Disclaimer: 'Stormbreaker', 'Alex Rider', any associated entities, or any copyrighted material pertaining therein is reasonably protected by the Copyright Act, and is not intended to infringe upon any copyrighted material.

Pairing: Eventual Alex/Yassen, Jack/ Unintroduced OC.

AN: Trying a new thing, but can't seem to stay on one story for long. Into Alex Rider at the moment. Others are half-done. And I've borrowed who paragraphs from the book Stormbreaker for this chapter.


A gun at a funeral? Why? Why would bank managers carry guns?

"Let's get out of here." Suddenly Jack was at his side. "Cemeteries give me the creeps."

"Yes. And quite a few creeps have turned up," Alex muttered.

An amused sound came from behind him. Alex turned to see a slim, lithe, average sized man with his blue-black hair in a low ponytail and very blue eyes. There was something brittle in the man's familiar smile, but, as far as Alex could tell, the warmth was genuine, as was the almost-affection in his glacial eyes. Unlike many others at the funeral, the man felt distinctly, strongly familiar to the teen.

Then Jack turned and smiled. "Liam! It's been a while. Four years or so, wasn't it?"

Liam gave Jack a warm and vaguely impersonal smile. "Nearly five, actually."

Alex suddenly remembered. Liam Grey had been one of his father's friends who had insisted on checking up on his friend's son every so often and, as such, had dropped in and out of Alex's life until he was nine and suddenly the man was gone. Thinking back, Alex had adored Liam and had looked forward to the man's visits, but Ian had always been tense and uncomfortable when these visits came about, never leaving the two alone. Once Alex had asked what Liam's job was, and Liam had replied, an odd smile playing across his lips, that he worked for a security and counter-security business.

Liam had suddenly appeared late one night and had gone to speak with Ian in his office, ruffling his hair on the way upstairs. Alex hadn't seen the man since.

He also distinctly remembered Liam as being an eye-catching golden blond.

He turned back to Alex, and there was genuine sympathy there. "I took a job over here as soon as I heard, so I'll be in the country for at least a month if you need me."

Alex nodded, both glad and curious that Liam was back. "Thanks."

Liam nodded. "Do you want a lift home or would you prefer to walk?" He asked, directing his question towards both of them.

Jack's smile wilted a little, suddenly very aware that several of the funeral-goers were watching them. "We were going to walk. Would you like to come with us?"

Liam's smile quirked at the corners. "Yeah. I need to talk to Alex about some things."

*****

It took the trio fifteen minutes to walk the few blocks back to the house, talking idly about the weather and news and strictly avoiding any talk about Ian Rider.

It was when Liam hesitated for a moment when they turned the corner into the street that Alex noticed the STRYKERS&SON removalist van parked outside his house that the sense of wrongness returned.

"What's that doing...?" Alex began before catching the look on Liam's face, a cold fury, as the van squealed off.

The two said nothing more as they followed Jack, still chattering, up to the front door.

Jack went into the kitchen to make some tea, but he quickly looked around the house. A letter that had been on the hall table now lay on the carpet. A door that had been half-open was now closed. Tiny details, but Alex's eyes missed nothing. Somebody had been in the house. Alex was almost sure of it.

Almost as sure as he was that Liam knew who it had been.

But he wasn't certain until he got to the top floor. The door to the office which had always, always been locked, was unlocked now. Alex opened it and went in. The room was empty. Ian Rider had gone and so had everything else. The desk drawers, the cupboards, the shelves...anything that might have told him about the dead man's work had been taken.

"Alex...!" Jack was calling to him from downstairs.

He took one last look around the room before turning to leave, only to nearly collide with Liam. The blue-eyed man glanced at him and reached out to steady the teen, but was otherwise scanning the room, face stony.

"C'mon." He moved out of the way and ushered Alex out of the room, closing the door behind them and following Alex downstairs.

*****

Alex wasn't sure how Liam managed it, but he somehow convinced Jack to let him take the next day off from school to go sort through Alex's parent's stuff which was being held in storage space in London. Liam had been left the keys to give to Alex on his sixteenth birthday, but, given the circumstances, Liam felt it would be better to get Alex's mind off his uncle.

Or so he said.

At 8:07am the next morning, Liam picked Alex up in a silver Mazda, a generic model in every way and a few years old.

They'd been driving for nearly ten minutes before Alex bolstered enough courage to ask a question that had been bothering him for years.

"Why did you leave?"

Liam continued watching the road as he answered, almost as if he felt guilty. "It was getting dangerous. Someone had managed to get a hold of files on my movements; enough to know I was spending a fair amount of time in England. By the time we had found out about it, they had already narrowed down the area to your suburb. I warned Ian and he told me to stay away from you for a while. We dealt with it whilst he took you to Germany for an extended visit."

Alex absorbed this before asking his next question. "You once said you worked in security and counter-security. What did you mean?"

The teen got the impression that Liam was pleased with what questions he asked.

"I create security systems for anyone with enough money. Regrettably, I often create security by those being investigated by the law. I also have considerable experience with hacking and vault cracking; leaving me in high demand from certain clientele. Drawing attention to anything that can be held over my head is generally a bad thing. Several organizations specialising in illegal activities have been trying to 'employ' me for years."

Alex's mind froze about half-way through the explanation. "But...what...he...why?"

"Why would I care about you? Or why would I think you could be held over me?" Liam asked, eyebrow quirked. Alex nodded to both questions. "I am your mother's first cousin. I met your father and, to a lesser extent, your uncle through her. John recognised me as soon as we met, having been on opposite sides before, and worked out something for Helen's sake, since she was my only surviving family. Now you're what's left and I have already filed for your guardianship. You can still stay with Jack if you want, though."

Alex muttered something undecipherable and went quiet for a while, Rammstein murmuring softly across the car stereo.

The teen finally roused to off-hand comment, "They said Ian died because he wasn't wearing his seatbelt. Ian was fanatical about his seatbelt."

Liam glanced at the youth. "They probably told you that lie knowing you'd try to investigate. If you passed and figured it out, you would likely have been drafted into that organization." He commented mildly.

Alex stared, mind racing, small bits of information suddenly making sense. "But...he was a banker...wasn't he?"

"He worked at the Royal & General bank, yes. But if someone truly looked into the bank, they would find that it is only a well-made front for the something else. Both John and Ian were amongst their best field agents. No doubt they now want to complete the circle with you."

The teen frowned. "How do you know? I mean, why would they want me? I'm just a kid."

"Exactly. Do you know how few child-spys and assassins are? There are only two child-assassins active in the whole world. No spies; or at least no professional and fully trained ones at any rate. And, yes," He added, almost as an afterthought. "Thanks to your uncle, you are damn near fully trained. He's been training you since you could walk and talk."

"What?!"

Liam shot a mildly amused glance at the teen. "You speak three other languages almost fluently and know the basics and a few others. You have experience diving, skiing, extreme bike riding, rock-climbing, hiking, karate and variety of other athletics most adults don't even look at. You can also pickpocket, lie, read faces, used computers with decent sufficiency, read basic code and, on top of that, you're intelligent, willing to take risks and once you've chosen to do something, you're committed, and very little can sway you from your path."

Liam paused as they stopped at another set of traffic lights and turned to look at Alex. "John made it very clear in his will that you be trained. We, meaning Ian, Ash and I, were to tell you everything when you were sixteen and offer you a choice; follow in his footsteps and join M16, apprentice under me and I teach you what I know and let you choose your own road from there, or let you continue as a normal civilian. Now Ian is dead and Ash is in the wind and hasn't been near you since you were a baby, so I thought it best to tell you now in case something happens to me." He turned back to the road as the light changed. "Just be aware that once you're in, it is incredibly difficult to get out."

Alex vaguely wondered if he was going into shock and so remained silent until they pulled up at the gate of the storage facility.

"So what now?" Alex asked quietly, staring out the window.

Liam paused for a moment, staring at the wheel. "And now," He said, opening the door, "You decide if you want me to help you kill the man responsible for Ian's death."


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