I do not own Alex Rider

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Alex stared out the window of the black SUV Blunt had supplied for his little excursion to Brecon Beacons. The Welsh country side was wet and wet. He missed London already. Unfortunately he wasn't being given much of a choice but to go to this training. It was either that or go to that damn boy's home. He would not be going to an orphanage. So he agreed to train. He didn't, however, agree to go quietly.

His stare turned to a glare and his arms crossed on instinct, looking for the entire world like a pouty teenager. He just wanted to go home and go on that date with that new girl. Sabina. Not only that but he'd promised Tom they'd go to that concert. Yes, he had better things to do then be pulled around by MI6. Besides, whoever heard of someone leaving their kid to a 'bank'? No matter how bullshited the bank part was? This was ridiculous. He was fourteen! He was not a soldier and he certainly wasn't a spy, nor did he want to either.

Alex fidgeted with the blue piece of bandana wrapped around his wrist. He wondered if he'd have to take it off. He'd fight tooth and nail.

-

-

"Sarge!" one of the soldiers started to protest only to be completely cut off.

"Don't ask me about him! I haven't been told anything!" the Sergeant snapped looking highly angry about this little fact. They all stared at him as if he could fill in the banks. He found a spot on the ceiling of the little hut to stare at. That was such an interesting stain. "Get him a bed."

Alex stared after the Sergeant as he left willing him to come back. It wasn't that he liked the man but at least he wouldn't kill him. Turning back to the Unit he was supposed to hang out with for the rest of his training he found that Wolf guy about two inches from his face, glaring. Alex took a step back and leaned back to get away.

"Personal bubble!" he exclaimed. Wolf was not amused.

"Who are you with?" he asked, well, more of a growl really. Alex purposefully ignored the question.

"I'm currently single, and how about yourself? Any special lady friends?"

"You know what he meant," another guy, Fox maybe, snapped.

"Yeah I did, but that's classified. Ask another question."

"What are you doing here?" Wolf asked.

"Classified. Try again." Wolf growled in frustration, Alex thought he might be a growler, and shook his head. "What?" he asked feigning innocence. That notion was wiped out the second Wolf grabbed his collar and tried to drag him forward as if he was planning on strong arming the answers out of him. Alex lashed out on instinct, driving his right knee into Wolf's stomach and as the man's grip loosened he threw a fake punch which the man blocked only to be hit with a punch from the other side and his feet knocked out from under him by Alex's leg. "A-oooo." The mock howl earned him a glare to which Alex smiled cheekily.

This was going to be a long twelve days.

-

-

Unfortunately Wolf wasn't the only person Alex had to deal with at the camp. Apparently word had gotten out that it was Kill-the-Cub week and suddenly every single soldier was on his case. Alex wasn't sure if they were all like Wolf or if Wolf had put everybody to it. He had never before been the recipient of so many glares and dirty looks.

He did his best to ignore all of it but it just wasn't that easy. He was tired, sore, and homesick. He was completely alone. His own supposed 'team' wanted nothing to do with him. Normally it wouldn't bother him but it would be nice to have a little support right now. He wished Jack was there, she'd know exactly what to say to make him feel better. He missed her.

Sighing, Alex continued to play with his food. He was sitting at K-Unit's table but two seats away at the other end of the table. It was so painfully obvious he was an outsider. He'd been staring at the mush since he sat down. He wasn't very hungry. He was still terribly bruised from combat training and he wasn't feeling very well. He was exhausted.

To everyone's surprise Snake stood from his seat and moved to sit beside Alex. He leaned over a little and dropped his voice.

"You okay Cub?" he asked.

"What do you care?" Alex snapped hoping his shock didn't make it into his voice in anyway.

"You haven't been eating."

"So?"

"You okay?"

Alex stood abruptly ignoring the sharp pains he had in doing so and glared at the soldier.

"How the fuck you think I am?" he growled in a near perfect imitation of Wolf. He grabbed his tray, emptied it, and left.

-

-

Driving course training was the most fun Alex had had since Ian died. His Uncle had taught him how to drive a long time ago on the back roads of England. He hadn't just taught him normal driving either. He'd taught him how to push the car to its limits, how to lose people in a chase, and of course how to drift. Alex liked that part the best. The complete lack of control you had over the car for that split second it drifted. It felt a little like his life.

Figuring he'd pretend to be a complete novice just for the sake of it he was subjected to forty-five minutes of lecture before anybody else showed up. They went over basic stuff and how to use the clutch. Since he was the first one there, he was the first one behind the wheel. They were split into two groups, and Wolf and Eagle climbed into the backseat while Snake and Fox got into the other car. They let the other group go first as they expected Alex to have to take it slow. He could barely contain his evil laugh.

This car was built like a normal one so unlike the driver's Ed cars, the instructor had no control. They didn't think they'd need it as all of their trainees up to this point had been driving for years.

"Okay, Cub," the trainer said as the taillights of Snake's car turned the corner, and sounding a little nervous. "Put it in gear and go slowly."

"Got ya," he said, and then looked at the floor of the car where the pedals were. He turned an innocent look onto the trainer. "Um, which one makes it go?" He heard Wolf groan and Eagle tightened his seatbelt. The trainer looked like he wanted to call the whole thing off; this was after all a pretty dangerous course, which was the entire point.

"That one," he said stiffly, pointing to the gas pedal.

"Ah, thank you," Alex said, then threw the car into gear and tore off down the road.

"Shit, Cub! Slow down!"

"But that's no fun!" Alex shouted back as he drifted through the first corner. Not only did he go through the course like an expert but he managed to overtake Snake who wasn't accustomed to drifting. He waved as he passed.

Slamming on the brakes as he reached the finish line, Alex turned yet another innocent look onto the trainer. His eyebrows crinkled.

"You okay sir?" he asked the slightly panicked man.

"Get out of the car," was all he was able to manage. Alex shrugged and did as ordered, switching places with Wolf. The rest of the afternoon was boring compared to Alex's run. Later on he was told he'd set a course record. He was quite pleased about it too.

-

-

Alex grew comfortable. Well, as comfortable as one could be in Brecon Beacons. He'd started to figure things and people out. Like how Wolf was crankiest just before mealtimes because he had low blood sugar. Snake was a mother hen that Alex avoided at all costs because even though the man had yet to express any kind of 'mothering' Alex knew him capable of it. Fox liked to read mystery novels. Eagle snored. And he, Alex, could annoy every single one of them.

After coming to terms that they would for now and forever hate him for simply existing, he decided he'd give them a real reason. It amused him, gave him something to work towards, and got him the revenge he really, really wanted. What he didn't expect was that acting like his usual self would actually start to grow on people. In fact it was downright scary when on the sixth day, Eagle helped him up out of the mud.

He stared at the man the entire next meal.

"What?" Eagle asked, frustrated that Alex was staring at him. Alex didn't answer. "Seriously Cub, what?"

"Nothing," he said, then looked away. This was unnerving. Why did Eagle pick him up out of the mud?

-

-

That night was what Alex called the Sneak-Around-Like-Complete-Pervs drill though the Sergeant had called it a stealth drill. The goal was to get to one side of the camp to the other without being detected. That was ten kilometers as they literally started at the property line and had to get all the way to their own huts. If it had been from property line to property line it would have been twenty kilometers. Thank the lord for small reprieves.

They had to be back into their huts by dawn or they lost. If they were seen they lost. If they were caught they double lost.

"Like a twisted game of hide and seek," Alex said when the Sergeant asked if there were any questions. He could have sworn the man's eye twitched. He also never acknowledged the statement. Alex shrugged. Twisted game of hide and seek it was then.

When the drill started Alex waited ten minutes to enter the forest after everyone else. They were louder than a herd of rhinos. He'd rather not be caught up with them. Distinctly aware that there was more than likely a bunch of cameras everywhere, Alex moved and moved fast. He ducked and weaved through the foliage and at one point had get into what he was sure was a spider infested hole to go undetected. They were following him. He knew it.

Alex started backtracking on himself, trying to make them think he was lost. He did that for a good hour. At one point the Sergeant's voice came over the loud speaker, nearly giving him a heart attack as he certainly didn't expect that in the quiet and dark forest.

"Cub, if you're lost don't move," he said. Alex felt distinctly annoyed. Really, just because he was a teen didn't mean he didn't know what he was doing. Hadn't he already proved this on the driving course? Alex turned and looked directly into the camera he knew was there as he could see the damn record light, and flipped it the bird. He slapped his hands on his pecs and then threw them wide in a gesture that read plainly, "Come and get me." They took the invitation seriously and Alex was sure he became their sole project for the night.

It wasn't until twenty minutes later that he realized that he was having a lot of fun doing this. He decided some real fun was in order and started making fun of the SAS soldiers. He was positive he'd receive some serious punishment for what he was about to do but he hardly cared. When he got close enough to the huts that he knew he'd be able to make it before sunrise he started playing his one-sided game of hide and seek. He started tracking them. It was surprisingly easy as all he had to do was stop, wait about minute, hide, and they'd come.

When he came to one clearing he skipped through it, grabbed a flower that was growing on a bush and skipped through to the other side. He took that flower and climbed a tree to reach a camera and tied the long stem to the cord just right so that the flower would obstruct the view. When he got back twenty minutes later the flower was gone, fully confirming what he knew was happening. He danced through the clearing with the song Lolli Lolli by Three 6 Mafia in his head.

He knew he looked like he wasn't taking it serious but he hardly cared. He did that through several clearings and down a good many paths, anywhere there was a camera really. He would dart out in front of the camera, put on his show, and then dart back into the woods. Since he was obviously more interested in messing around with them rather than heading for the hut, they had absolutely no idea where he would show up next and he was going in a random path. He was also drawing fire from the other trainees as he saw Eagle dart away the same time he did when they heard the leaves moving. He could have sworn the man had seen what he was doing too.

Alex could tell the trainers were getting frustrated with him as they were making much more noise than they normally would. They weren't loud, just louder. At one point Alex came upon one of them in a clearing. Waiting until the man's back was turned, he stepped out into the clearing, made a face at his back, and then darted back in. He heard the man tearing after him and figured whoever was watching the cameras was trying to direct those in woods towards him.

An hour before dawn Alex decided now was the time for the finale. He darted in front of a camera the furthest from the hut and yanked the cords out with so much force it was destroyed. And it felt good, dammit, to destroy SAS property. The woods became a quiet flurry of action after that. He darted to random cameras pulling out the wires and leaving before he could be caught. There weren't that many trainers in the woods as they hadn't suspected that they'd have to cover that much area. The cameras were supposed to that for them. When only three were left, Alex had a clear path to the back of K-Unit's hut.

They sent two soldiers to the hut's front door. His entire unit was already inside and probably insanely curious as to why the trainers were actually guarding the door, something they technically weren't supposed to do in this drill as that was hardly stealthy. Unfortunately for them they forgot two very important details. Alex was smaller than the rest of the trainees and there was a window in the back of the hut he could just barely fit through. He snuck up to it and saw K-Unit looking out the door waiting for what the trainers were waiting for. Almost silently he slid it up, thankful that they weren't allowed locks on anything, and shimmed his way inside. He padded up behind K-Unit. Nobody had noticed a thing.

"Whatcha lookin' at?" he asked loudly. All of them gave some sort reaction. Eagle actually shouted out in surprise. The trainers whipped around at the commotion and their eyes narrowed in disbelief. "You know, if you had shouted, "Ollie Ollie Oxen Free," I might have come out."

"How the bloody hell did you get in there?" one of them asked.

"The window," Alex replied jabbing a thumb over his shoulder. "You forgot that I'm smaller than these guys. I can fit through it. Did you enjoy the show?"

"What show?" Wolf asked, confused. Eagle answered and confirmed that he had indeed seen what Alex was doing.

"He danced his way back," the man said staring at the boy with amusement.

"Cub!" the trainer barked commanding his attention. "The Sergeant would like to see you."

"I'm sure he would sir," Alex mumbled as he left the doorway and followed the two to the white van on the edge of the forest that the Sergeant and a tech guy were holed up in. He was pushed inside and then pushed into a chair. Well, nobody could commend the SAS on their manners that was for sure.

"What exactly did you think you were doing Cub?" the Sergeant asked looking extremely angry with the boy.

"Sneaking," Alex replied. "Sir."

"Was there a reason for all the dancing?" he questioned glaring at the boy and Alex was certain he was about to be binned which was fine by him. He didn't want to be here and if he failed, he failed. MI6 would have to find some other poor kid to pick on.

"It got you guys frustrated?" he said, making it sound more like a question than an answer. "I was able to move them to where I wanted them and found all the cameras." The Sergeant's glare didn't go anywhere but the small smirk made it ten times scarier. Oh god, he was going to dissect his brain. Alex just knew it. "Sir." He almost always forgot to add that damn 'sir' on the end of his sentences. He wasn't very used to it.

"You're lucky I don't bin you Cub," he snapped. "You destroyed SAS property but you were the only one who seemed to grasp the point of this drill enough to turn the tables. Good work." Alex sat completely stunned. Seriously? That was it? "I'll be showing this to the rest of the trainees to show them how to flip the tables on your pursuers. They could also use some entertainment." Alex flushed. Crap.

"Couldn't you just bin me sir?" he asked hopefully but the Sergeant shook his head.

"No, I don't think so."

He hated the SAS.

-

-

"Hey Cub, what about you?" Eagle asked in an attempt to include the younger trainee. Despite the Sergeant's threat to do so, Alex's dance through the woods hadn't yet been shown to the camp, for which he was highly grateful for. But for some unknown and highly suspicious reason Eagle was trying to act like he gave a damn. Alex didn't believe him for a moment.

K-Unit was gathered in their hut in a rare down time. Somewhere along the way their conversation had turned into a discussion as to why they had joined. Alex had been listening but certainly not participating. Until now.

"Classified," he said enjoying the look of annoyance on Wolf's face. He took off his outer jacket and slung it onto his cot.

"You shouldn't be wearing that Cub," Fox spoke up. Alex gave him a confused look.

"What?" he asked. Shouldn't be wearing what?

"The bracelet," Snake clarified. "You'll get in trouble."

"So?" he snapped at the same time instinctively grabbing his wrist to hide the blue strip of tied bandana in a defensive kind of way. Eagle looked a little surprised.

"Woah, relax!" he said. "We're just saying."

"And I'm just saying to leave it alone!"

"Okay!" Eagle gave in. He held his hands up in further sign of surrender. They were all looking at him with a bit of shock written on their faces at how strongly he reacted about it. Alex lay down on his stomach, his head facing away from them and his left wrist still being held protectively. They had no right to ask, and thankfully, they didn't. Alex hated talking about it; about how three years ago a member of their football team had been killed in a drive by shooting and how the team had all taken a strip of the bandana he always wore around his wrist. They'd all tied a strip to their own wrists and had never taken them off despite going to different high schools and different teams. It was a way to remember.

-

-

Alex could feel Wolf's eyes on him after he gave him the stolen match book. He didn't look back. He was so tired; all he wanted to do was sleep away the nightmare. He wanted to go home, back to his neighborhood, where everything may not have been easier but it defiantly was less confusing.

"Cub," Wolf said just before Alex reached the small tent that he knew he'd probably be alone in that night. Despite not liking them, he'd gotten used to them around. Time moved a little more slowly here than it did back home. "Where'd you get these?"

"You could just say thank you," Alex responded not bothering to look back. He didn't have the energy.

"I could, but I'm not," Wolf responded. "Where'd you get these?"

"The Sergeant," Alex responded.

"He just gave them to you?" Snake asked suspiciously. Why bother asking if they knew? Of course they knew the Sergeant wouldn't just give something like that over. They knew he'd stolen them. Why question it? They could make a damn fire now. Why question it?

"No."

"Cub, you shouldn't steal," Eagle said and Alex almost lost the battle against his laugh at that. "You'll get binned." The boy whirled around so fast they almost didn't see him move. They were taken aback by the look in his eyes. The utter exhaustion, the dulled spark. Despite everything they'd put him through, they'd never seen him like this. They would call it broken but his fighting spirit hadn't yet gone. For the first time he looked like a real kid. One in over his head.

"I'm counting on it!" he shouted, his voice carrying over the cliff and the echo dying only after he'd disappeared into his tent. They didn't see him for the rest of the night.

-

-

"Where is he?" Wasp hissed as he burst into K-Unit's hut. Wolf glanced up sharply at the irate and angry trainee.

"Where is who?" he asked, wondering what was going on.

"Cub," the other man snapped. Snake raised his eyebrow. What had the kid done now? "That kid has been stealing from us. We're missing supplies from our huts."

"And what makes you think it was Cub?" Fox asked, a rare display of inclusion of Cub as a part of K-Unit coming into play at the blunt accusation.

"Bear saw him leaving the hut," Wasp responded. "Where is he?" Wolf shrugged.

"Don't know," he said then stood. "We'll help you look for him."

He never thought to defend the kid. He already knew him to be a thief. He'd stolen from the Sergeant in an attempt to get binned. He had a feeling the same thing was happening now.

When nearly two hours later they still couldn't find the little thief they went to look for the Sergeant to report him. They had been content to take care of him themselves but he was proving too elusive. Wolf and Wasp were the only two to go into the hut. They knocked respectfully on the door and entered at the "Enter." They came in to a rare sight.

The Sergeant was at his desk with a glass of Scotch in his hand and an open file in front of him. He closed it as they entered and Wolf saw the bright red stamp of "Classified" across the cover. He also saw the name 'Alex Rider' on the tab. The Sergeant had a faraway look in his eyes and he didn't seem to be feeling quite like him himself. It made Wolf pause for a moment before he spoke up bravely. The Sergeant didn't seem inclined to pay enough attention to the two trainees to give them permission to speak freely, so he took the chance.

"Sir, Cub's missing," he said. The Sergeant just sighed.

"I aware of that," he responded. "He was pulled out."

"Pulled out, sir?" Wasp asked. The Sergeant just nodded.

"Yes, he's in the field now."

"He's a teenager," Wolf said, shocked that Cub really had been there to train for real. He'd thought it a joke. A rich man sending his son to SAS camp to get straightened out. It was too impossible to believe anything else. The Sergeant gave a harsh and tense laugh.

"No, he's a jaded little brat," the man responded. "And now, he's out there somewhere, fighting the fight. God help him, he's a fucking toy soldier. A child soldier. Never thought we'd have one of those here, in this civilized country." He downed the rest of the glass and finally looked at the two soldiers. "I'm sure you're here to report a theft, don't bother, there's nothing I can do about it now. If the kid survives you can track him down and get whatever it is he took. But for now, let it go. Dismissed."

-

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Came out a little more angsty than it I thought it would. Oh well, let me know what you think.