Inside Out
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Story Notes:

Written for the Flash Rider LiveJournal community in 2010.
When the kid goes home
He always goes alone.
He hides in the machine
And always stays fourteen.
Well there's really nothing wrong with the plan
He goes to sleep at night and holds his own hand.

-Monster Magnet, Blow ‘Em Off

Jack was a fan of classic Disney. She had a closet full of VHS cassettes spanning Disney’s golden years of production, and every Christmas Ian and Alex tried to find an excuse to get out of the house before she pinned them to the sofa with a continuous marathon of Lady and the Tramp or Mary Poppins.

When Alex was small he used to look forward to settling in with Jack every Saturday night and watching something from her collection. The Sword in the Stone was his favorite, but by the time he turned nine his interests had wandered into football and pop music, and Jack realized that Alex had outgrown cartoons. She hadn’t, however, and every now and then still indulged her inner child.

Alex envied her, especially after Ian’s death. It was a wistful envy; Jack was going on thirty but she was still able to laugh like a teenager. She was bouncy, optimistic, energetic, had a great sense of humor. Alex had just turned sixteen and he couldn’t remember the last time he’d smiled.

In the nearly three years since his “employment” by MI6, he’d been kidnapped, drugged, extorted, betrayed, beaten, shot and stabbed. He’d seen the best cross-section of megalomaniacal sociopaths the world had to offer and knew more about abnormal psychology than some doctors. He’d faced death in practically every incarnation—drowning, burning, poisoning, evisceration, asphyxiation, exsanguination—and now he didn’t even bother trying to evade it. Danger would always find him. When Death came knocking Alex invited it in and then slipped out the bathroom window while the kettle was warming. Hell of a way to live, but it had kept him in the game for the past few years.

The game. What a charming euphemism, thought Alex, watching his classmates coagulate into their familiar groups at the end of the day. Nerds nerding about with their fellow nerds. Boyfriends and girlfriends snogging clumsily and holding hands like little kids. So normal and well-adjusted. So ignorant and happy. Alex envied them and their boring, predictable lives. He envied their families—Mum, Dad, Brother and Sis—but he didn’t waste his time sighing and wishing upon stars. Wishes were for fools.

Most sixteen-year-olds got clothes or mopeds or laptops for their birthdays. Alex got a title, a salary, and an international ID card. He was Agent Rider now, youngest field operative in MI6 history. Mrs Jones had gone the extra mile and gotten him a fruit basket. Mr Blunt shook his hand like a man and officially welcomed him to the Royal & General banking family.

Alex had never felt so old in his life.

Even Jack’s “surprise” party failed to lift the years from his eyes. There was a cake and presents and silly hats and Tom had come as a courtesy, but Alex went to bed that night feeling like a 40-year-old trapped in a teenager’s body. He didn’t even have a way to properly regress. No teddy bear, no security blanket, no favorite lullaby. Jack had her movies and her stuffed animals, but Alex didn’t have even one relic from his childhood. He was beginning to think he had just imagined it, that he’d been born in some kind of vacuum and then thrown into the adult world when his parents died.

He reached the conclusion that night that the only way he was ever going to feel young again was to find someone with whom he could physically fulfill this desire.

One person came to mind.

It had been hard to find him, but even harder to convince him. In the end it had taken a hundred pounds and several shots of Stolichnaya to get in bed with Yassen Gregorovich, but after that, the Russian had needed no convincing. He did whatever Alex asked of him. He coddled, spanked, sucked and fucked him. He roped him to the bed and slapped him up. He tolerated the whining and weeping. He even tolerated Alex calling him “daddy”, but only during sex. And it was very good sex. Dysfunctional or not.

Yassen didn’t deny the attraction. Alex was a handsome boy, would be a handsome man one day, just like his father, but he was also severely fucked in the head. Yassen reminded him of it often.

“Ah, Sasha,” he’d sigh, holding Alex against his chest as the tears and semen dried on the sheets. “You are zaputalsya, such a mess.” A kiss to the forehead, a brush of a cheek. “What am I going to do with you?”

Alex didn’t really care what Yassen did with him. He didn’t even really care about Yassen. All that mattered was finding his inner child, and nowhere on earth did Alex feel more like a child than in the arms of Yassen Gregorovich.

It was as close to his father as he was ever going to get.

The familiar sounds of a Disney cartoon greeted Alex when he drifted through the door that Saturday night. He wandered into the living room and found Jack in her pajamas, nestled on one end of the sofa.

He dropped his jacket on the floor and stood there, his expression as blank as his soul. Jack tore her eyes away from the screen and looked up at him.

“Alex?” she asked, taking in his rough, disheveled appearance. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

He sank onto the couch and buried his face into Jack’s warm, perfumey sweatshirt. He began to cry.

Jack didn’t ask. She wrapped her arms around Alex, even though he was saturated with the smell of sex and cigarettes. She shushed him, rocking back and forth as she gently petted his hair. “It’ll be okay,” she murmured. “It’ll be okay.”

The movie went on without them.

“Am I a real boy?”

“No, Pinocchio. To make Geppetto’s wish come true will be entirely up to you.”

“Up to me?”

“Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday you will be a real boy.”

“A real boy!”

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