Disclaimer: Alex Rider belongs to Mr. Horowitz…I own nothing, etc. etc.
Before we begin, a big thank you for all the reviews and favourites! It really makes me happy that people enjoy.
Let's Go to Cub's House
The watery sludge that covered the sidewalk flew up as he carelessly splashed through, further encrusting the hem of his worn jeans. Tom grumbled to himself a bit as he trod in the direction of his house; about his parents, the weather, and the general gloominess. It was almost Christmas time – where was the festive cheer, the bright lights and decorations? Such a boring neighbourhood. He could hardly wait to move out.
Needless to say, Tom was in serious need of some good cheer. Normally, a trip to his best friend's house would do the trick, but Alex wasn't home. Tom knew exactly why, of course. It just made him kick at the ground harder, sending up a wave of gray slush. He began devising a plan to break into a certain bank to wreak havoc. He'd give them a piece of his mind, and give him something to do; how dare they leave him without a buddy for the holidays? Even James Hale had gone vacationing.
Once in a while, Jerry, Tom's older brother, would decide to take pity on him and whisk him away for a few days, but this was not one of those times. A week earlier, Tom had received a very apologetic call and he'd resigned himself to a dull holiday. He couldn't find it in him to begrudge Jerry, either. Indeed, he wouldn't wish being in his parents' presence on anyone, hence why he'd taken to wandering around aimlessly.
He turned the corner and expected to see yet another empty street, so he was mildly surprised when it wasn't devoid of human beings. Two men were trudging along, holding shopping bags and shoving each other playfully. As Tom drew closer, he could hear snippets of their argument.
Tom shoved his hands into his pockets and continued down the path, his pace slightly faster than the two men's. He stifled a snigger when one of the men lost his balance, falling sideways onto the wet ground. The dark-haired man yelled at his friend, his words loud and clear in the relative silence.
"Eagle, you bloody idiot!" Eagle, what kind of name was –?
Tom's eyes widened. Whoa. It was just a coincidence right? There was no way! But the next thing he heard made his suspicions worth checking out.
"You're such a wimp, Fox."
Eagle and Fox? That was two out of the four names Alex had mentioned to him. He jogged to close the distance.
"Excuse me, sirs." He decided to play it safe…or not. "Do misters Wolf and Snake live close by as well?"
He'd barely registered the sudden vice-like grip on his upper arm when Tom realized it might not have been such a great idea. Walk up to a couple of highly trained, probably dangerous soldiers and giving them a shock was obviously the best approach. Round of applause for Tom Harris.
The two looked a lot more intimidating up close. The loose jackets didn't allow an accurate assessment of physical build, but the strength of the hand around his arm was enough of an indication. Tom could almost hear Alex's voice in his head, telling him what a stupid thing it was that he just did.
"Who told you that, kid? Do we know you?" asked the one bruising his arm. He was dark blond, presumably "Eagle".
Well, judging by their reactions, Tom had not been mistaken. If he was, he'd be in quite a bit of trouble – in fact, he still might be. Still, if he remembered correctly, this "Fox" should have met Alex before.
Deciding he was in the mood for a bit more reckless, he asked, "Are you guys the infamous K-unit I've heard so much about?"
"Who told you about that? How much do you know?" Fox demanded. Tom gulped nervously.
"Geez, it's not like I'm a terrorist who wants to kill you all and take over the world," Tom mumbled. But the grip on his arm tightened, so he elaborated. "I'm Cub's friend."
There was a pause in which the men looked at one another, then back at him.
"I'm not lying, I swear! He told me 'bout you guys, and how he…er, worked with "Fox" once. Something about a waterfall…" Tom found himself jabbering a bit. Fox had one scary glare, although the man seemed to relax slightly at this new information.
"Alright kiddo, what's your name? Making sure you've got your facts straight." Eagle didn't object to Fox's acceptance of Tom's words. He'd probably learned to have some faith in the MI6 agent.
"'m Tom Harris." Tom grinned slightly. "So, do you guys live around here?"
"In the area; this guy lives with me," Fox gestured vaguely. "How did you know we were Fox and Eagle, by the way?"
Tom smirked. "You guys weren't exactly being very secretive."
Eagle let out a snort and Fox looked a bit embarrassed.
"I like this kid!" Eagle announced jovially, clapping Tom on the shoulder. "And aren't you supposed to be a secret agent, dear Foxy-boy?"
Fox mock-scowled at his friend, and the pair-turned-trio resumed walking.
"So, you say you're Cub's pal. How's he doing? We haven't seen him in…two years, I believe." Eagle asked.
"We're going to pass his house. Maybe I'll drop by to see Jack…"
"He's not…away, is he?" Tom turned to look at Fox, whose expression had turned somber.
Tom hated that he had to respond positive. "Yeah. This is his street." They'd turned a corner.
"Huh, who knew we lived so close by? Hey, look, it's a black car," Eagle murmured. Sure enough, there was a nondescript car pulling up in a driveway, painted a glossy black.
Fox rolled his eyes. "Yes, Eagle. A black car. Isn't it fascinating?"
"Aw, Fox, I thought you'd understand," cried Eagle, dramatically. "Every time I see a black car, nowadays, I'm reminded of you, my very best friend. It's terrible that you had to endure the pain of such boring vehicles –"
Before Fox could retaliate, however, Tom broke out in a jog.
"That's Alex's house," was all that was offered by way of explanation. The men once again exchanged glances – we haven't got anything better to do – and followed after Harris.
The car door opened and a man…no, boy had gotten out. He looked fairly average, albeit with quite an attractive face, but upon closer inspection, there were dark shadows under his eyes, a yellowing bruise around his neck, and the edge of a bandage poked out from his sleeve.
Fox and Eagle watched as Harris ran up to him and gave him a careful one-armed hug. The boy, who was obviously Cub, grinned at his friend, though anyone could see how fatigued he was.
"Coming in?" he asked. He didn't seem to have noticed the two men.
The door was flung open right then, and a red-headed figure streaked out and engulfed Cub in her embrace. Then, the woman seemed to remember herself and jumped away, apologizing.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Alex! Are you okay? Are you hurt? You're hurt aren't you? You always are! You better tell me exactly where! Don't you dare lie to me like last time, young man, or I'll kill you myself!" She continued ranting in her American accent, while ushering Cub towards the door. The young spy was chuckling.
"I'm fine, Jack."
Tom followed after the odd pair, evidently used to these occurrences. Fox and Eagle were watching this, glad for Cub that he had someone to look after him, and feeling awkward just standing there, out of place.
"Uh…" Eagle began. "Should we go now?" But then Harris turned to them and waved them forward.
"Hey, Al! You've got visitors!"
"What? This isn't even the damn hospital."
"I'm not whining."
"Shut up and say hi to your friends."
"Hey, what's up?" Cub had reappeared in the doorway. Brown eyes regarded them, apparently unfazed by these two men standing on his steps.
Though perplexed by this abrupt greeting, Eagle was a tough opponent to match in the field of abnormality.
"Hey, Cub, we brought presents! Want a chocolate egg?"
It was a mark of Cub's prowess as a special agent that he didn't show a hint of surprise, but Fox caught the moment when recognition finally dawned on the teen.
"Hey, Ben, Bradley. What the hell are you guys doing here?"
"That's not nice, Cub. Hey, wait, I don't remember ever telling you my name!"
Cub raised an eyebrow. "Hacked the database once. I was bored."
"W-what the fuck? Which database are we talking about here?" Eagle sputtered. Fox was having a similar reaction
A feminine voice – Jack's – floated out to them. "You'd better watch the language if you want to come in, boys."
"Ah, I apologize for my friend's idiocy, ma'am." Ben smiled at the woman who had joined her ward at the door. She was rather pretty. They ignored Eagle's – Brad's – indignant protests.
"Well, come in then. No sense in standing outside. Wipe your feet on the mat." The boys had already gone inside.
The mouth-watering scent of freshly-baked cookies hit them the moment they stepped in. Ben had to restrain Brad from pelting to the kitchen.
Jack, an amused expression on her face, stuck out a hand. "Jack Starbright. Call me Jack. I'll be the one smashing your head in with a frying pan if you ever hurt Alex, or treat him like you did in that horrible training thing." She smiled sweetly.
Chuckling nervously, the two men introduced themselves in turn.
"Pleased to meet you, Jack. I'm Ben Daniels. I worked with Alex once."
"Bradley Matthews at your service, madam." Eagle bowed to her with a flourish.
Jack lead them to the sitting room, where Cub and Harris were talking quietly, lounging on the sofa. They shut up at the appearance of the adults, but the new arrivals had caught a few words.
"…maniacs with knives…"
Ben gritted his teeth, thinking back to the state he'd found Cub in, last time they'd bet. He felt the first stirrings of anger as he thought of those situations being continuously forced on a kid.
"Alex," Jack said loudly, punctuating the moment. "You should be resting!"
"Let me finish the cookies at least." There was a laden plate settled between the boys. Tom grinned at the longing expression on Eagle's face.
Jack caught it, too. "There're more in the kitchen." She herded them in and sat them down at the polished table. She closed the door.
"Um…this is a nice house…" Eagle commented feebly, after a stretch of silence. The cookies were yet to be touched.
Jack twirled a strand of wavy hair between two fingers, staring intently at the two men. They shifted under her piercing gaze and breathed an internal sigh of relief when she spoke at last.
"It's the holidays." They nodded uncertainly. Huh?
"Would you consider yourselves Alex's friends?" This caught them off guard.
Brad struggled to reply. "Well, we haven't spent much time with him, but he seems like a decent kid, and we'd be glad to – "
"Okay." She cut off his ramblings. "How do you usually spend your Christmas?"
Ben suddenly knew exactly where this was going.
"We'd be glad to come over to for Christmas, if you'll have us, Ms. Starbright.
The thousand-watt smile that broke across her face gave Ben a strange warm and fuzzy feeling inside. He was taken-aback, flushing, when she threw her arms around him unexpectedly. Eagle shot him a discrete thumbs-up.
"Sorry about that," she said, a bit embarrassed when she pulled away. "It's just, I'd be so thankful if you did. Alex seems to trust you enough and I really want him to have a nice Christmas this year. We haven't since…" She trailed off awkwardly.
Eagle nodded. "We'd be glad to help, Ms. Star –"
"Yeah, I understand how you feel," Ben offered. "It's part of why I transferred back to SAS. It's unjust the way they're using Alex."
"Oh yes, Alex mentioned that you'd done that to me when he was hacking MI6…" she replied absently. Fox and Eagle once again refrained from asking exactly how Cub managed to do that. They were probably better-off not knowing.
The rest of the "visit" was spent eating the amazingly delicious cookies and Jack told them more about what Alex did, though she herself did not know all the details because Alex wouldn't say.
There was a moment of panic when they heard a shout from the living room.
"That's blood you're bleeding!"
They burst in on the scene to catch Cub's reply.
"Brilliant, Tom. And here I was thinking it was coloured corn syrup." To Ben, who had made to inspect the injury, he said, "Touch me and I'll poke you with Tom's magic wand."
"Um. His what?"
Cub stuck his uninjured arm under the couch, rummaged around, and pulled out a stick.
"Oh, so that's where it was!" Harris exclaimed. He happily grabbed the stick out of Cub's hand. "I've missed you, Kathy!"
"Don't ask," Jack advised, straight-faced. She turned to Cub and started yelling at him to let her take care of his wound.
Eventually, Ben and Brad (mostly Ben) decided to leave before going temporarily insane. But not before a quick word to Jack.
"We'll tell the others of the plan and threaten Wolf to agree, we promise."
"We'll bring Alex that giant chocolate bunny!"
"That was from last Easter, Eagle."
Jack smiled at them. "That would mean a lot, I'm very grateful. I hope to see you again!"
They left with a last goodbye.
"WHAT? YOU'RE ONLY SIXTEEN? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU BULLSHITTING?"
"Shut up, Wolf."
"Don't tell me to shut up, brat! Ah, FUCK! What was that for, you bast –! "
"That was nothing compared to what Jack would do to you if she heard you swearing like that."
"The kid's right, Wolf. I'm not going to be the one bandaging your head after."
"You shut up, too, Snake."
"Oh, I think Ben and dear Bradley have arrived."
"Tom, go answer the door."
"Snake can do it."
"Cub, you're nearest."
"Don't call me that. Wolf can do it. He needs to burn some calories."
"WATCH IT, KID!"
And thus began a tradition.
A/N: I had fun writing this. That being said, this is purely a for-fun-fic (just like everything else, but this one more so). I probably have a lot of wtf stuff going on, but really I don't care.
So, anyways, here's your holiday fic from me to you! Hope you liked! Why don't you leave a little review letting me know what you think?
I love tiramisu.