And so it ends. I really liked the epic plot line I had for this, even though I feared for my life. I may have had too much fun writing this, but… And for the last time, I don't own Castle or Alex Rider.
Alex tapped the eraser of his pencil on his desk. He was back in school, boring more than a few new scars. Luckily, the two on his cheek were hard to see unless looked at from the right angle in the right light, and the one near his eyebrow blended in. The regular bout of snide looks and insults had welcomed him back to school, and he simply smirked and moved on.
They had forgotten something key before returning to England. The hospital had not yet released Alex from their care (although he had jumped ship). They were not amused when his return was pointed out to them. They made him sit and stay, especially after learning that he had been active, although they were not told how. There had been some excessive damage done from moving around, which Snake was less than pleased to learn, and they made him stay for a month before even letting him fly back. Although they had definitely kept him longer than necessary, at least by the time he was released he barely needed to spend any more time waiting to heal. In the mean time, he hadn't been slacking off. In their free time, Beckett's team would come in and help him catch up on his schoolwork. The books and papers had been helpfully brought in by K-Unit when they had a spare moment. When their active duty time finished and they got a break, they returned to New York to help out, much to Alex's embarrassment. That was outwardly ignored by the adults, and inwardly reveled on.
When he returned to the school, he was able to drop off a good chunk of the work with relief, and, after the tutoring, felt that it could've been a lot worse. He had missed almost an entire year of school, which was no picnic making up, but it was looking like he was better off than the last few times he'd come back. Upon his return, K-Unit was able to bear down on him a lot more and assist him.
Dealing with Tom had been… amusing, to say the least. Explaining to him he was not dead had been a bit awkward, and the truth had been more than a little twisted to protect him. Even though he might say otherwise, he didn't want to know what his friend had been through. His meeting with K-Unit had been a little strange, and he and Eagle got along all too well to the worry of everyone else.
After his school work had been caught up on to a reasonable amount, he also started exercising. A month under Snake's laser eye had not allowed much of that, and now he had to make up for it. This little bit of information he had kept from the unit, knowing they would find delight in murdering him painfully on exhausting marches and drills. It'd be a while before he started working out with them, and even then he was a bit worried about death.
His main problem had not been any of the above, and he found himself struggling with it every time he went to school. Like Ben had, he was diagnosed by several sources with PTSD. He was increasingly jumpy, and sitting in a classroom was anything but fun. The surrounding students were lucky that he knew bringing a weapon, even for his own defense against any attackers, would not end well. Several times a door had slammed a little too loudly, someone had stepped too close, or something in particular startled him, and he had started to respond violently. Each time he was able to stop before any harm was done. Tom, who watched him closely, seemed to be the only one who noticed these spontaneous movements.
Going back to school was the smart thing to do, obviously. That didn't mean it was the easiest.
The bell rang, and Tom came up from a seat behind him. Wisely, he didn't make any physical contact like a pat on the shoulder to announce his presence. "Paid attention today?" he lightly teased.
Alex shrugged. "Surprisingly, I think I got some of that. Don't tell them I said this, but the K-Unit's helping out more than they realize."
Tom sighed. "And so did your other friends, I'll bet. Darn, I wish I could've met them. How was the writer? I mean, that must've been interesting, right?"
"Well, I wouldn't really know, since he mostly just kept his eyes on his lady-friend," Alex said with some amusement. "I wonder when they'll finally get it together, but I doubt they'll call over and announce the news."
"They don't have to," Tom pointed out. Alex looked at him, and he grinned. "Dude, its Richard Castle. You'll find out on the six o'clock news."
Alex laughed. "Yeah, I guess so."
"You really think they're going to get married?" he asked eagerly.
"If they don't' I'll be more surprised," Alex admitted. "They were pretty close. Maybe I'll go down and visit them on a break if I've got the time…" he thoughtfully added as they arrived at his locker. He split off from the main stream.
Tom called as he went a different way, "If you do, take me with you!" He continued with the flow, and disappeared into the crowd.
Beckett sat down at her desk. "I guess there goes the rest of that incident," she said with a sigh. "After a month of that fake investigation, and we discover that it was a group of teenage hooligans who set the bomb up, which turned out to be a dud. The only question remaining is if MI6 or the FBI wrote that script."
"Combo," Ryan suggested, looking at his overflowing desk with dismay. "We're not going to get another case soon, are we?" he moaned.
"The captain's not letting us out until we get this cleared up," Esposito agreed.
Beckett rolled her eyes. "Be careful what you wish for. Look where a new case got us last time."
"Yeah, but there can't be that many spies running around New York City, can there?" Esposito pointed out. "Besides, if anything does happen, we can just 'politely' ask MI6. Or maybe we'll get lucky and K-Unit'll come down again."
"That's one group that's gotten the worst luck of the draw," Castle said, for once serious. "I mean," he continued as they all looked at him, "their teammate returns, and none of them can figure out what's going on. Once they finally figure it out… well, you know what they learned. Not like they can do anything about that to help him. Then they get a call to come down to New York, and find out… his partner's not dead, and oh yeah, he just got stabbed right in front of them. And then once they finally get all that sorted out, get shipped off momentarily to Africa, and deal with all these issues, Fox gets shot."
Beckett nodded. "With any luck, they won't have a problem like this again. Just how many dark secrets can one team have?"
"You know what would be fun?" Ryan said, breaking up the solemn mood. "If we get a break, we could all go up to England to visit. Y'know, see if any more 'dark secrets' have come out and the unit's running around for their lives, and check on the kid's studies."
"That'd be fun," Esposito agreed.
"Might be dangerous," Castle sarcastically mock-whispered. "You know those spies. Always getting into trouble wherever they go."
Beckett rolled her eyes. "Castle, you just met two spies. They don't find trouble everywhere."
Castle raised an eyebrow. "Looked like it to me."
"Well, if we went, we could take a gift or something," Esposito said, getting into the idea. The paperwork was being surreptitiously ignored once again as all of them faced each other. Castle fingered a piece, and Beckett whacked his hand, suggesting him not to feed the animals, or give the paperwork cause to be hopeful.
"Like what?" Ryan asked.
Castle bounced in his chair. "I know! I could write a series!"
Beckett looked at him. "What?"
"I could write a book series about a teenage spy! But then in the end I'd have this completely unrealistic ending, I guess…" He looked up thoughtfully. "Yes… I could do that… And I'd make the whole series like it was fiction, and then specifically mention people by name just to piss them off. But to make it seem like I knew what I was talking about, I'd go by a pen name… Something like Anthony Horowitz or whatever."
Beckett laughed. "Aren't you slacking off enough on your current books as is?"
"Well, Patterson* brings out a bunch a year, so I guess I can too," he replied. "I'd have to go through a different publisher, too, or they'd just publish it under my name."
Beckett rolled her eyes again. "Might want to at least ask first before you start writing," she pointed out.
"I'm sure they won't mind. Who wants coffee?"
"Me!" Esposito and Ryan simultaneously said.
Beckett gave him a look, and Castle disappeared to do her bidding. Everyone knew Montgomery wasn't really the person in charge around the precinct.
"Wow," Eagle stated. "Whoever would've thought we, K-Unit of the FFSAS, would ever have ended up tutoring a teenager who kicked Wolf out an airplane. I mean, really."
Snake turned to Wolf. "Is that the seventh or eighth time he's said that? I'm losing track between all his words."
"Might be the ninth."
Eagle shrugged, happily paying them no heed. "Oh! Guess what I heard?" Without waiting for any of them to say anything, he barreled on. "Alex got an A on his last math test! Guess we've been doing something good, huh?"
The bell rang, and within seconds students were pouring out of it. "Hm. Or Beckett's team did," Wolf replied, shooting a warning glare at a teenage couple that came to close. Snake nudged him for that. "And just how did you hear that without him telling us?"
"Because I got bored last night and hacked into the school's online report cards," Eagle said bluntly.
"I'm sure they deeply appreciated that," Wolf replied. "Now, when the hell does school get out? The hell with what the rest of you say, the kid's going on a thirty mile run from whenever he gets out until he finishes, whether it's one in the morning or ten minutes after school starts tomorrow."
"What about any homework he has?" Snake asked offhandedly.
"Eagle can do it."
"Won't they notice the handwriting difference?"
"I'm sure he can forge it."
Eagle looked on, wisely deciding not to comment. Finally he broke in and said, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we could head down to New York and drop in on them? Y'know, just to see how they're doing and stuff? It could be fun."
"So long as it's nothing like last time," Wolf agreed. "Now, I've got the ten pound backpack at the ready, but no kid. Anyone see him?"
Fox waved at someone in the crowd. "There he is." Then he shook his head at Alex, violently waving his hands. Then he pointed at Wolf and the backpack he was holding, while the unit leader glared at him. Alex caught on, and started towards another direction.
"Shit, Fox, now I have to go hunt him down," Wolf growled, stomping off into the crowd while Fox laughed.
Snake shrugged. "Alright, he's on his own. I got the car keys. Who wants to go back?"
"Let's loop around and pick up Cub," Eagle suggested. "And then we'll conveniently forget that Wolf's out here too."
"I had nothing to do with this plan," Fox immediately denied.
"Yeah, and I'm just the driver," Snake muttered under his breath, sliding into the driver's seat. Eagle hopped in next to him, while Fox got the back.
He didn't remember much of his time in the hospital, but that was probably because he slept through a great deal of it. The first time he woke up, Alex immediately made him go back to sleep. The second time the doctor spoke to him and reprimanded Alex, who had apparently torn his stitches and caused some more damage after running around. He was hospitalized again, and Ben simply got up and moved rooms when they assigned Alex elsewhere. Albeit, to do so he had to borrow a wheelchair and was regretting the move for the next two days. However, for the next four weeks, whenever he woke up his partner was watching out for him. Any minor suggestions of mother henning were shot down with a glare, even though Alex had always so defiantly protested whenever Ben had done the exact same thing.
His unit had, of course, never been far away either. The first time they stopped in it was to give a lecture to Fox about ducking not shielding when he saw a sniper, which he grudgingly listened to. From then on, he always had at least two people in the room; someone from K-Unit and Alex. On a brief occasion when the latter departed to take a leak, he had been briefed on what had really happened with the sniper. The worst of all ways to wrap things up in New York had happened. Without a word of debate, Ben agreed to keeping things quiet about the truth.
When he was finally staying up for a decent length of time, he started assisting in Alex's schooling. As he knew well from experience, he was a fast learner, and soaked in the information at a breakneck rate. Castle was the one to finally discover the reason behind this. Alex had a special ability to absorb information through… osmosis.
The time came when the hospital let them out, and a farewell went out to Beckett's homicide team. The plane was next, and soon they were flying over the Atlantic back to their home country. Upon landing, they had to finish things up back home. Alex was debriefed, and K-Unit had no end to the paperwork they had to fill out because of their prolonged absence, involvement in the murder case, the extraction of the Scorpia prisoners, and the general stuff.
Once that was done, however, they sprung a surprise visit on Alex, dropping into the house. Alex had been in the middle of explaining how not dead he was when, from behind Tom, Eagle had climbed in through the window. Halfway through his explanation, Alex had slammed his head down on the table in exasperation, much to Tom's confusion. That is, until the rest of K-Unit came in through various means of entry. By then things about the new bruise on Alex's head were pretty self-explanatory.
Of course, they finished their talk from Central Park between all that. Instead, this time Alex went after Ben with a vengeance instead of the other way around. There was quite a bit in there about idiocy and pigheadedness and brash actions. Ben wisely didn't point out that Alex could be perfectly described by just about every adjective that the teen listed off.
He stayed in the FFSAS, not having any reason to do anything else. He had to do the same thing as Alex, and work back up to the level of fitness he had been at before. At least he hadn't had as much trouble as the younger ex-spy. Because of the FFSAS he wasn't able to check on Alex as much as he would've liked to be able to, but whenever he got a break he made sure to drive over and say hi. This usually meant he would get into the car, start driving, get a phone call, make a thirty minute drive back to where he started from, pick up the rest of K-Unit, and then start driving Alex's way again. The process tended to end in finding out that Alex was perfectly fine ("What the heck are you guys doing here? It's two in the morning and I still have homework to finish. Go away.").
"Alright, pull over," Ben sighed. "Wolf got a hold of Alex. Kid's a gonner. But we might as well pick them up before Wolf puts us into the same category."
Eagle and Snake shared a look up front. "Sure," Snake said, pulling over to the curb.
Fox started to get out, then paused. "You're not going to leave me the moment I step out, are you?" he asked suspiciously.
"No," Eagle said, responding a little too quickly.
Ben kept one foot planted in the car, and called out to the other two outside, "If you two want a ride back, you better move your butts now!" he shouted out, attracting quite a bit of unwanted attention from nearby students in between where he stood and where Wolf was handing a glum Alex a thirty pound backpack. Tom stood nearby, biting his cheek to stop from snickering. He wisely realized that if he laughed aloud Wolf would send him along with his friend.
Wolf looked over. "What?"
"I said," Fox started, involuntarily taking his foot out of the car. He broke off with a curse as Eagle reached behind and slammed the door, while Snake drove off. "Hell, never mind."
"Are they coming back?" Wolf asked as he walked up to them. Ben gave him a look. "Damn. Guess we'll be finding our own way back." He turned to Cub. "What are you still doing here?"
Alex turned to Tom. "And you wonder why I don't like it when they stop by."
"Yeah, yeah. Start running and maybe you'll make it back in time for food."
Alex shot a glare at Wolf, but started off down the sidewalk. Tom waved at the two FFSAS men, and then headed off his own way so he could get home. With a sigh, Ben headed towards the school building. Wolf, a bit confused, headed after him. Ben surveyed the bike racks for a moment, walked over to one of the remaining bikes, and ran the combination on the lock. It popped open, and he pocketed the bike and started walking it home.
To Wolf, he said, "He's got to get to school somehow tomorrow."
"He could run," the unit leader unhelpfully said. Ben pretended not to hear him.
After ten minutes of walking in a companionable silence, Ben asked a question that had been bothering him for some time. "Hey, Wolf…" he said. "Why do you always refer to Alex as 'kid' or 'the kid'?"
Wolf didn't respond immediately, but then said, "Because I had to find one way to still connect him to his actual age, even if he doesn't act it."
Ben smiled. "We all have to, or I think we'll forget that. I think… he has to find his own way too."
Wolf snorted. "Hasn't he always found his own way to do something?"
*James Patterson has a bunch of series going at once. Now, something interesting: You know Castle's poke playing buddies? Those are the real people. James Patterson plays himself in there, and so do several other people. For another interesting fact, you know the Nikki Heat books? Well, they actually wrote and published those. And on the back, where they have the author's bio… It's a bio for Richard Castle, complete with Nathan Fillion (the actor)'s picture. Dude, is that not cool?
Oh yeah, Fox isn't dead. :P Forgot to mention that in the beginning…
I know that it seems like I'm going to do a sequel, but that was only a suggestion for what would happen in the future. NO SEQUEL. However, if enough people ask, there is a possibility I might do a prequel since there's a lot I could do with that. If that happened, there would be no Castle in it and it would be put in the AR category.