Justin Russo sat on the living room couch, flipping through his Biology textbook without really reading it, deliberately not looking at the front door. Letting out a sound that was somewhere between a sigh and a growl, he stood up, crossed quickly to the stairs, and mounted them silently, taking two at a time.

Opening Max's door just a crack, he listened for a few moments. Good. Max was still asleep -- a minor miracle after the four hours Justin had spent nursing him through the flu. Yeah, four hours that I should have been studying for tomorrow's test. Which I'm barely going to be able to stay awake for now, he thought as he closed the door and moved back down the stairs. And where is Alex?!

She'd left to go to Harper's at seven o'clock, with a promise to be back by nine. He probably shouldn't have let her go at all, Justin knew, but he'd thought that with her out of the house, he'd actually be able to get some studying done. Then Max had started feeling sick. And then he'd thrown up. From there, the last four hours had been spent calling the doctor's office, calling Mom, running down to the pharmacy, trying to get Max to take his medicine, figuring out what he could feed Max that the younger boy would be able to keep down....

He hadn't even noticed that Alex wasn't back until it was almost eleven, with all that. He'd called her, left a message on her phone, called again fifteen minutes later, called a third time ten minutes after that. Now it was eleven-forty-five, and where was Alex? Five more minutes, he told himself. Then I'll call the police, see if they can help. And then I'll have to call Mom and Dad....

The door opened just as he was thinking that. Alex looked in, looking hopeful, but her expression instantly changed when she saw Justin. "Umm... I'm home," she said, completely unnecessarily.

"Yeah, I can see that. The question is, where the hell have you been for the last three hours?!" Justin's voice rose in volume toward the end of his question, then dropped suddenly as he made an effort to calm himself and not wake up Max.

Alex shut the door behind herself, then said, "I was over at Harper's."

"You were supposed to be home three hours ago!" Justin's voice came out as a loud whisper. "And Max got sick while you were gone! I could've used some help here!"

"Sick? Is he okay?"

"He's got the flu, but he's sleeping --" Justin started to answer automatically, then cut himself off with a wave of his hand. "That's not the point!" He took two quick strides forward, to where Alex was still standing, and grabbed her by the arm. "What were you doing?"

"Oh, well... Harper's parents went to a play," Alex said glibly, "so we just sat around and chatted, and watched movies, and I lost track of time, and...."

Justin cut her off then, his eyes widening in shock. "You've been drinking! I can smell it!"

Automatically, Alex raised her hand to her mouth. "I... I...." She bit her lip. "Don't tell Mom and Dad, okay?"

"Don't tell them? Don't tell them?! Of course I'm going to tell them! Did you go out to a bar or something?" Even angrier now, Justin pulled Alex closer, looking down into her eyes to try to see if she was lying. "And look at me when you tell me!"

"I..." Alex stopped and swallowed, staring up into Justin's eyes. This close, he seemed a lot taller than he usually did. Or was that the alcohol? Either way, between that and how tightly he was gripping her arm, she was feeling a little scared. "Okay, here's the truth. Harper said something about how her dad got a new liquor cabinet, and I got her to show me where it was, and I opened it, and... and I got her to try some of it with me. Just a little," Alex said, holding her free hand up with her fingers about an inch apart.

"And then... and then we got to feeling really silly, and then Harper threw up, and then we had to clean that up. Then we really did watch movies, and I really did lose track of time. The next thing I knew, her parents got home, and were asking why I was still there, and I said I'd lost track of time, and her dad said he'd drive me home since it was so late, and then I was here. And you can call them and ask them about the driving me home, but please, please, please don't tell them about the liquor cabinet, and please don't tell Mom and Dad!"

Justin stared down at his little sister. She'd started crying partway through, and it sounded like the kind of thing Alex would do. And more importantly, it didn't sound like the kind of story she'd make up to try to get out of trouble. "No. There's no way you're getting away with this. Not when I wound up spending my night taking care of Max by myself, when I needed to be studying. I'm calling Mom and Dad."

He let go of Alex's arm and turned to walk to the phone, only to immediately have his arm grabbed in turn. Alex had wrapped her arm around it, and was still crying, shaking her head. "No! Please don't, Justin. I'll clean your room for a month, I'll do whatever. Just don't tell them... Dad would kill me! Or worse, ground me for a month! And Harper would get in trouble too, and it'd be my fault!"

Still fuming inside, Justin turned his head to look at Alex, then suddenly jerked his arm away from her. The sudden motion was too fast for Alex in her still-tipsy state, and she fell down.

That made Justin even angrier, and he stooped down, picked her up under her arms, and raised her back up onto her feet. Wow, Alex thought as he did that, when did Justin get so strong? Taking advantage of their positions, Alex sagged into him and started to cry into his chest, half faking it now. "Please! You punish me instead!"

"What? Punish you? Like how?"

"I don't know! Just... something! Whatever you think it should be. Just as long as you don't tell Mom and Dad!"

Justin looked down at Alex, his anger still seething under the surface, and made a decision. "All right. Come here." He walked to the end of the couch, pulling Alex along, then pointed at the armrest. "Bend over."

"What?" Alex blinked in surprise.

"You're getting a spanking. Now bend over, unless you want me to call Mom and Dad instead...."

At that threat, Alex quickly moved to the armrest and bent over it, putting her hands against the cushion to help her stay like that. "Oh...." Her mouth suddenly dry, she had to stop and swallow before she could go on. "Okay."

Justin moved to the side and looked at his little sister's butt, considering for a moment. Then he drew back his hand and smacked it.

"Ah!" The sound was more one of surprise than pain, as it didn't really hurt a lot through the pants Alex was wearing. Another smack came, and then another, and... this really wasn't nearly as bad as she thought it would be. Alex giggled, then realized immediately that she shouldn't have.

"What, that doesn't hurt enough? Well, you're getting a real punishment, one way or another!" His anger overriding everything else, Justin pulled Alex's pants and panties down off her butt, then smacked her again, harder.

This time, the sound Alex made really was from pain. Another smack followed before she could get any words out. "Justin, that hurts!"

"It's supposed to hurt, Alex. That's why it's punishment." The next smack was harder, and he kept going, changing sides sometimes, smacking his little sister's bare butt with his open hand. For her part, Alex closed her eyes and grimaced, afraid that any more complaints would just make him do it harder, or longer.

After the first few, Justin settled into a rhythm, moving his hand back and forth. He started counting, then, and Alex felt a little relief at that, thinking that if he was counting, he had some number in mind, and it would end. It was on number eight that Alex realized something else -- the spanking was hurting, but her body was having another reaction to it too. She let out a sound again, but this one was somewhere between gasp and moan.