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16 April 2011 @ 12:19 am
fic: sixty seven degrees of separation  

Title: sixty seven degrees of separation
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Maybe she should have taken the Beatles' way out and told him she just wanted to hold his hand or something.
Spoilers: Up till 'Moving On' including the movie. It just made me ridiculously happy how much of a fanfic 'Delinquent Justin' was.
Disclaimer: disclaimed
Author's Note: So, 7000 words inside Alex's head. It's crazy in there y'all. Also, incest.


It's almost the end when it becomes this obsession with her mom.

"Really, Alex" Theresa says, and she'd tell her to stop looking so worried, but that might sound like she cares about this or something, which she most definitely does not, "I don't think it's normal. I know you have this 'don't know, don't care' thing going on for you honey, but don't you think you should tell Justin you love him? Just once. Before he leaves? It isn't healthy to repress all natural emotions like this, mija."

"Yeah, you're right," she'd tuned out at 'normal', "it really isn't, is it. I think a coat of paint would do it though. Maybe deep purple."

"Alex—"

The whole stupid sending-fake-Justin-off-to-college thing was proving to be much more effort to explain off than it was worth; they were reading way too much into it. She'd been freaking twelve at the time alright, "I know, mom, I will. Tell him. Before he goes. Just stop talking about it so much."

Her mother looks at her with an expression of quiet, badly hidden triumph (and oh, that's where he gets it from), "you know Alex Russo; deep down inside you respect and love your brother very much, even though you think you're good at hiding it."

"Yeah," she begins, "deep, deep, deep, deep—" Theresa glares, "deep down inside, I really think I might actually someday start thinking about how…"

Her mother sighs in this long-suffering way that's probably given as an emotional blackmail tactic in all those Parents' Manual that Justin keeps buying them (probably at the back, it's not like they read those things or anything) but she also doesn't wait around to hear the end of the sentence, so, score.




She thinks college is overrated. And the "Justin's going to college" refrain that everybody around her seems to be mouthing with annoying regularity overrates it even more. She can't see what the big deal about it is. He has 'I Belong to a World Where Libraries Are the New Black and Nerds Are Appreciated' written all over him (literally, good times, her first attempt at a spell lock), so the remarkable thing would've been if he hadn't been going to college. If he'd woken up one day and said he didn't want to leave h—the family. That he couldn’t imagine moving thousands of miles away to some college which nobody'd even heard of (seriously, what was so great about this Standork place anyway?) and was going to stay on in Waverly Place and carry on the family legacy of working at the Sub Station.

But if there's one thing Justin is good at (along with the many others that most people are only too happy to list out for her), it's running true to type. Best Son Ever. Best Student Ever. Most Likely to Succeed. Most Likely To Win The Wizard Competition. Most Likely to Marry Some Californian Bleached Blonde Wizard and Have Twenty Kids (okay so that last one isn't actually yearbook material, but it hardly takes much stretch of the imagination).

Maybe the entire satisfaction of fighting with him is that as long as he says those things to her and refuses to hug her and mocks her and tells on her, there’s that ‘best brother ever’ category that he’s definitely not winning in her book.




Her mother springs it on her at the most obvious times possible. Like, as if, if there are a lot of people around, she'll be forced to say it, out of common decency or something. Which is the most foolishly hopeful thing ever and hello, have you met her?

"That's my Stanford-bound son, Justin," Theresa'll say to the full Sub Station, "and his sister Alex who shall miss him the most out of all of us when he leaves. For Stanford. They've been fighting ever since she was a month old and almost took his eye out with her finger. And who'd have thought that sixteen years later, he'd be going to Stanford and they still wouldn't have made up!"

"Darn it," she says loud enough (and can they just please stop talking about Justin leaving, she's afraid she's soon going to explode with happiness or something), "and up until this moment I'd been hoping he was adopted."

Her mother almost manages to laugh convincingly, cutting her off, "they're such model siblings, you know. Always at each others' throats, while everyone around can see they can't live without each other."

She shakes her head sadly, "How could you crush my hopes so ruthlessly, mom? And the paternity test results aren't even out yet."

She's grounded forever. It's a little amusing but mostly just ridiculous.




The farewell is all she'd ever expected it to be; perfectly awful. There are tons of these people from her school (and really, who are her parents kidding, they probably had to pay half the kids to attend. It isn't as if Justin's popular or anything) and it's all "Oh Justin, we'll miss you." and her mother manages to say 'Stanford' twenty times in one sentence and there are way too many girls in short skirts who most likely only know his name because it's up on the banner that Harper made him. Harper's with Zeke but there are still these moments when she glances at Justin with this particular look and smiles too wide and stands too close and um, gross, because Harper's a Russo too now, so.

She escapes halfway through the evening and sits outside because she hates these gatherings as much as she hates Christmas, when you've to be nice and polite and absolutely no pranks Alex and any sign of magic and you're not dating till the armageddon and it's not as if he's going to notice. Or if she's going to notice if he doesn't notice. Or if…what was the question again?

Later he comes outside and he looks so surprised it's almost fake; he's not the actor in the family. "Alex, I didn't even know you were here." And yeah, that completely ruins whatever reputation he was trying to build as a semi, could-be-decent liar.

There's some long speech in her head about how here is really nowhere, but philosophical, fake-Justin had said it to her sometime and it's really not a good time to bring him up. She looks at real-Justin instead, and his coat is off and two of his shirt buttons are open and his tie is loose and there are—

"Lipstick marks. Really, Justin, isn't it a little too desperate to steal some poor girl's lipstick and make them? Or did you magic those up?"

He looks so surprised it's almost genuine, "What?" Then he raises his hand smugly to his neck, "oh. Seems like girls really dig those Ivy-League-types."

"Okay, firstly, please tell me you did not just say dig."

He waits a while and she stares at the night sky, and it still doesn't make her feel like it's supposed to; romantic and deep and meaningful and beautiful. Mostly everything’s too far to matter and it's just a little disappointing. "What are the other points?"

"You're still speaking," she turns her head, "what other points."

"You said 'firstly', so there should be something more you wanted to add to that. 'Secondly' at least, if not 'thirdly' or 'fourthly'. Otherwise, grammatically speaking, the sentence is incomplete." dork.

He looks at her and she looks at his neck and her insides clench, "nope, nothing else."




They haul her back in later and her mother pushes her on this dangerously tilted platform that has Max's attempt at magic written all over it. They're watching her in anticipation like this is it (it's like obviousness is in their genetic make-up or something) and she stands for a while and looks down at him, his hands crossed over his chest, this bored expression on his face that he stole from her and doesn’t think the room across hers will be just too empty (nobody actually thinks that, unless it’s someone in those trashy romance novels that she absolutely does not hide under newspaper covers.)

"Later loser." I love you. Please, like that was ever going to happen.

(He almost smiles, except he later does the 'hurt' expression well enough to fool her parents and she's grounded for the rest of her lifetimes too.)

The next day he's gone, and wow, it's like five Christmases at once.




"You're everything that I ever wanted to be. Please don't leave me here. Please."

"I'll never leave you."

Liar.




She visits. A lot. A lot more than you'd imagine from 'a lot'. California is two thousand four hundred and thirteen miles away from New York and it takes her a lot of difficult magic which almost goes wrong (there's that embarrassing incident with that guy in the shower which really never happened), but not quite and well, her parents should be proud of her here.

"Alex!"

He's sitting at a table with a lamp-light (seriously? Someone should tell the guy it's not circa 1648 BC or whatever) and all these books in front of him and it's completely lame and totally Justin.

"They're having sandwiches for dinner." she says by way of explanation. And it's explanation enough; they live in a Sub Station, so um, boring. Besides Harper is out on a dinner with Zeke and her parents are fighting about magic again (or it might have something to do with the dinner she revamped by adding bat wings. Which is funny because bat, vamp, geddit? But that). And Max is…Max, so it isn't really like she had any alternative source of entertainment left.

"You've got to stop doing that," he says, getting up, "what if I'd been doing something personal? Really, Alex, this is…"

He catches the innuendo only when she raises her eyebrow and yep, watching his face flood with color is definitely more interesting than bat-wing-sandwiches.

"Not like that," his voice cracks as it rises, like it so often does (substantiating her unshaking belief that really he's just a ten-year-old girl trapped in an eighteen-year-old sort-of guy's body), "—And you shouldn't be that quick at catching double entendres."

"Yeah, talking in Spanish doesn't make it sound any less disgusting. Is that what you do when you're all alone? In college? With probably hundreds of drunk, horny girls partying around campus at this very moment? You're even lamer than I thought, and believe me; I wouldn't have actually thought that possible."

"It's French," he shakes his head in exasperation (and that was so the most important part in her sentence), "it's also very commonly used in English. And you've only taken Spanish since what, first grade?"

"Right, that grew old the fifteen millionth time you asked me," she says, and she didn't at all miss these fights…at all. "I'm just curious to see how you're surviving without mom telling you to breathe in between being…you…sometimes."

"You'd have thought the curiosity would’ve been somewhat satisfied after the hundredth or so odd visit", sarcasm isn't really his thing, and she has a patent on it anyway "but alas."

"Justin," she sighs in contentment, (the guy just said alas, he obviously needs her here just so the lameness factor of the room won’t go below acceptable human limits) "I'm still taking pleasure in the idea of your perfect track record in school being rewarded by – not a book of forbidden spells, not a personal robot, not even new clothes— but more school. I don't think the irony will ever quite make it out of my system." even if he's two thousand four hundred and thirteen miles away, it's still ironical. And sort of sad. And by sad she means lame, obviously.

"Okay," he says, taking deep breaths, like he's trying to calm himself in that way that most people do when she's around, "okay, you're here and I'm just going to have to handle it. Like always. Right. Good. I can totally do this."

"What are you getting all wound up about anyway? It's not such a big deal. I was bored. And I haven't even opened a giant black hole sucking in the universe in your room or anything. Yet."

He looks at her then, and under his scrutiny she wishes she hasn't come because damn him, she doesn't need his pity. He can't look at her like that and make her feel like she's five or something and he’s just so much older. "Alex," he says again, quietly this time, "you can't keep doing this."

"Honey," she says, and she's not going to let him hear the waver in her voice, because hello, pretences are her forte.

"What?" he sounds more guarded than surprised.

"Alex, you can't keep doing this, honey," she says in a high voice that sounds nothing like him, but whatever, "you know, to add in the right degree of condescension…mom" she adds because he's still looking at her and could he please just stop right about now? And it's awkward and she has to look away, and technically this is all his fault. Why can't he just look resigned to see her and then go back to his dumb books like normal people. What the hell is wrong with him? Why does he always have to make stuff more than it actually is. More than she means it to be.

He runs his hand through his hair, "what do you want for dinner?"

It's the most obvious out ever, but she takes it anyway, just because. "Anything that isn't green or leafy or a vegetable would do perfectly fine, thank you."

His face scrunches up and he's so, so predictable, "you really need to start eating healthier. One of the major causes of your chronic laziness is probably your diet being all wrong."

Or, maybe one of the major causes of her laziness is…laziness. "But pineapples are healthy."

"Where am I supposed to get pineapples from right now?" and it feels so much like home. More than home feels like home at the moment (she'll soon be composing unicorn poetry, just great. All that magic she’s been doing probably has fine print and side effects that she doesn't know about because Justin's not around to be annoying and warn her.)

"On the pizza, great, catch." she throws the phone to him and it hits him on the head (she can't really help her wand slipping) and he glares at her and when the pizza arrives she makes sure he gets most of the pineapple bits because he hates them and it's just like it always was and oh god, yes.




Her parents look at her in this certain way when she gets back and blink way too fast and move their hands a lot and keep throwing around completely random words like change and loss and adjustment and letting go and blah, blah, blah and um, Justin's the one at the other end of the universe, so they've kind of got the wrong person here.




"I've never met your roommate," she says, sprawled on his bed (she doesn't know how this is going to work out, but there's no way in hell she's taking the couch), "isn't that weird?"

He turns around, rubbing his forehead tiredly and she resists the urge to say 'come to bed' or something equally stupid, "he doesn't come in when you're here."

"Why not?" it's not like she can't be shown in company (and now he's here and she doesn't know every single thing about him anymore, and it sucks.)

"He," Justin's suddenly very awake, "he, uh, he just doesn't want to interrupt."

That makes sense; nobody ever wants to interrupt them, because they have wands and they're capable of anything in their heated fights and those happen with alarming frequency. Except there's something weird about him at the moment and his expression isn't quite right and—

"Oh god, he thinks I'm your girlfriend or something."

She knows she's right as the predictable flush of color makes it way underneath his skin and it's hilarious and not funny at all. "He just…sort of…assumed, because you're here so much and you're so…loud and—"

She kneels on his bed; laughing, till she can't breathe and you're so loud, really? "This obviously means you haven't ever met your roommate either. If he thinks you're capable of getting a girl then—"

"…I've had loads of girlfriends befo—"

"…a normal girl." she amends.

"You're not normal," he says like it's a profound truth, and trust him to miss the entire point.

"Then I'd be perfect for you, I'd balance out your ultra-boring normalness."

And quite honestly, that isn't what she'd meant to say. Maybe there should be some sort of spell for putting alarm signals on all the words that should never be strung together. And it terrifies her, how it's starting to slip between the cracks. All these little things that mean nothing and add up all wrong, like her brain catches up two seconds after her mouth has already said it, and it's always entirely too much and never quite enough.

"Not girlfriend exactly," he says, like it covers up the confusion (yeah, good luck with that), "just friends, or like…"

"So what, friends with benefits or something?" She laughs again, because seriously? Justin? It's completely, unutterably ridiculous. He's the kind of guy who probably compares medical charts on the third date to judge the probability of the kid having his eyes.

He glares at her, "as touched I am by your constant amusement at the idea that I can have normal relationships," (that word sure comes up a lot, and um, his last girlfriend was a rebound from a vampire who was bitten by a werewolf and aged a thousand years in three seconds, so normal relationships is a bit of an overstatement), "I think you should just sleep now and let me study."

"And I think you should just stop studying now and come to bed with me", and oh, so she said it.

"Alex," it's impossible to miss the warning in his eyes, and you're pushing too far but since when is that news.

"What?" she says, and that's the best thing about silent conversations, nobody can say they ever really happened.

He looks at her a long while and she lies down on his bed and it's not going to be today, "nothing."




He does come to bed eventually, and she shifts around a lot and he makes an effort to still her. Then she 'wakes up' and tries to smother him with her pillow, because hello, you don't attack her when she's sleeping, that's basic Alex 101. And he whispers furiously, because even in the middle of the night he's Justin enough to not raise his voice. And she tells him no one's listening and screams and he clamps his hand over her mouth and tells her that being her brother should've come with a warning sign and someone should definitely have held auditions. And she bites his hand, and climbs on top of him, pillow in hand, laughing, her hair falling all over him and hits him way too hard. He says her name a lot in varying degrees of intensity and finally picks up his own pillow till they're just sort of rolling in his bed and he ends up with feathers all over and under his nightshirt (score), and he finally pulls her down and tells her to sleep or he's going to teleport her back this instant. She pouts and runs her fingers through his hair and messes it up completely and he clamps one hand down over her body to stop her moving and she finally falls asleep like that and it's just that easy.




"Justin?"

It's way too early to hear his name (and she's not quite sure the time actually exists, wasn't eight a.m. some kind of myth?) and in this weird inflection like—

She gets up.

"Oh," the guy at the door pauses and looks at her, "sorry, I didn't know there was someone else here. I'm Justin's roommate, Jason."

She can feel Justin's eyes on her, burning through her clothes and oh, so that's why she hasn't met his roommate till now. The British accent, the hair, the hang-dog expression (she can still make puns, that's progress right?) and his name even rhymes and universe, this is a really, really sick joke.

"I'm Alex," she manages, pulling feathers from her hair and it hurts all over again, so much. She can almost hear Justin's Older Brother protective armor clinch into place but it doesn't help because real heartbreak is always a personal taste and even he can't do anything about it, like he's done for scraped knees and all the occasions she's screwed up. And maybe it's like ironic or something, because in all that times she tried to get Justin to move on from Juliet, she obviously forgot to take her own advice.

Jason looks at her for a moment, and then at Justin and the devastated room and he has she's too young, dude, what're you doing plastered all over his face and Justin answers the unspoken question because he's Justin, "Alex, Jason. Jason, Alex. My sister."

"Oh," he smiles at her, "it's nice to meet you. Visiting from New York? That's a long way off, I've heard."

"Yeah," she says, and she stares and she's not going to say it, "do you like dogs." and she’s said it.

Jason looks surprised, and she can almost hear the silent don't do this to yourself from the other side of the room but maybe if she doesn't look at him, this will never have happened, "yeah. Why, are you a dog-lover too?"

He answers before she has a chance to, "not really. She doesn't like dogs. She thinks she does and occasionally she's overcome by this urge to pretend like she has a heart and cares about things but mostly if it doesn't help her in something evil, she doesn't like it."

(And that, in all probability, might be the nicest thing he's ever said about her).




He sleeps on the hard-backed couch that night and the question would be what are you so afraid of but he's three feet away and there are sixty seven degrees of separation between them so she stays awake and he pretends to sleep and she doesn't ask.



The next time she visits him she's just completed her grounding period from the last time she visited him, give or take a month.

"That is not how you put on a tie."

He drops his head in his hands and groans, and really, this is sort of insulting. "Just. Not now, Alex. I'm busy."

She ignores him, all that time not studying had to go somewhere, she's practically Einstein when it comes to Ignoring Justin 301, "how could you not know how to wear a tie, you've only worn it, what, your entire senior year?"

He looks at her in the mirror, and maybe this is the part where she should explain why she's here or maybe she can just save her breath, "clip ons."

"What?" she heard the first time.

"They were clip ons." he grits his teeth.

"Okay, there is no way I could possibly make that sound lamer. Why don't you use magic? Wizard, wand, spells, ring a bell?"

"You know that time you brought Cab 804 to life?" and this is related how?

"...Yeah?" I think the words you're looking for here are 'help me'.

"Not everything needs to be solved using magic, Alex" he says it quietly, like he's being deep or something, and she could tell him nobody knows that better than she does. Magic doesn't solve everything, it has rules and laws and it doesn't tell you what you're supposed to do when you wish parents had never met or you ruin your mother's birthday or you get this weird feeling every time this guy you absolutely don’t like ruffles your hair like he did when you were four (she isn't given to lying to herself, that's Justin).

"Not like that was a lame attempt at trying to change the subject from your inability to wear a tie or anything," she goes up to him, "consider this your next birthday gift. Christmas too. And FYI, people usually wear a shirt before they wear the tie."

"I was just going to, and maybe if you hadn't just barged in like that—"

"…I teleported."

"The sentiment remains the same."

And she thinks keep talking because otherwise this is something else entirely and she's not going to…she can't…it's just—

She picks up the shirt (tempted, so tempted) before he does and please don't say anything right now, just, "Alex, I can wear that on my own."

"It's okay, whatever, this is your Christmas gift after all."

"Alex," she can barely hear him and maybe if she doesn't look at him, she can "look at me."

"Please," she cuts in, and it sounds too much like she's begging, and she hates, hates herself, "please. Let me. Please"

She concentrates on getting the buttons in the right holes and he can probably hear her heart pounding and this is fucking insane and if her hand could please stop shaking so much and there's this one moment where she looks up and he looks down and it strikes her like a ten ton pole; this is a really, really bad idea.

She lets her hand drop, "you do it. My hands are tired."

She can see his jaw clench, "are you sure you don't want to give me my New Years' present as well?" and she almost deserves it except,

"You have a picture of Juliet in your wallet. The weather lady on Channel Nine finally take out a restraint order or something?" he still has a picture of Juliet in his wallet.

He looks tired, "I don't have time to deal with this right now, Alex." she wants to say something about not caring, and how he's crazy if he thinks there's anything related to him that she'd ever want to deal with and -

"What happened to growing up, Justin? Moving on? You're pathetic." actually she was going to sound amused and condescending and pitying but it's harsh and loud and she just wants to hurt him really, really badly.

"Really?" he grips her shoulder and she needs to hear it's not just her, "let's talk pathetic. Do you like dogs?"

And it's so much like they're back in the lair, standing on the other ends of the room, wands out, because it's what they've always done, how they get through everything, the one thing they're good at together. But there aren't any parents upstairs whom she can run off too, and the weirdest thing is, she's not even sure what this is about (or maybe she is, but that's her denial and she'll stick to it) and all he has is guilt in his eyes and not even a worthy sin to justify it, and all she has are unreasonable dreams and campfire memories and possibly an eternity of damnation.

She kisses him.




It's not as if she marking off days in the calendar in her room

(He doesn't come home for thanksgiving).




Because she's sixteen, the next time she wears her shortest skirt and visits Jason.

"Are you sure about this?" she lounges around and it's so freaking palpable, can't he see it in her eyes?

"Sure, guests allowed," he hesitates, "you won't be uncomfortable, would you? You're a little…"

"…young?" her lips tighten, "age is but a number, right?" stupid. that’s stupid. she's stupid.

"Right," he says, reluctantly, "but, um, you don't think Justin would mind?"

"He won't," honesty hadn't proved a good teammate anyway; "he doesn't really mind anything I do. Besides it's just a department dinner, right? That doesn't sound too wild."

Jason smiles, "yeah, we're not exactly a wild crowd really." since Justin's a part of this ‘crowd’, she'd sort of figured that out already. And anyway, it's just a dinner, it'll be over soon enough, where every moment he ignores her will last a couple of beats of a stopped clock.




She screws up just as much, except there's no one to take the heat or solve stuff and it really, really sucks and it shouldn't because goddammit she's won the wizard competition before ("it's not fair. I know everything there is to know about magic and you, you just come along, and you do it") but all her powers are useless without him, and (she didn't just think that).




There's too much food and nothing you can get drunk on, and it's a little different and she's not watching him at all. (And he's talking and he's laughing and his hair's longer, but he's still trying to get someone to start another alien language league and he belongs here.)

So she flirts outrageously throughout dinner and she's vaguely reminded of the "hey Justin," followed by kissing some random guy and god has she always been this obvious? It's stupid, so stupid that nobody's yet invented a word to capture the sheer vastness of its stupidity and it's never going to work and—

He corners her later, "what are you doing?" and she thinks he belongs with her more (she doesn't actually think that, that's just lame).

"What," she says, all false bravado and yeah whatever and it's so different except, oh, wait, that's how it’s always been.

"Alex," and in the sickest, most twisted way, she missed. This. Missed this. The Older Brother mantle he wears around all the time, the condescension and I-don't-really-care-it's-all-in-the-how-to-be-a-good-brother-manual which is mostly just annoying but a little something else that she can't put into words because it feels so, "he's not Mason. Don't do this." don't do this to whom. herself? him?

"Right, he's not Mason," she been longing for him at home, this Justin. The one who went 'you can't date Dean, he doesn't have a library card', because really, they're not only about the fights. Almost yes, but mostly not. Deep inside they're about the reluctant hugs and owning up for the other and almost smiles and planned revenge and all the snark and love and so, so much— "thank you, captain obvious." are you blind?

"Why are you doing this?" he asks quietly, and are they even talking about the same thing? What were they talking about in the first place?

She looks him straight in the eye and thinks this is it. "You know why I'm doing this."

He sidesteps the danger zone entirely and wow, she totally hadn't expected him to do that or anything, "You sure held back in your 'Seduce Jason' strategy," he sarcastically looks her up and down, and yes, her skirt could use a couple more inches, but if it makes him look like that— (she's not only going to a special place in hell, she's probably going to another hell altogether), "why didn't you just go ahead and wear your Lolita costume."

"Loleeta isn't a word, you idiot." He can't just keep inventing terms and pretending this isn't happening (and um, could he please just step a little back from her heart splattered on the ground over there, it'd be much appreciated) does he think she's stupid or something?

He almost smiles and her insides clench in tenderness and this isn't fair; "Lolita is a character in a book. Written in 1955 by Vladimir Nabokov, it's still banned from a lot of libraries for the apparent propagation of pedophilia."

She crosses her arms over her chest, "that's it? Are you sure you don't have some paragraphs memorized that you'd like to begin reciting? Also, does mom know you're reading this stuff? Pedophilia?"

He's immediately on the defensive, "It's not sensational literature; it's a classic. And it makes excellent use of black humor, which is usually missed, and it has multiple interpretations. In the '96 movie they completely reinterpreted the relationship between the protagonist in his late thirties and the twelve year old Lolita to just focus on the tenderness, a much over-looked aspect of the relationship."

Was there a point or purpose to this or was she going to have to guess? "She's twelve? That's…"

"…Disgusting?" he finishes for her and he's not looking at her and why isn't he looking at her?

(It's insane, but they're talking Justin here so maybe they aren't talking about what she thinks they're talking about but they're talking about something else entirely and even that makes more sense than this whole mess).

"Fine." No, it's not. But that was a stupid allegory anyway, hadn't the guy heard of 'Flowers in the Attic'? It was that one book that every girl had finished twice by ninth grade.

"That's…fine?" he looks up, and he looks so…and isn't it typical that this whole huge fuck up would come to some completely random moral discussion on a book she's never heard of and probably could have gone a lifetime without hearing about and Justin talking like he's swallowed a dictionary, but it's him and her and this is what it was always going to be. Dysfunctional.

"I think," and she won't cry because she's Alex freaking Russo and, "its okay. If they…love each other or whatever. It's fine."

"It isn't," yep, they were talking about something else. "No, it's not. It's never okay to take advantage of someone who doesn't know what she's doing because she's too young and given to believing that everything works out in the end and has no clue about what she wants–"

He thinks he's taking advantage of her? Like, what sort of alternate reality does he exist in? "I don't have a Lolita costume." evasive skills, learnt from the best. She lives with him after all.

He looks startled, and then his mouth turns up just ever so slightly, "you do. That thing you wore when you made your art studio inside the dollhouse."

And he'd fixed it, as usual. "I wanted that." she wants this, she doesn't say, "I've wanted want a lot of things."

Maybe he can pretend some more, and it's okay, she has a lifetime ahead with him, the whole sibling thing doesn't just go away. Magic doesn't solve everything.

"Don't you get it, Alex, not everything is about you." he rubs his face resignedly, and he's the one cutting through the bullshit and maybe on some days it's just too much effort not to, "This, right now, isn't about you. It isn't about me. Do you even fucking know what you're asking for? What you want from this."

It's the first time she's heard him curse and she's sure that's not a trait perfect sons and brothers share, and can he stop treating her like she's ten and had no idea what she's doing, she's freaking sixteen for god's sake, "I know what I want." beyond doubt. Some things are true whether she wants them to be or not.

He runs his hand through his hair in his usual gesture of frustration and her throat closes up because she's been noticing since she was ten, "no, you don't, Alex. You're just pushing. As usual. Just to see how far you can go before something snaps."

She does mean it. She messes up. That's how it always goes. But she also always means it. Every single time "I want you to kiss me." Maybe she should have taken the Beatles' way out and told him she just wanted to hold his hand or something.

"Don't do this to me," doesn't he know some spell to make it go away, he always knows a spell to make it go away "Alex, don't do this to me."

And she's already sorry for it. So sorry. So very, very sorry. Sorry that she feels this way and she's making him look like this. So sorry because he's her older brother and she wants to kiss him. So sorry because she’s already kissed him. So sorry because all she can do is be sorry about it.

"I need to know." that she's not the only fool here because that would really suck, "because it's way too much work and you know I like to work as little as possible." she doesn't need to be told it's too hard, she needs to be told it's worth it. That the time with the stone of dreams or the Cab 804 or the report card or the election or the carpet or the dollhouse or every single freaking thing she's ever stored away wasn't just her messed-up head inventing stupid subtext. That sometimes he's thought it, felt it, whatever. "I mean, obviously I'm the one lowering my standards here, so there should be some sort of guarantee attached that—"

He kisses her then, while she's contemplating the universe and magic and economics and everything in between, so softly, it almost breaks her skin. And she kisses him back hard, desperate and yes god please I, don't stop, just keep and she doesn't even know what she's thinking anymore because he's…and he probably hates himself. It's hardest for him, with his morals and "do you know how wrong that is" and stupid clip on ties and all those things he's been taught to believe in since forever, like karma and damnation and forgiveness and redemption and sin; words that she’s been told to look up in a dictionary a thousand times but never has because it feels too much like studying and if she wanted to do homework, she would just do homework.

But he also believes in magic so maybe someday they'll figure this out. Or rather they'll argue and she'll screw it up, and he'll figure it out. It's what they do.




("How do you know that?"

"Because. It's you and I. How can we not?")




Next 'Justin's finally home for the holidays' bash, she tells him she loves him. On a stage. In front of everyone, in a huge crowded hall filled with people whom she's sure she's never seen before, and nothing in the world will convince her that her dad didn't make Max open the 'Party Box' that Uncle Kelbo had sent her mother for her birthday that one time (seriously, who are they kidding, it's not like Justin's popular or anything). Except she adds 'yeah right' at the end and Justin does that stupid hurt look of his (okay, does that guy practice it in front of the mirror or something?) and her parents still fall for it (like, seriously, what?) and she's grounded till her children have grandchildren, but she punishes him for it at night, and he soundproofs the room because 'she's so loud'. 

And some days she just sits in her room and paints him in different lights and hides all of them and he pretends like he knows how to play the guitar and makes up all these pathetic songs. And this one time he says something about Max being a full wizard and she can’t look at him because he deserves it more than anyone else and she’s taking that away from him, but then he kicks her foot under the table and she has to look at him and he smiles. And it's so, so hard to keep pretending, and maybe sometime they'll have to tell and her parents will hate her and Harper will never talk to her again and it's huge and scary and absolutely too much.

But that's okay. It's not like she ever believed it would be easy. (She just believed it'd be, you know, worth it, or whatever.)

 
 
Current Mood: bitchybitchy
 
 
 
jane_wanderlustjane_wanderlust on April 17th, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
omg.
The slight eoirjsoej; this ship gives me over it's obvious factor...
Does nothing to hide the fact that I love it so fucking much.

And I'm almost scared,
because like...I'm 99% sure we are the same person?
y/y?

BEAUTIFUL as usual bb.
Shipper soulmates has reached new levels.
<3
youcallitwinter: but  I keep them in a box under my bedyoucallitwinter on April 18th, 2011 08:09 am (UTC)
So, Justin/Alex too? I don't even. SO, BASICALLY, I AM CREEPILY FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOU THROUGH THE INTERWEBS. Haha, I can't believe you actually read through all that. I'm usually a 2000 words person and it isn't even like WOWP is a big fandom of mine, but somehow Alex is fun to write. And all said and done, they're one hot sibling pair :D Not to mention, the show totally plays up to it; Todd Greenwald keeps talking about Jalex and he's always excited when he manages to add it in an episode!
GrimSagegrimsage0013 on April 18th, 2011 05:36 am (UTC)
Wow . . . Just, wow.

This fic is absolutely amazing. I am almost at a loss for words.

The writing is so perfectly spot-on with both of their characters, and I love the way you shift between Alex's dialog and her innermost thoughts.

Her denial is so perfectly palatable, and yet, the real joy is in watching her shift into acceptance of her true feelings for Justin, despite all that it means for them both.

And Justin, well, the way he tries to pretend to be oblivious to the tension that hangs in the air between them, you just know he's just trying to be strong enough for the both of them. (Even though it's clear he's going to give in eventually.)

You know, the first scene where she pops into his dorm room reminded me of amathela's fic And Our Future's Looking Bright , but the stories vary greatly in plot and form, so it's just a passing familiarity I suppose. (I also recommend checking out that fic too, if you haven't read it already.)

I'll just close by thanking you for creating such a wonderful fic. Can't wait to read more of your stuff.
youcallitwinter: but  I keep them in a box under my bedyoucallitwinter on April 18th, 2011 08:18 am (UTC)
Thank you so much :)

I just think Alex is insanely fun to explore because I'm pretty sure she'll never go "OMG, I LOVE JUSTIN", even in her thoughts, so it's all snark-snark-denial-snark and 'uh, yeah, like that's ever going to happen'. And in my personal canonical belief system, I always think she knows it, but she doesn't want to accept it because, well, obviously, the whole sibling-issue is hardly easy. But she'd be more willing to 'go there', Justin would probably just angstly pine away before confessing it, haha

Ah, sorry, I haven't read that fic :) Oddly enough, I mostly don't read fic in this fandom, even though I've written some. I suppose that's because when I did try a couple, the relentless angst (which I usually love) got to me, I always need a bit of humor to tide it over. And I like dork!Justin, so in-control-possessive Justin makes me feel a little off. The college thing was meant to be an extension of 'Delinquent Justin' (HOW AWESOME WAS THAT AGAIN?), but I'll definitely make sure to read it now!
(Anonymous) on April 22nd, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)
WOW. I've read this one shot about 5 times now.
And each time I'm like wow this was completely awesome and heartbreaking and no words can even describe how much I love it.
You capture Alex perfectly. You show how she puts off this completely tough girl image but then is all soft and unsure on the inside.
And when you show the dialog between Justin and Alex...my heart breaks a little and I want this one shot to continue for forever because your writing is truly fantastic.
I think you should def. continue writing about Jalex or just writing in general.
youcallitwinter: but  I keep them in a box under my bedyoucallitwinter on April 23rd, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
That's so sweet of you! Although, I get nervous whenever someone reads my fics multiple times because I can't help feeling like there're so many mistakes each time I read it myself. The illusion of 'I like that' is mostly only maintained in the first two readings, haha. I love Alex, and I love that she doesn't have many moral compulsions throughout the show, like other Disney shows where you HAVE to do the right thing in the end. If Alex can get away with it, well, she doesn't then :D
canspy: Storm in the form of a girlcanspy on April 26th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
I love what you've done here! Everything's so in character! Justin would back off and try to be the responsible one and of course Alex would push without thinking ahead, and wow their inner voices are great! Can't wait for more. :D
youcallitwinter: but  I keep them in a box under my bedyoucallitwinter on April 27th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! I suppose this is why its so long, because I wanted them to actually kiss and to get to that point I needed SO MUCH DEVELOPMENT (although that got kind of sidelined for Justin/Alex interactions, but I don't really mind :P) Alex's inner voice is fun to do because she's aware, but actually Justin might be fun to do too since he'll be so much in denial!
(Deleted comment)
youcallitwinteryoucallitwinter on May 15th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
Re: FIRETRUCKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aww, thanks so much! I don't write much Jalex fic and don't read any at all, and I'm not even sure why! Like, I think mostly I read fic when I'm dissatisfied with what's actually happening (and since my ships are usually doomed from the word 'pilot', that's a lot) but here, I LOVE the show dynamic that they've built. I love Justin being a dork and Alex being insanely selfish and awesome and I don't want it to change!
So glad you liked it!
norahenrienorahenrie on July 3rd, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
This was so good.
You captured both of them so well, how even in her head Alex doesn't admit her real feelings, and keeps avoiding the L-word because it's too much, and so not her, and I loved the dialogue, because it's so typical JustinAlex.
Can the writers of WOWP please read this and make an episode out of it? Like, Disney Channel is so unsuitable for the show.
youcallitwinteryoucallitwinter on July 3rd, 2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! :)

It's one of my pet peeves in Justin/Alex fanfic when they're much too angst-ridden or Justin's too controlling and 'hot', because that negates all I actually like about them in the show- like Justin being a dork or Alex scheming and walking around being snarky, so I don't read much fic for them.

Disney Channel is so unsuitable for the show.

THIS. So much.