A/N: I live! :p Sorry for the gap, but I made the mistake of signing up for apocabigbang over at LJ, and I thought it'd be easier to just concentrate on that until it was finished. I didn't think it'd take me so long, but well, I'm a procrastinator. Stuff happens.
before we talk of any repentance, try walking in my shoes;
you'll stumble in my footsteps
-depeche mode, walking in my shoes
Alex thinks she's prepared for whatever comes next. At least hypothetically. She doesn't know exactly what's going to happen, but she knows that something is.
She just didn't think that something was a book.
"Um, what am I supposed to do with this?"
Rolling her eyes, the other Alex handed her the book, small and bright blue, a little battered but still in good condition. She opens it only to see her own handwriting, broken up with sketches and doodles, every page filled up by her.
"I don't keep a diary," she says, confusion making her head hurt.
Her counterpart sits down on the edge of the bed, and begins fingering the edges of the bedspread idly. "I started it tonight, well, my past tonight. Justin bought it for me at the Planetarium, a thank you for coming with him."
Alex sees that the first page has today's date on it. She looks over the words, but they don't feel right. It's like reading a novel. Her own (sort of) words don't feel like hers. She meets the eyes of the older woman and, even if it is her, they're not the same person.
"Why are you showing me this? I thought knowing the future was supposed to be dangerous or something."
"It is, but you're not going to forget what you saw so it's kind of a moot point anyway."
That… is interesting. "I'm not?"
She shakes her head. "Nope. You're stuck with that memory no matter what happens."
Brow creasing, Alex skims the page in her hand, emotions rioting inside of her.
I kissed Justin tonight. I just had to know what it was like. What I saw in the future keeps haunting me, and I needed to see for myself.
"Why didn't I forget?" she asks, a sudden onslaught of desperation making her throat tighten, the words heavy and clumsy on her tongue.
They are definitely not tears.
Another book appears, this one in much better condition, though the pages are a dingy color that would suggest it's a lot older than her diary. "This is our family tree."
"The family tree has leaves, not pages." She's seen it, heard it talk. Knows exactly (more or less) where her dad keeps it.
But the other her merely shakes her head. She recognizes that shake, it's the same one Justin uses whenever he acts all superior.
Apparently it rubs off.
"This is the Russo family tree. Everybody, all the way back to… well, I'm not sure really. I guess whenever the one who started it learned to write." She flips it to a page and hands it over. Alex sees a name that she doesn't recognize. Frankly there's a lot on the page that she doesn't recognize.
"Who's… Vidy…anna Tral-ie-very?" She so butchered that name.
"Vidiana Traleveri." Older Alex sits in her desk chair and crosses her legs, fixing one of those looks that grownups are prone to when they think they're talking to some dumb kid.
What does that say about her?
Nodding, Alex plops onto her bed. "Okay, whatever. Who is… that?"
"She," is said with plenty of emphasis, "was our great-great, whatever number grandmother being born in1698 would make her."
Alex whistles cause, wow. That's old.
"So… what's this have to do with me? I mean, us." She rubbed at her temple. "I'm getting confused."
An eye roll that is all too familiar comes before the answer. "She was mortal. And she had something called immunisé contre la magie."
No way that's English. "Huh?"
"It's French." (Knew it.) "It means immune to magic, roughly."
That makes no sense what so ever. Her family are wizards. How would that even work?
"Before you blow a brain cell over there," Older Alex quips, "just let me explain. Some people are born with an immunity to magic. Total immunity. Not a single type of spell or compulsion or curse will work on them, and they can't do magic either. Not even ordinary things that have been charmed." She pauses to take a deep breath. "It's really rare, and most people never even know they have it. Unless, like Vidiana, they marry a wizard."
Alex mulls that over for a second. It still makes less than zero sense to her, but hey. Her counterpart had to have come here for a reason, right? A real reason. "But… he had to give up his powers to marry her, right?"
Nodding, Older Alex continues. "Yeah. But ordinarily, the kids would still have powers."
Ordinarily? "They didn't?"
She shakes her head. "Nope. But all of Angelo's - Vidiana's husband - nieces and nephews did. So while they were trying to figure out why their children were completely mortal, they finally landed on the reason."
"Yeah." Alex stood up and looked at her older self, shrugging. "Fascinating. But I don't see what this has to do with me."
Okay. Alex knows she knows that word. She's heard Justin use it more than once, usually when he's sniping at her over some trick she's played on him and then he goes into the whole Kelbo thing and Meagan and that's usually when she tunes him out. But what she does know is that it has something to do with family.
But that would mean…
"I'm not immune to magic," she blurts out. "I mean, I have powers. I could do magic before I could tie my shoes."
"Yeah, I remember," the older Alex snaps, and she's totally seeing now that this is herself. "But as the gene gets passed down, it grows weaker. So Vidiana's children couldn't do magic, but their children could. To a degree."
There's a lot more boring talk after that. Lots of it, mainly comprised of words like 'genetics' and 'chromosomes' and she beings to think that it's not her future self she's dealing with, but a female Justin that so happens to resemble her.
She gets the gist of it though. Magic is strong, and powerful, and it overrode the French thing until her family got their powers back, but it could still crop up every now and then in the lineage.
Another of those Justin words.
She looks up, seeing an expectant look on her own 26 year old face. And no matter what Justin says, she's not dumb, but all this science stuff in hard enough to get her head around when it's in English. Its even more of a headache in French. "So what?"
The expectant look falls to a frown. "You don't get it?"
"Um, duh." She falls back on the bed, rubbing at her temples. "Why don't you just tell me instead of making me play guessing games?"
With a grunt, she complies. "Fine. You-well, rather we, are immune to memory spells."
Alex sits up, shock making her head buzz. "Really? But I can do them, so that makes no sense at-"
A whistle cuts off her rambling, and she snaps her mouth shut.
Future Alex chuckles a little. "It's trippy, I know. I've been there. Only I had to figure it out for myself."
Alex raises an eyebrow.
"Ugh, fine. Justin figured it out." That sounds more like it. "But just because you get the gene doesn't mean it's the same. Yeah, we can do memory spells, but they don't work on us. If Dad had known, he never would have let us use the comet."
And everything clicks into place.
The Planetarium is quiet when she walks in. Quieter than normal. Spooky almost. If she'd known this maybe she would have waited until Justin got home.
He's pretty easy to find. All she has to do is tell the super tall guy in the Columbia tee shirt and Darth Vader trucker hat (she resists the urge to snatch it off his head in defense of crimes against fashion) that he invited her and she gets directed upstairs immediately.
Justin's looking into one end of a pretty enormous telescope, fiddling with knobs and buttons. He jumps when he turns and sees her standing there. "Hey."
This may be the first time that Alex is at a loss for what to say around her brother. Maybe because he isn't just her brother anymore.
Before she left, the older Alex had told her, assured her, that she and Justin are happy together in the future. That it was a big fight, and there were a lot of tears and even more yelling, but that "I wouldn't have done anything differently."
"Hi." God. Her voice sounds so… girly. Gross. Clearing her throat, Alex walks over and sits on the ledge of the window that the telescope is pointed at. "I need to tell you something."
A look of alarm plasters itself to Justin's face almost at once. He hurries over to her and sits close enough to her on the ledge for her to be able to smell his shampoo. She gets hit with one of those flashes of what she saw when she went to the future. Its happened more often than she likes to think about. Her eyes drift over his face, seeing her brother flickering in and out in front of her, the line of his jaw and the slope of his cheek growing sharper with age. It's an unfamiliar face, but one she's going to come to know in time. Perhaps when whatever the other Alex feels begins to grow in her own heart.
"Justin, when I went to the future…" She takes a breath so deep that it hurts deep in her chest. "I saw something. Something that really freaked me out."
Justin's brow furrows, a deep wrinkle etching itself above his nose. His eyes are bright but strangely uncomprehending. Then it looks as if a light goes off in his head. He straightens up and gapes at her in horror. "Alex, you're not supposed to remember any of that. We have to tell Dad-"
"No, Justin," she stands, weaving her fingers into her hair. "Look, you just have to trust me on this, okay? We can't tell anybody about this."
He frowns. "Why not?"
She can't tell him. Not about them. Justin doesn't do well with the unexpected, and especially not with the not allowed. Or confrontation. Which she knows they're in for a lot of. Its going to be better for her in the long run if she eases him into this slowly.
"Because… it scares me."
Looking up at her from his seat, Justin studies her. He's never looked at her that way before. Not like he wants to believe her, but as if he actually does. He sits there, open and patient and so Justin that she suddenly she wanted that future she'd seen so keenly that she thought her heart might be about to break against her ribs.
Which frankly, made her want to throw up all over the shiny stone floor.
Dizziness hits her with an abruptness that suggested her knees wouldn't hold her up much longer if she insisted on standing, so she sank down onto the floor in front of the window, her shoulder brushing Justin's knee.
He slid down beside her on the floor. "Alex, what did you see?" His voice is soft and low, and it makes her think of kitchen tables and wet hair, and further back to the smoky smell of a campfire.
Shaking her head, she focuses her eyes on the opposite wall. A huge poster of two colliding balls of light (like she really knows what those are called) takes up most of the wall, with several smaller picture along the bottom of what happened after they smack into each other.
It makes her vaguely queasy.
When she does look back at him, she can see just how much he cares. And not for the first time she wonders if he saw her when he went to the future.
His reaction must have been priceless.
Alex smiles, stands, and holds her hand down to him. "Come on. You can buy me an ice cream and maybe I'll tell you about it."
He regards her warily. Nothing unusual there. But its not everyday that she admits to being scared of anything, especially not to him. So he, very reluctantly, takes hold of her hand and stands up. She looks down at their joined hands, noticing for the first time that his fingers fit so neatly around hers that she almost doesn't feel them there. They fit together, not like two sides of any one thing, but like a lock and a key.
"You know, there must be a reason you didn't forget like you were supposed to," he says as they make their way towards the door. "It should be in one of the magic books."
Alex slides her hand up, wrapping it around the bend of his elbow. "Justin, not everything is about research." She tugs him out of the room. "Hey, let's stop at the gift shop on the way out. You can buy me something."
"I have to buy you a souvenir and an ice cream?" Justin tries to dislodge her from his side, but she holds on tightly.
She blows out a breath. "Psh, you love it."
I know it sucks. Sorry. Frankly, I just sort of lost interest in it. *shrugs*
Yes, I based the concept of immunisé contre la magie on 'pristinely ungifted' from Legend of the Seeker. But at least I'm admitting it. :) It just fit. Besides, given that the whole plot bunny developed from seeing those damn Flash Forward promos every time I turn on my TV, it's not really much of a surprise that yet another show concept popped into my head - I have been told that I watch an 'ungodly amount of television.'
And just for the record, I had this entire concept plotted out before Kat reminded me that Alex did indeed have part of her memory temporarily erased in The Supernatural. So for continuity's sake we're all just gonna pretend that that episode never happened, mkay?