TITLE: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

RATING: M/NC-17 for (eventual) explicit depictions of consensual, slightly underage sibcest, as well as strong language.

CONTENT: A mutant hybrid/bastard lovechild of song!fic, fix!fic and smut!fic. Contains elements of romance, angst, hurt/comfort, and smut—oh, is there smut!—with a little bit of meta humor thrown in for color. Eventual Jalex, from Alex's POV, without ignoring the canon pairings of Justin/Juliet and Alex/Mason.

WORD COUNT: Approximately 36K in 15 chapters.

DISCLAIMER: Wizards of Waverly Place and its characters are owned by people who aren't me. So are the songs Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk, Stronger by Kanye West, as well as the various DC Comics characters mentioned throughout. No copyright infringement is intended, yada yada yada, please don't sue.

SPOILERS: Extremely heavy spoilage for about the first third of Season 3, up to Episode 3.09/10, "Wizards Vs. Werewolves". (In fact, if you haven't seen those episodes, this probably isn't going to make a whole lot of sense to you.)

SUMMARY: Justin Russo, Junior Monster Hunter, is the only thing that stands between Greenwhich Village and a sudden, unexplained infestation of creatures from the wizarding world. When he's injured in the line of duty, requiring Alex and Juliet to rescue him, Justin concludes that he's just not man enough for the job. Determined to prove himself worthy, he sets out to make himself harder, better, faster, stronger...an idea which Alex finds strangely intriguing. Inspired by a prompt at the LiveJournal kink meme, omgjustinalex.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Cross-posted from my LiveJournal, where it was originally posted on October 20, 2010. A 'between-the-scenes' companion to the Monster Hunter/Werewolf arc, HBFS is my humble attempt to spackle over some plot holes, reconcile the inconsistent characterization that I've always felt plagued it, and layer in a little subtext of my own. (Note that it assumes episodes 3.06, "Dollhouse" and 3.07, "Marathoner Harper" aren't part of the arc, and actually happened afterwards, since I'm halfway convinced these episodes aired out of sequence, anyway.) If you're brand new to the fandom/pairing, or you haven't seen Season 3 yet, you may want to skip it for now and come back later once you're caught up. If, on the other hand, you have watched Season 3 and wondered where all the glorious Jalex-y subtext disappeared to, especially in the wake of the movie, then this Bud's definitely for you!


Justin gets off easy, all things considered, with only a few scratches, a sprained ankle, and a mild concussion. But the will-o'-wisp gets away, choosing to flee rather than finish him off, probably because it's not worth the effort to drain the powers of a Monster Hunter who's not yet a full wizard. And Alex and Juliet wind up having to carry him home when they finally find him, hours later, lying battered and unconscious in a pile of garbage, in an alley just west of East 8th and Broadway.

(OK, so it's Juliet who does most of the carrying. And most of the finding, actually. Because, y'know, vampire, what with the super strength and keen senses and everything. Not that Alex couldn't have done it all herself. It just would have taken her longer is all.)

"Ungh! For a skinny science geek, he's a lot heavier than he looks!" Alex grunts, tugging Justin's arm over her shoulder as Juliet does the same on his other side. Together, they heave him limply to his feet. "Can't I just use my wand to flash us back, or whatever?"

"Not if he's had a bad blow to the head," Juliet says, in a tone that suggests Alex ought to know better, being a wizard and all. "If he's got a concussion, a teleportation spell could make it worse."

Despite the gravity of the situation, Alex shoots Juliet a look over top of Justin's head, where it lolls against his chest. "Gee, look who's an expert, all of the sudden."

"I'm two thousand years old, Alex. I have picked up a thing or two," Juliet says patiently, shifting Justin against her so that she's bearing most of his weight. "Besides, being around Justin so much, you just tend to absorb knowledge like that."

Again, she says it like maybe Alex should have absorbed a bit by now herself, but this time Alex lets it pass. Because, OK, she may have a point there. Instead, she tilts her head down to study the bruises and scratches on Justin's face, and scowls.

"Geez, a little floaty ball of light did this to him?" she says, incredulous. "That's like getting the crap kicked out of you by Tinkerbell. Just how bad of a Monster Hunter is he?"

"For your information, wisps are level seven monsters, and Justin had no business going after it on his own," Juliet snaps, and reaches up with her left hand to wipe away an angry tear. "Don't you dare make fun of him for this, Alex. I mean it. He's going to be hard enough on himself about this, as it is."

"But I wasn't—!" Alex swallows the rest of her protest as Juliet glares at her, sneering just enough that the tips of her fangs are just barely visible beneath her top lip. And though Alex isn't normally one to allow others to intimidate her, she drops Justin's arm and hurries to the mouth of the alley to hail down a cab, chalking Juliet's snippiness up to concern over her boyfriend.

After loading him into the back of the taxi between them, they ride in silence all the way back to Waverly Place, with Alex reflecting that Juliet doesn't know her brother as well as she thinks she does. Because, seriously...Mister Perfect, hard on himself? Shyeah, right.