Disclaimer: I do not own Wizards of Waverly Place. No profit is being made from releasing this fictional story.

Author's Note: Yay! Another chapter! This one is a little short, though. I really tried to make it longer, but it seemed like keeping this particular even on its own was right. So enjoy! And keep the reviews coming. They urge me to write faster.

Also, and I'm just putting this out there. If you have any ideas for one-shots that you would like me to write, please let me know. I'm always open to ideas, and if you're willing to share with me, I'll give it a shot.

Let's read on!

A Familiar Pattern 25

By genielou

"Harper," Justin whispered as he tried his hardest to ignore the condescending smirk that seemed to have become pasted on Max's face. He had no doubt that Alex was somewhere within the vicinity, watching him and most likely laughing her head off.

"Good evening," she addressed to the crowd, still smiling and waving, and still unaware of her very own past staring confusedly at her from the crowd.

The sound of her voice triggered something within Justin. Long forgotten desires seeped up and overwhelmed him, making his chest tighten. He downed the rest of his scotch as he tried to control the rabid emotions that were struggling to escape from his practiced demeanor. He tried to concentrate on the sight of her, and to differentiate her from the perfected image that he has kept on a pedestal in his mind. Despite her apparent aging, she looked almost the same. Her hair was the same shade of auburn with just the right gleam of red. Her physique still curved at just the right angles, in that same way the complimented his embrace. Her smile, the very same one that always brightened his days and nights, still stretched from ear to ear with what he was sure to be her sincerest expression. And her white skin and red lips that rivaled that of the fairy tale's very own Snow White…

The crowd settled as she lifted the microphone to her lips. "My name is Harper Finkle, and I am also the creator and head designer of Finky. First and foremost, thank you so, so much for all of your support. If it weren't for you: our beloved trustees, sponsors, fans, and buyers, Finky wouldn't be where it is today."

Applause.

Harper proceeded to tell the crowd about herself, stories of how Finky came to be formed, but Justin could barely hear any of it. A haze seemed to block out all sounds as he battled with his inner demons. Memories of touching and kissing her suddenly flooded Justin's mind. The haziness that the scotch offered only moments ago was slowly being defeated by the nostalgia of her appearance. He wanted so badly to find another form of alcoholic bliss to engulf, but his legs felt like they were stuck at a standstill as his eyes remained glued to the occupants of the stage.

"—soon to be Mrs. Finkle-Bisca, so we thought that now would be a great opportunity to reveal—"

Wait, what? Finkle-Bisca? Justin thought as his attention was snapped back to the stage.

"—celebrate my engagement with the rest of the you—"

All rationality escaped Justin's reason as his eyes widened and the familiar panic surfaced from his chest.

Finkle-Bisca...

Engagement…

Engagement…

Engagement?

Engagement!

Justin's hand reacted before he could think. He swiftly took his wand out and with a flick of his wrist, time slowed to a mili-second of a speed, almost to a complete stop. He looked around frantically as his mind tried to rapidly rationalize what he had just done.

"Justin! What did you do?" Max exclaimed at him; Justin's eyes frowned as he wondered why Max was still moving and promptly remembered that he was, after all, a wizard descendent.

His eyes gazed at the stage, and widened as he saw Harper at mid-speech. His feet started moving forward, hastening at every step. He stopped when he saw Alex run up to the stage to seemingly analyze her best friend's condition. She looked to the crowd, searching, and quickly zoned in on him.

With a flick of her own wand, Harper regained her own speed, and abruptly looked around in frantic as she realized what had happened. She looked even more frantic when she became aware of Justin's presence. She looked to Alex, then Justin, then again at both. Her breathing heightened in alarm.

"What's going on?" she asked, her voice high and pitched.

A grin spread on Alex's face, which quickly fell when Harper smacked her hard on the shoulder.

"Ow! Excuse you!"

"You—you—suck!"

"Why do I suck? Just the other day, you said you missed—"

"And this is how you respond to that comment?"

"Oh, come on! How else would I respond?"

"Well—not like this!"

"If not like this, then it wouldn't be funny."

"I'm going to kill y—"

"Hey!" Justin yelled, immediately interrupting their banter. "What the hell is going on?"

He was addressing everyone, but his eyes remained on Harper, as hers remained on him. It was Alex's sniggers that broke their trance.

Alex grinned at them. "I really am quite devilish, aren't I? Whelp!" She grabbed hold of Harper's arm and held her wand up. "It's time to go. Justin, you wouldn't mind cleaning up, do you? Okay! Thanks!"

Alex flicked her wrist, and with a flash of bright light, both she and Harper disappeared. Justin let out a stream of colorful curses while Max shook his head with a few tsk's.

Justin performed the do-over spell once he calmed himself down, making sure to reverse time enough to before Harper appeared on the stage. That event was instead replaced with a slight commotion as to Harper's disappearance. The Finky representative expertly improvised for the rest of the event.

Justin left after making sure that Harper and Alex weren't going to make any more appearances for the night, much to Max's confusion and protests. Max tried to follow him, but had to give up the quest when Justin turned into an alley way and disappeared in a flash of light.

He reappeared in his apartment. Frustrated, angry, and still headache-induced, he haphazardly pulled at his tie until it loosened enough for him to yank it off. He proceeded to his coat, and then threw both garments onto the floor.

He couldn't believe it. He just couldn't believe it. Profanity raced to the tip of his tongue as he processed the betrayal of his own siblings, both of whom apparently knew the entire time—THE ENTIRE TIME—that he had succumbed to depression where Harper had ran away to. All of those years of not knowing… the years of guilt over what he could have done differently to prevent it from happening… the years of regret over not fighting for her… And now, when he was sure he looked his worse, he sees her in all of her beautiful glory—she looked the same, not even a hair out of place. She was like a painting that had been preserved and stored away; aged but elegantly stilled in time.

When Justin felt an oncoming pull that was unmistakably magical, he quickly pulled off his right shoe and threw it at the direction that he was sensed it from. The shoe struck its target on the arm as a bright flash of light appeared.

"Ow! Dammit!" Alex exclaimed as she rubbed her arm. "Okay, yeah, real mature, Justin!"

"You tricked me!"

"Well, yes, okay, I did. But technically, no, I didn't," said Alex. "I told you to come and you came. I didn't, like, drag you or anything."

Justin heaved a sigh or frustration as he tried to control his breathing. He was one meltdown short of attempting to wring his sister's neck. "I want to talk to her."

"Who?"

"You know who. I want to talk to her," Justin repeated with firmer conviction.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Alex," he said, his voice low and threatening. "What is the point of tricking me into coming tonight if you're just going to play dumb with me."

"Technically, I didn't trick-"

"Alex!"

She snickers.

"Alex!"

"All right! All right! Geez, take a chill-pill. Or lay off the caffeine a bit," Alex confessed with flailing gestures. "Okay! To be honest, yes, I guess I did trick you. I supposed. If you really want to get theoretically precise with what I did. But, if it makes you feel better, I tricked Harper too. She didn't know that you were coming tonight."

Justin eyed her curiously. "Alright, Alex. Knowing you, and I do, there is a contingency plan for every consequential scenario. Now, I will ask you nicely and you had better play nice this time: What is the second part of your plan in response to what just happened tonight?"

Alex made a funny expression before smiling. "Aww, Justin, I didn't know you believed in me that much."

Justin retorted by narrowing his eyes.

"Well, unfortunately, I did not plan this to happen. I expected Harper to freak out a little but be happy about seeing you. I expected you two to go out to coffee afterwards and rekindle past mistakes. And you know what, quite honestly, I thought you'd be more appreciative about it. I expected hugs and thank you's actually," she rambled on. "But, alas, none of that happened. You both freaked out—well, she, more than you, and then you freezed time—which was, by the way, a superbly hilarious reaction—and now, we're here. So, if you have any ideas as to how we should proceed, by all means, please share them with me."

Justin remained silent as he thought of what to say while Alex fiddled with her hands and shuffled her feet. When Justin finally spoke, his voice was softer and calmer. "I want to talk to her."

Alex furrowed her brows. "I really don't think that's a good idea."

Justin frowned. "Why not?"

"Because, Justin," Alex sighed. "Weren't you listening to the show tonight? She's engaged."

"Yes, I heard. I was listening. Well, no, I wasn't, but I heard that part briefly," he explained. Then shook his head and looked at her pleadingly. "That's why I need to talk to her."

"To do what, exactly?" Alex said. "Justin, I love you, you know that. I saw how hard it was for you to get over her. If you talk to her, you might say something stupid and regress."

Justin sighed in defeat as he sat down on his couch. "Alex, you devised this scheme for a reason. If it wasn't so that I could talk to her, then what is it?"

"I did it so that you can have closure. Come on, man, it's been years."

Justin buried his face in his hands. Alex wasn't wrong. Just the sight of Harper was already having a strong reaction within him. What would happen if he were to actually talk to her?

Justin sighed again. "No, I have to. Alex, I have to."

"Justin, come on—"

"No. If you want me to have any sort of closure, then I need to talk to her." Justin lowered his hands and looked at Alex, his expression pleading. "Like you said, Alex, it took years to be at this stage and I'm still not over it completely. Maybe talking to her… I just want to find out what happened. Or… or… I don't know. I just…" Justin sighed heavily. "Please, Alex," he whispered. "Please."

Alex furrowed her brows. She knew she should say no, but seeing her older brother in such misery was enough to make her heart break. "Okay, Justin. I'll ask her. No guarantees but I'll ask her. In the meantime, it may be a good idea for me to prep you for your talk."

Nodding, Justin scooted to make room for Alex to sit next to him; but Alex just walked past him and started heading towards the kitchen. "We need coffee. This is going to be a long conversation…"