Chapter 1: Do You Dream About Us? (Because I Do)
She had a dream that he went too far.
Number Five had been talking for days about pushing himself further. Father was refusing to let him try time travelling yet, but Five was convinced he was ready to go for it. He told her that as they separated into their rooms for the night.
“I’m stronger than he thinks I am,” he insisted to her, cutting off her goodnight.
“I know you are,” she told him instead, wanting to be supportive in a way no one else ever was. Besides, she thought, it wasn’t like she was lying.
But when she closed her eyes a few minutes later, she saw him losing it over breakfast, banging his hands on the table and leaving the house, ignoring Father’s call to come back. She saw him flashing himself forward and forward in time, until everything was dust and ashes around him and he found four dead bodies buried in the rubble. She saw him get older, alone. She saw him kill for his life. She saw him come back. She saw him try, in vain, to save the world.
She woke up gasping for air, thinking only that she had to stop him.
When Number Five almost walked right into her when she left her room in the morning, she pulled him aside before he could walk past her.
“I need you to promise me you won’t try to time travel until Father thinks you’re ready.”
She could see the protests on his lips, but she stopped him before he could utter them.
“I’m not saying you aren’t ready to time travel, because I know you are. I know how strong you are. I just don’t want you going so far that you can’t come back.”
“No, you won’t. Because you aren’t going to try.”
He was glaring at her then, but she let the tears flood her eyes.
“Please, Five. Promise me you won’t leave me. Promise you won’t time travel until you know you’ll be able to come back.”
Number Five’s eyes widened when he saw the tears spill out of hers. Then, unbelievably, he was agreeing. “Okay, Seven. I promise. Just don’t cry, okay?”
She nodded shakily, and they waited for the puffiness in her eyes to deflate before they went down for breakfast together.
Father yelled at them for being late, but when they made it through breakfast without Number Five disappearing, Number Seven decided she’d take as many lashes as Father doled out, as long as she kept her brother home.
On their thirteenth birthday, when Grace ( Mom, she always had to correct herself. She wants us to call her mom.) decided to give them names instead of numbers, Five was there to receive his. He became Quentin, and Seven ( No, it was Vanya now. She had a name now too.) wasn’t religious, but she still whispered a thanks to whoever was listening that he wouldn’t end up seventeen years in the future, over fifty years old and still without a name.
It was five years before she had another dream like that.
They were fifteen then, and she was lonely and scared and missing her siblings more than anything, but fighting crime was keeping them all more busy than she could ever hope to be, and the few tired smiles she received when she quietly helped them in mundane ways was worth all of the solitary violin practices in the world. She had Quentin, anyway, who for some reason still insisted she was special, and Ben and Klaus were kind and welcoming more often than not. So what if Allison and Luther were ignoring her more and more every day, or if Diego started viewing her more as a liability than as his sister that he loved and wanted to protect?
But then she went to sleep one night in the middle of spring and watched Ben get hit by a crane, sending him flying through the air, the monster in his chest not enough to save him from the rebar that speared him through the stomach when he landed. She saw a funeral on a rainy day, and Klaus’s eyes fogged over by all the alcohol he’d had to drink to stop himself from seeing his brother’s ghost. She saw her siblings look accusingly at her, and heard more than one of them tell her that it wasn’t fair that she, unimportant, ordinary Vanya was still alive while Ben, sweet, charismatic, special Ben, was turned to ashes and immortalized in a metal statue. She watched her family fall apart as everyone blamed themselves for a death they couldn’t stop, watched as Klaus finally lost his mind to the addictions that had been trying to claim him since they were thirteen, only to lose in the face of stalwart Number Six. She watched her family die to a falling moon and faint violin music, as she laughed at the knowledge that it wouldn’t have happened if she’d died instead of him.
There were tears streaming down her face when she awoke, gasping once again for air that refused to come, unable to remove the image of her brother’s mangled body from her mind. It took her an hour to calm down again, and she missed breakfast in her desperation not to let her family see her unhinged by visions too real to be dreams.
She was on her way to the library to find sheet music for her morning violin practice when the alarm blared, calling the Umbrella Academy to action.
Father stood with her up on the scaffolding overlooking the battle, and ignored her as she choked on her breaths, the scene too familiar for comfort. Ben was so close, too close to the crane, and she wasn’t sure of what happened next, only of the desperation to save him and the pain as he ended up flat on the ground beneath her when the crane’s arm swung his way.
Then she was looking up at Quentin as he pleaded with her to stay awake.
“Dun worry…” she slurred, darkness crowding her vision like a swarm of ants was crawling in her eyes. “‘S be’er ‘is way…”
And despite all of her siblings joining in the fight to keep her awake, the ants won, and she slept.
Chapter 2: The First Three Times
Waking up is a long process. Vanya would know. She'd done it three times so far.
This is un-betaed, so I'm sorry if small words are missing. I have a tendency to forget to type them, even though they're there when I form the sentence in my head.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The first time she woke up, it was only for a couple of minutes.
She heard Ben and Quentin talking.
“-eep too long,” Quentin was saying. “I heard Mom tell Diego that she was expecting her to wake up within a couple of hours, but it’s been almost a day.”
“She was in rough shape,” Ben defended. “And she’s never actually gotten injured like this before – I know that you, Diego, Luthor, and I heal pretty quickly, but everyone needs a different amount of tim-”
“You just don’t want to admit that she might not be waking up.”
There was silence after that, and she struggled to say something, anything, even just move to let them know she could hear them.
“Fuck you,” Ben finally choked out. “Just because you’re emotionally stunted-”
“I’m not the one she was trying to save. I’m not emotionally stunted; I’m just not feeling guilty about the situation. You, clearly, are.”
“You’re acting like I wouldn’t care if she hadn’t saved my life. Successfully, I might add-- There was no ‘try’ about it.”
Her breath caught in her throat when she realized Ben was fine, not lying, injured, in a bed next to hers. It produced a little choking sound that shut the two of them up.
After a second’s pause, she felt pressure on her hand. “Vanya?” Quentin asked hesitantly.
All she had energy for was a low groan and a couple words. “S’op figh’in’. ‘M tryin’ a sleep.”
And in the ensuing quiet, she once again did.
The second time she woke up, she actually had the energy to open her eyes.
It was only just barely, and it was only for a couple of minutes, but in that time, she saw Ben sitting next to where she lay, eyebrows pinched as he tried to read.
In her half asleep state, she felt it very important that he knew not to be upset.
“B’n…” she slurred, and he sat ramrod straight, reaching out and grabbing her hand.
“Vanya!” he exclaimed. He sounded relieved, but she might’ve been imagining things. “How are you feeling?”
“B’n…” she tried again. “Need to tell you… Be’er like this. Don’ be u’set. P’ease.”
“Vanya?” he was worried now, and he dropped his book to place his hand on her face. “What are you talking about? What’s better?”
“Be’er me than you…”
As she faded off back to sleep, she could hear him trying to rouse her again, growing increasingly desperate as she refused to respond, and she felt really bad for worrying him, but she was so tired...
The third time she woke up, she felt well-rested, but still couldn’t really move. She remembered her brothers fighting, and barely remembered seeing Ben for a second, but that was it.
She was in her own bed, and Luther was sitting in a chair beside her, watching her carefully. Ben, Quentin, and Klaus were slumped over, asleep on the floor by her wardrobe, leaning on each other in a way she was sure would embarrass at least Number 5 when he woke. Allison and Diego were also asleep, this time on the floor beneath the window. It was dark outside, and the clock on her nightstand was shining with the numbers “04:36.”
“Hey,” Luther whispered, covering her hand with his. It was warm, warmer than she felt anyway, and she relaxed muscles she didn’t know were tensed with the comfort the contact provided.
“‘S late,” she mumbled. “How are you in here?”
“Mom told Father you shouldn’t be alone when you woke, and no one really wanted to spend the night in their own room, so he agreed to let us stay in here. I think he was just trying to shut us up; we were arguing so loudly.”
She tried to hide the shock at that. Quentin and Ben, even Klaus she could understand wanting to stick around with her, but she was not expecting Luther, Allison, or especially Diego to care enough.
But sure enough, she looked closer at Luther’s face and noticed a slightly puffy ring around his eyes that suggested he’d been crying. He saw her glances and looked away, a bit embarrassed.
“How are you feeling?” He changed the subject.
She paused and took stock. There was a decent amount of pain in her torso, and each time she moved her head, it started to ache a little worse, but overall…
“Mostly fine, I think,” she replied. “How long was I asleep?”
He didn’t look like he believed her but he answered anyway. “It’s been about forty-two hours since you were hurt.”
She nodded slightly. “And how much of that were Ben and Quentin fighting for?”
Luther looked confused. “Why would you think they were fighting?”
“I woke up for a minute or two a while ago. They were arguing then. Can’t remember what about, but…”
“Ben thinks what happened was his fault,” he told her. She gave him a look, and he shrugged. “We don’t get it either, but because it was him that you got hurt saving, he blames himself.”
“That’s ridiculous. He didn’t shove me in the way of the crane-”
“So you remember what happened?” He looked up, excitedly. “Mom wasn’t sure you would, what with the head injury.”
Vanya winced. “I remember enough.”
“Can you be more specific?” His face turned more guarded, and more than a little cautious.
She sighed. “I saw the crane coming at him. And I remember being scared, really scared. He didn’t see it at all, and I did, and I was right above him-- there was no time to tell you guys; I barely even had time to think. I just jumped. Then-”
She paused, remembering what she’d told Quentin. Yeah, it probably wasn’t the best thing to say out loud again, at least, not if she wanted Luther to stop looking at her like a hurt puppy. She had no doubt that she was right, that if she’d died but Ben lived, people would be alright a whole lot sooner, but no matter how sure she was of that, she knew Luther would take that as a personal failure, and she couldn’t do that to him.
“Then what?” he prompted, and she shook her head.
“It hurt. I remember it hurting. Then nothing. I figured I must have gotten hit by the crane instead?”
Luther nodded. “You missed a piece of exposed rebar by just a couple of feet. When Quentin did the calculations later... Ben would’ve landed right on it.”
So, the dream was right then. She wasn’t sure what that meant for her-- did she have powers now or something? Was she not as ordinary as she thought?
Luther was still looking cautiously at her, and it occurred to her that maybe he’d heard what she’d said to Quentin after all. Or maybe Quentin had told him.
Without warning, she yawned widely. Luther immediately reached out and helped her resituate her head on the pillows.
“You should get some more sleep,” he told her. “You’re still healing.”
“Only if you get some too. You look exhausted.”
“I’m not the one who can barely keep their eyes open.”
“Still,” she insisted. “Nothing’s going to happen if you close your eyes for a few hours.”
As she fell back asleep, she barely heard him say, “It doesn’t feel that way.”
I thought maybe Luther deserved a bit of a redemption (also can he redeem himself for something he hasn't done yet?) Still though, my love for Tom Hopper and his Merlin character dictates that he must be somewhat of a sweetheart, especially when they're kids.
I hope to update again by Sunday night. Again, if I don't, you have my permission to spam me with comments demanding my attention. It might be the only way I remember.
Chapter 3: Because We Are Sisters (We Stand Together)
As her recovery moves rapidly along, Vanya finds herself in an interesting position with her siblings. One that she's not sure she trusts.
This is once again unbetaed, mainly because it irritated me that I'd already missed the arbitrary deadline I'd set myself, and I couldn't let this be delayed again.
Also, IMPORTANT NOTE: Because I do not, nor will I ever, support incest, Luther and Allison will not be having any sort of romantic relationship, and neither will anyone else. If that's what you're expecting, you'd be wrong.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It took two weeks for her to feel well enough to leave her room. Or, rather, it took two weeks before Diego believed she felt well enough to leave her room. Before she got injured, she probably would’ve laughed in the face of anyone who tried to tell her it would be that way. Now, she had to admit, it was more than a little heartwarming. It seemed he cared more than she’d thought. Despite what Luther had told her of her siblings’ desperation to stay with her, there had still been a significant portion of her that had been convinced that Diego at least was still harboring a significant amount of hatred, or at least coldness towards her. The silent vigil he had taken up near her window had done a good job of disproving that.
After that conversation with Luther, he’d been around the least out of her siblings, but that wasn’t saying much. He might not have been in her room 24/7, but she had caught him poking his head through the door just to check that she was still breathing at least five times a day, and he spent at least ten minutes of his break time sitting with her. His presence was comforting, reinforcing the idea that maybe he cared about her the same way he cared about their other siblings, the same way Diego’s presence had, even if those moments of his presence didn’t last as long as she’d wanted.
On the other hand, it felt like she never went more than five minutes without seeing Klaus. It seemed he was always there, cracking jokes when Luther was trying to be serious, making Quentin read to the both of them as he cuddled up next to her on the bed, devising pranks with her and Ben to play on Diego, or painting her toenails while she painted Allison’s and Allison painted his. Even after Grace made them all leave her room for the night, he usually snuck back in, sometimes with Ben or Quentin or both, but usually by himself. He acted like he wasn’t worried, but the first time he was already awake when she woke up, she saw the look in his eyes, a scared look that betrayed some sort of latent fear that one morning, she’d be one of the ghosts screaming for his attention. That was one of the things that hurt the most, actually. After spending so long trying to help him block out the spirits, she had almost become one of them. As much as she knew she’d made the right decision, there was still that element of guilt that was tearing her apart.
Ben was also becoming a source of some guilt. There was an expression on his face when he looked at her that spoke of intense remorse and worry. It hurt so much to know that something she had intended to do so much good had ended up causing so much pain. It also tainted the time they spent together. Despite all of the hours they’d spent hanging out before, she now had a feeling that she couldn’t shake that he was only hanging out in her room because of the blame he was placing on himself for what had happened.
She didn’t think Quentin could be a source of guilt if he tried. If there was one person whose motivations she’d never questioned, it was him. He was always so unapologetic around her; it made her feel like he wasn’t trying to make things better out of a potentially selfish place of guilt, but was there because he actually wanted to be. It was good for him to be around Ben, she thought. Maybe Quentin would actually be able to convince him to calm down with the self-blame. God knew nothing she was saying was making a difference.
The most confusing presence over the last couple of weeks had been Allison. Not her most frequent visitor, and certainly not the least, she was the most consistent, spending the morning break and lunch in her room, gossiping and eating and playing with nail polish and makeup and magazine cut-outs. Vanya didn’t quite understand it-- she wasn’t like Luther or Diego, who she knew died on the chivalric hill, nor was she like Ben, Klaus, or Quentin, whom she’d always been close too. Allison was an unknown quantity. Despite being the only girls in the family, they’d never bonded quite right, and even less so once the crime-fighting started. Even though she knew Allison must care at least a little bit, Vanya was finding it almost impossible to see a reason for her consistency and dedication.
She mulled over the issue once again as Allison hung back to help Vanya dress after Grace (and Diego) both deemed her suitably fit to leave the room for breakfast. Maybe she’d misread her sister?
“I’m happy you’re okay, by the way,” Allison said, smiling at her as she made sure the wraps around Vanya’s torso stayed in place beneath her shirt. “I don’t think I said that yet in all this time, but I really am glad you’re not… well…”
“Dead?” Vanya finished for her, and Allison nodded sheepishly.
“Yeah. It was really scary, you know? I don’t think I ever really thought about what would happen without you around, but seeing you hit that wall… I don’t think I’ve ever been more terrified in my life. I know I haven’t always been the best sister-”
“You’re a great sister,” Vanya was quick to defend, despite not really feeling it.
“Yeah, that’s a lie, but thanks for trying. I just… I think I keep forgetting how much you mean to me until I almost lose you. I haven’t been spending much time with you, and that bothers me more than I’d care to admit.”
They were silent as Allison bent down to help her with her shoes, the bandages too tight to really allow Vanya to bend over. When Allison stood back up, Vanya spoke.
“I’d been wondering about why you’ve been around so often,” she admitted. “I was expecting a little more distance considering how close we never were.”
“Well, that’s the thing though,” Allison insisted. “That’s what I want to make better. I think we’d find we have more in common than we thought if we tried to build more of a connection. This was, admittedly, not the best catalyst for the bonding, but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth. I want us to be closer.”
And oh, but didn’t Vanya’s heart soar at the thought. As perplexing as it had been, the time they’d spent together while she was bedridden had been incredibly fulfilling as well, and over the days, she couldn’t resist hoping it would continue. Allison was soft in ways Quentin could never hope to be and serious in ways Klaus never tried for, with the sharper edges that Ben lacked that meant her affection was so much more special when you’d finally earned it.
Perhaps now, Vanya had.
As they linked arms and headed downstairs to eat, a warm, shared smile passing its way between them, she found herself praying again, to whatever deity or force did or did not exist, that their newfound chemistry wouldn’t die- that maybe she’d finally managed to build a relationship with her favorite sister.
I wanted to start on the consequences of her comments to both Quentin and Ben in this chapter, but I found a good place to end it, and I didn't want to ruin the flow. That part should, I hope, be around sooner rather than later.
Please please please, drop a line and let me know how you're enjoying. I can't tell you how much it excites me to hear from you.
Chapter 4: Why Are You Doing This To Yourself
Vanya's body is healing. Her siblings realize that everything else is going to take much longer.
MAKING IT CLEAR ONCE AGAIN THAT INCEST WILL PLAY NO PART IN THIS STORY THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
This is un-betaed and I hope it makes sense.
Chapter title is based off of a line from the Jessie J song "Who You Are"
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Two weeks and one day after she was injured, Vanya walked into what she’d hoped was an empty library to spend her morning break in peace. She’d started lessons again that morning, and she was regretting thinking she was fine to do so, because in that moment, she was completely exhausted.
Instead of an empty room however, Vanya walked into the library and was immediately faced with her six siblings, all of whom appeared to have been waiting for her.
“Vanya!” Allison beamed at her when she walked in. “There you are! How were lessons this morning?”
“Fine…” she replied slowly, immediately put on edge by the almost too happy look on her sisters face, and the guarded ones on her brothers’. “What’s going on?”
“Nothi-” Allison started, but Ben cut her off.
“Why did you save me?”
It seemed Vanya wasn’t the only one who wasn’t expecting him to say that, at least, if the upset looks he was being sent were any indication.
“I thought we were going to ease into this slowly,” Quentin muttered, but Ben shushed him, then looked at her expectantly.
Lost, she tried as best she could to choose her words carefully. “Why wouldn’t I try to save you if I could?” she begged of him. “You’re my brother.”
“You said-” Diego started, but cut off halfway through. “I-I didn’t r-r-really hear it, actually, b-but-”
“You told me that it was ‘better this way,’ right after you hit the wall,” Quentin interrupted. “You then said something similar to Ben, in the first couple of days after you were hurt. What did you mean?”
She stopped scrambling for answers and just looked at them. She remembered having said something to Quentin, but to Ben? She barely remembered really seeing him in her room before she woke up to Luther. Who, on that note, it turned out she was right about knowing everything. All of them seemed to-- either Quentin had told them everything, or Ben had, and at that point, there was no more reason to keep pretending she was fine.
“I meant it was better that I got hurt and not Ben,” she shrugged. It was a simple statement of fact after all, even if she knew that they’d take some offense to it. “That crane was gonna kill him- Luther told me Quentin did the calculations, you all know it, and it very obviously did not kill me, so obviously it’s all good.”
“Yeah, but you couldn’t have known that you wouldn’t die when you jumped,” Klaus pointed out, and suddenly, the understanding nods she had been getting from Luther and Diego turned into confused and then upset frowns.
An impatient sound emerged from the back of her throat. “I didn’t know anything when I jumped!” she almost shouted. “I wasn’t even thinking about it! I saw a crane coming at Ben, I saw Ben looking in the other direction, I saw none of you in his vicinity, I didn’t even have time to think of calling for Quentin to teleport over and move him! I just-- Look I’m not going to apologize for saving your life, Ben! No matter what had happened to me-- even if I had died and you had to yell into the afterlife to talk to me-- I’m not upset, and I’m not sorry, and I would do it again if it meant you didn’t have to get hurt.”
“No one’s saying you should be sorry,” Allison was quick to defend, but Luther shook his head.
“That doesn’t explain why, afterwards, you kept saying it was better you than him. Saving him in the moment, I understand. Not regretting it, I understand. That’s not what you said, though.”
She sent him a look, because that was exactly what she was trying to say, what was he talking about , but Quentin interjected.
“Luther’s right,” and boy, wasn’t that a weird thing to hear him say. “You didn’t just say you didn’t regret what you did; you implied that you mattered less than he did. It was like-”
“And so what if he does?” Vanya exploded, cutting him off. “We know that, we all know that! Ben’s more important than I am! He’s more important to family dynamics, he has powers, he’s kinder, you all like him more… He’s more important! Even if the crane had killed me, it wouldn’t have mattered so much, because I have no use! Not to this family, not to the Umbrella Academy, certainly not to this world, and not to you! I know Ben hates his powers but you can’t even begin to try and convince me that the loss of him and his abilities and his personality and his smile and everything wouldn’t be worse than the loss of me. Okay? That’s what I meant!”
She was breathing hard, and felt suddenly stifled and too warm in the room, with the weight of her siblings’ eyes on her. Luther, Allison, Ben, and Klaus looked so devastatingly sad, and Diego looked like he wanted to stab himself, and even Quentin looked heartbroken, and god wasn’t that the worst? She’d actually managed to make Quentin look sad for her.
Before anyone could face her about what she’d said, she left the room.
It wasn’t hard to tell that her siblings kept trying to catch her eye throughout the rest of the day, but by keeping her eyes on her plate at mealtimes, she was pretty successful at avoiding them. It didn’t hurt that they were called out on another mission after lunch, and were all exhausted by dinner, Vanya included, having still not healed.
After Grace helped her bathe and change into nightclothes, however, and left her by her room to get herself settled for bed, she walked in to find Quentin perched against her pillows.
“If you’re going to be on my bed,” she told him, unaffected, “you’ll have to move over. I’m tired and in pain.”
Silently, he moved over towards the wall, and she climbed under the comforter, closing her eyes with a relieved sigh.
“Quite frankly,” he said as he moved down to lay against her pillow as well, “I’m pretty offended that you think I’d miss Ben more than you.”
“I don’t think anything.” Her voice was quiet and resigned. “I know you would. Or, at least, if not you, then everyone else. Klaus especially-- god, could you imagine his face if we had to have a funeral for his favorite brother?” She swallowed. She didn’t have to imagine it. She could remember it quite clearly from her dream-- the numbness on his face, the deep pain behind his eyes, the way he’d shouted when she tried to comfort him, how he’d moaned out, sounding like a wounded animal: “Why did it have to be Ben? Why couldn’t it have been anyone else? Why couldn’t it have been you?” There was obvious regret on his face after he said it, but he hadn’t taken it back either, and she had to remind herself that that future would never happen when her stomach clenched and her heart skipped a beat.
“You can’t possibly know that,” Quentin tried, after a beat, and she figured that if she was going to tell anyone about her dream, it might as well be him.
“I do. I saw it happen.”
He got very quiet, then whispered, “What?”
“The night before, I had a dream. I saw the mission, saw Ben get hit by the crane, saw him die when the rebar went through his stomach. And I saw the aftermath, how everyone except you said something to me along the lines of ‘It would’ve been better if you’d died and not him.’ How his death drove all of us apart, everyone blaming themselves and everyone else for what happened. I watched Klaus fall apart with drugs and alcohol and watched as everyone lost all respect for him. I saw it all.
“I thought it was just a dream, but when I got to the mission… and it was the same place, and everything was happening the same way, and I knew how upset everyone was going to be if he died and I- I wasn’t lying before, okay? When I said I didn’t think? Because I didn’t, I really didn’t even have time to process what was happening. I just saw my dream coming true and I knew I couldn’t let it.”
“But it was just a dream!” Quentin protested. “Even if the circumstances of his death were going to match up-”
“It’s not coincidence, Quentin. It’s not the first time I had a dream like this! I saw you leaving and I stopped that too!”
“Saw me… what? When did you see me leaving?”
“We were twelve. You wanted to time travel; you insisted to me you were ready and I tried to be supportive but I dreamt that you ran out of the kitchen at breakfast and got stuck in a post-apocalyptic future and couldn’t find your way home for almost fifty years, and when I woke up, I was so scared-”
“And you begged me not to try,” he finished. “I remember that. You almost cried.”
“I think I did cry.”
“Yeah, probably. You looked so terrified that I decided not to…” He stopped.
“You were going to leave during breakfast, weren’t you?”
“If Father didn’t agree… But I never told you that. How did you know?”
“I told you. I saw it happen.”
She turned her head to look at him, and saw him staring back at her, face pale and eyes wide and scared.
“I think I might have powers.”
Every time I think "in this chapter, I will," pacing stops me and says "HA! You thought wrong!" This is how I end up with three chapters of after-effects and not nearly enough plot progression. I'm sorry.
But at the same time, I'm actually pretty proud of how the initial confrontation went down! So there's that!
Please please please, drop a line and let me know how you're enjoying! What's working? What's not? Will I ever give Diego and Vanya the bonding scene I want to give them? (The answer, of course, is eventually. As long as I can fit it in at least. Next chapter maybe? Fingers crossed.)
So anyway, yeah, please leave a comment! Thanks so much for reading!
Chapter 5: Honesty is Such a Lonely Word
Because I felt bad that Diego hasn't gotten much screen time.
This is a shorter chapter, and I'm sorry about that, but I wanted to update once more before I put my computer away for a couple of days.
As usual, this is un-betaed, so I hope it makes sense, and I hope you enjoy!
Chapter title is from the Billy Joel song "Honesty"
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Breakfast was always a quiet affair, but the next morning was oppressive in its silence.
There was a palpable tension between Vanya and Quentin, one that spread to everyone else. The only person unaware of it seemed to be their Father, who sat at the head of the table, seemingly oblivious that anyone else was even in the room.
After their conversation the night before, Quentin had agreed that Vanya should tell their other siblings before they told Father, but in the light of day, she was hesitant to tell anyone else at all.
She’d only had two dreams thus far, and one of them never even came close to happening, given she’d averted the possibility so early on. She was picturing the pitying look Luther would give her if she said she thought she had powers after all, Diego rolling his eyes and telling her not to be ridiculous, Allison shaking her head sadly and telling her there wasn’t nearly enough proof. Even if Ben and Klaus did believe her, Father never would. And if he did, he’d only dismiss her as unimportant or try and make her see things more frequently, which she didn’t think she wanted to try doing. She was more than happy just taking the dreams as they came and hoping Quentin never said anything.
He had argued with her when she told him as much after lunch.
“Vanya, do you understand what this means? You could be on the team now! Daddy dearest won’t have any reason to keep you away any more- we could start training together! I thought that was what you wanted!”
“It’s not an active power,” she answered sadly, “regardless of which, like I told you, there isn’t nearly enough proof for them to believe me. You almost didn’t. Who knows if I’ll have another dream again, and even if I do, who knows when, or about what? This isn’t something I can control, that I can do at will. And it’s not exactly the most useful skill, is it?”
“Not the most useful skill? Vanya, without it, I’d be dying in a post-apocalyptic wasteland right now. Ben would be dead.”
“For crime fighting, Q. I meant the most useful for crime fighting. Not to mention that I have no melee training, and no time to even try to catch up to your level, if Father even wants to let me, which he likely won’t. Just… please? Don’t tell them anything. Not yet. Not until I know more about this.”
He agreed reluctantly, but had a sour look on his face for the rest of the day.
That night, when she entered her room at bedtime, it was Diego she found sitting on her bed.
“To what do I know the honor?” she asked, a smirk forming on her lips.
“Have you b-b-b-been avoid-d-d-ing us?” He was looking up at her with his head down, looking guilty and slightly sick.
She sighed heavily and motioned for him to move over so she could sit beside him, leaning back against the wall with a pained grunt as her torso protested to the treatment.
“We’ve gone longer than a day and a half without talking to each other before,” she pointed out, and he shook his head.
“Yeah, b-bu-b-bu-ut that’s n-not usually when we’re a-a-ac-actively seeking y-you out.”
She sighed again. She didn’t want to, but it seemed that it was going to be that kind of a conversation.
“I’m sorry,” she offered. “I didn’t want... mean to… okay, no. I did mean it. It’s just- it’s not every day you reveal all of your insecurities to your siblings.”
“Right,” Diego interjected. “Ab-b-bout that. I-I-I wanted t-t-to-to apolog-g-gize.”
That took her off guard, and she swung her head around to look at him, ignoring the pain that shot behind her ear as she did, a reminder that her head hadn’t quite finished healing either.
He was already looking at her, eyes guarded, but sure. “Y-you couldn’t h-h-have felt so al-l-l-one for no r-reason.” His stammer started fading as he continued speaking, confidence in his words helping him get them out. “There h-h-had to be a reason you w-w-were so sure we wouldn’t m-m-miss you as much as we would Ben. And as m-m-much as I want to b-blame our d-d-d-d-dad, I know we haven’t b-b-been such g-great siblings to you. I w-want to fix that.”
She offered him a soft smile, which he slowly returned. “It’s really not so much your fault as it is Dad’s. I know I don’t have powers like yours, but that doesn’t mean he has to keep us so separated, and really, with as much time as you all get to spend together, it’s no wonder you forget to include me sometimes.”
“S-s-still,” he protested. “Q hasn’t ever r-r-really ign-n-ored you the way w-we-we all do-- he and B-Ben and Klaus m-ma-make a real eff-f-fort, and L-Luther, Allison, and m-m-me, we should’ve tr-tr-tried too. I’m sorry.”
Vanya shook her head, helplessly touched, and she leaned into his side to hug him. “Thank you.”
“I do l-love you, you know? As m-much as I love them?”
“Are you asking me or telling me?”
“Telling you. I’m j-j-jealous that you d-d-don’t have to tr-tr-train, that you don’t have p-p-powers, so I know I don’t a-ac-ac-act like it all the t-t-time, b-b-but you are still m-m-my sister, and I do c-c-c-care.”
She smiled at him, and laughed inwardly.
Oh, Diego, she thought. If only you knew.
OK, so as much as I want to portray Diego's stammer, because representation like that is important, it's super annoying to type, so I'm sorry if I don't do so much writing for him in the future, at least, not while they're still young. I hope to be aging them up soon though, so there's that.
Comments are much appreciated! I promise I'll try to answer all of them from the past and in the future, but for now, I want you to know that I read every single one and they make me so insanely happy! You have no idea how much I scream every time I get one.
Please please please tell me what you think!
Chapter 6: Up and Down (It All Comes Back Around)
Things seem to get better. Until they don't
I'm sorry it took a week to post something new. I wanted something sooner but writing's hard, y'all. I wouldn't be surprised if it's another week before I put up another chapter.
Again, un-betaed because I was dying to get this out there.
Chapter title is from "Room for 2" by Dua Lipa.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Diego wasn’t the last sibling to try and fix things with her over the next few days.
Allison cornered her during their break one afternoon and insisted on doing her hair for her. While she attacked at the tangles Vanya had been struggling to comb out on her own because of her limited mobility, Allison attempted her own apology, promising to try and be a better sister in the future.
Luther never really tried to apologize as much as he did send her guilty looks and pull her aside before breakfast one morning to tell her that she should know that he found affection difficult, but he did still care about her. It hurt a bit that even then, he still couldn't admit that maybe Number One had made a mistake, but she understood how fucked up he was inside, how their Father’s influence had bred a superiority complex and narcissistic impulse that he was trying to break, even if he was failing. She knew how much it must have taken for him to even acknowledge what she’d said, to acknowledge his part in that.
Klaus never said anything explicit to her about what she’d admitted, but she noticed that he’d been hanging around her much more often than before she’d gotten hurt. It was like when she was still laid up in bed-- somehow, he was almost always hanging around, teasing Quentin while he, Klaus, and Vanya were supposed to be reading, or critiquing her violin playing (she could do it for a whole 15 minutes a day before her torso started aching harder) with an impressive Irish accent and a less impressive British one. It warmed her heart more than she’d admit that the teasing tended to be completely harmless, avoiding the areas that she knew most bothered hard-shelled Number Five, and that Four’s critique was more undeserved compliments on technique even knew she was messing up and “artistic revision” every time she accidentally missed a note.
Ben had always been a quiet boy, but now he was almost completely silent, looking sadly at her every time they were in the same room, and hugging her every chance he got. It was severely freaking her out that she had tried so hard to stop him from dying, and now he was almost ghost-like anyway, haunting her most of the time. It hadn’t seemed so strange for the first couple of encounters, but by the second day, he was starting to really scare her. She took to hugging him back tighter and tighter every time he initiated, just to reassure herself that he wasn’t actually dead. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world though, if she was being honest. Every embrace left her feeling full in a way nothing else ever did.
Quentin was the only one who wasn’t acting any differently, but then, he hadn’t really had much to try and make up for. He’d never ignored her the way Diego and Luther tended to, never pushed her away like Allison had when she was busy. He’d never even accidentally forgotten her the way Ben and Klaus sometimes had. He was also the only one who she hadn’t seen telling her he’d rather she’d died instead of Ben in the dream, but he was also the only one who hadn’t been in the dream altogether. She didn’t know what that meant, she didn’t know why he wasn’t part of any of it, but that meant that he was the safest person for her to be around.
Because it hurt. As much as her siblings had been trying to fix things, every time Luther looked at her with guilt-ridden eyes, she saw him looking coldly at her, telling her she had no right to cry when it should’ve been her ashes they’d scattered. Every time Allison appeared before her waving a hairbrush or a new bottle of nail polish, she saw her glaring from the doorway as Vanya cried in Ben’s bed, muttering that maybe she’d feel better if she wasn’t alive, looking sorry a moment later, but pretending to be sure Vanya hadn’t heard. Every time Diego shared a smirk with her over a particularly stupid line from the endless mealtime records their father insisted on playing, she saw him throwing a book with her face on it at her, vilely spitting in her face that if she was so upset over Ben’s death, why wouldn’t she just join him, or better yet, replace him? And every time Klaus grinned sunnily at her over the book he was pretending to read, she saw his dead eyes and pained frown as he moaned words he’d never take back.
She told Quentin about it one night as they helped Mom clean up after dinner in a hushed whisper when he prodded her about the bags under her eyes, and he told her not to worry, that the future she’d dreamt of wouldn’t happen, but as she fell into an unsatisfactory sleep that night, she couldn’t stop herself from thinking that those words didn’t come from nowhere.
No matter what she did, or how many times Quentin reassured her or Ben hugged her or Klaus laughed with her or Allison shared secrets with her or Luther tried to smile at her or Diego muttered subtle affectionate words to her, her heart still weighed heavy in her chest. She didn’t know who she was kidding-- she was still ordinary, she still had nothing to offer and as soon as her injuries healed fully, she was sure things would go back to the way they used to be.
And despite expecting it, it killed her when, by the time three months had gone by, she was proven right.
Okay I think I finally finished the fallout. Hopefully, next chapter will include some more actual plot development.
Please please please, tell me what you thought. Do you like these introspective chapters? Are the dialogue heavy ones better? Can I maintain a consistent upload schedule? Let me know!!!
Chapter 7: I've Lost All Sense of Pride (I've Called a Hundred Times)
When growing up means growing apart, how can you handle being alone, even if it's all you've ever known?
This chapter is almost 2,000 words because I could not find a place to stop and a lot happens but nothing really changes and omg there's actual plot in here wtf?
Un-betaed because I'm still a piece of garbage.
Chapter title is from "These Four Walls" by Little Mix
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It wasn’t like her siblings were trying to be distant. Or, at least, that’s what she kept trying to remind herself every time they seemed to forget she existed.
Reginald Hargreeves’ “parenting” efforts were rather strong, however, and as the years went on, nurture meant that she and at least five of her siblings seemed to drift apart more and more.
Klaus left first, which no one was all too surprised at. The minute they all turned eighteen, he was moon-walking out the front door, a bag thrown over his shoulder and a middle finger pointed directly at their father. Ben followed him out, presumably to keep him from getting into too much trouble, but the looks Quentin and Vanya exchanged made it obvious they were both thinking that it was because Ben needed Klaus just as much.
Diego left just a few days later and went straight to a Police Academy. His exit had much less histrionics, and though his feelings for dead old Dad were about on par with Klaus’s, Diego had enough tact to know not to sever ties. As such, he ended up leaving with just enough support to get himself settled and allow him to at least make it until he wound up with an actual job.
Allison was close on Diego’s heels, making her way to Los Angeles to see her name in lights. She made the announcement over breakfast two days after Number Two left, and Father’s face was nonplussed enough for Vanya to suspect that he had already known she’d be leaving, and was on board enough with the idea. It wasn’t long before news came home that she’d landed her first role, and in true Allison fashion, it was quite the big one.
That left just Luther, Quentin, and Vanya left, and she had to admit, she was surprised Number Five had stuck around so long. But then, he had evolved into quite the pragmatist, and both he and Vanya had agreed over six months previous to have a solid plan in place before they tried leaving the house. Still though, it wasn’t long before the three remaining siblings became one.
Vanya managed to get a position with the local orchestra. It was only fifth chair for now, but Mom kept reassuring her that she was sure to rise through the ranks eventually. She also started advertising around town as a violin teacher for kids, which she’d do out of her apartment. Quentin, meanwhile, had signed up for Calculus and Physics classes at the local college, and had taken on tutoring for middle school kids to pay for his own place to live. Neither had very high quality lodgings, but they would be only a few blocks from each other, and they’d be out from under the thumb of Reginald Hargreeves.
Luther, it seemed, would never leave home. He kept running missions for their father, now a leader with no team to guide. And in the end, it was, shockingly, him who tried the hardest to keep everyone in touch with each other, but with their own separate lives, it was only a matter of time before Vanya realized she hadn’t spoken to anyone other than Quentin and Ben in three months.
And she was lonely. It was an incredibly lonely existence, living on her own. There were an incredible amount of nights when she had an unbearable urge to just show up at one of her brothers’ apartments-- Ben and Klaus, maybe, or Quentin, heck, she’d even take Diego or Luther at this point, if it only meant she could have some companionship for a while. But Quentin had met a girl, Toni, who was keeping him busy a lot of the time, and Diego was with one of the women in his PA classes, Patch, and they’d moved in together. Ben and Klaus’s place was a hole in the wall right in the heart of the most dangerous part of the city, where she felt unsafe walking alone in broad daylight, let alone in the middle of the night when the loneliness tended to really take over. Going home came with having to be around the man who seemed to do nothing but wish her gone, so that was an option she was loathe to entertain. And Allison was still in the heart of Hollywood, filming movie after movie, eventually even finding a guy of her own, which she only found out about after seeing it plastered on Page Six of the New York Post.
Klaus had suggested she try and make friends of her own in the orchestra, a suggestion both Ben and Quentin were quick to encourage, but when she’d only managed to make one person in her life care genuinely and fully for her, when she had never even talked to someone she didn’t live for more than a couple of minutes before she’d moved out, she found that it was almost impossible to figure out how to talk to anyone else without stuttering and stumbling more than Diego ever had on his worst days. She’d come to learn very early on that the only thing she could offer was her violin playing-- heck, it was the basis of her function as an adult. It didn’t help matters that it had been years since her last prophetic dream, and even Quentin had seemed to completely forget she ever had them in the first place. The one thing that made her like her siblings was something she wasn’t even sure was anything more than a fluke.
She didn’t know why she bought that red typewriter in the window of the pawn shop. She didn’t know why she expected writing her feelings with archaic, outdated technology would be any better than writing them on her laptop, or in a good old diary. She didn’t know how she had gotten to feeling so mean about siblings she didn’t blame for having lives of their own.
She did know that when she eventually emerged from the writing hole she’d stuck herself in for weeks, no one had tried to get in touch with her. She’d dropped off of the face of the planet for at least a month, and no one had noticed. She couldn’t remember the last time she ate a meal that wasn’t some variation of pizza and candy, or the last time she spoke to someone who wasn’t coming for a lesson, or even the last time she left her apartment. It was lucky that she had vacation time from the orchestra, or she would have been fired for sure. And yet, no one had called. No one had texted. No one had stopped by.
She also knew that, upon further inspection of the pages she’d sacrificed her humanity for over month to type, that the words she had pulled from her ass, the words she was sure made no sense at all… were actually really good? What? There were typos, sure, and the pacing did get a little clunky around page 17, and then again on page 28, but she was sure she’d read books worse written than what she had in front of her.
But she had been unfair in her recounting, and was undoubtedly an untrustworthy narrator, and would incite so much hatred from her siblings that she decided she wouldn’t dare let the words see the light of day.
She went to see Quentin, who’d started dating a new girl after Toni came out as a lesbian (and now Number Five was trying to get her to date Vanya, which confused her to no end, because no, Quentin, she’d never said she was gay (thinking it might be true was a different story)). Then, she came home and called Ben, who was hungover after helping Klaus finish off an entire bottle of tequila the night before (because apparently, drunkenness kept not only Klaus’s ghosts away, but Ben’s tentacles too, and yes, Vanya, he’d be careful, of course). Then, she called Diego, who was now a vigilante after getting kicked out of the Police Academy for fighting (she knew better than to try and ask why). Then she called Luther, who seemed happy to have heard the voice of someone who wasn’t their Father, Pogo, or Mom (and yet, he still sounded offended at the thought of moving out.) Then, she even called Allison, who miraculously had time to talk to her (apparently, she was pregnant now, and marrying Page Six Patrick and would Vanya be a bridesmaid pretty please?). And then she made a cup of tea, went to bed, and left the pages to gather dust in a shoe box beneath her bed.
Then, a month later, she was lonely and bitter again and packaged the pages up in a nice, manila envelope, to be mailed to a publisher in the morning, because even their hatred would be better than them forgetting she existed until she called them tell her it was better because god how could it be worse than this ?
Then she had another dream.
It was real in a way most dreams weren’t, but the ones of Five leaving and Ben dying were. Quentin was missing from it, much like the second dream she’d had, and Ben was missing too, but everyone else was there. And they hated her. They spewed venom from their lips and fire from their eyes and Klaus looked more hurt than she’d ever seen him and even on his worst days Luther had never looked so coldly at her and Allison pleaded for an explanation and then sighed disappointedly when none was provided and Diego was disbelieving, then violent, then left and yelled for her to never call him again and oh god, but she was so wrong, this was so much worse, hatred was so much worse than anonymity oh god what had she done what had she done what had she done?
She woke up at 3:07 a.m., tears streaming down her face, and she gathered the envelope to her chest and went straight to Quentin’s apartment. Banging on the door, she couldn’t manage to keep from sobbing, and when her brother finally answered, he looked ready to murder whoever had dared wake him up, before he realized who it was and looked ready to murder whoever had hurt her.
She could barely get a word out around her hyperventilating, but she still managed to blubber apologies at him as she pressed the manila envelope into his hands, paper soggy from her tears.
“Burn it,” she begged him. “Please, Quentin, you have to help me burn it, please. I thought it would be better if you hated me because at least you’d remember me but it’s not it’s so much worse and I can’t let this see the light of day, please.”
“Vanya, what happened?” He was wrapping a blanket around her shoulders and oh that was strange, when had they gotten to his couch? The envelope was glaring at her from the coffee table, and she kept her eyes on it fearfully as she answered.
“I had another dream.”
I almost made Quentin and Vanya live together but then I decided I like dying and being dead. I'm also debating letting Vanya and Toni become a thing because you can't have Ellen Page in a thing and not let her be gay like wtf is this? I'm also playing with making her ace though- ace lesbian? I'm there for it, tbh.
Also, I promise I don't want anyone to be douche-bags to Vanya, but also, there's no way they wouldn't drift apart if they didn't have one roof keeping them together. Healthy family dynamics are for the end of this story, thank you very much.
I really hope this chapter made sense. Also, that "disappointedly" is a word, because it really should be, and it's a huge lexical gap if it isn't, like spell-check is telling me it isn't.
I will start replying to comments tonight, most recent first, but I have read all of them I promise and I get so incredibly emotional over every review, so if you want to comment more, like I said, I like dying and being dead, and if it can be because I've squeed myself into cardiac arrest over comments, well then what better way is there to go?
Chapter 8: I Can Heal and I Can Breathe ('Cause I Can Feel Myself Believe)
Some things need explaining. Some things need doing. Some things need neither.
Hopefully, this time, I'll only have this one chapter of fall out. It's very dialogue heavy (and longer than I thought it'd be, considering that) so fair warning.
If you think I've managed to clean up my act enough to have a beta, you'd be very wrong.
Chapter title is from "Everything Changes" from the musical "Waitress"
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Vanya woke up on Quentin’s couch, her brother staring at her from his perch on his coffee table. It took a few moments for her to remember where she was, and when she did she shot up into a sitting position, blanket dropping off of her shoulders to pool around her waist.
Quentin picked up a stack of papers from beside him and brandished them at her.
“This is good,” he told her, and she stared at him uncomprehendingly. “I mean, it’s pretty unfair to most of us-- all of us, really-- but it’s really good.”
“You read it?” Her heart skipped a couple of beats, and she lost feeling in her fingers from the shock.
“You begged me to burn it because you had a dream, and then you passed out on my couch after crying for another 20 minutes. Yes, I read the damn thing.”
“So then you-”
“Why do you want to burn it?”
She paused and furrowed her brow. “Because it’s awful!”
“I thought we’ve established that it’s really good?”
“Well written doesn’t mean good,” she protested. “Can you imag-- I dreamt what would happen! This ever sees the light of day, and you’re gonna hate me forever!”
“Is that what you saw in the dream? Me hating you? Everything I just said should negate whatever that dream showed you.”
“You weren’t in it,” she admitted. “Neither you or Ben. But everyone else was.”
“And they hated you?” he phrased it as a question, but she knew him well enough to know it wasn’t one.
“I’ve never seen any of them look so coldly at me before,” she whispered brokenly.
“Are you sure this was one of those dreams, and not just a nightmare?”
She leveled him with an unimpressed stare. “I know the difference between a regular nightmare and a prophetic dream, Quentin. For one thing, I’ve had far more horrifying nightmares than this, and yet, none of them have sent me into panic attacks even close to as bad as last night’s. Trust me, it was the future. Or at least, the future that would’ve happened if I let that thing get published.”
“Fine. I believe you. But then that begs the question-- why did you write it in the first place?”
That question gave her pause. She tried to remember what happened, what instigated it, what she was thinking that month she was trapped in the writing haze. But it was all a blur.
“I don’t know. I saw the typewriter in a pawn shop window and I just… it was an impulse buy. Then I got home and I started typing and… Q, I barely remember writing half of it, let alone why I did. I just-- I started writing and then I couldn’t stop and words were pouring out of me faster than I could think them. I didn’t mean for any of it to be as mean as it ended up being. I don’t think I wanted any of it to be hurtful. It just-”
“It’s your heart,” Quentin said matter-of-factly. “Your soul. It’s the realest thing you’ve ever done, because it’s completely and totally honest. You didn’t filter at all.” His face was pensive as he stared down at the pages he was still holding.
He didn’t seem to be looking for a response, but she shrugged anyway, whispering a quiet agreement.
“You know Vanya, I’d like to think we never kept anything from each other. That you’ve always told me everything. But for the second time in our lives, I’m seeing what’s buried underneath the obvious and honestly-- god I don’t think I’ve ever been so upset by anything.” He inhaled deeply through his nose and dropped the papers, bringing his hands up to run them through his hair. “This is what you think of us? Granted, none of it’s wrong, but to say it means you must have been feeling really upset. I mean-- shit! What the fuck are we letting happen to you, Vanya?”
There was a pang of guilt that stabbed her in the stomach, and she shook her head desperately. “No-- Q, no. It’s not your fault. Or anyone else’s for that matter. We’re adults now, with lives of our own and we’re deeply flawed, all of us, because of the shittiness that is Reginald Hargreeves’ parenting. It’s not-- none of you are doing anything wrong by not having time for me.
“I was hurt and lonely and depressed and I wrote a whole lot of stuff I never would have even considered telling anyone under normal circumstances and-- god it hurt. It hurt so much to come out of the daze and realize that not only had I not seen or spoken to any of you the entire time I was writing, but none of you even tried to get in touch with me. And that’s not your fault-- you guys have lives and girlfriends and boyfriends and regular friends and I can’t expect for you to always be thinking about me. I just-- I don’t know how to connect with people that aren’t family-bound to love me. I don’t know how to talk to people that aren’t stubborn little shits who can’t seem to let me die alone, even if it’s what I deserve. I don’t have anything that isn’t you saving me from becoming a completely isolated, lonely disaster of a person. And that isn’t your fault, and writing that thing was taking it out on you guys and that’s why it has to burn.”
The words lingered in the air as silence rang in the apartment. Quentin’s eyes were clouded with worry and he leaned forward to rest his elbows on his thighs, hands dangling between his legs.
Vanya wished she could figure out what was happening in his head. She trusted him to believe in her, and to listen to her, but the look on his face told her there was so much more that was bothering him, and the pangs of guilt in her stomach got worse as the brother who never managed to regret anything looked for the first time like he wanted to go and press rewind.
Finally, he spoke.
“We’re not burning this.”
She immediately started protesting, but she shut up when he gave her a firm glare.
“We’re not, Vanya. Like I said before, it’s great. And they may be hurt, but the others need to read this--”
“Yes. If you don’t do anything with it, it won’t be as much a betrayal as it is a peek into your head, and evidently, that’s something we all need to see.”
“Quentin, stop. I’m not showing them. It’s non-negotiable. There’s a reason I don’t say these things out loud and I’m not going to risk everything-- risk causing the future I saw-- by showing them the manuscript for a book I never should have written in the first place. And I especially don’t want for them to start paying more attention to me because they hate what I wrote about them and they want me to change my mind or something.”
“They’re not gonna-” Quentin protested, but Vanya interrupted him.
“They are. They’ve done it before. And things get great for like two months, but they never stay that way. And I can’t-- I can’t go through that again.
“And if that doesn’t happen-- if they don’t change their behaviors at all-- it’s going to be because they hate me for thinking that stuff about them in the first place, which I really can’t handle. Nothing good will come of showing it to them. I didn’t even want to show it to you, and I didn’t even see you in the dream. This is never going to be seen by anyone else, and that’s it.”
Reluctantly, he nodded, but he then shook his head at her. “We gotta do something about this proclivity you have for hiding things from our siblings. First your powers, now the book--”
“I’ve had three prophetic dreams in thirteen years. It hardly counts as ‘having powers.’ And I told you why I didn’t want to tell them, and why I don’t want to show them the manuscript, and it’s my prerogative whatever I want to tell them. What we really need to do something about it my inability to socialize.”
He huffed a quiet laugh in agreement. “Yes, we really do. Toni’s been saying she wanted to try and get to know you-- maybe we can start with that?”
“As long as it’s just as friends,” Vanya insisted, and he groaned.
“You two would be great together! I keep telling you that!”
“I’m not gay, Quentin!” She thought. Maybe? She was finding it very hard to tell anymore.
“Liar,” he replied, and how close that comment was to her inner monologue scared her.
“Besides which, I am definitely not getting into a relationship with someone if I don’t even know how to navigate a friendship.”
“Fine. But I am sending her your number.”
“I’m also sending you the number of a therapist.”
She shut her mouth with a click of her teeth.
“Don’t give me that look. I met a guy back in college who’s working in psychiatrist’s office while he’s getting his PhD. I just had an appointment with one of the people in the practice. I think it would probably be good for you too. Not to see the same guy, obviously, but there’s a woman in the practice who specializes in social and generalized anxiety disorders and in depression. You should go.”
She sighed, and nodded. “You’re probably right.”
“I’m always right. Which is why you should-”
He gave a put-out sigh and shuffled the pages back into the manila envelope.
“I hope you realize I’m not burning this.” When she glared, he glared back. “I’m not. We can lock it in a safe somewhere, never to be seen again, but it’s too good to burn. You’re a really talented writer, Vanya.”
She buried her face in a couch pillow to hide her blush, and he used the envelope to lightly smack her on the head.
“Come on,” he said. “Time to make you a play-date.”
Because they all need therapy, Vanya needs friends, and Quentin is salty. Also, even though decisions get made, hopefully the next chapter will deal with more plot than this one did. I did not intend to spend 1,600 words on one scene. It's just how it be sometimes I guess.
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the comments. I cannot tell you how much I'd appreciate more of them. Theories? Reactions? Just plain comments? Let me know what you think!
Chapter 9: Here Comes the Sun (And I Say It's Alright)
How do you trust in something you've never had before?
I kept thinking "okay, I'll stop in a couple of sentences." I didn't. whatever, I'm sure it's fine.
Still no beta bc who needs that much effort?
Song title is from "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Things were going well. Almost too well. Vanya kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Quentin had sent Toni her number, and they’d been texting ever since. They’d met a few times while she and Quentin had been dating, but had never managed to get close, not while Vanya was still completely socially inept and Toni had been struggling her way through school. It had been years though, and Toni was now gainfully employed as an art gallery curator. She was brash where Vanya wasn’t, and cool where Vanya was awkward, and completely unashamed of how much of a hot mess she was. She thought Vanya’s violin playing was amazing and that she was a great writer (or at least, the one sample she’d been bullied into showing her was really good).
Intensely creative where Quentin was solidly logical, it confused Vanya that they’d ever dated, and confused her even more that they had remained good friends, even now, years later. Their entire relationship seemed based on making fun of each other, and yet Vanya didn’t think she’d ever seen Quentin care so much about a person he didn’t share a birthday with.
What surprised her more was just how excited Toni was to spend time with her.
After they’d been talking for a few weeks, Toni set up weekly Friday night movie nights, when she and Quentin would come over to Vanya’s apartment and they’d gorge themselves on take out and junk food and watch whatever movie struck their fancy. Usually, it turned into Toni and her brother tossing popcorn at each other as they all argued over whether or not the scientific inaccuracies in Star Wars were enough to invalidate its benchmark status (Quentin said definitely. Toni said definitely not. Vanya thought the movies weren’t that great anyway, though she’d never say that out loud.) and which High Fantasy trilogy was better (Quentin liked The Hobbit, because of Guillermo Del Toro. Toni was in love with Cate Blanchett, so thought The Lord of the Rings ruled all. Vanya was partial to The Chronicles of Narnia, because Lucy was everything she’d ever wanted to be.) and whether Citizen Kane and Casablanca were overrated (all of them said yes, but Toni liked playing devil’s advocate with references to film production theory she was only pretending to understand, and neither Quentin nor Vanya knew enough about to successfully argue with.). Sometimes, it turned into Vanya turning on Doctor Who just to shut them up, which only ended up sparking arguments over which companion was the best (Quentin liked Rory and Mickey. Toni liked Amy and Donna. Vanya said she liked Rose and Martha, but was privately very conflicted. They all hated Clara.) and which Doctor was better (Quentin said Eccleston. Toni said Smith. Vanya couldn’t decide.) and whether Moffat was a better showrunner than Davies (Quentin said yes. Toni said absolutely not, but his episodes from before he took over were the best. Vanya thought Moffat was overall overrated, but had a soft-spot for The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances, and most of seasons five and six.). They always ended in the three of them passed out on top of each other on the couch.
Ben called about three weeks after the movie nights started. That, in and of itself, wasn’t so strange-- Ben was second only to Quentin in frequency of communication with her-- but then he suggested that they meet up every Sunday evening for dinner, and Vanya started smelling something fishy. She suspected Quentin had something to do with it. She knew, at least, that Ben and Klaus must not have read the manuscript, given she had it locked in a safe deposit box only she had a key to, but she wouldn’t be surprised if Quentin had told them about some of the contents. That was fine, she decided. Ben and Klaus were mostly harmless, and she couldn’t remember writing anything extremely unfair about them anyway. Besides, she had enough faith that they wouldn’t completely abandon her because they were feeling a little hurt. As long as he didn’t say anything to Allison, Diego, or Luther, things would be okay.
They set up a rotating system, where they’d switch off cooking and hosting duties each week, with a plan to eat out once a month. And it worked well. She was seeing her brothers, which never failed to make her happy, and they never made it feel like a chore to see her, which she appreciated. It helped that she thought they needed those dinners just as much as she did.
Klaus had always been a high-risk for addiction, and Ben was good enough at keeping him away from the heavier things. Both of them had steady jobs, and they were good at keeping each other off the ledge. They were also both spending most of their income on alcohol, and Vanya had the feeling that without the weekly dinners to look forward to, they’d be spending their weekends too drunk to function. Knowing they’d see her, knowing she’d be upset to see them hungover and sick from drinking more than any person ever should, was doing the job at keeping them from getting completely wasted. Klaus was still using a lot of pot just to be able to function, and she got the feeling that any sane psychiatrist would give immediately give Ben antidepressants, but it seemed, at least, that between the two of them, they had just enough brain cells to at least listen to her enough to not completely self-destruct.
She in turn, was getting most of her advice-giving abilities from her new therapist. She’d set up bi-weekly appointments with Dr. Garnett, and things weren’t perfect, but they were getting better. She was good, at least, at following the homework she was assigned, and Dr. Garnett was good about making her feel like she wasn’t crazy or clingy, and helping her to understand which of her own behaviors were sabotaging her. The medication Vanya had been taking since she was a child had given the psychiatrist pause at first, but she’d concluded that if she felt they were helping her to feel in control, she didn’t have to stop them just yet. The frequency with which she’d been taking it meant that stopping full-out would cause more harm than good, and Dr. Garnett didn’t think she was experiencing any significant side-effects. They’d eventually work towards getting her off of them, but that wasn’t until she knew she would be able to handle the problems that persisted while she was on the pills.
With the tools therapy had given her, she’d been able to make friends with Helen, the first-chair violinist in her orchestra, who was cut-throat and confident, but seemed to genuinely like Vanya, or at least pity her enough talk to her. She was scarily organized and ruthlessly logical, with an incredible talent for music she hasn’t seen in anyone else. She reminded her of Quentin, with her calculating gaze and penchant for using sarcasm to cover up the idea that she cared. She’d been so mean when she first tried to talk to her, Vanya was about to give up trying when Helen must have noticed something that made her soften, because suddenly she inviting her to eat lunch with her the next day.
Their friendship was strange, and often characterized by Vanya awkwardly trying to get to know her, and Helen giving her soft and slightly pitying looks as she answered the questions. Eventually, they started warming up together before rehearsals and going out for drinks afterwards with Angie, the second chair flutist, Andrew, the first chair cellist, and David, the third chair trumpeter. She was awkward and it was difficult to be an active part of the conversation-- difficult not to just let the talking carry on over while she nurses a Mexican Mule or a frozen margarita and marvels at having been invited out in the first place-- but Helen and Andrew were insistent on including her in the conversation, and David and Angie were really good about picking up on little things she mentioned in passing and asking her to elaborate on them.
She wasn’t happy, but she was better. More fulfilled, at least. She actually had friends that weren’t in her family, and things within her family were getting better too. She had Toni and Helen and Angie and Andrew and David. She had Quentin and Ben and Klaus, and she was talking to Diego and Luther more and more, and she was going to be a bridesmaid for Allison and everything was going well.
Number Three got married on an unseasonably chilly evening in June, three week old baby Claire watching the proceedings from Grace’s arms, who had left the house with Pogo especially for the occasion, which their father had refused to attend. Vanya and Klaus stood behind the bride with a couple of women they’d never met before, all in the purple gowns that signified bridesmaid status. Luther, Quentin, Ben, Diego, and Page Six Patrick’s brother were the groomsmen, and Ben took it upon himself to make funny faces at Klaus and Vanya every time Klaus started to fidget during the unbearably long service.
The reception came with dancing and more dancing and then even more dancing, and Vanya sending stern looks at Ben and Klaus every time they reached for another glass of champagne, and then taking over the DJ booth before Diego could stab someone out of sheer irritation with the music. Vanya danced with Ben, who was wonderful, then with Quentin, who wasn’t, then Diego, who was impressive, then Luther, who was awkward, but earnest, then Klaus, who insisted on dragging her through a tango set to Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel , and then even with Allison, who she clumsily waltzed with through two songs, Vanya leading through Eternal Flame, and Allison taking over the lead for Because You Loved Me. She danced with Patrick, who was mindful and polite and kind, and was pulled into a fun little freestyle with Kate, one of Allison’s other bridesmaids, who thought she looked sad and could use a good time. She held a sleeping Claire for a few minutes while Diego and Ben captured Mom for a few dances, and marveled over her tiny niece, almost reluctant to hand her back when Mom finally returned.
She came home the closest to happy she’d been ever, even within the last few months.
Then, that night, she had another dream.
Okay okay, I know people are going to be upset about the medication thing. There's a reason for it, I promise! It'll all make sense soon.
Also, I live for Toni. She's my new favorite person and she doesn't even really exist.
Please leave a comment, tell me what you think? Theories? Concerns? Leave 'em down below!
Thanks so much for reading!
Chapter 10: But I'm Only Human (I Crash and I Break Down)
Klaus and Ben are the best bros.
Just a quick update because I finished more than I thought.
Unbetaed. What else is new.
Chapter title is from "Human" by Christina Perri
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She tried to call Quentin as soon as the panic attack mostly abated, but he didn’t pick up, and the situation wasn’t dire enough to wake him after the exertion of the wedding. She needed to talk to someone though, which is how she ended up on the line with Klaus.
“My dearest, darlingest sister!” He was laughing. He sounded high.
“Are you high?”
“No, but I might be still be drunk from the wedding. What are you doing up? It’s like 4 in the a.m.”
“Couldn’t sleep,” she mumbled a little, then sighed. This was Klaus. He knew her, knew her patterns and her habits, knew about her issues. She couldn’t figure out why she was ducking the question.
Before she could continue, he spoke. “Bad dreams?”
“Yeah.” Her voice broke a little, and she coughed. “I just-- I had a panic attack and it hasn’t faded enough for me to go back to sleep.”
Klaus hummed his understanding. “Wanna talk about it? It’ll be a good distraction from my own demons.” He started chuckling.
“Not really.” She couldn’t explain why it suddenly terrified her to tell him, but she knew she’d have to get over that, because this was a dream she knew she’d have to explain. At least, if she intended on stopping it.
She vaguely heard Klaus saying Ben’s name over the line, and that drew her back into focus. “What are you doing?”
“Vanya?” She heard Ben’s voice over the line. “Is everything okay?” He sounded groggy, but concerned, and she realized Klaus must have woken him.
“Fine,” she told him. “Just needed to talk to someone, and I figured if anyone was awake now, it’d be one of you.”
There was a muttered conversation on the other end of the line that she couldn’t quite make out. Then, Ben’s voice again.
“We’re coming over,” he said firmly.
Immediately, she protested. “That’s really not necessary,” she tried, but Ben had already hung up the phone, and she cursed herself for calling. She must have sounded worse than she thought, to concern her siblings enough for them to want to come over, and she hated that they’d now be put out by her inability to handle a bad dream.
She then remembered what Dr. Garnett kept reminding her. “You don’t need to apologize for existing or for being human. You are worth the space you take up in the world, and you don’t have to make yourself smaller to take up less of it.”
Did that count when she was actively putting out other people? Vanya supposed that if it were really an issue, they wouldn’t have decided to come over, but she couldn’t help being scared of them being resentful towards her.
She decided one time didn’t hurt anything, and she went to the kitchen to make tea. Peppermint for Ben, with a single teaspoon of sugar, in a collectible mug from the orchestra. Mango Passion Fruit for Klaus, with more sugar than could be dissolved by the hot water, in a special edition RENT mug. And Chamomile for her, with honey, in her favorite mug, the one Toni got her that said “Being special is my special-tea.” She smiled every time she looked at it, a warm feeling settling in her chest that had nothing to do with the tea.
By the time she’d finished plating a package of oreos to go with the tea, her brothers were knocking on her door.
Klaus was on top of her the second she opened it. She’d anticipated the tackle-hug, and took only a couple of seconds to relax into it. He released her after a few more (too soon, she thought) and held her by the shoulders, studying her face.
“I don’t care how little makeup you wear,” he told her severely. “You have to take all that shit off before you go to bed.” His hand moved to her forearm, and he started dragging her to the bathroom, leaving Ben to close the door, laughing.
“You’re one to talk,” he snickered, and Klaus mock-glared at him.
“I’ll have you know that raccoon-chic is my natural look, no leftover makeup required.”
Klaus sat her down on the closed toilet and gently attacked her face with a makeup wipe, slowly but surely removing crusted-over mascara from where the tears had tracked it down her face. Ben stood in the doorway, continuing to berate Klaus, who took it all in stride with a bright smile.
When her face was clean, Klaus leaned forward to plant a tiny kiss on her nose, laughing when it crinkled, then went to toss the used wipe in the trash, leaving Ben to pull her up from her seat and into an embrace that he didn’t break until he’d lead them back to the couch.
“You guys didn’t have to come,” she insisted quietly, pulling her mug of tea into her chest and curling around it.
“You shouldn’t have to be alone after a panic attack,” Ben told her. “Besides, last night was supposed to be your turn to host dinner. We might as well do it in the middle of the night.”
She chuckled soundlessly. “I hope you don’t mind tea and oreos for dinner, then. I really can’t cook anything right now.”
“It’s perfect!!” Klaus beamed, jumping over the back of the armchair to land sideways in it, legs swung haphazardly over the armrest, reaching for the RENT mug with a pleased grin.
Ben took his own, and a cookie, and they lapsed into a comfortable silence, sipping at their drinks.
As Vanya went for another sip, saliva hit the back of her throat, making her cough roughly. She immediately surrendered her mug to Ben, who placed it on the coffee table as she tried to get her breath back. Before she knew it, she was crying again, this time without a clue as to why. She was immediately sandwiched between her brothers, Klaus throwing his arms around her waist from her right and laying his head over the left side of her chest and Ben holding her tightly to her own, murmuring soft reassurances into her hair.
It took a few minutes to calm down, and when she did, she shook her head, muttering an apology as she angrily swiped at her face.
“Don’t do that,” Ben insisted, moving her hands then taking his own to her face cupping it between his palms as he gently removed the tears she’d missed with his thumbs. “You don’t have to apologize for having feelings.”
“It’s why we’re here,” Klaus added. “You sounded more upset than you were saying you were, and we didn’t want you alone if you relapsed. We’re happy to do it, I promise.”
That only set her off again, though she stopped more quickly this time.
With a heavy exhale, she leaned into the back of the couch, settling in to hold her brothers’ arms to her torso and stare at the ceiling. They were all silent, and soon enough, Klaus and Ben were falling asleep at her sides, leaving her to mull over what to do about what she saw.
She knew it was another vision. The residual panic attack told her that. But shockingly enough, it was mainly centered on Luther, with Klaus and Ben playing minor roles, and Vanya not there at all. Alone on a mission for Dad, Luther was hurt and almost died, only saved at the last minute via something experimental Vanya couldn’t figure out, but that left his torso hairy, huge, and disfigured. Disgusted, their Father sent him to the moon, where he stayed for years, alone, convinced he was doing good work while good ole Reginald hid the unread reports under a floorboard. She saw the devastation on her brother’s face when he figured it out, years later, and watched him lose it. She watched Klaus die trying to help him and Luther leave him there, completely unaware, while Ben tried desperately to wake him up.
That’s why she was quick to call Klaus when Quentin didn’t answer. She had to reassure herself that he was still alive.
She’d have to tell them about the dream, she determined. To stop Luther from going on the fruitless mission, she’d have to tell them how she knew what would happen. No pretending this time, not like she did with Ben.
When her siblings woke up at 7 a.m., Vanya was staring at the clock. Without turning, she spoke, her voice hoarse and broken.
“I have something to tell you.”
You can pry theater-person Vanya from my cold dead hands.
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 11: Honesty is Hardly Ever Heard
Vanya explains, and hardly cries at all. Ben and Klaus listen; they cry a whole lot.
TBH I didn't intend on writing this chapter, at least not as it. I meant to start with the next chapter but I really wanted to explore the explanation-- explore how Klaus and Ben would take the news. This is largely filler, and if I keep going the way I am, I should have more up tonight or tomorrow. Enjoy!
At this point, unless I say otherwise, just assume this is unbetaed because I'm trash.
Song title is, again, "Honesty" by Billy Joel (I tried to find something else, but I got lazy after one minute. Don't ask.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It took her five minutes just to explain the basics of the dreams. And that wasn’t even discussing their topics.
“Okay, so one more time--”
“Oh my god,” she groaned, letting her head fall to the back of the couch as Ben stood to go and make coffee. “I have dreams sometimes where I see the future. That’s it. That’s what they are.”
“How often?” Ben asked from the kitchen.
“I’ve had four so far.”
“And you’re sure it’s the future you’re seeing?” Klaus quizzed, and she rolled her eyes.
“For the sixth time, yes. I’m sure.”
“And they were…?”
She shot Ben a puzzled look. “What?”
“What did you see in them?”
She sighed heavily and rubbed at her face. “The first one was when we were twelve. Remember when he had that whole ‘I want to time travel’ thing going on? I dreamed that he got mad at Dad over breakfast and demanded to be allowed to time travel, and when the demands went unanswered, he stormed out and tried anyway. Got himself stuck in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, all alone and couldn’t figure out how to get back.
“I didn’t think it was a vision at the time-- I just thought it was a regular old nightmare, because I was scared he was going to leave. But it was enough to scare me, and I begged him not to try until Dad thought he was ready. He only agreed because I started crying. And that was the end of that. I didn’t think anything more of the dream, but then…”
She trailed off and Klaus shoved at her. “Don’t do that,” he insisted. “Then what?”
She shrugged. “I had another one a few years later. Scared me enough to skip breakfast, even if I didn’t think it could be real. But I saw you die.” She looked up at Ben, who was bringing mugs of coffee into the living room. He stopped in his tracks, his eyes wide and calculating, then he was rushing to dump the cups on the coffee table and sit on the couch next to her.
“The crane,” he said, with a scared whisper, and tears pricked a her eyes as she nodded.
“I saw it happen,” she told him. “I saw you die and I saw the funeral and I saw what happened because-”
“When you said it was better that way,” Klaus interrupted, “you weren’t just saying that, were you? You saw what would happen if he died, and you thought anything would be better than that.” It wasn’t even a question at the end, and before she could stop herself, she was blurting out everything.
“You started seeing his ghost before the funeral and you started with coke and heroin just to stop. You told me at the funeral-- you asked me why it had to be him, why it couldn’t have been me.” She saw the pain in his eyes, but she couldn’t seem to make herself stop. “Luther said it should’ve been my ashes they scattered. Allison said that maybe I wouldn’t feel so upset if I was dead. Diego said if I missed you so much I should go join you, or better yet, replace you. Everyone… Everything fell apart. The world burned. And it was because you were the one to die. It wasn’t just my insecurities telling me they’d all be better off if I died, it was the future. It was what you all said.”
She had armfuls of silently crying brothers by the time she finished, and Klaus kept repeating apologies that Vanya shook away.
“That future didn’t happen though. I stopped it. And now things are different, and it won’t ever happen. Not Quentin disappearing, not Ben dying, not everyone hating me for not dying, not even the book--” She stopped. She hadn’t meant to mention the book, but now, Klaus and Ben were giving her strange looks.
“What book?” Ben asked carefully, leaning back to peer curiously at her.
She mentally hit herself for bringing it up, then remembered she’d likely have had to tell them anyway, and took a breath.
“I wrote a manuscript,” she said finally. “Or, at least, I bought a typewriter and started writing one day, and when I emerged from the daze a month later, I reread what I’d written and realized it would make a pretty good manuscript for an autobiography. Except it was awful-- I’d written really horrible things and I knew I couldn’t publish it so I locked it in a box under my bed. But then a month later, I was sad again, and upset and lonely and I brought it out and told myself I’d send it to a publisher in the morning and then I had a dream and I saw what would happen if I published it and I couldn’t go through with it and it’s hiding in a safe deposit box because Quentin wouldn’t let me burn it and then I started going to therapy and I made friends and we set up weekly dinners and I didn’t need to consider making you guys hate me so that I knew that you at least remembered I existed and now things are really great and that book is never going to see the light of day ever again and we are never going to mention it again, okay?”
It all came out in a rush of words that made Klaus’s eyes glaze over for a second, and though she could tell Ben wanted to press the issue further, he nodded.
“And then?” he prompted. “What was the fourth dream?”
“Last night, I saw-- shit, what time is it?” She looked frantically at the clock. The readout shined with red numbers that read “7:17.” “We have to go!” Vanya stood and made a mad dash for her bedroom, leaving her brothers staring after her, bewildered. She threw on jeans and a flannel shirt and shoving her feet into her converse.
She wasn’t sure what time the mission was going to start, but she wanted to pick up Quentin on the way to Luther, so she could catch him up on the proceedings, knowing he’d be upset to be left out. They had to warn Luther, tell him not to go, or at least had to go with him, make sure he gets out of the building before the burning plank hits him, before he spills chemicals and acid down his front, before their father does what he cannot take back.
She tied her hair into a fresh, tighter knot at the base of her skull as she ran back out into the living room. Klaus and Ben were exchanging worried looks that they immediately turned on her when she emerged.
“I have to go talk to Luther,” she told them, making a beeline for one of the mugs that Ben had left on the coffee table and gulping it, the coffee just cool enough not to burn her on the way down. She grimaced, having accidentally taken Klaus’s coffee, which was more frothy cream and sugar than coffee, with a ridiculous amount of a caramel syrup she only has in stock for her brother, but she downed the entire mug anyway and picked up a second one, this time hers.
“Luther?” Ben looked completely taken aback.
“The dream,” she explained impatiently, reaching for her bag and keys. “He gets hurt in a mission for Dad, and I don’t know what time he leaves, but I think it’s in the morning, and he should be up by the time I get there anyway. I need to pick up Quentin and run. You guys are welcome to come, but i’m going home, and I feel like that’s not really your scene, so you can stay here if you prefer. I gotta go now though.”
Taking a final few gulps of coffee, she put down the cup and made for the door, pulling out her phone to call Number Five on the way. She couldn’t resist the slight relieved smile when she heard her brothers follow her. Not that she’d tell them, but she was glad for all the support she could get.
“This is gonna be fun,” Klaus said sarcastically as she locked up behind her, phone ringing in her ear.
“You don’t have to come,” she reminded them, but Ben glared.
“Yeah, like we’re letting you do this without us.”
And as Quentin picked up the phone with a grumpy and groggy “It’s 7 in the morning, V, what the fuck?”, they made their way down to the car.
So I went back to look up how Luther got hurt and saw it put the timing as seven years prior to the events of the show, meaning it would've happened before the book, but the scenes of him reading the book had Luther with a normal torso, so idk what to think. I'm just going to assume it happened after the book and leave it at that. They also don't say how the accident happened, but his injuries looked decently consistent with fire and chemical burns, so I'm going with that.
I'm also not sure I really liked how I wrote this chapter, but I can't mess with it without messing with the flow of it, so there's that. I really didn't spend as much time as I wanted to on certain things, but I think the real drama is going to come later on, when they don't have a brother's life to save.
Let me know what you thought! Please and thank you!
Chapter 12: I'll Call You on the Phone When I Arrive
Quentin just wants Vanya to tell the truth. He doesn't quite care how much of an asshole he has to be to make that happen.
Nothing happens in this chapter and I'm sorry for that, but if I kept going, it would've been way too long. I'm also posting this later than I'd hoped, but I've felt like crap for the past few days, so there's that.
Chapter title is from "Drive" by Vanessa Hudgens
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I can’t believe you told them!” Quentin grumbled as he climbed into the car.
Vanya rolled her eyes from the driver’s seat. “Be honest, if I were going to tell anyone, other than you, of course, who else did you expect it to be?”
“Hang on, Quentin knew?” Klaus shouted indignantly from the back, but she refused to turn around, knowing Number Five would be throwing him a smug smirk.
She exchanged an amused look with Ben, who was sitting beside her in the passenger seat, then pulled out of her parking spot.
"I figured you'd tell them, I just didn't think you'd do it without me!" Quentin protested, leaving Vanya tolling her eyes, not even trying to dignify that with a response.
“I’ve been thinking about maybe calling Diego,” Ben mentioned, and panic seized her heart. Telling Ben and Klaus was one thing, but letting everyone know everything was not something she was anticipating having to do. Even knowing they had to warn Luther was terrifying her, and having to get Diego in on it would mean telling both of the siblings least likely to believe her at once. It would also mean Allison was the only person left out of the loop and she had far too much experience with being that person to allow it to happen to anyone else. But it wasn’t as if they could really say anything to Allison right at that moment, not when she had a three week old baby and had only been married for just over twelve hours. So no, calling Diego wasn’t very high on her list of priorities thank you very much.
“No,” she said, trying to keep her breathing under control. “I only just told you guys. I’m not about to go telling even more people.”
“I’m sorry, but how exactly were you planning on stopping Luther from going on the mission?” Klaus laughed. “It’s not like you can just say ‘Hey Luther, Dad’s gonna ask you to die today! Don’t ask how we know, just don’t go!’”
She kept silent, not wanting to admit that that was actually exactly how she’d planned on handling the situation. To be completely fair, she wasn’t entirely expecting him to listen, which was why she was glad of the entourage to help her get him out before he gets hurt.
Quentin snorted. “You’d better get used to this secrecy thing,” he warned. “It’s been years since she told me about her powers and I’ve been telling her to tell all of you since then. That’s obviously worked out great.”
She ignored this too. This wasn’t the first time he’d brought this up, not even in the last week. It had been a frequent topic of conversation since the last dream. He’d dropped it when they were teenagers, but that had mainly been because she went years without another vision. When they came back though, he had started getting more adamant about the importance of letting their siblings in on the secret. It was no surprise that he was pretty bitter about not being there when she finally caved.
“So am I calling Diego or not?” Ben asked, phone in hand.
“No, you’re not,” she said firmly, and Ben nodded, putting it away.
She could feel the judgmental silence from Quentin, but before he had a chance to say anything, her phone started blaring Phantom of the Opera . Ben grabbed it from the cup holder she’d left it in and laughed.
“Speak of the devil. Guess who it is.”
She groaned. “Answer it, please? Put it on speaker?”
He complied, and soon enough, Diego’s voice was coming through the phone.
“Oh, good. You’re awake.” He sounded stressed and irritated. “I need your help.”
“Good morning to you too, Diego. How’d you sleep?”
“Horribly, but that’s not the point. Eudora sent me a weird text and I can’t figure out if she’s pissed because I didn’t ask her to come to Allison’s wedding with me, if she’s trying to be funny, or if something’s wrong, and you have the best sense when it comes to this stuff.”
“This was a necessary conversation to be having at 7:30 am when you didn’t know I was awake?”
“If you weren’t awake, you wouldn’t have picked up. You’re one of the deepest sleepers I’ve ever encountered.”
“No offense,” Quentin interrupted, “but do you really think now is the best time to be having this conversation, Van?”
“Oh, great. Quentin’s here and I’m on speaker. Why didn’t you warn me?”
“You didn’t give me a chance,” she protested. “Ben and Klaus are also in the car, by the way.”
“Car? Where you going?”
She was about to answer when Klaus spoke. “Vanya had a dream that Luther got hurt and now we’re off to stop him from almost dying.”
The car was silent while Vanya tried to process what had just happened, Klaus pretended nothing was wrong, Ben glared at him from the passenger seat, Quentin struggled not to laugh, and Diego--well, she didn’t know what Diego was doing but he was quiet nonetheless.
Finally, he spoke. “You know, if it wasn’t for the eerie absence of laughing, I’d think that was a joke.”
“It was,” Vanya told him. “It just wasn’t a funny one.” She hoped he’d believe that. She didn’t count on Quentin being an ass, which, in retrospect, was her own fault.
“No, it wasn’t,” he said. “I get hiding things, but now you’re just blatantly lying, and I will not be accessory to that. Diego, are you free right now? We could use your help with this.”
He was quiet, then chuckled lowly. “You’re so lucky I’m so confused. I’ll meet you at the house.”
He hung up the phone as Vanya stopped at a red light, letting her head fall forward onto the steering wheel.
“I fucking hate you.”
“No, you don’t,” replied Quentin, cockily arrogant the way siblings always seem to be, and he most often was. “You don’t hate any of us.”
It was so unfortunate that he was right.
“Can you call Allison?” she asked Ben, and he sent her a puzzled look.
“You want to bring more people into this?” He asked.
“Not particularly. But it’s not fun being the only one completely out of the loop. She’s not going to be able to answer the phone or anything-- she’s on her honeymoon, for god’s sake-- but we could at least pretend to try and keep her updated.”
Instead of responding, he dialed Allison’s number from Vanya's phone and put it on speaker. As predicted, they were sent straight to voicemail.
“Hey, Allison,” she said into the phone. “I know you’re busy, and probably won’t hear this for a little while, but I didn’t want you to be the only one left out of the loop. Something happened-- I don’t think I can explain over the phone but we’re all going to stop Luther from, well, dying. We’ll call again after it’s taken care of, and then I’ll explain as much as I can. Enjoy the honeymoon!”
Ben dutifully hung up and they were thrust into silence once more. It only lasted a couple of minutes though, before they were pulling up alongside their childhood home.
Soon enough, they were staring up at the double doors with trepidation, silently daring each other to open them, or at least to knock. No one gave in.
Diego showed up a couple of minutes later, and with a raised eyebrow at the little foursome, shoved past them to ring the doorbell.
Vanya had just enough time to pray it wouldn’t be their father who answered the door before Luther was standing before them, looking confused, but happy.
“What’s going on?” he asked them, struggling not to grin at the sight of them.
“Vanya has powers and you’re about to die,” Quentin spoke before anyone else could. In return, Vanya punched his arm and Klaus burst out laughing. Ben looked resigned, Diego looked like he had more questions than answers, and Luther just looked shocked.
“Was… was that a threat?”
Be honest: If your little shit of a brother showed up and told you his favorite sibling has powers and you were gonna die, wouldn't you think it was a threat?
Also, in other news, BEN'S A SERIES REGULAR FOR SEASON 2!!!! SOMEONE COME CELEBRATE WITH ME! JUSTIN MIN IS GETTING THE RECOGNITION HE DESERVES THANK THE BLESSED LORD!!!
Your comments mean the world to me, and make me want to keep posting chapters, so keep them coming, please! I appreciate every single one!
Chapter 13: Break Your Silence (Tell Them Who You Are)
Sometimes, it's not about if you can come clean. It's about if they actually want you to.
I wanted to have this chapter up days ago but I've been sick. I hope to have the next one up sometime today, but I could be very wrong. Depends on how the day progresses.
Chapter title is from "The Energy" by Shinedown
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I’ll get Dad,” Luther said as they entered the drawing room, but Vanya grabbed him by the elbow before he could leave.
“Please, don’t. It’ll be hard enough telling you guys. I really don’t want to deal with any ‘disappointed father’ looks in the process.”
“For once, I think that’s actually a good idea,” Quentin said. He glared back at the looks he was getting. “It’s not like he’s going to really care, and I’m not aiming to have this ruined because Reginald Hargreeves doesn’t understand parenthood.”
Luther sighed, but acquiesced, turning and sitting on the couch beside Ben. Diego was on Ben’s other side, while Vanya had Klaus and Quentin on either side of her on the couch facing the first three.
“So?” Luther asked. “What’s going on?”
Vanya bit her lip, trying to figure out how to put it, and placed a warning hand on Quentin’s forearm when it looked like he was about to start speaking. “Q, I love you, but if you don’t let me deal with this, I might punch you.” He nodded, biting his tongue, and she returned the nod, this one in thanks, before looking back at the others.
“I get these… well, dreams, I guess. Where I see the future. Or, not the real future, I guess, but a potential future-- what might happen if I don’t stop it.”
Neither Diego nor Luther looked like they believe her, so she went on. “When we were 12, I had a dream about Quentin leaving over breakfast and getting stuck in the future. When I woke up I begged him not to, and he didn’t, and I thought it was just a bad dream and I forgot about it. I didn’t have another one for 3 years, but then, when we were 15, I had a dream that Ben was hit by a crane and died, and I didn’t know what to think, until you got called on that mission, and it was the same place I saw in the dream, and the crane was about to hit him, and I couldn’t let that happen, so I jumped down to push him out of the way.”
“Holy shit,” Diego whispered, eyes blown wide, and she sent him a curious look. “I remember that now. You got hurt and kept saying it was better that way--”
“Did you forget?” Quentin challenged, his voice dark and dangerous.
“I-- kind of? It was like, what, eleven years ago? I just-- it’s not something I was thinking about and remembering everyday, you know? Vanya said ‘crane’ and all I could think was the bird for a minute.”
Quentin looked ready to murder him, and Ben wasn’t looking much better, sending an angry, incredulous look at the man sitting beside him on the couch. She rolled her eyes at the two. “It’s okay, calm down. Only reason I haven’t completely forgotten about it is because of the dream. That, and the fact that my head still aches where it cracked every time it rains.”
She suddenly had everyone looking really sadly at her, and she mentally smacked herself for bringing it up. Ben’s sad eyes were completely heartbreaking, and she was quick to attempt to change the subject.
“Anyway, then, a few months ago, I had a dream about… well, I wrote this… thing… I really shouldn’t have written it but I did and I was going to send it to a publisher but I saw what would happen if I did and I decided not to.”
She said all of that very quickly, and she could tell Diego wanted to address it, but she kept talking before he could get a chance. “Then, last night, I saw you get hurt on a mission for Dad, and… things got really bad, and Quentin was exaggerating when he said you’d die, but things aren’t good, and I came to tell you not to go.”
Silence rang in the air when she finished speaking, and she could tell neither Luther nor Diego quite believed her. To be fair, it did sound strange, and the only dream of the future she could currently confirm was Ben’ would-be-death, given how close they came to it actually coming true. It made her wonder what made Quentin believe her, and why Klaus and Ben had barely asked any questions. Then it made her consider that maybe they’d been humoring her. Or, at least, Klaus and Ben were.
The thought made her want to throw up, so she locked it away in a far corner of her mind to be addressed later.
“Vanya…” Luther started, and she shook her head.
“No, Luther. Listen. I know it sounds crazy. I know you don’t believe that I’m telling the truth-”
“I do think you’re telling the truth!” he protested. “I’m just not sure I believe the dream is really as… prophetic… as you’re implying.”
Diego’s eyes hardened as he spoke. “And why couldn’t she be right?” he challenged. She was almost sure it was only so he could be contrary to Luther, but she appreciated the support nonetheless. “All of us have powers-- is it really so far-fetched to believe that she might have them to?”
Luther glared as he stood. “Dad said-”
“I doubt Dad really understands all this himself,” Quentin said.
“Yeah,” Klaus agreed. “Besides, how do you prove prophetic dreams are real when you’ve only had like four of them? Why would Dear ole Reginald have any reason to believe she was telling the truth?”
“And why would we?” Number One was putting on his ‘I’m the leader and you all have to listen to me’ face.
“Because she’s our sister,” Ben said simply, “and she saved my life and is trying to save yours too. The least you could do is believe in her.”
The two stared at each other, neither backing down. Luther was adamant, resistant to the idea that their father could be fallible like this. Ben was insistent, much more loyal to his siblings than the man who didn’t raise them so much as train them. As thankful as she was to Ben, she couldn’t quite find it in her to be upset with Luther. He was just as much a victim of the old man’s torment as the rest of them were-- a concept that therapy was doing wonders at helping her understand. She figured it must be easier for him to believe that their father was perfect. The alternative meant that the torment he’d gone through had not been necessary, had not been part of some larger grand design that didn’t ever really hurt him. The alternative meant that he was damaged, and that was something he could never afford to be.
Their staring contest was cut short by the sound of microphone feedback, then Pogo’s voice ringing through the room. “Attention, Master Luther. Mission alert. I repeat, mission alert.”
Vanya pleaded with him silently, eyes begging him not to go. She could tell he looked torn, that he wanted so badly to believe her, but in the end, loyalty to their father won, and he shook his head as he turned to leave.
“I’m sorry, Vanya.”
As he left, she exchanged desperate looks with her remaining siblings. Quentin and Diego looked like they were about to follow after him from sheer force of habit, their reinhabitance of the empty house reawakening long dead instincts in them. Ben and Klaus had done better at ignoring those instincts, but Ben still stood.
“We’ll follow him,” he told her, “and we’ll get him out.”
Diego nodded in agreement as he too, stood up. “Just, stay here, okay?”
And then she was standing, arguments on her lips. Quentin placed a reassuring hand on her wrist. “He has a point. You’re not helpless, but you don’t have experience with missions, and you might get hurt again.”
“And if I do? Q, it’s not like it can be worse than what happens to Luther, and besides, I’m the only one who knows what to look for.”
She looked to Ben and Klaus for help, but found nothing, Ben looking apologetically back at her and Klaus looking down at his lap to avoid answering.
“Are you kidding me?”
“I’m sorry,” Ben offered. “I can’t watch you almost die again. It was hard enough the first time around.”
And god but wasn’t that a gut-punching statement to hear. It also made her feel ridiculously happy, despite herself, because she could remember a time when she thought, without a shadow of a doubt, that none of her siblings would really care if she died, and it warmed her heart to think that now, she knew that wasn’t true.
That didn’t help her case now though, and she groaned impatiently. “I’m not going to die, or almost die or even get hurt! I’ll be careful and, again, how exactly do you plan on stopping him from dying if you don’t even know what to look out for?”
Klaus tsked, throwing his head back to rest tiredly against the back of the couch. “When this is all done, we are having a nice, long talk about this self-sacrificing streak you’re developing, my dear Van-Van. Until then,” he groaned as rocked forward to stand up, “we have an idiot brother to save. Vamanos, mis hermanos. To the car!”
Quentin and Diego both gave her warning looks when she moved to follow, one she returned, but Klaus was on her side about this at least. “Including Vanya. Even if she doesn’t go in with us, we can do better than abandoning her in the house of nightmares by herself.” He took hold of her hand and the five of them made their way outside, set to follow Luther as soon as he reappeared from his meeting with their father.
Klaus and Ben went with Diego that time, leaving Quentin to sit shotgun in her car. When their father lead a conflicted, slightly disappointed Luther to the waiting car and left them to drive off, Diego and Vanya followed their brother, the latter praying as she drove that they were doing enough.
Luther's trying, I promise. And trust me, this is not the last we've seen of Diego in this instance- he says he believes her, but really? Does he?
Let me know what you thought! Your comments give me life so thank you everyone who does!
Chapter 14: Don't Sell Yourself Short (You Might Be Bulletproof)
They save the day. What's the cost?
I told you I'd have another one up today. Enjoy!
Chapter title is from "Get Up" by Shinedown
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Okay, so she may have lied when she’d told Quentin she’d stay in the car. To be fair, he really should have seen that coming.
It wasn’t like she wasn’t careful anyway. She wasn’t even going into the building. Well, not all the way in.
Okay, so that was a lie too.
There was an explosion in the building and her brain short-circuited, dashing through the open door and towards the sound of Luther’s yells on pure instinct.
She ran into what seemed to be a warehouse. Quentin and Diego were fighting off the guards in the center of the room. Klaus and Ben were destroying a computer bank as men in lab coats yelled at them. Luther was by the exit, hanging onto a box of vials and tubes and shouting for the rest of them to get going, they have what they need. The ceiling was on fire and she could see the supports crumbling and collapse.
She could hardly process what was happening. She saw Diego go down as Quentin knocked out the final guard and she ran, pushing Number Five to grab her felled brother and shift out of the building. She saw the men in lab coats making a dash for the exit, and she ran, pushing her brothers to follow them. She saw a burning plank start to fall from the ceiling and she ran, pushing Luther out of the way and the box of vials out of his hands. They shattered on the ground, and she could feel droplets of chemicals hitting her skin, sizzling and burning against it, and she felt the heat of fire by her back, searing into her skin, but she didn’t care, because there was Luther in front of her, tiny holes scorching through his leather suit but wholly and miraculously intact, staring at her with awe as she pushed him yet again to run for the exit.
They regrouped outside the building. Quentin had laid Diego down in the backseat of his car and was investigating the bump on his head that had knocked him unconscious. Ben and Klaus hovered behind him, looking over each other and the distracted and resisting Quentin for bumps, bruises, scrapes, and burns. She and Luther meandered over to meet them, Vanya panting a little from the recent exertion, pain from the burns barely even a passing thought.
Quentin eyed them critically when they got close. “You’re both okay?” His voice was hard and slightly angry, especially as they landed on her. “You told me you’d stay in the car.”
“Oh, stop it. I’m perfectly fine. Just a few minor chemical burns. I barely even feel it.”
“That’s the adrenaline,” Ben said dryly. “Just wait until it wears off.”
She rolled her eyes and nodded towards Diego. “He okay?”
“I’ll bet you 5 bucks he’s got a concussion, but he should be fine.” Quentin poked at Diego’s shoulder, and he groaned. “Yeah, he’ll be fine. I’ll bring him to Mom.”
“And tell Dad what?” Klaus pointed out. “We can’t exactly tell him we were here without explaining why, and Vanya’s made it pretty clear she doesn’t want him to know.”
Vanya looked down, a flush making its way over her cheeks. This earned her a cheerful poke from Number Four. “Hey, none of that. It’s your secret to tell. It just means we need to think up a plausible cover story.”
“We’re not far from Diego’s place,” Ben mentioned. “Maybe we can just tell him we saw Luther in his mission gear and figured we’d help out. If we mention how close Luther came to dying, Dad won’t be too upset, and even if he is, it’s not like he’ll stop Mom from treating us anyway.”
“‘Us?’” Quentin protested. “What do you mean ‘us?’ Some of us walked away from that fight without a scratch, thank you very much.”
“Yeah,” Klaus laughed. “You’re completely scratchless.” He grabbed hold of Quentin’s arm and started rubbing at a gash on his bicep, blood coming off onto his sleeve-covered hand. This prompted an eye-roll.
Before the argument could escalate, Luther, seemed to have recovered from the shocked stupor he was in.
“I almost died,” he looked at Vanya, eyes wide. “I-- that piece of wood would have crushed me.”
She shook her head at him, a slightly smug smirk quirking up the corners of her lips. “I did try to tell you.”
“You did. And I brushed you off. I’m sorry. I should have listened to you.”
She shook her head again, the smirk fading. “It’s fine, Luther. It’s not like you had any good reason to believe me.”
“No, I did. Ben was right. You’re my sister, and I should have more faith in you. If only so that you don’t run into burning buildings to save my stupid ass.”
Klaus turned to Luther, his eyes blown with shock. “Oh my god, guys, Luther said ‘ass.’ I didn’t know you even knew the word ‘ass.’ Who taught you cuss words, Luther? You’re going to have to wash your mouth out with soap now!”
Ben shoved a sharp elbow into Klaus’s side, even as both of them dissolved into giggles. Vanya smiled softly, fondly at the two, before turning back to Luther.
“Luther, I will run into a hundred burning buildings if it means keeping you safe.”
She barely had time to process the horrified looks she was getting from Luther and Ben, or the angry one from Quentin or even the exasperated one from Klaus, before she had three brothers in her face yelling at her over one another. She could barely make out what they said, but they made their displeasure plenty obvious, and she laughed a bit, in her head, before she shook her head and backed away, then turned to head for her car.
She felt something press against her back, and then was seized with sudden pain erupting from it. The adrenaline must have worn off, because she definitely felt it all now.
She blacked out for a moment, falling to her hands and knees. Next thing she knew, Quentin was hovering over her, mouth twisted in displeasure. “Yeah,” he quipped sarcastically. “You’re really fine.”
The pain slowly lessened, to a much more manageable lingering burn, still severe, but not as excruciating, and she pushed herself back up to her feet.
“It’s a lot better than the last time I tried saving someone’s life,” she pointed out, and Ben frowned.
“Yeah, let’s not talk about how upsetting it is that this is something that’s happened before,” he said sarcastically, under his breath, but Vanya heard him anyway and shrugged.
“It’s worth it.”
There was silence then, and Vanya could tell that Ben and Quentin at least were both asking themselves if it really was. Her gut twisted in pleased amazement. Annoyingly overprotective as they may have been, she couldn’t deny that it really did help her feel like she was important.
Now if only she could shut down the part of her that was whispering that they only cared because of guilt. That they only cared as much as they’d care about any innocent bystander. That they were lying because it was expected of them. That they didn’t really care at all.
Quentin retrieved the keys to Diego’s car from the unconscious man’s pocket and got into the driver’s seat. Ben meanwhile, demanded her own car keys, insisting on her laying on her stomach over the backseat so as to not irritate her burned back. Klaus rode with them in the passenger seat, and started messing with the preset radio stations, finding the most obnoxious bubblegum pop station and laughing, sung the words to every song at the top of his lungs. Luther went with Quentin and Diego, and she wondered briefly if that was a good idea, but decided that they’d lived together for eighteen years without fully ripping each other’s heads off- they could handle a car ride. Especially if one of them was driving and the other unconscious.
Vanya called Allison about halfway through the drive, leaving another message.
“Hi Allison. Luther’s fine, we saved him. I might have premonitionary powers, but we don’t really understand it so I’m not calling them powers for now. I’ll explain more fully when I can see you in person. I hope the honeymoon’s going well. Love you!”
Ben smirked at her in the rearview mirror, and raised an eyebrow.
“You know that’s not a comforting message to leave behind right?”
“It’s better than the first one I left.”
“That’s not much comfort.”
She laughed, and lay her head on her crossed arms. They only had about 20 more minutes until she had to face their father. She was going to enjoy them while they lasted.
Let me know what you think!
Chapter 15: These Are the Moments You Can't Pass By
Vanya has the best brothers. Also, the best friends.
I wanted this up yesterday, but then I got stuck at 700 words. Then I got unstuck and found myself with almost triple that. So here we are.
Chapter title is from "Miracle" by Shinedown
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
In the end, the burn on her back was the last thing treated, mainly because she and Luther both began vomiting upon entering the Academy.
The chemical burns were small and superficial, but that didn’t mean that the chemicals themselves weren’t dangerous. Slowly, the droplets that had hit and seared their skin had leached into their bloodstreams, which meant hemodialysis as soon as they could be moved to the medicine room. Then, Mom was treating Diego, measuring brain function and icing the wound while they waited for the blood to be purified. Then, Mom was looking over Quentin, Ben, and Klaus, all of whom were scratched and bruised, but none of them injured enough to even require stitching.
She’d been waiting so long that she almost forgot to have Mom look at her back, until Klaus stopped her before she could leave the room, pointing silently at the massage style table in the opposite corner of the room with an uncharacteristically stern frown.
Finally, Mom was able to start working on her back. She kicked the boys out of the room, only allowing Klaus to stay after Vanya had asked for someone to stay and hold her hand through it. Quentin had made a bid for it, but she’d refused, knowing that, of all her siblings, Klaus was the only one who could be trusted to compartmentalize well enough to actually be able to distract her.
He sat on the floor beneath the table, holding her hand in his own and talking about a dream he’d once had that he was an Irish teenager, arrested for eating pick n’ mix. She didn’t quite know what that was, but it had her giggling anyway, even as she cried while Mom had to cut most of her shirt off of her, then pick bits of singed and blackened fabric from where it had melted and attached itself to her burnt back.
The burns were second degree-- not too bad, all things considered, but they’d take a few weeks to heal, and would make it pretty damn impossible for her to sleep on her back like she usually did. After numbing the area, Mom cleaned and dressed the burns, then left to retrieve a new shirt for the now topless Vanya.
Klaus wiped the tears from her cheeks and sent her a broad, reassuring grin, one she tremulously returned. He kept chattering about nothing as they waited for Mom to return.
It took a couple of minutes before she did, clutching one of Luther’s t-shirts, with an apology for not finding anything better suited. Vanya was quick to dismiss it, remembering that she hadn’t left any clothes here when she’d left, and Luther’s shirt was as good as any. The top made her feel even more diminutive than she usually did, resembling more of a tent that a shirt on her tiny frame, but it was comfortable and wasn’t stuck tight to her skin like one of her own might have been, even with her proclivity for looser clothing.
Klaus was laughing when he emerged from under the table, and he wrapped both arms around her, careful to avoid the bandaged area, and tugged her close to his chest.
“I keep forgetting how tiny you are,” he mumbled into her hair as he dropped a kiss there, and she made a halfhearted swat at his side before returning the hug, squeezing her brother tightly around the waist. He was warm and still smelled like sweat and smoke, but also like vodka, with a hint of whatever Bath and Body Works body spray he’d splurged on that month, and the smell was comforting and familiar. She could fall asleep right there, she thought, and realized with a start that she’d only slept for two hours at most the night before, and unrestfully at that.
She pulled half-away, one arm still wrapped around his waist, but the other dangling at her side as she urged him to follow her from the room, Mom trailing behind them. They met up with the others back in the drawing room, and were told by a grimacing Quentin that they’d already debriefed with their Father, and that the old man had asked for the five people not currently residing under his roof to vacate the premises. They’d told him what Ben had come up with before-- that they were all already nearby and saw Luther’s mission gear, and figured they’d help out. Their father had taken the information rather well, all things considered, and told them that the job had been done satisfactorily, the biochemical agent and the information on it having been destroyed in the flames, then left for his study.
She didn’t know what she’d done for the good fortune of avoiding a conversation with him, but she was grateful.
Diego, too, was fully amused by the sight of Vanya in Luther’s shirt, and thought they were more tactful about it, she could tell Ben and Luther himself were too. Quentin, on the other hand, refused to address it; he did, however, inform her that he’d decided that he was going to stay by her apartment for a few days, because he didn’t trust her to be able to take care of the burn on her own. She wanted to argue, but the giddy feeling that arose at the thought of not having to be alone stopped her.
Mom had told Diego, in full earshot of the others, that the head injury meant he wasn’t to drive, a fact Ben reminded him of when he asked Quentin for his car keys back. Number Six took the keys instead, insisting on taking Diego home, while Vanya was also once again barred from driving, with Quentin taking the keys this time.
Luther and Mom walked them to the door. He hugged Vanya, then Klaus when he insisted on grabbing for him, and everyone took turns hugging Mom, Diego taking a much longer time than any of the others had. They then made their way to their cars, Ben, Klaus, and Diego making sure to hug Vanya before they left.
Diego whispered an apology in her ear before he pulled away from the hug, and she gave him a confused look.
“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you. I said I did, because Luther was saying he didn’t, and I’m a contrary asshole, but I didn’t-- I’m sorry. I’m just sorry, I guess.”
Vanya giggled. “That’s the most self-aware thing I think I’ve ever heard you say.” He glared at that, and she rolled her eyes. “Seriously, though, it’s all good. I didn’t expect you to believe me immediately, or even at all.” She pressed pulled him down and rose to her toes to press a kiss to his forehead. “Now go home and get some sleep. Call Eudora. If she’s pissed, she’ll tell you, especially if you apologize for not taking her before she says anything. And chill out a little bit. Let your head heal.”
He scoffed. “I’ll chill when you do.” He pressed his lips to her hair in his own kiss, and hugged her once more. “I love you, Van,” he said, and she was concerned for a moment about the uncharacteristic openness he was displaying, but she discarded it to enjoy the moment before it ended. It was something her therapist kept telling her to do-- “You lose the moments that mean the most because you’re worried about the ones that come after them,” she told her. “You’re allowed to let yourself enjoy things.”
She had trouble with it a lot, but she was getting better.
Vanya and Quentin left, Number Five graciously allowing her to sit in the passenger seat instead of laying across the back on her stomach like Ben had made her do. She found herself regretting it pretty quickly; the way the seat pressed against the burn was uncomfortable at the best of times. She knew what Quentin would say if he knew, though, so she kept that to herself.
They got back to her apartment late, at around six, the hemodialysis and burn treatment having taken a few hours. Toni was waiting in front of her door when they got there, armed with wine and the first season of Brooklyn 99 , mascara smudged under her eyes.
“Why don’t either of you answer your phones?” she accused instead of a greeting, but didn’t wait for a response. “I just had the day from hell and I need to not be drinking alone, and--” she paused, finally looking at Vanya’s appearance. “Why are you wearing a tent?”
Vanya grimaced, and ushered her inside. She left Quentin to answer her while went to her room to remove her shoes and exchange her jeans for sweatpants, leaving Luther’s shirt where it was. It was comfortable-- she already favored looser clothing, and the shirt smelled like Luther and like fabric softener, which reminded her of Mom, who always smelled a little like Downey-- and it made her feel warm and cozy in a way her own shirts never did. Maybe it was the comfort of remembering she had someone who’s clothes she could take, or maybe it was the comfort of who the shirt belonged to, or maybe it was just because it was big, and big clothes were the comfiest.
She emerged, and didn’t know what Quentin had told Toni, but it left her friend looking at her like she wanted to rip her head off.
“I’d like to remind you, my dear, stupid Vanya, that your siblings are superheroes, and you are squishy and too important to too many people to be dying for people who should be able to protect themselves.”
“He was about to die, Toni!”
“I don’t care if Luther dies. I don’t know Luther. I do know you, and I love you, and if you die I will fucking kill you, because you are important and special and the only person I’ve ever met who understands and supports my undying hatred for artists who think color theory is a good excuse to paint an entire canvas red and act like it’s modern art. Now you will sit down, and not drink any of this wine because I don’t know what kind of pain meds you took or will take but I will not let you mix that shit with alcohol, and you will watch Brooklyn 99 with me until we inevitably fall asleep while Quentin makes us dinner because he loves us and is probably the most stable right now.”
Quentin, who was already halfway through opening a carton of eggs to make omelets, threw one at Toni, who caught it deftly and threw it back.
“I want mushrooms in mine, please,” she told him with a shit-eating grin on her face, and Quentin stared.
“You disgust me,” he replied, but he was already pulling out the mushrooms for her, which eliminated any heat from the words.
With her own grin on her face, Vanya let Toni pull her onto the couch and pillow her head on Toni’s thigh, and motioned for Toni to begin her “I hate everyone at that stupid museum” rant.
She was already dreading the numerous lectures she was bound to receive, but she found that at the moment, she couldn’t quite manage to really care.
Things were good, she found herself thinking, trying to squash down the tiny voice in her head shouting that they wouldn’t stay that way for long.
Please note: I am not a medical professional, so IDK if hemodialysis is the appropriate treatment for unknown chemicals in the blood, nor do I know how much it would fix things. I know that in theory, it should work.
Also: Diego's a soft boi who loves his mom and his sister, and I want him to be soft with Vanya goddamnit, so that's how we got this.
Also: I don't want Toni and Vanya together, but it's getting harder and harder to stop myself from shipping them, so we'll see what happens.
Also: Vanya in her brother's clothes is my aesthetic, and born of my own love for the shirts I stole from my father's drawer after he died. The size difference for them is bigger-- Tom Hopper is 6"5 and Ellen Page is 5"1, while my dad was 6"4 and I'm 5"6 ish-- but the idea remains. I live for it.
Also: Klaus is pure and I love him.
Also: I live for your comments, so please let me know how you liked (or disliked) the chapter!
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 16: Strange Situations I Get Anxious (Pray That They Don't Call Me Thankless)
Things aren't great. Then they are. Then they're both at once.
IDK how this got so long but holy crap. A lot happens. Not all of it good.
AKA I wasn't willing to let go of the Vanya whump so this happened. IDK if it's any good but I'm giving it to you anyway.
Chapter title is from "Roaring 20's" by Panic! at the Disco.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
In the weeks following her injury, she was steadily more and more thankful for the presence of Quentin at her apartment; she kept ripping the newly healed and tight skin trying to do things on her own, and she got careless and sloppy in numerous other areas, from accidentally stepping on a razor in the shower, slicing gashes into the sole of her foot, to absently letting the knife slip while chopping carrots, cutting a deep slit into her palm (she’d needed stitched for that one, and her supervisor at the theater had not been happy about it.), and even once giving herself a black eye after tripping and hitting it against her bedpost.
Quentin took over for a lot of her household duties, making dinner most nights, carrying the groceries, and taking care of most of the cleaning. Not to mention that she was completely incapable of changing her bandages herself, and needed him to help with that as well. She started feeling guilty by day two, and by day five she was having trouble convincing herself that he wasn’t going to resent her for any of this. By the time he trusted her to stay on her own, she was moments away from kicking him out herself, if only for the sake of their relationship. The balance had been massively shifted, from the two of them being helpful and doing things for each other in mostly equal measure, to Quentin doing almost everything, and Vanya feeling like she wasn’t doing enough to give him reason to stick around.
Dr. Garnett kept trying to tell her that if Quentin was upset about what he was doing, he, of all people, would’ve told her or stopped by now, and Vanya was trying to listen-- really, she was-- but it was proving more and more difficult to believe her.
As thankful as she was for him, she knew it was only a matter of time before he ran off.
She realized how easy it was to feel-- not good, not really, but better-- when she still thought things were pretty even. Dr. Garnett also kept trying to tell her that her perception of “even” was skewed, that she was doing much more than anyone else and that she kept thinking of friendships and relationships as something she had to constantly sacrifice things for, while other people just spending time in her vicinity was enough for her to think they were committed like she was.
But what else was she supposed to think? Except for those two months after she’d saved Ben, Vanya was always the one who had to initiate conversations. If she wanted to join on their games, she’d have to prove she could keep up before she even asked. If she wanted to go on outings with them, she had to remember to as Quentin if she could come along, because no one else would remember to invite her. Now, if she wanted to speak to her siblings, she usually had to call them. If she wanted to spend time with them, she had to invite them out. It was the way things worked-- if she wanted a relationship, she had to put in all the effort. She was taught, not to expect people to want to stay, but that she had to give them reason to.
What was she to do now that she was being barred from putting in the effort? Now that she was taking and taking and unable to give the way she was used to? Now that Sunday dinners were being cooked by Quentin on Vanya’s nights? Now that he was the one cleaning up before her lessons?
How was she going to make him stay?
Allison called Vanya two weeks after they saved Luther, and immediately demanded answers, which she provided as best she could over the phone. With Allison in California though, and filming beginning too soon for her to catch a flight home, it was all she could really do.
She accepted it more easily than Vanya had been expecting. So easily, in fact, that soon enough, conversation had turned to talk of the honeymoon and how she was handling marriage and motherhood. She extracted a promise from her sister for her to come home and visit as soon as they felt Claire was old enough to fly, and swore she’d keep her updated on developments with her “powers,” then hung up so Allison could go take care of her daughter, whose wails could be heard across the line.
She was happy to note that Allison hadn’t been upset with the messages she’d been left, and understood immediately what Vanya had been venturing to do. She’d had her doubts, especially after the gentle teasing she’d received from Ben about the way she’d phrased the messages.
It was a good confidence booster, at least, and a good way to feel fulfilled, especially after the weeks spent convinced everyone would start hating her sooner or later. Gratitude only lasted so long.
Long enough, at least, for Luther to keep in frequent touch for the month following the vision. Before, she’d call him every two weeks or so, exchanging pleasantries and keeping each other updated on their lives. After, he started calling a couple of times a week. He told her he was looking into moving out, trying to find a job and an apartment, and told her he was tired of living at home by himself while the rest of them had their own lives. It was a new development, and she wasn’t sure what it was born of (Toni had suggested that maybe he felt bad that his devotion to doing whatever their father said had gotten Vanya hurt. Quentin said, hopefully, that he thought maybe Luther was just finally growing up, but he also looked like he privately agreed with Toni.) but she was happy for him. She told him to call Ben, because she knew the bookstore he worked at was looking for a security guy-- the pay wouldn’t be great, but just having a big guy standing there looking threatening would help, and it would at least be enough to get himself a small apartment somewhere-- and she said he’d be more than welcome to crash on her couch until he found a place of his own if he wanted to leave sooner, an offer he politely declined.
Diego was also calling her more frequently and checking in, which was strange, because before, he’d only call when he needed help, leaving her to do the basic “what’s up in your life these days” calls. She figured that the recent scare had motivated him into changing, the same way it did when they were 15, and that it would stop after a couple of months, but she was grateful for even just the momentary contact.
She didn’t trust it, but she was grateful for it.
Eventually, things returned to normal as she’d predicted, or at least, the normal that had been established prior to the reveal of her visions. No one said anything about them to her, and she didn’t bring them up either, and soon enough, the burns healed and they all moved on.
And it was fine. Really, it was. She finally felt like she was doing enough again, or at least that no one was seconds away from dropping her for not pulling her weight. The talks she was dreading about her self-sacrificing tendencies never materialized, nor did anyone bring up the manuscript or its contents. She was spending time with Toni, and was seeing Helen, Andrew, Angie, and David more outside of rehearsal. She started writing more, mostly harmless poems stemming from her own, stream of consciousness style venting on her typewriter. She felt… again, not good, but better and better.
It was getting easier to talk to people, at least, and she wasn’t being overwhelmed by crushing loneliness most of the time. Which was as good as she was hoping to get, so overall she was pretty satisfied.
Probably the best marker of how well life was going was the fact that she was going through pills more and more slowly. She used to take them all the time, popping one any time things got overwhelming or she got anxious, which was pretty frequently. She had been averaging six pills a day, taking them like a reflex before rehearsal, or anytime she finished talking to someone. It got to the point where even putting a pill in her mouth calmed her down.
But as the weeks wore on, she stopped needing to take them so frequently. She woke up one morning and realized she’d only taken the prescribed minimum one with breakfast and one with dinner the day before. She got home from rehearsal one day and found that she hadn’t even noticed that she’d left the bottle on her nightstand by accident.
One day, she skipped her doses altogether, and felt good. Really good. So she skipped them the next day too.
That’s when things started going to shit.
She snapped at one of her students when they messed up and startled them so bad that they cried. She started crying at a commercial she’d seen dozens of times before, so uncontrollably that Quentin thought someone had died when she called him. She got a terrible migraine that laid her up in bed, ice pack behind her neck, so photosensitive she could barely squint at her phone enough to cancel movie night. (Toni and Quentin still came over with pizza and enough painkillers to make an elephant go numb.) The next day, she had a sudden, reasonless panic attack while she was crossing the street that made her hyperventilate so badly she almost passed out right there in the crosswalk. She was so off at rehearsal that Helen cornered her afterwards and threatened her with bodily harm if she showed up sick again take care of yourself, Vanya, goddamnit, you’re going to wind up dead at this rate , which sent her spiraling into another panic attack. (Helen got so scared that she actually apologized, which was actually quite nice.)
She got home and immediately took a pill, swearing to herself that she wouldn’t go off of them again.
Of course, by then it was too late, and the withdrawal had sent her immune system into a tailspin so bad that what should have been a minor bout with a cold ended up being a sinus infection that hit her like a truck. She completely forgot to cancel dinner with Ben and Klaus-- she forgot it was even a thing-- and she answered the door, confused, wrapped in a blanket and miserably squinting at them with red, teary eyes.
Next thing she knew, her brothers were all converging on her apartment and she was being smothered with blankets and force fed cough syrup by Klaus and Diego, who had apparently called Mom, because he left for a couple of hours and returned with a trunk full of her specially made “Get Well Soon” chicken soup, while Luther and Quentin debated taking her to a doctor to have her looked at in hushed voices in the kitchen like she couldn’t hear them talking about her and Ben stared at her with wide and terrified eyes as he held her tightly to his chest as if he could cuddle away the fever.
Luther must have told Allison, because she was getting calls every two hours asking how she was feeling and if she should book a flight home and no matter how many times she said she’d be fine, there was another call two hours later, telling her she could be home by tomorrow if she just says the word. In the end, it took Quentin and Ben both swearing that they were taking care of her and that they’d call her the second she was needed for her to stop calling so often. Diego theorized that she was probably suffering from new mom exhaustion and was looking for an excuse to leave Claire for a few days, which Luther took strong offense to on Allison’s behalf. Vanya decided it might be best not to admit to him that she thought Diego might be right-- it at least made more sense than Allison being that concerned over what was really just a bad sinus infection.
She didn’t know if Quentin called Toni or if she’d just showed up on her own, because suddenly she was there too, armed with a box of tea she swore healed her mom of pneumonia in two days last spring. Then, Helen came by with a stuffed bear and a thank you for taking her advice and staying the fuck home , which everyone took offense to, because as if they were going to let her leave the house in this condition. Angie, David, and Andrew also paid her a visit, although they, like Helen, left pretty quickly when they saw how many people were already inhabiting her apartment.
Vanya didn’t know how they all avoided catching what she’d had. It was a full week before she was feeling better, during which only Luther and Diego ever left the apartment. She was dizzy, disoriented, and out of it for most of that time, but even so was left with a feeling of comfort that lasted long after she was healed, just from knowing that she’d had so many people there for her.
She was also convinced that she’d be making up for all the work they did for months to come.
But again, that was fine. As long as she didn’t do something stupid like stop taking her meds again, she’d have no trouble with that.
It was fine. It had to be. Right?
Fun fact: Other potential names for this chapter included "Medicating Every Day to Keep the Straightness in Order" (from Old Fashioned by Panic!) and "What Have I Got to Do (To Make You Stay)" (from "Make You Stay" by Girl and the Dreamcatcher) and "High As the Sun (Uncomfortably Numb)" (from "One of the Drunks", also by Panic!)
AKA Panic had a lot of great lines for this chapter. They might make a reappearance, because the pun on "straight" is too good to pass up.
I know y'all are gonna be pissed that I took her off the meds then put her back on them, but it needed to happen, okay? Just trust me on this.
Also, I love Helen. This has been a PSA.
I really hope you liked it! Let me know!
Chapter 17: When You Smile I Fall Apart (And I Thought I Was So Smart)
Allison and Claire come to town and Vanya's world comes crashing down
I'm sorry in advance for this.
Chapter title is from "Dear Theodosia" from Hamilton
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She should have known it wouldn’t stay buried forever.
A year after the sinus infection from hell, things were going pretty well. As well as could be expected anyway. She was closer with her family than she’d ever been before and she had friends and a job and an apartment and she was still single, but she didn’t want a relationship anyway, at least not yet.
Allison was in town, finally, for a film premiere, and she had brought Claire with her to see her aunt and uncles. They stayed for a week, crashing in Vanya’s apartment, and the one and a half year old was a pure delight, bright and curious, and was already able to attach faces to most of the names she’d heard. (Quentin pretended he didn’t care, but she was sure she saw a touched tear slip down his cheek when Allison had asked Claire where “Uncle Q” was and she reached straight for him.)
Her brothers followed Allison and Claire to Vanya’s apartment, and it was soon overrun with people at all hours. Between her lessons and her siblings, she started getting rather claustrophobic, and was popping pills like candy just to deal with the stress of being around so many people all the time. And yet, she couldn’t bear to kick them out, nor her siblings, the charm of their interactions and the satisfaction of being needed far outweighing any anxiety she felt.
She had a strange, yet adorable fascination with Diego, gleefully shouting “Dee-o! Dee-o!” whenever he walked into the room, and clapping for him as he expertly tossed foam darts into a bucket for her amusement. She treated Luther like her own personal jungle gym and loved it when he picked her up, calling him “Oo-fa” and reaching out for him with both arms. He picked her up once and tossed her in the air, and she made him do it over and over, which he did happily, if only to hear her giggle.
She liked reading with Ben-- he would read book after book out loud to her, until his voice grew hoarse, at which point she’d take over, babbling nonsense as she flipped clumsily through the pages, pointing at the pictures like he did and changing her tone, and he’d fake shock or laugh uproariously when she looked at him for a response. He was also the only person whose name she could actually pronounce, which made him inordinately proud.
Quentin tried avoiding her, but it really didn’t work out too well. She’d toddle after him every time he left the room, and climb up onto his lap while he sat on Vanya’s couch, and yet she noticed that as much as he grumbled about it, he was never quick to make her move. He was in the process of working on his doctoral thesis for his physics Ph.D., and he was spending a lot of nights on the couch of Vanya’s apartment anyway, making her play for him while he researched and wrote because he claimed it helped him focus, and that didn’t change with the presence of Allison and Claire. While her sister shared Vanya’s bed, Claire’s pack n’ play, where she was sleeping, was in the living room, and Vanya woke up one morning and came out to the living room to find Quentin explaining his thesis to Claire, the little girl listening attentively and making inquisitive little noises when he paused for breath. He stopped when he saw Vanya watching with a faint smile on her face, but he did look at Allison when she too emerged from the bedroom and told her stoically that Claire was “absolutely brilliant” and “probably had more brain cells than everyone else in this goddamned family put together.” He stopped avoiding her so much after that.
If she loved the other boys, she absolutely adored Klaus, the two of them imprinting on each other almost immediately. Quentin said that it was because he had the brain of a toddler, and Ben attributed it his childlike emotional maturity. Klaus himself refused to comment on their assumptions, claiming Claire was a gift and a delight and obviously recognized true greatness when she saw it. He was also shockingly good with her (well, it was shocking to Allison, at least. She didn’t know what her brothers thought, and Vanya herself wasn’t surprised in the slightest-- he could be a downright terrifying mother hen when he wanted to be. It was just usually only around her that it came out). He understood her babbling almost perfectly, and he could spend hours sitting on the floor with her, playing games and carrying on a conversation as if she were his own age. It didn’t matter who she was spending time with; the second Klaus arrived, Claire went for him immediately. He knew exactly how to hold her, and Allison sounded almost jealous when she told Vanya that he was better at changing her diaper than she was.
Vanya, meanwhile, was slightly scared of her. When Claire was in a good mood, she didn’t seem to want to give Vanya the time of day, preferring instead to play with the boys. And she wasn’t offended shut up Q, she wasn’t. She saw it coming, to be honest. It was sad, but she wasn’t surprised.
On their second day in her apartment though, Claire had a meltdown and not even Klaus and Allison could calm her down. Allison was reaching her wit’s end, and finally she just passed the little girl on to Vanya with a frustrated sob. To everyone’s surprise, the toddler suddenly just stopped. Her teary eyes went wide and the sobs stopped, and Vanya returned the gaze with her own wide-eyed one, marveling as Claire slowly broke out into a grin and placed a chubby palm on her face. Allison was obviously taken aback, and she reached for her daughter again, only for her to start screaming again the second she left Vanya’s arms. Exhausted by her meltdown, she fell asleep against Vanya’s shoulder, and she sat stock still on the couch for two hours with her asleep on top of her, refusing to move an inch, lest she wake up. Her butt was numb by the time she woke up on her own, and her arms ached from maintaining her position for so long, but still she could not move, heart light and full as she cuddled her niece to her chest.
After that, Claire was passed on to her every time she started crying, and it was like a switch was thrown. Klaus said that she must be attracted to her innate peace and serenity, and Vanya didn’t know if he was joking or if he meant it, but she wanted to laugh-- what inner peace? She was basically made of anxiety and fear. But still, Diego certainly wasn’t joking when he nodded his agreement, and Allison confirmed that she always seemed to manage to exude a calmness that was very appealing, even when they were kids. Luther had laughed, said that he used to say she and Ben were like the people versions of Xanax. Quentin had simply shrugged, said that he had told them she was a brilliant girl, and tactfully looked away when Vanya started blushing.
She also seemed completely enamored by the violin. She was practicing one afternoon, and the second the bow hit the strings, Claire dropped the blocks she was holding and stared, watching intently as Vanya went through the Mozart piece she needed to have down by the next day. She let out an impatient cry when Vanya stopped, and walked over to pull on her pants, stopping and plopping down right at her feet when she lifted the violin once more, this time making her way through a Phantom of the Opera medley that she always seemed to launch into when she was bored. Allison declared that she was sending her to Vanya for music lessons the second she was old enough to hold a violin, and Vanya was quick to agree.
Friday movie night was a larger affair that week, with her entire family crashing. Toni had taken one look at Claire and declared that she was “absolutely fucking adorable” and was going to sit on her lap for duration of the movie, which, with regard to her niece, ended up being “How to Train Your Dragon.” Toni said it was the prettiest thing she’d watched in months, and the film got even Diego and Quentin to shed a tear by the end. Vanya was personally not all that impressed with the plot-- did they really need Astrid to become a love interest?-- but Claire looked like she was in love, so she decided not to say anything.
The premiere was quite the fancy affair, and Allison insisted that Vanya had to be her date. Klaus had quite a time doing her makeup for the evening, letting Claire pick the lipstick color, and Angie, who was around her size, lent her a dress for the occasion, given the only formal wear Vanya owned was a tux that she wore for concerts, which she had only just remembered to take to the dry cleaners and wouldn’t be ready in time.
She tried to avoid pictures as much as she could, but her sister still managed to pull her into way more than she had ever been in in her life. The movie wasn’t great, or at least, wasn’t to her tastes, but Allison was wonderful in it, and she was pleased to have been her sister’s choice companion for the evening.
The last night of Allison and Claire’s stay, Vanya hosted everyone for a large dinner party, ordering in from one of the fancier restaurants in town and renting a large folding table and chairs for the evening. She kicked everyone out for the two hours prior to dinner so she could set up, and she really thought she might have overdone it, with candles (fake, because of Claire, but they looked real), and fancy plastic utensils made to look like silverware, and fairy lights strung around the room, but she told herself it was worth it.
And yet, dinner was one of the most awkward affairs of her life. Everyone seemed to be exchanging looks, and she was positive Diego was pissed off about something, but everytime she thought to bring it up, someone changed the subject, or Claire started flinging her mashed potatoes around the room, or even, on one occasion, Klaus stood up and started declaiming in an awul, over-exaggerated British accent about how devastating it was that Allison and Claire had to leave.
After Allison put Claire to bed, the pack n’ play in the bedroom for the evening, Vanya found herself cornered when she tried to stand to clear the table.
“We need to talk,” Luther announced, and her heart dropped like a stone.
“About what?” she asked, voice trembling.
“We read your book,” Allison told her. “And we have a lot of questions.”
And things were going so well. I'm sorry. (Not really, but whatever.) There's more I wanted to say, but I have to run.
Any theories on how they'll react? Let me know!
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 18: Hey Guys It's Me (The Biggest Disappointment You Know)
They can't ask any questions if you answer them before they get a chance to try.
I hope this means people will be less angry with me. But I have no idea how you are going to react to this chapter so we'll see what happens.
Chapter title is from "Breathe" from In the Heights.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Allison’s words sent her scrambling for her pill bottle in her pocket, and she downed the last one in it, swallowing it dry, then tossed the bottle at the recycling bin in the corner. Quentin watched its arc with unhappy eyes.
“That bottle was full four days ago,” he noted, and she put as much venom into her glare as possible.
“Don’t give me that crap, Q. What the fuck did you do?”
“Why do you assume-”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot there was someone else in the room that knew about the book.”
“Actually-” Ben said, but she cut him off with a glare towards him as well.
She started breathing heavily, and struggled to get herself back under control. The pill was going decently far at helping that, but a single look at Diego’s angry face made the panic start welling in her chest again. Slowly, she bit out through gritted teeth, “That manuscript was in a safe deposit box that only I had the key to.”
“You should really have hid it better,” Quentin dared to comment.
“You stole the key?!” She wasn’t sure what shocked her about that, and yet she couldn’t stop the shocked skip in heartbeat. “You… you-- You had no right. You had absolutely no right. You promised-- you swore that you wouldn’t tell them-- Q, you knew I didn’t want them reading it; how could you?”
She sobbed, and tears started streaming from her eyes. Allison and Klaus both moved to comfort her, but she shook them off, standing and moving to the living room, arms wrapped around herself.
“They needed to--”
“No, they didn’t. I told y-- I saw what would happen if they read it!” She whirled around to face the obstinate Number Five, who was still attempting to defend himself. “I told you what would happen! You’ve ruined everything, Quentin! Everything!”
She started marching for her bedroom, but Luther’s frame was quick to block the door. “Stop. We need to talk about this.”
“There’s nothing to discuss!” she insisted. “I wrote a book! A terrible, awful book that I typed out on a stupid old typewriter I bought on a whim. And I wrote it because I was lonely. Because none of you had time for me and I spent a month on my own and I was venting to nothing and I barely even knew what I wrote until I finished it and I looked back at it and then I locked it in a box under my bed and I swore to myself I would never do anything with it, but then I realized that I’d spent an entire month completely off the grid and none of you had noticed at all, had even bothered trying to get in touch with me and I was crushed by an overwhelming feeling of being completely worthless and then I called Quentin and I called the rest of you and I felt better and then, weeks later, I didn’t and I wanted to publish it because I thought that even you guys hating me would be better than barely remembering I existed and I was going to send it to a publisher but then I had a dream and I saw what would happen if I did and I realized that it wasn’t. It was so much worse. It was so much fucking worse. And I brought it to Quentin because I didn’t know what else to do and I was going to burn it but he read it when I was asleep and he didn’t want to burn it because he thought it was well-written so we compromised and I locked it away and you weren’t. Supposed. To know.”
“And that’s what you think of us?” Vanya had never heard her sister’s voice sound so broken, and it gave her pause.
“That crap you wrote in that book,” Diego interrupted. He was angry and red-faced and practically spitting. “It was vile and awful and I cannot believe that you would ever even think, even for a second, about putting it out there.”
“You think I don’t know that?” she pleaded. “I do! That’s why you weren’t meant to read it! I was ashamed and embarrassed and I wrote things that I thought-- that I genuinely thought-- in the most unfair, awful parts of heart, thoughts that never should’ve been put into words and I didn’t want any of you to read it because if you knew, I knew you would never forgive me. And even worse, I knew how badly it would hurt you and I don’t-- I never, ever want to see you that hurt again. Any of you.”
Diego paused, then scoffed and stood, heading for the door.
Vanya was tempted to beg, to plead with him, but in the end, there was only one appropriate thing to say. “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry, Diego.”
He paused once more at the door, and then shook his head and left the apartment.
Her heart broke at the slamming of the door, but when Quentin stood to go after him, saying that he’d talk to him, that he’d stop him, she shook her head.
“No. He has every right to be upset and my apology does not guarantee his forgiveness. Either he’ll forgive me in his own time or he won’t, but after what I said about him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he never wanted to see me again.” Reluctantly, she looked at everyone else. “The same goes for you. If you want to walk out-- if you hate me, I won’t blame you.”
She collapsed into a chair and put her head down on the table, waiting to hear footsteps headed for the door. To her utter and complete shock, however, a warm hand pressed against her back, and she lifted her head to see Klaus and Ben both looking at her with soft eyes and softer smiles.
“I could never hate you,” Ben promised, and she stared, uncomprehendingly. “You didn’t-- maybe I’m biased, because there wasn’t anything all that bad written about me, but even if there was, you’re still my sister, and I love you.”
“Besides,” Klaus added. “You wrote this-- what was it? Two years ago? Two and a half years ago? We were all garbage people two and a half years ago, so it’s not like any of it was wrong. To be honest, we’re all still kind of garbage people. Except now ‘ignoring our sister and forgetting she exists’ isn’t on our list of garbage traits.”
Despite herself, Vanya giggled a touch, then sighed. “It’s not-- I don’t blame you. For any of that. I’m not-- I was upset because I was lonely, but it’s not like you guys weren’t adults with your own lives. I was shit at making friends so I didn’t have anyone other than you, but that’s not your responsibility to fix. That’s my own fault.”
Luther sat down on her other side, and placed a hand on her forearm. “Listen-- I’m not going to lie; that shit you wrote hurt. And it was unfair and narrow-sighted, and definitely all true, but also ignored a lot of our side of the story, and that hurt. But we’re not-- we don’t hate you for it. We’re upset, but we don’t hate you.”
“I hate myself for this shit more than I could ever hate you,” Allison admitted, leaning back in her chair and staring at the ceiling. “What we-- we were awful to you as kids, and we tried for like, two months, but we definitely didn’t try hard enough before or after that, and if we had tried harder… if we had just tried to give a damn…”
“Don’t,” Vanya pleaded. “Please don’t think any of this was your fault. I did something awful, writing that manuscript, and my second mistake was telling Quentin about it--” She paused to glare at her brother, who was sitting on the couch, looking upsettingly guilt-free. “See if I ever trust you with something like this again, by the way-- and I should have… I should’ve just burned it before anything like this happened.”
Ben and Luther embraced her from either side, and Klaus, never one to be left out of a good cuddle, pounced on top of Ben, long arms reaching around to pull her even closer.
“Don’t be too mad at Quentin for this,” Ben murmured in her ear. “Diego and I remembered you mentioning a book, and we begged him to tell us about it, to let us read it. He didn’t want to, at first, but I’d found the key to the safe deposit box, and we bribed him with free coffee for the next three months to take us to it.”
“Yeah, and when that didn’t work,” Klaus interjected, loudly enough for everyone to hear, “we appealed to his ever-growing desire to let all of your secrets hit the open air for your own benefit.”
“And when that didn’t work,” Quentin said, “they said they’d find a way to read it without me and I knew that this would be the best way to moderate the reactions. I’m not sorry they saw it-- I told you they needed to. But I am sorry that it got sprung on you like this.”
Klaus’s head popped up, almost cartoonishly, from where it rested on top of Ben’s, and he swung around to gape at Quentin. “Did you just… apologize? Is the world coming to an end? You just--”
It took a few minutes, but finally, her siblings released her, and she shakily made her way over to the couch, adrenaline from the panic attack leaving her jittery and exhausted. She collapsed next to Quentin and picked up a throw pillow, swinging it at him. It collided with a satisfying smack. He squawked indignantly.
“That’s for not letting me burn the damn thing when I had a chance.” She then hugged him, and it was testament to their relationship that he didn’t push her away, and even leaned into it.
“For trying to keep my secrets even when you don’t want to.”
Please don't be too mad at Diego. He's not a bad person, he's just completely shit at dealing with his feelings.
I didn't want him to be the only person upset at what was written, but with how the characters have developed in the story, it didn't make sense for anyone else to despise her, or get so angry that they leave, especially with the monologue she goes on.
I didn't want to end the chapter here, but it was a good ending point, and I'm not planning on leaving the next one so long so here we are.
Let me know what you think!
Chapter 19: Forgiveness (Can You Imagine)
The light of day makes Diego more agreeable. The dark of night makes Vanya more uncomfortable.
TW: There is a brief, non graphic depiction of sexual assault in this chapter. I've put asterisks before and after it, and you can skip it if you want to. It's a little gory, but there is nothing worse than "hand in pants" in terms of description of the assault itself, so it's not too bad, but again, if this is something that triggers you, maybe consider skipping that portion.
This chapter is also a little longer, but I wanted to limit the amount of fallout from the book, so next chapter should be moving on in terms of plot.
Chapter title is from "It's Quiet Uptown" from Hamilton. (I didn't want to do another Lin Manuel Miranda line, but it just fit so well, there was no other option.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Luther, Ben, Klaus, and Quentin left the apartment an hour later. Quentin once again offered to go find Diego and talk to him, but Vanya warned him off.
“He needs time. I can give him that. I apologized, and I meant it, and now all I can do is keep the door open for him to come back when he’s ready. If it takes longer than a month or two, then maybe you can talk to him, but for right now, it’s too soon. And that’s okay.”
He looked at her, a proud smile on his face. “When did you get so wise?”
“That’s what happens when you actually go to therapy. You learn how to feel for others, and be aware of their needs.”
“Being aware of other people’s needs was never your problem,” Quentin prodded, his smile flipping to a soft frown. “It’s being aware of your own that you need to work on.”
After they left, she lay in bed next to Allison, and felt her sister turn to wrap her in an embrace.
“I’m sorry about Diego.”
“There’s nothing to be sorry about.”
“I’m sorry about me too.”
“Again, you have nothing to apologize for.”
“I do. It was two years ago and I get that things are different now, but I should’ve paid more attention then. I could’ve called during that month that you went off the grid, but I got so busy with my own… my own shit that I stopped noticing or caring. I haven’t always been the best sister--”
“Stop. We’ve had this conversation before. And things are different now, I get it, but the last time you said something like that to me, things got better for a month and then everything went back to the way it was before. I don’t want… I don’t want that. I don’t want to be waiting for you to forget again. I don’t want an apology for something that I know won’t matter nearly as much to you when you’re not feeling guilty. Just… Can we just be here? Tonight? Can we forget about who did what wrong and appreciate that we’re sisters and we’re here together, and we’ve been talking and we’re going to keep talking, and can we not have any expectations for what’s going to happen when we get up tomorrow morning?”
Vanya turned, one arm going around Allison’s waist, and she lay her head on her sister’s chest.
“I love you.”
“I love you too. Goodnight, Vanya.”
Allison and Claire took off for LA through a gray, rainy sky, just as Vanya got to rehearsal after taking them to the airport. She was tired, and she knew she was going to pay for all the pills she’d taken over the last week, and the loss of Diego was hitting her harder in the light of day, but Angie and David smiled at her when she walked in, and Andrew and Helen came up being her with smiles of their own, and soon enough, the fivesome were warming up together and trading stories about their weekends.
Vanya kept quiet about the night before, about what had gone down with her family, because how on earth was she supposed to tell them that she’d almost lost everyone she loved the night before because things she wrote 2 years ago refused to stay buried? Even as Andrew whined about a massive fight he’d had with his boyfriend on Saturday, and Angie bemoaned the loss of her goldfish (it had only lasted two weeks before it died. Angie suspected that the pet store gave her the wrong food, but she had no evidence to back that up, and this was the fifth fish that had died in her apartment that year.) Vanya refused to mention the lesser parts of the weekend, instead telling them that dinner with her family had been lovely, and she missed her sister and niece already, and she was happy to have her apartment to herself again.
She started regretting not telling them, though, when David came back from the bathroom with a beaming grin on his face and a tense looking Diego in tow.
She stood and dragged her brother over to the side of the stage, away from prying ears. The conductor was starting to gather everyone for rehearsal, and instead of starting a conversation she begged him to stick around until after they finished, and they could talk on the way home. He reluctantly agreed, and went to take a seat in the audience. She went back to her seat and brushed off the prying looks Helen and Andrew were both shooting her with a shake of her head.
She knew she’d messed up quite a number of times while playing, but Diego still stiffly complimented her when she’d finally put away her violin and come to collect him. She shook her head.
“There’s a reason I’m still third chair, and it’s not because second chair is just that good.” Helen, on the other hand, was that good , and she would be jealous if she didn’t know just how much her friend had dedicated to getting there.
Number Two shuffled awkwardly in place, and sighed. “Walk me home?”
He nodded, and with a wave at her friends, they left.
They’d been walking together for a couple of minutes before he finally spoke. “I hate what you wrote,” he told her, and she nodded.
“I do too. I don’t think I could ever properly tell you how sorry I am--”
“That you wrote it, or that I saw it?”
“Both. Whatever reasons I had, they’re nothing in the long run, and it doesn’t matter, because it was unfair and hurtful, and I should have never let myself go enough to write it.”
“I’m not--” he stopped, and laughed, a little meanly. “I mean, god Vanya, what the fuck was that? What did I-- I mean, I know I was never the b-b-best brother to you, b-b-but did you r-r-really think I was that bad?” His childhood stutter started making a reappearance, and she could tell how upset that was making him, but she refused to use his hesitation to get her own words in. “I-I get that your s-s-s-s-orry, V, but honestly, I d-d-d-don’t know that I can f-f-forgive you.”
She nodded. “I know, Diego. I’m not expecting you to forgive me. That’s not why I apologized. I said I was sorry because I am, and however long it takes for that to be okay with you is fine with me. I love you, D-”
“Don’t. Don’t say shit like that r-r-right now.”
She nodded again, and they walked in silence for a moment before she spoke again.
“I know you probably hate me right now, and that you don’t… I don’t know. Just… Please don’t disappear? Even if we don’t really talk ever again, just… I don’t know, text me every few weeks? Just to let me know you’re alive?”
He looked heartbroken, and calculating, but he didn’t dispute anything she’d said, and nodded. “I can do that much.”
Relieved, Vanya beamed. It wasn’t forgiveness, but it was enough-- it was more than enough. It was more than she’d dared to hope for.
He kept his promise, texting her the same message at 4:00 every other Sunday: “I’m still alive, I’m still upset, and I’m still working on it.”
She wasn’t sure how long he’d be “working on it for,” but by the fourth time she’d gotten that message, Quentin was insisting on talking to him for her. She kept insisting on him not pushing the matter. He’d come around when he was ready, and in the meantime, at least he was keeping in touch.
Then she got attacked on her way home from Sunday night dinner.
She’d been at Ben and Klaus’s place that night, and Klaus had tried his hands at a twisted version of bacon mac n’ cheese that had tasted delicious, but was sitting very oddly in her stomach as she walked home. Maybe it was the cheese, or maybe the oil from the bacon, but something was making her feel sick, and so she really didn’t notice the guy coming up behind her until he’d pulled her into an alley and started forcing his hand down her pants.
She struggled and fought with him, but she couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe, was panicking and crying and he was around Luther’s size and obviously in shape, and she was tiny and only ever worked out by walking around town instead of driving, and he ended up punching her in the eye and kicking her stomach until she stayed down, then started trying to get into her pants again.
She screamed and cried and he had bright blue eyes that were icy hard as they glared her into submission and a tattoo of snake head next to his left eye that looked like it was about to snap its jaws closed around it and all she could think was oh god, I’m going to be raped by a white guy who thought facial tattoos were a good idea.
She only managed to get away because he tried to cover her mouth with his forearm and she had just the right amount of sanity left to remember to bite him, which she did, hard enough to tear a chunk of flesh from his arm. She made a run for it, and she had his skin under her nails from scratching him and his blood on her face and she could still taste it and god was it disgusting, but she made it onto the street and out into the open before he could get his bearings back enough to chase after her.
She couldn’t really think, or pay attention, and she hardly knew where she was, but she knew Diego and his girlfriend lived closer to where she was than anyone else she knew, and her feet must have known how to get there, even if she couldn’t think of it, because what felt like only seconds later, she was banging on their door.
Eudora answered and stared for a moment while she stood there, shaking, and then she was calling for Diego and leading Vanya inside to sit on the couch.
Her brother came in looking softer than she’d ever seen him, but that changed in the instance he caught sight of her. Then, suddenly he was holding her close to his chest and petting her hair and begging her to calm down and tell him who he had to kill, and that was when she realized she was hyperventilating with panic about what he’d say when he saw her.
“I w-w-w-was going ho-o-o-o-me,” she stuttered out, anxiety and adrenaline making her tongue clumsy and thick in her mouth, “f-f-from Ben and K-K-Kl-aus’s apartment. W-we had d-d-dinner. I… he j-j-just grabbed m-me and I c-c-couldn’t--”
She broke off into sobs and clutched at Diego’s shirt and silently thanked whoever was listening that he didn’t hate her enough to turn her away.
Or at least, she thought it was silent, but apparently it wasn’t because he was suddenly protesting.
“No, Vanya, oh no no no. I never-- I don’t hate you, I never hated you. I’m so so sorry that I ever made you think that.”
Then she was crying even harder and he was trying desperately to make her hear him and she didn’t know if Eudora was trying to pull her away from him or offer her own support but it didn’t matter because she wasn’t going to let go of him or turn around and it didn’t seem like he was letting go anytime soon either.
And there they sat, entwined and together, and she swore to herself that she’d never do anything to hurt him ever again.
Eventually, she calmed down enough to release Diego and go with him and Eudora to the station, where she gave an official statement. They did a rape kit, which almost sent her into hysterics again, but Eudora stood by her side with a hand on her head the entire time. She was reassured by the officer on duty that she was essentially a perfect victim, who was able to provide them with DNA, and there was evidence of the assault, and she remembered enough physical details to make it easy to identify her attacker, and she was sober and dressed modestly, and there was almost no chance of him getting away with any of it. And it sickened her that this was supposed to be a relief, that if any of that was changed, if her pants had been any tighter or her shirt any more low cut or if she was drunk or hadn’t ripped a chunk of flesh out of his arm or hadn’t seen his face that she might not have been believed, or he might have gotten away with it anyway.
Diego took her back to his and Eudora’s place when they were done, and Vanya showered and stole one of his t-shirts and a pair of her sweatpants and slept on their couch with her head on Diego’s lap and his hand in her hair while he sent out a call to the rest of her siblings so that she wouldn’t have to tell them herself.
When she woke up, she apologized to Diego and to Eudora for the hysterics and for taking over their house, to which the only responses she got was shaken heads and insistences that it was totally fine. Diego told her that he was happy she came to him and he was happy she was safe.
“I’m sorry too,” he told her, “for taking so long to forgive you for the book.”
“You had every right--” she protested, but he cut her off.
“I know you think that, but I should’ve… I don’t want you to ever think that I’d be upset to see you. I hate that I made you think I’d be mad that you needed me. I spent way too long being mad about something that was true, probably because it hurt that you were right. And there’s more that should have counted in your favor; that you didn’t publish it like you wanted to, how you were feeling-- how we made you feel-- at the time, that you’re my sister and I should have your back… You deserved more. And I’m not going to say I was wrong to be hurt, that my feelings weren’t valid, but I shouldn’t have held the grudge as long as I did.”
Vanya smirked. “Look at you, being open and honest and swallowing your pride. Now that’s what I call character development.”
“Shut up, or I’ll tell Eudora that you love oatmeal and want that for breakfast.”
“You wouldn’t dare…”
He smirked and pulled her into a hug. “On any other morning, I probably would. I think though, after the night we’ve had, maybe some pancakes are in order.”
She smiled again and wrapped her arms tighter around his waist, burying her face in his stomach and breathing in deep.
She’d missed him. It wasn’t even like this was the longest they’d spent apart, but this was the first time she had really been unsure that he would pick up if she called, or at least, that he wouldn’t call her back. It had taken its toll, and she hated knowing that she’d screwed up so badly that she actually pushed a sibling away.
If she thought about it, she could feel her face throbbing, and a soreness in her stomach where it had quickly turned black and blue, and she could even still taste his blood in her mouth, though she thought that might have just been in her head. But as she went with her brother to the kitchen, she sighed happily and smiled.
Finally, she had her brother back.
So fun fact: I asked my friend if I was putting in too much Vanya whump, and she told me there's never enough whump, so this is her fault. (AKA I already wrote it because I'm a slut for whump and I love dying and being dead, and then I needed confirmation that it wasn't too much.)
ALSO: because this was a matter of concern for some people... Vanya's not off her meds. She's not out of them. Unless I make a really big deal about her being out of them or her not taking them, assume she's taking them twice a day, as normal.
IDK if I rushed the Diego thing or not: he might be a little OOC with how open he is, but I figured if I address it in text, it's fine right? IDK if he forgave too easily, or if I didn't drag it out enough, but my theory is that because of the changed nature of their relationship from the show and the way the manuscript came out, he was more willing to forgive her.
Another fun fact: when i was in the middle of the allison vanya exchange at the beginning of the chapter, I was like "huh, this is strangely familiar" and then I realized I was almost recycling dialogue from chapter three. That's why vanya's like "we've talked about this. stop." It's exactly what I was telling myself when I wrote it.
Also: The orchestra crew are now the Philharmonious Five. It is their nickname. It is official. Stay tuned to find out if it becomes actual canon. I really want to do more with them, and flesh them out into fuller characters. You get a hint of that here, but I want more in the future. We'll see if it happens.
I hope you guys enjoyed! Let me know what you thought! Should I dial back the whump? Not that I can promise I'll listen to that... but like, still. Let me know.
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 20: I'm Not Okay (I Promise)
She's okay. For a minute. Then she isn't.
Chapter title is "Im Not Okay (I promise)" by My Chemical Romance
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Vanya didn’t know how she expected her other brothers to react to the news of the attack, only that she really shouldn’t have been so surprised by what it was.
Ben and Klaus immediately swore off hosting dinners, telling Vanya that they refused to put her into that kind of a situation again.
Quentin couldn’t look her in the eyes for a week afterward, but he once again spent the week crashing on her couch, apparently only able to think she was safe when she was standing right in front of him.
Luther seemed to go completely berserk at the news, and was only calmed down when Vanya jumped onto his back and caught him in a sleeper hold. It wasn’t enough to do any damage, not by a long shot, but the physical contact and his unwillingness to hurt his sister made him stop for long enough to calm down.
Despite her being back in LA, Diego called Allison along with the rest of the family, and she, in turn, called Vanya, worried and concerned and asking if it would help for her to come home. She’d bring Claire and they’d stay a few days and Vanya, remembering the panic that had clawed at her throat most of the time they were staying by her, was not willing to subject herself to another visit quite so soon and insisted she’d be fine.
The day after the attack, Quentin called Toni and caught her up, and even though it was a Monday and she worked late on Mondays, she still ended up at the door to Vanya’s apartment at 4:00 in the afternoon, only minutes after Vanya had gotten home. She brought sweet rosé, the kind with an alcohol content of less than 5%, and over two gallons of ice cream, and face masks that she’d made a special trip to Lush to pick up, and her entire nail polish collection (40 freaking bottles, and she still bought more every time she went to the drug store), and seasons 1 and 2 of the BBC’s Merlin on DVD. She refused to allow Quentin, nor any of her other siblings, entry to the apartment, insisting that it was a girls’ night and men were strictly banned. She then ordered Vanya to invite Helen and Angie over, and any other girl friends she had.
She texted Eudora, on a whim, and was amazed when she showed up only a few minutes after Helen and Angie did. Klaus showed up a few minutes later, and refused to allow Toni to show him away, claiming gender was stupid anyway, and, after Vanya nodded her support, Toni reluctantly allowed him in.
By 7:00, Vanya had already had her nails painted five different colors by Toni (who was predictably steady handed and artistic), Klaus (who made up for his shaky hand with a lot of enthusiasm), and Angie (who showed a surprising aptitude for manicures), and they’d polished off two bottles of wine.
She wouldn’t admit it, but she was pleased with the lack of testosterone in the room. Quentin was the best, but he was generally terrible with dealing with emotional stuff, his pragmatism ruining any efforts to truly connect with the people he was attempting to comfort. Even Helen, cold and calculating as she was, was better than Number Five. Luther and Diego were also useless beyond the initial “protect, cuddle, repeat” stage, and Ben was sensitive, but almost too much so. Her past experiences with him post-traumatic incident told her that he would completely lose it at the first sign of tears, going quiet and wide-eyed and offering hugs left and right because he had no idea what else to do.
Klaus was great with stuff like this though, and she’d made friends with competent, capable women who were amazing with distractions and support, especially after a situation like the one that had transpired the night before.
Toni ordered pizza at 8:30, and Vanya was asleep on the couch between her and Klaus by 9:00. By 10:30, she was awake again, shaky and sweaty and trying desperately to scrub the image of icy blue eyes from her memory. She locked herself in the bathroom and turned the hot water on in the shower, then sat on the floor of the tub in her clothes and tried to steam her skin clean of the feel of his hands.
She couldn’t muster up the energy to turn the water off, even long after it turned cold, and stared, eyes deadened, at the tap, willing it to stop on its own.
Eudora ended up picking the lock on the bathroom door to let herself in after 45 minutes. She turned the water off for her and wrapped her in a towel, then let Klaus past so he could scoop her up into his arms and bring her back to her bedroom.
She fell asleep once again still wrapped in the towel and her soaking wet clothes and then woke up at 6:00 am in her bed, in sweatpants she’d stolen from Quentin and a t-shirt she’d stolen from Ben and a hoodie she’d stolen from Allison when she’d last come home and with no idea how she’d gotten there. She was in the middle of a puppy pile of people-- Klaus was spooning her and Toni was in front of her and Helen and Angie had each curled up by one of her legs and Eudora was stretched out across the foot of the bed and she felt warm and clear and safe.
It scared her how easy it had been to slip from being fine into being a catatonic, exhausted mess. It scared her that she felt fine now, but could feel memories scratching at her with their dirty claws, not just from the attack, but from before then too, memories of shouted “Go away, Vanya!”s and slammed doors and isolation rooms, memories of things that hadn’t even happened, of burning moons and crashing debris and lonely and dead brothers and a family torn apart. It scared her that things she was convinced had been properly hidden away in her mind were coming to the forefront of it again, were coming back to taunt her and mock her and remind her not to get too comfortable where she was. It scared her. It fucking terrified her.
Then she realized she hadn’t taken her meds since Toni had arrived and that had been over 12 hours ago.
She squirmed her way out of bed to go and swallow down a pill, then looked back at the people and the bed she’d left behind and couldn’t figure out a way to rejoin them without disturbing someone.
It became a moot point when Helen stood, grumbling darkly to herself, took Vanya by the arm and dragged her immediately back to her position in the bed.
“If you go into rehearsal once in the next week, I will chain you to this bed,” she threatened. Vanya knew better than to disagree.
As it turned out, a week may not have been long enough.
Her first day back, she had a panic attack walking to rehearsal. Andrew had to come get her and bring her to the theater. David walked a mile out of his way to make sure she got home safely afterwards.
Diego and Quentin set up a system after that where one of them would always escort her to rehearsal, wait for her to finish, then walk her home so she wouldn’t have to do it alone. Luther, Ben, and Klaus wanted to be involved as well, but they all had full-time jobs that kept them too busy.
The police caught the man two weeks after he attacked her. He had quickly been connected to three other rapes in the area and accepted a plea bargain, rather than go up against the evidence Vanya’s report had provided. Eudora had reported the news to her with a beaming grin, and Vanya tried to be happy about the news-- really, she did-- but being happy was falling further and further out of her reach every day.
She wasn’t sure what to do anymore. She was going to the therapist three times a week instead of two, she had a support system around her, her family was better than ever… it was so intensely frustrating to realize that she was in such a great position and yet was still so far from okay.
Dr. Garnett kept reminding her that she’d been through something traumatic, that she couldn’t force herself to be fine just because it’s what she expected of herself. She kept trying to tell her that it was okay not to feel okay.
But there were nights when it hurt so much to not be okay, that she thought about it and realized it was easier to fake it than to allow herself to be upset, because not being okay meant that there was a chance she wouldn’t ever be okay again.
And what was she supposed to do then?
She kept going back and forth anyway. One day she was fine, only needing her morning and evening pills to feel like a person. The next day she took seven just to keep from pulling her hair out with her fists. One day she’d be nearly catatonic, unwilling to do much other than stare at the wall of her apartment. The next she’d be convinced that she was making up the bad days for attention. She had nightmares some nights, ones that left her screaming and shaking and sobbing so badly that if it hadn’t already happened, she would've thought she was seeing the future again. Other nights she’d watch television until 5 in the morning because sleep refused to be her friend. And still other nights where everything would be fine-- she’d go to sleep at a reasonable hour and sleep through the night and wake wondering what she’d been so concerned about.
She kept asking Dr. Garnett to give her an estimate for how much longer it was going to haunt her. The woman kept telling her that there was none.
For now it was just a matter of taking it one day at a time.
1) I'm not thrilled with this but I wanted to upload and am currently falling asleep so this is what youre getting.
2) I might be taking a short break for the next couple of weeks for Passover. I'm sorry, but I might not have time to right.I'll try, but no promises
And now I'm really falling asleep so goodnight and thanks for reading!
Chapter 21: Those Wounds You Made Are Gone (You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet)
Time moves on. She's starting to think she never will.
I'M SO SORRY I TOOK SO LONG!
Passover really distracted me, and then i just couldn't figure out what to write. To be fair, I started this chapter a week and a half ago, I'm just terrible.
I hope you enjoy though!
Chapter title is from "Good Enough" by Little Mix
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It never stopped haunting her, but it did get easier to deal with. Not by much, but things improved. It took months to get to a point where people didn’t give her pitying or sympathetic looks every time she walked into the room. It took even longer for her to realize that they had stopped at all.
It took a long time to see some of the effects of the trauma. For example, it took almost a year before she realized how much worse her claustrophobia had gotten in crowds-- she only noticed it when she had to make a dash from one end of the crowded theater lobby to the other before a performance and couldn’t even make it past the outer layer of people. It had always made her nervous and uncomfortable and tense to be in crowds, but it had gotten so much worse, sending her into disorienting flashbacks that made her feel hands in places they weren’t and see eyes that had been in prison for months.
A few weeks after that, she was talking to Toni and the conversation eventually turned to the details of a date her friend had gone on the night before-- a date that had ended in the two of them in Toni’s bed. Toni was giving details and Vanya felt… well, not repulsed, really, but morbidly curious at how something like that worked. That lead to Toni asking her if she’d ever had sex before, if she ever wanted to, and Vanya realized that she didn’t know. That she’d never looked at anyone, not even celebrities, and thought for a moment about having sex with them. That when Toni talked about orgasms in a reverent tone, she couldn’t muster up the slightest desire to learn first hand what she was talking about. That she couldn’t imagine ever ever trusting any person enough to let them touch her that way. That even people she trusted with her life and all the personal details of it weren’t trustworthy enough for that.
Then, Vanya started thinking about what sex would feel like and that summoned up memories of a rough hand shoved harshly into her pants and she immediately decided it wasn’t going to be anything she tried anytime soon.
That wasn’t even addressing the fact that she still couldn’t figure out who exactly she’d be having sex with. She didn’t think she was gay, like her siblings kept saying she probably was, but then, she didn’t think she was worthy of attention either, and she now had over a dozen people telling her she was. Okay, so six of them were her siblings and one was her therapist, but the point still stood. How could you figure out who you were attracted to if you’d never been in that kind of a position before?
Another, unforeseen effect of the attack was a sudden aversion to tattoos and tattoo parlors. She didn’t notice it at first-- her siblings all had tattoos, after all, Klaus more than anyone else, and Toni had a couple of small ones, and even Helen and Angie had matching treble clefs just behind their ears from back when they went to Julliard together-- but a guy with a ton of tattoos sat next to her on the bus one day and she immediately got up and got off the bus, even though she was still a few stops away from where she needed to be. She knew the man was offended, but how was she supposed to explain that the snake’s head on his bicep reminded her of a guy who tried to rape her in an alleyway a year ago?
She’d always been a strange, anxious creature, however, and her new anxieties were nothing shocking in the grand scheme of things. And with the support system she had, she could deal with a little bit of PTSD.
Her next dream was a year after she and Diego reconnected, and featured her brother insecurely yelling at Eudora for a slight she hadn’t committed, and her breaking up with him in return. When Vanya called him to warn him off the argument, she was met with a surprisingly compliant Diego, who admitted that perhaps he should try to address his insecurities in his relationship, rather than yelling at her for them. It made her slightly suspicious, but she didn’t pursue it-- at least he wouldn’t be wrecking his relationship anytime soon.
A few weeks later, she saw Klaus getting jumped on his way home. That hit closer to home than she was comfortable with, and her voice alone prompted Klaus and Ben to come running over when she called him to beg him not to go anywhere by himself for the foreseeable future. She could tell Klaus didn’t want take the warning all that seriously, preferring instead to stuff her with tea and cookies until she stopped talking, but thank the lord for Ben, who clamped onto his arm tightly and promised to stick to his side like glue. She finally breathed again when they made it through the next three weeks without incident.
The next dream came a couple of months after Claire’s third birthday, and featured Allison at the end of her rope with her daughter, using her power to stop a temper tantrum. It was the first dream in a little while to feature the repercussions as well, and Vanya watched as Allison’s marriage crumbled and she was separated from her daughter. She called her sister as soon as she woke up, and Allison was more than a little scared when she answered the phone to hear Vanya’s shaky, obviously still panicked voice.
“Promise me you won’t use your powers,” was Vanya’s only response to Allison’s insistent questioning.
There was a tense silence on Allison’s end before she started protesting. “Why shouldn’t I-”
“I had a dream that you used your powers to stop Claire’s temper tantrum and then you kept using them on her and then Patrick found out and you never got to see her again. Promise me you won’t use your powers.”
Another pause, before there were more protests. “Maybe your dream was wro-”
“It wasn’t. I’ve had enough of those dreams to know when I’m having one. I know it’s hard to accept. I know it’s not something you want to hear. But you can prevent it. Just… maybe you should come over for a few days? You said a couple of days ago that you had a couple of weeks off-- come visit. Bring Claire- I know everyone else has been anxious to see her, and we could do with some bonding time. Heck, bring Patrick too! We’ve barely spoken since the wedding, and that was three years ago.”
When Allison still didn’t say anything, she pushed it further. “Look, I’m not saying I’m wrong or that you’re wrong or anything. I just… maybe some time with us will help you clear your head a little? Besides which, I miss you, and I miss my niece.”
Finally, she agreed, claiming Patrick was busy but she and Claire would catch a flight and be there the next morning.
When she picked them up at the airport, Klaus, who refused to wait at home, in tow, she was met with a grim faced apology from Allison, who told her she’d almost rumored her daughter the night before, until she remembered Vanya’s warning.
She said this in hushed tones, and Klaus obligingly distracted Claire-- the three year old made it easy, having jumped into his waiting arms the second he was in sight-- but he still shot her a look that told her she’d have to explain later.
As it turned out, she didn’t have to.
They ate lunch at a restaurant with the rest of their siblings. Claire, exhausted after the flight, fell asleep against her mother’s shoulder before the plates were cleared, and Allison was quick to take the opportunity to finally answer as to why she’d come so suddenly.
Diego smirked at Vanya. “Look at you, saving each of us from ourselves. You’re turning into quite the superhero, huh?”
She blushed at the praise, but shook her head to rebuff it. “Yeah, a really great one. Can’t stop myself from being attacked, but I can stop all of you from ruining your lives, so there’s that.”
Quentin squinted down at his plate thoughtfully, then at her, while everyone else fell into an awkward silence, one that had Vanya hitting herself. It had been an unnecessary comment, and a strange, attention-seeking one to boot, and from the looks on her siblings’ faces, they thought so too.
“That is weird, though,” Quentin mentioned. “An attempted rape is exactly the kind of thing you’d have dreamed of if it had been any of the rest of us. Why not for you?”
That turned the awkward silence into a tensely thoughtful one.
“Maybe you don’t have dreams about things that happen to you?” Ben suggested, but she shot that down.
“I dreamt about the book though, and that was my decision.”
“Maybe--” Luther started, but he shut himself down, shaking his head at whatever he’d thought.
“Maybe it just wasn’t supposed to happen,” Klaus murmured, almost as if he was expecting no one to take that seriously, but everyone’s eyes swiveled towards him.
“What do you mean?” Ben prodded, and Klaus excitedly continued.
“Well, all of your dreams have been things that were going to happen if you didn’t stop them, right?” At Vanya’s nod, he beamed. “Well, maybe this is the opposite. It wasn’t supposed to happen, but you made a choice that you weren’t supposed to, and it changed the outcome of the day.”
Quentin’s face lit up at the thought, and he furrowed his brow as he started muttering to himself, pulling out a pen and the notepad he’d taken to carrying around just in case of moments like this, and scribbling numbers and letters that meant nothing to Vanya when she tried to read them over his shoulder.
They’d already paid the check by the time he emerged, and he nodded decisively at them.
“There are too many variables to determine for certain,” he informed them, “but Klaus may-- and it kills me to say this-- but he may be right. We still don’t know how your visions really work, Vanya-- you said I haven’t been in any of them since the first one, right? Even when everyone else was? And Ben also stopped appearing after you saw him die--”
“No,” she interrupted. “Not fully, at least. In the dream I had about Luther, he was there for a minute when… well, when Klaus died as a result of everything. It was weird though-- there was some weird thing blocking me from seeing him fully, almost like… well, almost like I wasn’t supposed to see him at all.”
This made Quentin frown again, and they all exchanged amused glances when his eyes lit up excitedly. “Oh, I’m going to have fun trying to figure this one out.”
To be fair to Quentin, he did try. Unfortunately, in the months following the revelation, he lost more and more hope of figuring it out, before eventually, he just gave up, declaring it something to think more about after she had more dreams.
She didn’t have any more of them, though-- at least, not until a couple of years later.
She dreamt that Reginald Hargreeves died.
She didn’t tell anyone about that one.
I'm not thrilled with how this came out-- like really not thrilled. I kind of hate it actually. But here it is anyway. Please let me know what you thought!
Chapter 22: Medication Don't Do Much (Just Numbs the Brain)
Vanya spirals. She should've told them.
This is not what I intended this chapter to be, but I actually really like where I ended up.
Remember that Vanya is still an incredibly unreliable narrator.
Chapter title is from "Get Up" by Shinedown.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Luther was the first to receive word about the passing of their Father, via a phone call from Pogo the morning the man’s body was found. He then called Vanya.
“Dad’s dead,” he told her, instead of a greeting, when she answered the phone.
She kind of wanted to say something extremely clever, like “I know,” but that would raise a whole lot of questions she didn’t want to answer. Questions like “How?” and “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“That’s… sad?” Vanya answered instead, and Luther scoffed.
“He’s the man who raised us, Vanya. You could at least pretend to care.”
Luther hung up, and she sighed down at the blank phone screen, willing it to light back up.
She knew Luther wasn’t like the rest of them when it came to his relationship with their Father. She should’ve known better than to goad him the way she did, and if she was being honest, she felt bad about the pain in his voice just before he hung up. But she was also struggling to find the capacity to care about anything to do with Reginald Hargreeves these days. Dr. Garnett said that was either a good sign that she was moving on, or a sign that she was compartmentalizing too much again, and that old feelings might reawaken at the most inopportune time.
Vanya had also been struggling to find the patience to figure out which of the two it was.
A minute after she hung up with Luther, she got a call from Quentin.
“So, the old man is dead.”
“I know,” she told him. “Luther just called me.”
“Yeah, he called me too. What do you want to do?”
“Me? I don’t know. What do you do when a man you haven’t spoken to in over a decade dies?”
“I mean, Van, that man was also the man who raised us.”
She checked the screen of her phone again. It was definitely Quentin’s phone, but that didn’t explain the sudden sentimentality from the man who, three months ago, had said that Reginald Hargreeves didn’t so much raise them as scar them for life.
“Who are you and what have you done with my brother?” she questioned, and he barked a laugh.
“I know, I know. It doesn’t sound like me at all. But the man’s dead and I guess I’m feeling some… pity.”
“And I reiterate…”
“Stop. He was still an ass and the worst parental figure ever, but at the very least, he brought all of us together. Isn’t that worth it?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t explain the sentimentali-”
“Did you dream this?”
She stopped. He couldn’t have known. There’s no way he could have known.
“This conversation?” she diverted. “No, I didn’t dream thi-”
“Dad’s death. Did you see him die?”
“... Why would you think that?”
“That’s not a no.”
“It’s not a yes, either.”
“I don’t-- It just seemed like the kind of thing you would have dreamed. Luther… Luther mentioned that your reaction had been pretty lackluster and it just… it didn’t seem like you to not be upset.”
“Yeah, well, growth, ya know? Character development. Therapy.”
“Or you’ve had time to adjust to the idea.”
“Yeah, a day is-”
“No one said when he died, Vanya. How could you have known it’s been a day?”
“... You suck, you know that?”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
She took her time trying to formulate a response to that, so long that Quentin prodded her with a questioning “Vanya?”
“I’m still not sure,” she said finally. “I didn’t… I guess this wasn’t something I really cared about stopping. He had a heart attack, Q. It’s not like there was some murder to protect him from, or a horrible accident. His heart gave out.”
She didn’t mention Mom’s strange behavior at the time-- the way she stood there and stared as he struggled to stay alive.
“You didn’t-- you could have at least told Luther. None of the rest of us really care but he… you know he’s going to struggle with this. It would have given him closure.”
“I didn’t think about it like that.”
“You know, Vanya, I think this might be the most selfish thing you’ve ever done.”
He hung up then, and she was left, shocked into silence at his parting words.
Quentin had never said anything like that to her. He was the first to call her out on her bullshit but it was always fair and it was always justified and it was always said kindly, if bluntly. Never did he forget to take care to make sure she knew he wasn’t saying she was awful, only that her decisions needed some work.
This was a first though. He sounded… angry. Disgusted and sad and angry with her. He’d never been angry with her before. He’d never made it sound like he thought she was just as worthless as she did.
It made her want to die.
She locked her front door and texted all of her students’ parents to cancel the lessons for that week. She texted Helen to tell her that she needed to take some personal days, but refused the company that was offered. Then she put her pajamas back on and got back into bed and wallowed.
Quentin was right, and she knew that. The decision not to tell anyone about her dream had been a selfish, awful one. The worst thing she could do at that moment was make the situation about her by shutting herself off, but she popped a couple of pills and let herself cry anyway, ignoring the ringing of her phone when first Ben, then Klaus, then Diego, then Allison, then Toni called. She didn’t have the energy to talk to them, and she knew Quentin might have told on her, and if they were going to make accusations or anything like that, she didn’t really want to hear them. Then the texts started flooding in and at that point she just threw her phone across the room at her armchair.
She could feel that she was working herself up into a panic attack, and took another couple of pills to dilute it. It was getting into dangerous territory, the amount of pills she was taking at once, but she figured she’d be okay as long as she kept it under seven. She was at four, at most recent count.
This is the most selfish thing you’ve ever done.
She tried deep breathing (it just made her heart rate feel even more out of control). She tried grounding herself by identifying things around her room (she kept seeing gifts from Quentin). She tried repeating the mantras Dr. Garnett had suggested (they never helped her anyway.)
This is the most selfish thing you’ve ever done.
She turned on the TV to try and distract herself. It lit up to a news report on her father’s death.
This is the most selfish thing you’ve ever done.
She retrieved her phone from the chair and plugged in her headphones, then put her phone onto Do Not Disturb mode and put on a punk rock playlist (it was mostly MCR, Green Day, and Fall Out Boy, and she relied on it when she needed to distract herself from the noise in her head.) She took two more pills. She lay on her bed with her legs up against the headboard and closed her eyes.
This is the most selfish thing you’ve ever done.
You have become a selfish person.
You are no longer the sister I thought you were.
I no longer value you as a sister.
If she thought about it, she knew she was reading too much into it. She knew she was being ridiculous. She knew everything she was thinking was off and that she was being even more selfish by reacting the way she was. She knew she was going to piss everyone off when she finally emerged from her cocoon.
Perhaps the worst part about being the person she was was watching herself destroy her life, knowing she was being ridiculous, and being able to do nothing to stop herself.
She couldn’t tell if she was falling asleep or just completely spacing out, but she would randomly realize that she was listening to a song and couldn’t actually remember starting it, or what song had come before it. She didn’t know how long she lay there. She didn’t know when she’d last eaten. She didn’t even really know anything anymore.
She couldn’t even remember why she was so tired and numb in the first place.
The music was filling her up in a way she didn’t understand, carving itself into everywhere her feelings should be, reverberating in her chest and echoing through her stomach and rattling in her skull until it felt like she was made of only the drums and the screaming and the melody. It gnawed at her gut like a hunger (or maybe that was the forgetting to eat). It filled her vision with shattering rocks and fire eating up the world and the face of a man she’d never seen before smiling at her while he told her she was special and then ripping it all away and Helen dead in his attic and a 13 year old Quentin with eyes older than she’d ever seen them and Klaus bloodied and in a towel and in dog tags crying over lost love and Diego sobbing over Mom’s dead body and Eudora’s dead body and Allison with her throat ripped open bleeding out all over Vanya’s hands and Luther in a body too big to be his sobbing over unopened envelopes and Ben watching everything happen with his heart in his throat and Vanya herself locked in a quarantine room she’d forgotten existed because they hate her and they don’t trust her and she has no one left not Quentin who isn’t her Quentin anymore or Klaus higher than ever or Ben no longer alive or Allison dead in her arms or Diego angrier than she’d ever seen or Luther who locked her up and refused to let her go or Toni who doesn’t know her or Helen who doesn’t care about her or Angie who never met her or Andrew and David who don’t even know she exists and she’s going to die alone and forgotten in a cage because her father was too scared of her to let her think she could be special…
She opened her eyes. It was her own boring ceiling again. Her playlist had ended.
Someone was banging on her door.
Alternate names for this chapter include "Take Away the Sensation Inside (Bittersweet Migraine in my Head)" from "Give Me Novocaine" by Green Day. Mostly because I was listening to American Idiot when I wrote this chapter. As I have been for the last three days. That image of Vanya on her bed with her legs up and headphones on is me all night on Sunday. I'm a mess.
On the bright side, I've also got plans for stories when I'm finished with this, so be on the lookout for those!
I've also been taking requests on Tumblr! Hit me up why dontcha?
Let me know what you thought! Particularly of that last portion- the paragraph with the music I was particularly proud of.
So yeah, leave a comment? Please?
Thanks so much for reading!
Chapter 23: High as the Sun (Uncomfortably Numb)
Vanya's tired. Quentin's human. Klaus is a secret genius. Reginald is an asshole.
I know, I know. Y'all are mad at Quentin. He's trying I promise.
This chapter basically wrote itself. I had absolutely no idea where it was going when it started. I'm liking where we ended up though. It makes things easier later.
Chapter title is from "One of the Drunks" by Panic! at the Disco. (See? I told you they'd make a reappearance....)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She kept telling herself to get up and answer the door, but her legs just swung down to lay uselessly on the bed and she lost the energy to move any further than that.
The banging stopped 30 seconds later.
Then she was staring up at Quentin’s accusatory face.
“You could answer the door, you know?”
“It’s so far away,” she tried to say, but it ended up coming out as a whisper.
“You could answer your phone, too.”
“That would mean talking to people.”
He squinted down at her, irritation turning to concern. “What’s wrong?”
“Okay, what else is wrong?”
She shrugged slightly and closed her eyes again, only to be met with a tapping on her forehead.
“Don’t give me that shit. Is this about Dad?”
“Fuck off, Quentin.”
“Did I do something?”
“Yeah, I’m definitely going to listen to you now. I didn’t tell anyone about what you saw, if that’s what you’re concerned about.”
“Why not? You’re the one who said I was selfish not to say anything.”
He winced and sat down on the bed beside her, staring down at his feet in an uncharacteristic show of embarrassment.
“I shouldn’t have said that. At least, not the way I did.”
“Why did you?” She didn’t want to ask, but curiosity won out. “First, the sentimentality, then, you actually caring about me making a selfish decision-- you being upset that I made a selfish decision… I mean, Q, you’re not really acting on par with your brand here.”
“I know. I know I’m not. I’m--” he stopped and exhaled heavily. “I got fired yesterday.”
That made her shoot up, though the dizziness she encountered when did made her regret it.
Quentin had been working at a research lab in the center of the city, doing work in quantum physics that she couldn’t even begin to attempt to understand. He hadn’t enjoyed the environment, but he was obsessed with the research, and he’d actually started to feel like he was doing something important. To be fired…
“I’m not a team player,” he said bitterly. “Or at least, that’s the reason they cited. In reality, I didn’t let a coworker take credit for my idea. Not that he was trying to take credit-- my supervisor just assumed it was his, and when I spoke up, apparently, it wasn’t the right decision to make. I know… I’m not saying they were right, but it did make me start questioning things and then I was wondering… if you were hiding this dream, were you hiding one about me too?”
“No!” she shouted, desperately, and he looked up, alarmed. She grimaced sat down, trying to get her heart rate back under control. She popped another couple of pills, which he eyed in displeasure. He didn’t say anything though, and she ignored his gaze.
“I swear, Q, if I’d seen it…”
“How do I know that, V? You hid the dream about Dad--”
“I told you; it was because we couldn’t have done anything to stop it anyway, and honestly, I wasn’t willing to let anyone try. He’s old and I’m vindictive and honestly, who the fuck even cares except Luther. For you though? If I could have stopped you from being fired, I would have. I swear it.”
Her voice had quieted to a hoarse whisper by the end, and she felt like she wanted to cry. Or vomit. Or both.
She finally allowed the dizziness to send her back to sprawling on the mattress when it looked like Quentin had accepted her explanation. She closed her eyes and rubbed at her face, letting a heavy sigh escape her mouth, then she opened her eyes again and dropped her arms back onto the bed.
“Is there going to be a funeral?” she asked. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to go-- at the very least, she’d be able to see Mom and Pogo, right? But then, that also meant paying her respects to the man she’d taken pleasure in watching die, and god but wasn’t that stupid?
“Luther wants to do a memorial service out under the oak tree in the courtyard. Said it was ‘Dad’s favorite spot.’”
“In a couple of days. Once we get the ashes, anyway. They’re still doing the autopsy.”
She nodded. It made sense that Luther would know his favorite spot, and this was giving Allison plenty of time to head back home to join them.
“Luther thinks Dad was murdered,” Quentin told her, and she shot up again, making everything tilt on its axis. He reached out to steady her, and she slowly lay back down, clutching at her head.
“What do you mean, he thinks Dad was murdered?” She bit out, and he groaned, still watching her with concerned eyes.
“It’s idiotic. He’s got it in his mind that someone must have poisoned him, that his end-of-life paranoia wasn’t just paranoia, but a legitimate threat making itself known. He’s trying to investigate possible leads now. Ben and Diego are trying to talk him out of it, but you know Luther.”
He passed a hand briefly over her forehead, then reached out for the pill bottle she’d discarded onto the bed beside her, taking a glance at its contents.
“How many of these have you taken today?” he asked.
She shook her head. “That depends. When did today start?”
He sent her a startled and slightly scared look. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t… my playlist ended when I wasn’t paying attention and that playlist has quite a few hours worth of songs on it, and I don’t know how long it was off before I noticed, and I didn’t turn it on until a little while after you hung up the phone… it must be--”
“It’s a little after 8:00. I called you at 9:00 this morning. You have the time on your phone. And a clock at your bedside.”
“I also have blackout curtains closed and no indicator of AM or PM. Also, none of the wherewithal to actually bother to check. I can’t sit up without my head swimming, Q. I’m not looking at the time.”
“Speaking of, now that we’ve determined what ‘today’ is… can you answer my question?”
“I…” she stopped to think about it. Truthfully, she was struggling to remember when she had or hadn’t taken them. “I’m pretty sure I had one with breakfast, like usual… I definitely took at least two in response to the panic attacks--”
“I had an… episode, I guess. The worst one I’ve had in awhile, if I’m honest. I thought you hated me, Q.”
“What-- because of what I said? Because I said you were being selfish?” His tone of voice made him sound like he didn’t believe her, and that did nothing to help.
“It wasn’t… It was more the way you said it than what you actually said. And I was already in a weird place. I knew I was being ridiculous but I couldn’t… I saw myself spiraling and I couldn’t do anything to turn it off. I knew that every decision I was making was the wrong one, that everything I was feeling was coming from a strange, overly vulnerable place that was infecting me with this paranoia and I still couldn’t do a single thing about it.”
“Vanya,” his voice was terrifyingly soft. “How many pills did you take?”
Tears leaked out of her eyes and she gazed pleadingly at him. “I don’t know.”
Quentin wanted to take her to the hospital. Quentin said she was disoriented and not thinking straight and probably suffering from an overdose.
She kind of wanted to punch him.
She turned her phone off of Do Not Disturb and sent texts to the people who had tried to contact her, just to let them know she was alive. Then she texted Klaus and begged him to come over. He was usually the most effective buffer against Quentin’s frustrating mollycoddling.
When he got there, she had refused to move from her bed, even with Quentin trying to get her to at least go and eat something.
“Your texts were very vague,” Klaus pronounced when he appeared in the doorway to her bedroom after Quentin let him into the apartment. “Why is our darling Q being annoying and overprotective?”
“She overdosed on her pills,” he explained, making a frustrated gesture to where she lay, “and now she refuses to do anything about it.”
“I just need to sleep it off,” she responded with the same argument she’d been trying for the last half hour. “These aren’t really the ‘overdose’ kind of pills, and besides, I didn’t take that many.”
“You told me you had no idea how many you took,” Quentin told her. “Besides which, the bottle tells you what date it was filled, and that date was two days ago. There are thirty in a bottle. There are fifteen left. Meaning, within the last two days, you must have taken somewhere around fifteen pills. It says on the bottle not to exceed six in twenty-four hours, and never to take more than one per hour. I watched you down two of them at once. You need to go to the hospital.”
“Klaus,” she whined, turning to her other brother, and stopping when she saw the look on his face. His eyebrows were knit together and he was looking towards the pill bottle with a concerned frown. “Klaus?”
“Can I see that bottle?” he asked, and then picked it up without waiting for a response. He investigated the label. “Clonazepam isn’t supposed to be taken on an as needed basis,” he told them, not even looking up from the bottle, “nor are you supposed to take more than two or three a day. This can’t be Clonazepam.” He finally looked up, to meet a scared look from Quentin and a confused look from her.
“How do you--”
“What are you trying to say?” she interrupted. “That they gave me the wrong pills?”
“I’m not… I just mean… have you changed pharmacies since you left the Academy?”
“I… no. Dad said-- he’d been giving me the bottles before I left, and then when I did, he transferred my prescription to a pharmacy near here. I’ve been getting the pills from there ever since.”
Quentin’s eyes lit up with understanding, and then he looked shrewdly at Klaus. “I see where you’re going with this, and quite frankly, I’m shocked that you put that together so quickly. How do you know so much about Clonazepam?”
“Dated a guy a few years ago who was going for a pharmacology degree. I helped him study for exams. Turns out, I have a knack for understanding drugs.”
Quentin nodded, clearly impressed, but she continued to glance between the two of them, too disoriented to fully understand what was happening.
Klaus took pity on her. “I’m thinking Reginald’s been lying about the contents of this little bottle over here. And I’m thinking he’s been paying off the pharmacist to lie about it too.”
I hope this explains why the therapist didn't care about taking her off of the pills. Clonazepam isn't necessarily unhealthy for extended use. Actually, regular use makes it work better. At least, according to a quick google search. AKA IDC about actual pharmacology, but this is what a quick google search told me.
We find out what she's been on... next chapter? I think?
I want to say a massive thank you to those who have been commenting! I haven't been good about replying, but I'm reading every comment, and I'm thinking of responses in my head. I'll probably go and reply as soon as I put this up.
So yeah. Thanks for commenting. Thanks for reading. Let me know what you thought?
Chapter 24: Maybe Then I Can Rejoice (I'm Sick of All the Same Withdrawals)
In which plans are made and readers get mad at me.
This is such a filler chapter. It was so difficult to get this done. I have a plan for the ACTUAL apocalypse timeline, but this weird pre-funeral timeline is strange and difficult. bear with me, I'm trying.
Some important decisions are still made though, so it's not a total loss.
Chapter title is from "Black Cadillac" by Shinedown
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Now, Klaus was saying she should probably get looked at too, but Vanya kept refusing. She wasn’t sure what they were having trouble understanding-- going to the hospital required a lot of effort that she didn’t have energy for and a lot of fuss that she didn’t think was necessary. She was determined to just sleep it off in her own bed and then go deal with what was really in the medication she’d been taking her whole life some other time.
Quentin kept saying that was the medication talking. Vanya kept ignoring him.
Of course, that became much harder once she started vomiting.
At that point, Klaus and Quentin refused to let her refuse anymore. Tiny as she was, neither of them were quite strong enough to lift her, she was far too weak to help them, and Quentin’s powers tended to make her feel sick, and likely would’ve made her feel worse. As such, they had to call for reinforcements.
She forbade them from calling Luther. She was still hung up on what Quentin had said on the phone earlier and couldn’t really face the man. With Ben in the same boat as Quentin and Klaus and Allison still out of town, that really only left Diego. She wasn’t all too thrilled with that prospect either, but figured, as she dry heaved over a bucket, that she didn’t have much of a choice.
Diego managed to get her down to the car without much issue. His vigilantism paid to some extent, she supposed. What scared her was that she couldn’t really remember him getting there. One minute, she was hearing Klaus suggest calling him, the next, she was in his arms. She tried to help as much as she could, wrapping her arms around his neck and trying to support at least some of her own weight, but she was weak and tired and struggling to get her bearings and she probably ended up as more of a hindrance than anything else.
She found herself propped up between Diego and Ben in the backseat of Diego’s car. She couldn’t really remember when Ben had shown up, but his sweet smiles were better than Diego’s tense, anxious frown, so she leaned happily up against him and tried not to worry about it.
That lead to her not worrying about much of anything. She lost time again, only really regaining awareness when Diego started pulling her from the car.
He carried her into the ER and she clutched a bucket to her chest as she started dry heaving once again.
They weren’t sure how to treat her. They gave her an IV of saline and some activated charcoal to try an absorb whatever hadn’t already entered her bloodstream. They ran a tox screen to figure out exactly what she’d taken. The doctor reported back the results as inconclusive. Read: They had no idea what was in those pills. Klaus had handed over the remaining ones in the bottle, but they didn’t have the facilities to really test them. All they knew was that she was presenting with some decently strange symptoms-- most overdose incidents didn’t cause vomiting, for one thing, and while the dizziness and confusion was normal, they couldn’t determine that the heart palpitations and breathing trouble she was experiencing was from the excess of medication, not when those were the symptoms that had started the whole mess.
Her general function was pretty good though, and her liver was showing some signs of minor scarring, but not nearly enough to really matter, especially if she could successfully avoid any other drugs that might worsen it. It took a few hours, but finally most of the symptoms had faded. She was able to keep down a few crackers that a nurse had pressed on her after Quentin mentioned she hadn’t eaten all day, she successfully tracked the passage of time for an hour, and she was able to stand and walk up and down the hallway a couple of times without feeling like she was going to fall over.
In the end, she had to stay overnight for observation, but was released into her brothers’ care in the morning. Luther was still unaware of everything that happened, but that didn’t mean that she was lacking in overprotective siblings to watch worriedly as she lay in bed and napped for 50% of the day. She got four separate lectures from Quentin, Klaus, Diego, and Ben about isolating herself during her episodes, and about putting herself into unhealthy situations all of the time.
Klaus kept making her food that she hardly ate, both from an already small appetite and the sheer amount of food he cooked. Quentin and Ben both refused to leave her alone, each sitting on either side of her on the couch, sandwiching her between them and jumping every time she reached for anything on the coffee table, like they thought she was going for a pill bottle. Diego had to bail-- someone needed to reign Luther in-- but he texted every half hour for an update. Not that there was much to update him on.
By evening, she’d had more than enough.
She was told at the hospital that going cold turkey wasn’t usually recommended, especially not with drugs she’d been taking as long as she had, but considering they still couldn’t figure out what exactly it was that she was taking, they recommended stopping immediately. And she was completely terrified.
She’d gone cold turkey before and it ended with her having panic attack after panic attack and mood swing after mood swing and getting sick for over a week. This time, she didn’t know what to expect. She did know that if she was going to deteriorate, it was best to be near someone who could help her handle that. Who better than their mother?
So, after Klaus cleared the plates from dinner from the coffee table, she told them she thought they should go back to the academy.
“I was thinking about that,” Ben said. “I have a feeling Pogo might know about what was in those pills, and Diego couldn’t find out anything from the pharmacist, so that’s information that would be nice to have.”
Vanya hadn’t known about Diego going to see the pharmacist. And apparently, she wasn’t meant to, at least, judging by the looks Quentin was sending Ben. That probably meant that he had used quite a bit of force in his “conversation.” She only hoped he didn’t use enough to get him in trouble.
Klaus was laughing, and swung his legs over Ben’s lap as he sat on the couch next to him. “You don’t have to worry too much, Van. Eudora went with him. She’ll keep him from going too off-the-rails. So, what? We’re heading back to the Academy?”
She shrugged. “It’ll at least be good to be near Mom while I’m dealing with the withdrawal symptoms. I know from experience that it’s going to really suck.”
“Experience?” Quentin glared. “What do you mean, experience?”
She really had to stop saying things that alarmed her siblings. If she was going to keep secrets from them, the least she could do was actually keep them.
She stood up to avoid answering. Ben and Quentin immediately moved to follow her, but she proved that Quentin wasn’t the only one with a death glare. “I just need the bathroom. Chill.”
She packed a small bag when she was finished in the bathroom. Nothing major, just a couple changes of clothes and some toiletries. She was about to reach for her medication when she remembered she didn’t need it anymore. Her brothers were standing and waiting for her by the door when she finally left her room, Ben holding her violin case.
“We’ve gotta go,” Klaus told her. “Diego just called. Something’s wrong with Mom.”
I know people are going to hate the decision to have her go cold turkey, but she needed to have access to her powers sooner rather than later and it didn't make sense to let her keep taking a medication they know nothing about.
She knows some of what's going to happen with the withdrawal though, so she's going to be better prepared to deal with the symptoms. I promise, she'll be okay.
Thank you so much for reading! Let me know what you thought!
Chapter 25: She's Gone (But She Used to be Mine)
Vanya talks to Pogo. It goes about as well as can be expected.
Chapter title is from "She Used to be Mine" from the musical "Waitress"
AKA: I've been waiting to use this song forever because I feel like it's such a Vanya song.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
There wasn’t anything wrong with Mom. Her “protect” function had just been disabled. Vanya could figure that out as soon as she had more than 5 seconds alone with her, partially from the contextual clues and partially from what she remembered of the dream.
The question was, why?
Pogo was able to fix the programming, and within half an hour, Grace was back to her usual self. He deflected questions about how it had happened in the first place with vague statements like “regular upkeep and maintenance had to be postponed” and “things have been so hectic since your father passed.” Everyone was so busy looking for an easy answer, they took them as reasons and moved on, leaving Vanya and Pogo alone.
She pulled out the bottle of pills and held them out to Pogo. “What are these?”
He looked stiff, and shifted uncomfortably. “I’m not sure I understand, Miss Vanya. It is your medica--”
“We both know very well that was not not what I meant. The bottle says Clonazepam, but that’s not what it is, is it? What have I been taking all my life?”
She watched as Pogo fumbled for an answer. “Your father… You must understand, Miss Vanya, that he was a brilliant man--”
“That’s not an answer; that’s an excuse. What are these drugs? And why have I been taking them?”
“Pogo, please. I deserve to know.”
He nodded. “You do.” Sighing, he turned and lead her to her father’s study. He rummaged around the desk for a minute, then came away with an ornate box that he pulled a red book from. He passed it over somberly.
It had an engraving on the front, the letters “RH” in gold. It sent her back to childhood, watching her father write in that book all day. It sent her back to the day before, to catching a glimpse of it in the strange man’s bag.
With a fair amount of trepidation, she opened it.
Sound Manipulation… Atmokinesis... Telekinesis… Proven to be erratic and uncontrollable… Use medication to sedate… Use Number Three’s rumor… Ordinary…
Her heart fell into her stomach. She felt nauseated and dizzy and angry and that was a new feeling for her, this anger. She usually just felt resigned to her fate but this…
A light bulb on the desk shattered. Both she and Pogo jumped.
Abilities are emotionally charged…
She took a deep breath and tried to get her her heart back under control. She looked at Pogo.
“What did he do to me?” she bit out.
“You were having trouble learning control,” Pogo told her. “People were getting hurt. Sir Hargreeves… your father believed that the only way to ensure no one was harmed was to make you believe you didn’t have any special abilities. The medication was a blend of his own making, intended to suppress your access to them. It came with the unfortunate side-effect of suppressing much of your emotional range as well, however, Sir was not particularly concerned with that.”
“He drugged me,” she whispered, staring blindly at the pages. “He drugged me and he crushed me and he isolated me and you mean to tell me that it was all because he was scared ?” As she continued, her voice raised, until she was almost yelling. “What, he couldn’t control me so he destroyed me instead? He emptied me out and scraped me clean and destroyed any semblance of mental health because I was an emotional four-year old?”
“People had died, Miss Vanya.”
She couldn’t believe he was attempting to defend him.
“Don’t. How dare you. How dare you stand in front of me and attempt to defend him. You knew. All of these years, you knew, and you saw what he was doing to me and you let it happen. There are no good excuses. There is no ‘greater good.’ There is me and soul-crushing depression and loneliness and he destroyed me and you enabled that.”
She spun on her heel and fled the room, tears blurring her vision so badly that she almost smacked right into the doorpost on the way out. She didn’t know where to go, only that she had to get away from the oppressive weight of a dead man’s office and the betrayal of someone she’d spent her life trusting.
Use Number Three’s rumor…
He’d used Allison to subdue her. Her sister had rumored into… what? Forgetting she had a power? What had been the wording of the rumor, anyway? She could remember the months that Allison had spent reading law textbooks, learning how to be as specific as possible in as few words as possible so that her rumors would stop having so many unforeseen circumstances. There was one time that she told Klaus she’d heard a rumor he didn’t make another sound for next three hours and had to desperately try to undo it when he stopped breathing because she could hear the noise of his breaths. What mistakes had she made when their father made her rumor Vanya?
What else did her rumor ruin?
Quentin came looking for her after she had been hiding in one of the disused guest rooms for an hour. She was half asleep and tear-stained and had exhausted herself by attempting to test her control over her powers, using the notes from the journal to guide the practice. She couldn’t get anywhere deliberately, although she had managed to shatter six glasses and the window from the various times she got frustrated or lost focus.
“Mom is making soup,” Quentin informed her, clearing a spot on the bed of broken glass so he could sit beside her. “She’s looking much more herself. Luther’s convinced she was sabotaged as a way to get to Dad. We’re all very done with trying to talk him out of it.” He surveyed the damage around the room with a cool gaze, before it came to rest on her and the book in her hand. “So, the conversation with Pogo went well, I take it?”
She scoffed and passed over the journal silently. It didn’t take him long to find the page on her and her powers, and it took him even less time to skim the contents. Shock made him restart the page, looking over its contents more carefully.
“The medication,” she told him, “was apparently something he’d invented. It was meant to act as a sort of suppressant for my powers, and had the “unfortunate side effect” of turning me into an almost emotionless zombie. Turns out, it was probably a good thing I didn’t tell him about the visions. He probably would have upped my dosage.”
Quentin looked back at her, eyes suspiciously wet. “Vanya…”
“It’s fucked up, isn’t it? Not only did he neglect and emotionally abuse me my entire life, but the entire basis of why he did wasn’t even true. And he knew it. I was isolated because I was ordinary, but I was only ordinary because he forced me to be.”
“She probably doesn’t even remember. I’ll bet she rationalized it a long time ago, and then just forgot about it. It’s not-- if she had been in front of me when I’d found out, or if our relationship wasn’t what it is… god, I probably would’ve killed her. I can’t believe I didn’t try to hurt Pogo when he told me the truth. To tell the truth, part of me wishes I did.”
“The whole fucking time,” she whispered. “He knew, and he enabled it, and he let it happen. Mom did too, but at least she doesn't have the luxury of being fully sentient. If she was programmed to follow Dad’s orders, that’s what she would have done. Pogo-- he was a fully sentient person, who may have been indebted to that man, but was definitely capable of going against him. And he didn't. He had the audacity to stand there and tell me he disagreed with everything that happened when he knew this whole time and still didn’t do anything.”
A wind had started up while she spoke, shaking the door in its post and threatening to collapse the bed beneath them. Breathing hard, she struggled to squash the anger bubbling up in her chest. It was difficult, too difficult, but how did you handle emotions you’d never had before? How did you deal with feelings that no one had ever taught you to experience?
Quentin’s hand gripping her own helped, and soon enough, the shaking stopped. It was more intentional physical contact than he liked, but then, he’d always been good at pushing past the discomfort for the sake of helping her.
There was a momentary pang, a thought of what would have happened if she’d discovered this without him. If he’d left like he’d planned when they were twelve. How would she have been able to handle the withdrawal and the revelations if he wasn’t there? Heck, if anything was different? If they all hadn’t managed to air out the resentment and the anger years ago?
He stiffened when she collapsed against his side and wrapped her arms around him, but he still returned the embrace, and he even relaxed into it soon enough.
They stayed like that for what seemed like years. Eventually, her mind turned to Luther, and she sighed before sitting up and looking at Quentin.
“I think I know how to get Luther to drop the whole ‘Dad was murdered’ thing.”
“Is it by telling the truth? Are you actually going to tell them the truth?”
“Don’t you dare. If this was you, you know you’d be hiding it until the last possible second.”
“Well, yeah. But this isn’t me, so we don’t have to worry about that, do we?”
“You’re the worst.”
“You love me.”
“Yeah, I do. How unfortunate.” She grinned and pressed a kiss to his reluctant cheek before standing.
Time to face the firing squad.
I have the next chapter written so it'll be up tomorrow. These are some whoppers of chapters, so be prepared.
Thank you so much for reading! I appreciate each and every review, so please, leave one!
Chapter 26: My Name is Screaming (Like the Sound of Your Heart Failing)
No conversation can really happen without an argument. Not when you're talking about the Hargreeves.
I told you it would be up today!
Chapter title is from "My Name (Wearing Me Out)" by Shinedown
(Seriously, it's another MAJOR Vanya mood. Just like... apocalypse Vanya. White Violin Vanya. It's amazing.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Quentin popped himself downstairs before Vanya left the room so that he could gather everyone for a family meeting. She made her way down the stairs slowly, book in tow, taking time to breathe and plan her words carefully. She’d have to tell them about their father’s death, that was certain, and she wanted to tell them about her newly discovered abilities as well. They could probably help her learn to control them. Telling them about the apocalyptic things she’d seen most recently, though, would have to wait. She couldn’t make sense of any of it, not really, not as disjointed and confusing as it all was, besides which, she didn’t think any of it would really come to pass. Quentin was a thirteen year old, for one thing, and one of the people in the dream she’d never met before either. Her sibling’s lives-- her life-- was completely different in the dream than in reality, and she didn’t want to start scaring them with apocalyptic nightmares if none of it could possibly happen anyway. For all she knew, all that vision was was a fever dream brought on from taking too many meds.
She ran into Claire and a man she didn’t recognize for a moment on her way down. It took her way too long to realize that it was Patrick.
He greeted her with a kind smile while the now almost five year old Claire launched herself at her.
“Auntie V!” she cheered happily, voice muffled from where she’d buried her face in her stomach.
“Hi, Claire! I didn’t know you were coming,” she addressed that to Patrick, who’s kind smile turned a bit tense.
“Yeah, well, it wasn’t the original plan, but someone-” he glanced meaningfully at his daughter “-had a meltdown when she realized Allison would be seeing you guys without her. Then I had a sudden clearing in my schedule, and I figured I’d come and help out. You guys probably have enough on your plate without a hyperactive toddler getting underfoot.”
“I don’t get ‘underfoot,’ Daddy,” Claire turned around indignantly. “ You said my presence is a gift and a treasure.”
“Of course,” he gave an indulgent grin and rolled his eyes. “How could I have been so silly? I meant to say ‘enriching our lives.’ Come on, Claire-Bear. Bedtime. You’ll see Auntie Vanya in the morning.”
Vanya pressed a kiss to her niece’s curls and waved off her brother-in-law with a smirk. As they walked away, she could hear Claire ask “what does enriching mean?” and she laughed.
If the two of them were here, Allison had likely arrived in the time she’d spent hiding upstairs, which she was grateful for, because that at least meant they wouldn’t be excluding her from the family meeting.
As happy as she was to see Claire, she thought nervously of her withdrawal symptoms and how tense the next few days were likely to be. She’d have to ask Allison about how much of her Patrick really knew, and what Claire was aware of as well. If they were going to be around, they’d have to be prepared as much as possible for what was to come.
Her siblings were gathered in the drawing room, and Mom was handing out large mugs filled with mushroom barley soup. Pogo stood silently by a bookshelf, leaning heavily on his cane. He was avoiding looking at Quentin, who would have blood on his hands by now if looks could kill. He averted his eyes from her too when she walked in, this time obviously from shame, and he coughed, excusing himself from the room.
She pushed aside how much the sight of him hurt to focus on the hug that Allison coming over to greet her with.
Mom handed her a mug of soup of her own, then insisted on leaving them to their conversation, mentioning a batch of cupcakes she’d left in the oven.
“So,” Allison started when Mom had left, “Quentin said there was something you needed to tell us, Vanya?”
She took a deep breath. “Do you want the big news or for me to start at the beginning?”
“Do this however you feel most comfortable, Vanya,” Ben said, and she nodded.
She took another deep breath. “I had a dream about Dad’s death.”
Luther almost spilled soup everywhere. “What-- before it happened?”
She nodded, and looked down at her mug. “I didn’t want to say anything… if everything had worked out, you’d never know, but Quentin said you wouldn’t let this whole ‘he was murdered!’ thing slide, and I figured I’d set the record straight.”
“You-- and you didn’t do anything?” Luther looked livid, and only Allison’s hand on his arm kept him in his seat.
“There was nothing to be done!” Vanya implored. “He had a heart attack! You can’t just stop a heart attack, not the night before it happens. And it was… Quentin was right, it was a selfish decision to keep it to myself, but can you honestly blame me for not wanting to prevent the death of the man who--” she stopped herself before she could let out the next part of the story. Let them come to terms with this first, she decided.
When it became obvious she wasn’t going to finish her sentence, Diego spoke. “How did Quentin know?”
“I called her,” he answered. “Luther called me, pissed about the way Vanya had reacted to the news, and I figured she must have known about it already, so I called and asked.”
“And this was-- when? Right before the overdose?” Klaus asked, head back, staring at the ceiling.
Vanya winced. “That morning.”
“I said some crap I really shouldn’t have,” Quentin admitted, “or at least, I said some crap in a way that I really shouldn’t have. She didn’t just… you know?” he mimed tossing the contents of a bottle down his throat.
“Or was it a guilty conscience?” Luther grumbled, and she sent him a look.
“Luther, stop. It was selfish, and immature, and I probably should have told you so you’d at least be prepared for the grief, but I didn’t kill him. No one killed him. He killed himself.” She winced at her choice of words, and reworded it. “Or, rather, his heart killed him. And I don’t feel guilty about letting it happen. Especially not--” she stopped herself again, trying to figure out how to segue into the next part of the story.
“I asked Pogo about what was in that medication,” she told them after a few moments, “and he told me... “ her breath hitched. The chandelier started swaying in an unnatural breeze, and a couple of books fell from their shelves. Quentin popped up behind her, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. It took a moment, but she calmed enough for the wind to stop. Everyone was looking around the room nervously, and she looked to Quentin for help.
He nodded, then addressed the room. “Vanya has powers.”
Everyone was quiet, then a nervous giggle spread. Ben spoke. “We know. She told us about the visions ages ago.”
“Not like that,” Vanya muttered. She held out the journal to the person sitting closest, who happened to be Klaus, open to the correct page.
He gasped as he read it, then passed it to Ben so he could stand and give her a hug, which she gladly accepted, even as Quentin jumped away, a sour look on his face. Allison, Diego, and Luther gathered around behind Ben to read over his shoulder.
It was quiet as they read. The silence was broken by a sharp gasp from Allison, who looked up to Vanya with wide, desperate eyes.
“No,” she insisted, stepping away from where she was pressed to Klaus’s side to grip her arms. “We were four and desperate for approval from a sadistic man. It’s not… it’s okay. I’m okay. And I don’t blame you.”
“I’d been wondering,” Allison admitted. “For years after it happened, I was trying to figure out why he made me say that to you. I forgot about it eventually-- by the time we hit eleven, I’d completely put it out of my mind.”
“What was the rumor?” Vanya asked. “How did you word it?”
“I… ‘That you think you’re just ordinary.’” She grimaced. “It’s awful wording. Dad came up with it, told me exactly what to say. It- oh god. Vanya…”
So she’d come to the same conclusion-- the consequences probably reached further than they thought.
“So then the medication...” Diego said, having finally finished investigating the page.
“He created it. Synthesized something new, meant to suppress my emotions and abilities.”
“Which means we have no idea how the withdrawal is supposed to go,” Klaus surmised, pulling both Vanya and Allison back into his embrace.
“I have some ideas,” Vanya admitted, leaning into his chest. “I tried going off of them once before, a couple of months after we saved Luther from spending the rest of his life with a gorilla’s torso. Skipped a couple days worth of my usual doses. It was hell.”
“How?” Quentin pushed. “What exactly happened?”
“Mood swings. I couldn’t control how I felt, and I couldn’t control my reactions to it. I got the worst migraine. Had a few unprompted panic attacks. Then, my immune system tanked and I ended up with the sinus infection from hell.”
Ben grimaced. “God, I remember that. Quentin was convinced you were going to die.”
That earned him a glare. “If I remember correctly, that was you and Diego.”
“Yeah, well, you don’t,” Ben said defensively. Diego just shook his head.
“That fever lasted so long, we all thought the worst at some point,” he pointed out. “Now can we please refocus? No one’s been sick recently, so hopefully you haven’t caught any bugs that you won’t be able to fight off. The other symptoms we can deal with as they come-- staying home and in a calm environment could help. And we’ve got Mom, so if things do go down the drain, she can deal with it. Especially now that we know what was wrong with her and Pogo fixed it.”
“We still don’t know why her programming was off,” Luther argued, speaking up for the first time. “Did your dream show you that, Vanya?”
“Why are you so pissed off about this?” Diego defended. “We just found out that not only was Dad an abusive ass, but he gaslighted and manipulated our sister into believing she wasn’t special, using our other sister to do so, by the way, and then proceeded to bully her for something that he caused. He was so much worse than we thought, and you’re still going to be upset that the bastard’s dead?”
“Did you read the same journal I did?” Luther asked. “Dad says pretty explicitly that she was dangerous and couldn’t control herself. It was for the best--”
“Don’t you dare,” Vanya’s voice went deadly quiet, and Luther’s mouth snapped closed with an audible click. She was pissed beyond belief, chandelier swaying threateningly again. “I have been kind and patient with you, Luther. I appreciate that this is your way of dealing with the shit that asshole put us through. But this is not okay anymore. He isolated me and belittled me for my entire childhood. He abused us, all of us. He locked Klaus in the mausoleum over and over. He made Diego stay underwater for hours on end. He made Allison use her power until she couldn’t speak anymore and didn’t even know what was real. He made Ben use his abilities to kill so many innocent people. He made Quentin keep teleporting until he was vomiting from the exertion. He made you hold boulders on top of your head until you could barely move without your muscles screaming in pain. He tortured all of you, and then he made me feel bad because i wasn’t special enough to train with you, even though I should have felt lucky not to have been subjected to any of that torture. And it was for no reason, because as it turns out, I had powers all along. He locked me in the basement, made me forget everything that made me special, and drugged me to keep me in line because he was scared that he couldn’t control me, and then he used that to crush my spirit and keep me isolated from the rest of you until I was ready to die from the loneliness. He hurt us and neglected us and turned you guys into weapons and refused to let any of us be kids. He was a terrible person and an even worse father and I am so sick of you defending him and acting like it was all okay. I get that this is difficult for you to accept Luther, but the rest of us all have, and it’s time you did too. And even if you can’t, you should, at the very least, know better than to imply that I’m being unreasonable for being hurt by what he did, than having the audacity to tell me that the man who crushed my soul to dust was doing the right thing.”
She managed to get enough of herself under control to not prove Luther’s claims that she was dangerous right, Klaus and Allison’s arms around her helping immensely with that.
Ben and Diego looked proud, and Quentin both that and impressed. She couldn’t see Allison’s or Klaus’s face, but the way they patted her arms was encouraging.
Luther looked crushed.
Without looking at anyone, he stomped his way out of the room.
Bear in mind, I am not a Doctor and this is not how withdrawals from other drugs generally go-- not completely. Poetic license y'all!
Also, healthy relationships FTW. Luther deserves some actual character development and Vanya deserves to not almost kill her sibling. Allison also deserves not almost dying, ya know?
Please, let me know what you thought!
Chapter 27: Chills Run Down My Back, I'mma Flirt With That (Get A Little Closer)
Vanya recovers and Vanya goes home and Vanya wishes she didn't open the door and Vanya thinks maybe it wasn't so bad...
I LOVE THIS CHAPTER GUYS
Chapter title is from "Cliff's Edge" by Hayley Kiyoko
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Luther kept picking the worst times to try to apologize.
The three days after they arrived were as nightmarish as predicted, with mood swings, panic attacks, and migraines galore. She didn’t get any of the cold sweats Klaus had predicted might happen, but she was continuously tired and ended up breaking half of the plates of food Mom brought her. She was never left alone to deal with it, but that didn’t make it much easier.
He first came right when she was recovering from her first panic attack of too many. Ben had to kick him out with a kind, but firm “Not the best time, Luther.” Then, he came by in the midst of a massive migraine, and he didn’t need Allison to tell him to leave when he saw the lights off, the towel over her eyes and Allison’s fingers rubbing at her temples. He tried three times while she was asleep, Quentin having to turn him away every time.
It wasn’t his fault. She appreciated that much. He’d made his apologies to everyone else already, and he’d been genuine enough, according to Diego, who grudgingly accepted the apology as “adequate.” It was just that he had the worst timing in the world.
Claire had better timing. She’d come to her twice a day, Vanya’s violin clutched tightly in hand, Patrick giving her sorry smiles from the doorway, and ask (demand) that she play her something. Allison had told both of them that Vanya wasn’t feeling well, and wouldn’t be okay for a few days, but Claire was resilient, and, as Quentin had deduced three years earlier, quite brilliant. She knew exactly what she was doing; Vanya could tell that much.
Her performances for Claire usually turned into mini-lessons, and by the end of the third day, Claire could play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Mary Had a Little Lamb with ease, and a rough but passable Frere Jacques. Vanya had discovered a wealth of patience for her niece, even as fragile as she was at the moment, and Claire was an eager student. The lessons became one of the highlights of her day.
She got texts daily from Toni and Helen, and Andrew had taken to sending her pictures of cats and dogs with cute little “hope this cheers you up!” texts. David and Angie had teamed up to find all the funny tumblr posts they could to send her. She had appointments with Dr. Garnett over the phone, nothing in depth or anything, but general, “how are things going?” chats that helped her remember that she’d have someone to talk to when she needed it.
Day Four dawned with her feeling better than she had in days. Things got a little messy when Reginald’s ashes arrived, but in general, she ended that day feeling pretty good. It looked like the bulk of the withdrawal symptoms were finally going away, and Luther decided that that meant it was the best time to have the service.
Noon of Day Five found the seven siblings, Patrick, Claire, Pogo, Mom, and Eudora (who’d come to support Diego) standing in a circle in front of a tree in the courtyard. Luther had told Allison that, despite everyone’s feelings, he still wanted to pay tribute to the man who’d brought them all together, who, at the very least, had provided them with food and shelter and clothes, even if all of that came with a pretty hefty price, and so he was the one to pour out the urn onto the ground. It was too wet and not nearly windy enough to blow the ashes away, leaving them in a semi-solid clump on the ground, which Vanya, watching the proceedings from where she was cuddled under a bright pink umbrella with Klaus, thought was vengefully appropriate.
Pogo looked like he wanted to say a few words, but as Vanya tensed and stepped closer to Klaus, and Quentin glared from under his own umbrella on her other side, he seemed to think better of it, closing his mouth and shaking his head with a sad sigh.
She was finding it difficult to feel bad about that.
They all stuck around for the rest of the day, but by nightfall, Vanya had decided that she’d had enough of the house of nightmares and needed to sleep in her own bed. The withdrawal symptoms seemed to have faded enough, and as much as she loved being with her family, and feeling loved and appreciated, she needed some time alone to recharge.
No one wanted to let her go, but Patrick had stuck up for her, albeit hesitantly, and her siblings, surprised, had acquiesced, after extracting a promise from her that she’d call them if anything happened. Her brother-in-law also volunteered to drive, an offer she gladly accepted, knowing it was the only way she might really get the alone time she needed-- if anyone else took her home, they might not actually leave.
After a quiet drive, Patrick walked her up to her door, then left with a smile and a hug. He was surprising her left and right with his kindness, but she supposed they had gotten to know each other pretty well over the last few days, and was glad she was building a relationship with him anyway.
She locked the door behind her and went to shower for the first time since Luther’s call. It had been days, and she was avoiding stinking with liberal amounts of deodorant and physical inactivity, but her hair was a disaster and she felt gross.
Her bed was made with fresh sheets when she went to go to sleep, and a note lay atop the pillows that told her Toni had utilized the spare key Vanya had given her a year before to drop off groceries and give her a clean bed to come home to.
Part of her wanted to cry from how sweet it was. She took a picture of the note and sent it and a thank you text to her friend. She got a kiss emoji back, and then a selfie of an actual kissy face.
With a warm heart and a pleased smile, she peeled back the duvet and snuggled up under it, enjoying being home alone and not feeling lonely at all.
Having no responsibilities for the day felt great, and being able to fully recharge on her own did too. She could binge Queer Eye and do a face mask and give herself a pedicure and be as gross as she wanted without feeling like she was being annoying or offensive. She didn’t put on clothes until 3:00 and didn’t start practicing until 3:45 and thought that maybe she’d go back to the Academy for dinner now that she’d had time to rest and recharge.
There was a knock at her door at 3:58. She thought it must be Mrs. Kowalski.
Standing in front of her was the stranger from her overdose fever dream.
“Hi,” he said. “I’m Leonard. I’m your 4:00?”
He had a charming smile and sweet eyes and she felt sick and heard a glass shatter in her kitchen.
Voice thick, she responded. “I’m sorry, Leonard, but I cancelled the lessons this week. Maybe my text didn’t get through to you?”
“Oh, yeah. I must not have gotten it. Are you busy now? It’s just, I came from decently far away, and I’m an eager student! I’d hate to leave without getting at least a little bit of your tutelage.”
“I’m sorry that you came from so far for nothing, but I really can’t take any students right now. Maybe we can reschedule? I’ll be off next week too, but maybe after that? If you give me a second, I’ll grab my book.”
She didn’t want to reschedule. She didn’t want to take him on as a student at all. But how could she turn him away for something that he hadn’t done yet-- something he might never even do? She couldn’t determine the validity of the dream he’d appeared in, not when so much of it was so different from reality and couldn’t possibly happen. And standing up to Luther was one thing-- how could she defend herself against a stranger when she’d only really been feeling okay for a day and a half?
“I- okay. Fine.” He looked reluctant, but agreed, and she sighed in relief. It was too soon though, because then he kept talking.
“So I heard you playing before. I’m not asking for a lesson, but do you mind if I stick around and listen? I’ve never heard violin played so beautifully before.”
She flushed at the praise, despite the discomfort that twisted in her stomach, and she turned to reach over and grab her appointment book to hide it.
“Again, I’m sorry, but I’ve just finished for the day.” She was lying, but he couldn’t know that. She opened and looked for her next available time. “Is April 7th okay? I have a 4:00 open then.”
He looked looked he’d tasted something sour, but nodded. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I know I must seem like a weird type of student-- I’m guessing yours are usually a little younger? You seem like you’d be good with kids.”
It was becoming increasingly obvious that he was trying to keep the conversation going, that he was trying to get through to her with compliments, and it was making her more and more uncomfortable. She couldn’t tell if he was trying to flirt because he liked her or because he was a little more nefarious, closer to the dream-him, but she was glad she wasn’t in a position to be latching onto that kind of attention because she was so starved for company. Five years ago, she might have been.
She thanked whoever was listening for her friends and family before she answered. “I usually do get kids, yes. Mostly because they tend to be the ones who seek to learn instruments though. Especially violin-- it’s one of the hardest instruments to learn. Most people who want to pick up an instrument later in life pick something easier, like piano or guitar.” She finished putting his name into her book, then looked up with the intent of pushing him politely towards the exit. He started talking again before she could.
“Yeah, well, my Dad loved violin. He died recently, and I guess I just want to… honor his memory, if that makes sense?”
She smiled tensely, and nodded. “That’s sweet. Now I rea-”
“Why did you start?” he asked. She wished he’d leave.
Before she could formulate a response, someone spoke up behind him.
“I think you’ll find, if you’d pay attention, that the lady is trying to get you to leave.”
Leonard moved aside to reveal a young woman with copper skin and red-streaked, black, braided hair. She was wearing a violet lipstick and smirking over the box she held, even as her eyes glared at him.
“Excuse me, but I wasn’t aware that this was any of your business,” he looked like he regretted what he’d said as soon as he said it, but he didn’t say anything.
“It might not be,” said the woman, and she sent a warm smile at Vanya that sent tingles down her spine, “but I know how often I’ve wished someone would stop minding their own business and start helping me get rid of guys who don’t know when to quit.”
Vanya coughed before Leonard could really get angry and put a gentle hand on his elbow, taking it away as soon as she’d caught his attention. “I’m sorry, but I really was going to ask you to leave. I have other matters to attend to. I’m sorry again that you came all this way.”
He smiled charmingly at her. “It wasn’t really any trouble. I’ll see you around?”
“Maybe,” Vanya replied noncommittally, and made to close the door, but he stopped her.
“Hey, if you’re in the neighborhood, I work at a shop in Bricktown… stop by and say hi if you pass by?”
“Sure,” she made a mental note to avoid Bricktown like the plague. “Bye, Leonard.”
Finally, finally , he was gone, leaving her alone with her savior.
Vanya gave her a grateful smile. “Thank you…”
“Oh!” she gave a startled look, then beamed brilliantly. “I’m sorry, I never said my name did I?”
Vanya shook her head, blushing at the smile.
“I’m Zoe.” She stepped closer and shifted the box in her arms so she could hold out a perfectly manicured hand. Vanya took it with a smile of her own. “I just moved in upstairs. And who are you?”
“Vanya,” she replied. “I’m-- yeah. My name’s Vanya. I really appreciate you stepping in like you did, Zoe.”
She winked. “Anything to help a pretty girl.”
Vanya’s blush deepened, and she rubbed at the back of her neck with the hand that wasn’t grasping Zoe’s. “I love your lipstick,” she blurted before she could stop herself, then winced. She didn’t really, or, at least, she never usually like bold lips, but on her it looked cool.
“Thanks!” Her smile widened, and she took back her hand to reach into her pocket. She pulled out a tube and handed it over. “It’s this one. Sephora had a massive sale and I felt adventurous.”
Vanya looked down at it but could barely concentrate on what was in her hand. She handed it back without processing anything about it.
Zoe struggled to adjust the box once more, and Vanya grimaced.
“Do you need any help? You all finished getting everything up?”
She didn’t know where she was getting the confidence to offer, but Zoe didn’t seem to mind.
“This is the last box,” she confirmed. “Thanks though.”
“Well, if you need help…” she gestured vaguely behind her, “...You know where I am.”
“Yeah,” Zoe said softly, golden brown eyes dancing. “Yeah, I do. See you around, Vanya.”
She headed for the stairs, and Vanya slipped back into her apartment. She fell back against the door, the hand that Zoe shook pressed over her heart.
Zoe. Her name sounded like music. Vanya wanted to…
What? What did she want? To be her? To be friends with her? A voice that sounded suspiciously like Klaus said “To kiss her,” and she shut that voice down quick.
She wasn’t gay. She was Vanya Hargreeves, and she wasn’t gay.
Based on how this ended, it had to be a Hayley Kiyoko song. Thank you Lesbian Jesus. Sincerely, A Jew who don't believe in Jesus but loves you anyway.
WHO ELSE LOVES ZOE. I LOVE ZOE. I'M FINALLY GIVING VANYA A GIRLFRIEND, GUYS, AND IT FEELS SO FREAKIN GOOD!
I'm sorry to those who shipped her with Toni or Helen. I'm hoping you like Zoe enough to make up for it.
Thank y'all so much for reading!
Chapter 28: Girls Like Girls Like Boys Do (Nothing New)
Who better to talk to about a sexuality crisis than Klaus?
I hadn't planned for this to be the whole chapter but then it happened. Oops?
Chapter title is from "Girls Like Girls" by Hayley Kiyoko
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She went back to the mansion for dinner. Mom served up everything buffet style in the drawing room, and they all ate spread out over the furniture. Pogo avoided them but Eudora joined, and Klaus insisted on blasting music and serving soda in little martini glasses so they felt fancy.
It was loud and bright and happy and a little bit overwhelming, but she was glad to be part of it nonetheless.
Her interaction with Zoe still weighed on her mind though, and apparently, Klaus could tell, because he took the opportunity to come over and talk to her when Diego and Luther got into an argument about which kind of soup was better.
“You look like you’ve had a great day,” he said as he squeezed in beside her on the armchair. She moved over to accommodate him, and it was testament to how tiny she was and how slim he was that they were both able to fit, squished together as they were. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and shoved his legs beneath hers, forcing her into his lap. She’d gotten used to this treatment from him, and cuddled up into him.
“It was actually a pretty great morning. Quiet. I binged Queer Eye--”
“I’ve been obsessing so much, Ben is ready to put me through a wall. I would die for those boys.”
“I need a hug from them. Or maybe just Jonathan.”
Klaus pulled her in closer. “Will you settle for me?”
She smiled. “No settling involved.”
They were quiet for a moment before Klaus prodded her. “You said the morning. What happened this afternoon?”
“Nothing much, I guess. A guy came by-”
“Oooo, a guy? Pray tell!”
“It was… he was supposed to be my 4:00 but I had cancelled lessons and I guess he just didn’t get the memo? So, he showed up and then he kept pushing to stay and stick around-- I don’t know if he was just trying to be flirty and couldn’t understand the boundaries or if he really was just a creep, but he gave me awkward vibes and I couldn’t get him to leave.” The last few words came out in a bit of a groan, and Klaus rubbed a hand over her arm comfortingly.
“So what happened?”
“There was this… a girl, she just moved in upstairs. She passed by and kind of… got him to leave? I guess?”
“Oooo, a girl? That sounds… intriguing…”
She didn’t mean for that to take on the dreamy quality that it did, and Klaus definitely noticed it.
“Is that a crush I’m sensing?” His voice was teasing, like it usually was, but there was a pushy quality to it that made her a little nervous.
“I don’t-- I know you guys have been saying for years that I’m lying when I say I’m straight, but I genuinely don’t know if I am. How do I… Klaus, how can I possibly know what I am?”
He was quiet for a moment as he mulled that over. “Okay, let’s try an exercise. Close your eyes.”
She complied and waited.
“Okay, so now, imagine that you are in a bedroom. You’re in lingerie, you’re feeling sexy, you’re feeling horny... Who do you want on that bed waiting for you?”
No one. The answer was no one. She tried seeing the lingerie and couldn’t imagine anything that wasn’t the black or tan utilitarian t-shirt bras in her drawer at home. She tried imagining herself wanting sex and almost wanted to throw up.
Never mind the fact that this was her brother talking to her about lingerie and horniness.
“Uh…?” She made a desperate, unsure sound, and Klaus nodded.
“Okay, maybe that was the wrong situation. Imagine you’re kissing someone.”
She closed her eyes and tried. She imagined pressure on her lips and tried to figure out who it was that she saw putting the pressure there.
She was once more unsuccessful.
Klaus exhaled at her confused look, then nodded. “What was this girl’s name? The one you met?”
“Zoe…” she said slowly, not sure where he was going.
“Zoe! Lovely name, Zoe. And what does she look like?”
“She’s… um… Black hair with red streaks that she wore in braids. Gold-brown eyes-- kind of like really dark honey, or when the sun shines through dark amber. Tall, like Allison’s height, maybe taller, and thin, and she had this purple lipstick--”
“She’s pretty, then,” Klaus interrupted, and Vanya nodded, blushing a little.
“And she’s sweet. She saved me from Leonard at any rate, and she did it well too, and she’s confident, or at least she walks confidently and--”
“Stop,” Klaus instructed, laughing a little. “Do you hear yourself? Do you hear how you’re talking about her? I can’t promise that you’re 100% gay, or not at all into guys, but sweetheart, those were not the words of a straight girl.”
She fell completely silent, mulling over what he said.
“What do I do?” she whispered finally.
“Well, was she flirting with you?”
She gave him a startled and terrified look. “Oh my god, was she? Was she flirting? Klaus, how do I know if she was flirting?”
He cackled gleefully, hugging her closer to his chest. She wanted to be offended, but she was distracted with trying to recall exactly how their conversation had gone.
“She called me pretty,” she recalled with a blush. “I thanked her and she said something like ‘anything to help a pretty girl,’ and she winked at me. Oh my god, she was flirting with me wasn’t she?”
“Oooo! A wink, you say?” He was teasing, she knew it, but he also sounded genuinely excited for her. “What did you say back?”
“I… I think I complimented her lipstick?” She struggled to remember more of the conversation-- she knew the lipstick had come up, but how…?
“Okay. Good. That’s a good answer.”
“I don’t think it was,” she whispered, horror struck. “I think she said “pretty girl,” and I got flustered and just blurted out “I like your lipstick!” I think I yelled it. Oh my god, I yelled it. I yelled at her and now she’s never going to want to talk to me again because she thinks I’m nuts-”
“Van, you’re spiraling,” Klaus rubbed at her arm comfortingly. “Breathe. I’m sure she doesn’t. I’m sure she found you just as endearing as pretty much everyone else who knows you does--”
“How do you know?” She demanded. “You don’t know her. And besides, I’ve successfully managed to make friends with one person on my own before, and she spent the first six months of our friendship only talking to me because she felt bad for me because I was so awkward and timid. Then there’s Toni, who only gave me a chance in the first place because of Quentin, and Angie, David, and Andrew, who only gave me a chance because of Helen, and you guys, who only gave me a chance because you’re my siblings and we were raised under the same roof. I can’t-- why on Earth would she like me?”
Her voice had raised to an almost-shout, gathering the attention of the rest of the room, who looked towards their armchair with concerned, confused expressions.
Klaus waved them away. “We’re fine, we’re fine. This isn’t a ‘Vanya has no self-esteem’ moment, this is a ‘Vanya’s met a pretty girl and doesn’t know what to do about it’ moment.”
Everyone fell silent, and the only thing that stopped her from slapping Klaus was the immediate regret in his eyes.
“I shouldn’t have said that.”
I was trying to figure out how to fit a line from "Suddenly I See" into the chapter title, because hello gay but it didn't fit and this did so there we go.
Vanya is a disaster gay. Klaus usually is too, but in a completely different way. It's very pure and I love it.
Can you tell I've been binging Queer Eye? I would die for them. I need them to fix me because I'm a disaster. I'd settle for a hug though. Can you imagine a Fab Five hug? It would give me life and validation for the next forever.
Let me know what you thought?
(Also, if you want to yell about QE in the comments, please do. I need more people to yell with.)
Chapter 29: She Makes Me Feel Like I Could Be a Tower (A Big Strong Tower)
Toni's awesome. And Zoe's amazing. And Vanya's finally starting to think that maybe things could be good.
I didn't intend for this to be another chapter about Zoe without any plot development, but then I remembered when certain things happen and I needed to fill in time. So I wrote this. And honestly, I'm very happy with it.
Chapter title is from "Suddenly I See" by KT Tunstall (It's very sapphic. IDK if that was even the purpose but honestly... I feeeel it. Ya know?)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
All things considered, she’d thought they’d have more of a reaction than this.
Diego and Quentin snorted and went back to their conversations, completely nonplussed. Ben, Allison, and Eudora nodded sympathetically and Patrick offered a confused but supportive smile. Mom had hardly seemed to notice, patting her head as she walked past with a quiet, “That’s nice, dear.”
Luther looked at her with a bit of surprise. “Pretty… girl?”
Vanya nodded. He got flustered and looked like he was struggling to come up with something to say. He shrunk away from the carefully subtle glares he was getting from Diego and Quentin, both of whom looked like they’d tear him limb from limb if what came out of his mouth was anything but supportive. Eventually, he returned her nod and smiled awkwardly. “Sounds… good?”
She just smirked and nodded again. Relieved, he looked back down at his plate of food.
Claire, meanwhile, took the opportunity to launch herself on top of her aunt and uncle.
“How pretty? Is she like, fairy tale princess pretty? Or just like, normal pretty? What’s her name? Does she like music? What’s her job, anyway; is she like a teacher, or a doctor, OOO or a space ranger astronaut superhero? Is she gonna be your girlfriend? Will I get to meet her? Are we sure she’s good enough for you?”
The endless questioning elicited laughs from Vanya and Klaus and they tried to reposition themselves more comfortably.
“Her name is Zoe,” Vanya told her, “and she’s very very pretty. She’s my new neighbor, and I only just met her myself, so I don’t know anything else.”
Claire nodded gravely. “Do you want her to be your girlfriend?”
Vanya gave a startled laugh. Klaus had poked her side with a raised eyebrow.
“We’ll see,” Vanya dodged, and Claire’s eyes lit up.
“Can I help? ” She whispered reverently, hands cupping her cheeks hopefully.
“Yeah!” The girl was suddenly shouting. “I’m gonna help Auntie Vanya get a girlfriend!” she yelled at her mother, who gave her an amused glance and nodded.
“I’m sure you’ll be the best wingwoman ever, Claire. You’ll also be a much better one if you go get some sleep.”
Claire’s smile dropped and she clambered off of Vanya’s lap, grumbling. “Bedtime is stupid,” she muttered. She walked up to Mom with her eyes as big as she could get them. “Gramma, can you take me to bed?” She held her arms out, and Mom, something surprisingly emotional in her eyes at the word “Gramma,” was quick to pick her up and place her on her hip.
“Of course, sweetheart!”
They made their way out of the room, Claire gripping Grace around the neck and Mom smiling at her softly.
Diego watched them go with a smile of his own, then caught Vanya’s eye. “Gramma?” he mouthed, and she grinned and shrugged.
Mom didn’t look old enough to be anyone’s Gramma-- heck, she didn’t even look old enough to be their mother, but she certainly looked like it made her feel good. Which was nice, she supposed. Mom had obviously evolved and learned and grown as an Artificial Intelligence, to the point where she had feelings and thoughts of her own, beyond simply what was programmed into her. After all, it explained the care she’d shown Claire, when Claire wasn’t one of the kids she’d been programmed to protect and care for.
Which, of course, raised the issue of why she hadn’t evolved sooner. And why she hadn’t done anything to stop her father from hurting them the way he did.
Her chest tight, she shook the thought from her head, incapable of dealing with the thought of Grace as a willful enabler to the abuse, like Pogo had been.
She let herself relax a little bit and let Klaus draw her back into a tight hug, before he let go and pushed at her a bit so he could get up.
“Sorry, Van, but my legs are dead.”
She stifled a laugh. “It’s all good.” She stood and allowed her brother to do the same. “Actually, I think it might be time for me to head home. Toni said she might come over tonight, depending on how late this museum thing she had to be at ran.”
Ben gave her a look. “You sure? Allison and I were talking about maybe putting on a movie.”
“Yeah, I’m sure,” she replied, with a quick smile. She had some things she had to think about.
Okay, so she’d obviously lied about Toni having wanted to come over, but that didn’t stop Vanya from calling and inviting her.
Talking about getting a date with a pretty woman was not something she wanted to talk to her brothers about. Diego would be too awkward about it and Luther had no idea how to talk to girls when he wasn’t drunk and Quentin didn’t have a flirty bone in his body and Klaus had no filter when it came to this stuff and Ben… actually, Ben might have known what to do, but it didn’t quite matter because she didn’t really think of it at the time, and besides, talking to him would mean everyone else asking why she hadn’t come to them , and she wasn’t willing to have that conversation. Allison could, in theory, have also worked, but thinking about it more, Vanya remembered that her relationship with Patrick was the first she’d heard Allison talk about, and from what she remembers of the whispered midnight confessions they’d shared the first time she’d come to visit with Claire, they hadn’t had a real flirty stage to their relationship-- a mutual friend had made them dinner reservations together and the first date was awkward and the second date was easy and suddenly they were together and there wasn’t anything else to it. They were like friends with benefits who’d decided to say “fuck it” and get married, especially once Allison had gotten pregnant. That was not the path that this… thing … with Zoe was headed.
And Toni would know. She’d understand how she felt when faced with a pretty woman and was the first of two people she’d told about thinking she didn’t ever want to have sex (the second was David, because he was ace and out understood) and knew Vanya, knew her as she was now, without who she was as a kid guiding half of their interactions, and she was smart and would probably know what she should do better than anyone else.
So she asked her to come over.
She got home to find her already there, holding a note with a shit-eating grin on her face.
“Who is Zoe, and why is she taping her phone number to your door with x’s and o’s on the paper?”
So she explained. And Toni’s grin got wider and wider until she started bouncing on the couch, proudly exclaiming “Vanya’s getting herself a girlfriend!”
Vanya asked her for help figuring out what to say to her, and Toni reminded her that she didn’t have to say anything except what she thought. Toni told her that she needed to calm down and breathe and most importantly be herself because “we’ve already established that you do not need romance to lead a loved and fulfilled life and if she can’t appreciate who you are, then it’s not worth even trying, not for a relationship that isn’t necessary.”
Toni was a great bullshit diffuser.
She left at around 1:00; she had work in the morning and her place was closer to the museum than Vanya’s.
Once she was alone, Vanya took a minute to clean up and go to bed herself, but not before taking a deep breath and doing what Toni had suggested she try.
Hey, Zoe, she typed into her phone. It’s Vanya. Do you like pancakes?
She got a text back a minute later.
Vanya! I’m happy you saw my note! Are they chocolate chip pancakes? There’s no point to pancakes if they don’t have chocolate chips.
With a grin, she replied.
They can have chocolate chips. Come over tomorrow morning? 9:00?
I’ll bring coffee.
She made chocolate chip pancakes from scratch the next morning and Zoe brought over coffee from the coffee shop two blocks over with the adorable Welsh barista who was awkwardly sweet and made better coffee than anyone else she’d ever met, even the other baristas in the store. From the taste of the ones that Zoe brought, he’d made these ones for them, and she didn’t know how Zoe knew her coffee order, but it had just the right amount of that cinnamon syrup she’d developed an addiction to and just the right amount of milk too.
“I hope you don’t mind-- I asked the guy behind the counter if he knew if you’d been in here before and what you liked. Gareth, I think his name was? He was very sweet. And oh my god his coffee is amazing. I don’t usually go for guys, but I might go for him just for the coffee alone.”
Something that, coming from Leonard, would have creeped her out made her smile instead, and she shook her head. “It’s alright. He is great, isn’t he? My friend Andrew tried to ask him out once when we ran into him at a bar, but he was already dating someone. Of course, then Gareth’s boyfriend had to come up to the table and ask for a threesome.” She couldn’t believe she was telling her that story. The situation had made both her and Gareth turn redder than a tomato, and that had prompted him to turn to Vanya and say that she was welcome to join too. She hadn’t taken him up on it. She was pretty sure Andrew had. She left that part out.
Zoe was laughing though, and it was one of the greatest things she’d ever heard and oh god, Klaus and Toni were right, she really did have a crush on her.
“I’ll leave coffee boy alone, then. I had my eye on someone else, anyway.”
Her heart kind of fell, until she saw the meaningful look Zoe was sending her, and she came to the breathless realization that oh, she was talking about her, wasn’t she?
They ate breakfast and Vanya learned that Zoe’s last name was Thomas and she was from Pennsylvania and she’d just gotten a job as a nurse at the pediatrician’s office a mile away. She liked peaches in the morning and plums after dinner and loved the color yellow and alternative music and Broadway musicals and HGTV and fantasy and they had a 20 minute discussion on whether popcorn or chocolate made a better movie snack that ended in them planning a movie date for the next week so that they could switch and find out.
And when Zoe walked out the door, Vanya realized that it was shockingly easy to talk to her and that she hadn’t felt nervous once throughout their breakfast date-- was it a date?-- once she’d established that Zoe was interested in her. Even more shocking was how easily the date had been set up, how easily Zoe had slipped it into the conversation and made it clear it was a date without ever saying the word date and making her feel anxious about it.
She liked her. She really liked her.
Claire is so fun to write.
I also realized that I never gave Toni a last name? Because I was thinking of one for Zoe and I realized... yeah Toni doesn't have one. I'm gonna say it's Morgan. It's a good last name for her, I think.
Other last names (for my OCS) include: Angie Harris; David Dunacci; Andrew Waugh; Patrick Quinn (He's not my OC, but he might as well be)
Please tell me someone understood who Gareth is based off of. Please. Please. It made me so happy to put him in there.
Part of me wants to write a crossover with the Magicians. The stupid part. The logical part knows I have no plot or potential plot for a crossover. Still though. If someone wants to yell about it with me... I'm not over Queliot and I need someone to yell with because NO ONE I KNOW WATCHES IT!
Vanya's very gay and very ace. Just clarification.
Let me know what you thought?
Chapter 30: The Rock Cried Out (I Ain't Gonna Hide You There)
When you screw with the timeline enough, even visions can't stop what happens next.
This might be a mess. I'm sorry if it is. I got a little bit stuck and kind of just... forced myself to write through it? I guess?
Chapter title is from "Sinnerman" by Nina Simone (Points if you know why before you read the chapter.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She went back to the mansion for lunch because Allison, Patrick, and Claire had to leave and Vanya had received a text from Claire via Allison demanding that she return so that she could spend a little bit more time with her favorite aunt.
She decided not to squabble over the minor detail that she was also her only aunt. (Unless Patrick had sisters. Somehow, she’d never thought about that.)
Diego helped Mom make potato soup and homemade pizzas and after lunch, Ben and Quentin took Patrick and Claire over to the ice cream parlor a mile away to pick up dessert. Everyone that was left scattered throughout the house. She didn’t know where Luther or Diego went off to, but Mom said she had laundry to finish and went down to the basement, and Klaus claimed he wanted a bath. She recognized the anxious look in his eyes, the one that said that the ghosts were being particularly tenacious today and the only cure for that at the moment was suds and weed and headphones blasting music in his ears. (He preferred company sometimes, something to distract him from the yelling, but sometimes he just needed to drown it out and ignore it instead of trying to pretend he was less affected than he was.
She hadn’t seen Pogo since the funeral, but she really couldn’t find it in her to care.
She and Allison went up to Allison’s old bedroom and Vanya told her about Zoe, and breakfast that morning and her date that was coming up, and Allison told her about the new movie she’d gotten a script for and what had happened when Patrick’s mother babysat Claire for a couple of days the month before (she couldn’t follow the story so well, but it ended in Claire somehow becoming the Queen of the nearby park.).
Then, Allison heard gunshots.
She ran out of the room, motioning for Vanya to stay put. Vanya listened for a couple of minutes, thinking that she still had very little control of her powers and that even though her emotional state was more stable now that the withdrawal side-effects had abated, she probably wasn’t ready to get herself involved in any major fights.
But then Allison didn’t come back.
Obviously, the situation was worse than they’d thought. They probably needed help.
She came down to the entrance hall, which was empty. As she peered into the drawing room, she saw their father’s portrait riddled with bullet holes, which made her ridiculously happy, and two bookshelves destroyed, which was disappointing, to say the least.
Something smashed into her back, sending her flying through the air. She landed on top of the coffee table awkwardly, then lost her balance trying to adjust and fell off of it, landing on the ground. Something warm and sticky started dripping down her face-- blood, she supposed. She was lucky not to be more seriously injured. She turned to see what had pushed her.
She found Luther engaged in a combat with someone in a suit, wearing a cartoonish mask. Everything seemed to be going alright for her brother; he was holding his own quite well. That is, until a second masked, suited assailant pushed their way into the picture.
She couldn’t quite remember what happened next, just that she was suddenly on her feet as Luther was knocked off of his. Everything got quiet. She heard the faint sound of a radio somewhere playing Sinnerman . The song got louder and louder. Wind picked up around her.
One attacker, the first one, had already retreated upstairs, but the second she managed to toss into the wall with a nudge of her chin.
A shot fired.
Without warning, something was knocking her out of the way of the bullet with a frantic shout. She barely noticed. Her concentration was broken though, and the noise of the house returned and the song faded and Diego got up from where he’d landed when he’d pushed her to knock Luther out of the way of the falling chandelier.
Then the intruders were gone.
Diego ran to go check on Mom. Luther and Allison joined her in the drawing room, and the former started putting the shifted couches back into place while the latter fretted over Vanya’s bleeding head wound. She insisted she was okay; it barely hurt, and head wounds always looked worse than they were.
“Mom’s okay. So’s Pogo, though I doubt you were too concerned about that.”
Vanya smirked wryly, and accepted the towel-wrapped ice pack he held out to her, placing it gingerly against her head.
Okay, so maybe it hurt a little worse than she’d thought.
“What about Klaus?” She questioned, realizing she hadn’t seen him. “Did you come across him?”
Diego shook his head. “He’s probably hiding upstairs. I’ll go check.”
He didn’t seem worried, so Vanya figured it was alright not to be either, but then he came back with a pale face and terrified eyes.
Then they were all looking for him.
Patrick, Claire, Ben, and Quentin returned just as they were figuring out that he was gone. Vanya and Quentin were barely able to keep Ben from losing it when he figured out what happened.
To be fair, Vanya couldn’t really blame him.
Klaus had disappeared. And they had no clue where to start trying to find him.
Patrick and Claire returned to LA without Allison, who stayed behind to help them start canvassing the town. Quentin recruited Toni, Diego called Eudora, who started investigating immediately, and Vanya called on Helen, Angie, Andrew, and David to help. She debated asking Zoe as well, but panicked when she got to her number and decided against it. It was too soon to ask her to get involved.
No one slept well that night.
Eudora called to tell them that she thought she’d found him the next day. Quentin, Ben, and Diego went ahead to help her. Luther kept searching just in case. Vanya’s orchestra friends had to go to rehearsal, but promised they’d be back later if Eudora’s suspicions were proven false. Toni and Allison stayed behind with Mom and Vanya.
The lack of sleep and the stress resulted in less control of her powers than ever, and it took both her sister’s and her best friend’s best efforts to keep her from bringing the entire house down. As it was, they’d have to replace at least thirty light bulbs, six windows, and the entire collection of wine glasses from the bar in the drawing room.
They got a call from Diego. They’d found Klaus, but he’d disappeared outside of the motel they’d found him in. One minute, he’d been standing with Ben, clutching some briefcase he’d found to his chest. Ben turned to say something to Quentin, there was some wind, then Klaus vanished, briefcase and all.
No one quite knew what to do with that information, except for Vanya, who figured that now was as good a time as any to channel the stress into wrecking Reginald’s study.
Two hours later, everyone regrouped at the manor. They’d just started discussing how to go about searching for a man who’d vanished into thin air when Klaus stomped his way into the entrance hall, looking older and more sober than when he’d disappeared. He was in a green vest and had dog tags around his neck, and was carrying a briefcase that looked like it had seen better days. And he was accompanied by a man in a similar uniform who’d smiled brightly at them and introduced himself as Dave.
Klaus’s appearance struck Vanya as vaguely familiar, and it was then that she realized that she’d seen him like that before, only sadder and sans a new boyfriend.
She’d seen it because she’d dreamed it. Her overdose delusions weren’t just delusions after all.
How do you tell your family that you’d watched the world end in a ball of fiery destruction that was probably your fault? How do you get them to believe you when half of what you saw could never come to pass with how things were at that moment?
The answer, of course, was that you don’t. You don’t say anything at all.
Ben and Diego bullied the full story out of Klaus as Mom made a late lunch. He and Dave were pressed against each other, side by side on the armchair, like they couldn’t be close enough, and Klaus shakily told them everything.
He’d been taken by the intruders the day before, stolen in his towel and stuffed into the trunk of a car, then tied up in a motel room as they attempted to torture him into telling them as much as he could about his siblings and their powers.They’d been caught off guard, they said, and needed to know everything.
“But why?” Quentin had interjected. “What could they have possibly stood to gain from attacking us if they didn’t already know about our abilities?”
“I don’t know. They sounded like corporate douches, but with more guns and a weird time travelling briefcase. I don’t know what they wanted, just that the big one thought they deserved bonuses for the unforeseen danger and the small one wanted them to finish their ‘assignment’ and move on. They wanted me dead. I think they want all of us dead. I think that’s the only reason they didn’t kill me-- to figure out how to get to you guys.
“And then, of course, came Diego and Eudora, crashing into the room like the most iconic duo of superheroes out there, and I escaped through a vent and took the briefcase, which took me back in time to the Vietnam War, where I met Dave here, and I fought by his side for six months before I started missing y’all too much to stay, and Dave asked me to take him back with him and I did and now we’re going to be the greatest power couple of them all.”
His story made Vanya feel like she had whiplash, but she decided not to question him too much, choosing instead to just be happy he was alive and okay.
She took Toni home after that, thanking her profusely for her help. Then she went home herself and collapsed into bed, even though it was barely 8 pm.
She stared at the ceiling for an hour before succumbing to sleep, thinking about the vague snippets she remembered from the overdose delirium.
How could she tell the difference between what was going to happen and what wouldn’t? How could she figure out how to stop an apocalypse if half of why it happened wasn’t going to happen anyway? Did that mean that the apocalypse wouldn’t happen and she didn’t have to do anything? And what did this mean for her visions in general? How did they work if she was seeing things that couldn’t happen?
And still, it kept circling back to stopping an apocalypse she didn’t know would happen.
That creep Leonard was involved somehow, she knew that, but how? She hated to think of him-- it made her feel gross and slimy, but she couldn’t help it.
He’s killed Helen in her dream. He’d manipulated Vanya and gaslighted her and she hated him, but she barely knew anything about him.
Who the fuck was Leonard, and why did everything seem to hinge on him?
I had to keep Dave alive. I just did. I can't bring myself to torture Klaus like that. I almost didn't-- I had a whole scene with Klaus mourning, and then I was like "wait... he has a healthy relationship with his family now. Why would he stay in the past that long?" So I had him and Dave come back early.
Also, Eudora's still alive, because fuck that whole "killing the woman for the guy's plot line to develop" trope that they did TWICE with Diego. Uh uh. Eudora's a boss ass bitch and she survives and thrives and she and Diego get married and have babies and live happily ever after (...uhh... spoilers? I guess?)
This is a happy AU thank you very much. No one dies except Reginald. And maybe Leonard. I haven't decided yet.
So, uh.... let me know what you thought?
Chapter 31: Say What I am Feeling Now (I Want You All)
She finally tells someone about what she saw. Fluff ensues.
This is not at all what I wanted this chapter to be. I have no idea what I planned for it when I started writing it, but it wasn't this. Don't get me wrong, a lot of it is fantastic, but still... not what I planned. Then, suddenly, I was at over 2,000 words and realized that what I wanted to happen next would have to wait.
Chapter title is from "Thinking Bout You" by Dua Lipa
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Vanya had decided that she couldn’t really tell her siblings about what she’d seen-- not without opening up a can of worms she didn’t even want to consider opening.
Still though, when she woke up, panting and shaking and crying with half-formed memories of her overdose delirium still flickering behind her eyelids, she couldn’t help but be desperate to call someone and vent. She found herself reaching for a little orange bottle out of sheer force of habit, a reaction to her hammering heart, only remembering its absence when her questing fingers came up empty.
Cracks spiderwebbed across her window as the room shook around her, and she sucked air into starving lungs like it would take away the image of Helen’s dead eyes staring sightlessly into nothing, or blood spilling from Allison’s throat and soaking her shirt and Vanya’s hands, or the feeling of large hands on her body as she forced herself to sleep with a man for the sake of not losing him, to fill the desperate need to feel loved.
It won’t happen… It will never happen… Just breathe, goddamnit Vanya, chill the fuck out before you wreck your apartment… It can’t happen…
She paid little mind to the clock as she picked up her phone and dialed Helen’s number with shaking hands. She didn’t pick up because of course she didn’t pick up, what the fuck did you expect from her at 3:30 in the morning , but the part of her still stuck in her dream panicked with the thought that she didn’t pick up because she was stuffed inside a body bag. She could barely keep from calling Allison, only the knowledge that she’d likely only make her sister worry stopping her from pressing the little phone icon next to her name.
She heard a quiet knock at her door, low enough to not disturb anyone sleeping, but loud and insistent enough to send Vanya jumping out of bed. A glance through the peephole revealed Zoe, standing in front of her apartment with an eye mask around her hair like a headband and a worried expression on her face.
Vanya opened the door.
“Are you alright?” Zoe asked as she was beckoned inside. “I felt the shaking-- knocked an entire lamp over. I almost got crushed. I wanted to make sure nothing happened down here.”
Vanya gave her a touched smile as she joined her on the couch. “I’m okay. I’m sorry about the shaking.”
Zoe laughed. “It’s not like you can stop the Earth from shaking, V. Although, I didn’t think we got earthquakes out here.”
Vanya shook her head. “We don’t. The shaking was… well…”
She stopped herself before she could say anything to her about her newfound powers. She didn’t want to hurt their relationship before it even started by admitting to being responsible to almost crushing her crush under a lamp. Zoe’s gaze was penetrating though, and the words were pulled from her by the magnetic concern in her eyes.
“Have you ever heard of the Umbrella Academy?”
She looked confused, but nodded. “Never read the comics myself, but my brother liked them, and they were all over the news for a few years, even out in the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania. What-- why is that important?”
“Because my father was Reginald Hargreeves. I was Number Seven.”
Zoe’s eyes widened. “You-- but you weren’t in the--”
“I wasn’t trained. Not like my siblings were. I was raised to believe I was ordinary, that I didn’t have powers, and so I never fought alongside them.”
There was an intense empathy in Zoe’s gaze. “That must have been really lonely.”
She nodded, then shook her head. “It was, but it was years ago. My relationship with them… well it was kind of shit when we were teenagers, but it’s been really good for the past few years. The problem is… well it looks like I’m not so ordinary after all.”
“What? You mean the shaking-- that was you?”
“I only found out I have powers a few days ago, and they’re really sensitive to my emotions, So if I’m feeling something strongly it leads to… well… I don’t really know. It’s some sort of sound-based telekinesis, I guess? Things tend to shatter and shake when I’m upset, at least.”
She looked hopefully and warily at Zoe, trying to gauge her reaction to the news. She looked tense, and a little freaked out, but there was nothing to indicate that she’d had any inkling of the situation beforehand, like the Leonard in her dreams had, and she didn’t look like she wanted to run away either, which Vanya was ridiculously grateful for.
Telling Toni about her powers hadn’t been nearly this difficult or scary, mainly because she already knew Quentin, who went through a phase during his second year of college where he acted like he was twelve again and teleported pretty much everywhere. It was easier, also, to tell her orchestra friends, who had met the rest of the family before when they’d attended some of the concerts. She’d also known all of them long enough at this point that she trusted that they wouldn’t freak out at the news.
Telling Zoe was a whole different ballpark. She’d only known her a couple of days, and so had no reason to believe that she’d be okay with her having powers, nor did she know if she had only inserted herself into Vanya’s life because of them, or her connection to her family. She knew next to nothing about how she’d react. In theory, that should have been enough to stop her from saying anything to her.
“So, then, what made you upset?” Zoe asked, after a moment’s silence to digest what she was told. “Are you okay?”
Vanya smiled despite herself and shook her head. “I’m okay. I just… I have these dreams sometimes, these really… I don’t know. They’re upsetting, I guess. They leave me feeling pretty shitty when I wake up.”
“Well, at least they’re just dreams, right?”
Well, she’d already gone this far. What was the damage of going further?
“Not really. They used to… I had one when I was twelve of my brother leaving one morning and getting trapped, unable to come back. I begged him not to do anything he’d regret later, and I didn’t think anything more of it. Just that I’d been so traumatized by a dream that I had to beg my brother not to do something that probably wouldn’t have ended as badly in real life. But then, a few years later, I had a dream that a different brother died, and then, later that day, the circumstances of his death were playing out in front of me. That’s when I… the dreams, they tend to tell the future. Or some form of the future, at least.”
She couldn’t interpret Zoe’s face, and she anxiously continued. “I know it sounds weird. I know it’s not-- it shouldn’t happen. I don’t know why it does. Or how accurate they always are. But I know that I was able to save Ben from something no one else saw coming, that I was able to save Luther from a mission that would’ve almost killed him, I… It was from the dreams. It was because of them.”
“So, what? You had another one last night?”
“Not-- no. Not like that, not really. It was-- About a week ago, I saw this weird… I don’t know how to describe it, really. It was… the apocalypse? Maybe? Except there were some things in the dream that couldn’t happen, because I stopped them from happening already. Like Quentin-- I stopped him from leaving, so he couldn’t come back the way the dream told me he would. And I stopped Luther from getting the injury that made him look the way he did in the vision. And you--”
“You dreamt about me?” She smirked, and Vanya blushed.
“Not in this case. That guy that you saved me from, Leonard? I had seen him in the dream; I let him in for the lesson and I trusted him and he.. He killed people, Zoe. In the dream, at least. My-- one of my best friends, Helen, I saw her dead in his attic, and in the dream I hardly knew her, but I still saw it.”
“Then that should mean it was just a dream, right? If you’re seeing things that couldn’t possibly happen--”
“Except I saw Klaus get kidnapped and that happened. I had never seen Leonard before he showed up at my apartment, but he was in the dream. If it wasn’t real, then how did those things happen? How do I know what to expect to happen and what never will?”
“I… I don’t know.”
They were thrust into a contemplative silence. Vanya got up to make tea, not knowing what else to do, but Zoe stopped her with a gentle hand laid on her arm.
“Look, I won’t-- I’m not going to lie, okay? I’m completely out of my depth here. I don’t know what to say, or do, or whatever to make it better, but I’ve been told I’m a really good hugger, and you look like you could use a hug. I don’t want to just… hug you out of the blue? But if you want…”
Impossibly touched, Vanya wanted to cry. Instead, she let Zoe pull her closer and pulled her up off of the couch.
“I think I’d like a hug very much.”
Zoe’s friends hadn’t lied to her. She was, in fact, an excellent hugger.
Vanya was having trouble figuring out when she’d decided that she trusted Zoe this much. More, evidently, than she did her siblings, at least, and she opened up to her faster than she’d opened up to anyone else before, even her therapist, who she was paying to allow her to be as open as possible. Was it a side-effect of being off of her meds? Was it just that they’d immediately bonded? Was Zoe just that person?
When they’d both finally withdrawn from the embrace, Vanya was startled to find her eyes slightly wet. She gave a thick laugh as she wiped at her damp cheeks. “I’m sorry. I know that this is all really, really weird. Maybe… maybe a little too weird--”
“Hey,” Zoe said with a grin. “I like weird.”
Vanya returned the smile. “Still,” she attempted to protest. “We sort of just met. You hardly know me. There’s no reason for you… I don’t want you to feel obligated or--”
“I don’t. I just really like you. Besides, I bond fast, and time is an illusion.”
“Did-- Did you just quote The Magicians?” Zoe smiled guiltily. “Oh my god, you really are a fantasy fan.”
“You recognized the quote.”
“I never said that was a bad thing.”
Zoe laughed. “Anyway, as a fantasy nerd, I think I’ve read enough chosen one stories to know that running away when you realize the person you want to date is basically a superpowered superhero makes you that asshole in the first chapter that everyone hates for making the protagonist feel like crap. Like Julia before she realized magic was real.”
Vanya winced. “Yeah, that was painful. Although, to be fair, Quentin and Julia were both hot messes for the first few episodes when it came to each other.” Then, “Wait, did you just call me the protagonist?”
“You have superpowers, V.”
“Yeah, but that’s not weird where I come from. Actually, it finally makes me a normal member of my family.”
“You’re really just proving my point.”
Vanya blushed again, and Zoe smiled, softly. “What’s so bad about being a protagonist anyway?”
“Nothing, I guess. I just never thought of myself as a protagonist.”
“Well, you should. You’re worthy of being a main character.”
Vanya couldn’t figure out what to say to that, so she just blushed more heavily and grinned.
“What does that make you, then? In my story, I mean?”
“The love interest who is also the protagonist of my own book series in which I save kids from scratched knees and the common cold and overprotective parents who think the common cold is actually a case of measles. We weren’t in the same universe, at first, but someone decided to write a crossover fanfiction between our universes and suddenly our authors were working together on a joint series starring the two of us in a ‘Doctor/companion’ type relationship but with more kissing. Slowly, as they write together, our authors fall in love and suddenly, they’re the author power couple of people’s dreams, and our book series where we run around saving kids from supervillains and treating their wounds tops the best-seller list every time a new one is released.”
Vanya’s stomach did a strange flutter and she couldn’t help but smile. “Gave a lot of thought to this, have you?” she teased.
Zoe gave an embarrassed little grin. “That may have been the dream I was having before the building started shaking.”
“You dreamt about me?”
Zoe’s smile grew, and suddenly any embarrassment on her face evaporated. “Yeah, I did. And it was the best dream I’d had in a long time.”
I love Zoe. Have I said I love Zoe? Because I love Zoe. This wasn't supposed to be another Zoe chapter but it was and now here we are.
Also, can you tell I'm dead over the Magicians?
The next chapter gives you a lot of Gareth because I decided that he is now Vanya's fairy godfather. I'm almost done writing it now, which is how I know. I hope y'all love him as much as I do.
Also, for those who couldn't get it-- Gareth is based off of Ianto Jones from Torchwood! His boyfriend is essentially Jack Harkness. He is also named Jack, although I'm changing his last name, if I mention it at all.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought!
Chapter 32: There is Someone Watching Your Footsteps (Turn Around)
Vanya goes to get coffee.
This chapter ended up way longer than I intended. The character interactions are amazing though, so I feel like it makes up for it.
Chapter title is from "Turn Around and Look at Me" by The Vogues
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The morning dawned calmly and sunnily, and Vanya woke to find herself on the couch alone, having fallen asleep there after Zoe had eventually left to go back to her own bed.
She had gotten a text from Allison at some point, asking her if she was coming over and if she could please get her a coffee from the place by her apartment. Don’t bother getting for anyone else, she had written. Klaus bet Quentin that he couldn’t make it through the day without coffee and now, somehow, everyone else got involved. Ben and I are the only ones who didn’t, and he’s not in the mood anyway.
She hadn’t been planning on making the trip, but she got dressed anyway and headed over, if only to do something nice for her sister.
It was weird, she thought as she walked, that a family who had spent so much time avoiding that house like the plague had somehow made it a home base. Even Quentin, who had, at one point, said that “its walls were built of nightmares,” and Diego, who had once claimed that you couldn’t pay him enough to go back, were spending most of their time there. She supposed it was better than what they had done the last time Allison had been in town, when they piled into her apartment and rarely left. At least the Academy had the space for all of them. And things were different now that Reginald was dead.
Still, though. She admired their ability to compartmentalize so completely so quickly after their father’s death.
Father. It was a weird name for him, she decided. He’d hardly been a father at all, acting more in the role of a drill sergeant. Everytime she said “father” she wanted to vomit. But what else was she to call him? Maybe that was something to talk to Dr. Garnett about. At the very least, she’d be understanding of how much she hated calling him a father.
She really should’ve been paying more attention to where she was going. Maybe then she could’ve avoided this.
By the time she spotted Leonard walking towards her, it was too late to avoid him. The sight of him made her sick, the image of Helen’s sightless eyes swimming into the forefront of her mind.
“Vanya!” he called in greeting, and she forced a stiff smile onto her face.
He brandished his coffee cup. “Getting coffee? I can’t believe I’ve never been to this place before. They’ve got this cinnamon flavoring-- it’s incredible.”
Great. Now that was ruined for her forever.
“Yeah, I’m actually running late,” Vanya told him. “I’m meeting someone inside.”
It was a bald-faced lie, but he wouldn’t know that.
“Oh, right. Of course. I’m also running late, actually-- I have a meeting a couple of blocks over. Hey, are you sticking around afterwards? Maybe we could--”
“No, sorry.” Her voice was clipped and angrier than she’d intended. “I’m heading out right after this. I’ve gotta go. Goodbye, Leonard.”
“Uh, yeah. Alright. Bye, Vanya!”
She entered the shop, trying to resist the urge to look behind her and make sure he was gone. She approached the counter instead, smiling at Gareth as she did.
“Vanya!” He greeted with a bright smile. “How are you doing?”
“Pretty good,” she forced out. “Listen, Gareth. Can you look behind me and see if the guy who came out just before I went in is still there?”
He dutifully glanced out the window behind her, and a shadow crossed his face. “Er…”
“Is that a yes or a no?”
“It’s a yes. He’s sitting at one of the tables outside. Is he-- You know, he’s the second person to come and ask me about your coffee order?”
Her stomach sunk and the sick feeling returned. “He did what?”
“Yeah. I thought it was weird when that girl came in and did, but I didn’t say anything, but then he did it too and-- hey, are you okay?”
Tears had sprung up in her eyes and she started breathing a bit more heavily.
She forced a nod. “Just… The girl who came in-- that was Zoe. She’s… kind of a friend? I guess? Girlfriend? I don’t know, we didn’t really give it a name yet but she’s cool. Him though-- I barely know him, but he’s weirdly attached and it’s honestly kind of freaking me out.”
Gareth went wide-eyed with concern. “Do you-- is he-- you know, Jack would--”
Vanya shook her head at the mention of Gareth’s boyfriend. “No-- Gareth, really. It’s okay. I’m going to bring it up to my brother’s girlfriend-- she’s a cop, and she’ll be able to look into for me. I just… I figured you should know that if he came back and started asking about me at all-- just don’t tell him anything?”
“Of course! Mum’s the word. The girl though--”
“Like I said, she’s cool.”
He had an amused glint in his eyes. “Oh, is she? Girlfriend, huh?”
“Stop,” she groaned. “It’s really new and we haven’t actually been on a date yet.”
“But you want to though.”
She sent him a glare, and he raised his arms in defeat.
“So did you actually want coffee or did you come in here just to avoid him?”
“Coffee, please. A large coffee with a little sugar and cream and a medium mocha coffee?”
He nodded, then refused her money. “Consider it an apology for not realizing how strange that guy was sooner.”
She gave him a smile and he went off to make the drinks. As casually as possible, she turned to take stock of the shop, risking a glance out the window.
He was still there.
Her breath quickened, and Gareth must have noticed, because as he brought the coffees over to her, he glanced behind her, then back, looking upset.
“Jack’s sitting in the corner with his computer if you want to wait him out.”
She nodded gratefully and took the coffee over to where Jack sat with a thankful wave at Gareth.
He glanced up from his computer as she approached. “Hi, Vanya,” he grinned in welcome before turning back to his computer. She took the seat across from him, putting the coffees down on the table.
“Hi, Jack. Sorry to disturb--”
“Please, it’s no disturbance. What brings you over to my corner of the world?”
“Creepy guy outside. I ran into him on my way in and he stayed there watching as I got the coffees. The only reason he let me go in was because I told him I was meeting someone.”
Jack looked back up at her, a dangerous look flashing in his eyes. He went to look out the window, but she shook her head at him.
“I don’t want him to know I’ve been talking about him. Just... I’m going to text my brother, have him come over to pick me up. Can I--”
“Of course!” His nod was vigorous.
He smiled. “Hey, so this brother you’re texting… which one is it?” His smile turned slightly mischievous, and she snorted as she pulled out her phone, remembering the way he’d leered at Klaus when he’d run into the two of them a few weeks before.
“Not the one you know.”
She ignored his slightly crestfallen expression as she clicked on Diego’s contact. She accidently hit the wrong part of the screen, and it lit up with the “calling” screen.
Oh well, too late now.
She lifted the phone to her ear just as Diego picked up.
“What’s going on, Van?”
“Hey, Dee. Are you busy?”
“Just going to drop Eudora by the station. Why?”
“Can you-- on your way or something, can you swing by the coffee shop by my apartment and pick me up?”
All levity in his voice was gone.
“It’s just-- there’s this guy and he won’t leave the front of the shop and I just…”
“I’m on my way.”
He hung up before she could say another word, and Jack nodded approvingly. “He sounds hot.”
“He’s dating a cop.”
“I’ll bet the cop’s hot too.”
Vanya laughed. “I guess so?”
He raised an eyebrow. “That’s not a no.”
“No, it isn’t,” she agreed. “What exactly are you hoping for here, Jack?”
He shrugged. “A new experience? Some fun? I wish you’d agree to join us one of these days…”
Vanya shuddered. “Yeah, again, no. Thanks for the offer, but I’m not really… you know…”
“Into guys or into sex?”
She shrugged, and he nodded. “Fair enough. Whatever makes you happy.”
She smiled and let him go back to his computer. She avoided looking at the window, but she did turn and catch Gareth’s eye, and he glanced at the window, then clenched his jaw and gave her a miniscule shake of his head. Still there, then. Crap.
She wished she knew what he wanted. She wished she knew exactly what he was hoping to gain by essentially stalking her. She wished she knew what he was doing in her vision and why he was in it in the first place.
How did he hear about her anyway? She wasn’t exactly a public figure, and she hadn’t published that stupid book, so no one really knew about her connection to the Umbrella Academy. She knew Allison had made references to a sister in interviews, but no real details, and she was never included in any of the information or press about the Academy when they were kids. Maybe it was through the orchestra or something? Although she couldn’t figure out why he’d take an interest in her over anyone else who played with her.
So what exactly was his play here?
Diego and Eudora walked in less than ten minutes after she called. The former immediately looked her over for any sign of damage and sent a glare at Jack, who smirked back and looked both of them up and down appraisingly.
“Diego, Eudora, this is a friend of mine, Jack. Jack this is my brother and his girlfriend.” She made the introductions before Diego could start threatening anyone, and she motioned subtly with her eyes out the window.
“Creepy guy was sitting outside last time I checked,” she told him in an undertone. He looked, but shook his head.
“Well, there’s no one there now--”
“But,” Eudora interrupted, “there was someone who got up as soon as we came over to you. I didn’t get a good look but maybe that was him?”
Gareth came over to where they were congregated. “That man’s gone,” he confirmed. “Left as soon as you two walked in.”
Eudora pulled out a small notebook and a pen and looked curiously at him. “Can you tell me anything about him?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know much. The name he gave was something with an ‘L-’”
“Leonard,” Vanya bit out, and Gareth nodded.
“Yes, that was it. He came in and asked if Vanya had ever come in before and what she usually got. I thought that was weird, but it wasn’t the first time someone had come in asking that question, so I thought that maybe she’d just asked someone to get her coffee or something. But then Vanya walked in and told me he’d been creepy around her. I sent her over to sit with my boyfriend over here until he left.”
“So people have asked that question before? About her coffee order?”
“A person I know,” Vanya answered. “My new neighbor. We had breakfast and she brought coffee. It was fine when she did it. But him… it’s more creepy than sweet right now, you know?”
“And do you know Leonard?”
“Barely. He came over for a lesson a few days ago. I turned him away-- I’d cancelled all the lessons and thought he probably just didn’t get the memo or something. But then he wouldn’t leave, kept asking me questions and trying to get in. It took that new neighbor showing up and telling him off for him to finally leave. Then, I ran into him this morning, on the way in. I tried to tell him I couldn’t talk, that I was meeting someone, but then he tried to get me to hang out with him afterwards. I told him I couldn’t and I went in. Except then he didn’t leave, even though he’d told me he was also running late for something.”
Eudora nodded as she took notes, then asked if there was any security footage and if she could please see it? Gareth immediately agreed, taking her to the back room, leaving Vanya and Diego with Jack.
Diego looked at him, slightly apologetic. “Thanks for sitting with her.”
“Oh,” Jack practically purred. “It was absolutely my pleasure, Diego.”
Vanya noticed that Diego looked a bit surprised but not completely disinterested. She groaned and pushed him to pull up a seat as she sent a look at Jack.
“Can you stop trying to seduce my brothers, maybe?”
“You’re no fun, Van.” He pouted playfully, then sent a shark-toothed grin at her brother. “Besides, he can make his own decisions.”
Diego grinned. “Sorry, dude.”
He tutted in displeasure, but smiled anyway. “Oh, fine. I’ll make a mental note then-- none of the Hargreeves are any fun.”
“Not your kind of fun anyway,” Vanya laughed, then stopped, considering. “Although, maybe Luther…”
Diego snorted helplessly. “Yeah, that’s something I’d like to see. Heteronormative, buttoned up, Luther in a tryst with Captain Flirt over here.”
Jack raised an eyebrow with a smirk. “You’ll have to introduce me, Vanya. Sounds like exactly the kind of person I’d like to corrupt.”
That only made Diego laugh harder. “If corrupting him means he becomes more tolerable to be around, I’m all for it,” he managed between cackles.
Vanya smiled as she finished her coffee, then caught sight of Allison’s and grimaced. It would be cold by the time she got it to her, and so she offered it to Jack and resolved to ask Gareth to make a new one before she left.
He and Eudora came back a couple of minutes later, Gareth looking slightly grim, Eudora, cool and professionally detached.
“The security footage didn’t have a good image of him,” she reported to them, “but we got a basic outline and a last name from the credit card he used to make his purchase. I’ll go run it through the system at work. We can’t arrest him or anything unless we can prove a stalking charge or an intent to harm-- from all appearances, he was perfectly within his rights-- but we will hopefully be able to get some information on him and raise a red flag in case it gets worse or any other woman reports or has reported anything similar regarding him.”
Vanya smiled gratefully. “Thanks, Eudora. I really appreciate the help.”
“Absolutely,” the aloof facade fell away and she grinned back. “Anytime. You know that.”
“Shall we?” Diego asked motioning for the door.
“Yeah, let me just get Allison a new coffee first,” she stood and looked to Gareth who smiled and nodded, heading back behind the counter.
“Anything in particular?” he called back as he pulled out a cup.
“Surprise me,” Vanya replied. “She likes it a little sweeter, but other than that, she’s not picky.”
Diego watched longingly as the coffee was prepared, and Eudora laughed at him, then went to order her own, sticking out her tongue mockingly at him as she did.
Meanwhile, Vanya hugged Jack tightly and thanked him for letting her sit with him, a thanks which he brushed off with a shake of his head. She went to pick up the coffee, and when Gareth once again refused the money, she stuck a twenty into the tip jar and reached across the counter to squeeze his arm affectionately.
“Let me know what happens?” he asked as she headed for the door, where Diego and Eudora were waiting.
She nodded and waved, then let herself be pulled out to the car.
They dropped Eudora at the station, then headed back to the Academy. Diego looked suspiciously at every guy who even vaguely matched the description Vanya had given Eudora in the car. She didn’t know how to talk him down from it, but figured she wouldn’t need to unless he actually started acting on any of his suspicions.
A frowning Allison met them at the door, making grabby hands at the cup in Vanya’s hold until she surrendered it with a grin.
She groaned in appreciation at the first sip. “Gareth made this didn’t he? Oh my god, I want to marry that man.”
“His boyfriend might just let you, as long as he came with the deal,” Diego remarked as they entered the house. “Patrick, on the other hand, might have something to say about that.”
She narrowed her eyes, then looked at Vanya.
“What took you so long, anyway?”
God, where did she even start?
I was going to use a line from "every breath you take" by the Police for the chapter title, but it was a little too easy.
Gareth and Jack are going to be best friends with Klaus and Dave. You can't convince me otherwise.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought!
Chapter 33: I'm So Sorry to Say (You Need Me, Don't You?)
Dave gets some character development. Klaus gives us more details.
This was originally a lot longer, but I took off some of the end and am starting the next chapter with it. I hope you enjoy!
Chapter title is from "The Overpass" by Panic! at the Disco
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The events of the day before had almost completely slipped her mind until she ran into Dave while en route to the kitchen to start scrounging up lunch.
He smiled stiffly at her, shoulders high and tense and transmitting complete discomfort. She gave him a gentle smile, trying to loosen up to put him a bit more at ease. It wasn’t exactly an easy task, her run-in with Leonard that morning still haunting her, especially after giving the barest details to Allison (and Quentin, when he’d come looking to see if she’d gotten there yet just as she was about to launch into her story), but she managed enough that his shoulders dropped slightly, and the smile on his face turned a little bit kinder.
“... Vanya, right?”
She nodded in response to his question and pointed at his chest. “And you’re Dave. I’m sorry; we didn’t really get a chance to talk yesterday. I wanted to thank you for taking care of Klaus while he was… well… just, thanks. He deserves someone looking out for him.”
A lot of the remaining tension on his face melted away. “It’s not something I need thanks for,” he insisted. “Klaus is… he helps me just as much as you think I’m helping him. I didn’t think-- I know things are different in this century but I--”
She could tell the directed his awkwardly stilted statement was going for, and she shook her head. “I know. I get it. And yeah, Klaus is great about… that. Helping with that, and everything else, and… yeah. He’s… he was the first one to really try and talk through my… preferences... with me. Everyone else kind of just assumed I was either gay or straight and didn’t ask me about it at all. Klaus didn’t seem to care either way and when it was obvious I was struggling with it, he-- he cares. More, I think, than he’s been assumed to care in the past. I mean, I know that, as his sister, and I know Ben knows--”
Dave interrupted with a short laugh. “Ben definitely knows. I’ve had one one-on-one conversation with him and he was giving me this glare the entire time.”
Vanya grinned. “Sounds like Ben. Where Klaus is concerned, anyway. The rest of our siblings, I think they tend to underestimate just how deep his feelings run because of how lighthearted he seems, and I know he’s dated people in the past that treated him like crap because they thought it wouldn’t hurt him. I think people tend to think a relationship with him would be easy, that he’s low-maintenance and doesn’t need that much love or attention, but I think he actually needs more than any of the rest of us. Or maybe he just needs much more than people expect, so it seems like a lot. Like Allison, for example? People kind of tend to know right away that she likes love and attention and the like, so when she gets upset at not getting enough, it seems more normal. Or Diego-- as much of a facade he puts up of being thick-skinned and tough, you only need to spend a minute or two with him to figure out that he’s desperate for affection-- it’s why he and Eudora make such a good couple, I think, because she’s good at giving it to him without making him feel weak for wanting it.”
She was blabbering, she knew, somehow completely unable to stop the stream of words from falling out of her mouth. Dave was starting to look a little overwhelmed, and she felt bad, trailing off and kicking herself as she tried to get herself back on track.
“Point being,” she finally said, “that Klaus has been hurt before because people didn’t realize how much he cares-- how much he feels. And Ben especially, he’s very protective of him after that. Don’t take it too personally if he takes a while to warm up to you. It’s not that he doesn’t like you, just that he doesn’t trust you yet.”
Dave nodded, finally actually relaxed. That was probably what he had been so concerned about in the first place-- he thought that no one liked him and was getting ready for her to give him the same wariness and mistrust as everyone else.
She thought she’d probably had an advantage on trusting him though-- her vision hadn’t shown her Dave, but it did show her Klaus’s pain at coming home alone. She knew her brother at this point-- she knew him very well. And she knew that as broken up as he could be at betrayals, he didn’t mourn for people who hurt him. The Klaus she saw… she’d only seen him like that once before, and that was right after Ben had died in the second vision she’d ever had. She didn’t know what their future would be, Klaus and Dave, but she suspected that if anything bad happened it wouldn’t be like it had been all those times before.
She started thinking she was a pretty good judge of other people, or at least that her instincts about people were good, even if she hadn’t always been great at acting on those instincts. With Leonard, all instincts pointed towards danger, or, at least, all of her instincts that weren’t remembering the attention and love-starved girl she’d been when she was a teenager and for years after that, up until she’d written and locked up that manuscript and found herself strengthening her relationships instead of taking a wrecking ball to them. (Because she wouldn’t lie; there was a part of her-- a secret, hidden part that disgusted her-- that had preened with the attention and regard Leonard was showering upon her. It was the part that remembered being so goddamn lonely all the time, that remembered phone calls never answered or returned and going weeks and weeks at a time without having anyone she knew she could talk to.)
With Dave though, all of her instincts (all of them, even the completely traitorous ones) were telling her that he was a good and genuine guy, one who seemed to be completely smitten with Klaus after knowing him only six months, and one who would try his damnedest to earn as much trust as he could.
“I always knew,” he said, “that if I came back with Klaus, I’d probably have to contend with Ben anyway. Almost every story he ever told me had him in it. They… he said that Ben was his favorite person when I asked who he was. It-”
“He lied,” Vanya found herself saying, cutting him off. Scarily enough, she found she wasn’t even lying to protect Dave’s feeling. “Not completely, mind you. He and Ben have been living together all of their lives for a reason, and it’s not just convenience. They… I haven’t seen a deeper bond between any of the rest of us, and we all paired off pretty well, me with Quentin and Luther with Allison and Diego with Mom. But I also know that they have had a whole life to build up that relationship, and after knowing Klaus for almost thirty years, I’ve come to know him pretty well-- the way he looked at you last night, like you’d saved him from everything dull and drab and given new meaning to his life… he came to care about you like that after only six months. I’d say, knowing that, that you were giving Ben a pretty good run for his money.”
His eyes were sparkling with wonder when she’d finished, and she grinned. They’d be okay. She could tell.
She set off for the kitchen once again, and found Klaus down there, allowing Quentin and Luther to pelt him with questions about everything he’d gone through while he’d been kidnapped while the former poked at the briefcase with a screwdriver, a tool box open beside him, trying to figure out a way to investigate it more fully without triggering the time-travel mechanism that had been built in to the machine.
He wasn’t unfamiliar with time travel himself-- Reginald had eventually agreed that he was ready to attempt it, and Quentin had had some practice with doing it on his own. By the time he’d started though, Vanya had already told him about her visions, and what she’d remembered seeing had been enough to put him off attempting to really go beyond a day or two into the past. (He tried going a day into the future before, but the way he’d arrived to find Vanya a complete wreck, convinced he’d gotten himself stuck in the post-apocalyptic wasteland she’d dreamt of, convinced him never to do it again.)
The briefcase was new, interesting territory. As far as she knew, Quentin’s training had never implied that there were objects that could aid in the process, meaning their father had probably never come across any. She could see the delighted frustration behind her brother’s eyes as he attacked the hinges on the bottom of it with his screwdriver. She half wanted to joke that perhaps it’d be easier if it was sonic, before what Klaus was saying distracted her.
“They mentioned a third agent when they thought I was unconscious,” he added it almost as an afterthought, and the look Luther shot him told her he’d heard that too, and was upset that he hadn’t mentioned it earlier. “Some guy they kept calling “Gaslight,” like some sort of code name.”
“What did they say about him?” Vanya asked, pulling up a chair beside Quentin and playing with the clasp on the toolbox. He moved to slap her hand away, and she withdrew before he could. She picked up a screw that had escaped the box and started fiddling with that instead, and Quentin rolled his eyes, but didn’t go to take it away from her. She smirked triumphantly as she rolled the screw between her fingers.
“I didn’t hear most of it,” he admitted. “One of them said something about his ‘skills’ not being very effective this time around, and the other said that that was what they were here to adjust for, and that it still could work, it just might take a bit more time.”
“And it had to do with us?” Luther asked, and Klaus groaned.
“I told you, Luther. I don’t know exactly what they were after, but no one’s tried to kill us except for the two of them over the last few days so maybe they have another assignment in the same area. Either way, they weren’t working alone.”
“Obviously not,” Quentin scoffed. “From their methodology alone, I’d think they were probably assassins for hire or working for some sort of potentially villainous corporation. They have access to time travel technology, assuming they’re the ones who hid the briefcase in the vent, meaning it’s probably either an alien organization with technology beyond Earth’s or an organization that doesn’t exist yet, coming back in time to set certain events into play. Whoever they’re working for, they didn’t give them much information on us, at the very least. Our powers are very public knowledge, except Vanya’s. Either their company’s incompetent, or someone didn’t want them looking too closely at their mark.”
Luther scrubbed a hand over his face and let out a heavy sigh. “There’s absolutely nothing else you remember?” he asked Klaus, who shrugged.
“It was like, six months ago for me,” he reminded them. “I only remember what I do because I thought it was strange…” His face lit up and he let out a small gasp. “Although, now that I’m really thinking about it, they never really did ask any questions about Vanya. Plenty about Luther, Allison, and Diego, and a couple about if anyone else had powers, but I hear you sent one of them into a wall with a toss of your head-” he motioned to Vanya “-and they didn’t seem to give a crap about that.”
“You’re sure?” Quentin was looking scarily excited. He must have thought he had a lead.
“Yeah. They said “the one in leather,” “the one with the curly hair,” and “the tall one,” but nothing that could apply to Vanya. Like…”
“Like they already knew about her powers,” Quentin finished. “Like they knew what to expect.”
“Yeah. Like that.”
“I did notice that they didn’t seem to eager to fight you,” Luther said. “You got pushed out of the way, maybe a little harder than necessary, but not hard enough to cause any really bad damage, and even without Diego pushing you out of the way, that gunshot they fired at you wouldn’t have come close to hitting you, which didn’t make sense with the accuracy they’d had before. Like it was a warning shot, and only in response to you using your powers. They fought to kill with the rest of us-- the only reason they didn’t manage it was because they didn’t know what to expect. But you…”
“What are you saying?” Quentin was asking, but she could hardly hear him over the roaring in her ears.
Rocks falling from the sky… fires raging over the world… cities in flames...buildings crumbling to ash… gunmen at a concert… rage… so much rage… like she could pull the moon from the sky… people she trusted attacking her… pounding on a thick glass door like they’d hear her… like they’d care… like they weren’t the ones who locked her up in the first place… Leonard… Leonard with the journal… “You’re special, Vanya…” “You’re weak, Vanya…” “You’re ordinary…” “Say it… Say that you’re special…”
The world was burning down and it was all her fault.
I had a bunch I wanted to say but I remember none of it. If I do remember, I might add it after.
Thanks for reading. Please please please leave a comment? They completely make my day!
Chapter 34: You are Gonna Hear it (When I Give Them My Regards)
We all know a little more. Not enough. Never enough.
I hope this makes any sense. Part of it was supposed to be in the last chapter but I split it up.
Chapter title is from "Broadway, Here I Come" from the TV show "Smash"
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It took her too long to realize that Quentin had taken hold of her shoulders and was shouting for her to tell him what was happening. It took even longer for her to realize that the room was shaking and the toolbox had flown open and screws and nails were floating above it and that the briefcase had ripped right down the middle, revealing wires and gears and mechanical innards and Luther was crouched in the corner, huddled over Klaus, who was fighting his way out of his grip.
And she didn’t know what had happened. Part of her must have been aware that her panic attack had sent her powers spiraling out of control, but most of her, the conscious part of her, was too caught up with watching the tape measure slowly unravel itself.
Quentin had placed her hand on his chest, and she felt the rising and falling of it, the beating of his heart beneath it, and if she focused, she could hear it beating too, and Luther’s, and Klaus’s, and now that she was really focusing on it, she could hear Allison’s and Diegos’ and Ben’s and Dave’s hearts as well, all of them getting closer and closer, and she heard a slowly thudding one that must have been Pogo’s and a whirring that she supposed would have had to have come from Mom.
Slowly, she matched her own breathing to the rising and falling of Quentin’s chest, and by the time her other siblings had made it into the kitchen, the tape measure had gone zipping back into the case and the nails and screws had crashed back down into the box and the shaking was slowly stopping too, and Luther was standing up and letting Klaus run over to wrap her in a hug, muttering words of comfort into her hair and she finally started feeling a little bit more normal.
Quentin had released her hand but she didn’t take it off of his chest, allowing the continued steady breathing to instruct her own.
“Are you okay?” Ben asked, peering over Klaus’s shoulder.
It took her too long to answer, still feeling dazed and tired and kind of out of it. She couldn’t hear anyone else’s heartbeat anymore, but she still felt her own, pulsing through her wrists and her neck and her chest and her stomach. She managed a sluggish nod, before she collapsed bonelessly into Klaus’s embrace, only his arms keeping her upright. There were alarmed shouts, and she lifted one heavy arm to wave off their concern.
“Sorry,” she said, using Klaus’s shoulders to push herself up and shaking her head to clear it a bit of the fog. “I’m okay… just lost control a bit.”
“Why?” Allison asked, but before she had a chance to avoid answering, her phone vibrated in her pocket with an incoming phone call. She pulled it out to see Eudora’s name shining on the screen and she answered with a shaky “Hello?”
Luther took the phone call as a chance to tell them all what they’d been talking about, and Quentin started taking a look at the wiring of the briefcase. She stood and left the room as Eudora started talking.
“Hi, Van. I started looking around for whatever I could find on Leonard. It’s… Well…”
“What is it? What did you find?”
“Almost nothing. He isn’t in any database I have access to without a warrant, anyway. I took the phone number you gave me that you told me he used to schedule his lesson, and it’s registered to a guy named Harold Jenkins.”
“Oh, I was hoping you’d recognize the name… Whatever. It doesn’t matter. The point is, I looked up his name in the databases, and it turns out that Jenkins served time in prison for murdering his father when he was a kid. Got out a few months ago for good behavior. He’s been pretty off the grid since then. His parole officer heard from him at every scheduled check in, but there aren’t any other traces that he’s even alive. Neighbors at his given address-- the ones I could talk to, anyway-- said that a guy moved in about the time of his release, dropped off the face of the planet, then suddenly started walking around the neighborhood a few days ago, introducing himself as Leonard and being generally friendly. Only one person reported anything suspicious, an older woman next door who claims to be psychic. She said she could feel the negative energies around him, just like she thought Jenkins used to have. Not a credible witness, but I wouldn’t discount her, not with everything we know about you guys and your powers.
“I’m going to text you a picture of him from the file; can you take a look and tell me if you recognize him as the guy?”
“Yeah, of course. Thanks so much, Eudora.”
“It’s no trouble, I promise. It was a pretty slow day anyway. The only case I have right now is the shootout at the Academy, and we’ve got those guys in custody. It’s just about waiting them out for a confession at this point, while the prosecutor puts together a case.”
“Thanks for that too. You really do a shit-ton for us, you know?”
“I’m basically your sister-in-law. What else would I do?”
They exchanged goodbyes, and Vanya hung up, then took a look at the picture Eudora had sent her.
Leonard’s face stared back at her.
She sent back a two word text, just the words “It’s him,” before she headed back into the kitchen, already having decided not to tell Diego or anyone else that there was a convicted murderer stalking her. She’d never be allowed to leave their sight again.
Helen called as she was about to cross into the room, and she turned around to pick up in the privacy of the hall outside.
“So,” Helen greeted, “guess who got rushed to the hospital in the middle of rehearsal yesterday.”
Vanya’s heart dropped. Maybe Helen wouldn’t die in this timeline, but what if something had happened to Angie or Andrew or David?
“Oh no,” she moaned, and Helen laughed.
“Stop you’re worrying-- it wasn’t anyone you care about. It was Anika.”
Vanya hated herself for the sigh of relief that went through her at the name of the second chair violinist.
“We’re still not sure. She got to rehearsal a few minutes late but no one thought anything of it until we got to the middle of Clair De Lune and she kept missing notes she usually had no problem with. Then she collapsed and started having some sort of seizure.”
“Oh my god! Is she okay?”
“Unclear, but that’s not the point of this call. The concert on April first is. That’s this week and we don’t have anyone to fill in for Anika on such short notice. You’re up, buttercup.”
“I know you’re on bereavement leave but be honest-- do you actually care about that bastard who called himself your father? Besides, it’s a great opportunity to move up in the ranks a bit.”
“I can’t play second chair, Helen.”
“Yes, you can. And you will. I’ll be by your apartment at six this afternoon to teach you the second chair solo and make sure you haven’t gotten rusty from your time off. Adams told me to tell you that he expects you at rehearsal tomorrow.”
“See you later, Vanya.”
And with that and a little click, the phone call was over.
Helen was usually brusque and logical, so it didn’t surprise her that she’d had no issues with Anika being in the hospital. Vanya, on the other hand, felt pretty shitty about taking her chair from her like this. It couldn’t be helped, she supposed, but it still wasn’t the best case scenario.
And yet, she couldn’t stop herself from feeling the little jolt of excitement that went through her at the thought of having a solo at a concert she didn’t even think she’d be participating in. There was a barely concealed grin spreading its way over her face as she entered the kitchen, which Quentin took notice of immediately.
“You’re looking better,” he commented, and she shrugged.
“I got a call from Helen. Anika, the girl who plays second chair violin, she got sick or something and can’t play in the concert this weekend. Mr. Adams wants me to play in her place. Or Helen does, and Adams gave his blessing. I’m still not sure what the order of events was. But yeah. I get to play second chair.”
She said it as nonchalantly as she could manage, but it didn’t stop Klaus from immediately giving a giant celebratory hoot and practically jumping on top of her.
“Look at our little Vanya! You’ve got powers, you’re getting a girlfriend, and now second chair? I’m so proud of you!”
It was mostly said lightheartedly, but with the way his arms tightened at the end, she knew he didn’t mean it any less.
Klaus let go, and Allison and Ben moved in with hugs and congratulations of their own. Quentin nodded his acknowledgement of the news, and beamed proudly when he was sure no one was looking at him. Luther and Diego both clapped her on the shoulder in turn, sporting proud grins of their own.
It was weird for them to be proud of her, she couldn’t help but think. She hadn’t won second chair based on merit, merely coincidence. And yet, as she reveled in the warmth of her family’s reactions, she couldn’t bring herself to bring it up. She didn’t think they'd ever shown this amount of pride in her accomplishments before-- not that she’d had many to speak of.
It felt better than she’d thought it would.
Helen knocked on Vanya’s apartment door at precisely 6:00. Vanya was ready.
She had a new look on her face as Vanya went over Brahm’s Violin Sonata Number 3. She stopped playing part way through with a sigh.
“What, Helen? You obviously want to give me notes already.” She wasn’t annoyed, just resigned, and kind of disappointed in herself, and was shocked when Helen shook her head.
“Actually, no. I had no notes. You were incredible.”
“Then… why were you looking at me like that?”
“I don’t know. I can’t describe it. It was a new look for you.”
“I-- impressed. The word you’re looking for is impressed. Which never happens for me. What, you skip rehearsal for a week and all of a sudden you’re better than ever?”
Vanya’s mouth dropped open. She’d felt differently playing than she had before, similar to how she felt practicing for Claire, actually, but she’d attributed that to the familiarity of the songs she rehearsed with and her already fragile state. This… she was settled, withdrawal finally faded, and she’d only done this solo a few times before.
“I-- I mean, I’m off of my medication now…”
Helen narrowed her eyes. “What did that medication really do, anyway? You never said.”
“I thought it was an anxiety medication but… my father, he synthesized this new… thing… that ended up acting as an emotional suppressant--”
“That’s it!” she cried, cutting Vanya off mid-sentence. “Your playing had feeling. It never had before. I kept trying to figure out what threw me off so much when you played and I was never able to put my finger on it but now…” She went rummaging in her bag and pulled out a sheaf of paper. “Try this.”
Helen had covered the name of the piece, but Vanya recognized the notes to Paganini’s Caprice 24. She’d been lusting after it for years, always deeming it too advanced to attempt but dreaming of the day she’d finally feel ready to take it on. It was also Helen’s headlining solo for the concert.
As she studied the opening movement, she was struck with just how easy it looked to her now. She remembered looking at it a month ago and thinking she’d never be able to do it, but now…
Struck with an overwhelming confidence, Vanya relaxed into her hold and eased into the first set of notes.
She should have struggled. It should have been ridiculously difficult. She should’ve screeched the bow against the strings at the first double step.
The music flowed from the violin like water going downhill. She felt the notes in her bones, knitting her skeleton together and keeping her fingers flying over the neck of her violin. She felt the notes around her caressing her like a soft breeze, like Mom’s fingers gently brushing her hair from her face. She had numerous missteps, she knew. She could feel them as they happened. And yet none of that mattered. Not when her hand moved the bow like it had guided it just like that a million times before. Her fingering wasn’t perfect, but god, the music was.
Helen looked like she wanted to hit something when Vanya finally stopped playing.
“This isn’t fair. It took me weeks to be able to play this piece that well. At this rate, you’ll be taking first chair from me in a matter of weeks.”
Vanya blushed and shook her head. “I’m not going to take first chair from you, Helen.”
“Anyone else would.”
“I’m not anyone else.”
Helen smirked. “No, you’re not. Lucky for me, I guess. But Vanya--”
“I’m going to come back to you and force you to play this again in two weeks. If you do it like I think you will, I might just force you to audition for my spot. Because that-- I’ve been playing the violin since I was six. I have been told that I make the most nightmarish of Stravinsky runs look easy. I have played and heard the most beautiful concertos in the world. That? That wasn’t music. That was magic.”
Please note: I spent 20 minutes researching solos for the violin to find the pieces I mentioned. If you have a chance, listen to Hilary Hahn doing the Paganini piece. It's magically impossible.
It's not that Helen wants to give up first chair, it's that Vanya is so naturally tied to music and Helen has so much respect for the art that it wouldn't be appropriate for anything else to happen.
I'm happy I got to give a little bit more time to Helen. She doesn't get enough love.
I feel bad for Anika. She's innocent in all this. That poor girl.
Thank you so much for reading! Please please please, leave a comment?
Chapter 35: You Had Me at Hello (Then You Opened Up Your Mouth)
Vanya goes to rehearsal.
I'm honestly shocked that so many people are so upset about Anika. I've never even mentioned her before. Except once, in passing, and not by name. And the only thing I said was that she wasn't that much better than Vanya on violin.
I'm really enjoying giving more life to people like the philharmonious five, who've been around a while but haven't gotten actual characterization. That's why this chapter has so much of Andrew, Angie, and David. I wish I could have given them a little bit more, but plot, you know?
I spent over an hour trying to figure out how to end this. I hope it's not awful.
Chapter title is from "Take a Hint" from the TV show "Victorious" (Don't judge me; it's a bop)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After Helen left, Vanya sent Zoe and Toni a picture of the flyer for the concert, with the message “Guess who’s playing second chair.”
She wondered if maybe she was getting ahead of herself-- what would happen if she went into rehearsal the next day and was told that it was a mistake and really they had held open auditions for second chair and she’d lost because she hadn’t been there? It would make more sense than Vanya just being handed second chair, at the very least. She supposed that maybe Helen had made a special demand, a privilege of leading the concert that she seldom used. The fact that she wanted to use it for her made her terrified that she’d let her down.
She got a text back from Toni that read AH! Congrats Van! Helen said yesterday that she was saving me a ticket! Can’t wait!
Vanya knew that Helen and Toni were in contact with each other but she didn’t think they were that close. She shrugged it off and turned to Zoe’s reply.
YAASSS my babe!! Where can I get a ticket?
She could feel her face heating up with a red flush at being called “babe.”
I’ll get one for you. Hope I impress you.
You will. I know it.
That left Vanya with a grin on her face that didn’t fade for hours.
Leonard was standing at the box office window when she got to rehearsal.
She blanched and ducked her head, hoping to avoid his gaze and a conversation. She was completely unsuccessful.
He turned away from the window, ticket clutched in hand, just in time to catch her walking up to the stage door.
“Hey, Vanya!” he grinned, shark-toothed and bloody (or maybe that was just her). “Wasn’t expecting to see you here.”
She leveled him with an unimpressed look. “This is the only orchestra in town.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t realize you were… you know?”
“Why would you want to take lessons with me if you didn’t know I had experience?”
“Oh! I wasn’t… I mean, I didn’t mean… I’m not planning on really going anywhere with violin… not at my age anyway, so I didn’t really…” He was obviously flustered, which made her vindictively gleeful. “I guess I just didn’t think about it,” he murmured, finally.
She hummed as she pulled out her phone to text Eudora and let her know that there had been a Leonard sighting, and he glanced at her obvious disinterest before trying, a little frantically, to pull her back into conversation.
“So then I’ll see you in the concert this weekend?” He waved his ticket a bit, and reluctantly, she nodded. “That’s great! I’m looking forward to it! So, are you… what are you up to after rehearsal today? Maybe we--”
An arm was suddenly slung around her waist and a pair of lips pressed to her cheek.
“Hi, baby,” David greeted brightly, his eyes telling her to play along.
“David!” she gave him a dazzling grin, a silent thanks in gaze.
He glanced casually over at Leonard, who was looking sour and stiff. “Who’s this?”
Before she could open her mouth, he was answering. “Hi! I’m Leonard. I’m a friend of Vanya’s.”
“Really?” David raised an eyebrow. “She’s never mentioned you.”
“We aren’t--” Vanya insisted. “We really only met a couple of days ago.”
“Feels like it’s been longer,” Leonard winked.
He looked suddenly angry. “Hey, I was only trying to be nice--”
“Who are you, Leonard? You claim to be my friend, but I know nothing about you. And why do you seem to be following me?”
“Who’s following Vanya?” Angie walked over with Andrew, taking stock of David’s arm around Vanya with a slightly jealous look.
“I’m not!” Leonard insisted, his mouth curling unpleasantly. “I’ve only ran into you a couple of times, and they were coincidence! I just-- I thought we had a connection.” He pouted.
David snorted. “Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. Listen, buddy. She’s taken. And you’re obviously creeping her out. So maybe now’s a good time to leave?”
“I didn’t-- Listen, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you had a boyfriend, okay? Besides which, I just wanted to be friendly.”
Helen came up behind Leonard, her ultimate Queen Bitch expression pinching at the sides of her mouth and making her eyes narrow dangerously. “Yeah, well. Vanya has enough friends. Thanks.”
He glanced back at Helen and, realizing he was very much outnumbered, raised his hands in surrender. “Fine! Fine. I can see when I’m not wanted.”
“Can you? Because it really doesn’t seem like it.” Andrew’s biceps bulged beneath the tight t-shirt he wore as he crossed his arms over his chest. Playing the cello and a healthy workout regimen had left him impressively muscled, which worked to their benefit when it came to fending off drunk guys at bars. This was the first time his size and demeanor had been used to protect Vanya, who was usually pretty good at not drawing any attention to herself, and she felt like she did when she was around Diego and Luther, both of whom looked scary enough to ensure no one she didn’t want to talk to would even look at her twice. Around Leonard, it wasn’t a particularly unwelcome feeling.
The man was glaring at the group around him and finally stalked off, throwing one last bitter look over his shoulder at Vanya before he disappeared around the corner.
She relaxed with a deep sigh of relief, and David withdrew his arm from around her waist to clutch at her bicep.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded with a grateful grin. “Yes. Thank you for coming to my rescue. All of you, but especially you, David. I don’t know what I would’ve said to get him to leave if you hadn’t shown up when you did.”
“I’m sorry I had to pretend to be your boyfriend to do it.”
“I don’t think Vanya’s the person you need to apologize to,” Andrew laughed with a meaningful look at Angie, who was studiously avoiding looking at any of them. David turned bright red and got flustered. They’d been unofficially dating for months, and the unofficial part was only because both of them refused to make the first real move. Helen and Andrew had plans to lock them in a closet together if it went on much longer.
Helen looked off in the direction that Leonard went. “Who was that guy, anyway?”
“He was supposed to be a student of mine. Either he didn’t get the message that I cancelled his lesson or he did and didn’t care, but he showed up and almost refused to leave. Then I ran into him outside of the coffee shop by my place and he stared at me through the window until my brother and his girlfriend came to get me. And then, this. He’s real sketchy. Might be a convicted murderer.”
“Might be?” Angie was startled, and looked slightly scared.
“Probably is. Eudora is looking into it.”
“What the fuck?” David looked pissed. “And you were just standing there talking to him like he was just a regular old creep without boundaries?”
“Well, what was I supposed to do? I texted Eudora about it, and I didn’t want to give him a reason to want to kill me too. And even then, what do I say? ‘I know you’re a murderer?’ I can’t get away with saying something like that apropo to nothing, especially considering the evidence that he’s lying about who he is is all circumstantial.”
Their conversation was interrupted by Mr. Adams’ approach, and he motioned for the group to enter the theater, looking impatient and tired.
“Ms. Hargreeves,” he nodded at her as he followed her into the building. “I hope you can impress us with your skills today. Ms. Cho may have enough sway to get you the position, but you’ll need to earn it if you expect to keep it.”
“Yes, sir,” she responded politely, ignoring Helen’s eye roll.
Their warm up was brief and discordant, but rehearsal went more smoothly than it seemed Mr. Adams had expected, judging by the conductor’s begrudgingly impressed expression following Vanya’s solo. She couldn’t remember making a single mistake, barring a single dropped note in the group portion that went largely unnoticed.
This was mostly due to the practice session Helen had put her through the night before. She hadn’t left until after 11:00, insisting on going over everything again and again, even past the point of acceptability, until Vanya had yawned pointedly and Helen finally understood that perhaps sleep would be a good idea.
It couldn’t be denied, however, that she had improved by leaps and bounds after coming off of her medication. It wasn’t just about her ability to feel the music and the emotion behind it better than ever, although that certainly helped. Her playing almost seemed to stem from some supernatural force within her, allowing the notes she played to make sense to her fingers in a way that she had never experienced before. She wasn’t perfect, but her natural talent had gone from average to virtuosity almost overnight.
Andrew looked proudly at her when rehearsal came to an end. Angie and David looked impressed. Helen looked downright smug, an expression which only intensified when Mr. Adams pronounced her playing as “perfectly adequate,” which, in a similar fashion to her father, they all translated to mean “astoundingly impressive.” He wasn’t a man of much praise, that Mr. Adams, and he seldom admitted to being wrong, which placed him only a couple of steps above Reginald Hargreeves, who could not, for the life of him, even see his own mistakes, let alone own up to them.
She stopped by the box office on the way out to reserve tickets for her siblings, Zoe, and, included on a whim, Mom. She'd never been to one of Vanya's concerts before, having only ever left the Academy for Allison's wedding a few years ago, but now that her jailer was no longer an issue, she thought that Mom might enjoy a trip out to the concert.
For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, Vanya left rehearsal glowing with delight.
Which made the phone call she got as she started walking home all the more chilling.
“Vanya,” Luther said gravely. “We need you to come back to the Academy.”
“What happened? Who got hurt?”
“No one, yet. But the guys who broke in a couple of days ago, who took Klaus… they escaped, Vanya. And we don’t know who they’re targeting.”
Yes yes I know. Y'all hate Leonard. For good reason. He's still gonna show up a couple more times, though, so I'm sorry about that.
I really like the idea of Vanya's powers making her kind of a whiz on instruments, especially when she's not on her meds. Like, she'd play 30 different instruments, I guarantee it.
LOL anyone remember when I thought this story was gonna be a few chapters at most? Yeah that didn't happen. 35 and counting. I wanted to be done by 40 but there's no way. Then I thought 50, but I was scared I overshot. So basically, fuck nice round numbers. This is going to be however long it needs to be. (I should really plan better. That's never going to happen, but I should probably try.)
Thank you so much for reading! I'm hoping something I wrote struck enough of a cord with y'all to garner a comment, maybe?
Chapter 36: You Matter to Me (Simple and Plain and Not Much to Ask from Somebody)
A couple of conversations.
Okay, so we really are entering the final stretch here. I might clock in under 50 chapters after all. We'll see.
Chapter title is from "You Matter to Me" from Waitress
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She hung up with Luther and made a mad dash for Andrew’s car. Her own apartment wasn’t too far from the theater, so she usually walked there and back, but the Academy was far enough that she’d need a ride, and Andrew usually headed that way after rehearsal anyway.
He was just pulling out of his spot when she reached the car, and he stopped and opened the passenger side window with a concerned grin.
“Everything okay, Van?”
“Luther called. I need to head back to the Academy. You heading that way?”
He jerked his head to the side. “Hop in.”
She smiled. “Thanks, Andrew.”
She slid into the car, putting her violin onto the floor by her feet.
They spent most of the ride gossiping about the other people in the orchestra, starting with the fight that had broken out between the first and second chair clarinet players, then moving onto the not-so-secret affair between the harpist and the married first chair flutist, then ending on the circulating rumors about Anika’s continued hospital stay. No one knew why she had collapsed, but the third chair tuba player was convinced that she was dying of a rare tropical illness that she’d caught after having an affair with a visiting steward who’d just served a flight to Barbados, and the fourth chair cellist was telling anyone who would listen that his grandmother had put a curse on her because she’d declined his request for a date.
They were discussing whether or not Andrew should try and convince his new boyfriend to come to the concert when they pulled up in front of the house.
“Listen, Van…” He put the car in park and gave her a meaningful look. “I know… Things are shitty. They usually are shitty. And you… I guess they get more shitty for you than for most, with the new powers and the shitstorm of a childhood and-- and I know they’ve been better recently, and-- I mean, you’re violin playing today was phenomenal and I just--” He paused and let out a massive sigh. “I’m sorry. I thought I’d be more eloquent than this.”
She half-smiled and waited for him to start again.
“I just wanted to make sure you knew,” he said slowly, careful to enunciate each word, “that what happened earlier, with that guy outside of the theater, and who he is… it’s really fucking scary, okay? And you don’t have to pretend not to be scared of it just because… I don’t know… because things when you were a kid were worse? Or because your siblings dealt with worse? Just… the way you downplayed who he was… it’s a little concerning. And you should know that… that big reactions, that being terrified, all of it, in whatever way it is, it’s all… you should feel it, you know? You don’t have to pretend not to or anything. And if you weren’t pretending, then you should know that having a stalker who might be a murderer is not okay or something everyone is just going to go through and I’m nervous that if you don’t treat the situation for what it is then you might… you might not treat the situation with the gravity it deserves if it keeps getting worse.”
She nodded slowly, taking a minute to process everything that he said.
“I’m not… At least, I don’t think I’m treating the situation like it’s not that serious. It is; I know it is. I’m just… I guess it’s harder to care when I know that I have people to protect me from shit like that?”
“I mean, you had those people in your life a year and a half ago too, and still…”
She winced at the reference to the attack. “I know. I know. I just don’t…”
“Look, I’m not trying to-- The point is, you’re important. And we’d care if something happened to you. Us, and Toni, and your siblings, and those guys from that coffee shop, and your students, and their parents, and all of those random people that you meet and talk to on a daily basis. It’s like… Did you ever read Little Women?”
What the fuck?
“Okay, do you remember when Beth got sick, and no one was expecting anyone not in that little group to care, but then they noticed that everyone in the community was really really upset about it, like the fruit seller and the butcher and all of those people she had to interact with when she ran errands and everything?”
She sort of understood where he was going with that but the implication that she was Beth was not one that fit easily with her view of her life so far. She’d always envied Beth, and identified with her, because her obvious anxiety and demeanor reminded her of her quietest moments as a child and the way Beth was so obviously loved and cared for and how much her death affected the people around her had made Vanya hope for weeks after reading the book at age 10 that she’d be as missed as Beth was, even though Vanya knew that it probably wasn’t going to happen. Beth March and Lucy Pevensie were the heroes of her childhood though, Beth for her quiet kindness and Lucy for her bravery and curiosity, and to be compared to one of them was off-putting when she’d scarcely believed herself capable of living up to that.
Just because she was doing better didn’t mean she was okay, after all. The damage that a childhood raised by Reginald Hargreeves had done wasn’t as easily fixed as five years of psychotherapy and love/comfort, and getting sober from mood-altering drugs she’d been taking all her life.
“Are you saying I’d be Beth?”
“Yeah. You’ve always been a little like her. And this… We’d care, is all I’m saying. So please, just… don’t minimize the danger because you think it won’t matter if you’re gone.”
This wasn’t the first time she’d heard something along those lines, and she started deflecting and pretending to accept the words the same way she had every other time, but then she stopped.
“I’m… Ugh. Look, Andrew. I appreciate that. I really do. And being reminded of stuff like helps but… I just need you to know that it’s probably not going to change anything. I’m still going to doubt myself and how much I matter and--”
“I know that, Vanya. I know years of nurture and soul-crushing loneliness aren’t going to be easily undone. But we’ll keep reminding you for as long as it takes. Me and Helen and David and Angie and Toni and your siblings and all of those other people in your life.”
She hated herself for the tears that pricked at her eyes. She swiped at them furiously and leaned over to press a kiss to Andrew’s cheek in thanks, before giving a choked up laugh and shaking her head.
“Thanks for the ride, Andy.”
She was met at the door by Diego, who was looking tense and worried, and Allison, who had her suitcase by her feet, handle extended so she could roll it out the door.
“Vanya!” Allison greeted, smile wide. “I was starting to think you wouldn’t get here before I left!”
“Going back to LA?”
She nodded. “I know it’s only been a couple of days, but I miss Claire, and it’ll be good to get out of town while those felons are running around out of police custody. I tried to convince everyone else to leave but…”
“But the guys who don’t want to be around to help the cops don’t want to suffer the plane ride?” Vanya finished, laughing. “Yeah, that tracks. I’d consider it, but…”
“Right-- your concert. I’m sorry I’m going to miss it.”
“It’s okay, Allison. Go see your daughter.”
She grinned and wrapped Vanya in a hug. She flipped off Diego when she pulled away, who was standing by the door, car keys in hand, arms crossed impatiently. “Can I not say goodbye to my sister?”
“We’re going to be late.”
“My flight’s not for three hours, Dee. We’ll be fine.”
Both of them rolled their eyes simultaneously, provoking a giggle from Vanya, and with a wave, they walked out of the Academy, leaving her to go off in search of her other siblings.
It wasn’t hard to find them, not if she followed the sound of Luther and Quentin’s arguing. Diego and Luther were the worst about it, because Diego still held onto some childhood bitterness and resentment towards the favorite, Number One, and Luther was a stubborn, narrow-minded prick sometimes, but the combination of Luther and Quentin could be a volatile one, especially when tactics or strategy were involved. Both were equally obstinate, and both were convinced that they were the smartest in the family, Luther because he had been raised to think that leader=brains, and Quentin because he actually did, quantifiably, have the highest IQ. (Vanya, privately, thought that, of the seven of them, Ben was actually the smartest, if only because he was the only one with a lick of common sense, but she knew better than to vocalize that.)
She found them in the library, the two arguing brothers standing an inch apart, yelling loudly enough that even Mom, who sat primly in an armchair, was starting to look impatient. Pogo was in a corner by himself, reading silently and ignoring the duel. Klaus and Dave were tangled together on one end of a couch they shared with Ben, who was also reading, but with an increasingly pained expression growing on his face.
The latter looked up from his book as she entered the room, a relieved grin breaking out over his face. “Vanya! There you are! How was rehearsal?”
Her shouting brothers shut up to turn and look at her. She gave a smile of her own.
“Really good, actually. Being off those meds have improved my playing by leaps and bounds.” She pointedly did not look at Pogo, who had also looked up, but looked back down in shame. Good. He should feel bad.
She wondered momentarily if she should start thinking about forgiving him, if she was holding this grudge for too long. Then she remembered the way he used to tell her that he wished he could make things better for her, and she decided she was right to still be angry. He could have made things better. He could have at least tried.
It had only been a little over a week. That wasn’t nearly long enough.
“So what are you yelling at each other about?”
“Quentin thinks we should be looking for those guys who attacked us.”
“Luther thinks we can’t do anything about them.”
She sent a look at her biggest brother. “I wouldn’t think you’d be against getting involved.”
“I just think we’re safer here,” he argued. “There are professionals out there looking for them, and we’d only be getting in the way.”
AKA: Diego had argued for getting involved before he’d left, and Luther thought that any idea of Diego’s wasn’t one that he wanted to promote.
“You may be right,” she conceded anyway, and everyone looked slightly stunned. “What? These guys are dangerous--”
“Yeah, and you took them out in two seconds!” Quentin argued, but she shot him a glare for interrupting and continued.
“-- and we don’t know anything about them or what they’re truly capable of, especially if they’re more prepared for us this time. If we go looking for a fight, we might end up biting off more than we can chew. At least waiting here gives us a home field advantage and the benefit of time to rest up and prepare while the people who actually know how to track down felons do their jobs.”
“So, we’ll be useless, is what you’re saying?” Quentin tried again, indignant and angry.
“No. We’ll be safe. Beyond leaving town with Allison, there’s really no other way to ensure we avoid a fight.”
“Why avoid it?” he muttered darkly.
“Because I can’t control my powers enough yet to make sure I wouldn’t hurt any of you and Klaus doesn’t have a combat oriented power and we shouldn’t drag Dave into this at all, and you, Diego, and Luther tend to be a bit reckless when you think one of us might be in danger, and Ben hates using his powers on the best of days, and Allison isn’t even here. Also, who among us, besides Diego, has even had any combat experience within the last year, not counting the original attack?”
Klaus slowly raised his hand, but Dave shook his head, and he dropped it again, just as slowly. She smirked.
“Sorry, Klaus. War experience isn’t really relevant in this situation.”
He pouted. “It should be relevant for something…” he said petulantly, and Dave laughed and rubbed a soothing hand up and down his arm.
“She’s got a point. I’d hope that the guns wouldn’t play as big a role in the next fight as it seems they did the first time, and that’s kind of all we were good for as soldiers. Shooting and dying.”
“I’d hope that there isn’t another fight at all,” Vanya countered, “as long as we’re being hopeful.”
“Do you really think that’s realistic?” Ben’s tone sounded defeated.
“I don’t see why it can’t be.”
“Because there are two probable time-traveling assassins running around trying to kill us!” Quentin exploded. “Honestly, I’d rather try and find them and have the element of surprise than wait here like a sitting duck!”
“I can’t tell you what to do, Quentin,” Vanya insisted firmly. “I can’t control whether or not you decide to go searching for them. All I can tell you is that it is my opinion that waiting here, ready for the attack, and not getting underfoot of the people who have training in this arena of search and capture, is a better option than risking ruining their hard work and getting hurt anyway because we got too big for our britches.
“If you decide that you want to go searching, then do it. Be my guest. Just promise us that you’ll call us for backup before you engage them. Just because I think you’re being stupid doesn’t mean I won’t help, and you shouldn’t end up dead because you don’t think we’ll come.”
“How stupid do you think I am?” Quentin demanded, and Vanya’s smirk grew.
“Stupid enough not to listen when I know I’m giving good advice.”
He stared. “You know, it’s times like these when part of me wishes you’d never grown a backbone. I shouldn’t have introduced you to Toni. She’s a bad influence.” He wasn’t mean about it, and she could tell that he was choosing his words and his tone carefully so that she’d know he was joking, which she was thankful for. After the disaster of a phone call they’d had last week, he’d been more careful.
If she thought it, she’d overthink and imagine that it was pissing him off to have to watch his words so carefully. She’d imagine that he resented her for making him pay so much attention.
She was determined not to overthink it. She was not overthinking it.
But what if…
Okay, so she was overthinking it.
Logic told her she was being stupid. She needed to listen to logic. She was listening to logic. (She wasn’t, but she’d pretend and no one would know the difference.)
"You Matter to Me" has been in my "To Be Used" song list for a really long time. I thought it would be used on a Zoe/Vanya interaction or a Hargreeves sibling/Vanya interaction or maybe a Toni/Vanya interaction. I didn't think I'd be using this song for an Andrew/Vanya interaction but then this happened. It's fine. It fits. (Also, imagine Vanya listening to this song and crying. I know I do. Every single time I hear it.)
I know I keep having Vanya have the same conversations over and over and over again. I really want to stress the fact that just being told that you are worth something doesn't make it easier to believe. That you can have people tell you over and over and over again, and it still won't get through to you sometimes. You'll still feel like shit some of the time. Recovery is a long process, and only part of it is being told that you matter.
AKA I didn't plan on having Andrew have this conversation with Vanya, but that's what it turned into especially after I edited this to actually make sense.
Fun fact: the beginning of this chapter was originally supposed to be a car crash. I love that scene a lot. I saved it in a separate document because I loved it so much. It just made everything else NOT work the way it needed to, so I took it out.
I have most of the next chapter written, and so I hope to have it up tomorrow evening.
I wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who keeps commenting and leaving kudos. I can't tell you how much it means to me to see a response from an audience. It's incredibly validating. I promise, even if I don't respond or my response is just a simple thank you, I read and squee over every single comment. Please please please, keep commenting. It means the absolute world to me.
Chapter 37: Let Me Clear My Throat, Let Me Catch My Breath (Let My Heart Bleed Out Until There's Nothing Left)
Vanya stays home.
I'm sorry. Y'all are gonna hate me for this.
Chapter title is from "Brilliant" by Shinedown
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They collectively decided that no one should leave the house unless strictly necessary. Ben and Luther both called in sick to work. Quentin rescheduled his job interviews. Klaus already had a week off because of “emotional disturbance” after being kidnapped, especially so soon after the death of their father.
Diego and Quentin both left for a couple of hours at a time throughout the first day to conduct their own search, separate from Eudora and her team so they wouldn’t get her into trouble. They always came back tired and frustrated.
Vanya got distracted and busy around the house, getting to know Dave a little bit better and trying to gain better control of her powers so she could be of use if it did, as everyone else had predicted, come to a fight.
She completely forgot about rehearsal. She completely forgot about the concert. She completely forgot that she was second chair. She completely forgot that the first day of their self-imposed confinement was the last rehearsal they’d have before the performance the next evening.
She didn’t realize she’d missed it until Helen called. She picked up cheerfully, only to be met with worried shouting and then angry shouting.
“We thought you might be dead! Where the fuck are you and why aren’t you at rehearsal?”
Helen told her that Adams was pissed. That he was promoted fourth chair to second chair and that he was refusing to let her play in the concert if she couldn’t deign to show up to their last rehearsal.
She was so upset that she’d been so stupid that she broke the phone with her powers right in the middle of the call. She got herself composed, stole Quentin’s phone from where he’d accidentally left it behind on the kitchen counter when he went out with Diego to call Helen back and tell her she was fine, just phoneless, then refused to go find Klaus or Ben or Luther or even Mom and retreated to her childhood bedroom to wallow in her misery.
How the fuck had she managed to forget the best thing to happen to her… well, ever? How the fuck had she let herself get so distracted that she forgot she had rehearsal? She was usually so meticulous about being there on time. Her anxiety usually left her with one eye on the clock at all times so she’d never be late for anything. Why did it fail her, now that it mattered?
What the fuck was wrong with her?
No one came looking for her until dinner, and too ashamed to tell anyone what had happened, she refused Ben’s invitation to come downstairs, insisting that she was exhausted and not hungry and was going to sleep.
She didn’t go to sleep. She stared at the wall and cried until 11:00, when she tiptoed down to the perpetually empty media room that they’d never been allowed into as kids and stole a laptop that was probably about ten years old but had been used so sparingly that the hardware hadn’t had a chance to really degrade. She brought it back to her room and watched every musical she could find on Netflix until she passed out, tear-stained and pissed at herself, at 6 am.
She woke up at three in the afternoon the next day to Klaus banging on the already opened door.
“Eudora thinks they found them,” he told her when she finally groaned and sat up, blinking bleary eyed at her brother in the doorway. “Luther, Diego, Quentin, and Ben went to deal with it. They said we should stay put until they know that they need us so we can, you know, keep Dave company and generally not be underfoot, what with my lack of expertise and your lack of control of your powers, or did you think we didn’t notice your shattered phone down in the library?”
She groaned again and flopped back down, covering her face with her pillow. Klaus laughed loudly in what she assumed was an attempt to reassure her, considering the words that followed.
“Don’t worry, Van. No judgement. Remember how many glasses Luther broke before he learned to control his strength? Then there was that time Diego tried curving a blade to hit that target and ended up almost stabbing me in the neck and murdering me. Or what about when Quentin was supposed to teleport into the kitchen and ended up on the roof?”
She couldn’t help but giggle.
“There’s a learning curve, Van. And you’ll get it; we know you will. Until then though, maybe best not to get into high stress situations?”
She let out a muffled hum and waved him away.
“Alright, fine,” he acquiesced. “By all means, sleep the day away. I’m gonna go make out with Dave in my room. Holler if you need me, but knock before you enter.”
As he walked away he called back over his shoulder. “Mom made mac n’ cheese for lunch by the way. There’s leftover downstairs.”
Hearing food mentioned made Vanya’s stomach grumble. She was still fixing to avoid human interaction though, and decided to test out her hearing capabilities outside of her panic attacks by trying to figure out where everyone was based on where she heard them. It took a couple of minutes of careful focus and meditation before she could expand her range beyond her own room.
She heard moans coming from Klaus’s room. She quickly attempted to filter out those sounds.
She heard a rustling and Pogo’s deep, rumbling cough coming from somewhere far below her. She assumed it was coming from his quarters and moved on.
She heard Mom’s voice humming a familiar tune and the dry rasp of cloth against cloth coming from way down the hall, by her charging station and wall of paintings. She must have been working on a cross-stitch.
Deeming the coast clear enough to make her way to the kitchen, she slipped out of her room and snuck down the stairs, imagining herself ghostly and invisible.
Lunch had long since grown cold, the cheese congealing the pasta into a soft but solid block of food that was unappetizing at best.
She couldn’t find it in her to care.
She ate it with her fingers straight from the serving dish without bothering to heat it up first. Idiots who ruined their own careers didn’t deserve hot food or utensils.
She’d been doing that while she glared miserably at the stove for about twenty minutes before she decided to stop before she got sick and got up, stopping at the sink for a quick hand wash before going to the drawing room to lay on the couch for a change of scenery.
She’d been there for a few minutes when she heard the muffled sounds of fighting from the entrance hall. They’d stopped by the time she made it to the door.
Mom was laying, limbs twisted at odd angles, at the foot of the stairs. The sight of it started her blood boiling and brought back memories of oatmeal and whistling tea kettles and stop stop stop I don’t like it don’t make me .
Two suited people were arguing a few feet away from her.
“I told you, Cha Cha!” The tall, stocky man was saying. “This is more trouble than it’s worth. Especially after the dressing down we got when we got brought in with Gaslight after his failure. Why are we loyal to a company that hates us and gives us no detail about the assignments we go on, then gets mad when we don’t finish the assignment quickly enough? Look at this! Collateral damage! This woman had nothing to do with this and we just killed her! Aren’t you sick of--”
“This is our life, Hazel,” said the short, thin woman (Cha Cha, she supposed). “We have this job and the next one and the next one and whoever is stupid enough to get caught in the crossfire deserves the end they get. Let’s just finish this and move on. Find the girl. We need to get her to go off if we want to finish this properly.”
“We’ll die in the process,” the man she assumed to be Hazel argued. “Or are you forgetting that they stranded us here without a briefcase?”
“We’ll call in for a ride before the rocks start falling. Now let’s go.”
Get her to go off…
Before the rocks start falling…
For the second time in four days, she found herself stuck in a flashback induced panic.
She had barely registered the shaking ceiling when Klaus appeared at the top of the stairs, looking around wildly.
She heard a bang.
A bloom of blood appeared on his stomach.
Cha Cha was holding a still smoking gun. Hazel was running for the door.
Vanya barely had to think before she was sending the woman flying through the air; she landed on top of the umbrella stand and twitched once, twice, and fell still.
Mom was barely starting to stir and twist herself back into alignment when Vanya fell by Klaus’s side at the base of the stairs. His breathing was laboured and intense and fading fast.
“Klaus,” she begged. Tears welled in her eyes and she paid no mind to them as she pressed her hands against his cheeks and carded one through his hair. “Oh god, Klaus, please! Don’t--”
“Should’ve been faster…” he mumbled, eyes dancing and going dim. “‘M sorry…”
“You can’t die, Klaus! Don’t you dare!” She was sobbing so hard she couldn’t breathe, gasping for air that never seemed to reach her lungs.
“Love you, Van. Tell… tell Dave… Ben… tell them all… love them…”
His gaze left hers and moved to the chandelier, still swaying as the room shook around them. “Di’nt… wanna… die…”
His eyes closed.
His limbs went slack.
She begged and begged and begged.
He didn’t move.
And it hurt. It hurt her so bad she thought her heart would actually break under the pressure. She squeezed her eyes shut, she held tighter to his body, she begged for it to stop, for him to wake up…
He didn’t move.
Mom was starting to stand now, and she went to move closer, her face, drawn and stiff, and something inhumanly sad in her eyes, so inhumanly sad only something human could feel it.
There was an unearthly, agonized sound filling the room, and it took her a moment before she realized it was coming from her own throat.
She screamed and screamed and the stairs began to crumble and the walls began to crack and Mom looked… scared? She actually looked scared and Vanya didn’t want her to be afraid but god it hurt so much and…
And then she stopped.
It stopped. The pain stopped. Not completely. Dimly, behind the wall of white noise that enveloped her, the beating hearts and the passing traffic and the groans of the house falling apart around them and the conversations happening outside and in other houses and along the pier and footsteps and stroller wheels and crunching leaves and the pitter-patter of falling rain, behind all of it was a numbly aching part of her that looked at her dead brother laying in her arms and wanted to bury herself in him until she was dead too.
But mostly she felt…
She didn’t know.
Were there words for the building mounting fury that seeped from her core? For the vengeful hate that echoed in the empty cavern where her heart, now reduced to ashes, used to reside?
She dropped the corpse ( Klaus his name is Klaus and he’s not dead he’s not he’s not he’s not he’s not) and ignored her mother, who moved to take her place. She stood up and was standing by the umbrella stand, by the woman who had taken her brother from her, and she picked up the body, the not-breathing not-moving body, and she separated the head from the torso with her bare hands and a little bit of rage.
And then she left the shaking house and her dead brother and the memories behind her.
Okay okay I know y'all are pissed. Please please please bear with me. It'll get worse before it gets better but it WILL get better. I promise.
I have the next chapter written so it'll be up tomorrow. I hope to be able to update on Friday too, but we'll see what happens tomorrow.
Please leave a comment. I need reassurance about this one really bad.
Chapter 38: I Can't Help This Awful Energy (Goddamn Right You Should Be Scared of Me)
Vanya is empty
I told you, things are going to get worse before they get better.
Chapter title is from "Control" by Halsey. (It's a Vanya song. Don't @ me just listen to it.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She was a nightmare in sweatpants, stalking the streets and breaking the lights, making rain pour as she scoured the town for her brothers.
If looks could kill, she’d be the most prolific serial killer in history. She could feel her glare shooting daggers into passersby. Old people looked terrified. Young people looked impressed. Kids looked curious and kind.
It wasn’t quite evening yet, but it was dark enough around her that it might as well have been.
She heard guns and screams and the horrible screech of the Eldritch creature in Ben’s chest and she followed the sounds to Griddy’s Donuts.
Masked gunmen surrounded her brothers. For every three that Diego stabbed, and every twelve that Ben ripped apart, and every one that Luther knocked out, and every one that Quentin shot, even more appeared, seeming to pop into existence from out of nowhere.
The anger grew and festered like an open wound.
She could feel her powers like they were another limb, and she didn’t even have to try in order to squash the whole lot of them at once. There was one, then two more waves of new attackers. The first, she dispatched without a problem.
Diego got caught in the crossfire of the second.
He blew back and hit the glass window of the donut shop.
She heard Quentin yelling her name. She heard them yelling admonishments and for her to calm down. She stared at Diego’s still body, crumpled at the bottom of the wall. She remembered Klaus falling still under her hands.
They were still yelling. She wished they would be quiet.
Then, they were.
Because then, all of them were blown back.
A wall of force burst from her chest and caught her brothers, sending them all into the window.
None of them moved.
She had killed them.
The little girl inside her was crying and panicking. She didn’t bother to check on them. She couldn’t handle the confirmation.
Klaus was dead. She’d probably brought the Academy down to rubble, Mom and Dave still trapped inside. She’d killed her brothers.
She had nothing left.
Allison would never speak to her again when she found out what happened. Even though part of her was saying that she would be okay, that Vanya could explain and Allison would understand and she wouldn’t be upset…
She killed them.
Zoe would hate her. She wasn’t a hero anymore, not like Zoe had believed. She was the villain, the supervillain, the Voldemort, the White Witch, the Martin Chatwin, the Sauron, the Thanos, the Joker, the villain. Zoe would be so disappointed. Zoe would hate her…
Toni… Oh god. What was Toni going to say? She’d be pissed. Vanya killed Quentin ( No no no no not dead not her Quentin not her always supporter not the only person who had always tried not Quentin not dead not dead not dead) and Quentin was Toni’s best friend. She’d never forgive her for this, not ever.
She didn’t have her orchestra friends anymore, not now that she’d probably gotten herself kicked out of it, and even if they didn’t care, they would now, now that she had destroyed the greatest parts of her.
She had nothing.
Except what she’d always had.
Except what had always filled her long, lonely days.
Except what had always waited for her at the end of them.
Except the one thing that had never abandoned her.
Never hurt her.
The one thing she could never hurt.
The concert would begin in two hours. That left her enough time to get her hands on a violin and change into her tuxedo, the one Klaus ( Don’t think about it don’t think about him broken on the ground about blood under your hands about his eyes going dark about his body going limp don’t think about it don’t think about him he’s not dead not dead not dead not dead) had picked out for her weeks ago, when the concert had first been announced.
It wasn’t hard to… convince… the store owner to give her the violin that had been sitting in the window, pristine and perfect and beautifully new and, now, wholly her own, not a hand-me-down from a man who expected everything from her in return. Using that violin, regardless, would mean returning to the Academy.
She was never going to go back there again.
She should’ve felt bad about terrifying the poor man behind the counter. She probably should’ve paid for the violin. She probably should’ve felt bad that she didn’t. She didn’t want to become the kind of person Diego ( no stop thinking about Diego stop thinking about his body not moving stop thinking about him not breathing stop thinking about him he’s not dead not dead not dead not dead) would hate, would do everything in his power to stop.
And yet she couldn’t seem to find it in her to care.
She had nothing left.
Her apartment was cold and empty and silent and she almost couldn’t stand it.
She couldn’t remember showering, but she was sure she must have, because her skin was damp and clean as she slid on the tuxedo.
She couldn’t remember putting on that perfume that Luther ( stop it he’s fine he’s not dead he’s at home and playing his records and trying to dance and failing and not lying dead against the wall of a donut shop not dead not dead not dead) had gotten for her and Allison on their last birthday, but she was sure she must have, because she could smell it on her as she tuned her new violin.
She couldn’t remember going to the theater. She couldn’t remember walking there (or did she take the bus? Drive?), but she was sure she must have gone, because there she was, standing in front of it.
She walked in through the stage door. It was five minutes to seven. Five minutes to showtime.
She saw Andrew and David running for the stage.
“Hey Van!” David called as they passed. “Cool contacts!”
“Sorry,” Andrew added. “Can’t talk-- gotta run!”
They were oblivious.
Vanya (was she even Vanya anymore? Did she even still feel like Vanya?) entered the violinists’ dressing room. Only Helen was in there. She had a pair of scissors in hand that she was using to cut the tag off of her black gown.
She looked up as Vanya walked in. Her eyes widened.
“You’re not supposed to be here, Van,” she hissed. “If Adams sees you--”
“I need to play,” her voice was toneless and cold. She glanced into the mirror. Her eyes glowed white.
“You can’t! I want you to, but you missed rehearsal yesterday! The last rehearsal-- arguably, the most important one! Adams would never let you. I’m-- Vanya, I’m sorry. I really am. I know things have been nuts, especially recently but--”
“I need to play,” she repeated, more slowly. Maybe Helen hadn’t understood her.
She knit her eyebrows together. “Are you-- What’s up, Vanya? And what’s with your eyes?”
“I. Need. To. Play.”
“What are you--”
She knew this was Helen, that this was her friend, and someone who cared, but she was making her very angry. People should know better than to make her angry.
“Listen to me, Helen Cho. I have had the day from hell. Klaus is dead. Luther is dead. Diego is dead. Quentin is dead. Ben is dead. My mother is dead. I watched them die in front of me. I caused some of those deaths. I. Need. To. Play.”
Helen looked scared.
“...Vanya…” she sounded sad. She hated sad. No more sadness. There was no longer time for sadness.
“Everything will be okay,” she told Helen. “Once I play, everything will be okay.”
The door slammed open. Mr. Adams stormed in.
“I will not have Ms. Hargreeves on the premises! You cannot expect to be allowed to keep your position after so flagrantly flouting the rules and refusing to come to rehearsal. I have already had Mr. Khan take over your position. You will exit the building at once.”
Number Seven, you have disappointed me…
Number Seven, return to your room at once.
No, Number Seven. I will not allow you out with your siblings.
The room shook.
“You insolent little girl!”
There is nothing special about you.
“Ungrateful, untalented swine!”
I have never seen a more ungrateful child.
“You are a waste of this orchestra’s time!”
Do not waste your siblings’ time, Number Seven. They have training. You have nothing to train for.
“I should have known you would never amount to anything.”
You will never amount to anything.
If you keep going on in this manner, you will be the reason for your siblings’ demise.
Demise. Dead. All dead. Rebar through Ben’s stomach. Klaus unconscious on a club floor. Helen’s empty eyes. Luther and Klaus and Ben and Diego and Quentin and Mom all dead. Dead. Dead.
This is your fault, Number Seven…
“And you have no one to blame for this but yourself!”
He fell quiet. He could no longer speak. It was difficult, after all, to talk when your throat had been impaled by a flying pair of scissors.
Helen stared with wide eyes at the bloody body of the conductor lying on the floor.
“You-- You just--”
“I just need to play.” She looked down at the corpse with dispassionate, dead eyes. “He should not have tried to stop me.”
Helen tried to beg. “You’re not in control of yourse-”
“Do you want to end up like him?”
She fell silent. Foolish girl. She should have known it was an empty threat. She would not harm another person she loved.
“Get your violin, Helen. We will play. I cannot be second chair if you will not play first.”
She took her violin from its case and went to the stage.
Most people ignored her. Aarav Khan attempted to argue when she came to her spot. He was lifted from the chair and pushed down the line.
Angie sent her a grin. “I knew they’d let you play! Good luck!”
Smiling felt wrong, weird and tight and pulling at her cheeks uncomfortably, but she did it anyway, because Angie was sweet and nice and her friend and Vanya loved her.
Even if Angie wouldn’t love her anymore if she knew.
Andrew sent her a thumbs up. She nodded her acknowledgement.
David pointed at her violin. “Is that new?”
“I got it special just for this.”
The curtain came up.
The theater was packed.
Helen’s seat was still empty. There was no conductor.
Whispers broke out amongst the orchestra. Confused looks and uncomfortable shifting.
The audience started getting restless.
Helen walked out, composed and calm and looking intensely worried at Vanya.. She was accompanied by Mr. Petrov, the reserve conductor, who looked excited and nervous and was lifting his baton excitedly.
No one but Vanya and Helen responded to his command.
He tapped his stand firmly, and glances were exchanged before the musicians clumsily lifted their instruments to the ready position.
She closed her eyes.
She played. She played and she played and she played and the world faded away until there was nothing left, nothing but her and her music and her violin and the notes. No audience. No orchestra. No conductor. No dead brothers or mothers or strangers or friends. Nothing. No one. Just her. Her and the music.
She opened her eyes.
The music had stopped. She was nowhere.
Someone familiar stood in front of her.
“Hello, Vanya. We need to talk.” The voice she heard was her own.
Because the person in front of her was her.
White Violin Vanya is so much fun to write.
You guys still reading? Please keep going. Only a few chapters left until the end! I have poured so much of myself into this story it's ridiculous
Please please let me know if you're still reading! Let me know what you think!
Chapter 39: I Think We're Alone Now (There Doesn't Seem to Be Anyone Around)
Vanya talks to herself.
OK so this was insanely fun to write. It also took a lot longer than I thought it would. 3,250 words later....
Chapter title is from "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany (I know it's a cover but this is the version that was in my head so like... Originally by Tommy James and the Shondelles)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The other Vanya was frowning. Her eyes glowed much like her own had when she looked into the mirror in the dressing room.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” her twin admitted. “The plan was for this timeline to be pushed towards a brighter, happier future. Why are you still doing this?”
Vanya mimicked the frown. “What do you mean? What plan?”
“The visions. You did receive the visions, didn’t you?” She brushed at her white tuxedo-- one that looked very similar to the black one she’d see if she looked down-- like she was brushing off dust, but there was none there. It was a self-conscious movement, one that Vanya recognized, from every time she dared to enjoy something she wore, how she looked in it. She recognized it as a mild appreciation for the fabric against her skin, the look and feel of it. She recognized it as the biggest signal she would allow herself to give that she felt comfortable and happy in something.
“Who are you?” Vanya asked, instead of answering the question. “You look--”
“I’m you,” she shifted uncomfortably, “or, more accurately, who you’ll turn into if you keep doing this. It’s a different timeline, from what I understand of what Five told me. The original one, I think. You exist in a branch off of our timeline, one that we put some effort into shifting.”
She heaved a frustrated sigh. “If I know you like I hope I do, considering we’re technically the same person, you’re probably really confused, right?”
“I thought I was making that pretty obvious,” Vanya retorted, and her twin smirked.
“You’ve got some of the White Violin in you right now, haven’t you?”
“The White Violin?”
“Allison thought of it. It’s what I… well, it’s what I became. Who I am now, I suppose. After everything, I went a little off-the-rails. I destroyed the world. Which is why we needed to fix this, with those visions you should’ve been getting.”
So the visions were from… her? A future her? An alternate timeline her? That she was now talking to?
She could feel the confusion cooling the burning in her eyes, the warmth that she’d felt emanating from them since Klaus had no stop it he’s fine he’s fine he’s fine…
The White Violin looked inquisitive. “The white glow of your eyes is dying. You’ll have to tell me how you did that. No one will look me in the eye with the way they look now--”
“--I don’t want to be you.”
The words burst forth from her mouth before she could give any thought to keeping them in. She wasn’t even sure where they came from. Most of her was still that angry sort of numb that she’d been for the last few hours. But she remembered the delirium, the rocks falling from the sky and fire raging over the Earth and the terrifying, world-shattering recognition that she did this and the part of her that wasn’t vengeful and empty was repulsed.
“... I don’t want you to be,” she replied. “That was the point of the... did you even get them?”
Mute, Vanya nodded. The White Violin grinned. “So what changed? What did you manage to stop?”
“Almost all of it, I guess? At least the first few. Like Quentin, he--”
“Quentin? Who’s Quentin?”
“What do you…” she paused. The White Violin… she’d said Five earlier… “Our brother? Quentin? Number Five?”
Her twin’s eyes were wide. “He got a name?” she whispered reverently.
“I-- yes? He… that vision… he got stuck in the future. You mean, that happened? In your timeline?”
“We were twelve,” The White Violin closed her eyes. “He thought… he thought he’d be able to… he got stuck. Years and years into the future, the world was dust and ashes and rubble and smoke. And he got stuck there. He only… It was years before we saw him again, and when we did he was… well, he was exactly how you’d imagine someone like Fi-- Quentin… being after getting stuck on his own in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.”
She could feel the empty numbness shrinking away, being replaced by a heart-wrenching sadness. She tried to force it down. No more please… no more pain…
“So that means… Ben. He died in your timeline. Like I saw in the dream.”
She nodded. “And it fractured us. It ruined us. They--”
“I saw. Klaus with the drugs and everyone hating me-- you-- us? I guess?”
“We never came back from that,” her voice was quiet. “Then, I wrote that book… Even five years later, they still hated me for that. Well, Diego did. Luther… I don’t know if he really even thought about me. Allison tried to forgive me, when Dad died. She made an effort. But she was still mad. You could tell. And Klaus… I don’t know what he thought. He wouldn’t say, and when he did… well, he made a joke about everything. But before the book… I’d see him sometimes, you know? When he didn’t have a place to sleep or any food or anything… he’d drop by my apartment sometimes, and it was nice, because at least I wasn’t alone for the few hours he’d take over my couch. After the book though… Five-- he wasn’t really upset about it. He found it, when he was stuck in the future, and reading it… I guess it helped him? He didn’t hate me for it anyway. And Ben… well, he was dead by the time I wrote it.”
But Klaus… ghosts…
“Couldn’t Klaus see him?”
“We never believed him. He was already taking coke and meth and all of that by the time his ghost showed up… almost everyone thought he was just high. I always hoped, but… it doesn’t matter. I never saw him anyway. And he only mentioned seeing Ben a couple of times after that. The first time I saw him after the book, he’d already stopped bringing him up. We know now. That we were wrong, I mean. Klaus, he manifested Ben, and saved Diego and then saved all of us…”
“Us. From us. We-- well, I, because hopefully you won’t get to this point-- I wasn’t lying when I said we destroyed the world. We destroyed the Academy, and Diego almost… but Ben pulled him out. And then, I was at the concert and I was playing and there were all these people with guns and they all almost died--”
Facedown on the floor faceup on the ground blood everywhere bullets flying bodies dying--
“--until Klaus came in and manifested Ben. And he saved them. And me, I couldn’t stop playing, not even when they were almost dead. I was so… angry.”
The White Violin glanced up, glowing white eyes narrowed. “But you didn’t write the book, did you?”
“I did. But I didn’t… I had the dream right before I sent it to the publisher. So I didn’t.”
“So then they didn’t read it!”
“They did. They found it. I brought it to Quentin after the dream… I wanted to burn it. He read it after I fell asleep and then he refused when I woke up. So I locked it up. But I let slip that I had written it and they stole it and they read it.”
The hope that had bubbled in her twin’s expression dissipated. “And nothing was fixed... “
“What? No. They were fine. Well, not fine. Diego was pretty pissed. It was two months before he’d really talk to me again. But everyone else… they didn’t get as mad, I guess. And I suppose that not publishing it really did work in my favor.”
“What made him forgive you?”
Stale breath fanning over her face cold hands down her pants hot blood in her mouth under her nails in her hair stop stop stop I don’t like this stop stop stop…
The heat built up behind her eyes again.
“I’m his sister. He loves me.”
Would he still love you if he knew you were the one that killed him?
No stop it not dead not dead not dead not dead….
Her twin was laughing. “I wish it had been that simple.”
“It should be.”
“You’re right. But it never was.”
They fell quiet.
“What else did you see?” asked the White Violin, finally.
“Luther’s accident. His transformation. What happened because of it. We stopped that one too. Diego and Eudora were supposed to break up, but that didn’t happen. Klaus was gonna get jumped, but I stopped that. Allison rumoring her daughter. She didn’t, in the end. Dad dying. I didn’t care enough to stop that one. I don’t know that I could have. And… I don’t know. I don’t understand any of it.”
“What was it?”
“The end of the world.”
She didn’t offer any more details. The White Violin didn’t like that.
“And what’s confusing about that?”
“None of it could happen. Or, well, a lot of it couldn’t. And a lot of it didn’t. I did nothing about it-- except pushing Leonard away the second he showed up, I guess-- but no one got hurt. No one died. Helen’s still alive. Klaus--”
Not dead not dead not dead
“Came back from Vietnam with Dave in tow. Allison’s not even in town anymore so I can’t--”
Blood spurting from the open wound Allison falling to the ground before her not waking up choking can’t breathe wake up wake up wake up don’t be dead don’t be dead don’t be dead Leonard’s hands stripping her forcing her into the water washing blood off of her hands say you’re special Vanya say it say it say it…
The White Violin flinched at the mention of Allison. Vanya kept talking.
“And the cell, I was never anywhere near the cell. Eudora’s not dead. Quentin’s an adult. Ben is here… How did you do it, anyway? Send me the visions, I mean. You said you sent them, or at least, you implied that you sent them--”
“I didn’t. Or, well, I did, but it’s so much more complicated than that.
“It was Five’s idea. He tried to… when I blew up the moon, he tried to travel us out of there. He was going to take us back in time and we were going to fix it… They were going to fix me. But it went wrong. We ended up in… well, I guess you could call it a pocket dimension? Five said that it used to be the Commission headquarters before he blew it up--”
“Time Commission. Technically called the Temps Aeternalis. They’re… time travelling assassins, I think? They keep the timeline on track, make sure that history progresses the way it’s supposed to. They’re the ones who found Five in the apocalypse. They took him out of it, gave him a job… until he decided he wanted to try and prevent the apocalypse, came home, turned into a 13 year old and scared the shit out of all of us. The Commission didn’t like that and this woman-- The Handler, Five called her-- she started sending assassins after him. First it was a bunch of idiots for hire, but then it was Hazel and Cha Cha--”
“Hey, I know them! They broke into the Academy earlier this week, and they kidnapped Klaus and then they broke in again earlier tod--”
Smoking gun raised firing Klaus falling blood blooming not dead not dead not dead…
“Probably sent to make sure you end the world like you’re supposed to,” The White Violin sounded bitter. Annoyed. Sad. “Whatever. Eventually, Five and the Handler made this deal… I don’t know the details. But he reneged. Blew up the Commission and came back home. Of course, he didn’t know that the apocalypse was my fault. So he couldn’t stop it.
“But anyway, the Commission headquarters. So, we’re all there. Klaus and Allison were trying to pretend they weren’t scared of me, but they couldn’t look me in the eye. Luther wanted to kill me, or at least lock me up again. I think the only reason Diego disagreed was because it was Luther who suggested it. And Five… he became obsessed. He salvaged what he could from the Commission library and tried to figure out a way to really stop everything. None of us believed he could, but we couldn’t argue.
“Eventually, he found this… thing. I still don’t know what it was, but Five was able to MacGyver it. He made this memory device. We all… we put our memories into it. The memories of the apocalypse. Then, he figured out a way to use his tenuous control over time, combine it with the scraps from one of the briefcases, and then combine that with what I could do with sound and Klaus’s control over the dead, which was getting better and better as he stayed sober for longer and longer. Allison’s rumor helped too, a little bit, because she was able to shift reality enough to allow it to work and it took a while but eventually, Five was able to input this equation into the memory device that would select the biggest events that led to the apocalypse and, combined with our powers, could send them back in time to when they’d be the most effective. We didn’t know who was going to receive them, but Five could tell something was shifting. He had this weird… device, I don’t know… but it showed when the timeline was shifting away from alignment with the memory device.
“Then I started hearing snippets of your thoughts. I was able to figure out that you were getting the visions. I never heard anything concrete, or extended, but just enough to put two and two together.”
“But why me? Why did I get them?”
“I don’t know. Five and Klaus built this theory that even though the pills made it so that our powers were suppressed, we were still susceptible to messages sent using any sort of air wave? Or our powers needed some sort of outlet or something? I don’t know. I don’t know how any of that makes any sort of sense but again, it’s just a theory, and not even my theory.”
“What’s your theory?”
“Oh, I don’t have one. All I know is that it happened.”
None of that made sense, but at least there was some explanation. But something still bugged her.
“So how are you here? Is any of this even real?”
She grimaced. “Yes. It’s real. Or at least, I think it is. But even if it was just a hallucination, how would asking me help?”
Vanya shrugged. “You haven’t answered the first question.”
“My working theory is that you're in a suspended state because you’re going supernova. Because I’m… well, because you’re turning into me, and I’m still tapped into my powers, our minds are meeting in a weird pocket dimension meets normal dimension mind meld. I heard you. When you started losing it, I mean. I heard you’re… insistances? I realized something was off so I closed my eyes and focused and next thing I knew, I was here.”
This was all feeling very Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to Vanya. She had a momentary thought, a wonder of if she could shift the area to look like King’s Cross.
It shifted to look like the lobby of the theater instead.
Ghostly apparitions of people filled the room, and there, right beside them, was a third Vanya. She was frozen like everyone else, and she was greeting Toni and her siblings. Helen, Andrew, Angie, and David stood behind her. Everyone was smiling. It was right after their first big concert after she’d started going to therapy and making friends. It was one of the best moments she could remember.
The White Violin looked at their surroundings with a sad smile. “Things were good, weren’t they? For you, I mean?”
Looking at her siblings was painful, so Vanya shifted to look at the White Violin. “For a long time. I went to therapy. I made friends. I… I wasn’t lonely anymore. Nothing was perfect but at least I was… at least I wasn’t alone. If… I used to think Diego or Luther would sell me for a stick of gum, when we were kids. That Allison would have gladly given me up if it meant having a cooler, better sister. Even… god, even Q, or Ben, or Klaus, who never… they never meant to make me feel like shit, but I still thought they’d give me up in a heartbeat if it would save them. This… That night, at the concert? It was the first time I was sure they wouldn’t. And I never… I can say that they love me, with confidence.”
Not anymore… not once they all know… not now that they’re dead… that they’ll know what you did…
Not dead not dead not dead not dead not dead not dead--
“And yet, you’re still playing the concert, eyes glowing white, about to destroy everything and everyone--”
Stop lying to yourself, Vanya...
“Because they’re gone.”
Gone gone gone gone gone gone gone dead dead dead dead dead dead dead and it’s all your fault…
“I-- I didn’t mean to. I swear I didn’t mean to--”
Oh god please make her numb again she couldn’t deal with it it hurt too much just stop stop stop…
“-- Klaus had just… and then they were surrounded and I didn’t know what to do and I used my powers and now they’re… they’re dead. They’re dead and it’s all my fault and Allison is going to hate me and Toni is going to hate me and Zoe is never going to go out with me and David is going to hate me and Angie is going to hate me and Andrew is going to hate me and Helen-- I killed someone right in front of her, oh god. This is it. This is the end. I’m going to end up alone and forsaken and forgotten and alone again. Playing the violin is all I have left; you, of all people should get that! So that’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I’m doing. I’m playing this concert, because fuck Adams; he’s dead now, so how is he going to stop me? I’m playing this concert and I’m making music and then I’ll keep doing it until I stop being angry and I stop being empty and I stop needing to be angry and empty because it hurts too much to be anything else--”
The White Violin looked shocked. Shocked and upset and a little bit confused.
“Vanya, you need to stop.”
“Stop?” She wanted to laugh. “Stop? Why would I stop?”
“Because you’ll kill everyone in the world if you don’t!”
“WHO CARES? LET THEM ALL DIE! LET FIRE RAIN FROM THE SKIES AND HELL RISE UP AND SWALLOW HUMANITY! THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO MATTER ARE DEAD AND IT’S MY FAULT SO FUCK THE WORLD! I’LL BLAST EVERY LAST FUCKING CREATURE OFF OF THE PLANET AND BLOW UP THE SUN AND THE MOON AND EVERYTHING BECAUSE NOTHING MATTERS ANYMORE BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL DEAD!”
The other her was looking around frantically. She stopped, fell still, then opened her eyes again with a wild grin.
“No, they’re not.”
“No, they are. I watched it. I saw it. I did it.”
“No, you didn’t. They’re okay!”
“Vanya, open your eyes.”
OK another cliffhanger. I'm sorry. The next chapter won't be up for a couple of days.
THe response has been so great. I'm so happy. Please, please keep up the commenting!
I hope this chapter explained some things!
Chapter 40: I Believe the World is Burning to the Ground (I Guess We're Gonna Find Out)
Vanya opens her eyes.
It's getting better! Sort of? Ish? Maybe?
Chapter title is from "How Far We've Come" by Matchbox Twenty (Another perfect TUA song, I swear. Seriously, go listen to it. There's a line "Can you tell me what was ever really special about me all this time." I'm telling you. Listen to it)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The first thing she registered was that the audience had left.
The second thing she registered was that she was still playing her violin.
The third was that her brothers stood in front of her, looking a little worse for wear, but wholly and undoubtedly alive.
She waited for a rush of relief that never came.
She kept playing. It was all she had left.
They couldn’t be real. She saw them die.
Helen, Andrew, Angie, and David were off to her side. Luther was trying to get them to go offstage. They weren’t reacting.
She knew he wasn’t real.
She kept playing.
A bullet ripped through the air. It hit above Angie’s head.
Her friends went running.
She kept playing.
Leonard brandished a gun, running at her from stage left.
Helen’s cold, dead eyes flashed before her own.
Her powers reached for him.
He was yelling.
She didn’t care.
He was dying.
She was pleased.
She was above them all now. She was transcendent. She would do what the Vanya before her had done.
She would make the world pay for what it had taken from her.
Her powers gripped Leonard tighter and tighter.
His screams turned to whimpers. They fueled her to hold him tighter.
She was the White Violin. She was the madman, the oncoming storm, the bringer of destruction, the demon of her nightmares. She was the White Violin.
She was all that was left.
For the first time in her life, Quentin was hugging her. He couldn’t be real. Quentin was dead. More importantly, Quentin didn’t hug. But someone who looked a hell of a lot like her brother was holding her.
Distracted, confused, her powers dropped Leonard. He fell to the ground, where he lay, unmoving.
She stopped playing.
“-okay, Vanya. It’s okay.” He sounded steady. He sounded sure. “We have you. We’re okay.”
It was definitely his voice. But how could he be real?
“You died.” Her voice was cold and toneless. “I watched you die. I killed you.”
“Is that what--” he huffed and shook his head, laughing into her hair. “Did you bother to check? We were out cold but we weren’t dead.”
“Do not lie to me.” The anger began to well-up again and she bit the words out through clenched teeth.
“It’s me, Vanya. It’s Quentin. Have I ever lied to you?”
She glanced at the rest of them, confusion forcing the rage back once more. They were all still. Ben and Klaus were crying. Klaus…
“Klaus died. I watched it. I checked. I felt it happen. You died in my arms. You were shot and died in my arms and I could do nothing about it.”
Klaus winced. “Yeah. A little girl on a bike decided she didn’t like me and kicked me out of the afterlife. Really freaked Dave out. There he is, weeping over my corpse, and then all of a sudden WHAM! I’m alive.”
“...Dave?” She’d forgotten about Dave. Should she feel bad about that? She thought that, normally, she’d feel bad about that.
“Yeah. He had to jump over the railing from the second floor because the entire staircase was destroyed-- did you do that, by the way because damn Van, nice one-- but when I woke up, there he was, just like any good boyfriend should be.” He had this pleased little grin on his face.
She’d thought she’d destroyed the whole house. She wasn’t sure if she was upset that she hadn’t.
The heat was receding from behind her eyes.
Klaus took a few cautionary steps forward. He reached out and grasped her wrist, which dangled at her side, bow still gripped tightly in her fist. “I’m alive, Vanya. We all are.”
The relief she had been waiting for slammed into her chest. The fire in her head died completely. She collapsed bonelessly into Quentin’s arms, sobbing and shaking and babbling incoherent nothings.
Then, she was surrounded by her brothers.
The numbness was gone. She almost wished for it to come back, because it was like when a sleeping limb started waking up and you couldn’t move because of the pins and needles and overflow of sensation. It was overwhelming and painful and too much and she wanted it to stop.
The hugging was helping. If she could feel them then they weren’t really dead, right?
If she held them, then maybe they wouldn’t disappear.
She’d forgotten about Leonard until there was a flash and a tall, blonde woman in a black dress and a pillbox hat appeared next to the harp. She carried a familiar looking briefcase.
“No!” she snarled. She marched up to the group, aiming a dismissive kick at Leonard’s side as she passed. He groaned but did not move. She continued. “This was not the plan!”
“The plan?” Diego pulled away and moved to stand in front of their little cluster protectively, two knives ready in his fists. “What plan?”
“Who are you?” Luther demanded, moving to stand beside Diego.
“Where’s the fire?” the woman insisted back, refusing the question. “The fire, the smoke, the ashes, the fury, the world-ending destruction that should have been set into place by now? You’ve spoiled it! How have you spoiled it? How could you have possibly managed this?”
“You’re from the Commission,” Vanya stated. It wasn’t a question. She remembered the White Violin’s story, the path that her timeline had taken, and it was the only conclusion that she could draw.
Vanya pushed her away out of the rest of her brothers’ arms and went to stand on Diego’s other side. He shifted so he was still partially in front of her.
The woman gave her a cool, appraising look. Still, Vanya could see the fear in her eyes.
“You’ve heard of us, I see.”
“I have. And I’m not playing your games. If you want to end the world, you’ll simply need to find a different way to do that, because I sure as hell aren’t going to do it for you.”
“You will,” she tried to sound sure, but just sounded scared. She lifted a gun. Vanya had no idea where it had come from, only that it was suddenly being pointed at her.
No, not at her. At Diego.
She was starting to get angry again. She’d just gotten her brothers back. She wasn’t going to let herself lose any of them.
It didn’t take much to bring the still-warm presence of the numbness and fury back to a raging boil that turned her mind to a melted mush of overwhelming power. She could feel the heat that meant her eyes had turned white.
The woman started smiling. It made Vanya even angrier.
“Don’t you dare,” she warned her. “They are protected. You will not harm them.”
“Or what?” she jutted out her lip in a mock pout. “You’ll kill me?” she laughed. “Oh, Vanya. I don’t believe you really can.”
The gun fired. The bullet missed him by an inch.
And so she slashed.
Her bow swiped angrily through the air, and it was like her dream, her vision, when she’d slit Allison’s throat, only this wasn’t Allison, and she didn’t hit her throat. She barely caused damage at all.
The woman wiped at the blood on her side with a wry grin.
“Do you see? Harmless.”
She felt someone come up behind her.
“If she’s so harmless,” Quentin asked, “then why do you think she’s the one who’s going to destroy the world?”
“Because she does. And she will. Even if I have to kill every single one of you to get her to do it. It’s a shame, I assure you. I’m not happy to do it. I’d much rather have you working with us. But,” she shrugged carelessly, “if she won’t do what she needs to, I guess I’ll just have to make her.
“Harold has failed me,” she tossed a glance over her shoulder at Leonard, who had finally begun to sit up, looking pained and nervous, “which is quite the shame. And after all of that training I wasted on him too… tsk tsk tsk. Oh, Harold. Stupid, careless Harold.”
“I did my job well,” Leo- Harold protested. “Something changed-- Something… anyone else would have been snowed in a minute!”
“That’s no excuse for your failings. Now hush. Mommy’s got business to take care of.” She looked back at the group. “And Hazel and Cha Cha… I wish you had the time to tell me how you managed to evade my two best assassins.”
“If they are your two best assassins, I shudder to think of the state of your precious Commission,” Vanya remarked. “They only managed to hurt one of us, and look--” she jerked her head in Klaus’s general direction, “he’s perfectly fine, now.”
The woman glared. “It doesn’t matter! I should have known-- I got too comfortable at the top of the food chain. I’d forgotten that high priority cases like these should always be taken care of by someone who knows what they’re doing.”
She lifted her gun again.
In the next second, something flew out and struck her between the ribs. She let out a pained gasp and pressed her hand to her side, fingers framing the hilt of one of Diego’s favorite throwing knives.
Vanya didn’t turn to look at him, but she heard him speak. “You’re not hurting any of us.”
“Oh, you think you can stop me?” her voice was breathless from the pain, but she sounded surprisingly confident for a woman who’s plans so far had amounted to very little.
Vanya felt the heat flare behind her eyes. Her siblings made to mobilize an attack, but she raised a hand to stop them.
Her heartbeat was starting to get very loud.
The sound of a gunshot echoed through the theater.
The woman collapsed.
Leonard stood behind her, gun still smoking.
“There.” His grin was evil and cold and taunting. “Now that the bitch is dead, I can finally focus on you.”
So, to answer questions you may have about various things--
There is a separate, pocket dimension Commission for each timeline. The original timeline crew are in their pocket dimension. This timeline's crew are meeting with their timeline's commission. There is, in my world, at least, a dimension where the commission doesn't go after them at all, because the apocalypse isn't necessarily supposed to happen. THere's a dimension in which the commission doesn't exist at all. This operates based off of the theory of the multiverse, including an unlimited amount of universes, and the potential for timelines to fragment and create new universes, as seen in Endgame. Catastrophic paradoxes can't really happen, because changes made result in new timelines.
(This as opposed to the bootstrap paradox theory of time travel, in which nothing can ever really change, because time travel is self-contained, and the Grandfather paradox, in which changes made in the past have potentially catastrophic effects on the future, as seen in movies like Back to the Future and in the Doctor Who episode Father's Day.)
I will be publishing separate stories in this series to explain Leonard's whole backstory, what happened with the rest of the Hargreeves and in the theater during Vanya's white violin moment, and, hopefully, the extended story of what happened to the original timeline crew.
I'm planning on having only a couple of more chapters of this main story. I will hopefully be able to wrap up most, if not all of it by then, plus or including an epilogue.
I wanted to give a massive thank you to everyone who's been commenting and reading. You should all know that this response has been incredible and means so much to me. The comments are the biggest, if not only reason I've been writing, and I likely would not have been nearly as involved or motivated to write if not for them. This is the first story I've actually cared to finish, and it's all because of you. So thank you thank you thank you!!!!
Please please please, drop a line! Let me know how you're feeling about all of this! Any questions I haven't addressed? Please tell!!
Chapter 41: I'm Just a Product of the System (A Catastrophe)
Chapter title is from "Whatever It Takes" by Imagine Dragons.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Leonard bent down and pressed the clasp that activated the briefcase, backing up before he could get disappear with the dead woman, who got whisked away to god knows where.
“Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting for this?” Leonard’s laugh was maniacal as he stood back up. “For years and years and years I have hated you. I’ve waited for my chance to be rid of you. The fucking Umbrella Academy, saviors of nothing. You ruined my life.”
Klaus laughed. “Seriously, dude? Are you really going to evil villain monologue right now?”
“Shut up!” he shouted. He paused, breathing heavily. “I could’ve been one of you. We have the same birthday, you know? October 1st, 1989. Of course, then my mother died and left me alone with the asshole who blamed me for her death. And I tried to escape to you but no. I wasn’t special enough.”
A voice in the back of Vanya’s head went “mood,” but she didn’t say anything.
“How is that our fault?” Luther asked, but Leonard only shouted another order for silence.
“For years, I waited for the chance to kill you. To ruin you the same way I was ruined. I thought I had the chance when the Commission came calling. Gaslight, they called me, because that’s what I would do; I would trick people into shifting the timeline the way it needed to go, manipulate them and make them love me and trust me and then leave when my work was done. But with you-- god, Vanya, you never make things easy, do you? You had to ruin it, ruin all of my hard work?
“If you’d just fallen for me, this all would’ve been easier. If you hadn’t been so goddamn closed off… It’s your fault that it came to this. Hazel and Cha Cha didn’t have to get involved-- not if you’d just let me in that first day.
“But no. You couldn’t. I did so much for you, Vanya. I made sure you’d get second chair!”
“You did that?” her words were slow and dangerous. Any smarter person would have stopped.
“Oh, it wasn’t for you, not at first.” He smirked. “She was too close. She was asking too many questions. I’ll bet you didn’t know she lived right next door to me, did you? If only she’d kept her stupid mouth shut… but I was sloppy. Because of you. I needed it-- I needed you to listen. If you’d have listened, maybe she’d be fine. But no. You couldn’t could you? You couldn’t just… do what I needed you to do.
“I was just going to make her forget. All I wanted, at first, was to make her forget. But then she mentioned rehearsal, and she was so… forthcoming… with the details that I needed, and then I realized that it was the perfect way to make sure you’d be where I needed you to be. To get the Commission off my back about what they thought were my failures. To get you second chair, and then we’d meet outside the theater, and you’d be happy and more receptive to me and we could…
“But then you had to go and hate me again. You had to turn me down. You and that stupid band of meddling musicians. You just… you just kept ruining everything, Vanya.
“But now… now I can get what I deserve and you can get what you deserve and everything will be wonderful. I’ll get my revenge. I’ll get my happy ending, for all the little boys and girls who had to share a birthday with you and look up at you and know, deep down, that they weren’t as good. That they’d never be as good. I can kill you, all of you, for all the people like me.”
He steadied the gun. He smirked.
“Goodbye, Umbrella Academy.”
This time, Vanya didn’t miss. She slashed through the air with her bow. A line of blood opened on his throat, spilling red down his front. He choked and he gasped and then he fell to the ground.
Leonard was dead.
And yet his voice still echoed in her head.
Your fault your fault you did this it was all your fault your fault your fault…
But it wasn’t, in the end, was it? He was a madman and a creep, but she didn’t… her saying no didn’t make what he did her fault…
But tell that to Anika, poor, poor Anika, still in the hospital after her collapse.
Tell that to the women who’d been used and dumped for the sake of his training.
Tell that to Vanya, and she’d point you to all the reasons you were wrong.
Your fault your fault your fault… should’ve just said yes…
She didn’t realize she was still using her powers until she felt arms around her again and everything stopped shaking. She thought it was just her feeling unsteady, not everything actually being unsteady.
Exhausted, she closed her eyes briefly, allowing the fire in them to die down, then opened them again and pulled herself from her brothers’ grasp. She could hear sirens wailing outside of the building, like an alarm telling her to leave.
So she shifted her bow to join her violin in one hand, then grabbed the closest wrist and pulled.
“We should go. Before we have to start answering questions like ‘who’s the dead guy?’”
But then the firefighters were in the building and she looked up and huh, when did the fire alarm start going off? Because it had, she could tell that much. The lights were still flashing, but it was silent, and she took a moment to be thankful that the theater’s alarms stopped sounding after sixty seconds. Although, she noticed as she looked around, she couldn’t figure out why they’d gone off in the first place.
Diego pulled his hand from her grasp and patted her on the shoulder. “I’ll go talk to them.”
She nodded and turned away, making her way back to her chair and collapsing into it. She was still getting concerned looks, but she waved them away tiredly and stared into the wings of the stage. She still held her violin. Something in her wouldn’t let her put it down. It had turned white. Vanya wasn’t sure when. When she looked down at herself, she realized the black tux she’d been wearing was also white and-- oh god, she really had almost turned into the White Violin…
She didn’t let herself think about it. Instead, she ran the fingers of her free hand over the polished wood and the gleaming strings of the violin, letting the familiar textures calm her until she felt like she could breathe again.
She’d done it. She’d fixed it. She’d saved the world.
This was a pretty short chapter, and I'm sorry about that. It was originally part of the next one, but then it was getting disjointed so I separated them.
So yeah. Current plan is one more chapter, then the epilogue. I'm scared that I'm not going to be able to let it go and I'm going to draw it out longer than it needs. I hope not.
So who's happy? So many people had asked for him to die, and then it ended up working so I did. Yay!
Leave a review? Please? What are you looking forward to now that the end is upon us?
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 42: So Long (Thanks for All the Fish)
"There is a moment in every dawn when light floats, there is the possibility of magic. Creation holds its breath."
Well, here we are. All that's left is the epilogue, which will be posted sometime tomorrow.
Thank you all so much for sticking with this for so long, for giving the story a chance, and for giving me a chance. This is the first story I've ever completed that's been so long, and the only reason I stuck with it was you guys and the incredible amount of support you've given me. If not for the comments and the kudos, I likely would've given up on this a long time ago. So thank you thank you thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
The chapter number, title, and summary are all connected. I hope y'all get it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Eudora was the first cop to arrive, which Vanya considered to be her first stroke of good luck that day. Leonard’s body still lay on the stage where they’d left it. Eudora was quick and efficient in her questioning, and Vanya spilled the story to her in a hushed voice, or at least, what she remembered of it.
“I was playing. It was like I was in another world. I closed my eyes and I was playing and then I opened them again and Leonard was coming at the stage with a gun and I used my powers to push him away and then this woman showed up and admitted to sending those two assassins that took Klaus and she was going to kill us-- well, not me, but everyone else-- so that I’d lose control and start the apocalypse but then Leonard shot her and pushed a thing on her briefcase and then she was gone and then he was going to kill us until I used my powers to kill him and then you showed up and oh my god I killed him. I really killed him. I just killed a person. Eudora, I just killed him. What the fuck did I do? What the--”
She was losing it, she knew. The stress of the last day was catching up with her and she was getting hysterical and suddenly it was getting a lot harder to breathe. She couldn’t hear anything Eudora was trying to say to her, even though she could see her lips moving, because the sound of her heart in her head was so loud over everything else, and nothing was shaking, not yet, but she was so tired that she felt like she probably wouldn’t have been able to use her powers at all anymore anyway…
Then she was being gathered to someone’s chest and she looked up to see Ben holding her tightly to him and murmuring platitudes into her hair, and then she was matching his breathing and slowing down and calming down…
When the hysterics had stopped and the tears were drying on her face, Eudora kept going.
“Can you tell us anything about the body we found in one of the dressing rooms? The one with the scissors in his neck?”
The description sounded familiar, but she was struggling to remember anything that had happened before the concert started. She… she’d walked into the dressing room and saw Helen; she remembered that. But then… nothing. Nothing but a blur until she’d lifted the bow to the strings and was suddenly having a conversation with herself.
“I don’t-- I can’t… I’m sorry.”
Eudora nodded, mouth pressed into a thin line, then stood and made her way over to where her partner stood, starting a hushed conversation with him that Vanya didn’t even want to try and start to listen to.
She didn’t want to be dealing with this. With any of this. It was supposed to be over. She hadn’t destroyed the world, Hazel and Cha Cha weren’t a concern anymore, the Commission was bound to stop caring, now that whoever that woman had been was dead, and Leonard couldn’t hurt anyone anymore. What else was there? What other loose ends hadn’t been wrapped up?
Why couldn’t she just go to sleep?
She’d never seen this part of the movie. Once the world-saving was done and the big-bad defeated, the heroes always run off into the sunset. They don’t stay behind and talk to the police. They don’t worry about what happens to the bodies left behind. Even the repercussions, if there are any, don’t show up until days, weeks, months, even years later. Someone else was always supposed to deal with the immediate fallout.
So why couldn’t she go home?
The body belonged to Adams, Eudora told her a couple of hours later, off the record, after her partner had finished talking to Helen, who had been forced to stay behind as a witness.
That brought up memories she vaguely remembered, and she gasped when the news brought up an image of the scissors flying into his throat. Eudora must have taken the gasp for surprise, because she continued as if nothing had happened.
“Helen told us that Leonard killed him. That Adams came to look for her when he broke into the dressing room looking for you, and that Adams started yelling at him and Leonard picked up the scissors and threw them at him.”
Eudora didn’t look like she believed that. So Vanya asked her why.
“There are still things that don’t add up,” Eudora admitted, “like why he’d use scissors when he had a gun. Or why Helen brought out the reserve conductor instead of calling the police and cancelling the concert.”
She knew her expressions must have been something awful, because then Eudora was asking if she knew anything that Helen might have left out.
She pulled her over to the side of the room, away from any possible prying ears.
“It was me,” she admitted. “I killed him. Helen is protecting me.”
Shock made its way over Eudora’s face. “What are you talking about, Vanya. I thought you didn’t know what happened?”
“I didn’t. I thought I didn’t. I couldn’t remember much from today. A lot of it is a blur. But then you said… and Helen… I remembered. I was… numb. I think. Numb and angry and nothing felt real to me anymore, and I just wanted to play my violin but then he was there and he was yelling at me, and I don’t remember what he said, but I remember that it reminded me of my father and I couldn’t… He kept yelling at me. I wanted him to be quiet. So I used my powers. I picked up the scissors with my mind and I made them go through his throat and I killed him.”
There was no response for a few moments. Then, “I mean, it explains some of the holes. But Van, are you--”
“I remember it now. Like I was watching someone else do it, but it was still me. It was so… It didn’t feel real, when it was happening. Nothing felt real. After Klaus… and then everyone else… I thought I’d lost everything. I thought… Nothing else mattered. Nothing. Helen… she shouldn’t have protected me. I deserve whatever happens now.”
And that thought hurt. She didn’t want to end up in prison for murder, not based on the circumstances of the time, not after everything that happened. That wasn’t really a proper reward, she thought, for stopping the apocalypse. (Is refusing to cause it the same thing as stopping it?)
But she really did deserve it. Adams was awful, a right old asshole, but she shouldn’t have killed him. And if they kept poking at Helen’s story, everyone could get into way more trouble than necessary.
Eudora’s gaze was steely and determined, and she shook her head firmly. “Leonard did it.”
“What a shame that he’s dead now. I guess all we have to go on is Helen’s word.”
“Eudora, you could lose your job for this.”
“I may not be your sister, Vanya, but I told you: at this point, I’m pretty much as good as. There’s one witness, and the perp is dead. Closed case. No issues. No one’s losing anything. Leonard did this.”
“... I don’t deserve this…”
“I don’t care if you think you do or not. I think you do. And that’s it. No arguments. It’s what I’m writing on my report and that’s it.”
She wanted to cry, but she didn’t.
“Thank you… I--”
“No. Stop. I didn’t do anything. At least, as far as everyone else knows, I didn’t do anything.”
She wanted to hug her, and that’s what she did.
Andrew, Angie, and David had been sent home a couple of hours earlier, but Helen, Toni, and Zoe (Had they been at the concert? She’d forgotten they were coming. What would they have done if Vanya hadn’t come out to play?) were waiting outside the theater when the Hargreeves and Eudora finally left.
Exhausted as she was, Vanya was being carried on Luther’s back, arms slung loosely around his neck, but she pushed for him to let her down when they came across her friends.
The second she was steady on her own two feet, Toni was on top of her.
“What the fuck, Vanya? What the actual fuck? You turned white! Everything you were wearing, your violin… and then the music-- it was like it was alive! And everything was shaking and we thought the building was going to collapse, but everyone was just sitting there and you wouldn’t open your eyes--”
“You’re rambling, Tones,” Quentin smirked, and she pulled away from Vanya to aim a smack at him.
“Tell me that you think that’s uncalled for right now, Q. Just try it. That was crazy. That was insane. Vanya has more powerful powers than anyone else and you think I’m just going to accept that at face value? What the fuck? What the actual fuck?”
Quentin and Toni had moved away from the group at large to continue bickering, and Helen came up to Vanya instead.
“I know what you told the cops about Adams,” Vanya whispered.
Helen frowned. “I wasn’t going to sell--”
“I know. But you didn’t have to protect me either.”
She rolled her eyes. “Don’t be stupid. Of course I did. Face it, Hargreeves, that’s the basis of our relationship. You’d probably be dead by now without me.”
“I would.” Helen had been joking, but Vanya wasn’t. “Thank you.”
She looked uncomfortable, and nodded stiffly. The mushy stuff was hard for her. Vanya smiled and jerked her head in the direction of Helen’s car.
“Go home, Helen. Get some sleep.”
She scoffed. “Don’t have to tell me twice. Do me a favor? Try not to have any more disasters for a little while? There has been a ridiculous amount of drama lately. We could all use a little quiet time.”
Vanya tried not to be hurt by that. She knew that it was Helen being Helen, that it was her way of saying ‘I’m scared for you, Vanya.’ But it also sounded like Helen was beginning to resent her, and Vanya pretended that she wasn’t sick with how much that hurt to hear.
Then Helen was leaving and she was left face-to-face with Zoe.
“I’m sorry,” Vanya started, and Zoe pressed her eyebrows together.
“What do you have to be sorry for?”
“This evening was kind of a disaster. And this was kind of soon to spring all of this craziness on you. I know that I’m… this… it’s all a lot. You shouldn’t have to--”
But Zoe was rolling her eyes and stepping closer to her, red-painted lips quirking up into a fond smile and heels click-clacking against the pavement as she moved. She was taller than Allison, Vanya thought, definitely taller than Allison, especially in heels, and she had to tilt her head back and look up to meet her gaze.
“I told you, V. I bond fast. Time is an illusion. Also, you in that white suit is very hot and I’m having trouble trying to convince myself that it’s not worth it just to be able to see you like that.”
She could feel her face turning red. She could feel Klaus raising his eyebrows behind her and grinning. She wished Zoe hadn’t said that quite so loudly.
“At this point,” Zoe continued, lowering her voice, “I’m just happy you’re okay, and I’m okay, and we can still go on that date you promised me.”
“The movie thing? Was that supposed to be a date?”
“God, I hope so.”
Vanya beamed and nodded, and Zoe grinned back in response, giving her own nod.
“Good. Can’t wait to prove you wrong.”
“I told you, you can’t beat popcorn.”
“We’ll just have to see about that, won’t we?”
She didn’t realize Toni and Quentin had stopped talking until an arm was slung around her shoulders and she was jerked back into her brother’s side. Zoe took a half-step back in surprise, and Quentin regarded her cooly.
“I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. I’m Vanya’s brother.”
Zoe smiled charmingly. “And does Vanya’s brother have a name?”
“He might. The question is, do you deserve to know it?”
Toni was rolling her eyes. “This is Quentin. He’s an asshole. Don’t worry about him.”
“I will kill you if I need to.” He didn’t seem phased by Toni’s comment, but then, he was used to it.
Vanya, on the other hand, was mortified.
Toni scoffed. “Please, super-nerd. You spend all day sitting at a table typing and you teleport everywhere you need to go. You have no body strength. You couldn’t hurt a fly. I, on the other hand…” Her teeth glinted dangerously in the low light.
“You are an art gallery curator who doesn’t work out and sits at a desk of her own all day.”
“I know six different types of martial arts!”
“What you pick up from nostalgia-fueled binge-watches of Power Rangers hardly counts.”
Zoe looked helplessly amused, but the didn’t put an end to Vanya’s embarrassment.
“If you’re going to try and threaten Zoe, you could at least do it convincingly,” Vanya complained, and Diego seemed to take that as a challenge, because he stepped up menacingly, one hand on the knife sticking out of his belt.
With a groan, she reached out and grabbed Zoe by the arm to pull her away from the group. Zoe refused to move.
Instead, she turned to Vanya’s brothers with a placating expression.
“Hi. I’m Zoe Thomas. I hope to be Vanya’s girlfriend. I think she’s wonderful and gorgeous and I’ve only known her for a week, but I also know that I would probably be the biggest idiot if I ever tried to hurt her. I live in her building, one floor above her. If anything ever happens-- if I ever do anything to ruin this-- I am fully expecting you all to come bursting through my door to murder me in my sleep. If you don’t, I’ll probably be incredibly disappointed.
“I swear to you; I know exactly what I’m getting into. And I’m fully there for it. One hundred percent.”
Diego took his hand off of the knife and nodded begrudgingly. Luther and Ben smiled and moved back. Quentin and Toni gave her distrustful looks, but turned away nonetheless. Klaus wiped fake tears from his eyes.
“That was beautiful,” he joked, then rushed forward to hug her. “Welcome to the family!”
Vanya pulled at his shirt, and he pulled away and sent her a grin. “I like her. And you weren’t lying when you said she was hot.” He winked and made his way back to Ben, who shaking his head in exasperation.
Zoe then allowed Vanya to pull her over to the side.
“I could have sworn Toni liked me an hour ago.”
“She does like you. That’s why she doesn’t trust you yet.”
Zoe laughed. She lifted a hand and brushed a lock of hair from where it had fallen into Vanya’s face. Her eyes were warm and soft.
Vanya kinda wanted to kiss her.
She didn’t realize they were drawing in closer until she was grabbed by the back of her shirt and pulled away from Zoe.
“Time to go home!” Diego said. Zoe lifted her hand with a laugh in a cheerful wave.
“I’ll text you later, V!”
“Her nickname is Van!”
“For you, maybe!”
She waved once more, then turned and left, getting into a small, yellow car and pulling away with yet another wave.
“I like her,” Toni mused, leaning into Quentin. “She’d better not ruin that.”
Vanya grinned. “I don’t think she will.”
Despite the missing staircase, they agreed that the Academy was probably the best place to head back to, if only because they needed to check on Mom and Dave. Eudora had a car with her, but only had room for four, so Toni agreed to take Quentin and Vanya over, and finally, they left the theater.
The vibration of the car beneath her had almost lulled Vanya to sleep when Quentin spoke.
“You really do like her, don’t you?”
She hummed her agreement, not bothering to open her eyes. “She’s… wonderful…”
She could tell she was slurring, exhaustion making her tongue feel thick and clumsy, but she didn’t quite care. She yawned hugely and shifted in her seat.
“Does that mean you think you’re ready for romance?” he asked.
“Mm… I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel ready. But I think I’m ready to try.”
With everything and everyone she had, where she was now, she really did feel like, even if it didn’t work out, she’d be okay.
As she fell asleep, she smiled.
So this is how it felt to be truly happy.
So, fun fact! Since I've introduced Zoe, I've taken care not to have any other character call her V. I know there are a couple of slip ups earlier, but for the most part, it's only been Zoe. (The slip-ups are also only Quentin, and only because she calls him Q.)
So yeah. It's their special thing.
Fun fact #2: I want Toni/Vanya/Zoe to be a thing. I'm v close to doing it. I almost put it in this chapter, before I decided it would be a separate one-shot AU. They'd just be really cute okay?
3) Helen/Angie/David might also become a thing, although if it does, I might not say anything. We'll see.
I know writing fanfiction for fanfiction isn't really so much a thing, but if anyone wants to write those stories, please please do, and send them to me!
... honestly, if anyone wants to write or draw anything based on this story, I'd love to see it. I've been wondering about Cover Art for the story anyway.
Okay, also, question for you guys-- can anyone think of a movie or TV show in which a female love interest is berating the male protagonist for not being able to ride off into the sunset-- for needing to stick around and make sure everyone gets their happy ending? I'm completely stuck and it's been bugging me for two days now.
Thanks again for sticking with me! Please tell me what you thought of the resolution! How much do you love Zoe? I love Zoe.
See you tomorrow for the Epilogue!
Chapter 43: Epilogue
And that's a wrap!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Holy crap,” Allison exclaimed. “Do I need to come home?”
“It’s okay,” Vanya reassured. “It’s over now. I just thought that we should probably catch you up on what happened.”
Allison looked at something off camera. “I said we should move back.”
Patrick’s voice came through the speakers. “And I told you, we can do it as soon as we get real jobs and don’t have to live in LA in order to raise Claire.”
“I have an inheritance!”
“You’d also be bored out of your skull if you stopped acting,” Vanya remarked, and Allison pouted.
“It’d be worth it if it meant I didn’t miss anything else.”
“You really didn’t miss much. The end of the world didn’t actually happen. We’re okay.”
“The potential end of the world is still a huge thing to miss!”
The pitter-patter of little feet sounded and then Claire was pushing her way into frame.
“Auntie V! Auntie V! Did you go out with your girlfriend yet? Are you in love? Are you gonna get married? Are--”
“Hi, Claire. No, I didn’t go out with Zoe yet. We have a date next week.”
Allison gave her a knowing look. “Oh, do you?” she teased.
Vanya groaned. “Stop it. I’m getting enough of that from Klaus and Toni.”
Claire glanced down, and then gasped. “Mommy, we have to goooo! We’re gonna be late for my violin lesson!”
Allison glared at Vanya. “Do you see what you’ve started?”
Vanya beamed shamelessly. “Do you think I’m going to apologize for that?”
Allison shook her head. “Well, fine then. I have to ‘goooo-’”
“Don’t make fun of me, Mommy.”
“Who’s making fun of you? I’m not making fun of you. Say buh-bye to Auntie Vanya!”
“Bye, Auntie Vanya! When I get back, I’m gonna call you and play for you, okay?”
“I’d love that, Claire. Bye, sweetheart. Bye, Allison.”
“Bye, Van--” she paused, and narrowed her eyes, “--are you sure you’re okay?”
“Positive. Love you!”
“Love you too…”
Vanya hung up before Allison could question her further. She lay back on the couch, thinking that a nap probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. She was still tired from her power overload the night before, and after the extended conversation she’d had that morning, telling everyone the truth about the dream and about her meeting with the other her, she was drained.
Ben and Quentin joined her before she could fall asleep.
“So how’s Allison?” Ben asked as they both sprawled out nearby.
“Fine. She wanted to come back home again, but I think Patrick and I both talked her out of it. Did you manage to find anyone who could fix the staircase?”
“Luther’s making a few calls,” Quentin reported. “Diego wants to just leave it as is and abandon the house entirely, but Pogo still needs a place to live and he would probably have quite a bit of trouble finding his own apartment. I’m thinking that at the very least, we should fix it up so that we can sell off the house and make some money off of it.”
Vanya waved her hand dismissively. “Let’s be honest-- do you actually think anyone would buy it? Besides, without him around anymore, it’s significantly easier to live here.”
“Does that mean you’re going to give up your apartment?” Ben teased, and, knowing he was joking she laughed.
“But that would mean moving away from Zoe,” Quentin smirked.
She threw a throw pillow at him. “Shut up, Q. “
“Why? You embarrassed? Am I embarrassing you?”
“Someone’s salty that they’re single,” Ben laughed.
He groaned. “Did you really just say salty? What twelve year old have you been hanging out with?”
“Ew,” Vanya said. “Don’t make me think of Klaus as a 12 year old. Not with the sounds I heard coming out of his room yesterday.”
Was it really yesterday? It felt like weeks ago. It felt like months.
Quentin curled his lip in disgust. “Can we stop with this conversation, now?”
The group fell silent. Vanya glanced at the time, then sat up. “I’m going to be late for therapy if I don’t leave now.”
Quentin stood and offered her a hand. “Come on. I’ll give you a ride.”
She hugged Ben goodbye, then followed Quentin out of the room.
Her hearing really had gotten much more sensitive. As she focused from the entrance hall, she could hear Diego and Luther bickering in the kitchen and Mom trying to break it up, and suspicious creaking coming from Klaus’s room.
She tried to stop listening.
She clambered into the car and as they drove off, she sighed.
“I feel like it shouldn’t just… be over. You know?”
She shot him a look and he laughed.
“No, I do. So much has happened, part of me is still waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
“Like someone else is going to come out of the woodwork and attack?”
“Pretty much. I know we’ll be able to handle it but…”
“It was nice knowing we’d have a warning system,” Vanya concluded. “Now that we’ve averted their apocalypse, the visions should be done with. If there’s another world-ending issue, I don’t know how we’ll handle it.”
“Together,” Quentin surmised. “We’ll do it together. As a family.”
“Aw, look at you, being all sappy. First the hug yesterday and now this?”
He shrugged. “Character development, I guess.”
Vanya smirked. “Imagine where you’d be without it.”
Thank you all so so much for all of your love and support! I know I keep saying this, and I know there's a point where it doesn't seem to feel real anymore, but I promise you, I do not think I could ever fully explain to you how much this has all meant to me.
A round of applause for my first ever completed long form story!
Chapter 44: EXTENDED STORY-- CHECK CHAPTER FOR INFO
OK so just an FYI for y'all-- I've now put this into a series titled "The Ticking of My Pulse (The Clock in My Ear)." If you want to read the rest of the fics in the extended "Ask Yourself" universe, subscribe to the series!
I hope y'all enjoy everything I have in store for you!