Pairing: Justin/Alex (don't like? don't read.)
Disclaimer: Don't own anything.
AN: Christy, thank you for the wonderful beta (twice, lol). I couldn't have done this without you! )
Hellfire and eternal damnation were not usually concepts that Alex Russo gave much thought to.
To be honest, it wasn't really her style.
She had always lived by her own warped code of conduct in which she did as she pleased in order to satisfy her needs at the moment and never paid mind to things as trivial as consequences; not consequences of the near future, and especially not for all eternity.
That's how she stayed happy, she was sure of it. She was also sure of something else; taking on the burden of guilt and accountability for the things she did, well, that would just turn her into Justin.
And really, who wants that?
Alex strums her fingers nervously against table #5, and she's trying desperately to remember who she was not even 24 hours earlier.
Don't think about the hereafter, just do what you want, and whatever happens, happens (Hey, you'll probably have fun trying to fix it).
Yeah, that whole mess of a theory blew right out the proverbial window when her brother kissed her yesterday afternoon.
Her fingers stop strumming when she re-plays the moment in her head.
Dean had finally asked her out. Finally. And it was a real date, one at nighttime, and it was just the two of them; no group of miscellaneous friends, no Harper, and definitely no chocolate fountains. Just a boy and girl, and whatever happens, happens, right?
"You aren't going out with Dean Moriarti."
And he said it such finality that Alex actually stopped and stared at him expectantly instead of just hurling out some clever quip as she slammed the door in his face.
When he only eyed her warningly, but didn't speak, she threw her purse back on the couch and crossed her arms in front of her, "Not that I'm gonna do what you say anyway, but why not?"
He stood up from his seat at the island to face her.
"It doesn't matter why not. As your older brother, I'm telling you that you're not going out with him."
She laughed once, and then she scoffed, "Yeah…gonna need a better reason than that, 'J-Man'" She grabbed her purse to leave but Justin stepped in front of her.
"Alex, just do what I say, for once, please."
"Why should I? You're treating me like a child. You can't even give me a real reason. Only Mom and Dad can do that and guess what? You aren't them. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date to get to."
He groaned, exasperated with her logic, "Look, Alex, I just don't think it's gonna work out between the two of you."
"Well, thank you Dr. Phil, but I think I can make up my own mind about who I 'work out with'. Now move." She pushed at his chest, but he didn't budge, much to her surprise and annoyance.
"Alex, this isn't a joke. He said some stuff today and-"
"What did he say?"
"Not important, just know that he said some stuff and-"
"It doesn't matter!" He was in her face now, something foreign in his eyes that Alex didn't recognize, "You aren't going out with him and that's the end of it..."
She breaks their eye contact, shaking her head slightly.
"Who are you? Queen Elizabeth?" Justin rolled his eyes, "I don't have to listen to you. Mom and Dad may have left you in charge of the loft, but they already gave me permission to go out with Dean…and I'm going."
"No, you're not" His hand shot out to catch hers as she spun around. Then, as if it had burned him, he dropped it. Her brows creased in confusion, but she didn't let it hinder the flow of their argument.
"Why do you care who I date?"
"I don't!" he shouted, retreating a few steps, putting some distance between them.
"Could've fooled me! Oh…wait a minute, does this have anything to do with that ridiculous ideal you have about being 'in charge' and 'respected'? Yeah, I think that's what it is. You know Justin, you really need to work on getting over that."
He swiped his hand down his face, "It's not about that, Alex. Damn it, why won't you just listen to me?"
She was taken back. Justin never swore. Actually, in the split second she had to think about it, she couldn't remember ever hearing him do it.
"I don't know. Maybe if you just told me what was up, I might!"
Justin almost growled in frustration and, seemingly giving up, turned around to leave.
"Justin-" Alex caught him at the elbow and pulled him back around to face her. She was about to demand another explanation, but before she could even get a word out his lips came down on hers hard and fast; his hands on her neck and face, the pads of his thumbs stroking her jaw line.
Her arms were limp at her sides and her eyes had fallen shut just from the sheer familiarity of kissing someone. They soon opened however, and her motionless arms shot up to his chest, pushing him away with a force she didn't know she was capable of.
He stumbled back, but soon righted himself. Alex's mouth hung open in disbelief, waiting for all his words to come out in some jumbled mess that she probably wouldn't hear even if she were trying really hard to listen.
But he just stood there. With labored breathing, he stood there and stared at her, his eyes still wild. It was as if it hadn't hit him yet, what he had just done.
That, or he just didn't care. But Alex knowing Justin as well as she did had to guess the former.
She wanted to shout at him, but the words were stuck in her throat. Instead, her lips thinned into a harsh, angry line, and an unforgiving slap echoed against the walls of the loft when her small hand connected with his cheek.
A tiny gasp fell from her lips before she had time to stop it, but Justin didn't say anything. Not a single word. He didn't even look at her.
She watched him stand there for a good minute, hand clutching his offended cheek, eyes cast towards the floor but shut tight.
He uttered a soft "I'm sorry." It was so soft that she wondered if she'd imagined it, but before she could decide which he was halfway up the winding staircase.
A few seconds later she heard a door slam.
She didn't have to touch her face to know that she was crying.
Back at the sub station she's fighting off tears as she recalls the instance. Sometimes she wishes she could just forget it happened. Sometimes.
She groans outwardly. Her mind wants her to forget, but her heart is betraying her. Or it could be the other way around, Alex isn't sure. She's never really noticed the difference between her heart and her head, because they usually wanted the same thing.
"What's wrong, Alex? Why weren't you at school today?" she recognizes the voice immediately as Harper's.
She grunts in reply and stares up at her friend, taking in her magenta and peach colored ensemble with assorted fruits arranged here and there. She catches herself before she rolls her eyes.
"Your eyes are droopy, your hair is a mess, and…did you get any sleep last night?"
"No," she grumbles, and lets her head rest on the table between her arms.
With a sympathetic tilt of her head, Harper pats her friend's arm and takes the seat across from her.
When Alex doesn't look up, Harper begins to speak, "I think I know what this is about…"
"You couldn't possibly know what this is about," It sounds mumbled from the folds of her arms, but she knows she's said it loud enough, and it comes out meaner than she's meant for it to. She's thankful she's not looking up now, so she doesn't have to see the hurt on her friend's face.
But Harper seems unaffected when she says, "Oh...But everyone's talking about it. About Justin-"
Alex's head shoots up, "What about Justin?" with fear and trepidation and consequences rushing though her brain.
"He punched Dean in the face after gym yesterday! You didn't know?" Her brows set deep in confusion.
Alex can't tell if her heart rate is climbing or dropping, but she suddenly feels very alert.
"What?!" Harper looks really confused now and Alex tries her best to situate herself, "Oh! I mean, oh- I…totally knew that. I knew about that. Yeah," she covers.
Harper still looks confused, but shakes her head and continues on,
"I can't believe Dean, what a skeeze!"
Alex's eyes squint in disbelief and her hands start flying, "Dean?! What about Justin? Why are you always sticking up for him? He can't just go around hitting," and kissing, she adds mentally, "anyone he wants for whatever reason he wants. He probably hit Dean for no good reason."
Harper looks sincerely apologetic at this juncture and meekly replies to her friend's tirade, "That's not what everyone is saying…"
"Well what, Harper, is everyone saying?" Alex leans back in her seat with a fed up look on her face.
"Well, I heard it from Nelly, who heard it from Zeke, who heard it from Stephanie Tavers, you know, the one with the bad perm?" Alex rolls her eyes but nods, "Well, her boyfriend is in Dean and Justin's gym class and he said Justin heard Dean going on and on to his posse about 'nailing you by Homecoming'…whatever that means. I mean, who says that? Am I right?"
Alex couldn't hear anything Harper was saying after 'Homecoming'. Her stomach and heart and brain and throat had all dropped out of her body.
"Alex? Alex, are you okay?"
Before she can even look at her friend she hears the bell chime on the door to the restaurant and she just knows. She can feel him.
Harper's declaration of "Oh, hey, there's Justin now," doesn't surprise her in the least, but her heart still jumps in her chest.
She won't look at him; she won't give him the satisfaction of seeing what a mess he's made of her; calm, collected, no consequences Alex Russo. Then she shakes her head as reality hits her, because that's all wrong. That's not who Justin is and she's wondering if maybe she should look at him and let him see.
Because he's doing one of two things (and she can't be positive of either because she hasn't seen him since that afternoon).
He's either letting the guilt of kissing her eat away at him or he's relishing in the fact that he's caused this much turmoil in her life, fulfilling his duties as an older brother. She scoffs audibly, because yet again, knowing Justin as well as she does, she's betting on the former.
She hears his footsteps as he maneuvers to the back and into the kitchen, backpack thrown against the bar.
She tries not to think. But that doesn't work. Images of Dean and Justin and that kiss keep flashing in her mind like a silent film on loop.
She accepts that she can't clear her head completely, and so she tries really hard to just think about how stupid Harper's grapefruit earrings look.
Harper casts a sympathetic look her way, then glances back towards Justin, who is now standing at the counter fiddling with the register,
"I think I'm gonna go. Let me know how this works out, okay?"
Alex nods once and offers a weak smile. It's only when the door shuts completely behind her friend that she feels truly vulnerable. She then berates herself again.
It's not like Justin's going to kiss-attack you right here in the middle of the Sub Station.
Her eyes meet his across the room and she doesn't know for certain, but he looks like he's sorry. And she doesn't know for certain either, but she thinks she looks the same.
Over the course of the next two days Alex notices that she's slowly getting back to her old self. Maybe it's because Justin is avoiding her, or she's avoiding him, or whatever, she doesn't care. Because she actually took the time to copy off of Nelly Rodriguez in Spanish this morning! And that makes her slightly optimistic, she's not gonna lie.
Her happier than usual mood is doused, however, when Dean pulls her into an empty classroom before 6th period.
She tries not to stare at his bruised eye.
"Russo, I know you've been avoiding me for the past two days, and I understand. It's just…" he scrambles for the right words, "Look, I didn't mean what I said, okay?"
"Then why did you say it?" She doesn't even know why she's trying.
"Cause the guys were ridin' me, makin' jokes and stuff. I just said it so they'd shut up." Alex is 85 sure that he actually looks sorry…and it kills her.
Because if it were any other day, any other time, any other circumstance, Alex would have believed him and given him a second chance, no questions asked. If she were who she used to be roughly 48 hours ago, she has no doubt in her mind or heart that that would have been the case.
But everything has changed now, and while she can't exactly decipher how and why she's here, it doesn't change the fact that she is.
Whatever happens, happens. Well, this is what happened.
"I'm sorry, Dean, but I just don't think this is going to work out. See ya around." She's almost to the door of the classroom now.
She glances back his way, "Yeah," she replies. She is serious, of that she's certain.
She doesn't go home directly after school. Instead, she walks around Waverly Place for a good three hours, just taking in the city where she grew up, how it all changes, but doesn't change at all.
She observes all the tiny stands lining the street, their surfaces filled with assorted knick-knacks and miscellaneous junk. She stops in her tracks when she sees a small, scuffed up statue of Jesus staring back at her. She turns away from it, because she can't stand the way it makes her feel.
Alex has never given much thought to religion or God or anything of the sort because she really doesn't understand it. Therefore, it frightens her.
Justin keeps a bible in the bottom drawer of his nightstand…
How could he let his happen? How could He let this happen?
How can she be condemned for feelings she can't control?
Feelings? Are there feelings now? Yes, she decides. There's fear, disappointment, disgust…but there's also anxiety, warmth, and curiosity.
And when it all comes down to it, she still loves Justin.
So maybe this whole thing isn't as ruinous as she thought it was.
When she finally gets back to the loft its 6:30 and she can smell dinner on the stove.
"Alex Russo, where have you been all day? We were worried sick!"
Her mom is angry and her Dad is standing there with his arms crossed expectantly. In her peripheral vision she can see her brothers sitting at the kitchen table, but she refuses to look at them directly.
"I was…studying at Harper's?" A beat passes and her parents don't speak, she supposes they are waiting for a more believable excuse, "No? Okay…" she says quietly to herself and tries to think of something better.
Before she can conjure up a more feasible fib, her mother throws her hands up, "Oh, never mind, it isn't like she's going to tell us the truth anyway. Dinner is getting cold, come eat."
"We'll talk about this later, young lady." Her father points in her direction before following her mother to the table.
Alex puts her purse on the couch and prepares to join her family for what she expects to be an awkward dinner. As soon as she sits down, Justin's voice fills her ears.
"Mom, I'm still feeling a little sick, mind if I skip dinner again?"
Theresa frowns slightly, "Are you sure? Hmm, I wonder if you're coming down with something. Here, let me feel your head." He balks at her touch, "No, Mom, it's alright, it's more of a-" he motions to his stomach/chest area, "-thing. I'll be fine. Promise." And with that he's already heading towards the staircase.
Alex can't ignore the pain in her chest. Is it going to be like this from now on? Is she going to lose one of the most important people in her life all because of a stupid kiss that he probably didn't even mean in the first place?
Maybe that would hurt even worse, she thinks, and then is in disbelief of herself.
"I think I lost my appetite," she murmurs, tossing her napkin over her plate. She's sure she looks genuinely ill because she really is.
"Hmm, you may be coming down with whatever Justin has. Why don't you go lie down?" Theresa looks just as concerned as she did for Justin, and Alex is thankful her mother isn't skeptical.
Max, who had been swirling his fork in and around his peas, began to feign stomach pains shortly after Alex left the table, "Mom, I think-"
"Max, eat your vegetables." Theresa cut him off.
Alex hears a vague, "Aww, man…" from halfway up the stairs.
She thinks she was originally planning on going to her room and really lying down. But then she passes Justin's closed bedroom door and can't suppress the urge to wrap her knuckles against it.
All she knows is that she can't go another sleepless night. She can't deal with this anxiety anymore.
When he doesn't answer Alex thinks of running to her room and closing the door and trying her best to just forget this ever happened. That's what Justin's doing, right? Why can't she be more like Justin?
But she finally just opens his door herself, because she's not Justin, she's not like Justin, and she can't let this go.
The first thing she sees is his back, hunched over heaps of papers littered across the top of his bed.
Startled, he pivots around to see who it is, and she can hear him gasp when he sees that it's her.
She closes the door behind her. Justin's hardened stance immediately makes her feel uneasy. He looks like a deer in the headlights, the prey to her predator. He stands so engaged, like he's afraid to move because he knows she'll rip him from limb to limb.
Alex notices his eyes shift to the pile of papers on the bed, then quickly back to her (too quickly), and then finally he just shuts them and sighs in defeat, because he knows he's made a fatal error.
Tempting the predator's curiosity is never a good thing.
"What are those?" She asks, pointing to the crumpled sheets of paper on the comforter.
He doesn't give her an answer, he just goes to shove them out of the way, but Alex chooses this moment to leap forward and it startles him so much that his legs give way and he stumbles into the wall. She pays him no mind, and starts rummaging through these papers that she's apparently not supposed to see.
She sees one with a spell on it. She eyes it carefully and reads it to herself, because really, she's not that dumb.
It read Cerebellum Erasus in bold, black, permanent ink.
And then she understands.
Her eyes fall to all the other papers, marked with information about spell variations and spells that affect the mind for certain periods of time and God, all these numbers.
It's at this moment that she's finally certain that she knows how Justin's been handling this. In the back of her mind she recalls something he said to her last year as if he'd said it yesterday.
'Alex, I'm not like you. I don't break the rules! I'm ridden with guilt, it's eating out my insides!'
How could she have ever questioned it?
For the first time in days he speaks to her,
"Alex, I've been trying to fix this for the past few days. I promise you that I'm trying. Look, I knew about the memory spell from that one time at the baseball game. But it only affects memory for the past few minutes. I would've had to use it right after I…" he can't even say it, "but I didn't think about it until it was too late. So I started reading up on memory spells and I think I might of found something that will just…make this all go away."
For a few seconds she simply stares at him.
"How long will it take us back?" her voice is childlike and she mutters the question before she can stop herself.
He lets go of the breath he was holding in, visibly relieved that she hasn't killed him yet.
"Maybe a week. Maybe just for the last few days. I was hoping…" He fingers the papers on the bed, fishing out the one with the spell in question.
He hands it to her and lets her read over it. It's pretty long, with lots of specifics that she doesn't really feel the need to go over. It doesn't matter, right?
She longs to hug him and slap him at the same time. She's not sure which desire is stronger.
"So you were just going to do this spell and not even tell me? Don't I at least get a choice?"
He looked really startled then, "What? Alex-"
"Why did you kiss me?" she cuts him off.
"What?" his voice breaks.
She's moves closer to him, acknowledging his more relaxed posture.
"I mean, I can understand asking me not to go out with Dean, and I can even understand you hitting him for what he said. I except things like that, Justin- they make sense. But kissing me? That doesn't make any sense. I can't understand that. And I can't just forget about it…Why?"
Her arms are out, palms up, waiting for an answer.
"I don't know," he mutters quietly.
"You don't know?"
"I don't know!" he shouts, staring directly at her now, "I don't know why. I can't give you an answer, Alex. I can't even give myself an answer. It just happened. I wasn't thinking, and I wish I could take it back, but I can't!" His fist slams down onto the nightstand and Alex jumps. She's never seen him like this; so torn up and without resolution.
She goes to touch his swelling hand, but stops short. Instead she starts saying all the words that have been stuck in her head for the past three days.
"Justin, you're always helping me, always fixing things when I mess them up. I never stopped to wonder what would happen if the situation was reversed. You messed up. You crossed a line," he winces at this, and tears start streaming down her face, "and I can't be you. I can't fix this!
"You've put thoughts in my head, Justin. Thoughts that one second will disgust me and then the next…" Her eyes fall to the floor. She can't even finish.
Once she's collected herself as best she can, she faces him again.
She notices that his eyes are red and rimmed with moisture.
"Please don't hate me…" he whispers, and she cracks.
She flies into him, wrapping her arms tightly around his body. She buries her face against his throat, "I could never hate you," she sobs, "I love you too much..."
His arms come around her and his fingers thread through her hair, pulling her in. He rests his head on top of hers and he lets her cry. He could never be more sorry for anything he's ever done, he's certain of it. He eyes the spell discarded on the bed and vows to fix this.
She finally untucks her head from his neck, but doesn't unwrap her arms. Still connected, she says the one thing she knows she'll probably regret later (if she can even remember it, that is).
"I don't want to scare you Justin, and I don't want to creep you out," He starts to shake his head and opens his mouth as if to stop her from saying something so foolish, but she presses on, "but there's a part of me," her eyes detach from his, and she lowers her head to stare off at nothing, "that doesn't want to forget about this."
She can hear his breath hitch and he seems a little surprised, but then he sighs and confesses, "Me too." She smiles a little into his shirt.
They finally break apart and he continues, "But Alex, we can't live like this. Look at everything I've already caused us. I'm not going to lose what we have over this. I'm not going to rip our family apart. I'm not going to let this destroy us. I won't."
"I know," is all she can say after a long contemplative minute, but it doesn't say enough.
He frowns slightly at her, picks up the spell from the bed and begins to read off of it.
"Wait…" Alex whispers, then stares up at him when he doesn't stop, "Wait," she says with more affirmation, and he stops reading.
"What's wrong? Why are we stopping?"
She doesn't answer him, her mouth just hangs open, as if she's trying to speak but can't form the words.
"Before we do this will you just…let me see," her words trail off as her hands move up to his face, one hooking behind his neck, and she pulls him down to her level.
He completely relinquishes control. The kiss is soft and timid at first, her lips merely resting against his. Then she explores a little more and her tongue darts out to trace the contour of his bottom lip.
This is where he stops her, gripping her shoulders tighter than she's sure he means to.
She ignores him, pulling his face back to hers and capturing his lips again, this time with more force. He stays rigid for several moments, fighting it.
Alex's persistence pays off however, and he eventually starts to respond back with intensity in likeness to the first time he kissed her.
As Alex moves even closer, she feels the paper crinkle between them and it makes her jump as if she's been burned by it. She detaches herself from Justin, and after staring at him with uncertainty for several seconds, she slowly slides the paper out of his hand, balls it up as tightly as she can, and then tosses it in the vicinity of his trashcan.
He doesn't protest, like she half expects him to, he just waits patiently for her next move.
Maybe it's easier for him to give me the control, she wonders, maybe it won't eat away at him so much. Maybe.
Their lips meet yet again and in the back of her mind, Alex wonders why she's done it.
She mulls over the reasons in her head. Maybe this, maybe that.
Maybe because Alex Russo is a glutton (Well, if she's going to Hell anyway…)
Maybe because Alex Russo never has and never will give much thought to consequence.
And maybe most of all…because she wants to stay happy.
So for right now she won't think about Heaven and Hell, and Right and Wrong, and Maybe This and Maybe That.
Because why ruin a good thing by worrying about something as trivial as consequences?
Alex Russo isn't, of that you can be certain.