Disclaimer: Not my characters, nor is it my world. I simply borrow the characters for my own little, twisted playhouse. Crocodile Tears Spoilers Ahead.
He stumbled across the field. The long grass stubbornly standing back up as soon as he removed his foot to move slowly on. The extremely frayed, and wet ends of his blue jeans dragged across the ground; picking up dirt and grass seed.
Breathing becoming more ragged as he proceeded, Alex looked up at the line of trees that he'd been trying to reach for the past ten minutes. Warm liquid continued to leak over his grasping fingers, and with reluctance Alex stopped to check his arm.
Swaying slightly from dehydration and pure exhaustion, Alex peeled back his fingers from the wound and examined it. His already queasy stomach clenched and Alex looked away with a wince. A wimp he was not, but combined with the sights he had seen in the past few days and the ugly display his arm made, he felt that vomiting was not out of the question.
Coiling his sticky fingers back around his upper arm, Alex re-applied the pressure and struggled on.
Swallowing hard, Alex realized how dry his mouth was. Blisters seemed to have formed on the insides of his cheeks and his tongue felt heavy.
He remembered the feel of rubbing still warm blood all over his body, the corpse of a snake lying not to far away, and how disgusting he'd felt. He'd wanted to stop the mission long before then, but he hadn't.
There had been many other times where failure seemed likely, even predicted…but he hadn't stopped then. It was these memories, horrible as they were, that kept Alex moving. Bloody water, where his co-workers had once been. The betrayal of someone he'd begun to rely on. Jerking back as something with terrible momentum forced itself into his chest.
The feeling of his very existence dripping away, and him, lying upon the hot pavement…drip…drip…a puddle had started to form beneath him….
Alex almost tripped the next moment, jolting him out of remembrance. Though he'd told his feet to move they'd refused, and his body had tried to move forward while his numbing feet stayed put.
Trying to blink the image of his bordering death experience away, and finding that much difficult, Alex pulled his unused hand into a rough fist. His overgrown and bitten fingernails made indentions in the calloused skin.
Feeling of the verge of something, though he could not think of what that might be, Alex dragged up another memory to reinforce his faith.
Crocodiles snapped at his feet, he could feel how close they were. The humid air that brushed past his ankles easily mistaken for their rotting breath…and then, he remembered something worse.
The horrible sensation of warm blood spattering his face, watching his angry and frustrated eyes…become lifeless. Rahim had known Alex for less than a few days, but he seemed to have cared about his well being, something that Alex had not expected, he had learned not to expect it…then, he'd been murdered.
Gritting his teeth, Alex closed his eyes as blood entered his mouth. The blisters in his mouth had started bleeding. He spat and opened his eyes. Here the grass wasn't growing very well. The earth was muddy from where a spring bubbled up not too far away.
Blearily Alex examined the swash of dark red and how it was quickly being drawn to mix with the muddy ground.
It reminded him of dead things, dirty places…stuff he should never had witnessed, places he never should have been. Where was MI6 when he needed them? They couldn't continue to use him if he was dead, or did they even care if he died?
Did he, himself, care?
The meadow's floor seemed to be getting closer. Blades of grass suddenly appeared larger than Alex himself, the sky played tricks with his mind as he blinked and realized it had tilted.
But, no…the sky hadn't tipped over, he had. Fair eyebrows drew together as Alex tried to sort out this puzzle. His arm screamed in pain, he had landed on it, perhaps breaking the bone.
Alex blinked, but did not move. Instead, he studied how the treetops reached the sky, the line that separated them as two different things blurred. Something kept nudging at him mentally, but the urgency had faded and his body ached to just stop thinking.
A curious thought came to him, and Alex turned it over in his mind. This is what they want, isn't it, an old and weary voice questioned, then, let them have it.
Alex let his eyes fall closed but held on to consciousness. His surroundings seemed to bear down upon him like a heavy quilt, keeping him pressed against the ground.
Somewhere in the distance there was life. He could hear wildlife varying from birds to bullfrogs, though their lively sounds seemed muted. Alex wondered what he looked like to them, lying prone as he was.
Was he a meal to be shared with family? Something to be avoided, or had he already been put out of their mind as dead and therefore not worth worrying over?
Would others cast thoughts of him aside the same way, Alex wondered unfocusedly. When his patching appearances at Brookland stopped altogether, who would care enough to ask where he was and what had happened to him?
Something wet the back of Alex's head, causing his overgrown hair to lay flat. Blood? Alex wasn't aware of a cut back there. The flow of cool liquid crept under his collar and down his side. Shivering abruptly at the sensation, Alex felt his eyes flicker open, surprise echoed in their depths.
The cold seemed to slightly diminish the haziness that had corrupted his brain.
Mud. That was what he'd landed in. Mud caused by the steady flow of water.
Alex's mouth ached as he pieced it together. Water, there was water. His usable arm stretched out, fingers digging into the sopping grass and mud. It oozed between his fingers, burning the cuts along his arm.
Recognizing that the water was coming from behind him, Alex heaved himself up enough to push his good arm underneath his body. Then, angling himself, Alex used his arm and feet to crawl along the side of the stream.
He could see where the water bubbled up from the ground. It was a sight that brought extreme comfort and chased away the demons that almost had him giving up his life.
Alex reached the bubbling brook. His thirst overrode any thoughts on cleanliness, and he cupped the water in a shaking and filthy hand before drinking.
Several more handfuls followed and though Alex knew he was a gulping, and panting mess, he didn't stop until his stomach felt full. Then, Alex wiped his face before rolling onto his back.
Every symbolism of water he'd heard before had never made as much sense as it did now. His vision seemed to be returning to its usual sharpness. He noticed the trees that lined the valley seemed to be made up of a multitude of colors, even the sky seemed brighter in this new found awareness.
The spring he had drank so gratefully from had soaked the entire back and partial side of his clothes and bits of grass clung to his damp arms.
Alex had been granted another chance. Though still bleeding from his injuries and heavy with fatigue, he felt that ever living desire to go the extra mile and do the unthinkable-to piss off his enemies if nothing else.
With his legs aching from where they joined his hips to his feet, Alex climbed up off the ground. The first few steps would be better classified as stumbling, and Alex felt as if he was leaning forward towards the ground he'd just managed to pull himself off of.
It seemed so far away, but Alex measured the distance until he was out of the extremely large clearing and decided it would only take a few more minutes-if his capturers (a group of men that specialized in kidnapping and assassination), did not go against their promise and shoot him.
They'd been promised a very large sum for Alex's capture and murder, money which they had not received once grabbing him from outside his friend's house.
That had been over a week ago. MI6 had taken their time finding him, but once they had, a deal had been made. Release their agent without harming him further, and they would cover over their actions committed in the past.
Arrogant in their belief of just how much they could get away with, they had released Alex…but not before injuring him and making him go a few days with very little water. It was their hope that he would die in the field.
Sons of Saints, which was what the group called themselves, had made it clear that the land belonged to them and that they had guards posted. SAS men waited just beyond the trees for Alex, but should any of them try to help him make his way across the field, they and their youngest agent would be shot.
And so Alex thought of about how close he was, and tried to ignore the feeling of eyes watching him, most likely through rifle scopes.
A shadow fell over him and Alex struggled to lift his head up. He'd managed to reach the very edge of the tree line, there was a steep incline ahead and a wall of tall bushes. He hoped that was all he would face before reaching the people MI6 had sent, because honestly, he didn't know if he could handle much more.
Leaves and twigs crackled under his shoes, and he reached up for a branch to help him up the incline. With a sharp, startling crack it broke in his hand and he felt himself fall back to the foliage covered ground below.
Annoyed and slightly breathless, Alex struggled to his feet and pulled himself up the incline being more cautious about what limbs he trusted to help him. His concentration was not what it usually was though, and when Alex reached to top of the incline, he failed to notice the exposed tree roots.
Stepping forward, Alex found himself caught off guard right before sprawling into the tall shrubs.
The thin stems scratched his face, and he fell through the wall of shrubs landing on the edge of the road they hid from view. It was a gravel road, and Alex winced as the many small stones dug into his palms. He panted slightly, the adrenaline rush that had helped him get here by blocking some pain was wearing off quickly.
For a long moment he just lay there, an arm cradling his head as he allowed himself to calm down. He heard the sound of gravel crunching under many heavy footsteps and wondered how he'd managed to miss the people closing in on him.
One person came to stop in front of him, and Alex looked up warily.
"The whole, 'you get injured and I save your arse' thing is getting old, Cub." Wolf grinned at him, sarcasm not quite managing to hide the worried look in his eyes.
"Funny," Alex muttered hoarsely, "You seem to have forgotten me kicking your arse out a certain plane?"
Alex tried to grin, but frowned instead. Wolf's face seemed to move about, refusing to stay in one place much to Alex's frustration. With a groan, Alex let his head fall into the crook of Wolf's arm as dizziness set in.
He'd lost weight, so it did not surprise him when Wolf easily lifted him up off the ground and tried to steady him on his feet. What did surprise him was the pain he felt at that action. A moment later, his head fell back against Wolf's chest as he blacked out.
The next time Alex opened his eyes, it was to see the worrying sight of trees and sky flying past his head. Blinking once, Alex flexed his fingers of his uninjured arm and felt the coolness of leather beneath his hand and then realized that the steady purr was that of a car.
He'd been laid in the backseat of a rather nice car. Something shifted under his feet and Alex listened as something was said about blood loss and malnourishment. He recognized Wolf's voice responding to what was being said. It took a moment to realize he was the subject being discussed, and that his feet were in someone's lap.
Lifting his head proved too difficult, so Alex closed his eyes and reassured himself that he was safe now. There was a hand that rested just below his knee, keeping his leg from sliding off the seat as the car traveled up the road to an unknown destination.
No more running, Alex thought. He let the lowered voices roll over him, coaxing him back into a deep slumber.
"His name is Hale Cycliff, he goes under the name Lesat."
Alex was handed a picture by Reed, who was a middle aged man heading over the division sent to save Alex from his capturers. Memorization had saved him many times, and Alex took his time to memorize the man in the photo. The dark complexion, frowning face, stocky form…but unfortunately he could not make out the killer's eyes behind the thick shades he wore.
"And you say he's been given the job of viciously murdering me?" Alex asked stiffly, shoulders sinking in a depressed slump.
"Or else he's a very persistent salesman," Reed told him sarcastically, trying to pull a smile out of the unhappy young man.
Reed had heard his fair share of stories about Rider, but seeing him was different. Stories became reality and in turn made them seem all the more amazing. He was not in awe, but not many young people had been able to gain his respect…Rider was one of the few.
Hair peppered with gray and laugh lines around his eyes, Reed frowned when Alex didn't laugh.
"Hmm, well, I was hoping to lighten your mood before laying on the worst news," he said grimly. Alex's head snapped up, eyes wary.
"Seriously? There's more?" Reed nodded, causing Alex to collapse back on the bed's pillows that had been stacked behind him. "Did a great uncle I didn't know I had die from a falling comet? Or…no, please don't tell me the Wizarding world isn't real?"
Reed tried not to smile. He had to oversee a group of rookies learning hand-to-hand combat with after this, his outward appearance had to stay stern-damn it, he was grinning.
"Hell no, of course it's real, don't be stupid."
Alex sat up, mouth curling up in a half-grin, "Then whatever you need to tell me can't be that ba-"
The door of the small bedroom slammed open and the man in the doorway winced guiltily,
"Oops, sorry." Eyes lighting upon Alex, Wolf smirked and strolled forward, "Hey, brat."
Forbidden to leave his bed except for using the facilities, Alex sat up straighter as he tried to fight back slight embarrassment. Fainting was one thing, fainting and then being carried away by someone who would hold it over his head, was another.
"Hey," he replied, and felt like the better person by not adding 'you jackass'. He'd only spent one other mission with Wolf, and had left on better terms with the man…but he'd never gotten over the distrustful feeling that had settled in his gut so long ago.
But then again, not a lot of people had stayed long enough for him to trust them. It was always death or betrayal, his own little soap opera and he was the only actor without a script.
Wolf's eyes searched his face and upon not finding what he was looking for, he grinned in a way that could only be described as wicked.
"What?" Alex questioned defensively.
Reed coughed, and Wolf's grin grew so that Alex was reminded of the Cheshire Cat. No one had the right to look that pleased….
"Wolf was injured out in the field a few weeks ago," Reed explained. "The injury keeps him from doing anything too serious. It's been suggested that we put let him be a guard dog, of sorts, just until he's healed thoroughly. There's no risk involved, MI6 think the subject will be hidden well enough so that Wolf won't even be needed. But the subject's gotten himself in trouble just by walking out the door. We're just using Wolf as a precaution."
Alex shifted, wondering why he needed to know this. "Okay, that's…great? I don't understand why I need to know this."
Wolf sat presumptuously in one of the chairs at Alex's bedside and leaned forward. "Let me explain in a way you can understand. Me Guard, You Subject," he finished that with a smile.
Reed sighed at Wolf's blunt manner and continued, "Ms. Starbright has been invited to join her parents in the Bahamas, quite a coincidence that they should win a trip at such a convenient time."
"Coincidence, yeah, right," Alex muttered, bringing a hand up to run it through his hair.
He sighed. "So, everything's already been planned?"
"Yes, we have transportation waiting for you. The doctor wants to check on you before letting us move you, and at the safe house."
It seemed that his future had been decided once again without any consent from him. Part of Alex wanted to fight, so what if another killer was after him, it wouldn't be anything new.
But…the rational part reminded him of Jack's safety, and that of his friends.
"Fine," Alex sighed. Reed laid his hand on Alex's shoulder momentarily, and looking up Alex saw the man's understanding face. The hand squeezed gently as to not hurt him, and Reed nodded.
"It should only be for a few weeks, Alex. You'll have communication available with certain people, and the house isn't shabby. Don't think of it as prison, and I can see that you do, but instead think of it as a retreat."
Alex didn't want a retreat. He wanted his friends, and the stupid problems that everyone else his age faced.
Nodding once, Alex stared down at his hands glumly. Reed smiled, but it seemed forced.
"I'll send the doctor in, then." He turned to Wolf, smile disappearing, "I expect nothing but the best from you, Wolf. This is a test just as much as it is a job. Do it right and you'll like the reward, do it wrong…."
Wolf clenched his jaw, and Alex watched in interest as he nodded firmly. "Yes, sir."
"Good," Reed continued to look at Wolf, a warning look on his face before turning to Alex and reaching out a hand.
Clasping it, Alex shook the older man's hand. "Good to meet you, Alex. I hope you'll continue to provide service to your country once your of age."
Alex had no response to that and watched silently as Reed left him alone with Wolf.
"I think Reed's explanation is better than yours," Alex smiled. Wolf seemed to think he'd still have some aspect of power over Alex in this situation, but according to what Reed had told Wolf, things weren't like that.
"Now let me explain in a way you'll understand. Treat me like an equal, and we'll be fine. Let your attitude go back to your Brecon Beacon days, and you'll be in deep shit."
Though his expression stayed the same, Alex could see the surprise in Wolf's eyes. They stared at each other for a moment, neither moving…then, Wolf nodded. And so, with that, their wobbly, but respectful friendship began.
Author's Note: I thought maturity came with age? The mature thing to do would be to hide this story in a very deep hole, bury it and finish the story I've been writing for, what, 4 or 5 years? I just couldn't wait though, *shame* Happy holidays all! I'm going to see the grandparents today, spend all night waiting for morning, fall asleep at 4AM and wake up when my Mum jumps on my bed at 6AM screaming, "There's presents to open! WAKE UP!" The lack of maturity thing runs in the family, ;)
Please review and tell me if I should continue writing-or start digging that hole!