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Approaching Five o'clock

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Each time the portal opened Hazel was there, afraid of its implications.

Five have arrived so far. Five has yet to arrive.

He made a promise once.

So he waits on and on, hoping he worries for nothing.

Time grew shorter between each appearance.

A week ago he figured it was just about time.

Then the war was declared.

And there Hazel stands, waiting amidst all the chaos, hoping a blue light will appear in a narrow alley, wishing desperately for the tiny figure of a teenager to crash to the floor.

He never arrives.

News of the first attack arrive and the alley stays hollow.

Nothing changes with the second.

The fifth time the headlines blare out about the impending end of the world he gives up hope.

He stares down at the alley, closing his eyes. He can't, he noticed then, can't fulfil his promise to the one person that mattered. He failed.

He counts the hours after the attack begins. Stands his ground as long as he can.

Hidden from view he can watch the massacre, so pointless. Humans killing other humans, for what?

Different ideologies. Good guys, bad guys, we're all just people. Ironically, he knew this words had once come from the very person whose existence – to be more precise, his utter failure of existing at this instance – he cursed to hell and back since armed forces started pouring into the continent.

Checking his watch is a habit. Five hours. Had it only been five hours after this battle begun?

To him, it was an eternity.

How must it have felt for the soldiers?

Were they shivering in their boots, their bloodless hands clutched around their weapons? Were their weapons carefully aimed or were they shooting in the air, unwilling to snuff out a life?

He can see them so closely. Some's teeth are bared in a feral snarl, their bodies ready to collapse, yet still pushing, pushing on ahead. Some are hesitating, wanting to fight yet unable to move forward. Others flee, horror clouding their minds.

It is but a small relief knowing none of them would face any consequences, would be branded as deserters.

Would it feel better if he didn't know they were all going to die horribly?

But he does.

Five hours, and, ironically, almost five minutes now.

The clock ticks on amidst the bloodshed, among the corpses. It doesn't care for its' wearer's agitation. Time ticks on mercilessly.

Five still fails to show up.

Five hours and five minutes.

It boils, then, Hazel's rage flooding his entire being, pulling everything under.

Five hours and five minutes. He takes off the watch, the seconds passing by almost in slow motion, mocking him.

He raises his arm, imagining the sick crunch of the watch hitting the wall. Tick, it goes, mocking, jesting.


Just before he can throw it the watch jumps ahead one more second.

Five hours, five minutes and five seconds after the battle began.

Five hours, five minutes and five seconds after hell broke lose the alley gets flooded with blue light.




Hazel almost couldn't believe his eyes.

Yet there he was, little schoolboy uniform so horribly out of place.

Every ounce of grace the boy usually possessed – limited as it may have been, seeing as he still had struggled with his body not being quite his own anymore – was gone. He brought his feet under him yet failed to catch himself, his body hitting the floor.

There was desperation, lots of it. Legs just about ready to give out the child strained his muscles against obvious fatigue, yanking himself to his feet.

He was disorientated, obviously so. Stumbling, calling out, forcing himself out of the alley.

Pity overwhelms relief, rage long gone.

How weak must he be right then, right there, having just teleported five other people into the past with him?

56 years, Hazel's subconsciousness informs him.

Something bubbles up within him, a strange and hysterical amusement.

Fifty-five years and almost five months.

The situation is far from comical.

Hazel was well aware what was happening. Why it was happening.

Yet he still found himself chuckling weakly at himself.

Five was still stumbling along, trying to regain his composure. He was close to the exit, now – only five more meters away from the street and the carnage.

When he does exit he freezes.

It was barely noticeable, the way Five shuts down completely.

Ash spiraling down around him, fires bathing the area in harsh light, crumbled buildings lining the street.

He can see it, then – why Five had been so tightly winded, why he'd been so desperate. There was no trace of the talented fighter he'd seen before, nothing akin to the smug master assassin, nor the confident victor that batted no eyelash at a hitman dunking it out with his brother in their living room.

At this moment, there was nothing but a deer caught in headlights – or the survivor of an apocalypse just starting to realize he was about to witness the next one.

Was he aware?

Five stumbled out on the street, somehow avoiding stray bullets from both sides. He was still out of it.

Far beyond, if his actions are any indication.

Five stumbled along, wrenching his head from corpse to corpse in a sudden frantic, his mouth agape in a silent scream only he could hear.

The scream was getting louder as the boy watched on, saw soldiers die right in front of him.

Something caught Hazel's attention, his eyes leaving the thin frame. There they were.

Focusing back on the boy he knew he had to hurry, yet he couldn't move a single muscle.

Down below Five was similarly frozen, his body rigid with tension.

The tank shoots and all hell breaks lose.

Oh, the shot hurt his ears even up here – still way too close to the tank for comfort, the shot leaving his ears ringing and every instinct screaming at him to flee – but Five jerked away in almost physical pain.

How he could still stand, Hazel can only wonder. He'd heard all about it from the Handler, well after everything had been decided already, just before he got the last mission – protect Vanya Hargreeves.

He knew all about it, the enhancements, the DNA transplantation, knew all about the body horrors the man-child below had experienced. He knew there'd never been a single ounce of comfort in him during those operations, knew he hadn't even been put under. Had been awake to feel his body being changed , had been aware of every single murderer's DNA overwriting his own mind, struggling to keep hold of his core personality.

Somehow, Five had survived being changed into every single killer across time.

Somehow that still didn't explain how he could continue standing after a tank firing its gun not even five meters away from him.

The other Hargreeves arriving was expected. Had they, too, hoped their brother would find his way to them in the last possible moment?

The core of the battle was further south, the weapon's noise and screams of the fallen echoing all throughout the city. By the time this carnage was over the ground would be drenched in blood.

If it wouldn't evaporate before then.

Below, the knife brother yells at Five, rage and relief impersonated.

He blinked up at the sky, his eyes easily recognizing the shapes slowly descending to Earth. The first have hit already, he knows, far away from here, too far to be felt, but it was already over.

It had been over for a while.

The suitcase took him down, his hand resting on top of a small child's shoulder.

Hazel appealed to a hero, to a hitman, to an adult .

The reply was nothing but the horrified whimper of a child.

“You can't save them if you're dead.”

It's the harsh truth.

For a second Hazel feared Five may have been to far gone in his panic and cunfusion to react.

For a second he feared it might all be for naught.

After so many years, the boy standing right in front of him, just after he'd been ready to give up all hope.

Then Five grabbed his hand and the world blurred.



Hazel glanced around, afraid people had noticed them appearing out of thin air.

He worried for nothing. Men and women alike hurried down their streets, busy with their own lives, none of them even close to imagining what lay but a week away.

He knew Five was still shaken, almost felt the way he jerked his head about, trying to shake the image of nuclear bombs descending around them.

The surprise was shaken off quickly. “Dead. Like anyone around them.” The words were like a trigger, something in Five subsiding against the horror, breaking through, his pragmatic side grasping at every available straw already, his mind going at speeds Hazel could never fathom.

“Is she-?” And he knew Five understood, truly understood just how Hazel had felt for Agnes.

Something blooms within him.

There this man sat before him – except he wasn't a man, really, wasn't he? He might have been old, worn like nobody else, but he was still a child in so many ways, his mind frozen, untouched by time, just like his body was. His body would never age again. Could his mind? Was he even still capable of maturing beyond his momentual state? - frightened beyond belief, having just seen his siblings stare straight into their deaths after only just getting them back. Had it really only been ten days since Five had come home? He couldn't fathom it, working for almost fifty years to get back to Agnes, only to have her ripped away again.

There this child sat before him, hopeless and helpless, about to break down yet still somehow holding on.

And still he was asking about Agnes.

So he told him.

They didn't have time to spare, he knew that. But right then and there, for the first time he could talk to someone who knew how this life was, who knew how it felt to have such dirty hands, how it felt to abandon a powerful organization that could kill him whenever just to get a single thing: Spending time with their loved ones. Saving them.

So he told him, more than he probably should, still not enough. The tape weighed heavily in his pocket, the horrible watch right next to it.

He didn't have to check it to know what time it showed.

Five hours, five minutes and five seconds after the battle had started the portal opened.

Five seconds were missing on the watch when they fled.

The soft ticking had ceased, the clock's hands anxiously quivering.

Something had fractured, probably, when he had opened the suitcase.

Five seconds until time would move on, would move to five hours and six minutes.

The number called out to him, ensnaring him, lulling him in softly. Five, five, five.

The Commission entered the conversation and left.

Its members didn't.

Five, standing in front of him, adrenaline still visibly rushing thorugh his lithe frame.

A soft tick.

He recognized them, somehow, even after all these years.


They were hard to forget, after all.


His hand slid out of Five's pocket, grabbing at the suitcase.

Tick .

He smashed it against the child-body.



The last tick got drowned out in a cacophony of gunfire.

He was distantly aware of Five launching himself backwards, his powers miraculously still working.

The blue light doesn't appear. Not for Hazel's eyes, closed forever.

It's hours later that a confused police officer ruffles through his pockets and finds a watch.

It's hands were still, the random twitch not enough to break the barrier.

The young man wasn't aware of its significance, seeing but a watch showing the wrong time.

How should he have known?

Five hours and five minutes ago this very watch had been silent witness to the apocalypse.

The young police chief frowned, poking at the hands.

Five minutes after five o'clock. Only the thinnest hand breaking what almost appeared as a spell, the hand stuck on the fourth second

Absentmindedly he fiddled with it, poking and prodding, somehow disturbed by the lacking symmetry.

The number Five was unrelenting.

It wouldn't budge, no matter how long he watched on, struggling against some unseen force.

Almost on his own his hands moved over the hands.

His mind wandered. He almost didn't notice when his finger caught on a tiny piece of brittle stone.

Five hours, five minutes and four seconds.

His hand brushed at the tiny troublemaker, the clock batting at his finger.

He raised it in front of his face, removing his finger.

Tick .

The watch moves.

Five hours and six minutes since blood flowed freely over war ridden streets.

Five hours, five minutes and five seconds, the watch proclaims proudly. Five, five, five.

Five appeared on the roof of a nearby house, panting heavily. For some reason he couldn't help but feel his clock had just run out.

He allows himself some seconds of rest, drawing in as much air as his lungs can take.

Time loses all meaning.

Until it doesn't.

Five pushed himself up slowly, his arms ready to give out underneath him.

His clock had run out.

But he was Five.

What was a clock to someone who could bend space and time to his will?

His internal clock picked up again, a steady tick-tick, tick-tick rushing through his body.

Each tick, each beat building up until he forced his feet under his tired and battered form.

He was smaller and lighter, his form still so unfamiliar despite being so much his own and yet so far gone from it, the singing in his nerves calling for blood at war with his mind, his very DNA battling against that not his own yet still his .

He was a walking paradox.

It took him longer to get back on his feet than he'd have liked. Counting slowly, his inner clock loses its haste, settling into a more familiar rhythm.

He had a goal, he remembered.

Space bent around him, the roof vanishing in a swirl of blue.

The alley looked almost the same. This time there was no smell of ashes.

He would make sure it stayed that way.

The Number Five was unrelenting.

This time he would make it work.