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Pairing: Yassen Gregorovich/Alex Rider
Alternative name(s): Yalex
Gender category: M/M slash
Fandom: Alex Rider
Canonical?: no
Prevalence: Popular
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Yassen/Alex or Yalex is the most popular ship in Alex Rider fandom. In canon Yassen Gregorovich is Alex's nemesis, since he was sent off to kill him in the first volume of the series, Stormbreaker.


There are three different versions of Yassen Gregorovich depending on the canon--books (blond hair), movie (red hair) and TV show (dark brown hair). Fandom freely mixes between them but the movie version is much less popular now.

Although Yassen only appears in 3 books (one a prequel and retelling of the first book), he has had a large presence, being one of the few recurring characters and having very interesting interactions with Alex Rider. He is an assassin who trained with Alex's father, and murdered Alex's uncle. During their interactions Alex has vowed to kill Yassen and Yassen has refused to kill Alex.

Alex's POV of Yassen is unusual in focusing on Yassen's attractiveness:

The tower opened and a man climbed out, stretching himself in the cold morning air. Even without the half-moon, Alex would have recognised the sleek, dancer’s body and the close-cropped hair of the man whose photograph he had seen only a few days before.

Stormbreaker, 2003

This was the closest he had ever been to the Russian, the man who had killed his uncle. He could see every detail of his face: the chiselled lips, the almost feminine eyelashes.

Eagle Strike, 2003

In contrast, Alex shows very little awareness or interest when Sabina flirts with him in the books, further fuelling Yalex shippers.

Despite multiple opportunities to do so, Yassen has refused to kill Alex, even when Alex is directly working against Yassen's goals. Yassen has shown he has respect and admiration for Alex, and interest in Alex's wellbeing, such as when he tells Alex to go back to school and not work for MI6. However, he does not go soft on Alex, and has forced or allowed Alex to be put into dangerous situations. It is possible that he believes Alex capable of rescuing himself.

"The truth about Alex is that there is not a single boy in the world like him,” he began, speaking slowly and softly. “Consider for a moment. Tonight you tried to kill him - and not just simply with a bullet or a knife, but in a way that should have terrified him. He escaped and he found his way here. He must have seen the stairs. Any other boy - any man even - would have climbed them instantly. his only desire would have been to get out of here. But not Alex. He stopped; he searched. That is what makes him unique, and that is why he is so valuable to MI6."

Eagle Strike, 2003

The climactic moment of the pairing is when Yassen is shot by Cray after refusing to kill Alex. In the books he confesses his love for Alex and his father before dying. In the TV show Yassen does not mention love but gives Alex his gun and confesses he knew Alex's father. The TV show does not kill off Yassen, following in the fandom's footsteps of ignoring Yassen's death.

The love confession in Eagle Strike was famously censored from the American version of the book.

“Your father … he did this.” Yassen drew a finger along the scar on his neck, but his voice was failing him and he couldn’t explain. “He saved my life. 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.”

Eagle Strike, 2003

The movie is famous for one particular scene between Yassen and Alex. Very dubiously directed with violins, smoke machines and impassioned dialogue, it reads more like a break-up rather than a confrontation between two enemies.[1]

The TV show has correctly determined that Yassen is a big draw of the series and has centred much of the intrigue and mystery around Yassen and his relationship to Alex. Although the TV show lacks the big dramatic scenes from the books and TV show it has included several extra interactions between them, and Yassen's reactions to Alex. For example, Yassen's smile when he recognises Alex for the first time, Yassen trying to direct Cray's attention away from Alex in season 2, and Alex talking in therapy about how he can't stop thinking about Yassen.


The first Yassen/Alex fic posted online is Les Chroniques d'Alex Rider de novice à expert on 11 February 2007. A few months later the first English fic for the ship was published: The Price To Pay by Henry the HAP on 30 June 2007.

The first Yassen/Alex themed fan community, Yassen_Alex, was founded on LiveJournal in April 2008 by moderators abrandnewboom and yaseanne. This community was later mirrored on DreamWidth in case copyright complaints threatened the LJ community in future. Fans can still create LiveJournal accounts and join the LJ community to browse community discussion and fanfiction posts.

Early Yassen/Alex was very much influenced by Damian Lewis's portrayal of Yassen in the Stormbreaker movie, and many fanart from back then portrayed ginger Yassen. Following cues from canon the ship was very focused on Yassen ravishing Alex, with many works featuring noncon, dubcon, underage and kidnapping. Modern fandom has mellowed a little, and there are now many fics that are set post-canon when Alex is older, featuring a more consensual enemies to lovers relationship.

Statistics consistently show Yassen/Alex as the most popular pairing of the fandom, whether on fanfiction.net[2] or AO3[3]. This is not uncontroversial however. The pairing involves an adult assassin antagonist and a teenage spy, and many people object to the underage element, the enemies element, or the unsuitability of the ship in a canon aimed at children. From time to time there is hate posted on tumblr or twitter and the fandom has received copyright notices aimed at Yalex fanfiction in particular.[4]

Fannish Tropes

  • Yassen Gregorovich Lives - This is one of the top 10 additional tags on AO3 for the fandom in general, but Yalex fandom in particular likes to ignore Yassen's canonical death in order to explore the aftermath of Yassen's deathbed confession.
  • Noncon/Dubcon - Unsurprising for an enemies ship with a power and age difference, this is a popular trope for the ship. Roughly 18% of tagged Yalex fics on AO3 contain dubcon or noncon[5]
  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Futurefic - This is popular for shippers who like the Yassen/Alex dynamic but not the underage element. Many fics are set in the future where Alex is working for MI6 as an adult.




Archives, Communities & Resources


  1. ^ Alex Rider Stormbreaker - Rooftop scene 12 March 2022
  2. ^ Alex Rider Ship Week. A History of Alex Rider Fandom by rirren and pongnosis, 07 March 2022. (Accessed 12 June 2022)
  3. ^ Alex Rider Ship Week. Shipping in 2022, 27 February 2022. (Accessed 12 June 2022)
  4. ^ "yassen_alex : Welcome! - Welcome to the Dreamwidth haven for Alex/Yassen!". 2022-06-12. Archived from the original on 2022-06-12.
  5. ^ 76 fics tagged with noncon or dubcon, out of a total of 419 Yalex fics on AO3. Accurate as of 12 June 2022