A/N: So... this is a little oneshot that I didn't plan on posting until I straightened it out... it's a little (okay very) choppy and very afterlife-based. And by that I mean that the italic parts are afterlife and the normal parts are real life. Like I said, I was going to redo it and make it better, but tonight I really wanted to post it for some reason. I haven't put anything up on in awhile, so I said what the hell and did it. I mean, this is really for me, so why should I worry about people flaming it? Still, concrit would be good because ideally I'll redo this someday... I hope anyone who decides to read this enjoys it.
It Doesn't Matter Anymore (Except It Does)
Alex Rider officially stops working for MI6 at the age of sixteen, when he has finally seen enough that he can blackmail the agency and give them a taste of their own medicine. And the only reason he even gets away with it was because Blunt is gone and there is a rookie in his place that tries to handle Alex, but fails.
He goes back to school, and everything slowly goes back to normal. He's a starter on the football team – not even the occasional twinge of pain from his bullet scar prevents him from playing – and catches up enough in his classes that he doesn't fail out of school, which is nice. Everyone almost likes him again, and his group of friends manages to forget the drug rumors. Alex goes to the movies with Tom and James Hale, he visits Jack's family in America when she goes over there for Christmas, and even spends a week with Sabina here and there. Somehow they never officially become boyfriend and girlfriend, but they're both okay with it (admittedly, Alex is more accepting than Sabina).
Alex gets two years of a normal life. Nine days after his eighteenth birthday, Tom gets a call from Jack, who is in tears. Alex is dead.
They say it's a car accident, but Tom knows better. He knows there's a reason it's a closed casket funeral. There isn't even a wake – just the funeral and then a burial ceremony.
Almost all of Brookland shows up to the funeral – Alex is supposed to be graduating in a couple of months, and he was always well-liked, except for those couple of years when he was more out of school than in it. Sabina Pleasure shows up with her parents, and she sticks close to Tom. They met once before, and it was long enough for both of them to realize the other knew the truth. Jack is there, with red and puffy eyes, and a couple of her family members from America show up.
There are a few people that hang in the back. A woman that Tom recognizes as Mrs. Jones – Alex certainly described her often enough. There's a nondescript man next to her that he overhears is named John Crawley. That name doesn't sound as familiar, but Tom knows he's from MI6. Behind those two are four other men, standing erect with bulging muscles and stony faces. Obviously military.
Tom wants to ask, but he doesn't.
Alex is sitting in a completely white room. It's kind of intimidating, and the weirdest part is that a dead man is sitting across from him, hands folded on the table between them.
The man's lip twitches and he gives the boy a nod. "Alex."
Alex looks around, and then he looks down at himself. He's in Brookland sweatpants and a gray t-shirt, with just socks on. His hair is just washed and slightly damp. The entire thing feels nice, like he just got home from a football game on Saturday and is getting ready to watch a movie with Jack, or something.
But that's obviously not going to happen.
He sighs heavily. "I'm dead, aren't I?"
Yassen nods. "I'm sorry," he says.
"How did it happen?"
"Bullet to the head. You probably didn't even see it."
Involuntarily, one hand reaches back to feel the back of his head. Nothing. Alex nods and admits, "I don't remember."
The two are quiet for a moment, and it feels nice. He appreciates that Yassen is the first person he sees in heaven. A man who would tell him the facts straight. Alex takes a moment to examine Yassen, who looks younger than he remembers – and that makes Alex realize that he looks younger, too… like he was before Ian died. Yassen looks content enough, dressed abnormally casually in jeans and a black shirt. It reminds him of that pair of True Religion jeans that Sabina always liked when he wore them.
It hits him like a wrecking ball. Sabina, Jack, Tom, James, even Ben. They aren't here. He'll never see them again, or at least not for a long time. And that really sucks, because all he wants is a hug from Jack, and to go and kick a football around with Tom, and…
Alex looks down, choking back tears. Apparently you can cry in heaven.
"It's alright, Alex," Yassen tells him in an uncharacteristically gentle voice. Alex takes the time to compose himself.
"I never even had a girlfriend," he whispers, and it's not the fact that he's never had a girlfriend that's the problem, it's the fact that he'll never have a chance to. He's not going to university; he's not ever going to be able to drink legally. He's never going to have a real job, or meet Jack's family. He'll never have a life with his trust fund, and without MI6. He doesn't want to be dead. "I don't want to be dead, I want Jack. Get me out of here, please."
Yassen remains silent, but he gets up and comes around to Alex. He runs a hand through the boy's hair and lets him cry into the former assassin's shirt. Alex lets go, sobbing for a long time until there are no more tears left. He wipes his eyes and looks up at Yassen, who gives him a small smile.
"Is it nice?"
"Yes," Yassen tells him. "This is the hardest part. You go through that door –" he points at a door that Alex is certain wasn't there a moment ago, "and it will be better, I promise."
"Are you coming with me?"
Yassen gives him a careful look, and Alex can guess the answer easily enough.
Alex thinks of Ian, who made him into a spy. He thinks of his parents, whose faces he can't remember. He looks up at the impassive Yassen in front of him, and his mind screams familiar. "Can I stay here with you for a bit longer?"
There's a moment when Alex is sure Yassen is going to say no.
"Why don't you come to my house?" Yassen suggests.
Before the funeral starts, Jack walks over to the casket. She's crying, and Tom plans on letting her grieve alone, but then Mrs. Jones and the five guys that are obviously government people start to walk towards her, and Tom walks over too because Jack doesn't deserve to deal with them today of all days.
"Ms. Starbright, we're so sorry for your loss," Mrs. Jones says quietly.
Jack stares up at her with tearful eyes and asks with a coldness Tom hasn't heard her use before, "If you're so sorry, why did you keep on making him do things that led to this?"
That's when everyone notices Tom, who has just reached them.
"Why don't you leave Jack alone," he says flatly, crossing his arms. He tries to imagine what Alex would do, and thinks he pulls it off relatively successfully.
"Kid, why don't you back off, this has nothing to do with you," one of the more muscular men says.
Tom raises an eyebrow and comments, "I wouldn't talk about things you don't understand, if I were you."
"Tom Harris, isn't it?" The one that's name is Crawley asks, stepping forward.
Tom hides his surprise, and nods. He supposes it isn't exactly shocking that MI6 knows who he is. Crawley gives him a wan smile and explains, "I knew Alex's father. He and I… worked together. I assume you know what that means."
"Yeah, it means you're a bastard."
Crawley's smile seems more genuine and he replies, "Pretty much."
"Are you that unit he trained with a few years back?" Jack asks suddenly, and Tom realizes she is staring behind Jones and Crawley and is looking at the four other men who start to shift so uncomfortably that Tom realizes Jack is right.
Under different circumstances, Tom would be star struck. As it is, he just scowls at them and says, "You guys are bastards, too."
One of them steps up and says, "I'm sorry… I transferred to MI6 and worked with Alex a couple of times. He was a good kid."
"Yeah, he was," Jack agrees. "He didn't deserve to have his government screw him over."
She turns around and walks to the first pew. Tom grins and he hopes Alex was looking down and watching that. Tom turns back to the six people and says, "It was nice to meet you. Try not to kill anymore minors, would you?"
He goes to sit next to Jack, proud of both of them.
Alex likes Yassen's house –a big mansion with lots of space and lots of room to play football. Yassen's a pretty good player, and that makes Alex happy. He always wanted to be a professional football player.
There's a room in the house that Yassen says is his – it's already filled with his clothes, a few gaming systems, and lots of movies. The rest of the place is really nice, and nothing is off limits. At first, Alex expects to be bored. He expects he'll want to leave soon.
As it turns out, nothing is boring about Yassen's house. Everything is relaxing. It feels nice and new, and Alex doesn't leave for a long time. Yassen doesn't talk much, and maybe that would've bothered Alex once, but MI6 changed him in that regard, as well in many other ways. Besides, whether Yassen verbalizes it or not, he is always there. And that's what really matters.
"So, what did you do here before I showed up?" Alex asks casually one day. He doesn't know how much time has passed since he's died – time isn't important in Heaven, if that's even where he is. No one has exactly clarified that yet. "Since everyone's already dead."
Yassen actually laughs – he's one of the only people Alex has met that seems genuinely immune to Alex's insults. "This, Alex."
"Right…" Alex kicks the football their passing back and forth, and Yassen traps it with ease. They continue in silence for a few moments until Alex says, "I don't think I've said it yet, but… thanks for saving my life. And for letting me stay here."
"You don't need to thank me, Alex."
They've stopped passing the ball. Alex regards Yassen Gregorovich. On one hand, the man killed his uncle, worked for Scorpia, and killed many people. On the other hand, he saved Alex's life and was his father's best friend. And it doesn't hurt that Alex genuinely likes him.
Coming to a conclusion Alex didn't realize he was making, Alex smiles. "You're a good friend, Yassen."
"You're going to have to meet your parents at some point, Alex," Yassen tells him, soft and matter-of-fact.
"I know, but I have forever, right? And right now I'm happy right here."
There's a boy that arrives late – he looks kind of stuck up and rich and he has two bodyguards following him. Tom tenses as the solemn boy that is about his age walks up to the front of the church, near the casket. Everyone starts to whisper.
"Who're you?" Sabina asks a bit rudely, never one to beat around the bush.
"My name is James Sprintz, I'm – I was a friend of Alex's."
Sabina gives him an once-over and asks almost accusingly, "I've never heard of you before."
"I move around a lot. We met in France, and kept in touch. We've gone skiing together a few times." James pauses and smiles ruefully. "He saved my life."
Tom understands immediately. "Point Blanc?"
James looks surprised, turning to the boy as if he didn't notice him, standing next to Sabina. "You know about that?"
"I'm Alex's best friend," Tom says, "he tells me stuff like that."
"I couldn't believe it, when I heard," James says quietly, staring at the grave like he still can't understand why it is there. "He was…" the boy trails off.
Tom knows what he means. "Yeah," he agrees. "He was."
They share a smile.
Alex thinks about his parents, but he's too afraid to venture into the unfamiliar. He's afraid he won't like life with his parents as much as life with Ian and Jack. He's even more terrified of liking it more and then forgetting about Jack altogether. Ian's with his parents, Yassen tells him, but Alex is afraid to see him – and he's still a little bit mad about the whole Ian-making-him-into-a-spy thing.
So one day, Ian Rider comes to him.
Yassen and Alex are just coming in from playing soccer when Alex notices a man standing on the balcony, and a second later he realizes that it is Ian.
Alex glances up questioningly at Yassen, who simply shrugs. His shirt is off and swung over his shoulder, but Alex has kept his on out of habit. Hesitating, Alex glances back at Ian. He slows down slightly, but Yassen pushes him forward and whispers, "He's been staying away for your benefit."
Feeling very young, Alex nods quietly and walks a few steps closer to his uncle. Something hits him, and he glances back at Yassen, because shouldn't they hate each other, or something. Yassen seems to understand and smiles, explaining, "Don't worry about that, Alex."
And it wasn't really an explanation at all, but whatever.
Alex stops and stares at Ian for a moment, who stares back.
"Hey, Ian," he says quietly, scuffing his feet against the grass and looking down.
"Alex," the man whispers, and his voice has a lot more emotion than Alex's. Then he's walking forward and hugging Alex. "I'm so sorry."
Alex remains immobile for about two seconds before he starts to tremble and asks in a broken voice, "Why? Why would you…" then he's crying too hard to continue, but they both know that he's asking why Ian would make him into a spy and lie to him and everything else.
They stay hugging each other for a long time before finally Alex pulls back, wiping his eyes. He glances between Ian and Yassen before asking in a cracking voice, "So you guys aren't going to, I don't know…"
"That's not important," Ian promises. "Alex, I…"
"Can we not?" Alex asks finally. "Just not now."
Ian nods, accepting without question. Alex glances back at Yassen, who has an impassive look on his face. He looks back at Ian, and then admits quietly, "I missed you."
"I missed you, too, kid. How's Jack?"
"Same… his parents are finally divorced."
Ian smiles briefly. "That's good."
"Ian? Do you want to play football with us?"
The man smiles again, but this time bigger. "Alright."
Tom Harris never forgets about Alex Rider. He keeps in touch with James Sprintz and Sabina, and inevitably whenever they talk, they always make some comment about Alex. Tom hopes his best friend is happy, wherever he is.
As soon as he graduates, Tom forsakes university and signs up for the SAS. He doesn't have a concrete answer as to why, but he knows he's doing the right thing. And he also knows he's doing the right thing when he refuses MI6's offer to become one of their operatives.
"You could be great, Harris," Horace Kempton tries to persuade him. He's the new guy in charge of Special Ops, and maybe that means things are different, but all Tom can think of is Blunt and Ian's grave and Alex changing before his eyes from a kid into a tortured state secret. It's too painful to think of Alex's grave.
"I already am great right where I am," Tom says flatly.
"You could be better with us."
"Do you know who Alex Rider is?"
The question almost catches Kempton off-guard, but he isn't the Head of Special Ops for nothing. "Should I?" he asks indifferently, which Tom understands as a no.
"You should look into it," Tom says, standing up, "maybe then you'll realize why I hate this organization more than I thought it was possible to hate something."
Tom walks out on Kempton. He never finds out whether the man decided to look up Alex, but MI6 never contacts him again, and that's good enough for Tom.
Very few people understand why Tom passes up the promotion, and the ones that do think it's because Tom hates spies, who are slimy and manipulative and almost as bad as the bad guys. Tom lets them think it, because it's partially true. Inevitably, though, when people talk about spies, Tom's thoughts go back to Alex.
He only cries once, and it's about the injustices of the world and a life taken before it's time as much as it's about losing his best friend. At least that's what he tells himself.
Ian stays with Alex and Yassen for awhile, and Yassen is mostly there for Alex's support, but it still counts. Eventually Ian tells Alex exactly what he didn't say before, and Alex tells Ian about his work with MI6. Ian is angry, but Alex strangely isn't. It doesn't really matter anymore.
When it's all done, they sit in comfortably silence.
Then Ian gives Alex a meaningful look that Alex doesn't understand. "Your parents are waiting for you."
Alex cocks his head to the side, and again glances at Yassen for support. Yassen nods once, and Alex says quietly, "Okay."
So then it's him and Ian, walking somewhere (Alex hasn't exactly figured out any of the wheres or the whens or the hows yet). Then Ian asks, "So, what did I miss?"
Alex thinks about it.
"I met a girl named Sabina when I was a ball boy at Wimbledon… she's really nice. A year older than me, but…"
"An older girl, huh?" Ian asks, grinning teasingly.
"Yeah, she moved to the States, but we still see each other sometimes…" Alex stops, because he won't be seeing her again. Right. He laughs at how strange it is – Ian's stories didn't matter, MI6 didn't matter, but now Sabina matters. Then Jack… Jack will always matter. And Tom… Ian puts an arm around his shoulder and squeezes, as if to tell Alex that he understands.
They reach a door, and Alex isn't sure what to do. It turns out he doesn't have to do anything, because then the door opens and someone is hugging him, someone that smells like roses and sandalwood and cleanness. "Mom?" Alex asks, and his mother hugs him tighter, and doesn't let go for a long time.
"Alex," she cries, and she's nice and all, but she's unfamiliar.
He's vaguely aware that he's having a minor internal breakdown. Alex wants to run back to Yassen and he wants Jack to be hugging her. He wants to cry, but not because he's happy, because he wants Jack, but it's not like he can tell his mother that…
She pulls away, and he takes deep breathes before calming down. This is your mom, he tells himself, and the realization takes awhile, but it gets there eventually.
"Mom," he repeats, a little louder. "I missed you."
"I'm sorry we left you," she whispers.
"It wasn't your fault," Alex says, and thinks of Ash.
He looks past his mom to see a man standing awkwardly behind him. It doesn't take a genius to realize it's Alex's dad – they look alike in every way possible. John Rider looks happy and uncertain and afraid all at once.
That just makes Alex feel bad, so he says the first words. "Hey, Dad."
Kind of lame, but oh well.
The first thing John says is, "So, you like football?"
His voice is like Ian's, but different, and Alex thinks that he even sounds like a dad, where Ian sounded like an uncle. Alex realizes that he's carried his football all the way from Yassen's.
"Yeah, I always wanted to go pro," Alex says, stopping a couple of steps away from his father. "Do you play?"
His father is staring at him like he's never seen anything so amazing. Alex stares back, more uncertain than anything else.
"I'm sorry, son," John says finally, voice cracking.
Alex closes the space between them. "It's okay, Dad."
John pulls his son to his chest and holds him there for a long time.
Jack visits Alex's grave. A lot.
"Hey, Al," she sniffs, laying the flowers down. "I know you never really liked flowers, but I wanted to bring some anyways. I really miss you – the house is so empty without you. The house… I'm not really sure what to do with all of it. Apparently everything goes to me. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with it all, or why Ian put me after you, but… I just wish you were there to share it with me. It's not fair, you never deserved this. I just hope you're someplace happy, now. Someplace without bad guys and MI6."
John Rider is a lot of things – Alex mostly notices that he's a good father.
It makes Alex think about his life, about Ian and Jack and Yassen, who all helped him grow in their own ways. As much as he knows John is his dad and knows he's a good father, Alex can't exactly imagine growing up with him, as opposed to with Ian and Jack. And he's not sure if he would've liked not meeting Yassen, who did things in a way that maybe other people didn't appreciate, but that Alex appreciated. On some level, Yassen was the only adult in Alex's life that understood what it was to be in their line of work at such a young age.
"So, you've been hanging with Yassen," John says finally after a lot of hugging and a couple of teas and quite a few apologies.
Alex nods. "We play football…" and that just sounds stupid. "We're friends, you know? He gets me."
"Yeah," John says quietly.
Alex has a harder time with his mom. He always thought of Jack as his older sister, but there were things she did that were distinctly more mother than older sister, and he has a hard time with the fact that now that's what his mother does, not Jack. He doesn't have that problem with his dad and Ian, because Ian was never like a father, he was always like an uncle. Alex gets used to his mother slowly, and she seems to understand, because she takes her time.
"I'm sorry," he says one day to her when they are alone. "I love you and you're my mom, but…" He pauses. "I miss Jack, too."
"Why don't you tell me about her," his mom says quietly, letting Alex lean up against her as she strokes his hair.
So Alex talks for a long time, and when he finally stops there are silent tears flowing down his cheeks and he admits quietly, "I don't want to forget her. I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
He hugs his mom tight, and she hugs back and tells him it's okay, which apparently is what mothers are for.
Alex goes back to Yassen, clutching the football, and is relieved to find that Yassen is still there, reading on the veranda. The teenager stands there awkwardly for a moment, and then Yassen looks up. Without a word, he puts his book down and walks down onto the grass. They play football for a long time.
Then John Rider shows up, awkward and uncertain.
They stop playing.
"Hello," Yassen greets him, looking vaguely amused.
"Hey, Dad," Alex says.
John nods, and Alex glances over at Yassen, who gives him a small smile. Suddenly Alex knows what he needs to do. He picks up his football and glances back at his dad. "Do you want to play with us?"
Alex watches as his dad's face lights up, and Yassen is giving him a look that let's Alex know that he's done well.
Alex knows his dad isn't as good as Yassen, but that isn't quite as important as the fact that he's there, playing football with him, and Alex just doesn't want it to end.
"So, are you two still, friends, or whatever?" Alex asks finally, because he's been vaguely surprised at the easy conversation between the three of them.
John laughs, and Yassen answers, "Yes."
It's not all happy endings, but there's the potential, and that's good enough.
Tom lives a good life for the rest of his days. He excels in the SAS, leading his unit with skills that in his mind he credits to his best friend, who gave him all the advice he needed in order to save the world. Tom makes new friends, but Alex Rider remains his best friend until the end of his days. He never marries, but he's pretty sure he would've even if he lived for a hundred years, after living through hell with his parents.
It's days before his twenty-fifth birthday when his unit, along with seven others, parachute on top of a building taken over by a world renown terrorist group. He's the first one to make it to the control center – somehow, he lost everyone else along the way. It's a God-given miracle that the room is devoid of bad guys. That's the only reason that Tom is able to permanently deactivate the bomb before five of the terrorists charge in.
He takes them all down with the help of his unit, which has finally caught up with him, but by then he's been shot so many times he doesn't even know where the pain is coming from. His unit's medic tries to save him, but Tom just grabs his hand and shakes his head.
"It's not going to happen, Otter," he chokes, and Otter has to lean in so that he can hear Tom's last words. "It's been fun."
"You did great," Otter says. "Hang in there, and I'll get you out of here so you can get a nice promotion and medal." He's working furiously, telling the other two members of their unit where to apply pressure. There's blood everywhere, and the gauze isn't enough.
"Take care of the unit for me, and tell Jerry I'm sorry I'm not going to make the wedding," Tom says, and shuts his eyes with a smile.
It feels nice to have done some good in the world.
Tom notices three things. One, he's in a white room with no doors. Two, the pain is gone. Three, Alex Rider is sitting across from him. He looks down, wondering why he's not hurting. Not only are the bullet wounds gone, but somehow he is young again – ten years younger, he'd say. So is Alex.
"Hey, man," Alex says with a grin. "How's it going?"
"Well, a second ago I was lying on the ground with ten bullets in me, so I'd say this is an improvement," Tom says, his face mirroring Alex's happiness.
"There were only six bullets, actually," Alex teases, "stop being such a masochist."
Tom scowls playfully and retorts, "Well, it only took one bullet for you."
Immediately the two turn serious, as if remember what's happening.
"I'm dead, aren't I?" Tom whispers.
Alex nods. "Yeah. I'm sorry."
"Why? I got more years than you," Tom points out fairly, and then adds, his voice cracking, slightly, "It wasn't fair, what happened to you."
"Well, yeah, but you had to suffer through the SAS. Why'd you even sign up, anyways?"
"I don't really know," Tom admits. "I wanted to make a difference, I guess."
"Well, you did," Alex tells him matter-of-factly. "Good work."
They grin at each other for a second, and then Tom glances around and asks, "So, is this heaven, or hell? I kind of expected more than this."
Alex laughs, and Tom can't remember the last time Alex was so happy. It must be heaven, he decides.
"This is just the introduction. Through that door is the real thing. It's different for everyone, but we'll still be together. It's all connected, in this weird way you'll never understand, but won't really care about," Alex explains, while not really explaining much at all. He gestures towards a door that definitely wasn't there when he first came in.
"Alright," Tom says, nodding slowly. He takes a deep breath because everything has just caught up to him. "I guess I'd like to see Beaver and Coyote again."
In typical Alex fashion, the ex-spy snorts and comments, "Beaver? What an unfortunate code name. Are they a part of your unit?"
"They were, until a particularly bad hostage situation a couple of years ago. Otter and I made it, they didn't." Tom pauses. "Aren't you supposed to know this already, since you're dead and all?"
Alex shrugs and replies, "We can look down and see what's happening, if we want, but that stuff doesn't really matter to us now."
"Oh." Tom hesitates, and asks, "Are you okay now, Alex?"
"I'm happy, Tom. You will be, too, I promise." Alex stands up. "Come on, I want you to meet my parents."
Jack Starbright marries and has two little boys. She wants to name the first one Alex, but is afraid it will be too painful, even after so many years. Jack always meant to go to Paris someday, but she finds herself staying in London, if only because she can visit the graves of Alex and Ian. She doesn't quite understand, she just knows it's something she needs to do.
She dies at an old age, after her husband, which is a curse in some ways and a blessing in others. She ends up at a nursing home with Alzheimer's, and when her sons come and she talks about Alex, they assume she's confused. They don't know who Alex Rider is.
In her last moments, she's in a hospital with her family around her. She tries to play it brave, but in her mind she's terrified. Then she thinks of her husband, and of Alex, who she hasn't seen in so long. Jack shuts her eyes with a smile.
There's a white room with her husband, who she clings to and cries on for a while. Then the tears are wiped away, and he explains everything to her.
"Where's Alex?" That's her first question.
Her husband smiles. "Let me show you."
He takes her though a door, and Jack's breath is taken away.
Alex is running towards her, and her breath is taken away as he barrels into her, holding her tight. "Jack," he whispers, arms wrapped around her. He's not exactly how she remembers him – he looks younger, and Jack realizes that he looks like he did before Ian died and he was forced to grow up too fast. There's a big grin on his face, and Jack just has to run a hand through his hair (there's no bullet wound).
"Oh, Alex," she whispers, cradling him in her arms.
"I've missed you," Alex mumbles into her shirt.
Soon, they will let go of each other. Alex will take Jack's hand and show her his house. He will introduce her to his parents, and then Ian will be there and there would be another reunion. Maybe Alex will even take her to Yassen's, although Jack won't want to play football. She will eventually leave, he knows, to be with her husband. As sad as that is, Alex knows she won't be far. He will visit, a lot.
But for now, Alex just holds onto Jack tight. And that's good, because she's not letting go.
"I've been waiting a long time for this," Alex says. He can feel her tears in his hair.
Jack laughs shakily and wipes some of the tears away. She replies, "I didn't mean to keep you waiting."
"That's alright. We have forever now."
Jack cries some more and hugs him even tighter. Alex doesn't mind.
In an unusual pairing, James Sprintz and Sabina Pleasure end up getting married. They kept in touch after Alex's funeral, but it takes five years without correspondence and an awkward run-in at a ski lodge in the Alps around Christmas for them both to realize they have more than just Alex Rider in common.
James has a fiancé at the time, but he figures it wouldn't have lasted long, anyways. He never was sure if she was only in it for the money or not. It's pretty clear Sabina isn't when her mouth drops after seeing his house.
"What the hell," she says finally. He thinks something is wrong, but then she continues, "I thought you were some normal business worker living in an apartment." James shrugs awkwardly, and she seems to understand, because all she adds after that is, "Next time, give a girl some warning."
There was no need to be worried – James's father loves her.
Alternatively, Edward Pleasure isn't sure about James until years after the wedding, when he realizes they might just make it, but he hides it well before then. At least, Sabina almost buys it.
Their first child is a boy, and they do name him Alex. He's quiet, but smart, and he loves extreme sports. James keeps him from watching James Bond for as long as possible. When he comes home one day after a sleepover, Sabina locks herself in the bathroom and cries, because her son has decided he wants to be just like James Bond.
That dream fades, just like dreams do with every child, and the next month he wants to be a doctor. Even so, James is relieved his other two children are girls (until they get boyfriends, that is).
James and Sabina are older now, and still no one knows how they first met except for their parents. They want to keep it that way.
Certain things still terrify Sabina, like plane rides and Damien Cray CDs and James Bond movies. She's learned to live with it.
James thinks about Alex sometimes – he wishes he invited Alex skiing more times, called him more often… but those things are in the past. Maybe he'll meet Alex again, someday, he doesn't know.
Wherever Alex Rider is, they hope he's happy.
Sometimes Alex wonders what life would have been like, had he lived past the age of eighteen. Some of the possibilities he likes, but most of them he doesn't. One day, he decides he's happy he died when he did. That kind of freaks him out, however, so after that he thinks about it as little as possible.
Anyways, his death isn't really important. Alex is happy now.