...

"The test of morality of a society, is what it does for its children." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Hey, uh...cuz?

...

"Good morning doctor." The receptionist smiled jovially at the blond doctor. He simply gave her a curt nod-nothing like his usually flirtatious smiles-and walk right on past.

...

I have a friend.

...

"Good morning Dr. Andrew."

"Mornin' doctor." A nurse and her friend greeted the doctor. But his reply was half-hearted at best, his stride long and determined, his gaze hard. The young doctor had only been here at this hospital for a week, at most-not that any of the staff knew that. In fact, if you were to ask any of the nurses or doctors that had supposedly worked with the man, they would've assured you that Dr. Pollo had been working at that hospital for as long as they could remember. He was a trusted member of the staff, one of the best.

...

And I was wondering if you could do a...favor for me.

...

"Ah, Dr. Andrew! Good to...see you again." The other doctor faltered at the look on Dr. Pollo's face, and could only watch as the other man breezed right past him, fury oozing out of him with every step. This time, the young doctor did not even bother with a reply. His steps were firm, his piercing blue eyes brimming with anger, a dark expression written all over his face.

His target was waiting fifty feet away, watching him with a blank expression. She was a rather ordinary, unattractive woman, with a piercing gaze. Her eyes held the faintest trace of worry, but no one else would've seen it. In her hands, she held a case file, reports-highly classified reports-that only a select few of the British intelligence sector 6 would be allowed to view. Beside her was a young man, no older than twenty four years old, and his worry was much more evident as he met the doctor's eyes.

The man started talking as soon as Dr. Pollo was within hearing range, spouting off questions faster than any ordinary man would be able to follow them-although Dr. Andrew was not just any ordinary man-and it was all he could do to keep up with them. Finally he held up a hand, and somewhat embarrassed, but not at all apologetic, the younger man allowed the doctor to speak. "He is no longer in critical condition, but that's really only a small mercy. His injuries are extensive. His body has numerous lacerations, all of which were caused by methodical torture, meant to cause the most pain, and least damage. His ribs were systematically broken, four on each side. Each finger on his right hand was broken, his shoulder was dislocated, and his arm had at least three fractures. He suffered significant dehydration and starvation, and based on the signs, he was probably kept in isolation for at best, two days."

He fixed the woman with a cold glare, doing nothing to keep the earth-shaking fury out of his voice. "The worst of it, that we could tell, was around his ankle. Someone poured molten gold onto his leg, it took three surgeries just to remove it. His ankle suffered severe burning, the gold literally searing his skin, and melding the metal to it. He's lucky he's going to be able to walk after all's said and done."

And that luck had nothing to do with Dr. Pollo, at all. Nothing. Except possibly...some...godly intervention on his part.

"At the very least, he will need to be in a wheelchair for the next two months. He will need to be in rehab for the next six to nine months, if not longer. He shouldn't do anything strenuous for the next few months, and he will need someone to assist him at home and possibly school. I trust you have someone?" He eyed the younger man with sharp blue eyes, but it was the woman who spoke this time.

"Yes. Agent Daniels will be taking paid vacation to escort Alex home and assist him during his rehab. Is that all?" Her response was curt, and to the point. She wasted no time on pleasantries, or 'pointless inquires' but got right down to business, as was expected of her. Unfortunately, that only served to fuel his anger, and he turned his piercing gaze on her, allowing her to see his anger in all it's glory as he stared her down. She did not expect to see such raw power in his gaze, and it took all her willpower not to flinch under his glare, steeling her nerves and facing him head on. She didn't have time to ask herself why a doctor could affect her-Tulip Jones, Deputy Head of MI6, soon to be Head of MI6-in such a way, before he began to speak once again.

"No. That is not all. Nearly twenty-two percent of his body is covered in scar tissue! None of these wounds are more that two years old, and many of them should've resulted in extensive rehab. I saw nothing in his files suggesting such action was ever taken. He was shot millimetres above the heart and given what? Two weeks recovery?! And the medications that have been prescribed-Dilaudid, Oxycodone-these are supposed to be temporary medications, not pills to help him cope while he's fight for his life! If I don't see that boy here at least once a week for rehab, you and I," He fixed Mrs. Jones with another cold glare, pointing at her and himself. "We're going to have a problem. I expect to see that boy here, don't make me go looking for him. Am I clear, Jones?"

"Of course not! We would never-"

"Don't lie to me, Jones. Alex Rider will be here. Or I will tear down MI6 myself. One brick at a time. And there won't be a damn thing you can do about it." There was a dark quality to his tone, something that told her not to mess with him, or he would carry through with his threat. She steeled her gaze, responding with a curt, "He'll be here," before turning and walked away as quickly as she could without appearing to be running.

"And Jones?" She paused, glancing back at the young doctor. "I'll start with you."

Three rooms away, Alex lay in blissful peace. Another favor, bought with a bottle of fine wine, a 'gift' from Apollo to Dionysus, ensuring him a restful night's sleep, if only for today.

...

"SURPRIIIIIIIIIIIIISE!"

The familiar voice startled Alex, and he shouted in surprise, shooting forward in bed and staring at the boys in front of him as if he'd seen a ghost. For a second, no one said anything. Shelly barked, breaking the silence, and prompting Percy to speak.

"Uhhhhh...hi? We brought cookies?" He phrased it almost as a question, holding up said cookies for Alex to see. But he just stared at them, undisguised shock etched into his face. "Alex? Earth to Alex? You alive in there? Alex?"

"Wha-?...How-?...You-You're-...How did-?" His brown eyes were clouded with confusion, his brain slowly trying to catch up to what was happening.

Tom leaned over to Percy, whispering out of the corner of his mouth. "I think we broke him."

Percy looked at Tom. Then at Alex. And back at Tom. He nodded seriously. "I agree."

"What do we do now?"

Percy looked at Alex again, watching as his brain finally caught up with his mouth and spoke up loudly. "I guess we'll just have to eat all these cookies without him!"

"What?!" Alex shouted. Finally he was able to ask the one question that had been bothering him all this time. "How did you guys even get in here?" He looked back and forth, silently wondering what on earth was going on.

"Magic. Now...do you want a cookie, or should we let you stick to your hospital food?"

"Actually, the food here isn't all that bad." Tom mused aloud. Percy just shook his head and looked back at Alex.

"Seriously, do you want-...How did you get a cookie?" Alex shrugged at Percy's disgruntled expression as he looked down at the plate of cookies in his hand, and then back at Alex.

"Magic."

Tom stifled a laugh, discreetly wiping his hands on his pants, and then tried to snatch a cookie from Percy. Said boy slapped his hand away, holding the cookies far away from Tom. "NO! My cookies!"

"You gave Alex one." Tom pointed out.

"No. I didn't. That cookie teleported to Alex." Percy shook his head mock seriously. His eyes sparkled with amusement as he plopped down on one of the hospital chairs beside Alex's bed, taking a cookie for himself and biting into it. "Oh gods. They're warm." He moaned in delight. He pretended not to notice how Alex instinctively shifted away from him, but he shot his friend a worried look when the fair-haired boy winced in pain.

Alex shook his head, eyes following Tom as he tried to grab a cookie without Percy noticing, and laughing quietly when he failed miserably, instead ending up on his butt on the floor.

Tom frowned looking up at Percy with puppy dog eyes.

"Nope. Nuh-uh. That won't work on me. Kid, I invented puppy eyes. I am the master-I am the king of puppy eyes. I am immune to them."

Tom widened his eyes.

"Nope. Not happening. Not at all. Uh-uh."

"Humph." Tom crossed his arms, pouting. "You're mean. Big meanie."

Percy cackled gleefully, passing Alex a cookie, and laughing at Tom's affronted look. "Hey! Why does he get a cookie?!"

"He's sick. He has an excuse."

"-rude." Tom muttered. Finally Percy caved, passing a cookie to Tom, whose face lit up in childish excitement.

"SCORE!"

...

("-tell me again why you gave him sugar?-"

"..."

"-I have no idea-")

...

The German Shepherd started barking as soon as Ben approached the door, startling him and causing him to fall backwards. For the dog was not a small one, and he wasn't expecting to see anyone or anything in there when he went to visit Alex, especially considering it was past visiting hours. He held out his hand, trying to calm the dog, and inching cautiously into the room. "Alex?" He opened his mouth to whisper, but as soon as he entered the room, he came face to face with a boy of about seventeen. The boy lashed out, striking out with his arm, and Ben grabbed him, sending him back into the wall. Stormy, sea-green eyes swirling like hurricanes met his, a face lined with tear tracks, eyes clouded with fear.

The boy stared back at him with unseeing eyes, his entire body trembling, one hand curled into the dog's hair as if she was his life-line. She growled threateningly at him, barring her teeth in warning. It was that moment that Ben first saw the PTSD Service Dog vest the German Shepherd wore, and his mind quickly made the connection. Letting his hands drop nonthreatening in front of him, he backed away slowly. "It's okay. I won't hurt you. I'm a friend of Alex's."

The teenager flinched when Ben's foot hit a plate, sending it skidding across the floor, and he wrapped his arms around his midsection protectively. His eyes flashed with distrust as the watched Ben, openly evaluating him, and determining his threat level as Ben tried to pull him out of whatever mind-induced hell he was stuck in.

"Your name is Percy, right?" He flinched again, suspicion lining his face, but somehow the name seemed to calm him at least a little. "My name's Ben." As he spoke, he forced his body to relax out of the fighting stance that came almost instinctively to him, as a spy. "I won't hurt you. Promise." The more he spoke, the more calm Percy seemed to become, but it wasn't until Alex half-woke from his drug-induced sleep, and whispered a sleepy, "Ben?", that Percy finally allowed himself to relax.

"Hey kiddo." Ben walked forward to ruffle Alex's hair, and he smiled when Alex leaned into the touch. When he realized Alex was already asleep again, he looked at the older teenager, silently asking him if he was okay.

Percy nodded, slipping past Ben to sink back into a chair, exhausted. He didn't fail to notice how Percy kept him in his line of sight the entire time, never turning his back to him, and never fully relaxing out of his defensive stance. His hand never left Shelly's head either, and he saw how, once Shelly no longer perceived him as a threat, she turned all her attention to Percy. He knew Percy noticed it as well, and he seemed reassured by the fact that Shelly was no longer growling at Ben.

"Nightmare." Percy muttered. Ben nodded in understanding, moving to sit in one of the other chairs.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Unlikely but...Percy shook his head, staring blankly ahead of him.

Percy answered the unasked question before it could be voiced. "Ap-Dr. Andrew's my cousin. He let us stay in here."

"Are your parents going to be wondering where you are?" Percy shook his head again.

"No. My mom gave me permission to stay here tonight, to keep Alex company. Tom had to go home though."

"You might want to get some sleep..." Percy nodded, curling up in the chair, and hugging Shelly to his chest, but he made no move to sleep. World-weary eyes stared off in the distance, the bags under his eyes seeming as dark as night. And as Ben watched these two teenagers, two kids whose sleep was haunted by nightmares, and daytime was haunted by flashbacks and long since past terrors, he asked himself, why? What had these children done to deserve the fate they were given?

He got no answer.

...

I tried! I really did! I have to come back to this, to edit it. But I haven't updated in soooooo long, you all needed a chapter. Thank you for being patient! :D

Any ideas, I'm open for them. Please leave a review...pretty please with a cherry on top?! o.o

Thank you my other reviews, and followers! And my favorites! I have so many new people on here. :D

Also, I really want to make blue cookies now. Is that weird? Yes...well...ok. :)