A Never Ending Secret

Summary: Directly after series finale. Alex must decide if she will take the antidote.

A/N: So yeah, random category to post something, but I started to get nostalgic when I caught my mom trying to sell my old Alex Mack book, "New Years Revolution," at a garage sale. I've been downloading episodes ever since. This is the result.

"We at Channel Six have been consistently updating Paradise Valley on the major news event affecting most everyone in town – the Paradise Valley Chemical Plant explosion last night, and the disturbing story behind it.

The center of this mystery is GC-161, which caused a major stir because of its believed miraculous weight loss effects, has been ordered to be pulled from shelves. An FDA statement reported this morning that this was because Chemical Plant CEO Danielle Atron lied about the chemical's effects.

While no one is sure if the chemical actually is a weight loss aid, the FDA warned that GC-161, though not immediately harmful, does cause drastic, 'unusual' side effects and should not be consumed. So, if your local store has not heard the news and taken it off their shelves, please, do not take the risk. Officials will be visiting all of the stores across the country which received shipments in order to make sure that GC-161 has been removed and disposed of properly…"

Back from her walk, Alex Mack arrived home just in time to see the news on television. She wasn't surprised to find that the local broadcasting station had already jumped on the story and was doing in-depth coverage. Surely, this was the biggest incident in the town's history.

While no reports with her picture had been on television yet, it was only ten in the morning. The reporter had only mentioned in passing that three civilians were found at the site, somehow involved in the explosion. She was sure that by the afternoon the news channel would have covered the initial flood of stories about the explosion, the chemical, and Danielle Atron's plan to flee the country. That was when they would show whatever footage they managed to grab of her and her family at the explosion site, and break the story that the infamous "accident kid" had been found.

But this particular story was about the chemical itself. Alex closed the door behind her and sat down next to her sister, who was the one who was watching the news. "Anything about me yet?" Alex asked.

"Nope, you're lucky. But I'd say your days as an anonymous Paradise Valley citizen are definitely numbered," Annie assured her, a small, wry smile on her face. When Alex chuckled, she put her head in her hands. "I can't believe this is happening."

Alex sighed, her arms crossed on her knees. While the chemical plant was no longer a threat, they would all have to deal with the sudden attention of the public eye. "I know. I guess we knew on some level that this day was coming. But it always seemed so…distant. Like we were going to have to keep this secret forever."

"Yeah, I guess I felt that way too," Annie agreed, her hands then folded under her chin. "Alex…how did Mom and Dad take it?"

At the mention of their parents, Alex's mind flashed back to their horrified looks when they found her trapped in that cell. She had no doubt that the image would stick with her for the rest of her life. "Considering we were all Danielle's prisoners, they weren't in the best condition to take shocking news," she said with a half-hearted attempt at a joke.

Since they had all crashed into bed when they got back to the house, Alex hadn't really talked with her parents much. On the way home in the police car, her parents had just been so happy they were all safe. Her mother went to bed as soon as they got home, but her father spent an hour making the GC-161 antidote, which he was eager to do in order to "cure" his daughter. But after a little conversation when he gave her the antidote, he went up to bed as well.

As for Ray, he'd insisted that his family had no idea he would be involved with the explosion, so he could crash at their place. But instead of falling asleep right away, they were too excited from their action-packed day and stayed up to talk most of the night.

Though usually early risers, Alex guessed that her parents were still upstairs taking their showers and getting dressed. So Annie hadn't had to "face their wrath" just yet. Come to think of it, Alex herself could use a good shower to wake herself up. She never even changed out of her outfit from the day before because she never really went to sleep. There was no doubt that she'd have to take a nap later.

"This is so surreal," Annie responded to Alex's answer. "I mean, I knew Danielle was evil. I knew that. But…but…she left you all in there to be killed! I cannot even imagine how scared you must have been. I…I wish I could've been there to do something."

"Don't do this to yourself, Annie. What happened, happened. We're all fine," Alex replied. "Although, while I don't blame you, in a way I do wish you were there too. You've been part of this since the day of the accident. Even when everything was falling apart, I kept insisting to Hunter that I wouldn't tell Mom and Dad without you there."

Overwhelmed, Annie wrapped her sister in a tight hug, and Alex gladly returned it. Alex was emotional too, and could feel a tear in her eye. They'd been through everything together, and even then, there would be more trials to come.

"Oh, good, you're back."

The girls broke apart at their mother's words to find their parents on their way down the stairs. Annie had stopped in to say hello and drop off her suitcase, so her presence wasn't a surprise.

Ready for the lecture to come, Annie stood to face them. "I'm sorry!" she blurted. Much to Alex's surprise, her unusually emotional sister ran to hug both parents at once. "Alex told me what happened. I can't believe Danielle did that to you!"

"Sh, honey, everything's alright now," Barbara comforted, her arm around her oldest daughter's shoulders.

George patted Annie's shoulder, then walked over to his other daughter. "So Alex," he began, his tone curious. "Do you still have your…'powers,' as you call them? I know the antidote will take a while to wear off, especially since you've been contaminated by the chemical for so long."

In response, Alex zapped the television off, and playfully blew on her finger as if it was a smoking gun. "Yup, still got it."

Her father's jaw dropped in surprise, still not used to his daughter's abilities. "W-well, then," he stammered. "I'm sure they'll start to fade soon. Let's go have some breakfast. We all have a lot to talk about."

"Sure, Dad," Alex said. When her family turned to go into the kitchen, Alex allowed her guilt to show on her face.

Her father had assumed she'd taken the antidote, when the vial full of the substance was still tucked in her pocket.

This was going to be painful.

Alex sat at the kitchen table next to her sister, breakfast almost over. Their parents hadn't started the lecture yet, apparently waiting until after the meal to make their move. So far, the conversation had been awkwardly light. Their mother even asked Annie how school was going.

But the last of the toaster waffles were gone from their plates. Both her mother and father were clearing their dishes from the table, and Annie was getting up to follow. Too nervous to move, Alex levitated her plate past them into the sink, before they'd even put down their own dishes. Her parents stared at her, their eyes wide at the sight that was so strange to them.

But Annie grinned and continued to the sink. "Maybe you were right, Alex. Telekinesis has made you lazy."

"It's just so convenient," Alex agreed. She remembered the conversation Annie was referring to, when they were all alone in the house on a stormy night.

To illustrate her point, she floated the remaining pile of napkins to its place on the counter. A cabinet door opened, and the syrup went inside.

"Outstanding!" George blurted. "That was almost effortless!"

Alex gave a humble shrug. "It's no big deal. I've done more with it."

"Yeah. She hasn't cleaned her room by hand in three years," Annie added.

While their father was impressed, their mother was almost frightened. Her face had gone pale, and she was holding on to the counter for support. "So, you've just been using these 'powers' at your disposal?" she demanded, in a loud, angry tone that made all three other family members jump. "They've just been 'convenient' for you? Is that why you never told us, because you wanted to keep your new abilities? What if GC-161 has been negatively affecting you some how all these years? What if it turns out to be a carcinogen or something? Would keeping these powers have been worth it, Alex?"

Alex and Annie could only stare at her in shock. True, they'd been expecting a hard conversation, they hadn't thought they would be yelled at like this. Since Alex had been intimidated into silence, Annie walked over and put a hand on her sister's shoulder. "Mom, please, try to understand," she begged. "When the accident first happened, that was the last thing we thought. We didn't know if the effects would stay, if they would worsen, if the next time Alex morphed, she would stay a puddle of silver jelly forever…"

"What Annie means is," Alex added as she stood up. "We were scared, Mom, Dad. Annie kept saying how if the plant found me, they would lock me up and I'd be their lab rat forever. And I thought that too. I mean, we've spent the last three years avoiding the plant and trying not to get caught."

Annie nodded. "While I never would've admitted it then, I was young. Even I was scared. I had no idea what was going on. Vince came with Dave that day to test our hands, and that decided it for us. The plant was looking for Alex, and we had to do whatever we could to make sure they didn't find her."

Surprised, George and Barbara traded sympathetic looks. But Alex and Annie weren't off the hook yet, not at all. "That's understandable,' George finally replied, much to the girls' relief. "But that still doesn't excuse you for not coming to us. Didn't you have faith that we'd be able to keep Alex safe? That we'd do everything in our power to make sure that Alex didn't end up as Danielle's test subject?"

That, Alex couldn't come up with an answer for. She glanced at Annie, only to find that her sister was having the same problem. Why hadn't they thought to tell their parents? It was one thing to hide from the plant, but her parents…she supposed they were just afraid that their parents wouldn't be able to keep Alex from the plant. "I guess we didn't," she confessed. "I…I'm so sorry."

"Me too," Annie said, her eyes lowered in shame.

"You've been keeping a huge secret from us for the past three years," Barbara replied. While she was a little more sympathetic, she was still plenty angry. "'Sorry' isn't going to help us trust you again. Either of you."

Alex couldn't argue with that. Though keeping the secret had always seemed like something they should do, constantly lying to her parents never felt right. She was the worst daughter ever. She lied to her parents because she didn't trust that they would take care of her. Worse yet, they were giving her those looks that made her want to run to her room and never come out.

Then she felt her face warm up, and sure enough…

"Alex, you're glowing!" Barbara exclaimed in horror.

Though concerned, George noticed that Annie wasn't reacting, and stayed calm. "I take it this is normal as well?"

"Yeah," Annie assured him. "It happens when she's…well…"

When she felt her face calm down, Alex said, "When I'm embarrassed. I am. I'm embarrassed for being so stupid and being such an awful daughter."

Barbara let out a long sigh. "Alex, you're not an awful daughter. Of course we still love both of you. You've both just made some very bad decisions."

"Yeah, that almost got us killed in that cell," Alex blurted. Her family didn't know about her confrontation with Danielle before they arrived, but the woman's accusations, and Alex's guilt over landing her parents in danger, had gotten to her.

While Annie put a comforting arm around her shoulders, George decided to change the subject. "So, telekinesis, conduction of electricity, 'morphing,' glowing…anything else we should know about?"

"No, I don't think so…" Alex said. She wiped a tear from her eye, grateful to her dad for moving on to another topic.

"Except when you eat Mom's curry," Annie reminded her. "I'd think that'd be more memorable since you almost got crushed under that bulldozer."

Shocked, Barbara exclaimed, "How did my curry do that?"

"The curry powder was a foreign substance that mixed with the GC-161 in Alex's system," Annie explained. "Alex got super strength, so we, well, sort of went to the construction yard to test it out. It was all in the name of science, of course."

After Annie's explanation processed, Barbara shouted, "Wait, you took Alex down to a construction site?"

Though willing to volunteer the information at first, Annie soon realized that maybe the incident wasn't the smartest decision of her teenage years. "Um…" she began, her arms crossed. "Alex was really strong, and we didn't have anything heavy enough, so…would it help if I said it was Ray's idea?"

"Not really," George replied, a disappointed frown on his face. "Annie, you know I'm all for scientific research. But not when it could endanger the subject's well being…especially when the subject is your own sister. How many other experiments have you done on Alex?"

"Too many to count!" Alex remarked, unable to help herself from finally being able to tell on Annie for all the times she was forced to run tests in the garage. "I've been her own personal lab rat for three years!"

Annie rolled her eyes. "Please. It wasn't like I tortured you. All they consisted of were exercises using your powers."

Well, that's true, Alex thought. Sure, it was inconvenient sometimes when she wasn't in the mood to run tests, but it was way better than whatever the plant would've done to her. "Yeah, I guess," she grumbled. "And you really helped me out a lot. Like that time those weird bubbles kept coming out of my mouth. And besides chemical related problems, you were always there if I was getting close to being caught by Danielle."

"And we never noticed any of this," Barbara said with amazement. To George, she stated, "We must be completely oblivious."

But George wasn't paying attention, lost in thought. "So Annie, all those times you asked me about hypothetical situations about how GC-161 would affect a human being…you were talking about Alex, and whatever was going on with her In fact, a conversation comes to mind when I actually asked you if you were giving Alex spoonfuls of GC-161…" He hesitated, then sighed. "And you said you didn't have to." He glanced at his wife. "Maybe you were right about us being oblivious."

"No, you're not…" Alex began, but she had to admit that was a lie. Part of the reason she'd been able to get away with her secret for so long was her parents' tendency to ignore weird behavior or strange happenings. But since admitting that would make it worse, she said, "How were you supposed to have any idea that I was the kid involved in the GC-161 accident? Or even that I had a huge secret?"

"Yeah! You were just willing to overlook all the weird things that happened because…because…" Annie trailed off and lowered her eyes. "You trusted us. Mom, Dad, I-I…I'm so sorry."

Alex could only nod in agreement. "I'm sorry too. Really."

"I'm sorry too, girls," Barbara replied, her arms crossed. "We appreciate the apology, but…it's just not enough."

"Why don't you two go upstairs for a while? Your mother and I have to talk about some things," George suggested.

Upset, Alex traded nervous looks with her sister. All these years, she always knew that her parents would of course be shocked when they eventually found out. But for some reason it never occurred to her that they would be this angry or this disappointed. "Yeah, sure," Alex muttered.

Then she and her sister slowly left the kitchen, their heads down in shame.

"They're going to ground me until I'm too old to be grounded, Ray!" Alex whined into the phone, which was floating by her ear. She was levitating it so she could keep her hands free to give herself a pedicure.

Too nervous to go downstairs, or even to go out for fear that word had spread about Alex's former secret, Alex and Annie hid in their room all day. While Annie had a report for a class to keep her busy, Alex was growing more bored as the hours passed. This was her third pedicure, after she decided that she didn't love the first two colors.

She hadn't even been able to talk on the phone, because once the news spilled her secret a few hours ago, calls had been pouring in. Her parents had finally had enough and unplugged the phone. She'd had to beg them to let her call Ray and see how everyone they knew was taking the news. Since he wasn't the accident kid, he hadn't been getting as many press calls.

"Maybe you're better off grounded," Ray replied. "Everyone is going to be nuts when we go back to school. Louis went to the mall and told every kid in our class about your powers, along with our – and his – involvement in the plant explosion."

"He told people that he ratted me out to Danielle?" Alex asked in disbelief.

"Of course not. The way he tells it, the evil plant security tortured him until he was near death, and only then would he reveal your name. Robyn says no one's buying it. But they do think we're heroes. After all, we did go up against the all mighty, powerful Danielle Atron…and kicked butt!"

Alex laughed. "If by 'kicked butt,' you mean 'barely escaped with our lives.' It's good to know that no one thinks I'm a huge freak though."

"There might be some of that, but not much. I mean, it's not like you still have your powers, right?"

"Oh, well, no, but Dad said that my powers are going to take a while to wear off," Alex lied. She couldn't believe after all they'd been through, after he saved her life, that she was lying to him about not taking the antidote. The guilt was getting to her, and she was sure that after some time she would have to tell him that she really didn't take it. But that would have to wait until after she talked to Annie.

"Great! That way you can finally show off at school! Tell me how much you're looking forward to zapping Kelly in front of everyone!"

Even though Ray couldn't see, Alex shook her head. "Ray! I don't want everyone thinking I'm some kind of mutant monster. I'll have to be really careful about how I use my powers in public while I still have them."

"True. Public opinion at school can turn real quick. But we…I mean, you…definitely have to morph as much as we…you…can until it wears off. It's so much fun, and you're not going to be able to do it soon."

"Okay, morphing as much as we can has been put on my to-do list," Alex joked. However, her guilt spiked at the additional lie. She couldn't do this. "Look, Ray, I…I have to go. Talk to you later!"

As she floated the phone back on its base, and then that back to her nightstand, she noticed the curious look Annie was giving her. "What?" she asked, while she put the cap back on the nail polish bottle.

"You just hung up with Ray, voluntarily," Annie pointed out. She'd turned around in her chair, an open text book still on the desk. "What's up?"

Well, there was no reason to put off telling Annie. From the second the put the antidote back in her pocket, she knew she wasn't going to do anything further without asking for her sister's advice. "Look, Annie, please don't be mad, but…I didn't take the antidote. I can't! How am I ever going to be able to get used to not having my powers?"

Annie let out a deep sigh. "Alex, I know we've been calling the GC-161 side effects your 'powers,' because let's face it, you could be a comic book superhero. But in reality, they're still side effects of a dangerous chemical that has been raging through your body for three years! It was one thing when we didn't have an antidote and you were stuck with your condition, but Alex…Mom and Dad are right. We don't know the long term effects GC-161 could have, just the short term ones. Sure you might be okay now except for some weird abilities, but who knows what disease it could cause in the future?"

Of course, Alex knew Annie was right…her older sister usually was. Neither she nor Annie ever talked about what negative effect the chemical could have on her system, but there was always that concern in the background. "I know," Alex reluctantly admitted. "But…I'm scared, okay? Without my powers I go back to being just plain, boring Alex. And, well…I've gotten used to using them for everything. How can I go back to being normal just like that?"

"Okay, the risk of a deadly disease aside," Annie remarked with sarcasm. "Think about it. Do you really want this secret for the rest of your life? Even if Paradise Valley accepts you, you won't be here forever. Anywhere you go, you'll be back to keeping a secret. Is that what you want? Don't think of taking the antidote as something that will force you to be normal. Think of it as a chance to be normal."

When her sister didn't immediately reply, Annie added in a quiet voice, "And Alex? I don't mean to scare you, but…the plant in this town wasn't the only one out there. Once word spreads, you could become a target. This might be hard to believe, but there are probably plant CEOs even more evil than Danielle Atron. Who's to say that right now someone isn't trying to pick up where she left off?"

"But you don't mean to scare me," Alex retorted playfully. Annie laughed, and Alex smiled, but…the thought was a terrifying one. It had seemed that with the fall of Paradise Valley Chemical Plant, she was finally out of danger for the first time in years. But, again, Annie was right. Though it was hard to imagine the world outside her small town, it existed, and would react to the news of a chemical that could basically turn an average person into a superhero.

There would be more Danielle Atrons. She needed to take the antidote, to keep both herself and her family safe.

"Alright," she finally agreed. Her toes about dry, she got up, shoved her feet into some sneakers, and grabbed the antidote vial out of the pants she'd been wearing yesterday, by then crumpled on the floor. "Come on. But we're going for one last morph. And we're taking Ray with us."

A large, silver puddle slithered through the park, unnoticed by passerby. Since by then the day had turned to dusk, the park was almost empty, but the puddle still kept moving until it reached a far corner of the park where a hill overlooked Paradise Valley. Then the puddle slowly began to reach upward until it was the height of a human being, and separated into three equal parts.

Alex formed from the middle blob. To her left Ray appeared, and Annie to her right. That could potentially be her last morph, so it seemed right to include her best friend and her sister.

"I'm going to miss that," Ray confessed.

They both would. Morphing had become one of Alex's favorite, useful powers…especially since she didn't have a car yet. "Me too," Alex agreed. "I'll miss my powers."

From the pocket of her cargo pants, she pulled the vial that held the antidote. At first they all weren't sure if the chemical would morph with Alex, since it was supposed to negate GC-161. But Annie recognized the container her father used, and said that those particular vials were designed to be indestructible.

Alex held the vial with both hands and tried to mentally prepare herself. But there was no use. No matter what affects the antidote my have, what the gradual loss of her powers would hit her the hardest.

Slowly the twisted the cap off the vial. She glanced at Ray, who replied with a small, sad smile. Then she looked to Annie, who gave her a nod of encouragement.

Before she lost her nerve, she downed all of the antidote with one swallow.

A/N: Yeah, I know that seems like the end, but part 2 is already written and will come soon.