Wolf sprinted through the lopsided mountain manor and quickly as he could, desperately seeking out Cub – or Alex, as he now knew him to be called. Though he barely broke into a sweat, his harsh training conditioning him for these sorts of situations, panic was beginning to grip him. He had to find the boy; his conscience prickled as he recalled his brutal treatment of the teenager at Brecon Beacons, thinking he was just a brat with a rich daddy who wanted to play soldier. He knew he was wrong now, but who could've possibly guessed Alex had actually needed the training! For MI6 to use a teenager . . .
A shout of pain suddenly rang out, followed by high-pitched, mad laughter. Changing direction, the SAS officer slammed the door in front of him open, calling, "Alex!"
And indeed, there was the blonde boy he had been searching for, looking thoroughly beaten up as he lay slumped on the floor of what looked like a dining room, a huge, ape-like woman pointing a gun at him. The woman – Mrs Stellenbosch, he thought she was called – turned and pointed the gun at him instead, firing three shots.
Intense pain that flared through Wolf's arm. Ignoring it to the best of his abilities and sending a silent, thankful prayer that his body armour stopped the other two bullets from burrowing into his chest and shoulder, he squeezed the trigger of his machine gun, letting loose a constant stream of bullets into the hideous woman who had attacked him. He allowed himself a small smirk of satisfaction as she screamed and fell out the window and over the edge before sitting on the floor heavily.
He glanced up and a quick smile flashed across his face as he saw Alex get to his feet and run over to Wolf; he was relieved the boy hadn't been so badly hurt that he couldn't move. "I'm okay," he forced himself to say, trying not to move and cause himself more pain. "Came looking for you. Glad I found you."
"Wolf . . ." Alex murmured, concern shining in his eyes. Wolf closed his eyes, drawing on the remainder of his strength to assert that he really was fine, when something soft and slightly chilly touched his lips. Opening his eyes again, he stared, aghast, at Alex.
'He just kissed me . . .' Wolf could only think dumbly. The boy stared down at his prone form, silently awaiting a reaction, when there was a yell from somewhere above them and the two of them looked over to the window, where the limp body of an SAS man fell down from the roof and lay still. Dark anger flashed over Alex's face; before Wolf could do anything, he grabbed his gun and was gone.
Wolf's eyes shot open and he stared at his bedroom ceiling, the sheets tangled around him and clinging to his legs. He groaned and leaned his head back into his pillow, shutting his eyes. 'Not again,' he thought weakly, as the drowsiness began to subside. That same memory had been replaying in his mind ever since the French Alps. What on Earth had the boy been thinking? Why would he do that?
'Because he's a teenager . . .' a treacherous voice whispered from the realms of Wolf's exhausted mind. The soldier had to agree. The boy may have been one of the most mature people he had ever met and he certainly handled himself well, but he was a teenager, with hormones and urges, he really couldn't be held accountable for his actions or feelings.
Wolf, however, could. As he had already acknowledged, Alex was just a kid, almost ten years younger than himself. Which was why it was completely unthinkable for Wolf to want another kiss and even more. And why it was a very bad thing that that was precisely what he desired most of all.
Wolf, Snake, Eagle and Fox were all standing in Alan Blunt's office, staring at the all-round grey man and glancing at the woman lurking in the corner as she sucked on a peppermint, wondering why they were there. The file they had received along with the summons to the office the previous night had told them nothing about what was expected of them. As if reading minds was one of his talents, the elder man fixed them squarely with his gaze and said, "I assume you all would like to know why you're here. Unfortunately, I deplore explaining things more than once and your mission, if you like, will also include another person, and I'd like to wait for him to get here first."
As if on cue, the door swung open and in walked a blonde teenager dressed casually and looking suspicious and cautious. His serious brown eyes widened in surprise and he stopped short as he saw the K-Unit standing in the centre of the room.
"Cub?" Eagle yelled as he spotted the boy. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same." Alex responded, the loud question snapping him out of his shock. He moved closer to the SAS men but retained a slight distance from them, as if weary of getting too close. He faced Blunt and demanded, "What's going on?"
Never one to mince words, the head of MI6 said, "Bad news, Alex. General Alexei Sarov is still alive."
The grim words meant nothing to the K-Unit but all four of them saw Alex's eyes widen once more. "That's impossible! He shot himself in the heart – he did it right in front of me. He can't be alive!"
Blunt peered at Alex, totally serious. "Yes, we thought so too. But apparently he missed his target and shot himself in almost the exact same place as you."
Alex unconsciously raised a hand and touched his chest, directly over the location of his wound, concealed by his shirt. The revelation brought out muffled gasps from the K-Unit, all but Wolf, who knew that Alex had been in hospital with his injury.
Alan Blunt continued regardless, "We believe that several of the Russian troops in his employ managed to escape and carried him off with them. He was badly hurt, which is why he has laid low for this long. But he is now fully recovered and that, considering his last plot, is a cause for concern."
"So you think he's going to try to kill me." Alex surmised. He frowned when Mrs Jones, took over, "Not necessarily. Remember, Alex, he had many opportunities to kill you when you were at Skeleton Key, but he didn't do it. Why?"
Alex shrugged, ignoring the SAS men, who were looking back and forth between him and the MI6 operatives like they were following a tennis match. "He said I reminded him of his dead son – Vladimir. He wanted to adopt me. He tried to kill himself because I refused his offer."
Mrs Jones nodded her agreement. "Exactly. He may want to kill you, most likely in revenge, you did thwart his plan, after all. But, perhaps even more dangerously, his obsession with you could still exist and if it does, it's almost a certainty that he will come after you."
She turned to the soldiers, who were mute in their shock and bewilderment. "This is why we've called you four in today. You've all received the file on Sarov, you understand the danger. This is why we'd like Alex to be placed in Wolf's care for the time being." She nodded at the man in question.
Alex's head snapped around to stare at Wolf before looking back at Mrs Jones. "Why should I burden Wolf? I've dealt with the General before; I can handle it."
"That is not an option." Blunt butted in curtly. "You need protection from this man, Alex. You are one of our best agents."
"Nice to know you care." The boy muttered before saying louder. "But what about Jack?"
Wolf's eyes flashed to Alex and he frowned. 'Who's Jack?' Once again, Blunt answered him. "Miss Starbright will be informed and we have already arranged for her to return to America until further notice." Observing Alex's face, he added, "We've also spoken to the CIA and they will keep an eye on her to make sure none of Sarov's men can touch her."
Alex looked a little relieved at this news, but not by much. "Okay, say I go along with this, if you want me to stay with Wolf, why are they here?" he gestured at the other three men.
"Oh, charming," Fox muttered irritably. Alex waved at him dismissively, "You know what I meant, Ben."
Blunt shrugged once the brief interaction was over, "They are here because they are the only ones allowed to know of this situation. Considering that the four of them are good friends," he nodded his head at the men standing huddled together. "We would hate to force Wolf to lie to them."
Alex snorted disbelievingly. Blunt ignored it and continued, with something Alex recognised faintly as good humour in his eyes, "Besides, they are your SAS unit."
"Yeah, remind me whose idea that was again." Alex grumbled quietly, before looking sidelong at Wolf. "Do you mind?"
After a moment, Wolf realised what he was talking about and shook his head, saying, "No, it's okay. I understand."
Alex nodded and looked at Blunt again, "All right. I'll go along with this."
A/N: Wow, the dream/memory was really long. I wonder how that happened . . .