Well, I'm afraid to say this, but they're right – either ask the girl out, or make friends with her and work your way

from there."

"What do you usually do?" Ally asked.

Alex paused.

That was actually a good question.

"I don't do relationships, remember?" Alex said. "My love life consists mostly of one-

offs between and in missions. My life's too complicated for any more."

Now they were all giving him that eerie analytical-eyes-with-their-heads-cocked-to-the-right look they'd inherited from Jack.

"So you've never had a girlfriend?" Ally asked.

Damnit. He'd gone almost a decade of them knowing about romance without this question coming up.

"It was a long time ago," Alex said. "I had a few, but…" He shook his head. "History," he said simply.

"Oh, c'mon, Alex…" Taylor teased, Jordan nodding in silent support right beside her.

"Tell us. About a girlfriend. Especially one that you started as a friend with, for Ally's sake."

Alex sighed, before smiling. "Actually…you lot know one of my ex-girlfriends. Hear about her a lot, anyway."

All their eyes widened and leaned forward, as he continued. "Of course, I knew her when we were kids – fourteen, not even as old you, Ally – and this was well before she became famous. But, we'd dated for some time."

"Who?" All three asked simultaneously.

He grinned. "Have you lot heard of…Sabina Pleasure?"

All their jaws dropped. "You dated…" Ally shook her head. "The Sabina Pleasure? Queen of the Silver Screen?"

"The one and only," Alex said. "I knew her when her name was actually Sabina Pleasure, and not just a stage name. And this was, like I said, long before she was famous."

"No fucking way," Taylor said.

Alex laughed again. "Yes fucking way. I was undercover as a ballboy in Wimbledon, and she was really working as a ballgirl, there. I messed with some Triads, then, actually. Anyway, later on, she invited me to her house. From there, when I got into a mess with another psychopath – the one who stole Air Force One? – he'd kidnapped her and threatened her to try and get me to cooperate. That was how she'd found out I was spy."

"Wait," Ally said. "You dated her…and she knew you were MI6?"

"Yea," Alex said, smiling fondly as the memories started flooding back. "For ages, we dated. Then we drifted apart…kept in touch. One-off, every now and then. We still do, now."

"Er…Alex…she's married."

"I know. Actually, she tried to bring us together, one night, me and her husband…but, well…" he shook his head. "I won't go into the details of that particular endeavor."

Though it had been a particularly…interesting…night, for Alex.

All three girls were shaking their heads (something which came from both parents), as Taylor said, "I can't believe you dated Silver Sabina…"

Alex smiled. "Yea…whenever we get together, we joke about it a lot. Her livelihood depends on everyone knowing her, while mine depends on no one knowing me."

"Wait," Ally said. "With how famous she is, how do you get away with…?"

Alex gave her a look, and she blushed. "Right…Level 1 black ops agent…sorry…"

He shook his head (which he definitely picked up from Jack, first). "It's all right…anywho…I'm not the best person to ask for love advice. I…me and love don't mix."

The girls frowned. "Everyone needs love, Alex," Ally said.

Alex sighed. "You're right, they do."

But not everyone gets it.

How would he explain that to these three girls? They knew their father used to be a spy, and saw him settled with Jack and all that, not to mention hearing about Alex's own parents…but Ben and his father's cases were extraordinarily rare. Most spies ended up rather solitary, maybe finding some love of their life, maybe not, almost never any family – at most, some kid who they can't actually raise and only spend a peripheral part of their life in.

Having a family, a spouse and kids…it almost never happened.

But the girls wouldn't see that. They'd see his dad, and their dad, and…

"Look…I just need a different kind of love."

Which was and wasn't true.

"C'mon, Alex!" Ally said. "Please?"

Alex sighed. "Look…like I said, stuff like this – like dealing with your crush – isn't something that can be easily…taught. You learn these things from life itself."

"What about stuff you learn from missions?" Taylor asked, speaking for herself and her singing-induced-sore-throated other half. Jordan nodded in question behind her.

Alex sighed. "At this point, the only other thing I can offer is sex tips-"

"I'll take what I can get," Ally said.

"You're too young to be having sex," Alex shot back.

"You weren't much older than me when you lost your virginity!"

"How the hell do you know when I lost my virginity?"

"Mum told us," Taylor said.

Alex scowled, and the girls laughed, before Ally and the twins switched to a tactic which

made Alex nearly cry to resist: asking for what they want, in unison, in another language.

"Por favor," Ally said. Please.

"Diganos!" Taylor and Jordan said in unison. Tell us.

"Sabes que quieres-"

"No," Alex said, somewhat desperately. Christ, ten years, and their unified multilingual pouting still made him waver. It wasn't fair! It just wasn't fair – how did little girls (even near-adult teenagers like the twins) have that affect on him, so much?

Shaking his head, Alex continued. "Look, girls, I'm sorry, but I'm just not the best person to ask, all right? I mean, more of what I know came from watching your parents than anything else. I mean-" He gestured towards the twins. "I was your age when your parents got married! And believe it or not, by then is when I've had over half my experience with love!"

Alex didn't quite realize he was ranting, practically raving, at this point.

"I know you think that spies are like your dad, or mine, and get families, spouses, kids, homes, things like that – but most of us don't. Your father is one of the luckiest bastards I ever met purely because he can have what the rest of normal society has: a family and a life."

"Alex," Ally said. "A family and a life doesn't equate to love. Even I know that."

He deflated, before taking another deep breath. "I'm not saying it does. But what I am saying is that it doesn't happen often. Nor does love, for people like me. Your father took a massive risk in marrying Jack, and even more in having you three. You have no idea."

"Yeah, we do," Taylor said, Jordan giving him a half-glare-half-speculative look. "We could get kidnapped, or killed, or-"

"No, no, no," Alex said, shaking his head. "In a selfish way, think of the risk to him. If he were to lose any one of you, it would devastate him. Especially if it were because of his job, because no matter what, that would be his fault. In staying friendly with you lot, I take that same risk. In fact, that's where my limit of love goes: your family."

"Love is limitless," Jordan said succinctly. "It comes with excess. Love is something where there's always more…to share with those that you adore."

Alex paused, reflecting on that line's rhyming, as Jordan said, "It's from a song I had to sing at the Battle of the Bands."

"Fine, then," he said, trying to keep his suddenly bitter mood from showing. "Not the love, the risk I'll take based on love. I'm sorry, but there's only so much I can take."

The girls gave him another one of those eerie looks, and Alex didn't think he'd succeeded.

He sighed, before dropping his face into his hands, scrubbing out his eyes a little. "Listen,

girls, please – don't ask me about this, all right? Like I said, there's only so much I can take. Ally, just do what the twins tell you, in this case, all right? Jordan, Taylor…go find someone else."

When he looked up again, the girls were all giving him very sympathetic looks. Fucking hell, he hated pity, even from them.

"Girls…" he sighed. "Your parents are…very special. Very unique. And very strong, in the way that matters most, and the way that I just can't handle. They're willing to risk your lives, and their hearts, by having a family, and this life of yours. But I'm not. I'm not going to lie – both your parents have lost a lot of people in their time, and so've I…but, I've lost so much more in my life-"

"You and dad have the same jobs," Taylor cut in.

"Yes," Alex said. "But I've had mine for longer than him, and I was thrust straight in. I'm sorry, but when I was shoved into this job, I lost my life. I got a lot back, and I lost a lot again. Your dad nearly stopped when he got married, and had you three. And…and…like I said – they're willing to take that chance, but I'm not. My life is just sex, and some friends, right now, and I can't afford to take any more risk than that. So for fuck's sake, stop asking."

He realized only now how desperate his pleas were becoming, but did nothing to stop it, this time, and was glad for it as the girls all slowly nodded. He was grateful enough that he could manage to ignore the blatant pity in their eyes.

"Stop looking at me like that," he said bluntly.

And of course, they didn't listen.


"You're in a good mood," Wolf said sarcastically, as the Daniels family left.

Alex sighed. "Sorry…I was being interrogated about my love life for the sake of Ally's."

"Say what now?"

"They were asking me for some advice for some girl Ally has a crush on, which led to them asking about my love life, which, well, obviously didn't go over so well, considering they're teenage girls."

Wolf rolled his eyes. "Figures."

Alex leaned back against his seat and gulped down his beer, and another, before saying,

"They really don't get it. Love is a fucking risk in my job."

"Yea. Fox took that risk," Wolf agreed.

Alex dropped his face in his hands after setting down the second bottle and said, "Sorry, just…being inundated by little Starbrights…not good for my mood."

"…you do remember that their names all end in 'Daniels,' right?"

"They'll always be Starbrights to me," Alex said. "At least when they start acting that bloody stubborn."

Wolf laughed. Even after twenty years of Jack being married, Alex still always thought of her as 'Starbright.'

"I think that says something right there," Wolf said, dryly, taking a sip from his own beer.

Alex nodded, dropping back into the pillows. "I still can't believe they were both willing to take that kind of risk, with the girls."

"Human life is always worth the effort," Wolf said, with a shrug. "You know how they are."

"Yea, but still…Jack's far braver than I can ever hope to be, the way she lives."

Wolf nodded, handing Alex his third beer, and said, "Hence why we lowly cowards are still single, while she's living large with a family to boot."

Wolf paused, and Alex raised his beer in a toast.

"To bravery and love and everything in between," Alex said.

"To family," Wolf agreed.

Clink


Hereditary – When one of the Daniels' girls wants to join MI6, Alex is left to explain why she shouldn't be in the espionage business…and why the hell he still is. Part 6 of the 'Jack Daniels' series.