*title shamelessly pilfered from Penny Arcade comic strip of the same name
Written in response to the following omgjustinalex kink meme prompt: 'trapped in a fairytale with Justin in the role of damsel.' Admittedly, I bent it a bit to accommodate the context of the fic, but I feel that I have been faithful to the spirit of the prompt if not the letter.
LEGALESE IS MY BREAD AND BUTTA.
Meanwhile: you'll need to be familiar with the episode entitled 'Graphic Novel' in order to really understand the setting of this one-shot. You'll probably be lost otherwise.
And: the action of the fic takes place shortly after Dean moves to Cuba. Or…Djibouti, or wherever the hell it is he went.
Also: the name of the game is Convenient Plot Device.
You have been warned.
[disclaimer by analogy ~ the rights to WoWP:me::the creation of the internet:al gore ~taDA]
Justin's reasonably confident he's being psychologically eviscerated by his baby sister. He's just not sure there's any other way he can really capture this truly, truly unparalleled sensation of being turned inside out while the world reels around him and begins spiraling inward, blurring colors and twisting objects violently until he can no longer resolve the image of The Lair. His feet are pulling up through his ears, his stomach is knotting tight, and his hands are flying to his head to keep his brain from popping out onto the floor.
And that's when he implodes.
He's been here once before, so the oil-blotted texture of…well, Everything (himself included) isn't exactly a surprise, but it's still jarring, and his eyes take several moments to adjust to the aesthetic blur.
When they finally do, it's to the sight of Alex reclining against a tree, newly picturesque in the same clothes she'd worn to school: purple tights, short skirt, long tank, thin jacket, black boots. The expression she's wearing is the least remarkable thing in this dizzy, watercolor world. By the time he's actually capable of focusing well enough to resolve the image of her face, he realizes she's frowning at him. Or, more accurately, Glare-Pouting at him --it's an expression unique to her, one capable of inducing compunction where none is called for, and a Very Real sense of spine-tingling fear for the twinkle of Promised Retribution.
"Sooo," Alex drawls, pinning him with a sharp glance, "Max tells me you've been looking for my diary again." She declares, blunt as ever, and his hypersensitive Guilt Impulse kicks immediately into gear, rendering him incapable of meeting her eyes and bringing a penitent flush to his cheeks.
"Uh, I…have, um, no idea what-what would make him s-say such a thing…"
"Uh-huh." She replies, Not Convinced. "Considering last time you got your mitts on this thing Gigi ended up with it, I figured I'd save myself the trouble and just let you browse until you get whatever it is you came for –which I have to figure are my private, personal secrets," here she pauses to glower meaningfully at him, and he uses the opportunity to look properly abashed, "so, go ahead. Get a gooood look, Justin. Snoop away."
"I, um. I didn't…I wasn't looking to snoop –well, okay, I was looking to snoop, but only because I was…concerned, like any big brother would be when his little sister gets dumped—"
"I was not dumped." Alex protests, pouting. "Dean moved. I was just…left behind. Or something." For half an instant, he thinks the expression that briefly transforms her features might be one bordering on…on vulnerable. But Alex doesn't do vulnerable, which is clear indication his eyes still haven't fully adjusted to Cezanne's Nightmare Palette, after all.
"Alex…" He begins, consolingly.
"Obviously Dean's still crazy about me. He's probably, y'know, doing whatever it is guys do when they're forced by lame parents to abandon their totally awesome girlfriends." He takes a hesitant step toward her, stretching an arm up in anticipation of bridging the distance between them and establishing some sort of sympathetic contact. Inadvertently, the movement snags his periphery on a flash of what he can only assume is the hottest of hot pinks, shot through with filigree of the glittering, silver variety.
That's when he realizes.
"This," Justin shrills, looking (with dreadful reluctance) down at himself to evaluate the full magnitude of The Horror, forgetting the Dean Issue for the moment, "cannot be right." Alex's answering grin is hardly a nice thing to behold.
"I think pink's a good color on you." She snorts. "Justine."
"Alex, I'm-I'm…you made me a-a…princess!"
"Shyeah, an ugly one." She has to brace a hand against the tree to keep herself from collapsing with laughter.
"Hello. I don't 'help' situations, remember? I'm the one who screws them up. Or laughs at you when someone else screws them up for me and you still have to clean up the mess." She tops off this encouraging remark with one of those disarmingly endearing half-grins portending Swift, Certain Doom.
"Why am I a princess, Alex?" He's doing everything he can to modulate his tone, Remain Calm, and not start shrieking in petulant indignation like the little girl his kid sister clearly thinks he is.
"I'm only trying to be historically accurate."
"Alex, this is a fantasy world and we're living in the present. There's nothing to be historically accurate about."
"Oh, Justin, I think there is. Remember that Halloween --you were seven, I was five, I was my own evil twin, you were that Lady Robotica superhero chick in the skirt?"
"It was a skort, and Madame Bionica had the power to commune with robots. Plus, she always followed the proper scientific safety procedures, even in the heat of battle!"
"Uh-huh," she sniggers, "and that's why you're never gonna see a girl naked."
"For your information, I've already seen a girl naked, thank you very much." He has no idea why this claim surprises him, why he's certain he isn't lying and also quite sure he hasn't the foggiest clue what girl he's seen naked; it's almost as if…as if his mind is blocking access to that information, as if it's deliberately trying to keep him from uncovering the identity of this allegedly nude female.
He's done enough reading on trauma to know that he's accidentally nudged something better left in the dark right out into the spotlight.
"Mom doesn't count, Justin." She giggles, meanly.
"It wasn't mom." He says, sure he should be shutting up, positive he shouldn't continue down this path from which there is most assuredly No Return, "It was—"
A sick swirl of images coalesces in his already beleaguered brain, dissolving right through several layers of carefully maintained Psychological Safeguards and casually obliterating intensively erected Self-Defense Obstructions until the scene he'd so painstakingly tried to delete from his memory banks is looping in vivid detail in his mind's eye.
He remembers Zeke, walking into the bathroom, apparently having been raised in a household where the observance of such simple courtesies as knocking on closed (bathroom!) doors isn't practiced, a shriek of girlish indignation, Zeke tumbling backward, into the wall, followed by bottles of shampoo and a loofa and his beloved bathtime robot, all now doubling as projectiles; Justin, rushing to Avert the Violence (and possibly Irresponsible, Potentially Revealing Uses of Magic), slipping past the open door where his –naked— sister is fuming and looking for more things to throw, surrounded by the haze of Recent Shower, dark hair tumbling over small shoulders and clinging to flushed cheeks, and then she sees him, cocks her head to one side, pops a hand to her waist, and a slow, deliberate smile slides across her lips and—"Justin, I dropped my towel," –and even though it's at her feet, even though he has to cross the steaming threshold to retrieve it, even though she's naked as the day she was born (he remembers that day, remembers how happy he'd been to have a little sister, and how quickly she'd remedied that happiness), he's on his haunches before her and --he can't help it – his eyes travel up the length of her long legs, the soft, budding curve of her hips, the pert breasts—he is GOING TO HELL—"H-here, Alex, jeez. Cover yourself already. Before you scar us both for life." And before she can say anything else, before she can so much as open her mouth and breathe at him, he's stumbling back into the hallway, slamming the door shut behind him, leaving Zeke to fend for his own broken brain, and going to lock himself in his room to study until the episode has been successfully purged (he's relatively sure he could do inferential statistics in his sleep now).
"No one." He squeaks, beginning to hyperventilate, looking everywhere but at his evil baby sister. Who, being the consummate liar she is, appears to know intuitively that she's being lied to. (It doesn't help that he's so bad at it, he supposes, but he'll worry about that later. Preferably when Alex isn't grinning at him like she's just found a shiny new toy. Alex…Alex does not treat her toys kindly.)
"Who was it, pretty lady?" She wonders, her voice playful in a demonic sort of way. (She's a child with a magnifying glass, and he's the hapless bug on the sidewalk who crosses her path on a cloudless day.)
"It…was…no-no one. You're right. Never gonna see a girl naked. Poor me! Let's not dwell on it." She bends at the waist to pull her wand from her boot, and (not for the first time since she'd dragged him –sneakily, abruptly, and definitely against his wishes-- inside of her little 'fantasy journal') he curses the fact that he'd dropped his wand. He does not like the look in her eyes as she circles him; like she's a hungry shark that's just discovered this wonderful boy-shaped sack of meat, bobbing helplessly near the surface, bleeding from his skull.
"Some are evil, some are kind, but now all must speak their mind."
"Princess Justin," she begins, looking positively diabolical, and he begins praying to all of mom's saints and dad's…various…sandwich divinities and Max's Very Probably Sentient Rotting Food Scrap Science Projects and whoever else might be listening that he stroke out and die before she asks what he knows she's about to ask—"who's the girl you saw naked?"
He tries not to say it.
He really, really does.
But every second he doesn't is more excruciating than the one preceding it, until it feels like he's coming apart at the seams. And burning alive. And also possibly being stabbed to death. (Which maybe wouldn't be such a bad thing, if there's anyone who wants to volunteer for the mercy. *HINT, HINT*)
"It was—" He must look constipated, he muses blackly in some distant corner of his mind not currently busy screaming in agony, the way his whole body is scrunching, locking with the effort of holding the information back, his face contorted into the same sort of grimace he might employ if he were constipated, and he's vaguely aware of her rolling her eyes and opening her mouth,
"Harper?" She guesses, at the same time he says,
"You." She blinks at him, a look of stupid shock sweeping her features clean of that Machiavellian calculation for one stark, fleeting moment before she smoothly recovers. And then leers. "I've seen you naked." He reiterates, furious, and knows immediately what's to blame when his throat closes.
Not that that stops him from blustering on, still at the mercy of her stupid spell (stupid, stupid, stupid magic!), which is insisting that there's no use leaving a job half-done.
"Last Thanksgiving, when Zeke was over, remember? He walked in on you and then I walked in on you, and, um. Towel." He pauses (chokes, actually), waits a few seconds, and then heaves a huge sigh of relief when the searing anguish of her spell at last wears off. Still, there's one piece of information he thinks she probably needs to have. "It wasn't like I liked—" His brain snaps his mouth shut before he can finish the thought, and in a horrifying flash of insight, he realizes he can't say it because it isn't the truth. Which means the spell has yet to run its course. It means whole bunches of Other unfortunate things, too, he's sure, but he'd rather not open that particular can of worms at the moment. "It was an accident." He fumbles, finally, and looks at her. This is so, so not okay.
If Alex were a normal sister, she'd be staring at him in horror right about now, maybe backing away slowly. But Alex Russo isn't even a normal human being, let alone sibling, so instead she's looking at him with an expression that's equal parts sinister and amused (as if she'd actually been paying attention to him for once, as if she'd perceived the truth in what he hadn't been able to say), one dark brow slanted in that patented wily-scheming, Run-for-the-Hills sort of way she's been perfecting for some sixteen-odd years, and it alarms him somewhat when his mind's first reaction is to swell with (instead of gut-clenching terror) a sort of sick anticipation.
"Reeeeeeally," she draws it out, as if this fact is just Terribly, Fantastically Interesting, "How embarrassing for you." She remarks snidely, reflecting, popping a hand to her hip as she begins to slink toward him. (Alex is definitely slinking; there's no other word for the obscene way her hips are moving, or the way her eyes are insinuating things in his general direction that no one her age ought to be able to insinuate. Oh, right. There's also that small matter of this being his sister doing the insinuating. That should probably be bothering him, too. Emphasis on 'should' and 'probably' and 'special hell.')
He shuffles backwards in alarm, holding his arms out in front of him as if to ward her off, or at the very least, in the hopes of holding her at bay. Then it occurs to him that he should probably try to fill the silence before she uses it to do uncomfortable things to his insides with her eyes. And mouth. And—
"Embarrassing for me? You were the one who was naked!" She shrugs, a noncommittal gesture, and continues doing unseemly swaying-type things with her hips.
"Details." Alex replies coolly, batting her eyelashes. What the hell is she trying to do to him?
…actually, he probably doesn't want to know the answer to that question.
"Kind of an important one." He gulps and begins fingering the lace-ruffled collar of his dress (--and that is not expository thought he'd ever expected to have--), suddenly uncomfortably hot. He's having more and more difficulty holding the thread of the conversation with every sashaying step she takes toward him.
"To you, apparently." He opens his mouth to demand to know what the hell (--whoops, what the heck--) that means, but she heads him off with an answer that drops his brain straight into his pants: "Since you're the one who enjoyed it." Roughly half a foot is all that separates them when she lurches to a halt with a look of pure, unadulterated shock written plainly on her face, almost as if…as if she hadn't meant to say that. He'd be gloating (admittedly clumsily –Alex is much better at the rubbing salt into fresh wounds business), except that this proclamation has several galaxy-exploding implications, at the core of which are two inadvertently compulsory, mutually inferred truths: first, Justin saw his little sister naked, and liked it. Furthermore, Justin's little sister likes that he liked it.
This is Justin Russo, dying of an embolism.
Alex bounces back first.
"Ugggh, I keep forgetting that this stupid spell applies to everyone in the immediate area. How do I turn it off?" Somewhere off in deep space, Justin responds automatically.
"You don't, Alex." He mumbles vaguely. "We just have to wait for it to wear off."
"That is so dumb." He's inclined to agree, but Textbook Justin springs into action before he has the chance to tell him his services aren't presently required.
"Yes, well, there's a reason for it. It's supposed to be a precautionary mechanism to keep people like you from abusing the spell."
"Oh, you and your 'reasons' and your 'precob mercenaries.' What are you, an encyclopedia?" He can't even muster enough brainpower to correct her malapropism. He's still trying to remember his first name. She runs her hand in frustration through her hair and considers him for a long moment.
"Oh, well." And then she reaches out to jerk him forward by his shiny corded belt. He stumbles forward with a startled yelp and flails helplessly in an attempt to steady himself, and because God hates him, he accidentally gropes her. Emphasis on ACCIDENT. As in, ABSOLUTELY NOT ON PURPOSE. She giggles wickedly and pushes her hips into his. IT DOES NOT FEEL FANTASTIC. "I knew you'd look good in a skirt." She confesses, and between one aneurysm and the next, he's making out with his little sister.
"MMMMPF!" He tells her, somewhat urgently, approximately half an instant before she backs him into a tree he's relatively certain hadn't been there a few seconds ago and hooks a leg over his hip, grinding languidly, sinuously against him while he fights to remember why this is so very, very wrong. Alex's hands are confident and unafraid as they slide over silk-water fabric, nails heavy as they drag over his abdomen and curl unabashedly around him through the cloth of the gown. He doesn't think he's ever going to be able to recite enough Hail Mary's to erase this transgression.
She pulls away long enough to say something sarcastic and inappropriate, but he's unable to appreciate it on anything other than a purely inflectional level, and anyway, all it means to him at the moment is that she isn't kissing him, so he thinks he probably cuts her off when he solves this problem by attaching his lips to her neck and coercing her other leg (by way of still more Inappropriate Groping) into joining its counterpart around his waist before he has enough time to consider stopping. She makes a whimpering, pleading sound low in her throat, head tipping back to bare the creamy-smooth line of her throat, and he responds in kind when the friction between them begins to swelter, the sensation pulling hard and tight in his gut.
Abstractedly, in some dark recess of his Currently Occupied mind, he's frantically reassuring himself that this is a fantasy world, so it really doesn't count. Also, technically, this is Alex's fantasy world, so it really, really doesn't count.
One thing he's sure of, though: Gigi is definitely not getting her mitts on this thing again.
THREE CHEERS FOR ABRUPT CONCLUSIONS WITH ABSOLUTE LACK OF SUBSTANTIVE RESOLUTION. YEEEEEESSS.
Caffeine, you tricksy devil, you.