DISC: I DO NOT own any of the chars from TSWOAM. They belong to Ken Lipman and Nickelodeon.
God bless

"Always Sisters"

Alex sighed as she sat in her Family Studies class. She was trying to concentrate on what her teacher, Miss Fielders was saying.

It was easier said than done especially with Louis Driscoll snickering behind her.

"I want all of you to think about this assignment before writing it." Miss Fielders was saying. "I'm sure all of you can come up with amazing stories to tell if you really put your mind to it. And it wouldn't be a bad idea to get some help from your family. After all, who knows you better than they do?"

As Alex tried to think, a sudden partial memory came to her.

She saw herself at age two. She was trying to run after someone, but she couldn't see who it was.

Smiling to herself in realization, she whispered one word.

"Annie."

"What was that, Al?" Alex's best friend, Ray Alvarado asked.

He was sitting next to Alex on her left.

"Annie." Alex repeated, still emerged in the memory.

"What does she have to do with anything? Ray asked. He stared at Alex with a puzzled expression on his face.

"That's what I'd like to know." Alex said, further confusing Ray.

Ray was about to say something in response when Miss Fielders voice cut in.

"Alex…"

"Huh?" Alex asked, totally caught of guard. "I mean yes?"

"Wonderful!" Miss Fielders replied. "Thank you for volunteering."

It was Alex's turn to be confused now.

"Volunteering for what?"

"To be the first one to read your essay on Monday."

Alex was busy trying not to glow to respond verbally.

She had really done it now.

Turning in her chair, she glared at Louis, who didn't seem to notice.

Before Alex knew it, it was the end of the day and she was leaving Ray at the gym for basketball practice.

"Are you sure you don't want me to walk you home?" Ray asked.

"I'm positive." Alex replied. "Besides, I have to stop somewhere first."

"Okay. See ya later, Al." With that, Ray was gone.

"Later, Ray." Alex replied.

Once she was sure she was alone, Alex morphed into her liquid state and zipped home in minutes.

Getting into the garage, she pulled her bike out of its spot and pulled on her helmet.

After getting her wallet and putting it in her pocket, she left for Sedge way Chemical.

The day was bright and warm. It was a perfect day for a leisurely bike ride.

Alex tried to enjoy the beauty of nature as she rode along the familiar path to her sister's job.

Parking her bike near the entrance of the building, Alex checked to make sure nobody was around before morphing once again.

She didn't even have to count the office doors to find Annie's. She knew where her sister's office was by heart.

Sliding under the door, Alex waited for the right moment before making her puddle presence known.

Annie was alone, which was a good thing. That meant when Alex enacted her plan, it would work without anyone else finding out about it.

Trying to hold in a giggle, Alex made her way towards Annie's desk.

She watched Annie get her bag ready and sling it over her shoulder.

As she went to put a file folder on the desk, she dropped a pen on the floor.

Quick as a flash, Alex made her move. She slid over to the spot where the pen was and waited.

The minute Annie made contact with the puddle, Alex morphed her.

"Alex!" Annie said in a half scolding, half surprised tone. "What are you doing?"

Alex giggled, unable to contain herself.

"Giving you a ride home." She explained. "I wanted to surprise you."

"You certainly did that." Annie agreed. "Did anyone see you?"

"No." Alex assured her.

Slipping back outside through a crack in the window, Alex made her way back to the front of the building.

Stopping next to her bike, Alex concentrated. Within seconds, the bike joined her and Annie in their puddle forms.

"Alex, are you sure you don't want to come back for it?" Annie asked.

"Why would I do that?" Alex asked, already heading back home.

"Because it's really heavy and I'm guessing you've already morphed a lot today."

"Annie, I'm fine." Alex assured her older sister. "Don't worry so much."

"I can't help it." Annie said as she saw the garage come into view.

Sliding underneath the door, Alex cleared the space before reforming herself and Annie.

"Thanks." Her sister replied.

"No problem." Alex said, a little out of breath.

"Alex?" Annie asked, her brow furrowing in concern.

"Yeah?" She asked as she pushed her bike against the far wall behind her.

"Are you okay?" Her older sister asked.

"I'm fa…maybe I'm not so…" Her voice trailed off as she started to fall to the floor.

"Alex!" Annie said in alarm. She caught her little sister before she could hit the floor.

Alex's hazel eyes opened and locked with Annie's concerned brown ones.

"Annie, I'm…weak…really tired…."

"Shh, I know." Annie assured her. "I've got you now. I'm gonna lay you down on the couch so you can rest and get you something cold to drink."

Laying Alex down on the couch, Annie covered her with a blanket. She ruffled her hair once and gave her a stern look.

"I'm gonna get you something to drink. Don't move."

"Okay." Alex replied weakly.

Annie didn't know whether to be worried that Alex was listening to her for once or more worried that she wasn't putting up a fight.

Returning to the living room, Annie sat down beside her sister and held out the cup of fresh orange juice.

"Here," she said. "Drink some of this. It'll help."

"Tired…" Alex repeated weakly.

"I know," Annie assured her. "But it'll help you get your strength back. Then after you drink some juice, I want you to rest. Is anything hurting?"

"No." Alex replied weakly.

"Okay."

Helping Alex to sit up, Annie held the cup out and waited for her to take a few sips.

After she drank all she could, Annie put the cup on the coffee table and put a hand through her little sister's dirty blond hair.

A few minutes of silence passed before Annie broke it.

"So how was your day?"

Alex was about to answer when she remembered the essay Miss Fielders had assigned.

"I need your help with an essay." She began. She made eye contact with Annie, only to have her older sister insist she close her eyes to rest.

"You need my help?" Annie asked. "What kind of essay is it?"

"We have to write about our earliest memory."

Annie nodded. She smiled as a flood of memories rushed back to her.

"So can you help me?" Alex asked, her exhaustion more evident.

"I think I can." Annie replied. "But you need to rest up for me. Okay?"

"Okay."

"Well," her older sister began after a minute or so, "I remember when you said my name for the first time. I was so excited!"

Alex managed a tired smile for her sister.

"So what happened?" She asked softly.

"I remember it like it was yesterday." With that, Annie closed her own eyes as her mind floated back in time…

Four-year-old Annie sat in her car-seat, staring out of the window.

She and her parents, along with her two-year-old sister, Alex, were heading for a picnic at their Aunt Ashley's house.

Feeling a tiny hand on her shoulder, Annie turned around and smiled at her little sister.

"What's up, Al?" She asked, using her special name for her.

"I'm bored." Alex declared. She looked at Annie with a hopeful look on her face. "Tory, pease?" She asked.

Annie nodded. She loved reading to Alex and did it every chance she got.

"Okay." Her older sister replied. "Let's read The Cat in the Hat."

Alex shook her head. She pulled a Clifford book out of Annie's fun bag and handed it to her.

"Cifford, pease."

"Okay." Annie said with a sigh. "We can read Clifford's Tricks."

"YAY!" Alex cheered. She held her plush Clifford close as she waited for her sister to start reading her favorite book.

Annie put her finger to her lips.

"Shh!" She reminded her. "Indoor voice in the car."

Alex frowned, but refrained from cheering again.

"Good girl." Annie praised her. She smiled at her as she opened the book and began to read.

From the front seat, their mother, Barbara smiled at her girls in the rear view mirror. She was proud of Annie for helping out with Alex.

After Annie read "Clifford's Tricks" twice, she read "Six Spoonfuls for Sam."

Before both girls knew it, they had arrived at their aunt's house.

Alex had fallen asleep while Annie was still awake.

As Barbara took her youngest daughter out of her car seat, Mr. Mack helped Annie out of hers.

Annie took her father's hand as they walked up the familiar path to Ashley's front door.

Ashley greeted all of them with hugs and kisses. When she got to Alex, the toddler was just waking up from her short catnap.

Remembering her sister's voice as the last one she heard, Alex had it in her mind that she wanted her sister.

"I'm so glad you guys could come!" Ashley told them. "I made some brownies for the girls."

"Ooh, Annie, Alex, hear that?" Mrs. Mack said. "What do you say to Aunt Ashley?"

"Thanks, Aunt Ashley." Annie said politely.

"Aw, you're welcome, sweetheart." Ashley replied.

Hearing Annie's voice once again only made Alex want her all the more.

Opening her hazel eyes all the way, Alex looked in the direction of where Annie was standing and started to cry while reaching her arms out for her big sister.

"Aw, I think someone's still tired." Barbara cooed to her youngest. She turned to Ashley. "Is there some place I could lay Alex down?"

"Sure. She can rest in the guestroom. It's down here so we can still keep an eye on her." Ashley explained.

"Thanks." Barbara replied.

Alex didn't like this turn of events. She was going to be taken further away from the person she wanted.

As her mother carried her out of the room, Alex protested loudly. It was now or never.

"NOOOOO! Mama, NOOO!" Alex cried. She spotted her sister sitting in a chair, eating a brownie Aunt Ashley had just given her and took the plunge.

"Shh, shh, Alex, it's okay, sweetheart. It's okay." Barbara tried to assure her.

Alex shook her head as the tears continued to flow.

Looking in her older sister's direction once again, Alex blurted out at the top of her lungs, "ANNIE!"

Everyone in the room was silent for half a second before Barbara smiled from ear to ear. She kissed Alex and told her how proud she was.

Nobody's grin could match Annie's though.

The four-year-old jumped up and ran to her mother's side.

"Good girl, Al! Good girl!" Annie praised her little sister. Then gazing at her mother she added, "Mommy, can I hold her, please?"

Barbara hesitated for a second. She relented when Alex gazed down at her older sister from her position on their mother's hip and reached her arms out to her.

"Annie!" She whimpered.

"Mom, please?" Annie begged. "She wants me. I want to give her a hug."

"Okay." Her mother said. With that, she handed Alex to Annie and watched as she took her carefully in her arms. She had taught her well.

Content for the moment, Alex snuggled into her sister as Annie carried her over to the couch and sat down.

"I'm so proud of you, Al. You know that?" Annie told her. She planted a kiss on her cheek and ruffled her hair.

"Annie." Alex said as she closed her eyes.

"Yes?" Annie replied.

"Cifford?"

"Okay." She said. She didn't even mind when her father handed her the same book they had read in the car. Annie was just happy Alex had finally said her name.

Halfway through the book, Alex ended up falling back to sleep.

"I'll tuck her in." Barbara offered.

"Can I hold her for a few more minutes?" Annie asked. "Please?"

"Okay." Barbara relented.

A few more minutes turned into twenty.

Finally, Annie allowed their mother to tuck Alex in bed.

She followed her into the room and gave Alex a kiss on her cheek.

"Can I stay here and watch her?" Annie whispered. "I don't want her to be scared when she wakes up since we're not at home."

"You're such a good big sister." Barbara praised, kissing Annie's cheek. "Of course you can stay."

"Thanks."

"You're welcome." With that, Barbara left her daughters alone.

Getting out one of her favorite books, Annie glanced over at her sister and smiled.

"Don't worry, Al. I'm right here." She assured her. With that, she went back to reading.

An hour and a half later, Annie was still sitting by Alex's bed. She was drinking a juice box and eating some pretzels.

As she finished her juice, she felt the sudden need to go to the bathroom.

Throwing her juice box away in a nearby trash can, Annie put her book down and left the room.

Unfortunately, a few minutes after she left, Alex's hazel eyes started to open.

As she gazed around the room, she noticed she was alone. She didn't like this turn of events at all.

If she had been at home, she wouldn't have minded so much, but she wasn't. What made matters worse, she didn't recognize anything about the room she was in.

The last thing she remembered was being in Annie's arms before she fell asleep. And now her sister was gone.

With her lower lip quivering, Alex cried out for her just as the crocodile tears started to fall.

"Annie!"

"I'm coming, Al!" Annie called back. She appeared in the room seconds later.

"Annie!" Alex cried again. She held out her arms, hoping Annie would get the hint.

"Alex, it's okay. I'm here now." Annie assured her. "You don't have to yell." With that, she walked over to the bed and lifted Alex onto her lap. "Is that better?"

Alex responded by snuggling into Annie for a cuddle.

After a few minutes of cuddling, Annie's stomach started to growl as the smell of veggie burgers and tatter tots wafted in from the kitchen.

"I don't know about you," Annie said to her little sister, "but I'm hungry."

Alex nodded.

"Me too." She said.

"You're just full of new words today, huh?" Annie asked as she bounced her sister on her hip.

Alex just giggled as Annie continued to bounce her.

The girls entered the kitchen to find their parents, along with Aunt Ashley and Uncle Bernard sitting at the table.

The adults were drinking coffee, lemonade and talking about this and that.

Barbara Mack smiled when she saw her girls.

"Annie, you didn't have to get Alex up." She said when she saw Alex in the four-year-old's arms.

Annie shrugged as she set her sister down upon the ground.

"It's okay." She assured her. "So what's for lunch?"

George Mack smiled at his eldest as he beckoned her forward.

"We're having veggie burgers and hash browns." He replied.

"YAY!" Alex cheered.

Barbara smiled at her youngest as she went to pick her up to place her in her high chair.

Alex didn't mind this until she saw Annie was sitting far away from her.

Before she could yell her sister's name again, Annie switched seats so she was closer to Alex.

Alex calmed when she saw Annie change seats.

"There you go." Barbara commented when she saw Alex's smile return. "You love Annie, don't you?" She asked Alex as she placed a plate with a burger and some tatter tots on her high chair tray.

"Annie!" Alex squealed happily.

Annie smiled back with pride.

"I love you too, Al." She assured her.

The family ate and talked amongst themselves for the next half an hour or so.

Once the girls were done, Barbara took Alex out of her high chair and allowed her to go play with Annie.

Alex took Annie's hand and allowed her older sister to take her outside to where a slide and swing set were located.

Making sure Alex was holding on tightly, Annie pushed her on the swing for a few minutes.

"Annie?" Alex said after a while.

"Yeah, Al?" Annie said.

"Wan pway s'more!" She declared.

"You do, huh?" Annie asked with a smile.

"Yeah!" Alex replied. "Pease?"

"Okay." Annie replied. With that, she helped Alex off the swing and guided her over to the slide.

"Girls!" Called Mr. Mack.

"Yeah, Daddy?" Annie called back. She held Alex's hand as she turned to face their father.

"Do you wanna play on the trampoline?" He asked.

"Okay!" Both girls said in unison, making Mr. Mack chuckle.

Annie and Alex joined their father over by the trampoline.

He made sure they got on safely before going to watch them a little ways away.

Alex enjoyed jumping and tumbling. She loved any excuse to jump around and use her outdoor voice.

Annie, who was taking gymnastics this year, practiced tumbling.

Alex tried to copy her sister, but she couldn't quite get it right. It didn't bother her though. She was having too much fun.

Mrs. Mack came out after a while and told the girls it was time to leave.

"Okay." Annie said. She tumbled one more time before getting off the trampoline.

She made a bee line for her mother, seeing that her father was going over to help Alex down.

Realizing Annie wasn't with her anymore, Alex frowned. She allowed her Dad to help her down.

Once her feet hit the ground, she ran to catch up with Annie.

"Annie!" She cried, fearing her sister would leave her.

In her hurry to get to her sister, she didn't see the hose in the middle of the lawn.

She tripped over it and landed on the pavement.

"Alex!" Mr. Mack exclaimed in alarm.

His shout affectively brought Annie and Barbara over as Alex started crying.

"What happened?" Barbara asked as she reached her youngest daughter's side.

"She was trying to catch up to Annie and she tripped over that hose." Mr. Mack explained. He pointed to the hose laying a few feet behind them.

"It was my fault!" Annie cried suddenly. "I didn't wait for her. I'm sorry!"

"Sweetheart, it's not your fault." Mrs. Mack assured her eldest. "You saw Daddy pick her up. You thought he was gonna bring her over to the car."

"It's my fault." Mr. Mack confessed. "I should have been watching her more closely. I'm sorry, pumkin." He apologized to his now sobbing daughter.

Alex wasn't even paying attention to him. She was looking at Annie.

"Alex, I'm really sorry." Annie said sincerely.

Ashley had come out of the house by this point. She was at Barbara's side in minutes. She glanced at Alex worriedly and Barbara explained what had happened.

"Come back inside." She offered. "We have a first aid kit in the house. We'll get Alex feeling better and then you guys can leave before it gets too dark."

"Thanks, Ash." Barbara said.

Ashley waved her comment aside as she led the way back into the house.

Once in the house, Ashley brought the kit out and Barbara started the process of cleaning Alex's injuries.

She had scraped her knees up pretty good as well as her left cheek.

As Barbara set Alex down, she started with her right knee.

As her mother applied the peroxide to her cut, Alex let out a whimper of pain before pulling away.

She turned around and ran straight into Annie's arms.

The four-year-old was surprised that her little sister wanted her since it had been her fault she had gotten hurt.

"Al, it's okay." She comforted. She hugged her and kissed her right cheek.

"Alex, honey, I know it hurts." Her mother soothed. "If you let me help you, it won't hurt so much."

"Stay wiff Annie?" She asked cautiously.

"Yes." She assured her. "You can stay with your sister."

Once she was allowed to stay with Annie, Alex allowed her mother to clean her cuts.

It stung a lot and Alex cried, but she didn't put up a fight otherwise.

Annie tried to help her feel better as best she could.

After Alex's injuries were cleaned, she allowed her mother to pick her up and carry her to the car.

They thanked Ashley and Bernard for everything and headed home.

Shortly after they had gotten into the car, Annie leaned over and spoke quietly to her little sister.

"Alex, I'm sorry you got hurt. I love you."

"Love you, Annie." Alex replied before falling asleep. She reached her hand out and Annie grasped it gently.

Annie knew Alex had forgiven her and she felt a lot better. She had a feeling this was one picnic she wouldn't forget any time soon….

"So that's what happened." Annie finished as her mind floated back to the present. "You never stopped saying my name after that. So what did you think, Al? Alex?"

Annie glanced down to see her little sister was fast asleep.

Smiling to herself, Annie made sure Alex was warm enough before planting a kiss on her cheek.

"Sweet dreams, Al. I love you." With that, she got up to take Alex's glass to the kitchen.

She was about to leave when a groggy voice stopped her.

"Annie?"

"Yeah?" Annie asked. She smiled, knowing what was coming next.

"Stay, please?"

Setting the cup down, Annie shook her head and situated Alex so she was laying her head in her lap.

"Is that better?" She asked fondly.

"Uh-huh." Alex mumbled before her eyes closed once again. "Thanks. Love you."

"Love you too, Al. I love you too." She replied.

Putting a hand through her little sister's dirty blond hair, Annie smiled to herself.

Some things would never change.

One thing was for sure, she and Alex would always be sisters and she wouldn't want her any other way.

THE END