"Trick or treat!" Justin dutifully chorused with his sister.
This was humiliating. He was twelve-years-old, too old to be doing this. But when his father pulled him aside and gave him the "be a good big brother" speech, what could he do? Well, actually, after that he still tried to get out of it. That was when his father brought up that doing this would show how responsible Justin was, which meant that he wouldn't mind extending Justin's bedtime a half hour.
How could Justin say no to that?
And it would be a great way to get back at Alex later. She wouldn't be happy to know that she's basically the reason he gets to stay up a half hour later, when his bedtime was already later than hers. She also wouldn't like that he was being rewarded for this, period, as she probably thought their father had been threatening to punish him if he didn't go, not bribing him..
Justin could only hope that no one from school lived in this building and would see him. However, he did know that this building was pretty close to Tribeca Prep, his school as of this year, which unfortunately meant that someone he knew would live there. He had this horrifying vision of a classmate opening a door that his sister knocked on.
But it wouldn't be this one. An elderly woman had opened the door, and raised an eyebrow at his sister's costume. "And what are you dressed as, little girl?"
"A wizard," Alex answered proudly. Justin could tell that she was getting a kick out of being able to tell everyone she was a wizard, even if they thought she was just talking about her costume.
The woman seemed confused by Alex's answer. "Don't you mean witch? Girls are witches, and boys are wizards, or warlocks."
"That's not true!" Alex insisted. This wasn't the first time she'd had to defend her costume choice. "Girls can so be wizards!"
Her eyes widened in understanding, the woman gave Alex a placating nod and dropped some candy in Alex's bag. "Yes, girls can be anything that boys can. Good for you."
"No, that's not what I meant..." Alex trailed off, then let out a groan of aggravation and stomped further down the hallway.
Embarrassed, Justin gave the woman an apologetic smile. "Sorry, ma'am. What she meant to say was 'thank you.'"
"Aren't you sweet," the woman said as she put some candy in his bag. "I know who you are. You're Groucho Marx. That's a very convincing mustache."
Justin smiled. "Thank you. Have a happy Halloween." He then ran after his sister, who was almost to the next house. "Did you hear that?" he said as he caught up with her. "She knew what my costume was. So there."
"Oh, yeah, an old lady knew who you were. You really proved me wrong," Alex retorted. She'd been teasing him about his costume, saying that no one would recognize it. By "no one," she meant anyone their age.
She'd unfortunately been right. Any kids they passed teased him for wearing a "stupid" costume. Well, all it showed was how ignorant they were, in Justin's opinion.
They were about to ring the doorbell of the next apartment when Alex froze and looked to her right. Another ten-year-old was coming up the stairs dressed in a princess dress, her brown hair curled, and her bag already full of candy. She was accompanied by an adult and three other kids.
"Gigi," Alex whispered with dread.
"That's Gigi?" Justin whispered back. He'd heard of his sister's arch nemesis many times, but of course never seen her. Even when he used to go to Alex and Max's elementary school, he never paid attention to anyone in younger grades.
Alex nodded, then grabbed his hand and tried to turn around fast enough that Gigi wouldn't recognize her. But unfortunately she wasn't fast enough, and Gigi stopped on the way into the hallway. Each of the side staircases in Harper's building led straight into the corridor, with a window at the landing.
"Oh my gosh, it's Alex Russo!" Gigi exclaimed with clearly false happiness. She then turned to the adult. "Daddy, can you take Nicky to the next apartment? I want to talk with my friend from school."
Her father nodded. "Sure Gigi, don't be too long though." With that, he took who must have been Gigi's younger brother to the next apartment down the hall, which left Gigi, and who were probably two of her girlfriends from school.
Gigi's sickeningly sweet smile abruptly turned to a wicked grin. "Well, well, if it isn't Alex Russo, trick-or-treating all alone with her brother, who probably didn't even want to take her in the first place. After all, who would want to spend Halloween with a loser?" On cue, her cronies laughed hysterically.
"Harper's sick," Alex snapped. "And what I want to know is, who would want to spend Halloween with a nasty princess like you? I'd rather hang out with the frog," she retorted, a reference to the fairy tale.
But Gigi simply laughed again. "Of course you would. You'd have much more in common." Of course that only made the trio erupt in another round of giggles. "Come on girls, let's go get some more candy. Then we can trade later, unlike poor Alex here, who won't have anyone to trade with."
As if in a royal possession, her friends started down the hallway first. He could see that Alex was trying her hardest to hold back tears. She might be a pain in his butt, but she was still his little sister. And no one insulted his little sister like that and got away with it.
In that split second, Justin got an idea. His wand was tucked in his sleeve, a habit he'd developed ever since he got it. Under his breath, he muttered, "No one makes my sister cry, out the window Gigi's candy will fly."
Before Gigi could follow her friends into the hallway, a fierce gust of wind blasted through the landing's already open window. The disturbance made Gigi trip over the back of her dress, which made the bag of candy sailed out of her hand, out the window and onto the street.
All three of them were stunned. Justin was shocked that the spell actually worked. It was the first time he'd made up a spell on the spot. Justin was so happy that he wanted to brag to his father, but he knew his father probably wouldn't like that he'd used his powers on a mortal - a ten-year-old girl mortal, at that - so he'd have to keep this to himself.
"No!" Gigi wailed, her cool, intimidating front vanished in an instant. She began to go into a full tantrum, an ugly, outraged look on her face. "Daddy!" she screeched as she ran off down the hallway.
Justin and Alex ran into the landing and up the stairs to the next floor to escape Gigi's tantrum. By the time they stopped laughing, Alex had forgotten her tears and was wearing a huge grin. "Looks like I won't be the only one not trading candy tonight," she blurted, unable to hide her happiness. "I have to tell Harper! This will make her feel so much better!"
"I think she's on this floor," Just said as he looked around. He put an arm around her shoulders and began walking. "Come on, squirt, I'll take you there."
The memory of his first successful spell made Justin reflect. "You know, maybe it wasn't such a bad Halloween after all. Then, I mean. You still ruined this one."
But Alex didn't register the insult. Her lollipop was still in her hand, her jaw partially hanging in surprise. "I can't believe you did that for me," she whispered.
"Oh, wait, you actually thought the wind did it?" Justin replied, his eyes wide as he sat up. He'd always assumed that she knew he'd used magic. "Yeah, that was my spell!"
Alex seemed to contemplate the new information for a moment, then replied, "I guess I should thank you for that." While he wondered what she was up to, she sorted through some candy in the bowl, then handed him a Snickers. "Here."
The sentiment meant more than it appeared. Snickers was the one candy they both liked - salty for Alex, chocolatey sweetness for Justin. They always competed to see who could snag the most of the coveted candy, so Alex's gesture was actually very unusual for her.
A small smile on his face, Justin took the mini chocolate bar and gave her a small nod of acknowledgment. "Thanks, Alex."
A/N: Happy Halloween everyone! Thanks for reading!