Title: In this Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Characters: Alex, Ben (with K-Unit and MI6), Yassen (Scorpia)
Summary: Sometimes you need to run to where you have to go. It’s not running away when you run toward what you need to do.
Warning(s): AU, Language
Word Count: ~1,500
Author’s Notes: (will be added after The Naming of Secret Agents)
Disclaimer: All Alex Rider characters herein are the property of Anthony Horowitz and the Penguin Group. No copyright infringement is intended.
In this Boulevard of Broken Dreams
The parking lot is a huge concrete structure, the 4th floor littered with cars here and there. Some of them provide enough cover for Alex; some are just gaping spaces waiting to get a bullet fired through them. He’s leaning on a pillar, a huge M16 in red, crusting paint wrapped around it, and really, how ironic could that get? His back is to the column and to his right, spanning all the way in front of him, is a view of the river, a city just beyond it.
Currently, it’s obscured by sleek black vans and cars in one row, but just four men in the front lines. On his other side, hidden partly in the shadows is Yassen.
Alex just breathes in and out, the chaos around him discombobulating his senses. Everything was just so... wrong, and his head was hurting like a bitch. He just needed a few seconds of silence to think straight, was it too much to ask? Well, in his current situation, it certainly is.
“Alex Rider,” the megaphone from outside the building rang like it was right beside his ear. “Stand down. I repeat, stand down.”
Really, no one could blame him for the next thing that comes out of his mouth. “I HEARD YOU THE FIRST FIFTY TIMES, CRAWLEY.”
Alex just stood there in the middle, trying to compose himself. He was just so tired. He could rest for a little while as Eagle and Wolf spoke to their communication devices hooked up to the MI6 heads and Yassen whispering to the shadows behind him.
He knew the situation, and he wondered for a while what John Rider was thinking, seeing his son like this, stuck just like in Albert Bridge, but there’s no double cross this time. This was the real thing.
Scorpia and MI-6 have reached some sort of agreement between themselves concerning Alex. Both parties would give Alex a chance to choose for himself where he would go, but the game had not even started when they both tried to cheat each other, leading to a wild goose chase around 5 countries and creating strange alliances for Alex. Now, with an actual written and somewhat legal (because when it involved a criminal organization and MI6, when was anything actually legal?) contract, there would be no double crossing for both sides.
If Scorpia cheats, MI6 would exploit all their weaknesses and failures, with footage, at the hand of a teenage boy causing such public humiliation that it would take years for them to regain back their reputation, and in the crime world, rep played an integral part in their business. If MI6 does the cheating, then Scorpia will pull their strings to make sure the government is revealed to the British public on how they abused said teenage boy. Alex was a potentially huge threat to the opposing group, but the repercussions would be harder to deal with if they tried to double cross or kill Alex rather than trying to just regain possession of the boy. Whatever Alex chooses, they get a 5 hour head start before the other group can start any searches.
“Alex...” Ben’s soft voice floated though his tired mind.
Alex turned his head toward his unit, and saw Wolf whispering harshly to Fox. Apparently, they were not to speak directly to him unless ordered to. Eagle tried to pacify him and Snake was just looking at Fox, like he knew what he was trying to do.
“I may not know what you’re exactly thinking of right now, and I won’t pretend and say everything’s fine, but I promise you this, Alex, it will be.” There’s a glint shining from the building beside the parking lot, distracting him momentarily until he realized it was a sniper. Scorpia may have agreed not to kill him, but that didn’t mean the rest were off limits, too. The vans were just strategically placed to make sure MI6 covered the men.
“I will respect whatever you decide, and I just want you to know that I’m proud of you.” Alex eyes snapped to meet Ben’s. This he was not expecting. “As much as I’d love for you to come with us, I would equally understand if you were to go to Scorpia.” Ben pause again as a loud and incessant crackling erupted from a small machine Eagle was holding, Wolf’s eyes starting to bug out of his head. MI6 were probably throwing a fit at their operative. “I’m not pressuring you, but we can’t stay like this forever. The longer it takes you, the more chances of other... things to happen, so you have to do this fast, Alex. You know that you are responsible for your choices. So, look at me,” Ben looked him dead in the eyes before staring at the man behind him, “And look at Yassen, and walk where you think you should go.”
Ben left his words to hang around, the rest of the unit not uttering a single word. If someone in the whole of Britain could get to Alex, Ben was one of only three.
Alex’s eyes flitted to the floor for only a fraction of a second before rising up again, this time turning his gaze to the other side, to Yassen’s ice-blue orbs. The assassin did not hesitate to speak his turn, his voice with the slightest of a Russian lilt. Alex knew that his accent came out along with his sincerity and concern
“I won’t tell you to run away from what you’re meant to do Alex. You know what life to lead, and sometimes you run to get where you have to go, even if you may be unsure. You will hurt and you will be tired, but you will achieve nothing if there is no effort, if you thinking taking long strides will get it done.”
With just those words, Alex knows where to go.
Yassen shook his shoulders, gripping it with both hands. His breath was controlled and even, not betraying a hint of panic, but his eyes had a sense of urgency in them. Alex tried to quell his growing fear, a heavy feeling at the pit of his stomach, and tried to leech off of Yassen’s courage.
He just stared back with wide eyes, giving his full attention. He really doubted he could say anything with his heart in his throat, lest he throw up the rest of his intestines. He hasn’t felt this out of control since Ian died.
“Promise me something.”
A shaky jerk of the head was all he could muster up.
“I know I told you to follow my orders, and most of the time you do, but this one is really important.”
Alex knew Yassen didn’t mean to sound patronizing, as if he were talking to an incompetent six year old, but Alex could care less. He felt like a freaking toddler shaking in his big-boy boots.
“If I tell you to run, you run, okay?”
Alex doesn’t know what to say so his jaw just kind of hangs open. What the hell is he trying to tell me?
“Wherever we are, whatever situation we are in, if I tell you to run, you run, as fast as you can and I want you to go find that Agent Daniels. You don’t stop until you do.”
Yassen’s eyes are still boring into his, their faces a few inches apart. He was crouching down so they were eye-level and Alex could see the steam coming from their mouths. Alex was still breathing heavily, his short puffs of air coming out faster.
“I want you to look for him if you have nowhere else to go. If you have no safe place, I want you to go back to him. Not to MI6, to Jack, to that little friend of yours and especially not to anyone in Scorpia. Don’t even attempt to pull any stunts. If you follow what I say, then I promise you that I will try in all of my power to see you again as long as it is safe.” Alex just stared. He felt like he was going into shock from the cold. “Do you understand me, Alex?”
Yassen’s lip pull into a thin line and Alex feels bad for questioning him. He already gave so much.
“Because sometimes, Alex, running is the only option we have. In this world you live in, no one is your friend, but I will ask you to take the risk to trust me and Ben to take you in. This is the only chance we can risk..We both know shit happens, and sometimes you may think that running away is weak, but if you know where you’re going or maybe just a why, then it is enough. You don’t run away, but you run toward the end. To safety, to freedom, to life. You have to learn sometimes when to run, Alex.”
“O-okay, Yassen. I promise.”
Alex shifted his body, and he could feel the air within the whole mile around him tense in anticipation. He didn’t need to literally run in all senses of the word, but with a determined stance, he knew where to go.
He lifted his gaze back to Yassen before he gave a nod of understanding. For a moment there, the Heads of MI6 sucked in their breaths, fearing the worst. Just then, Alex turned and walked away from Yassen into the open arms of Ben and the rest of his unit.
He knew, even then, that this was not him running away from a harder life, because either way both paths had their own downsides, but he walked away from Yassen knowing that he was going toward something else.