Hi! I'm back. If you read this story the first time round, and have followed it, you'll notice it's gone under some serious changes.
The reason for this? I wrote it months ago, and a lot has changed in my life, except my love for Fanfiction, of course, like being sent to various hospitals and rehabilitation programs (with no internet!) for eating disorders and a variety of other problems. When I stumbled across this story again, I simply cringed. So I combined the first two chapters, (sort of) and it went under a serious make over. I hope you like this version better, because I do. I'll try to update the best that I can. :)
To say that Wolf was having a bad day was a bit of an understatement.
It wasn't so much the waking up at the break of dawn on a mattress made out of concrete to Eagle's hurricane snoring, the gruelling exercise tasks in the horrid rain, the excruciatingly painful paper work, or having to talk to a small old man with a blank look in his eye who called himself a therapist because he has the uncanny ability to never run out of frustrating questions, and it wasn't having to deal with an unbelievably hyperactive, dysfunctional unit.
It was MI6, or rather, the Royal and General Bank, which was the epitome of his troubles lately. A week before, he had been sent a message all the way from Britain to Wales, whilst on training for the SAS, to urgently discuss his 'finances' on his arrival home.
He'd been pushing himself and his unit harder to take his mind off of it, because last time he'd met with MI6, he'd been sent to Iraq. His stomach tightened and curled into knots at the mere thought of it, and the ghost of his injured arm pulsed with his heartbeat.
Not that he would ever, ever admit to his unit he was scared for them. This was his job, dammit! This was what he chose as a career, and was passionate with his whole being that this was what he was going to be doing until he retired.
But it had taken K-Unit six months to get back to training, and now that was going to be ruined again, after a sure to be terrifying deployment.
He'd hated those six months of leave; it had ripped him and his three best friends, not just colleagues, apart. Even further when Fox decided to leave the SAS and pursue the life of secret intelligence.
He was immediately replaced by a tall, strongly built man codenamed Lynx. The soldier had made no effort at all to connect with K-Unit the way Fox had. To Wolf, a vivacious unit leader, it was simply insulting, and he had treated the new addition with a cool, professional indifference.
He missed his old team, the one that seemed like a family (though he would never admit that out loud either).
He hated that it was tomorrow they'd be flying back to London.
He didn't know what MI6 had to say to him, but he was damn sure he hated it already.
Yes, to say that Wolf was having a bad day was a bit of an understatement.
But back in London, one sixteen year old professional spy wasn't having a particularly great day either.
"We're deporting you Miss Starbright."
The announcement was greeted with a shocked silence.
Alex Rider felt his blood run cold and his heart beat in his ears. He found himself choking before he could speak again.
"Excuse me? After everything I've done for you under the pretense that this wouldn't happen? Was it something I've done? Because I can fix it-"
Tulip Jones held up a hand to stop the boy's near shouting. "Please, Alex, Mr. Blunt was being well, rather blunt. Perhaps he started off on the wrong note. We have reason to believe a powerful organization is targeting you, and anyone close to you. This is the safest option."
Alex sighed and massaged his aching forehead. Like this is anything new.
"..And Alex is coming with me, right?" Jack squeaked, her eyes wide and her face pale.
"I'm afraid not." Jones replied around a small peppermint. Alex was beginning to believe she had an embarrassing breath odour problem, and struggled to keep a straight face at the thought despite the serious situation.
"We need Alex in London. He will be sent to live with someone who is fully qualified to deal with any dangerous situation, and where we can easily keep an eye on him. Alex will not be allowed to attend school until we are completely sure the threat had died down."
"What? " Jack now had tears brimming in her eyes, and the housekeeper hated the way her voice cracked in front of the cold and seemingly emotionless heads of MI6. "He's got GSCE's this year, are you trying to get the school to expel him?"
"The other option is death, Miss Starbright, which would you prefer?"
Alex silently admired the way Jack looked Blunt straight in the eyes with the same expression she used to get him to do the dishes. He was long past arguing with the impassive man, knowing it would never get him anywhere. But that didn't mean he didn't have anything to say while the grown ups tended to his life decisions.
"Who is this organization anyway?" He asked, rather rudely.
"The less you know, the safer you are." Jones supplied, not looking him in the eye, but fidgeting with the paperwork on her desk.
"Great." Alex sighed, casting his eyes to the ceiling in an exasperated silent prayer to whatever higher power happened to be listening. He counted to ten in his mind before tuning back in to the conversation.
"-which is complete bullshit!" Jack was now on her feet, her red hair framing her face and matching her infuriated expression perfectly. "Sending me back home, forcing me to leave Alex in your hands-"
"-where he's safest!" Jones cut over the top of her as she felt Blunt becoming increasingly annoyed at the American's belligerence. She reached into a draw and brought out a thick envelope. "Here are your plane tickets and a small compensation. You will be leaving early Thursday morning. We're very proud of your cooperation Alex. We'll be in touch again soon."
The salutation would have been pleasant enough, had it been coming from anyone else. It left small shivers crawling down his spine, and recognizing the dismissal, he stood, grabbed the ranting housekeepers arm, and left the room with his head held high.
"How could they do this, Alex?" Jack cried for the hundredth time since they had arrived back at their home in Chelsea. "With only a day's notice, too! I can't leave you in their cold, slimy hands. They don't care about you like I do! I know you're not a machine."
Knowing she was about to start crying, again, Alex jumped up to make a pot of tea. "I'll be fine Jack! You know me." He turned around to give her a weak smile as he filled the kettle. There was no response as his guardian (well, for now) read through her plane flight itinerary. "It's a one way ticket Alex!" She wailed. "I'm not coming back!"
"Of course you are!" He leant his back against the kitchen counter, silently cursing the kettle for not boiling any faster. "They're just not sure how long this'll take to go away."
The 'small compensation' had turned out to be two thousand pounds and four thousand US dollars, in cash.
"You better go upstairs and start to pack Alex," sniffed Jack as he placed the tea in front of her. She gripped it, warming her hands through the tall mug.
"Why did Ian have to be a spy? Why couldn't he have been a plumber, or a drunk like a normal uncle?" He muttered to himself as he climbed the stairs tiredly. He heard Jack's small snort of mirth and smiled to himself.
Still, the thought of his late uncle brought back that familiar sadness settling onto his chest; the same one he often associated with his bouts of depression after missions. He suddenly found he couldn't even fathom summoning up the energy to pack, and instead slid into his bed and wished he could go to sleep, and wake up before any of this special intelligence drama came into his life.
He was fast asleep, long before Jack hovered worriedly in his bedroom doorway, still clutching a cup of tea, watching his curled up figure and the small movements of his breathing until she turned away to her own bedroom.
Thursday came far too quickly for the Rider household, and found Alex and Jack sitting awkwardly in the back of a sleek, official Mercedes Benz, with a driver who seemed overly honoured at the opportunity to be the famous Alex Rider's chauffeur for a day, of which was currently frowning at the scenery outside the vehicle, looking like any typical teenager.
"This isn't the way to Heathrow, is it?" He questioned suspiciously.
The driver shook his head and glanced back at his passengers, and Alex had to fight back an undignified giggle at his thick handlebar moustache. "No sir. I've specific instructions to drop you off at your guardians first." He spoke in a proper, pompous, but warm voice that made the teen want to simultaneously like, and hate the man.
Neither passenger had anything to say to this, but the young spy knew Jack was fighting the urge to smack the grinning driver upside the head.
The tension in the car could have been cut with a knife. Both Alex and Jack were sulking, and even the moustached chauffeur stopped whistling to the radio as he noticed the tense atmosphere.
It was a long drive. Alex had time to think about everything from his friends at school, to MI6, to who he could possibly be staying with before they finally pulled up at a set of modern looking apartments, so white they were almost blinding in the early afternoon sun. The driver enthusiastically hopped out of the car to retrieve his luggage before Jack and Alex had even undone their seatbelts.
"Now Alex, you have everything?" The American fussed, brushing imaginary dirt off of his shoulder and straightening the collar of his red flannel shirt.
"Yes, Jack." He grinned, trying to make light of the situation.
The driver pushed a small key into his hand and pulled his suitcase and bag out of the trunk of the glossy black car.
"I'll make sure to call every night! Oh, are you sure you're going to be okay? You don't know who this man is, maybe I should come in and-"
"Sorry miss, but we're going to have to hurry if you want to make your flight in time."
The red head gripped Alex in a tight hug that he returned fiercely.
"Jack? You've got to go." He murmured in her ear a few moments later, not wanting to break the embrace.
When they pulled apart her face was streaked with tears and grief. "I'll call later, okay! I love you!" she called as she was hurried back into the car.
Alex watched them go sullenly before wheeling his suitcase into the building. There was a counter, but no one to service him, so he looked at the number on the key tag. 12D. probably on the fourth floor, so Alex wheeled his things into the elevator.
If he thought the tension in the car was bad, it was nothing compared to having to share the elevator with a middle aged man arguing with a tall, grey haired woman who was most probably his wife.
"Every damn time!" She was screeching, smacking him with her heavy leather handbag to emphasize every word. "Every time you go into that damn casino with those damned delinquent friends of yours, you come out drunk and broke, I've just about had enough!"
He all but ran out of the lift as soon as the doors opened at the fourth floor.
Wandering down the plain hall, he found room 12D to be around a small corner on the right ride.
Swallowing down his uncertainties, he gathered the courage to knock on the door. Three times.
He waited a small while before raising his fist to knock again, but stopped as he heard the scraping of a lock being slid undone, and then another.
A short, but heavily built Hispanic man opened the door with an expression that would probably send any other visitor running in the other direction.
"Double oh nothin', eh?" He didn't seem surprised at all, but Alex could swear he felt his heart skip a beat in his chest.
Was this some sort of sick joke? The man was probably the last person on Earth the teen would expect to be looking after him. He didn't even seem to want to let Alex into the apartment, but shuffled aside after a few awkward moments.
As soon as the door slammed shut, the room was as cold as the tension; Alex had experienced a lot of uneasiness that day.
The flat wasn't that big, definitely not as big as his house back in Chelsea, but it wasn't exactly small either. The living room and kitchen were one big room, the walls white and impersonal, with no photos or decorations, save a dying pot plant on a small table next to the grey couch. The carpet below his feet was an off-cream sort of colour, and didn't look particularly well cleaned.
"Well um," the soldier cleaned his throat in a nervous gesture, "this is the living room, and that's obviously the kitchen. Do you eat or whatever?" The young spy raised an eyebrow at this, "I can't cook, so, fend for yourself, whatever. I'm not your mum, wherever the hell she is."
He lead the teen down the hallway. "First door on the right's the laundry, on the left it's where you'll find towels and sheets and shit. Second door here is the bathroom, third is my room. You don't ever go in there, do you hear me? I don't trust you spy types. There's the toilet, and here at the end is where you'll be staying. Do whatever, I honestly don't care. I've been told I've got to protect you, but I don't know what from."
He leaned on the door frame as Alex placed his suitcase and bag on the single bed. The room was as plain as the rest of the apartment, with minimal furniture, just a bed, a small table, and a set of drawers. There was a fairly large window looking over London, and Alex immediately closed the heavy blue curtains, feeling a little vulnerable with them open. The room darkened considerably.
"Well what?" Alex spun around the face the man and found him staring with a bored, expectant look on his face.
"Why are you here?"
"I don't know any more than you do. I haven't been told anything."
Wolf gave an uncommitted grunt, obviously unsatisfied with his answer.
"Well then where's your rich daddy? Too busy to look after you?"
"Yeah, something like that. There's a diner around the corner, yeah?"
Wolf nodded as the teen slid past him, heading toward the door, not caring or bothering to ask any more questions as he left the apartment without another word.
The diner he had asked about was literally a two minute walk from the apartment block. Wolf lived on a particularly busy street, and all kinds of people pushed their way past him. Business men, dressed in important looking suits on their way to work, girls in slutty clothing wearing far too much make up, and mums with small children.
But Alex was willing to bet no one of them were teenage spies living with an SAS soldier who hated his guts.
He entered the café, which was a small place, painted bright orange with electric blue furniture, and art hanging everywhere.
The girl at the counter was cute with bright blue flirtatious eyes and long blonde hair, and he ordered his coffee with a cheeky smile, which was eagerly returned.
He sat down in a dark corner out of habit, so he could observe the people around him. Mostly elderly couples, since it was a school day.
It wasn't long before his coffee and a sandwich was sat in front of him by the attractive counter girl.
"On the house." She winked. "I'm on break in half an hour, if you wanna hang round." Then she walked off without another word.
Alex did indeed hang around; it's not as if he had anything waiting for him back at Wolf's flat.
It turned out the girls name was Jessie, and she was having a huge house party on Saturday, and after being engaged in an incredibly flirty, long winded conversation, she wanted him to come.
"You can bring some friends if you want, just as long as they aren't dickheads." Then she wrote her number on his hand and went back to work.
He walked back to Wolf's with a smile on his face, that was quickly wiped away after reminding himself where he was going.
He slipped through the door of apartment 12D silently, and either Wolf didn't hear him or didn't want to acknowledge him from in front of the TV where he was watching a rerun of some terrible soap opera.
The two didn't talk for the rest of the day, and that suited Alex just fine.