Six Months Later

Even though she no longer had powers, Alex Mack never went back to being normal.

As it turned out, she would be forever burdened with the secret of GC-161. The FDA pressed charges against Danielle Atron and her co-conspirators, both for false claims about GC-161, and her attempted murder of the Mack family. However, more and more former employees came forward with damaging information, and the charges grew. Since the whole town wanted to see her rot in prison, she took the FDA's proposed deal of a life sentence rather than face "a jury of her peers" and the Paradise Valley judge.

This was also done so that Alex and her family wouldn't have to reveal the true nature of the chemical's amazing effects in court. The FDA feared that if the chemical's effects were revealed, countries all over the world would want it for their armies, and even on a smaller scale, many average people would kill to have the abilities Alex once possessed. There would also be chaos across the country, when the public realized that GC-161 was the chemical in the "diet aid" they were so eager to buy. So Alex, her family, and anyone who knew about her agreed to keep the chemical's effects secret. After all, since Alex's powers were gone after a month, who would believe them?

Life without powers was a tough adjustment for Alex. She had tried to wean herself off them even when they hadn't disappeared, but when she woke up one day and couldn't even levitate a piece of paper, she was still crushed. By then her parents had somewhat calmed down, and were more sympathetic to her hardships.

Soon after was when she was finally allowed to leave the house. True to her prediction, she'd been grounded for a good, long time.

As for Annie, even though Alex couldn't be her personal science experiment, they kept up the bond created by their shared secret. When Annie went to school again, she came back at least once a month. The sisters also talked on the phone in between visits. And when the summer began, they made plans to hang out. Since they were no longer roommates who constantly drove each other crazy, they became close friends.

Of course, Alex and Ray remained best friends. Their popularity increased drastically after the plant explosion, but they didn't let newfound high school fame come between them. But they did enjoy being admired by the whole student body for taking down the plant's evil CEO. Many asked Alex to demonstrate her powers, but even when they were still there but faint, she assured everyone that she took the antidote and lost them.

But the destruction of Paradise Valley Chemical Plant wasn't such a good thing for the town, which had depended on the company for most of its jobs. Fortunately, a neighboring chemical plant rebuilt the old building and moved in. However, the town government kept a watchful eye on the plant's executives to make sure history had no chance of repeating itself.

After about two months, Alex was almost used to her new life. Everything had settled down, and life was, well…back to being plain and boring. However, she didn't expect to enjoy it as much as she did. For once, she didn't have to constantly keep an eye our for one of Danielle's traps, or worry that someone was going to catch her using her powers. It was actually a relief to be as carefree as when she was twelve…well, aside from the average drama of growing up.

Then, about six months after she took an antidote, they were back.

It was August, and summer heat was getting to the whole town. Alex, Ray and Annie were lying on beach chairs in the backyard, while Barbara and George started up the grill for some burgers and hot dogs.

As she woke from a nap, Alex found that she was thirsty. Her back still on the chair, she turned to ask her sister for the water bottle on the table next to Annie. "Hey, Annie, can you pass me the water?"

"Yeah," Annie replied. But she picked up the bottle, only to find that it was empty. "Sorry Alex, it's empty. You'll have to run into the house and get one."

Alex groaned. It was such a perfect lazy day that the last thing she wanted to do was ruin it by getting up.

But she couldn't ignore how thirsty she was. She needed water…

Everything suddenly went blurry. She felt herself fall through the slits of the beach chair onto the grass below.

"Alex?" Ray called. He'd had his eyes closed and just happened to open them. "Hey, where did Alex go?"

Annie glanced over at her sister's empty chair. "She probably went to get a water bottle. That was quick, she must have been thirsty."

Shocked that she had actually morphed, Alex stayed put while she tried to figure out how this could be happening. There hadn't been a hint of her powers in five months. Everyone thought that the GC-161 was out of her system.

Apparently, they had all been very wrong.

A column of smoke rose from the grill, and her parents walked over. "Kids, do you want hamburgers, cheeseburgers, or hot dogs?" George asked.

"And do you know what Alex would want?" Barbara added, then did a double-take at the empty chair. "Where'd she go, anyway? Must have been important to make her get up. You three have been stuck to these chairs all day," she joked.

That got Annie's attention. "Wait, you didn't see her go back into the house for a bottle of water?"

"No. We didn't see or hear anything," George answered.

Alright, they were starting to get concerned. Even though she was afraid her form would freak everyone out, Alex supposed she better get out from under the chair before they searched the whole neighborhood.

"I'm here," her warbled voice called from below. Slowly, she slid out from under the chair, in front of her startled family. For the first time in almost four years, even Ray and Annie were surprised at Alex's liquid consistency.

Alarmed, George glanced at Annie. "Can she hear us when she's like that?" When Annie nodded, he knelt down next to his liquefied daughter and asked, "Alex, honey, are you alright?"

"I'm fine!" Alex assured them. "Just…how did I do this? I swear I took the antidote!"

Ray nodded. "She did! Annie and I saw her!"

"If that's true then…George, what's going on?" Barbara demanded.

Distressed, George let out a long sigh. "I was afraid this might happen. Alex has been contaminated by an extremely potent chemical for a long time. While I was able to mix up an antidote to reverse GC-161 affects for a while, or for someone who was only recently exposed, it clearly wasn't strong enough to cure Alex. At best, it may have just weakened her abilities."

"Weakened?" Alex exclaimed in panic. "Am I going to be able to reform? Am I stuck as a puddle forever?"

Though she appeared to share her sister's concern, Annie quickly said, "Look, before we worry about that, why don't you try reforming first?"

"Okay," Alex agreed.

Even though she hadn't used this power in months, she remembered how she used to reform and concentrated. She could usually do it immediately and with little effort. But not this time. Alex had to concentrate for a good five minutes before the puddle reached up a little…but then fell back down.

"What's the matter?" Ray asked.

Frustrated, Alex took a break from trying so she could explain, "I can't! It's too hard!"

Her mother knelt down next to Alex's father. "Alex, please, keep trying! You have to!" She looked as if she were about to cry.

"Yeah, come on Alex, you can't be a puddle the rest of your life!" Ray encouraged.

Though exhausted, Alex used all the energy had left and pictured her human-shaped self. She focused on that mental picture and blocked out everything else.

Her body began to stretch, until it became her solid figure. She finally reformed back, but quickly passed out on the grass, her breath short.

"Thank goodness," Barbara exclaimed and wrapped Alex in a tight hug, while everyone else let out sighs of relief. "Sweetie, are you okay?"

Was she okay? Alex wasn't sure. She was dizzy and her whole body hurt. Morphing was never like this, even the first time. "So…tired…" she whispered.

Then she passed out in her mother's arms.

Three days later, Alex sat at the kitchen table, across from her mother. She had only been unconscious for maybe two minutes, but it was enough to frighten her parents out of their minds. Her father had given her a blood test to see how the GC-161, still obviously in her system, was reacting with the chemical that was supposed to be an antidote. While the "antidote" may have masked Alex's powers for some time, it wasn't enough to make them go away. The leftover antidote and traces of GC-161 still there were mixing together, and for Alex it was terrifying.

The morphing incident proved that her powers weren't coming back the same way as they had been before, at first anyway. Everything was much harder, as she found out from various tests with Annie and her dad. She still had telekinesis and could still zap, but both required so much effort that she didn't bother using them. And as for morphing…she would never morph again if she could help it.

Sure, she said she was going to miss her powers. But she didn't want them like this.

At the moment, her father and Annie were in the garage lab looking at Alex's test results. Ever since the blood work came in, they'd been trying to figure out what the chemical interactions meant for Alex, and how her powers would be affected in the future.

She glanced up at her mother, who had her hands in her lap and her head down in thought. While they were never really too close, they had drifted even more apart since her mom found out her secret. Of course, she could tell her mother was still worried about what news the test results would bring.

This was a rare opportunity to work on their relationship, and Alex wasn't going to pass it up. "Mom?" she asked in a quiet voice.

For a second it didn't look like her mother would say anything. But then Barbara replied, "Yes, honey?"

"I'm scared," Alex admitted. The confession got her mother to give Alex her full attention. "What if Annie and Dad say I'm stuck like this? Whenever water makes me morph I'll be afraid that I'll never reform! It was one thing to be stuck with the powers when they were easy to use. This…this is going to feel like some kind of disease!"

Barbara opened her mouth, then closed it, at a loss for words. It was clear to Alex that her mother really didn't know how to handle this situation, and Alex didn't blame her. "Honestly, sweetie, I'm scared too," Barbara confessed, much to her daughter's surprise. She moved over to a chair next to Alex and put an arm around her daughter's shoulders. "But know that no matter what happens, your father and I will always be there for you." She then gave her a wry smile. "Even if you're a puddle of silver liquid."

Though she laughed at the joke, Alex couldn't help but be amazed. This was one of the first times her mother had even mentioned her powers, let alone joked about them. "Thanks," she said as she hugged her mother.

They hugged each other, then broke apart when the garage door opened and the rest of the family walked in. Nervous, Barbara asked, "Well?"

"It's…good news, I think?" George answered, then shared a questioning look with Annie, who shrugged. "Anyway," he continued. "It appears that there's a battle going on in Alex's blood stream. The antidote is trying to do its job, but the GC-161 is just too powerful, to the point where it's already altered her genetic make up. So what happens is that the antidote does a little damage, but that's all it can do."

Barbara crossed her arms. "And the good news…?"

"I'm getting to that," George assured her. "The good news is that the antidote should be on its way out of her system, which is why her abilities have suddenly come back. Over time I predict that Alex will regain her abilities until they are back to, well, what they were before."

While she was happy she wouldn't have to deal with difficult powers any more, Alex was still disappointed. All that time she spent getting used to not having them, and there she was, right back where she started. "So that's it?" Alex asked. "I'm going to have my powers forever?"

"Isn't that what you wanted in the first place?" Annie pointed out.

"Well, yeah," Alex replied. "But I had my reasons for wanting to reverse what GC-161 did to me. You of all people should know that."

No one had anything to say to that, so George cleared his throat. "Well, Alex, I'm going to keep trying until I find an antidote that will be able to overcome the GC-161. And I'm sure that Annie will help. But Alex, honey, I'm afraid you're going to have to stay like this for now. Maybe for a long time. This formula isn't going to be easy to figure out."

"But what about the antidote you gave her?" Barbara asked. "It seemed to work at first. Maybe it's like a pill, and she has to take it every few months."

George shook his head. "That's not a good idea. I'm going to have to build the final antidote off the original one. If Alex keeps taking the original, she runs the risk of becoming immune to it. And if that happens, I'll never be able to create an antidote from it that's strong enough."

"So that's it then. No big deal. It'll be just like before," Alex said. And it was true. All she had to do was go back to not thinking about GC-161's possible long term effects, and it would be like before…almost. "Except this time I don't have to worry about hiding from the plant, or you guys."

"But what about the FDA?" Annie asked. "We all promised them that we wouldn't tell anyone about Alex's powers."

Their parents traded glances, as if to make a silent decision. Barbara sighed. "It will have to be our secret, then. And Raymond's, of course."

"Don't worry. Ray, Annie and I are very good at keeping secrets," Alex joked, with a knowing glance at her sister.

Annie laughed. "Yeah, we're practically experts."

"Speaking of Ray, I should go over and tell him the test results," Alex said. She went to get her bike helmet from where she'd left it in the living room earlier. However, she didn't go right out the door, but instead held it at her side. "Thanks for everything," she told her family. She then hugged each of them before she slapped on her helmet and went out the garage door.

A/N: Now that I think about it, the first chapter and this one could be two separate stories. The first, a natural conclusion to the situation presented by the finale. The combination of the two, a way for the show to continue if anyone wanted to write another season (not me, probably). And that's really why I added the second chapter – it's a theory on how Alex could get her powers back even if she took the antidote.

Thank you so much for the reviews, especially since I really didn't expect to get any, lol.