my brain went off on its own and imagined an AU where henry says ✨no✨ to alex after mr claremont-diaz says "I'll leave when you tell me to leave"
let me just say that my heart is broken but here we go 😭💔
“I’ll leave,” he says, and he turns back and leans in, “as soon as you tell me to leave.”
Henry is still for a few moments, his chest rising and falling steadily, the look on his face not at all what Alex had imagined. He hadn't dared to imagine anything, but he thought Henry would be distraught - upset, at the very least - any emotion at all would be better than the vacant, blank look on his face. He takes in Henry's features - his beautiful eyes and lips and neck and body - hardly breathing.
I love you, he thinks. Henry, I love you.
"No, Alex," Henry says, his voice quiet and gentle, stepping away and touching the ring on his finger. "I can't do this, and I don't want to. So, please, Alex. Leave." Alex feels, rather than sees or hears him exhale, and he feels like his heart is being yanked out by a string, like someone has a fist around it and is determined to crush it till it is nothing but pulp.
Then he feels nothing.
He doesn't remember staggering backwards and gripping one of the pillars of Henry's apartment; he doesn't remember the pain or sadness of the overwhelming heartbreak; he doesn't remember Cash's pitying eyes or Amy's attempts at comfort or Zahra's quiet concern. Of the three, Zahra's gentleness hurt the most - it hurt, physically, that she was being nice. What wouldn't he give for her to call him an asswipe or threaten his privates again, just for a fleeting sense of normalcy.
He doesn't remember the flight back, or the paparazzi shoving microphones in his face. He doesn't remember Nora's fingers pressing gently into his shoulders, cool and steady. He doesn't remember June and his mom and dad circling him like curious wolves before engulfing him in a hug that, in hindsight, he's sure was suffocating. He doesn't remember anything. He doesn't feel anything.
The lack of Henry - not just a physical presence, but the ghost, the shadow, the faint aura of his presence that followed Alex for so long - gone. Every memory and laugh and kiss and touch - gone. Every whisper of Henry's voice in his ear, every gentle utterance of the words "love", "sweetheart" or "baby" - forgotten. And-
Alex later realises, as he crumples up that picture of Henry and deletes their texts and emails, what is missing from him.
It is his heart.
The part that he had surrendered to Henry - the part of him that now belongs to that stubborn, incredible prince he loves - torn from him unintentionally, staying clasped in those nimble, steady hands of the only man he's ever loved so so much.
The bits and pieces of what they once shared come rushing through his mind, and with it, comes the tears.
This time, as he feels them fall down his face, it hurts to know that across the ocean in a lonely, bleak apartment in London, is Henry. He imagines him sitting at his desk, staring blankly at the wall - perfectly fine.
Maybe it didn't hurt at all.
But what if... what if it did?
That, Alex thinks, is what hurts most of all - the thought that Henry loved him, but let him go. For what he thought was the best thing for both of them. He feels his heart splinter again, and he wishes, as he presses his fingers to the key lying on his chest, that they had chosen differently.
DO YOU WANT MORE OF THIS?
anyway, note to self, to reduce the pain:
1. read the actual red white and royal blue again 🍷