A/N: Congratulate me, everyone! I didn't kill Alex off in this one! ^_^

Warning: Herein lies slash. If that offends you, please take your bitching elsewhere.

Word Count: 1761

Status: Complete

--

Alex opened the door softly, after carefully dismantling the alarm and lock. It would be such a shame if he ended up alerting the others after he had spent so much energy sneaking in and knocking the guards out.

He slipped through the door, closed it, and found himself being shoved up against it. Huh. A guard he had missed. The man was tall, and rather muscular. “Who’re you?” he snarled.

“Your worst nightmare,” Alex smirked. The guard blinked at the incredibly stupid line, and Alex stomped on his foot, startling him. Alex took advantage of his distraction, and quickly spun him around so that the guard was the one pinned to the door.

Alex smirked again, and shoved the man’s head back onto the door, hard, knocking him out.

Then he looked around the room. He saw the boy he was supposed to be rescuing. Josh Bruch, seventeen years old, with dark brown hair, and eyes that couldn’t seem to decide between grey and gold. His face was pale except for the dark purple bruise surrounding his right eye.

It took a moment for Josh to figure out exactly what had just happened. Then he grinned. “That was bloody brilliant!” he enthused. “How’d you do that?”

Alex grinned slightly. “I’ll teach you later,” he offered. “Right now, we have to get out of here. I don’t know how long it will take for the guards to be missed.”

"Who are you, anyway?”

“Alex. MI6 sent me. Now follow me.” Alex opened the door. Josh opened his mouth to ask another question, and Alex added in a whisper, “And be quiet.”

Escaping the complex without getting caught was almost ridiculously easy, but that was fine with Alex. Not getting shot at on a mission was a welcome change.

When they slid out through a hole in the fence that Alex had cut earlier, they were faced with a few kilometers of woods to jog through.

Alex looked over at Josh after a kilometer or so to make sure that the other boy wasn’t having too much trouble. To his surprise, Josh was happily running along, keeping even with Alex.

“Football,” Josh said with an easy grin when he noticed Alex’s surprised look.

“You play?” Alex asked, surprised again.

Josh grinned. “All the time.”

“You’ve got pretty good endurance,” Alex commented off-handedly.

“Thanks.”

After that, they didn’t say anything else, concentrating instead on running.

They didn’t speak again until they reached the helicopter that was to take them back to London. Both boys were muddy, out of breath, and tired when they finally clambered into the helicopter.

The moment that Josh sat down on one of the surprisingly soft benches, he fell asleep. Alex understood completely. For Josh, the whole “captured and held captive by maniacs” gig was new and quite traumatizing. He probably hadn’t slept much, if at all, during his three days of captivity.

Alex allowed himself a rest as well. He didn’t actually fall asleep, though, he just dozed. The only time he allowed himself to rest completely was when he was in his own bed with a gun within easy reach.

--

When they landed back in London, Alex reached over and shook Josh, pulling back the moment that he woke up. “We’re there,” he said quietly.

The two boys clambered out of the helicopter, and were greeted by two emotionless men, who led them to Blunt’s office.

There were three people in the office: Blunt, Mrs. Jones (sucking on the ever-present mint, of course) and a man that Alex had only ever seen on the television before.

The man’s name was Jonathan Bruch. He was an influential politician, and Josh’s father.

Bruch immediately walked over and hugged his son, ignoring the dried mud that was getting all over his designer suit.

Neither Josh nor Jonathan said anything, but Alex was glad to see real affection on the older man’s face as he hugged his son. Alex had seen far too many rich and powerful parents who regarded their children simply as business ventures.

“Alex,” Mrs. Jones greeted him with a very small, almost invisible smile. Alex nodded in return.

“Can we debrief later?” Alex asked. “I have a test tomorrow. I’m going to fail if I don’t study.”

Blunt nodded, barely inclining his head. “Be here tomorrow evening.”

Alex nodded again, and walked back toward the door.

“Mr. Rider,” Bruch said, and Alex halted.

“Yes, sir?”

Bruch let go of his son and held his hand out to Alex. “Thank you,” he said simply.

Alex smiled slightly, and shook the man’s hand.

Then he walked out into the hall. A few seconds later, he heard the door opening again, and footsteps behind him. He half-turned to see Josh running towards him.

“Thanks,” Josh said when he reached Alex. “You saved my life.”

“No problem.”

“No problem?” Josh repeated incredulously. “You risked your life for mine, and you’re saying it was easy?”

Alex shook his head. “Not easy,” he disagreed. “Just worth it.”

Josh blushed slightly. “Oh.”

“Look, I’ve got to go alright?” Alex said. “I really do have to study.”

“Yeah,” Josh said.

Alex walked away.

“Alex?” Josh asked.

“What?” he replied, not turning around this time.

“We should hang out sometime. Play football or something,” Josh suggested, sounding almost hopeful.

Alex turned around. “Yeah, sure,” he said, and Josh immediately brightened.

“Can I have your number or something?”

“Sure,” Alex shrugged.

“What is it?” Josh asked, pulling a mobile out of his pocket. His father must have just given it to him.

Alex walked away again, calling, “They can give it to you,” over his shoulder.

--

Two days later, Alex was sitting in the living room, watching the telly. Jack had gone shopping. They’d been planning on doing some yard work, but the steady rain had ruined those plans.

Alex had almost fallen asleep when he heard the knock on the door.

He flipped the television off, and walked over to the door. He opened it, ready to put up a fight if it was MI6 dragging him off for yet another mission.

Instead of the cold agent he had expected to see, he saw a wet and shivering Joshua Bruch.

“What’re you doing here?” Alex asked, staring.

“Shivering,” Josh replied dryly. “You gonna let me in?”

“How did you get my address?” Alex asked, not making any move to let Josh into the house.

“MI6, of course,” Josh rolled his eyes. “C’mon, Alex! It’s freezing!”

Alex finally stepped to the side and let Josh in.

“Well, it’s about time,” Josh muttered, stalking through the doorway, then shaking off like a dog.

Alex grinned. Josh looked ridiculous with his hair sticking out like that. He watched as Josh made himself at home and started exploring the room.

“Where are your parents?” Josh asked when he seemed to tire of exploring.

“Dead.”

Josh winced. “Sorry.”

Alex shrugged. “It’s fine. I was only a few months old when they died.”

“Oh,” Josh said awkwardly. Then, “So do you live here alone?”

Alex shook his head. “Jack lives here, too. She’s out shopping right now.”

“Jack?” Josh asked.

“My… honorary sister, I guess,” Alex shrugged.

“Oh,” Josh said again.

They just stood there, staring at each other for a few long seconds. Alex finally broke the silence. “What are you doing here?”

“You owe me a game of football, don’t you?” Josh replied with a grin.

“In the rain,” Alex stated dubiously.

“It wasn’t raining when I left home,” Josh said.

“It started raining last night.” Alex crossed his arms.

“I started walking last night?” the older boy tried.

Alex shook his head.

“Look, can’t I just come over and hang out?” Josh asked. “You said I could.”

“I did,” Alex allowed. “But that doesn’t explain why you are here.”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Josh asked blankly.

“Nobody ever has before. You’re not the first teenager I’ve ever saved, Josh. A few of them said they’d call, too. None of them ever did.”

“Why not?” Josh asked, puzzled. “Is there something about you that I don’t know? Are you secretly a serial killer?” he joked, trying to act scared.

Alex smiled slightly. “No,” he said softly. “I’m a reminder. None of them wanted to remember what I saved them from.”

“That’s a shitty reason,” Josh stated flatly. “’Cause, I mean, you’re probably one of the only people in the world who could understand what they’re going through. All that PTSD stuff.”

“Even if that were true, they wouldn’t see it that way,” Alex laughed humorlessly.

“Then they’re idiots,” Josh said simply.

“No,” Alex shook his head. “Not idiots. Just scared.”

“You’re going to sit there and defend them even after they lied to you?” Josh asked in disbelief. “That’s messed up, ’Lex.”

“They didn’t lie exactly,” Alex said rolling his eyes. Then, “Lex?”

“Yep,” Josh grinned cheerfully, a bit of a mood swing, really.

Alex frowned a little, but didn’t protest the new nickname.

They fell into a silence again, but this one was not quite as tense as the one earlier. Again, it was Alex who broke it. “You never really answered my question.”

Josh shrugged. “You also said that you’d teach me that brilliant spin thing.”

“‘Spin thing’?” Alex repeated, raising an eyebrow.

“Y’know,” Josh made little hand gestures that were obviously intended to demonstrate something. At Alex’s blank stare, he tried words again. “That thing you did when the guard had you pinned to the door. The spin thing.”

Alex’s expression cleared, and he nodded. “Yeah, I’ll show you. C’mere,” he beckoned with his fingers and led Josh over to a wall. There was a chair there, and Alex pushed it out of the way.

“You stand here,” Alex instructed, pushing Josh against the wall. Alex pressed up against Josh. “Now do something to surprise me. Like stomping on my foot or - ”

He was cut off by Josh’s mouth on his. When Josh pulled his lips away, Alex found himself pinned up against the wall. He blinked. “That works, too, I guess,” he laughed.

Josh blushed and smiled. “Would you mind if I - y’know, did it again?”

Alex considered it for a moment, then pulled his arms out of Josh’s grasp.

The other boy’s face fell, and he took a step back. Alex shook his head and put his hands on Josh’s shoulders. “C’mere,” he said, pulling him back up against himself. “I wouldn’t mind if you did it again,” he whispered.

Josh grinned in relief, leaned over, and kissed him again.

--

A/N: You see, this is why I don’t write fluffy stuff more. It always turns out, to quote South Pacific “as corny as Kansas in August”.

Anyway, kindly remember that Alex (and Josh, too!) cries whenever a story is read, yet not reviewed. ^_^

 

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