Disclaimer: Umm... do I own Alex Rider? Do you really think I do? Nah. I'm most definitely not Anthony Horowitz, and as far as I know, all the rights belong to him. Yadda, yadda, yadda...
CHAPTER 1: New Life
Alex took his seat, tapping at his iPod to erase the last of the evidence. Thanks to a going away present from Smithers, his getaway was almost foolproof. Of course, if someone went and personally checked all the CCTV cameras in the airport from the last three months, they'd find the looped footage. By then, it would be too late though.
His plan hadn't been too hard to pull off. By far, borrowing the different credit cards and ATM card, from Mr. and Mrs. Pleasure had been the hardest. Mr. Pleasure had almost caught him once. Luckily, it was the card he used to purchase his flight on. Eventually the Pleasures would figure things out, and Mr. Pleasure would remember the missing card. They'd track him to the airport, but that was what Alex wanted. To lull them into thinking they had him, while he made his getaway elsewhere. Borrowing the ATM card had been a little more difficult. It had taken weeks of small withdrawals to have enough to survive on, after a few large purchases. He still didn't have enough... he'd have to find another source of cash eventually.
He felt bad, in a way, that he was leaving the Pleasures. They had been welcoming, friendly even, but it had all come across as trying too hard. They had treated him too much like a fragile egg, instead of just as a teenager. A regular everyday teenager. He didn't like the mollycoddling, and as far as he was concerned, the only way he'd be treated normally was to leave everything behind. Everything.
Sabina would probably never forgive him for leaving, if they ever caught up with him. She had tried the hardest over the past month, even dragging him around to see her friends once or twice. While Alex had appreciated the gesture, it didn't work for him. Over the past few weeks though, she had turned into less of a potential girlfriend, and into more of an older sister... like Jack.
Scowling slightly, he pushed his thoughts away from her, and onto the next stage of his plan. With all signs of his presence at the airport erased, except for those he purposely wanted them to find, there was no way they could follow him.
The New York airport had hundreds of flights leaving to hundreds of destinations all around the globe, each day. While MI6—for he was sure that Mr. Pleasure would inform them—could search long and hard, they would never find him, even if they discovered the looped footage.
He doubted that the Pleasures would notice him missing right away. No, they would think anything was wrong until he was well past his unofficial curfew. Sabina might, as she seemed to have caught onto his punctuality, but they wouldn't react fast enough. No one had suspected anything at breakfast that morning, so why would they notice anything in the evening?
One of the flight attendants seemed to take a particular interest in him, since he was flying alone. It annoyed him to no end, but he answered all her gentle inquires, pulling on the cover he had been working on for the last two weeks, that of a teen going to visit his grandparents. Completely normal.
Alex thought it was ironic that he tried to apply the phrase 'completely normal' to his life, especially after all he had been through. Completely normal, was not a fifteen year old leaving his adoptive family after only five weeks of living with them. Completely normal, was not a fifteen year old escaping right back to the country that had destroyed his life in the first place. Completely normal, was not a fifteen year old making plans to disappear completely, and live on his own. No, he was anything but normal.
The flight attendant didn't seem to notice the ice in his gaze whenever he looked around the cabin, but some of the other passengers did. Oddly enough, the ones to notice weren't his seatmates; instead, it was the toddler sitting with his family just a few rows ahead. Toddlers always seemed to notice things... Alex had to stop himself from purposely glaring at the toddler. The last thing he wanted was a screaming kid for the next seven hours.
He pretended to drift off a couple times, discretely checking his iPod to make sure that the cameras in New York were still playing looped footage. The successfully planted bug made it so he could keep track of the cameras, even when he was far, far, away. The footage was supposed to switch back around midnight, each section going back to normal at a predetermined time. The times when the airport was empty in that section. No one would notice.
As much as he wanted to actually go to sleep, he knew he couldn't. The moment he dropped off for real, the nightmares would be back. The nightmares had been haunting him for the past month... always the same, over and over again. Always Jack.
He didn't want to think about it.
Around midnight in California, the flight attendants started bringing out breakfast. At their destination, it was around nine in the morning. Alex was hungry, from being up all night, as well as not having had any supper... or lunch. He had kept his movement in the New York airport to a minimum, so it would be easier to erase his progress. The meal wasn't exactly gourmet, but it was food, nonetheless.
The plane touched down, and Alex couldn't help but stretch slightly. Aside from walking for a few moments in the midst of the flight, he had stayed in the same position for the last seven hours, and he was definitely stiff. His seatmate, an older woman who had slept most of the time, sent him a knowing smile, before stretching herself.
Even though they had landed, Alex thought it took forever for their plane to pull into the terminal. He pulled out his iPod, erasing any sign of his departure on the flight, and started to hack into the cameras in the airport. No one would know that he had entered the country.
Soon enough, he had the first ten cameras from the gate successfully looping. By that time, the front rows on the plane were starting to disembark. Half the cameras in the airport were looping by the time Alex's turn to get off came. He could get in and out of the airport without anyone ever tracking his presence.
Finally, the line of people moved, and Alex grabbed his backpack before stepping off the plane. He caught sight of the CCTV camera in the corner and smirked. He didn't wave, as tempting as it was. Instead, he stuffed his headphones in, like any teenager, and started walking. He was free for once, and no one would be able to track him.
The air was humid, with the threat of a storm to come later on. If everything went as planned, he'd be well on his way to his next destination by then.
He made his way through customs and immigration, a few nerve wracking moments as he waited for his passport to clear.
The customs official smiled at him, before waving him through. "Bienvenue à Paris, Alex Rider."
"Excusez-moi? Quand est le prochain train pour Londres?"
"A onze heures."
"Merci." Alex flashed a smile at the woman behind the counter, before turning away. The next train didn't leave for another hour, so he had some time to kill.
As crazy as it sounded, he was heading back to London before heading off into the rest of the world. There was a contact—one he had accidentally made while working for MI6—in London. The contact knew him under a different alias, and was rather handy for getting forged paperwork. Alex needed the forged paperwork before he could be truly free from his old life.
Stopping in a street side café, Alex picked up a sandwich to make it through the afternoon. In all honesty, he wasn't extremely hungry, and was more concerned about hoarding the money he had than anything else. For now, he had plenty of money, having slowly siphoned small amounts off Mr. Pleasure's account over the past few weeks. Once he was in London though, the majority of the money would go toward his alias. Paperwork wasn't exactly cheap. From there, he'd have to find a job and save some money before slipping off to another country. It would be suicidal to go to an unknown country with no money to his name.
While it was entirely possible that someone might see him in London, it was unlikely that they'd put two and two together. As long as his disguise worked as well as he planned, no one would be the wiser.
After munching through his sandwich, Alex headed back to the train station. It wasn't extremely busy, and he had no problem purchasing his ticket. The ticket agents friendly questions about what prompted him to come to Paris, since he still had the British passport, were answered by saying he was visiting his grandparents. Now he was going home.
Alex boarded the train, found a seat in the middle of a half empty carriage, and settled in. He stuffed the headphones to his iPod in again, before beginning to carefully erase all traces that he had ever been in Paris. Who said doing potentially illegal activity couldn't be done while listening to Chopin?
Thanks to a couple of the handy apps that Smithers had added, it was easier than it sounded. It was especially nice, since Alex knew that the iPod had no tracking device. Smithers had assured him, and even if he didn't really trust anyone at MI6, it was hard not to trust Smithers.
The airport in New York had been the most fun, since it involved a rather complex plan that bordered on stupidity. First, he boarded the plane that was flying to London, the flight that according to the tickets he had purchased on the credit card was the one he was taking. From there, he had switched out footage on the CCTV cameras, from months earlier. He changed planes, to the flight to Paris leaving an hour later. Then, he had placed the triggers that would switch the footage back to the original, hours later.
It was almost fun.
There wasn't as much to do in Paris. He had taken care of the cameras before he had even stepped off the flight, but customs and immigration was another thing completely. Carefully and systematically, he traced down where each and every bit of his information had gone. Thankfully, it hadn't left the country. He erased his name from the logbooks, and passenger lists. He also took care of the information he had given out at the train station. An invisible person.
By the time his train crossed into England, any trace that he had ever been in Paris in the past twelve hours was gone. Erased. The only thing linking him to the train was his current ticket, and the moment he stepped off, even that small bit of information would disappear.
He allowed himself a small smile, knowing that the worst was over. In a matter of days, no one would recognize him for who he was.
He couldn't hold back a yawn though. It was five in the morning in California, and he had been up all night. Sleep was still a long ways off. He still had to get through London and to his hotel.
Oddly, the train stopped at one of the stations longer than it was supposed to. Alex didn't think anything about it, until the armed soldier came into the carriage and started checking identities and passports. The soldier brushed aside the questions from the other passengers, and kept going methodically. He stopped next to Alex, once more asking for the ticket and passport. Alex handed it over, hoping that this random check wouldn't accidentally unearth his plans.
"What was your business in France?" The soldier asked.
Alex immediately relaxed. The soldier had asked the other passengers the same question. "Visiting my grandparents." He used the same lie he had been using all day. Consistency made it harder for someone to pick up the lie.
"Where are you headed? Is London your final destination?"
"Er... yeah." He wasn't really sure how to answer that.
"Not west side, I hope."
The soldier grunted, and handed the passport and ticket back. "Good. Keep your eyes open, kid."
Alex bit back a retort about not being a kid anymore, but caught himself just in time. He stuffed the passport and ticket back into his bag. Hopefully, he wouldn't have to use it again before he got his new identity.
The soldier kept moving through the carriage, but no matter how hard Alex listened, the soldier didn't give out any more hints as to why he was checking the train. Were they looking for someone specific? Or did something else happen?
The train eventually reached London, but it had stopped multiple times. Occasionally a soldier would just walk through the compartment, but after the one identity check, there weren't any more. When Alex got off at the station in London, he wasn't too surprised to see the military out in full force. Obviously, something had happened. What though...
Signs were posted that the part of the city around the airport was closed until further notice. No car or pedestrian traffic allowed, aside from military. Suspicious.
Stepping out of the station, Alex was shocked by the stillness. There hadn't been very many people in the station, but outside was completely deserted. He popped back inside to call a cab, not wanting to attract unwanted attention by walking through the deserted city. It would be that much easier for someone to spot him on a security camera.
Something told him though, that MI6 had more than enough on their plate. They wouldn't be worrying about a fifteen year old ex-spy on the loose. Something major had happened, and he was behind on the times.
The cabbie asked him where he was going, and Alex rattled off the address to a hotel. 100 Shoreditch High Street. It felt strange to Alex, to be slipping into a different alias while in his own home country, but he knew that if he wished to get a room for the night, he had to get used to it. Levi Jacobs, age twenty-one, from Manchester, unemployed. One of the few false identities Alex had, and it only went as deep as the government ID. There was nothing else to the name. No banking, no school history, no medical history, and most importantly, no criminal activity.
The cab pulled up in front of the nondescript hotel, and Alex stepped out, already acting differently from himself. Levi, the easygoing adult, cast his bag over his shoulder and walked up the front steps. The chime on the front door rang, and the woman at the reception desk glanced up. He flirted with her, while checking in, from some already made and paid for, hotel reservations.
It was almost easier than he expected. In almost no time, he was heading up the stairs to his room for the night. He was only staying one night, because he knew better than to stay somewhere longer before he changed his appearance. He needed the new ID, the new appearance, so he could start a new life.
Once Alex was in his room, he only stayed up long enough to erase the short glimpses the CCTV cameras at the train station had caught of him. Only seconds long blips were erased and rerecorded. More difficult since the train station was nowhere near as busy as it usually was, but not impossible.
Then, finally, after being awake for more than forty-eight hours, Alex fell asleep.
A/N: Well... there it is. I think I know where I'm going with this. Hopefully...
If any of the information is wrong about the cities he's been to and the airports, I have no experience with any of those places. *sigh* Any factual inconsistencies are due to my inexperience.
*Eight Hours, is a type of prologue to this fic, though you don't have to read to understand. It does have a spoiler for chapter two of Starting Anew, though, so be warned.