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flash fiction of the alex rider variety

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No Longer A Child - HPStrangelove - Prompt: Fireworks and Explosions
hpstrangelove wrote in flash_rider

This story is dedicated to annephoenix , who introduced me to the Alex Rider universe. I can't thank you enough for sharing your love of abusing  Alex with me!

Title: No Longer a Child

Author: hpstrangelove 

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Alex has lived a lifetime in the sixteen months since he started working for MI6. He’s no longer a child.

Word Count: 1228

Warning: Implies major character death.

Pairing/Characters: Yassen, Alex (not as a pairing)

Beta: The wonderful joanwilder .

Author’s Note: Written for the flash_rider  community’s fourteenth challenge prompt, Fireworks and Explosions. Spoilers for Eagle Strike, Scorpia, and Scorpia Rising (nothing is explicit, but things are heavily implied – I would wait to read this if you haven’t yet read Scorpia Rising).

Disclaimer: All Alex Rider characters belong to Anthony Horowitz. No monetary profit made on this story.


No Longer A Child

“Go back to your life. Go back to school. And the next time MI6 asks you, say no. Killing is for grown-ups and you’re still a child.”

Alex thought back to that day. Could it really have been only sixteen months ago, on the helipad of Sayle Enterprises, when Yassen Gregorovich had spoken those words to him? Oh, how he wished he’d listened to the assassin’s advice! He’d tried, he really had. But it was too late. He’d lived an entire lifetime in those sixteen months, and he’d lost everything that had been dear to him. He was no longer a child.

It seemed fitting that he’d be remembering Yassen now. Yassen was just one of many who had died, trying to protect him. But Yassen had also been the one to set things in motion. If he hadn’t killed Alex’s Uncle Ian, Alex would never have been manipulated into working for MI6.

It was starting to get chilly. The sun had set. San Francisco could get warm during the day, but even in the summer the nights were cool enough that he needed a jacket. He placed his right hand inside the jacket pocket, feeling reassured when he touched cold steel. It had been ridiculously easy to buy a gun, even for a fifteen-year-old boy. All it took was the right connections, the right amount of cash.

Even with Alex working for MI6, he still didn’t have to have ended up here. When Yassen lay dying on Air Force One, after Damien Cray had shot him, he’d called Alex over, and thinking he was doing Alex a favor, had told him about Scorpia, and John Rider, Alex’s father. How different would things be right now if Cray’s bullet had killed Yassen instantly instead of giving him enough time to tell Alex that John Rider had been a Scorpia assassin, killed by MI6?

How different would things be right now if Yassen hadn’t sent Alex to Venice, in search of Scorpia?

Alex was doing the right thing. He needed to leave Sabina and her parents. They’d been wonderful to him, but it was time to go. He was causing them too much worry, scaring them when he woke in the middle of the night with his screams.

“Please! Don’t…I’ll do anything you want!”

And he’d meant it, too. He would have done anything to prevent what he knew was going to happen – told them what they wanted to know about MI6, killed the President of the United States, carried a dirty bomb into the middle of Trafalgar Square - anything.

In the end, his offer of anything hadn’t been enough.

He’d quit sleeping, trying to avoid the dreams, trying to forget, but even awake, he could still see the explosion, bright red and orange, like fireworks painting the night sky with glittering sparks. He’d loved to watch fireworks when he was a kid – now they made him retch.

He was surprised to find his eyes were wet. He hadn’t cried since –

He wiped the tears away on the back of his jacket sleeve. He wasn’t crying, not really. It was just the wind coming in off the Bay, irritating his eyes. For him to cry, he’d have to be able to feel something, and that wasn’t possible anymore. He was dead inside, a walking corpse. If someone were to take a knife and slice him open from head to foot, all they’d find would be a big, black emptiness – a hollow shell.

His thoughts drifted back to Yassen. On the day he’d died, Yassen had told him John Rider had saved his life when Yassen was nineteen.

“In a way, I loved him. I love you too, Alex. You are so very much like him. I’m glad that you’re here with me now.”

Alex hadn’t appreciated it at the time, but now he did. He wished there was someone he loved, someone who would be with him tonight, the way he’d been with Yassen.

But there wasn’t anyone left. He was utterly alone. Sure, Sabina cared, in her own way, but it wasn’t as if she was in love with him or anything. She’d miss him, for a while, then move on with her life. There’d be other boys, and he laughed to himself, remembering the day they’d been in Aigues-Mortes, when she’d been rating the local boys’ looks on a scale of one to twenty. None had rated more than a seven – she’d given him a twelve and a half when he’d asked. During his visit this past Easter, he’d begun to think of her in a romantic way, trying to work out if it was possible for her to be his ‘girlfriend’, given how far apart they lived.

The way she looked at him now, with pity in her eyes, unable to imagine what he’d been through, what had been done to him in the desert to make him scream in the night…

He pulled the gun from his pocket. It felt heavy in his hand. MI6 had refused to give him a gun, had refused to train him in the use of one. What was the reasoning behind that? That he was too young? They certainly hadn’t thought he was too young to die, too young to sacrifice himself for the greater good, for home and country. Instead, it had been Scorpia that had trained him in the use of firearms. The irony of it didn’t escape him.

He lay back on the grass, looking up at the night sky, resting the gun on his stomach. The light pollution from the city made it difficult to see many stars. When he was little, he used to think that the stars were pinholes in the sky, and that their light was the light of heaven leaking through, down to earth. Later, he hadn’t believed in heaven. He’d thought that dying was simply like going to sleep, except that you didn’t wake up. You’d just be – gone.

Now that he’d been to hell, he knew there had to be a heaven – there had to be something to balance things out. He wondered if Yassen would be there, in heaven, given all the people he’d killed. Would his one act of self-sacrifice, giving up his own life in order to save Alex’s, be enough to cancel out the lives he’d taken? Did the lives that Alex save later, because he was still alive, count in Yassen’s favor?

Alex moved the gun from his stomach, placing the barrel against the side of his head. He wondered if it would hurt, when the bullet tore through his skull, into his brain, and out the other side. He hoped that it would, as punishment for his sins, for his responsibility in the taking of an innocent life.

Because it had been his finger on the button of the remote-controlled detonator. He could see himself pushing it, even as he begged and pleaded for it not to happen. It was his fault. One more person dead, trying to protect him.

“Go back to your life. Go back to school. And the next time MI6 asks you, say no. Killing is for grown-ups and you’re still a child.”

Why hadn’t he listened? Why hadn’t he said no?

There was no going back.

He was no longer a child.

~ Fin ~

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Wow. This packs a dark and powerful punch. Without telling us exactly what happened in the desert (I've not read the books - is this a reference to something AH wrote, or something else?), you conjure a vividly painful sense of Alex's despair and emptiness. Masterfully done.

The desert scene takes place in the last book, Scorpia Rising. It's very traumatic for Alex (and me too, I might add). I'm not sure how my son is going to react to it when he reads it.

I'm glad I could still get Alex's emotional state across to someone who's not familiar with the stories, too.


I don't want Yassen to really be dead... but WOW... you can really feel the isolation. no one can understand who hasn't been there..

I clearly remember contemplating suicide back when I was starting high school (obviously I only contemplated it) and how lonely and alone I felt back then. I figure Alex has been though so much more, and events in this last book have been horrific.

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(Your icon always makes me smile!)

I tried to capture the feeling from the book without giving too much away. This was pretty easy to write, given how traumatic I found the book to be. Plus I'm very sad now that there are no more books to look forward to. I hope that there'll be a Yassen book still, but I don't want to get my hopes up.

I just emailed my SF fic off yesterday, so you're doing fine. I can't wait to read yours.

My kindle tells me I"m 60% through Scorpia Rising - I WILL READ THIS AS SOON AS I FINISH!!!!!! :P

(Also, so happy for Alex! He finally gets to be 15! lol. Thought the poor bean wouldn't make it that long :P)

I'm happy and sad both - I enjoyed the book, but I'm sad that there won't be any more.

Just to say how much it *pains* me to pass this up!!! But I'm trying to remain virginally unspoiled until I hold the book in my hand (and *then* until my Spyfest fic is done...).

So after much squinting away from fic and comments, just hugs and thanks and I'll read it as soon as I can :).

BTW, how do you do it!?!?! The book only comes out in two days hereabouts - are you more lucky in your parts?

My fic will be that much more meaningful after reading Scorpia Rising, so read it whenever you have time. I just had to write this - it wouldn't leave me alone until I got it out of my system. I'm very sad that there won't be any more Alex Rider books to look forward to - hopefully AH will still write the Yassen book.

For some strange reason, the book came out here in the States last week, on the 22nd. I'd preordered from Amazon and got my copy last Thursday. Anthony Horowitz is a British author and I don't think it's right that the book's been delayed over there. It should have come out on the same day at least, if not before.

And SpyFest! Can't wait!!!

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How powerfully evocative! This is an incredibly dark yet sensitive depiction of guilt and hopelessness. Alex has to be living through something like this after all of the trauma he’d experienced in such short span of time. I’m almost dreading reading the last book.

He's gone through quite a bit in the short time he worked for MI6. For us, the books have taken years to tell his story, but in 'his' time, it runs from March, 2001 thru June, 2002.

And this book is definitely the darkest one of them all - similar to the HP books, the tone has certainly changed from how the series started out.


I couldn't believe that AH actually did that! I mean, I've done that, but... :(

This hits hard after SR. It seemed like the book was written a little older, what with the Incident and all.

I really can't properly review, since I just finished the book, and it's... I'm still a little in shock.

Though, highlight of the book: the flailworthy Smithers part, omigod! 0_0

I felt the same way - I was pretty shocked, then really depressed that the series ended up like this. This book seemed so serious - hardly any humour in it at all. I couldn't quit thinking on it so wrote this fic to get it out of my system.

Yeah, and that Smithers part was so over-the-top, close to the Alex-in-space thing.

Alex. Just. Alex. Destroyed. Like I always wanted.

I can't believe I felt so compelled to write this, but there was no way I could accept the end of the book as-is. I know how much you like Alex!death-fics, so I figured this would be perfect for you ;-) Glad you liked it.

What did you think of the book?

I've resisted to read this heartbreaking piece of fanfiction until I had finished the book. Tears were welling up in my eyes because this is what I consider to be a logical continuation of 'Scorpia Rising'

I had a tiny flicker of hope that Yassen somehow returned from the dead *state of denial still* but then this is what happens... I tried to broaden my state of denial and pass it as a trick.
Very traumatic indeed...

"He was no longer a child."

I'm sorry for taking so long to reply - LJ kept going down!

Thanks so much for reading. I was sad that Yassen didn't return, but I guess that's what fanfic is for. I will always keep him alive!

Oh, that was harsh!

But extremely much in keeping with the ending of Scorpia Rising (I only finished it yesterday). Very bleak, very intense, and it feels right in a way that Yassen would occupy Alex's mind at this point.

I was really, really depressed after I finished the book, so this just flowed. Now that some time has passed, I'm feeling better - but still sad to think that there won't be any more AR books.

What did you think of the book? Did you like it, or was it disappointing - or both? I loved parts and hated others, but the parts that I loved are in the majority, so overall, I thought it was good. Just wish it wasn't the last.

Intense and sad.. probably the only realistic conclusion to Alex's traumatized psyche in the book.

I'm not sure what I think of the last book. I had myself spoilered beforehand, because I knew I didn't want to be depressed in a way I sometimes get. I thought the 'solution', going to America, really wasn't satisfying. Though I feel for Sabina's dad and how determined he seemed.

And yeah, sad that Yassen wasn't brought back from the dead as we all really, really hoped he would. At least it leaves any kind of interpretation of Yassen over to fan fiction, which is great as well. Spy_fest has already come up with quite a few interesting takes on Yassen Gregorovich :-)

But beautiful story. I also loved how Yassen was such a persistent stream in Alex's consciousness :-)

I really did not like the 'going to America' ending to it all. I know AH is writing for young adults so he had to try and end things on an upbeat note though.

As much as I wanted AH to bring Yassen back, I have to agree with you about leaving the field open to us fanfiction writers. There were some very good stories about Yassen in Spy Fest!

Poor Alex. I can really see this happening after Scorpia Rising. It's funny how Yassen and Alex seem to mirror each other in some ways; in literary terms they might be considered each a foil to the other. I really like the way you set them together here. Even dead Yassen still lurks, his ghost haunting Alex.

I'm glad you liked this; I was so depressed after reading Scorpia Rising. I hated what they did to Jack and I hated the 'pat' ending, sending Alex off with the Pleasures. I think I wrote this a day or two after finishing SR as a way to channel my sadness that the series was over (unless AH writes his Yassen book that he's always talked about).

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