Yay for waking up from comas!

Enjoy. Also, laugh at my allergy joke.

Chapter 16
"The Final Love"

London, The Rider Home

Alex felt some sense of familiarity only his subconscious could have recognized as he blinked his eyes awake. He immediately recognized the warmth of a bed and sheets surrounding him and stifled a yawn. When the initial haze of his vision cleared he heard an odd beeping noise.

He turned his head and realized he was hooked up to multiple machinery. One of them was a heart monitor, another was probably keeping tabs on his brain, spouting out jagged lines that seemed to recently have become more active. Yet another was an IV drip and he resisted the urge to look at his hand, lest he panic. Alex could handle bullets, stab wounds, burns, extreme exhaustion and even allergies but he hated needles with a passion.

But what Alex found more surprising was that he immediately recognized his room.

Granted, it was much cleaner then he had remembered leaving it. But then again the last time he had talked to Jack, she had admitted her boredom. Maybe it had gone as far as cleaning up his room while he was away, dirty laundry and all. Alex smiled a little imagining Jack clean up his room, commenting about how much of a pig he was with every single thing she did. It was a thought that made him even laugh a little.

Shortly after his laugh, the door opened immediately. He turned his head to the door and grinned.

"Hey, Jack," He said cheerfully, stopping in surprise at how scratchy his voice was. He lifted his IV-free hand to touch his throat in surprise. "Wow, where have I been?"

"Publicly," his friend and guardian began, shutting the door behind her. She moved to sit on the bed and take his hand. "You were both in an accident."

"Wait, both? What kind of accident?" Alex asked, alarmed. He heard his heartbeat start to speed up in his panic.

"Ssh," Jack soothed, rubbing his hand with her thumb. "Relax, Alex. You and Ethryn were supposedly in a car accident. A drunk driver was on the road while Butler was taking you to on a trip to the mall when he hit you. Butler is massive, of course, and got away with a scratch. You and Ethryn, on the other hand, weren't so lucky. A piece of the car got her pretty good in the arm and the impact had you in a coma for the past four days."

"I missed four days?" He groaned, looking up at the ceiling for a second. Then he turned back to Jack, "Wait, how do you know Ethryn and Butler?"

She smiled, "And Artemis."

Alex's heartbeat started to speed up again. "How?"

"If you don't relax, Alex, Artemis told me to push this button and knock you out." She warned, pointing to a remote hooked up to the IV machine. He took a few deep breaths until he was calm again. "Okay, good. They were the ones who brought you here, once you were stable, with my permission of course. They figured I wanted you home as soon as possible, now that whatever mess was over. They're staying in London. Artemis is here with Butler almost all day every day, but Ethryn is practically spending the night here." She smiled at him. "I was surprised about just how much of a sweetheart she is. I thought that was just a press image."

"No, she's the real thing," Alex murmured in agreement. Then he shook his head. "Where are they now?"

"Ethryn is napping on the couch. I was doing laundry when I heard you laugh." Jack replied, placing her hand gently on his forehead to wipe some hair away. "You've really got her wrapped around your finger I think, Alex. She comes in here a lot to talk to you and keep you company, even if you're completely out. She told me that you did the same for her, so she's going to do the same for you, whatever that means."

Alex tried to hide how pleased he was at this. But he smiled just a little anyways before yawning. "Can you get her for me, Jack? I want to see how she is."

"Her arms all fine, if that's what your worried about." She replied. Then she frowned. "No one has really told me the whole story, but Ethryn told me the basics, when Butler and Artemis weren't around. She said some type of explosion debris hit you both, but you got the worst of it. She feels horrible. She thinks it's her fault. And I don't know the whole story, so, you can probably convince her otherwise . . .?" She left the answer to him.

He nodded, "Of course. She saved my life, I owe her."

Jack smiled and stood, heading towards the door. But she paused. "Alex?"

"Yeah, Jack?" He asked, curiously.

She looked on the verge of tears. But they were happy tears. "I'm glad to have you home."

He beamed. "Glad to be home, Jack."

Jack nodded and left, shutting the door behind her and leaving Alex to his thoughts for a moment. He felt guilt for causing Ethryn so much worry. If she hadn't backfired the missile, sure, he wouldn't be in coma. But he'd be dead. It was completely illogical for her to feel bad just because of a small misfire. He was still alive. That was a win in his book.

There was a meek knock.

"Come in!" He shouted, refusing to look away from the colors of his ceiling.

The door opened and shut and there was no sound for a few seconds. When Alex became restless of the silence he braced himself, turned his head to his door and hoped that he wouldn't stare after not seeing her for so long. At least, seeing her without having just been electrocuted or in the midst of a brawl.

He failed miserably.

She was wearing a white tank top, with simple skinny jeans. She was barefoot and he smiled a little at that, but soon after he noticed a glint on her neck. Examining it further he recognized his gift to her.

Alex beamed, "Hey, Ethryn."

Ethryn looked up at him from under her lashes and smiled, now comfortable that the silence had broken. She walked over and sat on his bed, where Jack had just been seated only moments before. "Hey, Alex. How are you feeling?"

He thought about it, staring at her while he did so. "Mm, just a little tired. A bit sore, but nothing particularly annoying."

She looked down at her lap. "I'm sorry."

Alex recognized the blame game immediately and his gaze was stern. "I have no idea what for. You saved mine and Holly's life with your reaction time, Ethryn. Another second or a miss in your aim and the three of us would've been nothing but leftovers."

Ethryn grimaced at the imagery but shook her head, "I should've been more careful."

"You were shot in the arm." Alex retorted, glancing at the neat bandage on it. "By the way, how is that?"

"Just sore." She touched it absentmindedly. Then she shook her head. "But, Alex, it's my fault you've been in a coma."

"It's your fault I'm alive at all," he challenged, squeezing her hand. He tried to make a joke. "I'd rather rest for four days then be dead."

It was then he noticed tears starting to form in her eyes. She bowed her head a little, speaking quietly. Alex was suspicious she was afraid her voice would crack otherwise. "You still could've died. The doctor said an inch higher and you would've been killed instantly."

Alex grimaced a little but then shrugged, "But I'm not. Help me sit up."

Reluctantly, she did so, though he really didn't need the help. Making herself useful she grabbed a few pillows and propped them behind his back so that he could sit up without having to support himself entirely. He didn't use them though, choosing to lean towards her instead. She didn't back away.

"Look, Ethryn." He started, seriously. They didn't break eye-contact. "You feeling guilty is completely irrational. I don't blame you for being in a coma. Personally, it's break by now anyways. It's not like I missed much really. If anyone has something to be sorry about it's me, for not telling you the plan when Artemis told me. Yes, I remember seeing you staring at me from the helicopter." He added, as she opened her mouth to protest. "So, I'll make you a deal. I won't beat myself up about not telling you if you don't beat yourself up about not having deadly enough aim when you've been shot. Deal?"

She smiled a little, blushing out how pointless he made her concerns sound. "Alright . . . Alex?"


"Jack told me something, while I was here."

He groaned inwardly.

"I wanted to know . . . if it was true," she murmured, looking down at her lap. Though neither of them knew it, they were leaning towards one another, slowly enough so that neither of them noticed the dwindling distance between their faces.

"What was it?" He asked, nervously.

She looked up at him. "You used to like Sabina?"

Alex had expected a different question. He nodded though. "Yeah. But, I like someone else now."

"Oh, really?" Ethryn now visibly scooted closer to him, staring right into his eyes. Her blush reappeared now. "And this . . . someone else . . . do I know her?"

Now they were both hyper aware of how close they were to one another. Alex nodded. "Yeah. Really well, but, I don't think I'm good enough for her. She's got a lot of spirit. She could do better then me."

Ethryn smiled, "I don't think she could."

"Oh." There mouths were only a short distance away when Alex smirked. "But, I don't think Holly would go for me anyways."

Her eyes narrowed at the joke, "Alex-!"

Before she could protest further Alex pressed his IV hand against the back of her head, colliding her mouth easily to his. His eyes were already closed and reveling in the warmth of and softness of her mouth along with the complete shock that ran through his body at the sensation. Ethryn was feeling very much of the same thing, her eyes drifting closed when they both heard something Alex found embarrassing and Ethryn found amusing.

Alex's heart monitor was beeping erratically again.

She pulled away laughing, keeping her eyes on him with a smirk. "I didn't know I had that affect on you, Alex." His turn to blush now, he rubbed his neck nervously, laughing rather uncomfortably. Ethryn's gaze turned mischievous then and as Alex looked away she placed her arms around his neck, to his surprise. She now blushed as well. "But I like it."

They leaned in again, kissing much more smoothly now, both of their eyes closed before they even touched lips. Alex's hands found their way instinctively to her waist, pressing her chest against him as he sat next to her. She did very much the same, her fingers running slowly through his hair. After some time of this they parted.

Alex laughed, lying back down with his hands behind his head. "This is going to be fun to explain to Artemis."

Ethryn rolled her eyes, resting her head on Alex's chest. She wrapped her arms around his neck, sighing. Alex smiled down at her, wrapping his arms around her waist and rolling to face her on her side. His heartbeat was much steadier now and Ethryn found it almost soothing to hear. She nestled up against him.

She sighed peacefully. "I'm just happy you're okay, Alex."

He rubbed her back with one hand, holding her to him with the other. "Me too, Ethryn. Me too."

Colleen was fired. Even if she was hypnotized, Artemis refused to cut her any slack. All of the legal problems were done quickly and under the table, Artemis using some old favors to pull some strings. She was babbling when she awoke, talking about magical hypnotizing creatures. The Fowl family had her committed and placed on heavy medications, that kept her risk-free of any self-mutilation. Conveniently, it also disabled her from speaking coherently.

Ethryn was legally emancipated. After a long and thoughtful discussion Artemis and she decided it was best that she be in charge of herself. Of course, that didn't meant she was cut off from her funding, it just was easier then finding another incompetent person to take care of her while being a risk to her well-being. After much begging and pleading, Artemis also allowed her to stay in London, with Alex.

The Fairy people, however, were beyond begging and pleading. But in the end, thanks to Artemis's exceedingly brilliant skill of finding the loophole in almost every situation, Alex was allowed to keep his memories. But, unknown to Jack, there house and phones were wired. The moment the words "fairy", "magic", "LEP", and a few various other words were said, they would tap into the conversation and find the topic. So long as he kept their secret, Alex could keep his memories. But the moment he slipped up he would be wiped, that was made very clear. But Alex had gave his word and because of their mistake, Ethryn was allowed to keep her boyfriend and he his memories.

And Ethryn had gotten her dog.

A rescue retriever had just had puppies. It was unlikely the mother would be adopted but Ethryn found herself unable to separate the mother and her two pups, and had just ended up adopting the entire family. Alex and Jack had come over to her house (now that she had been moved back in) and visited them, helping them name the new additions to her family. Ethryn was only to happy to have the companion of animals filling her home.

"I've always been a dog person," Jack said, sitting on Ethryn's couch as she ruffled the mothers hair. The female pup nestled into her mother's warmth. "What are you naming them?"

"I haven't decided yet," Ethryn admitted, the pup sitting in the pouch of her crossed legs. Alex sat next to her, making faces at the stumbling animal. But he seemed forever hopeful at making it over Ethryn's legs and getting a good, playful swipe at Alex. Ethryn laughed, "This one is pretty feisty. Why not Flame?"

"Sounds pretty generic," Alex admitted, with a frown. Then he grinned. "What about Rider?"

"How very conceited of you, Alex," Jack commented with an eye roll. She examined the pup from across the couch. "You know what he looks like to me?"

"Hm?" Ethryn asked, holding the pup in her arms. He curled up happily but stared at Jack, as if awaiting his new name with anticipation.

Jack smiled. "He looks like a scrap to me. Why not call him Scrap?"

They all looked down at the puppy. Suddenly he beamed and gave a yip, as if in approval. Ethryn smiled with him. "Scrap it is, then."

"Now it's his sister's turn." Alex pointed out as Scrap finally managed to pounce on him, batting at the strings on his jacket.

Ethryn shook her head, "I've already thought of a name for her."

"Oh really?" Alex replied, intrigued and surprised. "What?"

"Kit," Ethryn replied. "I named her Kit, because the first thing she did was go into the bathroom and, well, did her business on a First-Aid Kit."

Alex laughed, "Ha, 'did her business'. Now you just have to remember to potty train them."

She grimaced at the thought until Kit jumped up and licked her, yipping joyfully. She smiled at her. "That should be fun."

"Definitely," Jack yawned in agreement.

Ethryn's brow rose, "Tired already, Jack? It's only five."

"I'm beat," she explained tiredly. "You mind if I snooze in your nanny's old room, Ethryn?"

She shook her head, "Not at all. Second door on the right upstairs, down the hallway. There's a bathroom inside if you need it."

"Thanks," Jack replied, stretching her limbs. She gave them warning looks. "Don't you two do anything while I'm asleep."

Alex scoffed, "Thanks for the confidence in us, Jack."

"You're teenagers." She countered. "What can I expect?"

But she turned and went towards the staircase, rolling her shoulders as she did so. The pups jumped off of both of them, chasing her up the staircase. They heard Jack shouting playfully at them as they did so and the mother gave a bark, also giving chase on her young, disobedient children. Coincidentally, this left Alex and Ethryn alone together once again.

He looked at her from the couch, grinning seductively.

She rolled her eyes. "Alex."

"What?" He whined playfully.

Ethryn couldn't help but laugh a little and leaned back against the couch, her head lolling back until she saw upside down. Alex had noticed she did this often for no particular reason and gave no explanation for it but now he wasn't going to let her get away with it. He smirked and carefully maneuvered himself to where he had his hands on either side of her hips, towering over her. He only had to wait a few seconds before she lifted her head, like usual, and blinked as the blood rushed away from her head again. But she gave a visible start when she came face-to-face with Alex, who was still smirking. She took a second to catch her breath at the surprise.

"Why do you do that?" He asked breathless now himself, at having her so close to him. Alex was embarrassed to admit that he hadn't quite grasped the concept they were together now, that this beautiful and abnormally famous girl was now his. Her face was perfect, like her body, that he had been careful to respect the boundaries of. She was also rather careful when kissing him, appearing to just love the feeling that it was Alex she had. He didn't quite understand that but he wasn't unhappy with the idea she was happy with him.

She recovered a few seconds later but not entirely. "Eh, do what?"

"Hang your head upside-down," Alex replied, locking gazes with her in a way far too intense for a simple question.

Her breath caught in her throat and for a second Alex's almost unfair advantage of his appealing scent flooded her nose and it took a few seconds for her to form an intelligible answer he could understand. "I . . . like the head-rush feeling."

Alex leaned in closer, to he was whispering in her ear but not quite touching her anywhere. The space between them buzzed with almost uncomfortable electricity. "I can think of a few much funner ways to do that."

"Like what?" She asked with a nervous smaller, even though she knew where this was going.

He laughed in response and finally one hand snaked around her waist, forcing her body to arch against him. She closed her eyes instinctively and found his mouth easily, kissing him comfortably and enjoying the slight pressure on her body. Alex sat up straight, pulling her back with him. Ethryn eventually maneuvered them until she had Alex sitting down and leaning against the armrest, while she straddled him. They were clinging tightly together until Ethryn felt Alex's mouth curve into a smirk.

She pulled away, staring at him with that gaze. Even with her innocence technically gone as she obtained the full body of a teenager (and by full, Alex couldn't help but notice that a few things that had seemed average and unimportant to him were now much more filled out) who would eventually grow into a woman.

"What is it?" She asked quietly, panting a little from the lack of oxygen.

He reached one hand off her hip and stroke her face with his hand, admiringly. "I love you."

Ethryn gave a jump of surprise (which really felt to Alex like something dirty since she was straddling him) but Alex waited patiently for a response. Even if she didn't love him, she cared about him. He could live with that.

But very slowly she let her head rest on his chest and smiled. "I . . . love you too, Alex."

And Alex felt such content that he could've burst.

Artemis glanced at his watch before glancing at his cousin and her boyfriend. The two had been making a few informal public appearances and Artemis had been feeling irritated that it hadn't occurred to either of them to make their relationship official in the eyes of the public. He'd gone as far as to make a few jokes that they knew more about Ethryn's new dogs then Alex Rider.

"Are you ready?" He asked Alex, for Ethryn had been to enough public events to know what to expect.

Alex was shifting uncomfortably in the limousine, Ethryn holding Alex's arm in a vain attempt to comfort him. But Artemis could see the hidden amusement in her eyes stuffed inside to try to get Alex to relax.

"Not really," Alex admitted. It didn't help that he was wearing a suit, something he'd have to start getting used to with the schedule Artemis had set up for them in the summer. Ethryn had rumors going around she was dating someone but no one had come up with any substantial evidence, so Artemis was taking care of that for sure.

Artemis smirked with only minor provoking intentions. "Well, we're here. So hold your breath."

Ethryn giggled and kissed Alex's cheek, making Artemis quiet. He was working on letting his cousin go even now but Alex and Ethryn were oblivious to his feelings. Ethryn wore a white dress with black detailing, wearing her favorite color comforting her. Alex really couldn't say the same but staring at her made him forget.

The car stopped.

Immediately Alex saw the cameras trained on them, set up, waiting until they had arrived. She smiled a little and took Alex's hand into hers, tightly. Artemis of course offered to go first, so as to provide some sense of cover for them.

And by the next morning, the couple was over all of the papers as London's Most Adorable Couple. America caught on to them and soon they were known world-wide, an international couple. Alex's popularity sky-rocketed at school, needless to say.

And in the end, they couldn't be separated.


Realized I hadn't officially finished this story yet. My bad! OOPS! Sorry!

Hope you liked the story!