Alex sat at a booth in the eerily dark sub station, her head resting on the cool surface of the table. She had been sitting there long enough to silently cry a good amount of tears. She was done, but didn't feel like getting up to face everyone upstairs.
She felt embarrassed for crying. She was usually tough and steady, and not one to get emotional and teary. But everything that had happened the past few years, from her real father's death when she was ten to her mother remarrying, had just finally crashed down on her and caused her to break.
She heard footsteps coming down the stairs. She sat up in the booth, squinting her eyes. In the dull darkness, she could make out Justin coming towards her.
Justin? Why not her mom? Why was he the one that came for her? What was he going to do, make fun of her for crying like a baby or kick her out of his room and onto the living room couch?
"Hey," he said as he sat down across from her at the booth. "Are you okay?"
Alex blinked. That was really unexpected. "I guess."
"Sorry," Justin said.
Justin shook his head. "I don't know. Look, I don't mind sharing my room with you. And I know you're not exactly thrilled about it, but I won't get in your way or anything."
Alex was suspicious. What was with the nice words all of a sudden? "What kind of game are you playing?"
"Game?" Justin scoffed. "I'm not playing a game! I'm trying to get along, you know, since we're going to be living together and siblings all all that."
"You're not my brother," Alex blurted out.
Justin sighed. "Let's just pretend we like each other, this marriage, and the living together thing, for the sake of our parents. You love your mom, right?"
"Of course you do. And I love Dad. And honestly, your mom's pretty nice, and Max is sorta cool, too. And our parents are happy together, so let's just let them be. Arguing is only gonna make it harder on everyone."
Though Alex hated to admit it, Justin was right. "Fine."
"Alright," Justin nodded. "Now, come back upstairs. Dad made spaghetti."
"I love spaghetti," Alex said, getting up from the booth.
"Me, too." Justin smiled.
They made their way to the steps. Alex couldn't help but notice the picture that hung on the wall beside the front counter. It was a few years old, of Jerry and Justin and then two other people; a woman who she knew was Jerry's first wife and Justin's mother, and Daly, Justin's little brother who had somehow died a while ago.
Alex had always itched to ask what had happened to him, but had never found the right time. Now, after her and Justin made peace and were getting along pretty okay, seemed like an alright time.
"Hey, Justin?" Alex paused at the counter, pointing a finger at the photograph. "Your little brother, Daly, right?"
Justin looked anywhere but the picture. "Yeah?"
"What happened? To him, I mean."
Justin cleared his throat. "Pool accident. He drowned."
"Wow. I'm sorry." Alex couldn't even imagine losing her own little brother.
"Let's just get upstairs, I'm hungry," Justin said briskly and he started to climb up the stairs. Alex groaned inwardly. She had upset him with the question. She shouldn't even had asked.
She followed Justin up the steps and to the door that lead to inside the apartment. Justin hesitated a moment before going in, turning towards Alex.
"What happened to your dad?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
The question hit Alex hard, and images of "that night" started to swim in her mnd, clouding her thoughts. She shook her head, flinging the images out. "Uh, car accident."
"Oh," Justin said quietly. "I'm sorry."
"Yeah. It's fine," Alex shrugged. "It was a long time ago. I'm over it."
Justin nodded, though he didn't look convinced.
Desperate to escape the awkwardness that hung in the air, she gestured towards the door. "Are we gonna go in or..."
"Oh, yeah," Justin nodded and he pushed opened the door.
They were greeted by the "Hey!" of Jerry and Theresa, who sat on the couch watching television, and the smell of spaghetti.
Alex and Justin sat and ate their dinner quietly at the table. The silence was slightly unbearable, but at least they weren't bickering like usual.
As soon as she was done with her dinner, Alex headed upstairs to her new shared room. She had never been in it before whenever she'd visited, Justin hadn't allowed her to.
It was a pretty decent size, fortunately. One bed was to the left of the room, and the other was in front of her (A/N: Think Stephanie and DJ's room in Full House). The one to the left was her's; she could tell from the pile of luggage stacked on top of it. The sight of that made her groan. She still had to unpack!
But unpacking and putting stuff away, or anything else that required more than a little movement, wasn't Alex's thing. So she pushed the luggage off onto the floor, letting it fall before she flopped face down onto the bed.
It was comfortable and fluffy, she had to admit. Though It couldn't have been too late in the evening, she was already so tired and decided that she'd just lay there until she finally fell asleep.
As she closed her eyes, the door of the room swung open and she heard someone come in. Probably Justin, she thought.
But the voice that spoke wasn't him. "Alex!"
Alex sighed and rolled over to get a good look at her little brother. "What is it, Max?"
"I was just looking for you." Max looked around the room. "Is this your room? I can't believe they gave you two beds!"
Alex stared at him. Obviously, he wasn't the brightest color in the crayon box, and it never failed to astound her. "I'm sharing this room with Justin."
"Oh," Max said. "I thought I recognized his stuff." He gestured with his arms towards Justin's bed and bookshelves.
Alex scowled. "Good-bye, Max."
Max hesitated like he wanted to say something, but decided against it. "Okay."
Just as Max went out, Justin came in. Alex watched as he went over and sat on his own bed, pulling a backpack from beneath it. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, homework," Justin answered absently as he pulled papers and folders from the bag.
"In the middle of July?"
"Well, yes. I signed up for this program that gives you work to do during the summer," he explained.
"I try to avoid school work during the school year. Why do you want in the during the summer?"
"It's good for college applications," Justin said, rolling his eyes.
Alex shook her head. What a nerd, she thought.