Afraid of Change - Alternative Ending
Pairing: Five Hargreeves x Reader
Word Count: 4.1k
Warning: cheating au, implied smut
A/N: this is the alt ending to Afraid of Change and this isn’t any better lol but def the ending some people want :)
It’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.
The thought of being fine has always been empty words to you, not meaning the most. But as you step into the elevator and press the worn down button of the fifteenth floor all you can do is pray. Pray to whoever will listen that, yes, you will be fine.
You’re not sure when the suspicion rose within your mind, but recently it’s been all your thoughts. When you’re falling asleep and right when you’re waking up. As you walk down the hallway, twenty steps until the door, you hold onto the ring that rests on your right middle finger. You never had the confidence to put it on your left hand or even your ring finger, in case he’ll notice. It’s a constant reminder of what was and what should’ve been.
“It’s a placeholder for the real thing. One day, I promise…”
You’ve never been one for confrontation and honestly the second you unlock the door you might not dive into it. And that’s what happens when you close the door and put your belongings on the dining table. The urge to say something about what you are so sure of dissipates the longer you stand in place. I have to hear him say it…a slip up. And then I’ll find the courage. Is what you say to yourself to fight back your nerves.
You quickly go for the cabinet and fill a cup of water for yourself. As you sip you can hear rustling of paper down the hall, near the bedroom. In his study as always. You’re sure that he knows your home, but despite that you stand near the doorframe. You see his back and the rapid scribbling he’s doing. Your eyes immediately drift to the glass of whiskey to his left. And then the bottle, half empty, close by.
Always drinking. Always tipsy.
You clear your throat. “Have you had dinner?”
Without a flinch to your voice, seeing as he could hear your breathing from behind him since you got there, he raises the glass. “It’s right here.”
You’ve never liked staying in his study. (Not like he also enjoyed it…since he’s a workaholic and needs absolute silence.) You can’t help but step inside and stand near the bookcase and distract yourself with not really reading the titles. You distract yourself with the differentiating heights of the books. You picked up on distracting yourself a lot these days.
He sighs. “I’m working on something very important here and I need you to-” another sigh, “Did you want something?”
This makes you turn your head towards him. He’s not even looking at you. Still making markings on countless papers.
“No, not really.”
With that you make your way back into the hall, towards the bedroom. The first thing you notice is that your side of the bed is still unmade. Something about waking up by yourself this morning made you rush to get to work earlier than usual. You distract yourself with getting ready for bed. It’s not even late, barely past eight, but you have to do something. You think taking a shower first is better. As you undress and dip your hand into the rushing water to test the temperature, your eyes find their way to all his things in the bathroom. To his toothbrush, his pair of glasses lying on the porcelain of the sink, and to his towel hanging next to yours.
God, I’ve never been good with distractions when it comes to him.
And if the shower isn’t the best place to get lost within yourself.
While you stand under the downpour you think of three months ago.
“I’ve always liked you best this way.” Five said from his place by the dresser. Hands in both of his pant pockets. Glasses on the bridge of his nose and hair in disarray.
“What way?” You glanced curiously up from your spot in bed, back against the headboard, and a small book with collections of poems in your hands.
“Like this,” he made his way to you, “Wearing just a comfy t-shirt, in bed, and focused on something you like.” As he sat by your feet your cat jumped up from the other end and came to stay right by your side. “I guess he likes it too.” He said, resting a hand on your leg that was under the blanket.
A playful grin makes its way on your face. “Why is the lack of clothes I’m wearing the first thing you mention?”
His hand continued to move up your body and you finally noticed how close he had gotten. He leaned to kiss you before leaning dangerously closer besides your ear.
“You better get the cat off the bed.”
Your brought back by the sound of a shampoo bottle slipping off the edge of the tub, sliding by your feet. You bend to pick it up and put it back. You think nothing else as you continue to shower.
After about ten more minutes your wrap a towel around yourself. The mirror is quite fogged up but you don’t wish to see yourself anyways. The clothes you change into are cozy and entirely your own. (You used to have a habit of stealing Five’s shirts…but is it technically stealing if you buy them for him since he can’t be bothered?) You do what you need to do to finish getting ready for bed and you finally step back into the bedroom. You see your cat is already curled up sleeping but instantly comes to when you get in.
You instinctively run a hand over him and find yourself smiling as he purrs. “How was your day cat? Hope you did a lot of people watching from the window. I know you love that.” You whisper in case Five can hear you and interrupt his work. You sink deeper into the sheets and rest your head on the pillow. As you stare another memory floods over you.
“Five, I’m giving you the responsibility of naming him.”
He grunted in protest from the dining table. He watched you on the couch holding the rescue in your arms. You looked up from rubbing the cat’s belly and waited. Nodding your head in confirmation that he has to name him. Swinging one leg over the other, he said, “Cat.”
You laughed, “Yes, Five, I know he’s a cat.”
“No, silly. I’m naming him Cat.”
You gave an incredulous look in reply. With that he got up and before entering the kitchen he said, “You know I like to keep things simple. Cat is the simplest.”
You looked down to Cat while you heard Five opening the fridge. You weren’t even mad, in fact you found it funny. “Cat you’ll be then.”
After that you fell asleep with your hand resting on Cat’s back.
In the morning you wake up later than you normally allow yourself to. Cat is nowhere in sight, so you assume he’s in the living room waiting for breakfast. You look over and the other side of the bed is exactly how you found it yesterday. This annoys you slightly. You stand up and stretch your back out before heading to feed Cat. You hear Five talking to himself as you pass the study. He definitely didn’t get any sleep. You ignore this and focus on Cat. He’s exactly where you thought you’d find him, waiting by the window in the living room.
After two minutes, you gently place his new food on the floor and start making yourself breakfast. You need something comforting right now, so you make your favorite blueberry pancakes. After you’ve set your plate you take in that you made enough for two. Despite all your worry and suspicions you grab another plate.
You walk plate in hand and you’ve even got a smaller dish with syrup in the other. You knock, even though the door was already somewhat open, and wait for his response. He doesn’t and you can’t take standing out there any longer so you push inside. He doesn’t say anything in protest so you continue. You’re already annoyed with him for not sleeping so you don’t say a word as you place the food down on the emptiest part of the desk. You leave as quietly as you came in.
You don’t have to be at work today so you contemplate what your supposed to do all day. Being home doesn’t feel inviting, even if Cat’s there. He probably doesn’t need something from you for a while anyways since he already ate. You’ve come to the decision to get yourself coffee first, not Five’s coffee, so you quickly change and say goodbye to Cat before heading out.
There’s a quaint café a couple blocks from your apartment and it happens to be the only place that you can get a decent drink without regretting it after a few sips. You hear the bell above you and the friendly getting from the young barista behind the counter. You and a few other people, studious college students, contain the café. Which you appreciate because a rowdy coffee shop doesn’t sound pleasing right now. You greet back, order your usual, and take a seat at an empty table for two. Observing the table next to yours you realize it’s the same spot you met up with a college friend at weeks ago. You sigh at the memory.
“So, I’ve been dying to hear all about this boyfriend of three years.” She exclaimed full of excitement at the thought of your love life. The pastry she ordered left to cool in front of her.
“You wasted no time, Caroline.”
“Of course not! All I’ve gotten is a couple posts on Instagram about you two. And those don’t provide the details I’m looking for!”
You grin, “And what details are you looking for exactly?”
“Your sex life. Obviously.”
You snap your head around the café and feel a tad bit relieved nobody cared enough to eavesdrop. “Jesus, Caroline, my sex life?” You whisper the last part, embarrassed.
“Yes, I’ll tell you all about mine but you need to go first.”
“Why must I go first?” You mutter, but ultimately give up. It’s not something you want to share but maybe you’ll feel lighter. “Actually, it hasn’t been as good as it used to be.”
She reached a hand across the table, not grabbing yours, but it’s a sign she’s there and listening.
You noticed this and prepared yourself. “It’s been a little over two months since the last time.”
“Seriously? Is it you, or…”
“It’s him. I mean I’m not a prude and I’m up for it, but he’s been especially busy with his job recently, taking business trips, and whenever we’re at home it’s not like he’s shown any sign of wanting to.” You find your empty cup the thing you decided to stare at, not wanting to see the look on Caroline’s face.
She called you by your nickname, voice with concern. “So, you’ve been just left to your own devices?”
“God! I am not going to talk about that, Caroline.” You shift in your seat uncomfortably.
“Okay, okay. But I can’t help but think…” She glances down at her uneaten pastry before meeting your eyes again. So she’s thinking the same thing that’s been clouding your brain.
“I don’t know, but everything was fine a couple months ago and suddenly he’s different. Not as affectionate, even though he barely was in the beginning anyways, and I just feel like an afterthought to him lately.” You take a deep breath. “I don’t want to even fathom the idea that he’s cheating on me, but those business trips? He’s particularly distant and snappy when he’s back. I mean he’s always had a temper but he would apologize to me after. Now when he lashes out on me, for stupid things by the way, he just locks himself in his study. We barely talk.” You felt on the verge of tearing up, but you just breathed out shakily.
Caroline went to hold your hand this time. “Anything else you noticed?”
You nodded. “One time when I did the laundry, his suit jacket smelled like perfume. It was faint and I caught a whiff when I went to put it in, but I smelled it again and it wasn’t mine. I swear to God, I know every perfume I have and nothing comes close.” You felt this striking warmth in the middle of your chest. You just kept breathing in hope it went away.
“You have to ask him. I’ve dealt with cheaters before and you have to get his ass for it. Now.”
You cry, “Caroline, it’s not easy for me! I want to, I really do, but I’m so scared. If it’s true I don’t know what I’ll do. I love him. He’s…he’s the only one I’ve ever given all my love to.”
She gives your hand a quick squeeze.
“But if he’s cheating, you’ll leave him right?”
You’re back at the almost empty café. You get up, deciding that drinking your coffee is better off anywhere but here.
Afternoon is when you get back to the apartment. Your legs tired of aimlessly walking for hours. Stopping here and there at stores and the park, but nevertheless tired. Putting your jacket on the hook and not forgetting to give some attention to Cat, you hesitantly walk down the hall. Peaking into his study you find it empty. Confused, you ears pick up the noise coming from the bedroom. You enter and see Five packing a small suitcase.
“Where are you going?” You lean on one side of your body, anxious.
He looks briefly at you before putting more of his things together. “Business trip.”
That warmth from weeks ago creeps back in your chest.
“Again? But you had one last week.” You can’t help the small amount of bite that goes with what you said. Five stops and turns to face you. “It’s work. I have to go.”
“It’s just that they’ve never been this close to each other.”
He scoffs, “Well if you have so much of a problem with it then call and complain to them. Not me.” He zips the suitcase and walks past you. He’s wearing the same suit you smelled perfume on. You stand there, taking your deep breaths, before following after him. “Five.”
He’s in the study, putting paperwork together in a briefcase. You’re going to pretend that he didn’t hear you, so you call again. “Five.”
“What.” He sounds uninterested and that damn striking warmth won’t leave you. You want to ask. You want to blurt it out and demand an answer. He’s still moving about with determination and the question almost, almost, goes back inside of you. But you don’t want to be the girl that doesn’t even bother. The girl that ignores it.
“Are you cheating on me, Five?” You don’t say it with much confidence, but you still say it. He pauses for a moment, jaw tight, before zipping the briefcase and standing before you.
“What makes you come to that conclusion?” He’s looking down on you, and god, it makes you angry.
“That’s not a denial, Five.”
“Christ. I’m not having this conversation because I’m not cheating on you.” He looks antsy, like he wants to leave this apartment this second, but he makes no moves. He’s not looking at you anymore and you stay silent. What can you say? All you think about is why didn’t he say that in the first place? Why not deny it the second after you said it?
Why isn’t he angry you even accused him?
“I’m running late. We’ll talk when I get back.” With that, he goes past you yet again and you stand in the study even after you hear the door close. You think that it’s all the pent up frustration from all this that you release your tears. You don’t make a big fuss, not a sound, just noiseless crying. You hug yourself while you return to the bedroom. You curl up in bed facing away from everything that reminds you of Five. You stare at the wall ahead and it’s when you hear Cat coming and jumps up to lay by you that your crying becomes less noiseless.
His business trips typically last three to four days, but what makes you flinch is when you hear the apartment door open. It’s only been one day since he left. You’ve stayed in bed, on your side, the whole time. Only getting up to feed Cat and take a long shower. You don’t bother moving. Only listening to the footsteps and the creaking of the bedroom door being pushed open. He wordlessly sits by your feet near the edge of the bed. It’s all so familiar and it makes you feel sick. He doesn’t say anything.
“Why are you here?” You break the silence first.
“I’ve done some thinking. I thought it would be best to come back.” He sits not facing you, elbows on his knees. You really can’t bring yourself to look at him.
“What have you been thinking?”
“Her name is Nora. She works in another department.” You find his words have guilt clinging onto them.
“Did you meet her while you were away?” You’re still staring at the wall. Too calm for his liking.
“Yes. A long time ago, but things…escalated a few months ago.”
You shut your dried out eyes and sniffle. That anger came back within you instantly. “Months? Did you ever think to stop? That you have a girlfriend at home?”
“Of course, I never wanted it to happen for this long. Or at all, but work has been insanely stressful-”
You sit up, in complete disbelief, and you ignore the way your body hurts from being in the same position for hours. “For fucks sake, Five! You think that’s an excuse? I’m right here, always have been for you!”
He snaps his head towards you. “No, I know it’s not an excuse! And I’ve always thought about you and guilt has been eating away at me. I just…I can’t justify what I did, but I have no plans on seeing her ever again. I love you, I always will. I’m just always jumping way too far into things and I lost my way.” He inches closer not sure how you’d feel, so he still gives space. “All I can hope is that you forgive me. It’s the worst thing I could’ve done and I did it. I’m sorry.”
You hear his apology, but it remains unimportant right now. “Am I not enough? You say you love me and that you wanted to stop but when you’re here I don’t feel loved, Five. We don’t even act like a couple anymore. I’m a roommate basically. I do things for you and get shit in return.”
He shut his eyes in shame before focusing back on you and running a hand through his hair. God, you hate him. “I know. I know I’ve been terrible but it’s because I’m so mad with myself. I’m mad I didn’t ignore her like how I do to everyone else. I’m angry I didn’t come to you. I hate that I made you feel unloved, but you’re the first relationship I’ve had that I wanted to hold onto forever. I’m so sorry.” It’s then that he takes attention to the fact that your ring is no longer on your finger, but on the bedside table instead.
His eyes widen slightly before his entire being just goes slack. “Are you going to leave me?”
You don’t answer and lie back down. He doesn’t urge a response from you, assuming you’ve heard enough and need space. Five watches you reach for Cat before making his way to his study, closing the door behind him.
You just need to think.
It take you approximately two hours to come to a decision. No matter how much love you’ve given him and how much he’s given you, there’s this reasoning of a cheater never changes. You thought to yourself that if you stay he will change and become just as loyal as you, but you don’t think your willing to take that chance.
You didn’t talk to him the rest of the night and fell asleep alone, but when you wake up the next morning he’s there sleeping on his side. That warmth strikes your chest. The way the morning sun peaks through the curtains, leaving a glow around him. To his long eyelashes, his messy bed head, the way he grumbles in his sleep…you’re suddenly reminded of all the good in your relationship. The time spent before this obstacle.
And it makes your whole body burn because you know this will be the last morning you wake up to him.
Quietly, you get out of bed. There’s still some coffee in the pot when you arrive in the kitchen. You’re not sure how old it is so you pour it down the sink and make a new one. After you pour yourself a mug you’re sitting at the dining table hoping the smell of coffee will wake him up. It does. A couple minutes pass and he’s sauntering down the hall. He catches you sitting and forgoes the coffee and rests across from you.
You can’t look at him. At his face. So, you stare down at the liquid in your mug.
“I never loved someone like you. All your past and all your faults, I understood and continued to focus on the you now.”
He leans forward on the chair, trying to calm his increasingly beating heart.
You continue, “But it seems you couldn’t do the same for me.”
His eyes are glossy and he tilts his head, looking at you intently trying to convey that he knows this is bad. This sounds like it’ll be bad.
“No, I love you, it was a mistake that I will never make again.”
“But it happened, Five. I don’t understand why but it did, and I won’t stay to see it happen again.” This time you meet his gaze and hold it. His eyebrows are furrowed.
“You don’t believe me when I say I’ll never do it again?”
You hate the way he looks so dejected. But you have to stand your ground, you have to pick yourself up after he knocked you down.
“I can’t bring myself to fully believe you won’t and that is enough of a reason for me, Five. I don’t want to stick around and continue to feel like this and maybe me leaving will help you realize what you really want, Five.”
He shakes his head, “I always want you.”
“If that was true then you wouldn’t have wanted to have sex with someone other than me.” You stand up, no longer feeling comfortable so close to him. As you walk to put your mug in the sink you turn around, “Maybe in another lifetime you never cheated and I never left, but here, now, things are different. I hope you find what you truly want.”
You enter the kitchen and have to stand against the counter, head towards the ceiling to fight back your tears. It takes you three minutes to calm down. When you head back to the bedroom Five is still sitting, staring emptily out the window, but as you briskly pass him he watches you until your further down the hall.
Another hour passes until your back in the living room with all your belongings packed, waiting by the door. Five gets up with the realization that this is happening. This is goodbye. You adjust the purse strap on your shoulder, suddenly awkward.
He stays where he is, but asks, “Is there really nothing that’ll make you stay?”
You shake your head, “I’m staying at a friends while I look for an apartment… I really think this is what needs to be done, Five. I don’t regret loving you, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t leave.”
He stares at you, not hiding the fact he’s crying, and says, “Can I at least hug you?”
He didn’t wait so he’s already around you by the time you finish. It’s tight and his hand is on the back of your head. You tentatively place your hands on his back. You need this too. When he lets you go you move to pick up your bags, wiping a stray tear.
“I’ll be come back tomorrow for Cat,” you both glance at Cat sitting on the windowsill. You suddenly realize how lonely Five will be, “Unless you want to…I don’t know-”
“I’ll take care of him.”
“Please? He’ll be good company.”
And he’s the last thing I have of you.
“Sure, why not. I’ll miss him like crazy, though.”
“You can always come and visit.”
You give him a look, knowing what he really means, and he comes up behind you to open the door seeing as your hands are full.
There are no more words shared between you two as you leave. The silence engulfs Five after he closes the door.
Later that night as you put clothes away in the dresser of the guest room at Caroline’s place, Five gets in bed and observes the ring on your bedside table.
It’s the last thing he sees before he closes his eyes and thinks of what was and what should’ve been.