Tangled In The Great Escape

Note: this is written after Scorpia Rising. It will likely contain triggering situations in future chapters (but I've decided to make this easier - I will mention all the triggers I've kept track of at the beginning of each chapter, please stay safe).

Prologue

The Pleasures fell into a silent agreement to carry on as individually as they could up in the air, under the belief that their freshly adopted fifteen year old had fallen asleep. The distant silence omitted from him since greetings was fathomable, and linked to the idea and fact that Alex Rider was exhausted.

The boy hardly blinked an eye once he positioned himself on the plane and attempted to pulled earphones out of his small backpack, like the task was needed the motivation from shaky hands. If the situation wasn't so morbid, Sabina would've shown clear amusement at the abrupt irritation that was almost childish on the features of his face when one small earbud was stuck in his backpack. Everybody on that plane could've emphasised with the pain of abnormally tangled earphones.

Sabina Pleasure didn't even pretend that she wasn't watching Alex. However confusing her emotions were, she was overwhelmed with the urge to hug her friend's unease away. That's why she was surprised when after five minutes of watching his face stare at the seat in front of him, he closed his eyes and relaxed his muscles. She proceeded to prepare for sleep just as the plane started it's routine departure of the airport land. Despite the wary glance she could feel her mum giving her ('is he normally a quick and heavy sleeper?'), she sighed and pulled a blanket up to her chin.

She didn't need Alex falling asleep, rather uncharacteristically, during the rocky and loud flight off the ground, to know something had snapped and was going to be very difficult to heal.

She couldn't tell you how long it took for her eyes to start drooping and her heart rate to slow, but she could recite lyrics of the one song that Alex had decided to listen on repeat, loud enough for her to hear it's muffles in the seat next to his. Eventually, the lyric 'I never meant to hurt you, no no no no, I only meant to do this to myself...'* practically whispered in her mind as she fell asleep.


When Alex woke up, he could feel a choked gasp at the back of his throat that got caught. It took longer than he liked to admit, trying to comprehend his surroundings. The music in both his earphones was blocking his opportunity to hearing the constant and common humming sounds of the plane. The fact that he was only asleep for around three hours had heightened the grogginess, only making the touch of something holding his left arm more sinister than he knew it was.

Because logically he understood that Sabina had huddled her feet onto her seat and rested against him, grasping his arm as comfort - he recognised that before he even remembered that he was on a plane.

Alex wasn't sure if it was the familiarity of music that had kept him peacefully asleep for so long or not, but he wasn't tempted to test the theory. Both his ears were starting to get slightly warm, and overall informed him that he had earphones in for too long - he could imagine the relief of fresh air that would be revealed if he took them out... But that was the first time Alex slept fairly well in a while. He refused to deal with trying to comprehend his memories because for that moment, they didn't feel real, just more like a raw nightmare. It was easier than he'd like to question, to suppress his feelings, just to get by, and that's why he didn't have a nightmare.

He couldn't even pinpoint if he even had a dream or twitched in his sleep.

Alone by a window on the second storey of his new 'home' about 20 hours later, Alex had flinched.

Rationally he knew it should be unlikely that he'd be sniped again: his business with MI6 had come to a closure - and any previous 'villains' that was against him either had contracts with MI6, out of business or... dead.

Of all the irony of the past two years, Alex was almost amused at his obliviousness - how he spent two hours under his covers in the dark, squeezing his eyes shut, tempted to pray for sleep to slap him. The oblivious part? The fact that he believed he could hide in the sleep he already wasted. When his body fell asleep on the plane - rather greedily, he felt - it resulted that however exhausted the boy remained, his mind used it up as an excuse to not letting him sleep now. He was slightly concerned about the possibility of gaining insomnia, as he could imagine the restless nights... crawling at every memory and haunting repercussions of his past.

Alex couldn't find it within himself to feel emotions, and be overwhelmed by it, just yet. But he wasn't ignorant to believe that he wouldn't snap eventually. Just before Jones had allowed him an exit, she gathered an MI6 doctor to evaluate him quickly. He could still hear the doctor's voice, stating that 'his detached state of being - do you feel numb, Alex? - is what's blocking his mind from comprehending what happened, and showing potential instigation of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms... It could very well mean that technically his body is in a state of 'denial'... producing what we call 'depersonalisation.' With my understanding of the boy currently experiencing puberty, with his age being 15 - it will complicate his recovery and process overall, as it is a prime development time... I'm worried that mixed in with his past, he's exposed to the likely-hood of depression and anxiety -'

He could feel the cold from the door opening before he heard the feminine voice call, "are you awake?"

Sabina walked into the room, and in the vague light from the open window and small lights from the technology in the room, he watched as she smiled softly and wrapped her chest with her hands, slightly shivering. "I think, actually, the question is - why are you awake, Alex?"

Before Alex could even bother coming up with an excuse, she added, "I can't sleep because I practically slept the whole plane ride - oh I don't know how I managed it... But you slept less than the average I know us teenagers need. Shouldn't you be like... unconscious on the carpet by sleep deprivation?"

Alex switched the bedroom light on and rolled his eyes. Unlike Alex, Sabina's eyes weren't adjusted to sudden brightness and she groaned, rubbing her face.

The first week in their house continued similarly. Alex stopped sleeping 'well', and was too tired to bother confronting the problem. It felt minimal in comparison to other pressing matters. It seemed like the routine had calmed Alex down slightly, and if this sleep deprivation was preventing nightmares and everything to comeback and start haunting him, he'd prefer to continue procrastinating that stage.

Every evening at 6pm, the family would attempt to have a family dinner together. It was obvious to Alex that they hadn't done anything formal like that (regularly, at least) prior to his arrival, but... that hardly mattered, anyway. They involved him in conversations, but restrained from being too extroverted and expecting him to talk much. Alex had a feeling that if it wasn't obvious by his demeanour that he was not necessarily 'well' and was vaguely incoherent from fatigue, Sabina would've warned them.

Sometimes, it really did require too much energy to communicate.

Every night they allowed Edward Pleasure to choose a rented movie, because apparently he was the best at choosing comedies. There was a strange pressure in his whole fibre in his body - it wasn't directly physical pain, but wouldn't let him relax during the whole comedy. The movies worked as a slight distraction every few minutes, but after the second night, Alex caved in and tried to explain the restlessness to Sabina.

Every night at 9pm, The Pleasure Parents would go to bed. From Alex's understanding - the pair use the time to do something productive for an hour before sleep. Edward reads articles or writes notes for some other news or something that sparks his interest. Besides him would lay his wife, seemingly onto a new book each month. It was the first morning of Alex's arrival when he was alone with Elizabeth, having been caught looking for cups in the kitchen, dehydrated. She was sitting at the benchtop waiting for her tea to be ready, with The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger sitting upright. When she was reading it, she barely acknowledged Alex, despite a quick small.

Alex would use this time to escape into his bedroom (which he suspected used to be an abandoned spare room occupied by just a singe-sized-bed, that collected dust before him). Sabina would've vanished into the room opposite his hallway (her own bedroom; the one closest to the upsides bathroom - which was the only bathroom in the house with a shower) to complete the homework she should've completed days prior.

During that week, Alex rapidly got attached to his earphones, like never before. At any opportunity he got, he was listening to music. On the second night, at 11:50pm, Sabina returned to his room, and found him like she caught him the first night he arrived: sitting on the windowsill, window open and only one earphone in. This time, she could clearly hear the words from the door way - 'I know you're tortured within, your eyes look hungry again, but I'll never wander, my friend...'* From what Sabina could tell, Alex had formed a personal commitment to that particular song that week, but she wasn't going to question him about it - because she understood he emotionally needed the support from whatever the words were telling him.

And so, every night after midnight, they'd crawl into bed and just stare at the ceiling, sharing earphones - the same song, until they fell asleep. Since the reunion, neither teenager had discussed their past status - Sabina gradually developed a sibling nature of caring for Alex, and Alex didn't think about his feelings. Though he could feel that he wasn't ready for considering a relationship. His feelings connected to Sabina in the past was just connected to all the crap he had to pull through, and with it, it had exploded in his heart, leaving shreds of detached memories. Mutually, they agreed that they felt and suited the ideology of friends, more comfortably. Despite all the morally-questionable actions Alex had raided in the past - he wasn't fond of 'incest' even if biologically, the Pleasures and him weren't bloodlines.

The 15 year old would lay awake in the night, trying to suppress overthinking habits. At around 2 in the morning, he'd finally leave Sabina in his bed and have a warm shower, falling asleep wrapped in a towel (after putting on underwear) in the locked bathroom, on the carpet. This habit occurred after the third night in the house, and originally, Alex had awoke with something restricting his throat and a shaky heart beat. It only took a second to gather his surroundings, and despite the separated numbness he relished in since... her... the urge to cry and turn into a baby arose. He could only hope, in that second, that he didn't sleep too long in the bathroom - Did they find me? Do they know? What will they think of me; a stranger they basically had to adopt, sleeping like this in their sanctuary?

As it seems, Alex's mind couldn't escape in the peace of a dreamless state for just as long as his body couldn't handle the environment he'd collapse in. So after about 50 minutes of bathroom-slumber, he'd wake up and clean up the bathroom (re-arranging everything to make it look untouched, and then he'd put his pyjamas on. Alex could hardly handle looking at himself in the mirror, with his bullet-scar so prompt; he doubted the Pleasures would appreciate seeing it... if they just so happened to be wondering the house at 3 oclock in the morning).

In the early freeze of the fourth morning, Alex was biting on the back of his palm, taking in his new home, trying to... understand, to come to grips, and grasp onto something. When he walked into the living room, he was only half-surprised when Edward was sitting on the couch, the light off his phone illuminating his face. Before he could attempt to disappear and pretend he saw nothing, he vaguely saw in the night-light Edward's face turn to him - and he was confirmed that he was smiling, when he didn't get lectured for being awake so early.

Gratefully, his adopted-father didn't question his actions, and that's when Alex was enlightened of what was going on. Obviously, the Pleasure family had been informed of Alex's history and Alex appreciated that they treated him as normally as they could. Knowing their family, Alex doubted that he could get away with too many things in the future - if this was under different circumstances, Edward probably would've gotten flustered and told Alex to go to bed immediately at this 'insane hour of the night.'

It made sense to Alex, that Edward's sleeping pattern was disturbed due to jet lag. With slight prompt from Alex, he began explaining that Alex had medically about a month clearance before it's accepted that he can return to his education (on the account of trauma, health and grief). Due to the aid of MI6 (Alex suspected Jone's guilt) he was already enrolled into Sabina's high school. Somehow, without negotiation with Alex, Jones had decided he should repeat Year 10 (sophomore)** and Alex wouldn't admit it, but he secretly understood why that was an efficient way to slide back into the academic lifestyle.

Edward watched as Alex abruptly silenced when he explained that for this first week, Sabina was allowed a week-off school. This was around the only times in that first month, that Edward witnessed Alex without earphones in.

When he first reunited with Alex, the heartbreak was prominent on him - and he hardly attempted to utter a word, and heaven forbid, repeat himself. Slowly, Edward was beginning to see the symptoms that the MI6 doctor had described to Alex. Alex was suppressing his burdens through music and being distant - but he was clearly trying to stay sane and do something to keep him afloat; talking and roughly laughing more recently than from the first day. The father briefly tried to understand how the fragile being in front of him was able to compose himself, sitting there so late in the night, without doing anything to distract himself.

That's when he stood up and using the light of his mobile, opened a drawer from under the television. In there was all the books that his wife had read and needed to put somewhere. Just as he was attempting to go into his phone's settings to turn the brightness up to see the books easier, Alex eagerly stood up. Edward imagined that Alex had half-smiled at his surprised-jump, when the boy suddenly sat besides his legs and grabbed the single book that was flat on top of the horizontally piled books in the back row. Cookbook.

On first sight, most of Elizabeth's collection was mystery-fiction, with one cookbook and classic novel (The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald). Edward left Alex staring at the cover of the cookbook that he first picked up - and went back into bed with his wife, smiling more peacefully. Hope was strong that night for him - he could see the potential in his adopted child, and he was aware of the intelligence of Alex. He was shortly wondering what he'll need to do to keep Alex fighting for, before he drifted back into sleep.


Author's Note: hello you lovely individual! I'm proud of you, for reading this right now - because I know I rambled on pretty long in this chapter, to get to this point, I'm sorry. This prologue, I see, is more of a filler chapter, because I needed to create the setting and initial characterisation to start this fanfiction.

I know my history record on this site tends to be leaning more on the side of leaving chaptered fics unfinished but... when I first arrived on this site it was about four years ago and I was a little child (please go easy on my writing, by the way - I know it's not the best, but I'm trying to improve. I need time to get back into my style of writing because I haven't written in nearly a year). And I'm saying all this because I also wanted to admit that I still have plans to finish about half of my unfinished fics, still - it's not the same plan and motivation like I had when I originally posted them, but I can see potential. And if I start from there, maybe I'll get my writing mojo back?

I started this prologue at about 3 in the morning when I couldn't sleep. and I honestly couldn't go to sleep with the sudden inspiration to write a full-blown-out-story after so long arose in my imagination... Basically, I evolved the story into these general ideas:

- I've read a lot of fanfiction where the Pleasure's 'weren't good enough' for him or he ran away (and yeah, those stories are great, some of them even inspired me to write this, thanks) but I wanted to write my own ideas - maybe it's possible that it could've gone a completely different direction? Maybe Alex was so distraught after Jacks's death (you're not alone kid, weren't we all...) that he depended on things like the affection or 'normality' of the Pleasures to keep going?

- what would happen if Alex decided to stay with the Pleasures? So the first few chapters of this story is intended to be Alex's first year with them, reaching his 16th birthday, having gone a 'normal-ish' year with the Pleasures: going to school and focusing on education again, maybe therapy (guys I've not thought too much on the details to be honest)...

- but I only want to briefly cover that. Soon after, Alex is going to be roped into uncomfortable situations, slightly common to the lives and dramas of attending high school; and suddenly - something drastic happens that turns Alex back to the protection of spies. I absolutely adore fanfiction with k-Unit but I want to romanticise the idea of what would happen if Alex was under the protection of MI6 agents he didn't know? (and maybe, just maybe I'll try and rope in K-Unit some how - like I've said, I've honestly not planned out exact time lines and details for this story- I'm used to just writing how I feel at the time).

- and a lot of stuff happens, but that's the general plan of what I'm aiming for, right now.

- Did you really think I was going to spoil the whole plot line for you?

I'd appreciate it if you lovelies reviewed, and let me know your thoughts on this - polite criticism and opinions (a compliment would be lovely - but I prefer the truth) I respect - I've missed the familiarity of writing stories and getting back into my fandoms here. Fanfiction has become such a part of my life and past - I hope you guys are doing well x

P.S.

* - both were lyrics from the Pierce The Veil song Tangled In The Great Escape (which was also the title of this fanfiction).

** - It's been about two years since I've last read Scorpia Rising so... I don't remember exact details such as what year Alex was in at school, but for the sake of my fic, I'll just assume it's year ten - sophomores (I think the universal connection there is accurate? I'm not too sure what year sophomores are...)