A/N: So, I'm a pretty recent, but big, fan of Wizards of Waverly Place, and I decided to do a quick one-shot based on it. I recently watched the movie, and I just couldn't resist writing this. Before you read, I want to make it clear that this is NOT a Jalex fic; I ship Justin and Alex only as brother and sister, and I love their relationship that way. So, this is purely sibling fluff - but if there are Jalex fans out there reading this, you are free to take this story any way you like. I'm just telling you what it was written for.
The Bond That Can't Be Broken
Justin Russo stomped into the kitchen area of the loft, where his sister (the criminal) was making a peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwich. Alex looked up in not-so-innocent surprise.
"Oh, hey, Justin," she said, absentmindedly licking the knife she'd used to spread the peanut butter. "Did you find your shoes?" Her eyes traveled to the sopping wet sneaker hanging from Justin's fingers. "Wow," she remarked. "What happened to that?"
Justin stared at her disbelievingly. "You know, sometimes I really wonder why you bother. It's obvious you did this."
Alex winked and grinned at him mischievously as she tossed banana peel into the trash can.
"Okay," Justin sighed. "Where is it, Alex?"
"Where is what?"
"The other shoe."
"How should I know?"
She giggled, enjoying the scowl on her brother's face. "Well, that depends…where'd you find this one?"
"In the water tank Mom's got on the balcony to collect rain for her plants."
"Oh. Well, then, I think the other one's hiding in the flowerbed – or was that the other pair?" Alex looked thoughtful.
Justin, on the other hand, looked horrified. "You took my spare pair, too?" he demanded.
Alex shrugged. "This wouldn't have been half as fun if all you had to do was just pick up your other pair." She made a sound halfway between amusement and disgust. "Only you would have two pairs of the exact same shoe."
"Yeah, 'cause only I have a sister like you." Justin crossed his arms.
"No," Alex was quick to disagree. "Max does, too."
"Yeah, but you don't torture Max as much as you torture me," Justin pointed out.
Alex pretended to think about that. "That's true…I do make your life interesting, don't I?"
Justin finally lost his patience. "Alex, I don't have time for this!" he snapped. "I have to get down to the Sub Station for my shift in five minutes. Where are my other three shoes?"
With a sigh, Alex relented, "One's in the flowerbed and the other pair's in the basement."
Without further ado, Justin went to rescue his footwear, returning with every shoe two minutes later.
As he pulled on the pair from the basement (which were, miraculously, clean and unspoiled) he commented, half to himself, "Sometimes I want to forget I'm even related to you."
Alex froze and blinked; a split second later she was halfway up the stairs.
"Hey, where are you going?" Justin called.
"To find some other prank to pull," Alex replied. "I can't possibly let that comment go unpunished, can I?"
Justin's eyes widened. "No, wait! – Alex!" he yelled – to no avail; Alex had already disappeared.
For about a minute, Justin sputtered and raged in a very Jerry-like tantrum; then he sighed in resignation. His shift was starting in two minutes – and that was so not enough time to stop Alex from carrying out her latest diabolical scheme.
He didn't have a choice; he would have to go down and work his shift, then come back up and be very, very careful for the rest of the night.
It was nearly nine o' clock by the time Justin returned to the loft. Max was downstairs helping their parents to close up, so for the moment, it was just Justin and Alex in the loft.
Justin exhaled, preparing himself for a night of unease, paranoia, and constant vigilance.
He tiptoed his way upstairs, wary of anything. But there was nothing waiting for him on the staircase. When he reached the landing, he looked all around for any hidden surprises – and frowned when nothing seemed out of place (Alex's door was closed, but there was nothing new about that).
With a groan, Justin concluded that Alex must have done something bathroom-related. He sighed and considered skipping his shower – but then he caught a whiff of his food-scented clothes and decided against it. He definitely needed a shower.
Cautiously, he crept to his room.
For the next forty-five minutes, Justin inspected every part of his surroundings before taking any sort of action. He checked his towel twice over before undressing. He ensured the lock on the bathroom door was working. He kept a sharp eye out for any irregularities in the plumbing. He turned the water on before stepping into the shower. He sniffed his toothpaste to make sure it was toothpaste before smearing it onto his toothbrush (which he also thoroughly examined).
And yet, for all his precautions, there didn't seem to be anything wrong with the picture. Nothing had happened to him. Justin frowned as his mind came up with two explanations for this phenomenon.
One part of him, the optimistic (wishful) Justin, proposed that perhaps Alex was feeling just a wee bit guilty and had decided not to follow through on her threat that evening.
The second part, pessimistic (realistic) Justin, said: Hold on. He'd managed to take a shower and brush his teeth without any unpleasant occurrences? Something was definitely up.
After a few minutes of deliberation, Justin made his way to Alex's room and knocked on the door. When she didn't answer, he knocked a second time. Still no reply – so he tried the knob. Finding it unlocked, he carefully pushed the door open, half-expecting Alex to fly at his face for entering her room without permission.
But there was no one and nothing there, except a clean, neat room. Justin stared at the unusual display of un-Alex-ness. The bed was made, the dresser clear, the floor clean, the curtains tied back. Alex wasn't exactly a messy person to begin with, but whereas before there had always been some clutter somewhere, now her room put even Justin's to shame.
The cleanness of her room made it even more obvious that Alex herself was nowhere to be found. Getting more and more confused, Justin stepped out of Alex's room and went downstairs.
"Mom, Dad, have you seen Alex anywhere?" he asked.
Jerry and Theresa looked up in puzzlement.
"No," Theresa replied, while the light of comprehension dawned on Jerry's face.
"Oh, that's why it's so quiet and peaceful around here," he realized.
"Dad!" Justin exclaimed.
"Look, Justin, it's very nice that you're worried about your sister, but I'm sure she's fine," said Jerry. "She's probably hiding out in her room. Let's enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts."
"She's not in her room, Dad. I checked."
A frown creased his father's face.
"Are you sure?" Jerry inquired.
"Yes, I'm sure."
"Oh, dios," said Theresa. "Then where could she be?"
"Is she upset about something?" Max interjected. Everyone turned to look at him.
"I don't think so," said Justin, "although her room is freakishly neat. Why?"
"Well, when Alex is upset, she avoids everybody and goes to one place and one place only," Max explained.
There were a few seconds of silence as everyone processed this.
"Wait, what place is this?" Theresa questioned. Only Justin and Max knew about Alex's secret place; their parents were clueless – and neither of the Russo brothers were about to change that now.
"Justin? Max?" said Jerry. "What's Alex upset about?" He crossed his arms and glared at them as if they were responsible for hurting his little girl.
Justin exchanged a glance with Max.
"I'll go talk to her," the eldest Russo said, making his way back up the stairs.
Justin gingerly creaked open the door to the tiny attic on the third floor. The Russos didn't keep anything in this room – all their stuff was in the basement – but it had a small skylight that led to the roof. Years ago, when they had first moved in, Jerry had placed a ladder there so they could climb up to the roof. But over time, the attic, being as little used as it was, had been all but forgotten, and with it, the ladder to the roof.
Alex had stumbled on the attic after a fight with Justin some years back. Finding the ladder, she had climbed up to the roof and sat there until, hours (and parental panic for their missing daughter) later, Justin found her. He'd apologized and told her he would always be her brother, no matter how many times she screwed up or teased him or yelled at him, and they'd hugged and gone down to convince their parents that they hadn't died or been kidnapped. The next day, they both pretended to have forgotten what happened.
Justin had a feeling that same scene was about to repeat itself in some way.
It was near pitch black in the attic, so Justin took the time to be careful as he climbed the rickety old ladder. When he finally emerged on the roof, the fresh air and the light from the nightlife of Waverly Place couldn't have been more welcome.
And there, sitting near the edge of the roof, was Alex. And it could have been merely a trick of the light (it was nearly ten at night), but Justin swore, as Alex turned her head to see who it was, that he saw tear streaks on her face.
"What are you doing here?" Alex asked.
"Checking up on you." Justin hauled himself out of the skylight and came to sit beside his sister.
"I appreciate the thought, but it really wasn't necessary."
Justin ignored that and gazed at her seriously. "Alex, were you…crying?"
Alex's hand immediately shot up to wipe away the tell-tale moisture traces.
"No," she denied.
Justin wasn't buying it. "Then why do you have tears on your face?"
"I have…" Alex fumbled for a bit before settling on, "…allergies." Even as she said it, she knew it was the lamest excuse ever – especially when you considered the fact that she'd stolen it from the same person to whom she was trying to prove that she was not crying.
Justin, of course, didn't miss that.
"Alex, that's my excuse," he pointed out. Alex shrugged.
"Yeah, I know," she admitted. "I just wanted something other than the clichéd 'I've got something in my eye' routine."
Justin couldn't help but chuckle a bit at that before turning serious.
"So, are you gonna tell me why you were crying?"
Alex sighed. "It…you'll think I'm silly."
"Alex." Justin gently turned her head so she was facing him. "Silly or not, you're still my little sister. And anyway, it can't be something silly if you're this upset about it."
Alex bit her lip, hesitating.
"Come on, Alex," Justin coaxed. "I won't laugh, I promise."
"And then, in a whisper so soft he almost didn't hear it, she said, "You…you said you wanted to forget you were related to me."
And instantly, Justin knew why she was so upset. His mind flashed back to their eventful, nearly ill-fated family vacation almost three months ago, when, for a brief few moments, he really had forgotten his sister. Although Alex had cried then and been almost glued to him and Max for the next few days, she had soon reverted back to herself, and everything had gone back to normal, to the point where Justin hadn't even thought twice before making his casual remark earlier that evening. He'd never imagined Alex would still be sensitive about that.
"Alex, you know I didn't mean that," he hastened to assure her. "It just slipped out; I didn't think. I was annoyed with you for pulling that prank with the shoes."
Alex scoffed. "Yeah, and I was angry at Mom when I made that stupid wish. I didn't think, either. And I ended up with something I never wanted, and everyone forgot me, and I almost couldn't make it right again…"
She was working herself up into a real frenzy before Justin stopped her by placing his hands on her shoulders.
"Alex, hey," he said. "It's okay. That's over now, and everything's back to the way it was, just like you wanted it to be. And I'm sorry for what I said," he apologized. "I promise you I didn't mean it. I never want to forget you, no matter how many pranks you pull on me."
Alex chuckled weakly, but it soon faded; Justin noticed her eyes were filled with tears again.
Alex sighed. "You want to know why I play pranks on you?"
"To make my life miserable?" Justin guessed, attempting some light-hearted humor – but Alex didn't laugh.
"Well, yeah, there's that," she allowed, "Or, at least, that was my reason before – but now, since the vacation, there's that, and there's my other reason."
"What's your other reason?" Justin queried.
Alex hesitated before answering quietly, "I – I don't want you to forget me again."
"Alex, that'll never happen," Justin assured her. "Not unless you cast another spell – and I think you've learned your lesson about that."
"I know, but I'm just so scared that even if I don't do anything it'll happen again," she confessed. "So I prank you and tease you to make sure you, at least, won't forget me. I mean, it's kinda hard to forget someone who constantly annoys you."
Justin took all this in with surprise he'd never realized just how soft and vulnerable his sister could be – especially when it came to her family.
"And I know it's stupid and silly and doesn't make any sense at all…" Alex continued – but Justin cut her off.
"No, Alex," he said. "It makes perfect sense."
Alex stared at him. "Really?"
Justin smiled at her. "Yeah."
She slowly smiled back; then she suddenly hugged him tightly.
"I love you," she said impulsively. "I know I don't say it a lot, but I hope you know that."
"I do," he assured her, returning the hug in his big brotherly way. "I love you, too."
"Oh, ew!" Max's disgusted voice intruded. Justin and Alex quickly broke apart.
"Max!" Alex exclaimed, while Justin cleared his throat awkwardly. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to see what was taking Justin so long to 'talk to you'."
Justin coughed. "Well, that's why it was taking so long," he said pointedly. "We were talking."
Max stared suspiciously first at Justin, then at Alex. Then he blinked, as a horrified expression crept onto his face.
"Wait…Alex didn't make another life-changing, family-destroying wish that's gonna end in disaster, did she?" he asked, half-fearfully.
"What?" said Alex indignantly. "No! Why would you even think that?"
Max still looked suspicious. "Because the last time you guys hugged and talked this long was after we finally managed to reverse the spell."
"You mean, after I finally managed to reverse the spell," Alex corrected. "And you were doing a lot of hugging and talking too, as I recall."
Max immediately caught her drift. "Point taken," he agreed – but he still looked wary.
"Trust me, Max," said Justin. "As surprising as it sounds, Alex didn't do anything – this time, anyway." He ignored Alex's eye roll. "We'll be down in a bit, okay?"
Max nodded and disappeared down the skylight, leaving Justin and Alex standing somewhat uncomfortably next to each other.
Alex broke the would-be awkward silence first.
"Just so you know," she informed her brother, "I'm gonna deny this ever happened."
Justin smirked. "That's okay," he told her. "I'm gonna deny it, too."
"Yeah…" Alex seemed to debate with herself for a minute before she hugged him again. "Thank you."
Justin smiled gently as he hugged her back. "You're welcome. And hey…" He pulled away so he could look her in the eye. "I'll always be here for you, okay? Even if you annoy me and make me mad."
Alex smiled back and nodded. Then the two siblings made their way to the skylight.
"So," Justin began as they slowly started to descend, "now that you know you don't need to taunt me for me to remember you, you think you could ease up a little on the pranks?"
Alex chortled in disbelief. "No. Not a chance."
Justin sighed, but there was a knowing smile on his face as he shrugged; it was to be expected. Now everything was really back to normal.