Author: Silver Queen

Recipient: FFN: ikot-ikot, LJ: xxxwicked

Title: Venom

Characters/Pairing(s): No Pairings. Alex, Yassen, Julia Rothman.

Summary: "I don't kill children," Yassen said to Damian Cray and shot him. AU

Rating: PG13

Disclaimer: All Alex Rider characters herein are the property of Anthony Horowitz and the Penguin Group. No copyright infringement is intended.

Warning(s): None.

Word Count: 1000

Author's Notes: A mentor relationship between Yassen and Alex. Exploring the possibilities of what might have happened if Yassen hadn't died in Eagle Strike.

"Hello, Alex." The woman that Alex took to be Julia Rothman smiled at him. She was stunning beautiful in deadly looking way, with long dark hair, brilliant dark eyes and perfect teeth behind red lips. There was something almost predatory about the way that she was looking at him. "I've been waiting such a long time to meet you."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, too," Alex said politely, casting a glance at the table. There were only two places set, so it was very clear that Yassen wouldn't be joining them. He slid into the free seat as Mrs. Rothman chuckled.

"And so polite, too. I hope you don't mind, but I've already ordered for you. The food here is fabulous."

"That's fine," Alex replied, casting a glance around the restaurant. It was clearly a high class establishment, designed solely for the very rich and very famous, and they had the best table in the house. That in itself said something about Scorpia and Julia Rothman.

"I'm very glad that Yassen brought you here," Mrs Rothman said, taking a sip of her wine. "Maybe he is worth keeping, after all."

Oh?" Alex said, unsure what she was meaning.

"Yes. First that dreadful mess in Cromwell," Alex felt the pit of his stomach drop out. She must know that he had been the reason that that had failed. "- now this botch up with Damian Cray. It happens to the best of them, I'm afraid. They get old. Lose their touch. Become liabilities. But maybe he's worth something to us yet, hmm?"

"Maybe," he hedged, because despite the innocent nature of the question, there was a undercurrent of seriousness to it. How easy would it be, he wondered, for her to decide that Yassen had no worth and have him removed?

Her eyes sparkled with amusement at his response. "Just like your father," she said. "He had a soft spot for Yassen as well. I never regretted it, and he has given us 15 years of service. That's very nearly a record."

Alex wasn't quite sure he could comprehend anyone having a 'soft spot' for Yassen. And yet, he recalled the bemused expression that had flittered across Yassen's face when his gun had gone off and struck not Alex or Sabina, his targets, but Damian Cray, his employer. He had mentioned John Rider in passing, while explaining his actions, but Mrs. Rothman was implying that there was more to the story than Alex knew.

"They knew each other?" He asked.

She laughed loudly. "Oh, indeed. Your father was one of our best men. You might say he taught Yassen everything he knew. Certainly, he saved his life on more than one occasion. It's a rather fascinating story, actually. A lesser man couldn't have done it."

Alex couldn't stop the shocked expression reaching his face. "I didn't know that."

"I imagine that there is a lot that you don't know about him. This is a very secretive profession." She smiled slightly. "You might even say he had a secret identity."

"Will you tell me about him?" he asked. Ian had so rarely spoken of his brother, and the little he had mentioned had obviously not included anything about Scorpia or MI6. Maybe he hadn't known either? Although, that was unlikely.

"Everything you want to know," she assured him. "He was a friend of mine. I was really quite fond of him. You look very alike, you know."

"Thank you," he said. The food arrived shortly afterwards and the rest of the night was filled with interesting, but far more light-hearted, conversation. The food was, as promised, delicious. It wasn't until he was heading back to his rooms that his unease returned.

"Alex," a voice said behind him, just as he was about to open the door to his hotel room. He didn't startle, because Yassen's voice was becoming familiar, but he did frown as he turned around.

"Yassen," he said, keeping his voice level. The hallway lights illuminated a thoughtful look on the Russian face.

"It can be very unwise to attract the attention of people like Julia Rothman," Yassen said. "She is very rich and became that way by being very ruthless. People who attract her notice have a habit of … disappearing."

"You were the one who brought me here," Alex pointed out. Not that Yassen had explained very much to him, just the very basics of what Scorpia was and the fact that John Rider had been a part of it. Alex hadn't expected it to be safe, of course, but nobody had tried to kill him yet, which in his experience meant he wasn't in immediate danger. That kind of thing tended to be noticeable.

"Yes," Yassen admitted. "I did not expect her to be as interested in you as she is. That in itself..." He paused and shook his head. "You should be very careful around her."

"Yeah, yeah, she's ruthless. I got it."

Yassen looked at him sharply, taking a step forward. "I don't think you do. You seem to have very little concern for people who could end your life."

"Like you?" Alex retorted, but he knew that if Yassen had wanted to kill him, he would already be dead. On Air Force One, in France, in London, in Cromwell… there had been many opportunities. He sighed. "Look, I can't… not be me. Whatever she's interested in, it's already happened. She doesn't seem the type of person to forget things like that."

"Scorpia does not forget, nor forgive," Yassen murmured, like a mantra or an oft repeated quote.

Alex nodded. It wasn't like he was trying to get himself killed. He just seemed to land in dangerous situations, that was all.

"Alex," Yassen said carefully, the intensity in his eyes making Alex squirm internally, "You should never make the mistake of thinking that you're safe here."

Then he turned and slipped away, leaving Alex alone and much, much more uneasy than he had been before.