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Crash The Cemetery Gates

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X

“Klaus.”

There was screaming, loud too loud, where was it coming from? He was cold, he felt stretched, worn too thin like that last bit of butter in the tin spread over bread. He struggled to keep his eyes open. Something important was happening. Wasn’t it? Everything felt distant, fuzzy, like he was floating, like that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy gets trapped in the tornado.

“Klaus!”

He needed to focus. But all he could hear was screaming, loud, so loud, drowning everything else out. He was tired, worn out, but it was not the sort of tired where he could fall asleep. He felt like electricity was running beneath his skin, like his heart was beating at the rate of a mouse, too small for his body, he was dizzy. His head hurt; his mouth was dry.

“Klaus are you paying attention?”

Something settled on his shoulder, it was warm. Klaus blinked and shook his head glancing around the room, they were in the attic, old relics and antiques from Reginald’s escapades. They were sprawled on a couch Klaus suspected was made from the pelt of an extinct creature. It was uncomfortable and rough beneath his hands, like sandpaper. The dust in the air irritated his eyes, the beams of moonlight that pierced the curtains did little to illuminate anything beyond looming shadows, flickers of something other.

Diego’s hand was on his shoulder, he was staring at him with those big brown soulful eyes all full of concern. Klaus blinked again confused, wasn’t he just in the barracks listening to Tully talk about his wife? Or had he been in the auditorium cowering behind a seat?

“Klaus are you okay?”

Diego asked gently, so caring beneath his tough exterior. Klaus managed a numb nod as he glanced around the room once more, studying his siblings. Allison was settled on the opposite couch, one that looked far more comfortable than the one he was on, Vanya’s head was resting on her lap, it was strange to see her with the bangs again, a curtain to hide behind. Luther was settled in an arm chair at what could generously be called the front of the room, he looked like something out of a medieval movie, one with a boy king.

“Are you high Klaus?”

He asked, disappointment and a bit of concern flashing behind his eyes, though whether it was for everyone else or Klaus he could parse a guess. Klaus nodded slowly and let his eyes drift away from Luther to Five curled up in a small ball in an uncomfortable plastic chair; he had passed out the moment they had landed on damp grass, tipping sideways into Luther’s arms; Klaus doubted he would wake for anything but coffee now.

Diego was settled, perched, on the arm of the uncomfortable couch, a knife in hand that he was idly flipping, studying Klaus still with concerned eyes. There was something warm pressed against his side. He glanced down at a dark mop of hair and tilted his head. Oh, it was Ben. Klaus raised shaky fingers and settled them on top of Ben’s hair. He was here. He was alive.

“I think we should call it quits Luther, we’re all too tired to function.”

“We need to make a plan before tomorrow when we have to see Dad.”

Luther protested to Allison’s perfectly reasonable request. Klaus shifted away from staring at Ben, who was also asleep, face settled peacefully, and responded, “In case you haven’t noticed Vanya and Five are both unconscious. Ben is out cold and I’m halfway there. Any plan we make is probably going to suck. You know kind of like our last plan which led to the Apocalypse.”

“How about some coffee then.”

Luther suggested as if this was a perfectly normal response to half your team being dead (heh) on their feet. As wonderful as coffee was, an opposed to Five’s staunch belief, coffee couldn’t solve all of their problems. Diego scowled, tossing his knife in the air, it caught a flicker of moonlight and glimmered like liquid silver as it spun back into his hands.

“What let’s just do a coffee run, with what money Luther? What store is open at three in the morning? Being a leader doesn’t just mean giving orders idiot.”

Luther’s brow furrowed, a familiar frown settling firmly into place as he glanced at his siblings, he glared particularly hard at Diego and Klaus distractedly wondered if they were going to fight again; that would definitely wake dad up. Allison let out a sigh, brushing her hand through her dark curls she added, “Come on Luther it’s late. We can talk about this in the morning. I’m pretty sure it’s Saturday anyway.”

“What about if Vanya wakes up in the middle of the night?”

Diego asked, eyes flickering briefly to their little sister, and then away again with down-turned lips and narrowed eyes that tried to hide guilt and a whole other slew of emotions. Klaus was usually better at assessing his siblings’ emotional state but it was strange to see them as children again and besides that Klaus was very tired thank you very much. He was also maybe a little bit high because at 13 he had discovered weed, alcohol, and LSD were an excellent mix.

“She’ll sleep with me in my room it’ll be fine.”

Allison stated running her fingers through Vanya’s hair with a sad expression. Luther face shifted, jealousy, rage, and a whole slew of emotions that made Klaus flinch back into the couch remembering the feeling of being lifted into the air, he couldn’t breath, slamming into the wall.

“Her body will still be under the effect of the medication.”

Five’s voice stated, well growled would perhaps be more apt. They all glanced at Five who had uncurled slightly and was observing the room with narrowed eyes as he muffled a yawn behind his hand. Diego huffed and replied, “That still doesn’t help us with what to do about dad.”

“If I were Vanya I would totally try and murder the bastard.”

Klaus helpfully supplied, resolutely not thinking about Pogo, about Mom. Dave. Diego rolled his eyes at Klaus and Allison shook her head, Klaus didn’t bother to look and see Luther’s reaction. Five shook his head and commented, “I doubt it. Allison is right though. None of us are thinking straight, Ben and Vanya are asleep. Time Travel needs acclimation, you can’t hit the ground running, that is unless you’re me.”

“So, what just put the Apocalypse on the back burner?”

“Only for a week or two. We have years Diego.”

Five responded with a roll of his eyes, arms crossed in front of his chest, he looked like a petulant toddler but Klaus wasn’t going to mention that. Luther frowned, it didn’t look as imposing without the ape body, and said, “We should just keep Vanya on her pills. Dad gave them to her for a reason so she probably needs to take them.”

“The whole reason the Apocalypse happened is because he gave them to her.”

Allison replied, fingers drifting up to her throat before settling in Vanya’s hair again. Klaus glanced at Ben, or where Ben would have been if he was dead. Right. Shaking away the strange sensation Klaus commented, “Why don’t we ask Vanya?”

“She’s asleep.”

Diego replied with a nod at Vanya. Five glanced at Klaus and nodded once, which meant an awful lot, and replied, “Obviously. And that is why we need to postpone our planning.”

“I for one am going to bed. I need my beauty sleep and four hours isn’t going to cut it.”

Klaus announced and rose to his feet (he resolutely did not wait for Ben’s crack about how no amount of sleep would ever make him beautiful). He swayed for a moment, blood rushing to his head and his body reminding him that making a ghost corporal for the first time in forever took a lot of power. Also being high. Klaus turned to Ben and wordlessly slipped an arm under his shoulders, and one under his legs; he was lucky Ben had always been small. Not as small as Vanya though.

With an exhale he picked Ben up, he stumbled for a second before he righted himself. It wasn’t that bad. He would last long enough to go to his room.

“Uh Klaus where are you going with Ben?”

“To bed.”

Klaus replied and nodded at Five and Diego before sweeping dramatically from the attic. Or at least as dramatically as he could manage with Ben in his arms. He was probably a bit lopsided. As the door clicked shut behind him, Klaus could feel a sudden chill, like a gun shot fire signalling open season or whatever. He closed his eyes and counted to ten. When he opened his eyes, Ben was still there a solid and warm weight in his arms.

There was also a ghost lacking eyes with its jaw hanging off, a horrible gurgling noise bubbling from its mouth but Klaus resolutely ignored that as he lumbered off towards his room. It was strange, how large everything looked now that he was thirteen again. What wasn’t strange was the craving for a hit of something, anything. Klaus’ hands tightened around Ben as he opened the door to his room with his foot.

He tucked Ben into the bed, shucked his academy uniform, all uncomfortable fabric that was apparently bullet proof, and collapsed into bed beside Ben. In the moonlight he could see poems, words, sentences cascading down his wall, the bulbs of fairy lights, the shadows of his dresser. It was home in a strange sense of the word. He closed his eyes and was dead to the world.

X

Klaus flinched as a bomb went off nearby, shrapnel went flying, dirt and mud scattered itself throughout the trench. He could feel blood trickling down the side of his head. Something was pounding in his ears. Something was ringing shrilly, like a teapot going off. He glanced to the side, bullets sticking into the dirt in front of the trench, glanced at Dave. Where was he? He turned and stared at his other side. Something thrummed in the air, suddenly he wasn’t in the trenches. He was in the field, the mud clinging to his trousers and boots, blisters rubbing against the heel, he was thirsty.

Something latched onto his ankle. Klaus glanced into the dirt; Dave’s blank blue eyes stared at him. No. No. Please. Dave don’t leave him. Don’t leave him alone. Where was he? Dave? Dave!

Screaming. Who was screaming? He stumbled back only to trip over another body, another corpse, Diego, his own knives in his chest, brown eyes all blank. He scrambled away, the mud sucking at his hands, he couldn’t breathe. Oh god. Allison throat slashed. Luther crushed. Vanya. Vanya eyes blank with an empty pill bottle beside her, the orange was toxic, too bright against the mud. Ben? Ben. There was blood everywhere. Why?

It was his fault wasn’t it? Someone was screaming? Who was screaming?

“Klaus!”

In between one breath and the next Klaus jerked awake. Warm hands gripped his arms and he glanced hazily around the room, bombs still going off in his head and the copper taste of blood on his tongue. Faint sunlight streamed into the room, falling on his face like liquid warmth.

His eyes itched, his mouth was dry, he felt like shit. Klaus recognized withdrawal, recognized it like the tattoos on the palm of his hands. He glanced around the room again, looking for where he might have hidden his newest stash. Maybe in the bookcase? Beneath a floorboard? Oh! He knew he had a stash in the vent, the perfect little baggie of happiness.

“Klaus?”

Wait. Something wasn’t right. Klaus glanced at his hands; they were too small. Where were his tattoos? Klaus sucked in a shuddering breath and glanced to the side, shoving aside the covers to stare at Ben. Ben with big eyes, his warm hand touching Klaus’ arms. Ben who was dead. Who was alive. Alive. Warm. Living. Breathing. Alive.

Klaus sucked in a harsh breath. Something wasn’t right. Ben was dead. He was dead. Klaus couldn’t breathe. Why were his hands so small? Where was Dave? The dregs of his nightmare lingered tugging at him from the inside out as the withdrawal shook through his hands.

“Klaus what’s going on?”

Ben asked, quiet and confused like he would ask after their dad would announce some new training plan. Klaus covered his face with his hands, brushing his fingers over his eyelids, the side of his face, his cheek. In. This was real. Out. This was real.

Oh.

Klaus straightened slightly as he remembered. Right the Apocalypse. Vanya. Five. Time-travel. Ben was alive again. Klaus’ eyes were burning and he reached up with a shaking hand to brush away the tears already spilling down his cheeks. Fuck he felt like sobbing. Maybe some of that was the withdrawal.

Ben’s hand shifted and suddenly his arm was wrapped around Klaus, warm and real in a way that Klaus doubted his new power could ever hope to imitate. He shivered always too cold and leaned his head against Ben’s chest, listened to his heartbeat.

“So, time-travel?”

“Yeah.”

Klaus responded with a huff of laughter that quickly developed into a giggle, something about the absurdity of the situation propelled everything into full blown laughter and the tears were back again as he turned and buried his face in Ben’s neck. Ben’s arms encircled Klaus and he could feel Ben shaking too, warm tears soaking into his hair.

“Fuck I don’t miss puberty and hormones.”

Klaus stated with a wet laugh as he pulled back and wiped at his eyes. Ben huffed a laugh and replied, “I don’t think I mind. Feeling stuff again is weird.”

“Bet you’re hungry.”

“Could really go for some waffles.”

Ben replied with a shaky grin. Klaus’ eyes crinkled as his fingers reached up and traced gently over Ben’s face. It had been so long since had been able to touch Ben. Ben who smiled and let his own fingers trace over Klaus’ face, eyes wide, mouth hanging open, looking like he was three seconds away from crying all over again.

A knock on the door disturbed the silence, or well the almost silence jam packed with emotions and stuff as it was. Klaus could already see the ghosts starting to filter in at the edge of his sight. There was a man with a slit throat, a young boy who was too thin, too pale. He couldn’t hear them yet and it was a small mercy he was all too grateful for.

The door creaked open and Diego poked his head in, a frown on his face as he picked at the collar of his uniform, he looked tense and stiff, unhappy. Diego observed the two of them with narrowed eyes that tried to hide the soft emotions and relief at Ben being alive again.

“Mom a-a-asked me to wake you two up. Breakfast is in f-f-fifteen minutes.”

They both stared at Diego for a long moment, Klaus supposed they might look like owls or something. He hadn’t been stuttering yesterday but maybe something about the mansion just you know. Diego sighed and scrubbed hand over his face, the motion eerily similar to when he did it as an adult before he continued, “Act n-normally.”

Ben nodded which seemed to satisfy Diego, he did toss a warning glance at Klaus anyway. Then he turned and closed the door behind him, the sound of his footsteps slinking off into the distance. Klaus’ stomach gurgled deciding to aptly remind him that weed always gave him the munchies. Ben’s stomach echoed the sound like a weird duet, and when Klaus looked, he could see the eldritch horror in his stomach shifting beneath his skin.

“This is weird.”

Ben stated hand hovering over his stomach as his brow pinched in concentration, he added, “I can’t tell if I’m hungry, in pain, or they want to go out.”

“Maybe all three?”

Klaus suggested as he attempted to stand and instead fell out of the bed and onto the carpet, he could still see the pink stain from Allison’s nail polish and the bitter smell of vinegar; an old lady had said it was supposed to help remove it. He kind of wanted to just stay there on the carpet soaking in the sunlight. Ben snorted and shrugged but it did little to hide the disquiet on his features. Klaus supposed being dead for ten years and then being alive again would take some readjustment.

He staggered to his feet and over to the closet, which unfortunately had row upon row of the pressed uniform, like something out of a cartoon when the character wore the same outfit every day. He made a broken sound and stated, “This is just sad. Do you think dad would let me get away with borrowing one of the girls’ skirts?”

“Only if I can too. Though we’re supposed to be acting normally.”

Klaus flashed a winning smile over his shoulder, Ben had been curious about skirts for ages, before he pouted and nodded. He pulled out the blazer, the undershirt, and all the other accoutrements that made up the uniform and began tugging it over his head. Never let it be said that dad didn’t have the stuff perfectly tailored even it was as uncomfortable as a brick wall.

“Like that’s going to last.”

He replied as he flung a blazer at Ben’s head. The blazer smacked into Ben’s face and onto his lap as Ben belatedly raised a hand eyes wide. Klaus’ face scrunched in sympathy as he replied, “Sorry.”

“Used to being incorporeal.”

Ben replied with a shrug and shimmied and wiggled the blazer over his head. It would be big on him but their dad probably wouldn’t notice, too full of himself for that. Glancing at the mirror Klaus reached up and fingered the strands of his hair, short, like a military buzz, trying to curl but mostly failing. It reminded him of Vietnam. It reminded him of, well the Umbrella Academy.

Ben stepped into the frame beside Klaus, staring at his reflection with a blank expression. Klaus had been right, the blazer was big on Ben, he only came up to Klaus’ ear, but it worked well enough. Ben sighed, fingers twitching before he stated, “Time for breakfast.”

Klaus started humming the Waffle Song and valiantly ignored the pounding of his head and the aching of his eyes; he was an expert at ignoring things. Stepping into the hallway was strange, in the darkness of the night before everything had been familiar, but in the sunlight, it was all too bright (painful), new, the posters were vivid, the sunlight felt false.

They were quiet as they made their way down the stairs and Klaus suddenly remembered that he missed this. The way they could just be in each other’s presence and he didn’t have to fill the void with talking, didn’t need to drown out the ghosts because The Horror kept them mostly quiet and it was Ben.

The dining room was quiet, only the faint ticking of some ancient grandfather clock counting time in another part of the house. The others were all standing behind their chairs, even Vanya hiding behind her bangs with red eyes. Luther was frowning at the two of them, eyes narrowed and lips a thin line but Klaus really couldn’t find it in himself to care.

“Number Four late as always. Number Six I expect better of you than to adhere to your brother’s folly.”

Right dad. Klaus had kind of forgotten in the buzz of Ben being alive again that their dad was alive again, that he controlled them again. That he was standing at the head of the table, that damn monocle, looking the same as when he had died, and utterly disappointed.

Ben opened his mouth, probably to protest cause Ben had no filter, but Klaus knocked his shoulder against Ben’s and muttered an apology before standing silently behind his chair. They needed to act normally; they couldn’t raise suspicion. If it was for Vanya then Klaus could manage that much.

Hargreeves nodded and they all pulled out their chairs, scraping across the hardwood floor, and settled to eat. Klaus had thought he had forgotten everything the Umbrella Academy had tried to drill into his head. Vietnam had proved him wrong. And so, did breakfast.

They sat silently, just the scraping of cutlery against plates. Klaus stared at what their mom had prepared, bacon, eggs, and toast. He poked at the eggs with his fork knowing he should be hungry, knowing that mom’s cooking was to die for. It all looked kind of like plastic and all Klaus could see was the egg running like sunlight spilling onto the fields at dawn and the medical tent, cauterized meat and blood.

“May I be excused.”

Klaus asked, stomach churning and hands shaking, his head was still aching, in fact it hurt more, like toiling bells, like it was angry at being ignored. Their father glanced at Klaus for a long moment before he nodded. Klaus burst to his feet and darted to the washroom, shutting the door behind him with a slam, bile burning his throat. He leaned over the toilet and retched, whatever they had eaten the night before ending up in the toilet bowl.

Klaus heaved for a moment more before his body finally settled. He grimaced at the acidic taste in his mouth and wiped his face washing his mouth out with water. He studied the contents of the toilet for a moment before with a gusty sigh he flushed it; he did not miss this part of withdrawal.

He could stop it. Go to his room and pry up a floorboard, open an empty eye shadow pallet that actually had cocaine in it, wait he hadn’t done cocaine yet in this body. The point was he could go and get high, smoke weed, drink alcohol and it would all stop, the girl with a gash on her chest, pus and blood leaking out would go away. The man with an iv and gaunt features wouldn’t be crying. He wouldn’t have to listen to them screaming. It would be quiet.

Dave.

He couldn’t. He had to stay clean, had to stay sober. Needed to see Dave again.

It should be easy. Right? This body only found out about the wonder of drugs a year and a bit ago after he broke his jaw; the morphine. He couldn’t do it. Klaus had been sober before, rehab did that much, and he had always gone to the next hit as soon as the streets swallowed him whole.

But he had wanted to be high.

Klaus’ stomach turned again and before he could continue the moral debate about his own willpower, he slumped over the toilet and heaved again. The tiles were cold against his knees and Klaus shuddered, body shaking like a leaf (why was it a leaf) as he heaved.

Someone knocked on the door.

“Klaus are you okay?”

It was Vanya, her voice soft and concerned like she always is, was. Klaus wiped his mouth and sat back on his hunches; breath heavy in his lungs like it just didn’t want to get out. He opened his mouth and closed it again. Clean. He needed to get clean. For Dave.

Maybe even for himself. Nah. For Dave.

“Yeah.”

He responded weakly and stumbled to his feet. He swayed for a moment before the door clicked open and Vanya stared up at him with concerned eyes, her eyes were still red and Klaus could almost feel the guilt surrounding her. Vanya seemed to curl into herself as she stared at Klaus, like she expected him to snap on her too but all he could see was that fricking cage Hargreeves had put her in.

“Just had to toss my lunch after seeing daddy’s ugly mug again.”

“Klaus!”

Vanya snapped with wide eyes and hit him on the shoulder. Ouch. He hissed and covered his arm with a wobbly lip that a hundred percent failed to hide his grinning eyes. Vanya caught on a moment later and rolled her eyes but she was smiling beneath it all. Her fingers locked onto Klaus’ hand with all the iron grip of a gorilla and tugged him towards the dining table; he liked when Vanya was like this. Missed it even.

The others were all still eating, trading glances over cutlery and around the centerpiece some flowers mom liked that Diego had bought. Klaus settled into the seat and didn’t acknowledge the disapproving and calculating glance Hargreeves levelled him, Ben’s concerned face, Luther all suspicious side eye, Five was dead to everything but the coffee he had bribed mom into giving him, Allison’s focus was really only on Vanya, and Diego was talking to mom. Home sweet home.

X

“What room in the house doesn’t have cameras right now?”

Five asked leaning against the door staring at him with narrowed eyes. Klaus glanced up from where he had been lying in the centre of his bed, just chilling, no, relaxing, no, disassociating was probably the best word. God, he wanted a joint. Klaus rolled his head to the side and squinted at Five before he honestly considered the question.

“The attic, the bathroom, uh that one guest room with the blue walls and the gold elephant statue, the ballroom on the southside but the floor is damaged so be careful, oh and in a few months a bunch of cameras are going to mysteriously break.”

“Mysteriously?”

Five asked with a tilt of his head. He had been gone already in the original timeline. Klaus shrugged, and closed his eyes, it was still early in the afternoon, their requisite self-study time granted only on Saturdays and heavily cherished, the sun was keen on reminding him of his headache.

“Well teenagers like their privacy.”

Klaus replied with a shrug and didn’t mention how Vanya and Allison had taken down six all on their own. Luther was the only one who had kept his camera up and if that didn’t say enough Klaus wasn’t sure what would. Kind of kinky.

“Why? Looking for a new room for all your crazy science mumbo jumbo, kids these days, we can just get you a chalkboard. Oh, it could be like one of those ones that flip and on the other side we take bets on how long it takes for Luther to insult someone!”

Five rolled his eyes but he was smirking ever so slightly so Klaus counted that as a win. Speaking of. Ouch. He tossed an arm over his eyes and settled back into the comforter. Footsteps sounded across the hardwood floor and a moment later Five was sitting on the edge of the bed.

“You had a new tattoo here.”

He stated and poked Klaus’ left arm where the army tattoo had been. That had been a good night, they had all been drunk, laughing as they stumbled through the streets of some small Vietnamese city. Jim had been the one to pull the what, five, of them into the tattoo parlour stating, “Freshies that last a month need to get a tattoo.”

Klaus hadn’t disagreed and Dave had held his hand through the whole thing with a fond resigned smile just knowing that Klaus was totally fine. The arm he had been holding after all had the umbrella and goodbye on his palm.

“Yep, got it in this dingy little place, the guy had an eyepatch!”

“When?”

Five asked voice sharp, always sharp, but the inflection was different. Klaus blinked a few times and glanced at Five, he was staring at Klaus. Most people would think Five was a complete and utter psychopath but Klaus had learned to read people a long time ago, Five was a psychopath but he also cared.

But you know fresh wound and all that.

“Why? You want one. Trust me I could totally hook you up with one this century, she’s great, bald as an egg, looks like a drag queen, makes the best weed brownies.”

Klaus shot back with a wide grin pushing as much mania as he could fit into his expression, it hurt but it was an age old hurt. Five’s lips curled, kind of like Hargreeves when he was disappointed and shook his head.

“Suit yourself.”

Klaus replied with a shrug. And oh. There was the nausea. Klaus really hated withdrawal. He stumbled to his feet, and swayed his way towards the washroom idly aware that Five was following behind him as he crouched over the porcelain throne and heaved his guts up again. Yay.

A warm hand settled on Klaus’ back, moving in stiff but rhythmic circles. Klaus spit one final time and contemplated just sitting there until he expired but that was generally frowned upon. Instead he levered his way to his feet and began to wash his mouth out.

“Are you going through withdrawal?”

“Maybe time travel just didn’t agree with me.”

He replied. A part of him that sounded suspiciously like Ben wondered why he kept pushing them away, why he was lying. He wasn’t lying thank you very much. He was just avoiding the truth. Five made a vague sound of acknowledgement as Klaus straightened, everything spun for a moment but then it was fine, and tilted his head at Five.

“You can talk to me Klaus if you need to.”

The tiny serial killer said looking uncomfortable and glancing off into the distance. Klaus paused swaying between two choices, he responded, “I know.” But I can’t.

“We’re going to meet in the attic tonight, around one.”

“A slumber party? What are we gossiping about? Who’s brining the chips? And the spiked drinks?”

Five rolled his eyes and disappeared with a soft pop and crackle of blue light (Five could totally have been one of those Rice Krispy things). Klaus planted his hands on his hips and turned to the old woman who only had one arm and a rather large chunk of her chest missing.

“That’s just rude.”

She continued screaming and Klaus sighed, his head was pounding. He wanted them to just be quiet. Gore he could deal with. Unpleasant but tolerable. Screaming though? That was like nails on a chalkboard, someone listening to music on transit without their headphones.

Shaking his head Klaus stumbled back to his room on silent feet, knowing that Ben would remind him about the meeting. He would probably still be awake. Klaus tumbled into bed fingers tracing over familiar poetry, dates, words. God Klaus wanted a hit of something.

X

Klaus stepped into the attic on silent feet, he could hear voices, and thought that maybe he should have set an alarm of some kind. But it was still around one so technically he wasn’t late. Besides fashionably late and all that. Rubbing at his temples and running his tongue over the back of his teeth Klaus valiantly ignored the ten ghosts clustered in the attic, guts hanging out with a putrid scent, blood drip, drip, dripping onto the floor, limbs missing, it was like Bluebeard’s closet, and walked over to where they had sat last night.

“I just think we shouldn’t rush into this.”

Vanya said quietly, she was sitting with Ben, curled against his side and looking so small, like a kitten. Luther frowned, seated upon his throne, sorry cough, chair once again. Five stared at Vanya for a long moment before he stated, “I agree. We have time and should use it wisely.”

It was nice they had started without him. He was probably off getting high, wasn’t he? Wouldn’t even notice he was gone.

Klaus pushed away the bitter tide of emotions and stepped further into the small sitting area, a lamp cast a golden light over everything but in the grand space of the attic it was like a torch in a forest. Diego crossed his arms over his chest and added, “The longer we wait the more time Dad has to notice.”

“Not if we’re careful. Worse case I can… I can rumour him.”

Allison replied fingers drifting up to rest against her throat. Vanya flinched at Allison’s words and Luther went a very dark shade of red and said, “We’re not rumouring dad!”

“Why not? We could make him actually love us? Thaw his cold dead heart? Oh, I know! Treat us like children instead of child soldiers.”

Klaus interrupted seeing his que, it was important to wait for the right moment. They all turned and stared at Klaus in shock as he sauntered into the light and settled into an arm chair, legs thrown over the side resting his head in his hands.

“Klaus how long have you been there?”

Diego.

“Where were you Klaus? The meeting started twenty minutes ago.”

Allison, with a tinge of disappointment.

“Probably out getting high.”

Luther.

Klaus shrugged and replied, “Forgot I didn’t have an alarm clock.”

Which was a better answer than having a nightmare about being in Vietnam thanks. Ben shifted against Vanya and flashed Klaus an apologetic look, but Klaus waved it off, it was his fault. He just had to adjust to the concept that Ben was actually alive again. Wasn’t stuck to him.

“Anyways, I agree with Vanya, she can’t just quit cold turkey it’s not a pretty sight.” (example A Klaus himself)

Klaus added his two cents and leaned back against the chair. They were screaming again, crying out his name and there was one that was standing right in front of him, a hole in his chest that reminded him of, nope don’t think about it, and there was a girl hanging from a noose by the window, and a man with a dent in the side of his head, and a person with holes in their arms and blue lips, and a boy with bruises around his neck, and, and.

“-a week is enough time to adjust to the timeline and gives us time to make a plan for Vanya’s training.”

Klaus vaguely heard the words, heard that it was Five speaking, but it all trickled through like sunlight through water. He shifted in the chair, tucking his arms against his chest and wished that he had one of those big pullover sweaters, he was cold, and felt like shit. And, they were still screaming at him, chanting his name, like a choir, like a broken radio, like the static of tv in an empty room.

“Klaus?”

Someone called and Klaus blinked and shifted his head glancing around the room. His siblings were staring at him again and Ben looked three seconds away from bolting from Vanya to him. Diego said his name again and he shifted until he was sitting upright.

“Were you even paying attention?”

Allison asked, nose scrunched in that way the always managed to convey disappointment. If Klaus could erase a word out of existence it would be disappointment. Klaus picked at his arm and replied, “Yeah, uh we’re taking a week to adjust-“

“Are you high Klaus?”

Luther asked, but it was really more of an accusation. Klaus’ eyes widened and he starred for a few minutes at Luther, because couldn’t he tell when Klaus was high? Usually he was you know happy, focused enough to actually function depending on the day.

“Nope nothing in the system, my body is temple and all that.”

Luther scoffed like he didn’t believe it and Klaus wanted to cry, wanted to demand when Luther, when any of them had stopped caring, had stopped trying. He had cheated, he had stolen from his siblings he got that, had refused whatever help they tried to shove down his throat, but it still hurt that they just gave up. Wasn’t family supposed to keep trying no matter what?

“We were actually talking about Vanya’s training.”

Five interjected before Luther could make some disbelieving remark. Klaus nodded and glanced at Vanya who was hiding behind her hair again and Klaus really wanted to give her a hair cut. Oh, a pixie cut! Wait focus. Klaus glanced at Five again and gestured for him to continue.

“Logically, Ben, Diego, Allison, and I will be of the most help to Vanya in training her powers as we have the most control over ours. Luther yours doesn’t count as it does not manifest beyond the physical. Klaus you can’t control your powers,”

Ouch. Tell it as it is Five.

“Sometime in the next week I will attempt to break into our father’s office to view the notes he made on Vanya’s powers. We can create a training plan from there.”

“We’ll need a distraction.”

Diego chimed in ever the realist and Klaus muffled a flinch. Totally because a ghost had phased through his body and dropped the room temperature another few degrees. No other reason. Not because he was always look out. Always left out.

“We’ll also need a distraction during the day while we train Vanya.”

Five stated calmly, hands crossed in front of him. The words sank into his gut with dread, like drowning, like the corpse that couldn’t move from the ground, pinned to the floor.

As if on que their eyes turned toward him, like a herd of meerkats of whatever they were called, a pride, a collection. Klaus stared around the room, at Diego all this is your responsibility, Luther, well enough said, Allison asking him to be useful for once, Vanya wasn’t looking at him, Five had his it’s all a part of the plan face, it was similar to his for the greater good face. He glanced to Ben. Ben who knew a little bit what training with dad was like for Klaus. He was biting his lip, offering to stand up and say no. But. But he thought it was the best idea too.

For Vanya. Right?

All he had to do was tell Hargreeves he could manifest the ghosts and bam training. Maybe he could avoid the mausoleum. Right? God didn’t hate him that much. Right?

“I can do it. But uh can you guys like help a bit.”

“Luther doesn’t require personal training from dad any longer.”

Allison stated, fingers drifting towards her throat for a moment as she glanced at Klaus with sympathy, a quirk to her lips. Klaus glanced to Ben whose face was pale and yeah Klaus couldn’t make his brother train with Hargreeves. Ben had told him what Hargreeves forced him to do in an attempt to control the Horror. Klaus couldn’t force Ben through that again.

“Don’t be selfish Klaus Vanya needs training and the others are the only ones who can help her. This will probably be good for you too.”

Luther. Darling Luther. Klaus wanted to scream. Wanted to rant about how putting him in the mausoleum would never fucking ever be good for him. How their screaming made it hard to think. How he couldn’t sleep. And he couldn’t go back there. Please don’t make him go back there.

But for Vanya. For Ben.

“We’ll all pitch in, it isn’t fair to shovel all of dad’s attention on you.”

Allison placated. But that was all it was. Placation. Lies. Just another rumour. He wanted to cry, his eyes already burning, he felt sick, felt like he couldn’t breathe.

Instead, Klaus shrunk back into his seat and nodded, his chest was tight and squishy like he had swallowed a caterpillar and it had multiplied and there were now a hundred caterpillars crawling about his lungs. Klaus’ eyes burned, his mouth was dry, his head hurt.

They screamed and screamed. God why wouldn’t they fucking shut up. He just wanted quiet. Please.

“Klaus?”

Ben said his name softly, and oh he was leaning against the arm chair running his fingers over the material of the chair. He blinked and glanced around the room, it appeared the serious planning conversation was over and they were all talking about sneaking out to see movies they hadn’t gotten to see in theatres.

“Are you okay?”

Ben asked, brow furrowed, lips pressed like he always did when Klaus was searching for the newest high or sprawled in an alleyway after a deal gone wrong. He shivered remembering that one time it had been laced with something bad, really bad.

“Just fantastic Benny-boo I think I’m going to head to bed, gotta go find the man of my dreams.”

Klaus announced and rose to his feet with a flourish missing his skirts, the drag of velour, the rustle of silk, the feel of a good outfit. Ben tilted his head disbelief written clear across his features but when Vanya called his name the expression was gone.

It was fine. Vanya needed support. Needed Ben. Luther was a dick and wrong. But he had Ben for ten years so Ben was free to socialise with whoever he wished. Ben must have seen something on Klaus’ face because his arms wrapped around Klaus, warmth and Ben, the scent of something other and the same laundry detergent mom washed all their clothes in, he had missed Ben hugs. Klaus’ arms wrapped around Ben and he giggled when Ben whispered, “Go escape while you can before Luther starts talking about the moon again.”

Nodding, Klaus pulled away and with a wave stated, “Sleep tight bitches don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

He was fine. He could do this. Stay sober, stay clean. For Vanya, for Ben. Dave. What could go wrong? Everything. But everything had already gone wrong before so Klaus at least was prepared this time. He ignored the way his siblings barely noticed his departure as he stepped over a corpse and crept down the hallway. He hummed Sweet Dreams (are made of this) and knew that he wouldn’t sleep tonight but that was fine.

X

Chapter Text

X

Klaus rested his head in his hand and muffled a yawn into the side of his arm, right over the Umbrella tattoo, for spite’s sake. He had forgotten how utterly drole and boring class was, especially without drugs. A bit of weed or some LSD and time would slip away from his fingers like fine grains of sand. But nope. Klaus needed to be clean. Had been clean for the past few days since they had been back; he was so thankful he hadn’t really started anything hardcore in this body. It still sucked though, his mouth was dry, he had a dull headache, still felt a bit nauseous, and oh was practically itching like a dog at fleas for a hit of something. So, class passed by dreadfully slow.

Pogo’s voice continued to fill the classroom as he flicked the projector to a new screen, one that showed the types of guns commonly found on the streets of America. Apparently Hargreeves wasn’t too impressed with their performance on the last mission with a robbery or something or other. Klaus barely remembered that mission and definitely didn’t remember the class afterwards. The seven (they had snuck Vanya in to Pogo’s impassive face) of them sitting in dim light with only the white of the projector to break up everything, in rickety old chairs and desks that at least didn’t have any gum stuck to the bottom of them; Klaus had half a mind to change that. Maybe gum chewing could be his new addiction. Like that girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The desk in front of him shifted and Klaus glanced away from his idle doodles of the ghost banging on the door with bloody eyes screaming his name, or the other one of the man with no throat, or the one of the guy missing all his toes, fingers, and nose. Ben was glancing over his shoulder at Klaus, fingers tapping and flitting over the wood of the desk like he couldn’t get enough of the sound or the feel.

Klaus stretched a grin across his lips and waved his fingers at Ben, who rolled his eyes and tilted his head at the projector as if to ask, “Have you been paying attention?” Klaus shook his head and raised a brow with a tilt of his head. Ben’s lips quirked ever so slightly and he nodded at his own desk where Klaus could see dark lines of graphite sticking out.

A ruler tapped on his desk, loud in the sudden quiet of the classroom, it was loud, loud as the crack of gunfire early in the morning, rolling out of bed, slamming his feet into his boots dirt still clumped onto the soles as Jamie scowled and cursed around a mouthful of his shirt.

He glanced up at Pogo, who was staring at Klaus with that expectant face, not like he was disappointed, just that he knew Klaus could do better if he only applied himself. Which was probably true but Klaus didn’t really want to apply himself or contemplate what it could mean if he did; he was scared of his powers for more than one reason.

The ape ambled back to the front of the room mumbling something under his breath as he flipped to the next slide, one of different types of body armour and their weaknesses; fun. Klaus glanced around the room at his siblings because it was definitely better than listening to the best way to disarm someone.

Allison had a textbook open but was actually flipping idly through a magazine showing different outfits to Vanya, who was sitting beside her, with a raised brow. Vanya would stare at the image for a moment, stare at Allison a tiny bit confused and surprised every time, and point at her favourite. Allison would nod, eyes bright and totally planning a makeover of some kind (he recognized the look and was conspiring to help her convince Vanya to get a haircut).

Five had a book, one that wasn’t their textbook, open on his desk along with a notebook that Klaus could already see was filled with mathematical equations, enough to make his head spin; never let it be said that he was not one of the rare few of his kind that were good at math. Diego who was in the desk beside Five was scratching something slowly into the desk with his knife, glancing every few seconds at the projector before he would roll his eyes and glance down at the desk again.

Luther was the only one who was paying attention, taking diligent notes, and sitting like his spine had been replaced with a stop sign, but even he looked bored.

Klaus tilted his head and glanced at the projector; the screen was showing something about bullet wounds. His fingers drifted towards his thigh were a bullet had been lodged sometimes during his third month in ‘Nam. That one had been a bitch to get out, one of the newbies had been seriously injured and he had Dave pass him a knife and dug it out himself.

He tilted his head staring at the projection.

Pogo clicked the projector to the next screen.

“Pogo could you go back to the last slide for a minute?”

Klaus asked his hand in the air before he could really think about it. He could feel his siblings’ eyes on him even as Pogo raised the equivalent of a monkey brow and flicked the projector screen. Projected on the classroom wall were a series of holes, titled with the size of the bullet. Below the image of the entry holes, which were rather small, were a role of large exit holes. Klaus resolutely ignored the dirty places where his mind was going as something itched at him, the word on the tip of his tongue, the faint impression of a memory.

Oh.

All he could think about was blood on his hands, warm even in the humid air of Vietnam, the trenches, bullets and shrapnel, and Dave. Dave with a large wound in his chest blood choking his beautiful voice. A bullet not from the front lines but from behind.

For a minute he considered it.

Friendly fire was pretty common, the training they gave the troops wasn’t accuracy so much as the ability to fire in that direction and hope you hit something. There was a possibility that it had been friendly fire. But.

Klaus wasn’t supposed to be in Vietnam in the first place. What was the name of that time travel organisation? The C something. The Commission. What was it the Commission did?

Right. Fix things in time so that certain events could happen. Certain events like the Apocalypse.

Klaus glanced away from where he had been staring blankly at the projected image of blueprints or something, and glanced at Five. He needed to know.

“May I be excused?”

Klaus asked and twitched his features ever so slightly that he looked like he was going to throw up again, it was a bit sneaky but well Klaus wasn’t above sneaking. Pogo studied Klaus over his glasses for a long moment before with a sigh he nodded. Klaus lips tried to curl into a smile but he knew it was more of a grimace as he slipped out of the chair with a screech and on the way to the door deliberately tapped Five’s desk four times.

The hallway was quiet and Klaus took a moment to lean against the wall, head tilted back as he tried to suck in air but his lungs refused to co-operate. In. Out. But all he could see was the blood on his hands, Dave’s blood, and the horrible copper smell, and feel Dave’s dog tags around his neck cold, too cold, a reminder of where they should have been.

His hands were shaking and he wanted a hit so bad. His hands were glowing blue. Klaus hissed panic and terror screaming in his chest as he shook his hands till the blue went out. He needed a hit. Wanted to stop seeing the little girl with an open chest cavity instead of a heart, of the boy with wrists dripping blood onto the ground in watery puddles, of the old woman shaking off dirt with watery red eyes. All of them calling his name, He could go right now. Down the hallway, into that one spare room with the loose floorboard, he was sure he had edibles there. Or out into the alley with whatever gold-plated thing dad had lying around.

He was already half way down the hallway when he stopped and realised where he was. Klaus sucked in a distraught breath, he wanted Ben, wanted someone to tell him to stop. But he had to do that himself now. He could do this. He could do this. In. Out. Klaus slowly turned around and walked back outside the classroom. He wanted a hit so badly it hurt.

But he needed confirmation. Needed to talk to Five.

In. Out. Right sober. For Vanya. For Ben. For Dave.

The door creaked open a moment later and Five stepped out an irritated scowl plastered across his lips. He glared at Klaus for a moment before he must have seen something because the expression dropped in an instant, warmth and concern, and he asked tentatively, “Klaus?”

“Five, the Commission, would they, if they needed something to happen would they kill someone?”

“Of course.”

“And if say they needed someone to be in a certain place would they kill someone because they knew it would force them to go to that place.”

“Yes, they calculate everything extensively. Klaus is everything okay?”

Oh.

So, it had been his fault. Dave had died, had been killed because of him. Because Klaus had been in the wrong time period. Because the Apocalypse had to happen. It was his fault. His fault. Dave had died because of him. God how would he ever forgive him? He had killed Dave just by knowing him. Dave. Was. Dead. Because. Of. Klaus.

“Klaus.”

A warm hand settled on his shoulder and Klaus blinked away the tears burning his eyes and trailing down his cheeks, his breath was hiccupping in his chest and he forced himself to breathe in and out. Inhale. Exhale. It was all about the breathing they said at Rehab.

“Klaus?”

Five’s other arm was on his shoulder and Klaus focused on the warmth not the cold feeling of the ghost running her fingers through his hair and humming a lullaby or the old man in the corner scowling a storm and glaring at Five.

“Whatever happened, whoever the commission killed it wasn’t your fault Klaus. They’re remorseless. They’ll kill anyone to preserve their idea of what the timeline should be, civilian casualties are just that to them. It wasn’t your fault. It was theirs.”

Klaus tried to believe Five’s words. He was fifty-eight he should damn well know about this shit. But a part of Klaus couldn’t believe, swallowed whole by a guilt that may have not been rightly placed but was there nonetheless. He wished had never found out.

He nodded numbly and turned, Five’s fingers slipping from his shoulders gently as Klaus lumbered down the hallway with heavy feet. He felt like lead sinking to the ground, a balloon made of lead about to pop. He fell into bed, burrowed beneath covers and didn’t come out again that day.

X

Klaus turned over, tugged the comforters and the knitted quilts mom would spend hours on closer to his chest. He was freezing, always freezing, and yet at the same time he felt like he was running a fever, sweating out all of his emotions; grief, anger, sadness, joy. The whole lot. He turned again, fluffed the pillow under his head, and closed his eyes as tight as possible, Klaus imagined it as if they were sewn shut. Just the darkness and weird dots of red and other colours behind his eyes.

He didn’t have to see the old man with watery red eyes and great hacking coughs that Klaus expected any minute would devolve into an actual lung ending up on the floor, or the woman with street clothes and running makeup, cigarette burns on her arms, a knife in her chest, or, or. Or the screaming. His name over and over again. They wouldn’t stop. They wouldn’t shut up.

Klaus tugged the pillow over his head and pressed his face into the mattress. When he could ignore the screaming his thoughts drifted to one thing. Dave. Dave who had died because Klaus had been in the wrong time period and apparently the Apocalypse just had to happen. Dave who had been killed because of Klaus. Because Klaus had finally found somewhere he belonged, where his weird shit was shrugged off in the midst of a battle field and he was happy, had found a family that actually cared.

 Was it really such a crime that he had wanted to stay? There amidst the dirt, the bombs, the blood. In the streets of small Vietnamese cities drifting from club to club with liquor like fire in his lungs and Dave like the sun on his tongue. A family in arms and blood on the battlefield who trusted him, held his hair when he tossed his guts, and listened to his stories with kind eyes. Why would he have wanted to go back?

And they had taken Dave for it. Had cut him down from behind during a battle. Just so Klaus would go back. He was never supposed to be there. So, the Apocalypse could occur.

Something knocked on the door.

Klaus twitched, head peeking out from beneath the pillow to squint skeptically at the door. Sometimes spirits did weird things. They didn’t always scream. God no that would be way too simple. Instead, they would sing, which wasn’t always the worst, or talk in rhyme, or dance, or make animal sounds, of hum, or really anything. It was the mausoleum ghosts that really liked to scream and there was always at least one in the room. The other spirits? They were loud too; they just liked to chant his name or beg for help over and over again.

His eyes darted to his wall, his messy handwriting that Allison always stared at with a vaguely pained face. Their lives, who killed them, where their body was, would someone please tell my wife I love her, I hid the estate here you see. All they wanted sometimes was to tell a story. But mostly they wanted attention.

The knock sounded again and Klaus concluded that someone was actually knocking on his door. He squinted his eyes again from beneath the pillow and glanced out the window, it was pitch black out, the kind of pitch black that only settled way in the early hours of the morning.

With a creak the door swung open. For a minute, Klaus’ heart seized up in chest as he remembered dad looming in the doorway, monocle glinting like something out of a cartoon with an evil villain, Pogo standing sadly beside him. Being dragged to the mausoleum, kicking and trying to scream.

Instead, it was Ben, hair a ruffled mess that he was constantly running his fingers through, and his face warm in the glow of the fairy lights strung up all over the room. Ben stared at Klaus for a long moment and Klaus stared back.

Part of him wanted to tell Ben to go away, he was having an emotional moment here and wanted to sulk alone. But the rest of him remembered that Ben had been there for most of his other emotional sulks and knew Klaus better than anyone. He tilted his head ever so slightly and Ben’s lips twitched faintly as he slipped inside and shut the door behind him with a click.

He walked through a ghost in a nightgown and Klaus muffled a flinch as he pushed himself up and made room for Ben, opening up his blanket cocoon, a rare and prestigious honour. Ben nodded in humble gratitude, as he should, and curled up beside Klaus under the covers. Ben was like a hot water bottle, always running hot and soothing away the pain.

Klaus’ body instinctively curled into Ben and with a small sigh he settled his head on top of Ben’s head, inhaling the scent of whatever generic shampoo brand Hargreeves bought for all of them and the tangible weight of something beneath his cheek. Ben’s fingers curled into Klaus’, the pads of his fingers circling his hand over and over again.

“The others were worried after you left class today.”

Klaus made a sound of acknowledgement and heaved another small sigh, eyes sliding from one ghost to the next before he focused on Ben who was wearing the stupid pajamas. As soon as Klaus had the money, he had bought bright pink pajamas with unicorns on them (he had also bought some lingerie but that was a secret shush).

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Ben asked ever so gently, like he always did when he was trying to help Klaus. He shook his head, ignored the itch beneath his fingers that it all brought back, and replied, “Not now.”

His brother nodded with his eyes quirked ever so slightly in reluctant acceptance, Ben of all people knew how bad the Hargreeves were about talking about their issues. But Klaus did mean it honestly. He just needed to process everything alone for a bit. He had… he had only lost Dave two weeks ago.

“How about the waffles you promised me?”

Ben asked with a grin, turning to look up at him with bright eyes. Klaus considered it for a moment, he was really rather comfortable with Ben as his personal hot water bottle and then they would have to go down the stairs. Klaus’ stomach gurgled in protest and with a huff he stated, “Well that’s decided.”

Klaus was the first one to carefully disembark from their cocoon and he let out a hiss as his bare feet touched the cool floor, man Hargreeves for being a billionaire really couldn’t afford to heat the place. A part of him wondered if he only didn’t heat Klaus’ room. It was the kind of dick move Klaus would expect of dad.

Ben hissed and flinched when he stepped onto the floor and without a second thought Klaus draped one of the quilts over Ben’s thin shoulders. It trailed like a cape down his back and puddled onto the floor but the thankful smile Ben flashed was worth it.

They crept out silently into the hallway and Klaus muddled through a few ghosts with a shiver and hunched his shoulders up to his ears as he led them down the stairs, carefully avoiding one, three, the left side of five, the middle of seven and so on. Ben followed carefully in Klaus’ footsteps hand balanced on the bannister for most of the slow process.

Klaus stepped on the final step, right to the left, and muffled a curse as it let out a loud creak. Right it was the right that didn’t creak. Ben’s muffled giggle echoed behind him but Klaus paused alert like a prey animal in a savannah and titled his head.

Nothing. Exhaling with a shake of his shoulders, Klaus led Ben into the kitchen, the basement kitchen which only had one camera which was broken. He wondered if Vanya had broken it and their dad had never repaired it. Right. Waffles.

Marching over to the fridge Klaus narrowed a commanding glance at Ben who rolled his eyes but settled quietly into the chair. Ben had not touched a kitchen appliance in ten years, the chances of fire and other disasters were high. Klaus opened the freezer and stood on his tip-toes, which was a weird feeling after being not the shortest, and peered deep into its frozen contents. For a moment he idly contemplated some creature jumping out of the freezer, with a squished face his hand reached in and began to search for the waffle box.

His fingers found the round tub of ice cream and with barely a thought he tugged it out and placed it on the counter. He knew mom kept waffles in here, way at the back so their dad wouldn’t notice, because while she could whip up some awesome waffles Klaus had smuggled in too many boxes after getting the munchies and it just made sense. Mom was cool like that. Aha.

Klaus grinned triumphantly as he tugged the box out and flounced over to the toaster. He waved the box over his shoulder at Ben and pulled out four waffles and plopped them into the toaster. They were chocolate chip which were good, but not as good as the original. But variety was good.

The cupboard opened beside Klaus and Ben pulled down two plates and set them carefully and quietly with barely more than a clink onto the counter before getting out the cutlery. They waited in silence for a few minutes just the hum of the fridge filling the space between them. It was like they were waiting for something other than waffles.

Ding. The waffles popped up and Klaus couldn’t contain his excitement as he loaded them onto the plates wiggling his hips and added a scoop of ice cream each; he did not struggle whatsoever don’t believe Ben. Klaus glanced at the table before with a decisive shake of his head, he led Ben out the backdoor and into the backyard.

It was a big green space and there were actually multiple sections all fenced off from one another. This section was the garden where mom grew produce and some healing herbs and there was a stone bench perched just in the shade of the great big willow tree way near the back where no one could see you.

Klaus led ben there in the chill but not cold April air.

As soon as they settled Ben picked up his fork and cut off a large portion of a waffle and stuck it into his mouth. He looked like a squirrel but was forcing himself to chew slowly after he had made himself totally sick at lunch the other day. Dad had even told him to stop but Ben had said something about The Horror being hungry and that had been that. Klaus didn’t really blame Ben. He couldn’t imagine not eating for ten years; especially waffles.

“It’s so weird.”

Ben said a little while later, pushing a small piece, very small almost miniscule, of waffle through the puddle of ice cream. Klaus tilted his head and ate another piece waiting for Ben to continue. Ben glanced at Klaus and gestured at his plate, “You know eating? Sleeping? Feeling things again. I-I never thought I would. Everything’s so loud, every smell is strong. It’s like waking from a coma or travelling to a new country.”

“I’m glad you get to experience it all again Benny-boo, even if the over-stimulation sucks.” No thanks to me and my powers

Klaus replied and bumped his shoulder against Ben’s, the smile quickly falling off his features as he stared into the darkness of the garden. Ben had been struggling with being alive again, eating was one thing, but sometimes he would have to leave the room or just zone out because all the sensory stuff was just too much. Ben hummed and leaned his head on Klaus’ shoulder settling his plate beside him.

“I’m scared.”

Klaus’ eyes widened at Ben’s confession and he turned his head to stare at Ben, who was staring at his stomach. He continued, “Scared that I won’t be able to control them, scared that the Apocalypse will happen again. Scared… scared that I’m going to d-die again. that it’s a fixed point in time, that I’ll lose it all again, touch, taste, sound, feeling everything so vibrantly.”

Shifting slightly Klaus wrapped his arms around Ben, tight as he could without hurting his brother, and buried his head in his shoulder right next to his ear he promised, “I’m not going to let you die Ben. I don’t care if it’s a fixed timeline or whatever. I would rather die then let you die again.”

“No.”

Ben protested softly but his eyes were all watery and when Klaus flashed him a grin, he huffed out a weak watery laugh. Klaus considered it a job well done, the words weighed heavy on his heart with truth as he tilted his head and stared at the garden, the ghosts milling around hovering, drifting closer, walking or dragging their way towards him, beginning to call his name or trying to speak to him.

“I’m also scared.”

He admitted, this he could talk about. Ben twitched beside him and Klaus could almost feel the sarcastic remark brimming before Ben set it away and his fingers tangled in Klaus’ silent support and warm in the chill that had already crept into his bones.

“Not just about the Apocalypse because that is fricking terrifying. But. Who am I without drugs? I’ve been on and off again since I was 12 and now, I’m finally trying to quit and just. Who am I?  What parts of me were the drugs speaking, what actions, what motives and likes and experiences? Is all I am the drugs?”

It had been on his mind, the same mind pounding with a headache from withdrawal. Because. Because drugs had been his everything for years, the only way to get away from his own head, his own powers. And now? Now he was throwing all of that out the window.

Ben shifted and Klaus turned to face him, in the darkness Ben’s eyes were like two dark voids sucking all of the light in. The ghosts were starting to scream. Ben’s fingers on his cheek were warm and Klaus inhaled softly and pressed his forehead to Ben’s.

“The drugs aren’t a part of you. They shaped your life and your actions, they influenced you. But they aren’t you. I’ve never seen you truly try to get sober Klaus. But I think this time you could do it. I believe in you. You’ll have bad days. You’ll want to relapse or find some new addiction. But that’s what I’ll be here for. Because you are not the drugs. You’re flamboyant and expressive, artistic, a rebel without a cause, and you care so much for all that you like to hide it and hide your shit.”

“Flatterer,” Klaus said through blurry eyes as he heaved in a breath and tugged Ben into another hug because it was that kind of night, and continued, “You’re pretty great yourself Ben. I-I never… Thank you.”

Ben’s arms tightened around Klaus and he snuffled into the thick quilt and just listened to the beating of Ben’s heart. He could do this. Not just for Vanya, Ben, and Dave. Because he was doing it for them. But also, for himself. A part of Klaus was actually sort of excited to see who he could be. What he could do.

They pulled away a moment later, eyes red and tear tracks drying on their cheeks. Klaus leaned his head against Ben’s and stared at the garden, ignored the ghosts demanding his attention screaming his name and said, “Think mom will know?”

“Course she always knows.”

X

Klaus was the last one, on watch out duty as usual. He peered down the long hallway and shivered as if he could feel Hargreeves’ eyes on him, just waiting to throw him in the mausoleum. But there was nothing, just the shadows that crawled across the floor, and the ghosts. One was screaming, dragging itself down the hallway in twitches and flares of a white night gown. There was another with eerie white eyes tucked behind a curtain, he kept tucking his head out like a tiny child playing hide and seek.

He flinched back against the window frame as the ghost in the night gown shot forward and was suddenly screaming in his face, loud so loud like the scream of a bomb tearing through the air. Klaus straightened with a rough exhale and turned to slip out the window.

It was the same one they had used throughout their teenage years, tucked into the back of one of the many hallways of the Hargreeves mansion, there was a single camera which was perpetually tilted to face the lab room where they sometimes were forced to do chemistry, biology, physics, and whatever education Hargreeves thought would help create the best kid superheroes. Klaus had naturally been the first to notice the lack of cameras, and that the window if given a tug would slide open soundlessly and let out into a side alley.

With a huff he dropped from the stairwell and onto the ground where the others were milling about. Allison was speaking quietly to Vanya, attempting to thrust a blue peacoat onto their sister with little success as Luther watched on with narrowed eyes and curled lips. Someone would need to talk to him soon but Klaus sure as Hell was not volunteering. Diego was scowling at Luther just because he could and was studying the alleyway with what Klaus dubbed his ‘vigilante-police-officer’ look. Five looked furious that they had pulled him away from whatever complicated formula he had been writing but underneath the cold exterior Klaus thought he could detect a bit of nostalgia.

Ben’s warm fingers tangled with Klaus’ and he flashed a smile at Ben when he raised a brow in an obvious question. He was fine. For a given value of fine anyways. He could ignore the ghosts milling about the alleyway, the headache that lingered, the way his fingers were shaking. Like he said he was fine.

“Let’s go, we don’t have all night.”

Five stated with a huff tucking a notebook into the pocket of his uniform. Klaus tugged at the neck of his own uniform and desperately wished for some other clothing. Anything. He would totally even wear a plain t-shirt if it meant it wasn’t the uniform. Something about it just curled everything in Klaus’ stomach into knots and it was just so uncomfortable.

Vanya slipped from Allison’s side as they all began to file out of the alleyway and leaned closer to Five whispering something in his ear that cracked the tough exterior and revealed a small satisfied smile. Klaus glanced at Vanya in the pale glimmers of moonlight that dared to break through the heavy clouds above.

Already she looked better. They had lowered her dosage to one pill a day and included her in as much as they could without rebelling outright against their dad. Tried to talk to her and listen to her opinion rather than talk over her. It wouldn’t fix everything, that would probably take years and a healthy dose of therapy. Having Ben and Five back probably helped too. But the small changes were worth it. She smiled more. She had a bite beneath the quiet and Klaus rather liked it.

Under the virulent yellow light of the city lamps they stole down the street a weird little gaggle of teenagers that had been adults like that one French book Klaus had seen a few times in passing. He glanced in the passing shop windows as the others chatted amongst themselves about their favourite donuts and ‘really it’s been so long since I’ve had one’, instead he stared at the warped mirror image of the seven of them in their uniforms. So weird. But also, nostalgic. A hundred nights before things got bad where they would sneak out and go to Griddy’s or the nearby park, just talk, just be kids as much as they knew how.

“You’re quiet.”

Ben said dropping back from where he had been talking to Luther about dad’s lesson on great leaders of the world; he had been subtly and unsubtly insinuating that Luther’s leadership needed improvement for the past few days. Klaus shrugged and ignored the ghost lying on the sidewalk, jumping over it and the crack; it wouldn’t do to break mom’s back.

“Is everything okay?”

Ben asked, softer than before, bumping his shoulder against Klaus’ with a tilted sideways grin. Klaus nodded and opened his mouth for a minute, unsure of quite what he wanted to say before he let it snap shut and shot a glare at the ghost who was singing a rowdy ballad; singing was probably to polite a term for what the dude was doing.

“Think we could convince daddy dearest to actually let us get normal clothes this time around?”

“You’d have to submit a three-page essay on the benefits of it.”

“I think I could name a few.”

Klaus replied with a wink that he knew Ben would totally get; crop tops were a gift to the world just like Klaus and therefore deserved to be worn. Ben stared at him for a moment before he rolled his eyes but it couldn’t hide the white flash of teeth. The expression shifted to a grimace and his hand hovered over his stomach.

“The Little Shop of Horrors want out?”

Klaus asked gesturing at Ben’s stomach with a lackadaisical hand wave. Ben’s lips twitched likely remembering the time they snuck into the theatre. Man, Klaus had not been able to get the songs out of his head for weeks, and eventually he had gotten Ben to join in. Allison had gotten so annoyed she threatened to rumour his mouth shut.

“It’ll be fine.”

“Ever think of just like letting them out, like you know walking your dog?”

Klaus suggested with a shrug, only half serious as they rounded the corner, he could see the donut shop in the distance and it made his heart do a happy little summersault of something. They used to be terrified on the walk, just waiting for Hargreeves to pull up in the car, or slam open the doors like the dramatic bitch he was.

Ben blanched and glanced around, staring at a woman talking on her phone as she walked briskly down the street for a long moment before he replied, “I’m pretty sure they would try to tear everything to shreds and you know kill everyone.”

“Yeah but like maybe you need to go all ET on them and like communicate with them.”

Klaus replied bouncing in place as Five glanced at the two of them over his shoulder nodding along to something Vanya was saying as Allison listened to Luther with a resigned but fond smile and Diego interjected. Ben’s brow pinched and his lips furrowed before he shrugged and said, “Maybe.” And that was the end of that.

They crowded into the Griddy’s to the tinkling of the bell over the door. Klaus’ eyes raked over the inside of the donut shop from the artificial white light, to the vinyl booths kind of minty green but faded enough it was hard to tell. There was something old to the place even as a child, like it had stepped straight out of time. The lady at the till was young with blond hair and a pretty smile, but her eyes were wary as she tracked the seven of them.

Luther led the way as they gathered around the display case with the different donuts. Klaus’ eyes raked over the rows of glazed and filled, sprinkled and sugared, and remembered so many highs just wishing for a donut. What to choose? There were so many options and when Klaus glanced at Ben, he could see the same sort of distress. This was a very important decision after all.

“Wanna each split one?”

Ben glanced at Klaus, lips thinned and something shifty looking to his features like he was totally going to get five donuts regardless of what their siblings said. Ben’s eyes stared longingly at the donuts before he turned back to Klaus and nodded.

Luther was the first to order, a charming smile, and a rambling little story about a school trip and how their parents were all rather close. The lady at the till was instantly charmed, eyes soft and lips fond as she nodded and took their orders and promised to, “Bring it around in a minute dearies, go sit down you must be tired.”

Klaus flashed the women a smile he knew was innocent and charming and squished into the booth beside Ben, Diego squished in on the other side of Ben, Vanya settled across from him with Allison beside her and Five on the other side, Luther slid into the booth beside Diego which probably wasn’t a good idea. Klaus instantly started to fiddle with the sugar packs as Five argued with Allison about stocks and whether they could technically use that to their advantage. The answer was yes as long as they were quiet about it.

Vanya shifted and Klaus caught it out of the corner of his eye as she brushed her bangs out of her face with a huff and turned to face Five. Klaus grinned, it was what Ben would dub his ‘plotting grin’ and Klaus wouldn’t even attempt to disagree.

“Vanya.”

“Yeah?”

She glanced at him with a raised brow but it wasn’t hostile, Vanya had always been nice to him, holed him up if he was brave enough to go to her apartment. She tried. Klaus grinned bright, a little bit manic, and said, “You should let me cut your hair.”

Her eyes widened, Allison was totally grinning in agreement she even flashed a wink at Klaus, and Five peered around Allison to stare first at Klaus and then at Vanya with narrowed eyes before he settled back into the booth like the old man he was. Diego huffed as if haircuts were below him even as Luther’s brow furrowed and he asked, “Won’t dad notice?”

Fortunately, the lady at the till arrived so Klaus didn’t have to try and formulate a justification beyond Vanya needed a new hair cut; like desperately. The lady, Agnes, set the donuts on the table with a smile and told them to call if they needed anything before, she disappeared with a swirl of the pink uniform. Klaus bet he could totally rock it.

Ben reached out and snatched his plate before anyone else, tugging it close to his chest and flashing a wink at Klaus as he tore it carefully in half. Klaus reached out and snatched his own plate, he picked up the donut carefully studying each side before he ripped it almost but not quite evenly in half, the bigger piece went to Ben.

Klaus ignored the conversation for a few minutes as he picked up his donut and bit into it. He had chosen one with a copious number of sprinkles and bright colours, it was good, vanilla and soft, but mostly just nostalgic. When he glanced at Ben, he saw a raw open expression that dug deep beneath Klaus’ skin and all the way to his heart. He glanced away, eyes skimming over the ghost hovering by the door, a man in a suit; at least when they were all squished into one booth it was harder for the ghosts to intervene.

“I just don’t see why Vanya should go off the pills. Dad obviously thinks it’s what’s best.”

Luther stated, honestly confused, gesturing with his hands and staring around the table looking for support. It always came back to this didn’t it? Their fucked-up childhood. Allison frowned, eyes narrowed, she tapped one perfectly manicured nail against the vinyl table and stated, “Well dad’s been wrong before. If Klaus was right and the old man did kill himself so we would all get together because he thought it would stop the Apocalypse then he was wrong.”

Klaus mimed a protest that he was right thank you very much, even his mind wasn’t fucked up enough to hallucinate that. Vanya shrunk into the wall, hiding behind her hair with thin lips. Luther frowned, studying his plate as he commented, “I just think he was doing what he thought was best.”

“Luther you need to understand that dad wasn’t perfect.”

“In fact, he was downright abusive.”

Diego interrupted Allison with a frown poking at the crumbs on his plate with a petulant, sorry brooding, expression. Luther’s expression shifted, getting all stormy and dark as he shook his head and replied, “No he just wanted what’s best for us.”

“More like the best out of us.”

Ben interjected sourly and they all turned to stare at him with wide eyes. Klaus grinned, feral, and stuck a hand over his heart as he dramatically whispered, “Look at Benny all grown up! Kids really do grow up too fast.”

He finished with a wink and wiped away a crocodile tear. Ben rolled his eyes but turned to stare stonily at Luther who was frowning. Five sighed and set his notebook down and stated, “Luther you need to accept that Hargreeves should not have raised us to be child soldiers. He often emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically abused all of us in one form of another.”

“I-I know some really good books about it that helped me accept it and well try to deal with it. My therapist recommended them.”

Vanya suggested ever so quietly, barely a whisper, the squeak of a mouse. Luther blinked, as if he hadn’t heard anything they had said and replied, “I just think we should follow the old man’s instructions for now and that means Vanya should continue to take her pills.”

“No.”

Louder but still soft. Klaus glanced at Vanya in concern, she was still pressed against the wall hiding behind her hair. The rest of the table except Ben hadn’t really noticed all too involved with trying to knock a little bit of sense into Luther’s thick skull.

“Luther stop being an idiot. It’s Vanya’s choice not yours, unless you think you control all of us?”

Allison retorted with eyes that were on fire, threatening to burn and conquer everything in their path. Luther blanched, face pale and looking kind of sweaty under the washed-out lighting in the donut shop as he replied, “No, of course not. Just as team leader I believe it’s for the best. She’s dangerous.”

“That’s why she needs training.”

Five replied with a huff and Diego interjected, “So are you. So are all of us, we’ve got super powers.”

“He has a point; in fact, I think you’re more dangerous then Vanya considering you literally tried to choke Klaus.”

Naughty Ben. Klaus hissed silently at Ben because yeah, he really didn’t like being touched by Luther now and it was not cool but that was sneaky. Vanya flinched and Klaus glanced at her in concern noting her pale skin and shut eyes.

“Guys-“

“What!?”

Diego, Five, and Allison demanded at once and rounded on Luther. Ben shrunk back in his seat at the combined noise and Luther’s eyes were whipping around the room as if searching for an exit. It was loud in here wasn’t it? Five’s eyes narrowed and he asked low and dangerous like a sheathed blade, “Is this true?”

“Guys-“

Luther rubbed the back of his head and opened his mouth guilt already drawn on his features along with his justification face, it was eerily similar to the placating expression Hargreeves flashed the public whenever the dubious morality of child soldiers came up. Klaus glanced at Vanya in concern she was shaking and opened his mouth again.

“I can’t believe you’re insisting on how dangerous Vanya is and yet you almost killed Klaus.”

Allison snapped in outrage, Diego was glaring at Luther and had a knife out even though Five had made him disarm beforehand for this exact reason. Klaus appreciated it and all that but he would really actually prefer if they could stop fighting and continue this absolutely delightful chat later. You know when Ben wasn’t over-stimulated head in his lap with his hands over his ears and Vanya wasn’t having a break down.

“Look I did what I thought was best for the team. Vanya needed to be restrained, if she had stayed on her pills none of this would have happened.”

The glass containers holding salt and pepper shattered suddenly and violently.

Shrapnel went off over their heads as they crawled through the dirt. He just needed to keep moving. Keep moving. Ignore the stench of the mud, corpses baking in the humid air and the hot sun, flies buzzing like bullets over the corpses. Barbed wire tugged at his uniform as they waited. Waited. Silence. He grabbed his gun, and shot up over the trench. Aim. Fire. Aim. Fire. One. Two. Three. Klaus ducked beneath the Earth and glanced around him, Tully was on his left reloading, Jamie was grunting and pressing his hand to a scrape on his shoulder dark blood running down the green of his uniform. Dave’s hand landed on his shoulder laughter and fear a dizzying combination in his eyes when Klaus glanced over. A bomb fell a few feet away, dirt flew, the air seemed to vibrate with heat as Klaus huddled into the trench.

Klaus gasped roughly as opened his eyes. Ben’s arms were around him and his head was tucked into Ben’s shoulder. Where was he? Where was Dave?

“Breathe with me Klaus. Inhale. Exhale.”

Listen to Ben. He could do that. Klaus followed Ben’s breathing until they were in sync and his heart stopped racing in his chest. They were in Griddy’s. They were thirteen. Dave was... Dave was dead. But Ben was alive. He was safe. Alive.

With a final ragged breath Klaus pulled away from Ben and glanced around the table, Allison, Five and Diego were all huddled around Vanya who was sobbing into Allison’s shoulder and gripping Five’s jacket with white knuckles. When he searched for Luther, he could see him outside, a stiff and almost tiny figure bathed only in the glow from the sign.

“What?”

“You had a flashback. Vanya broke the glass using her powers.”

Ben summarized and sent a narrowed glare at Luther before his expression softened and his warm hands tightened around Klaus’ shoulders. Vanya sniffled once more and said quietly, “Can we go home?”

It was a blur as they shuffled out of the booth, thanked the lady at the till and stumbled out into the darkness. Luther glanced at them with a stony expression and wordlessly led them down the street in shallow patches of yellow.

Klaus attempted to ignore the ghosts swarming around him but it was too much and he still felt shaky. He drifted focusing only on the warmth of Ben’s hand and the rattle of his breath between his teeth.

At one-point Ben said something about speaking to Vanya and Klaus managed a nod, they were almost home. Five drifted to stand beside Klaus, stiff as stone and his eyes flashing at Klaus out of the corner of his eyes, as their footsteps echoed too loudly in the now sleeping city. Five’s hand found Klaus’ and he wordlessly clung to it as the mansion crept into view.

They all stumbled into the alley, the one where he had gotten his first hit of weed, the one where he had almost slit his wrists, the one where he had… Klaus glanced up dully and noticed that the rest of his siblings had started to clamber back in through the window, Ben was hovering in the window and Five was standing in front of him.

“Klaus,”

He nodded and Five stepped closer, it was weird to be the same height or there about, Five continued, “Tomorrow I need you to distract dad so I can get Vanya’s files. As long as possible.”

“Sure, no problem.”

Klaus replied numbly and smiled, it was a fake smile, but he was good at fake smiles. Five nodded and clambered up the ladder and into the door with the agility of like a capuchin monkey. Klaus slumped against the brick for a moment so tempted to simply turn and go down the alley. But Ben was watching.

He waded through the ghosts screaming his name and climbed the ladder, ignoring the fear bubbling and frothing beneath his skin. He would have to train with dad tomorrow. He was fucking asking for it.

Ben helped Klaus in through the window, hands warm on his arms as he led them both into Klaus’ room and turned the fairy lights on. Klaus tried to breathe out but couldn’t quite manage it. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t. Not again. He swore never again. He couldn’t.

“Klaus?”

Ben asked as Klaus mechanically changed into his pajamas. He turned to stare at Ben whose lips quirked down as he asked, “You okay?”

Klaus shook his head and curled into bed holding the covers open for Ben whose expression softened as he slipped under the covers. It was dangerous if their dad caught them, he would scold them terribly, probably throw him in the mausoleum. But Klaus couldn’t be alone. Not when tomorrow he would have to speak to Hargreeves. For Vanya and Ben, he could do it. That didn’t dispel any of the utter terror lodged in his chest.

He tucked his head against Ben’s shoulder and closed his eyes. Klaus didn’t sleep that night.

X

Klaus stood outside Hargreeves’ study hand raised and hovering over the smooth wood paneling. He could do this. He could do this. All he had to do was tell good old dad that he could make ghosts corporeal and it would be fine. Just some back breaking training. It would be fine. No need for him to go into the mausoleum.

Or he could turn around and leave. Klaus lowered his hand and glanced down the hallway. It was empty. He could leave and no one would know he had been there. He could tell them all that he felt sick or maybe he was still recovering from withdrawal (true), or tell them that dad locked him in a mausoleum. They would probably laugh and accuse him of lying for attention; that’s all Klaus wanted or cared for, right?

He could go out the window in the side hallway, slip into the alleyway with all the allowance he had saved up and find someone who would sell to a thirteen-year-old; there were always people. He could get a hit of whatever, weed, LSD, crack, heroin, anything.

Klaus could even break into the old man’s liquor supply, get so plastered that up was down.

Then it would all go away, the ghosts screaming, screaming his name, then he wouldn’t care about the suspicious glances from his siblings when they deigned to look at him. He wouldn’t care about the end of the world, about losing Dave.

But then he wouldn’t be able to manifest Dave.

Then Vanya wouldn’t be able to train her powers.

Then Ben would be forced to train his.

Klaus wanted to scream. Instead he turned and faced the door once more and lifted up his hand. It hovered over the smooth wood and Klaus studied the grains and told his hand to move but it felt like he had been turned to stone (maybe the old man had been a gorgon in a past life, would totally make sense).

His hand was shaking. Klaus couldn’t breathe.

A ghost drifted through him, it was like a ton of icy slush slid down his spine and Klaus shivered even as he straightened, with a weak inhale, and knocked on the door to the study before he could psyche himself out of it. The sound echoed in the long hallway and Klaus stilled and waited.

Maybe the old man wasn’t in there and Klaus could apologise and say maybe tomorrow. Or maybe Hargreeves had suffered a heart attack, again, and was unfortunately dead so Klaus wouldn’t have to train. Or maybe.

“Come in.”

Klaus flinched. Fuck. He wasn’t ready. He should go. Run.

Vanya. Ben. Dave.

He pushed the door open with a straight spine stepped into the old man’s office, the smell of dust and something antique instantly filled his senses. His eyes glanced quickly around at the old books piled everywhere, the odd knick knacks and statues the man collected like a magpie (collected was probably the nicer word).

Hargreeves glanced up from his desk and raised one stern brow as he stated, “Number Four what is it?”

Inhale. Exhale.

He could do this.

“I’ve discovered that I can use my powers to make the spirits corporeal.”

Hargreeves set down his pen where he had been writing and peered at Klaus with narrowed eyes over his large desk. In one fluid motion, like a predator, he moved from behind his desk and stalked forward to tower over Klaus.

“Hmm it seems you are finally beginning to tap into your potential. You have even abstained from polluting your body. But we must get over your silly fear Number Four.”

No.

Please.

No.

Klaus shrank back, tried to scramble away but dad was too quick and in one step he had an iron grip locked around Klaus’ arm. He opened his mouth to scream, to cry for Ben, any of his siblings to notice but nothing came out and Hargreeves would have silenced him anyway. He tried to pull away but Hargreeves grip with like sold iron as he pulled him through the mansion and out the back door.

No. Please. Not again.

Down the steps and out into the back. Over the grass and down, down, towards the gate.

Klaus shrunk back, already he could hear their screaming, feel the chill deep in his body, beneath even his bones, pulsating through his head. The gate clanged open and Klaus stopped, his legs stopped, his brain stopped, everything stopped at the sound. The beginning, always the beginning with the gates clanging open.

Hargreeves huffed and pulled Klaus forward with a barked, “Number Four.”

His legs started working and his mind raced ahead trying to find an out. Somewhere. Somehow. He couldn’t go back. He couldn’t go back in there!

He could see the mausoleum now, towering over everything else in the graveyard, cold slate stone worn of all details and any reverence it might have held it was only a stone building now. At the sight, Klaus started screaming, begging, pleading.

Anything please. No. Don’t make him go back inside.

Please would someone notice. Please would someone help him. Save him. Where were the siblings that had promised to be there for each other?

The door opened with a click as Hargreeves tucked the key away and stated, his grip bruising around Klaus’ arm, “You will stay inside until this silly fear of yours is gone. Do you understand me Number Four? Good, I will be watching.”

Klaus tried to twist out of the old man’s gasp, sobs building in his throat, eyes burning, but the old man simply threw him into the mausoleum and with a clang the door slammed shut locking him in the darkness.

X

Chapter Text

X

It was cold. So cold. Klaus shifted forward on unsteady hands and feet towards the door. Please. Please open. There was no doorknob. After all, why would the dead need to get out? Klaus’ fists banged against the door and he cried out. Please. Anyone. Help.

Cold. Klaus shivered and tucked his arms closer to his body as his breath misted in front of him in puffy little clouds. He needed to get out. Had to leave. He couldn’t stay here. Not again. Not again. The screaming, the cold, the dead all around him, in him. He couldn’t breathe. Please.

Dull blue light pierced the heavy darkness and with a shaky inhale Klaus opened his eyes, he hadn’t realised he had shut them, and glanced down at his hands. They were glowing a faint blue, veins like ribbons underneath his skin. He could feel his power pulsing like the tides, like the hum of the Earth somewhere deep inside his chest. No. No. Not now. Please. No.

Oh God.

 A cold hand settled on his shoulder.

No. Please. No.

Klaus turned around slowly, ever so slowly but the sensation of the cold, so cold, fingers digging into his shoulder would not go away. A ghost with a slashed neck stared at him with manic eyes, the blood dripped from the cut onto Klaus’ shoulder and he could feel it cold as ice. Drip. Drip. Other ghosts faded into existence in the periphery of his vision, all the familiar ghouls that haunted his nightmares and followed him from the mausoleum.

The one with a hole in his chest big enough for Klaus to see through entrails trailing onto the floor. The woman with blood trickling from her lips skin pale and lips blue frothing foam. The boy, too young, with bones like popsicle sticks and a smashed in head. The man, large, dominating even in death with twenty bullets in his chest. So many. So, so many.

Klaus tore away from the hand latched onto his shoulder but it was too late. The ghosts surged forward calling his name in a fathomless darkness broken up only by the steady glow of his hands and the flashes of grey corpse like skin. Why? Why now? Did that preteen up in the sky really hate him so much?

He curled into a corner hands pressed against his ears as they screamed louder than nails on chalkboard, then a train on rails, then a car slamming on the brakes, then the off-key singing of an opera singer, then the highest frequency man could generate. And, they didn’t stop.

Their nails tore at his hands, at his face, at his clothing. Already his fingers felt numb and he only knew his sleeves had been ripped at the sudden chill that swept over his body like the hurl of a tide against a cliff face.

No. No!

Klaus cried out, screaming to drown out the spirits. Please someone. Let him out. Please. But he couldn’t drown out the blood that trickled warm down his arms and down his face. They pulled at him, tried to tug him out of the corner and into the center. They grabbed his ankles, and yanked his hands away from his face.

Klaus kept his eyes shut and tried to breathe. In. Out.

He couldn’t breathe. Oh God. He couldn’t breathe. His breath was too fast in his lungs like he couldn’t get enough and his chest felt tight. Please. Please go away.

To say that time passed quickly in the mausoleum would be incorrect. In fact, that saying would be the absolute farthest from the truth.

It passed in drips of warm blood down his arms, so much that everything became dizzy and Klaus wondered if they had found a major artery; there was one of those in his arms, right? He knew he had tried to find it before. It passed in the ringing in his ears that faded to fuzziness as his eardrums burst. It passed in the slow crawl of one ghost’s hand up his leg and over his arms an imitation of comfort but longing for more. They had never been able to touch him before.

Time passed uncountable, unknowing and they grew incensed as he refused to respond. Klaus kept his lips shut tight and his eyes saw only the darkness of the back of his eyelids. Their hands bruised his legs and arms, punches landed on his chest. Klaus struggled for breath and tightened his arms around his chest. Stop. Please. Stop.

The words trickled broken from his lips unbound and ragged with the screams lodged in his throat.

Klaus’ eyes snapped open as he was suddenly shifted from his comfortable, the nicest term, spot in the corner. The ghosts were all around him, features horribly distorted, the putrid smell of rot and decay filled the air, cold blood covered the floor, covered his hands.

A ghost, a large man in a suit who looked like a mob boss picked Klaus up. His fingers were cold around Klaus’ neck, nails digging into the skin of his neck and drawing blood, hot and a brand against his skin as it trickled down his neck.

Klaus gasped for breath fingers scrabbling uselessly against the ghost’s arms.  He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t breathe. Please. Klaus begged wordlessly.

Ben. Dad. Someone. Anyone. Please. Help.

The ghosts surged around Klaus peering at him with sightless eyes as his feet dangled uselessly against the ground.

With a roar the ghost tossed Klaus against the mausoleum wall.

Crack!

Reginald Hargreeves watching the slightly grainy view of the mausoleum noted that Number Four hadn’t being lying about manifesting the ghosts. What Reginald Hargreeves did not notice as he wrote in his notebook was that Number Four’s vitals had flatlined.

Klaus gasped awake.

He shuddered and turned stomach rebelling as he tossed his guts. Klaus shivered. He had died. He couldn’t breathe. He had fucking died again. He had died. The ghost had killed him. They had driven him to killing himself before with the noise and the general haunting aspect. But. They had never killed him before.

Klaus stared around him.

The ghosts stared back like twisted dolls abandoned. Then the screaming started.

Klaus screamed louder, blood drying tacky on his skin as he huddled in a corner, tears burned his eyes and trailed hot as lava down his cheeks.

His hands started to glow blue and it was like a tsunami in his chest whirling up and up through his throat.

Their claws dug into his skin tearing through flesh like paper. Klaus cried out fingers scrambling to cover the wounds but it was useless as the shrieking intensified. Please. Make it stop.

Klaus died again. Suffocation. He woke to screaming and blood so much blood he looked like Ben after a fight.

Blood tasted good, sharp and tangy but good. Warm so warm.

He died again. Blood loss. Maybe. Could have been his own nails clawing at his skin. Blood trickling from his ears.

This was funny wasn’t it? Twisted but funny. They had come back in time to save Vanya and yet here he was in the mausoleum. No one was going to save Klaus. Poor Klaus! Poor delusional, high, crazy, maniac, psychoid, thief, loser Klaus.

Screaming. His name. He was getting sick of his name. Ringing. Fuzzy silences.

He died.

He closed his eyes and opened them.

Snap.

Klaus laughed at the ghosts, laughed and laughed in the fuzzy silence that filled his head as their cold hands pressed and pulled at him. Something inside him had snapped for the final time, he was like a rubber band, stretched and stretched and always snapping back. But no. Not this time.

He rose to his feet and stared at the ghosts, these distorted spectres of what they had once been. He knew instinctively that it was the fate of any ghost who lingered too long on this plane. Well. They would just need to be sent on, then wouldn’t they? room had not been opened in a million years, not since its creation. There was dust on the floor.

Klaus swayed, laughter trickling uneven and bubbly from his lips as the ghosts hovered around him shifting as if uneasy, waiting, watching. Klaus raised his hands in front of them, the blue reminded him of the Scottish myth of the will-o-the-wisps, and in the pale blue light like shimmers of water the dried blood on his arms looked black like spilled ink.

“It’s time to go home.”

He stated quietly, something stirring in his chest, the first drops of rain on his cheeks, as he stared at the misshapen souls, in a small tiny part of him tucked in the very back of his mind he could feel a bit of empathy, could understand. What it must be like to be stuck in the same place forever. Nothing changing. No one else but the other spirits. The blue glow around his hands grew brighter and a few ghosts shrieked angrily and shot forward.

With a brilliant flash of blue, the feeling of the tide rushing in, water bursting through a dam, the ghosts faded away, and Klaus could feel it like, it was like… like a return to something. The doors to the mausoleum crashed open with a deafening clang cool night air and pitched darkness outside and inside.

Klaus sunk to his knees and laughed.

“Number Four.”

The laughter choked and cut off bubbling in his legs and spilling in gasping panted breaths. In the pale silhouette of moonlight Hargreeves stood looking like death itself. The man stared down at Klaus with an impassive expression for a long moment. Klaus made no movement to respond. Why should he?

His head lolled and Klaus jerked. Everything was so numb. Everything was so cold.

“I see you have finally worked past your childish fear. Come. You will present yourself for training at 8:30 tomorrow. Do you understand?”

“Crystal clear.”

Klaus replied with a giggle but it came out in a hoarse whisper, or at least it sounded like a hoarse whisper. Something was ringing, maybe his ears. Oh, but it was blissfully quiet. So quiet. Klaus hummed a snatch of a song and shifted his head to a silent rhythm.

“Go to the infirmary before you retire to bed.”

He nodded and waited. It was so cold. But it wasn’t so bad now. He was almost used to it.

Hargreeves frowned and studied Klaus with his creepy monocle before he frowned and turned his cane tapping against the frozen ground. Klaus shifted to his feet and muffled a groan, everywhere protested the movement. Inhaling, Klaus breathed through the pain and followed Hargreeves out into the cool night air. Blood dripped from his fingers onto the frozen ground as he coughed a rattling chest breaking cough. How long? How long had he been in there?

Klaus glanced over his shoulder at the mausoleum as they walked away. He could still feel the phantom cold of the ghosts’ touches on his skin, the tacky feel of dried blood, the soreness of his throat. It was over. It was done. He wouldn’t have to go back there. They were gone. And so was he.

X

The stiches hurt as mom carefully drew the needle through his skin over and over again. It hurt but the repetition was nice, soothing even as Klaus slumped on the hospital style gurney. His body felt like lead, felt like it was weightless just the hot bite of the needle suturing the worst of the scratches. Mom’s other hand occasionally drifted from her task to brush through his curls and cup the side of his face smearing dirt, tears, and blood.

“Oh, Klaus quite the mess you’ve made of yourself.”

She said in that manner where the words didn’t quite fit the intent, the words a bit fuzzy like they were coming from a long distance but he was practiced in reading lips. Like her programming only had so many options for expressing worry and concern. It’s okay though, Klaus got what she was trying to say. He giggled unable to help himself at the thought of smearing his own blood all over himself on purpose. The giggles devolved into gut-wrenching laughter as his back arched on the gurney and his lungs griped in pain choking his laughter into croaky coughs.

10 hours. That’s how long dad had left him in there.

Mom’s hand brushed through his hair again and Klaus wiggled at the warm sensation it sent coiling through his chest right down to where he could feel his powers like a still lake just waiting, there. Speaking of powers.

“W-Where is everyone?”

Klaus croaked throat sore like he had swallowed too much of those candies with powdered sugar and barely able to hear his own words. He tilted his head and glanced at the window, it was dark, but the kind of darkness of the early evening, not the utter blackness of early morning. A part of him wondered why no one had come to see him? Had anyone noticed he was gone? Did they think he distracted dad and wandered off? Maybe they thought he hadn’t even done that much. That he was out in some alley getting high. He kind of wanted to be.

It stung like alcohol on a wound, truth burning its way down. Because they hadn’t noticed had they? Hadn’t noticed when he had been abducted by Hazel and Cha Cha, hadn’t noticed when he had come back with PTSD and a tattoo. Not for a while (too long, too late) at least.

“They went to see a movie.”

Mom confided in a whisper glancing ever so briefly and casually at the camera in the corner of the med bay.

Oh.

They had gone to see a movie without him. No big deal. Not at all. it wasn’t like Ben had promised to be there when he got back. Ben who had been beside him through everything. They had promised to stick by each other this time. They had promised. They were supposed to be including each other.

Tears pooled, stinging his eyes and choking his throat, sobs welling in his chest that he couldn’t release not with Hargreeves watching; he was a great example of Toxic Masculinity. Mom made a hushing sound and set the needle down, her arms were room temperature, which felt warm against his still chilled skin, wrapped around him.

Klaus tucked his head into the joint of her shoulder, the faint smell of lemon and something metallic that made up mom. His body shuddered like everything inside him was too great for it to handle as the tears ran tracks down his cheeks.

His mother held him for a few minutes and let Klaus pull away when he was ready. He wiped the tears away with one hand and listened to the faint sound of his breathing, felt the air pass of his lips. God, he was so tired.

“Why don’t you take a bath and then go to bed okay Klaus?”

Mom said, the words were still fuzzy. He wondered if that was permanent but couldn’t muster the energy to care. He nodded and slipped off the infirmary bed with mom’s guiding hand at his back. The tile was cool against his bare feet and Klaus swayed everything pulsing with pain. He wanted a hit. Something strong enough to knock him out for the next week. He could. There were still stashes around the house. All he had to do was pry up that floorboard in his room. But. No.

He exited the med bay with mom holding gently onto his arm guiding him up the stairs in slow easy steps. Why had Hargreeves never installed an elevator? He was a millionaire. It would totally have made sense too. Then again it probably didn’t cultivate a proper bearing or some shit.

Mom tapped on his arm and he tilted his head to stare at her, everything was a bit fuzzy. She opened her mouth and Klaus could see her mouth moving but he couldn’t hear anything. It was like there was a wall between his ear and his brain. Mom tilted her head and carefully signed, “Can you walk to your room okay?”

Klaus nodded and glanced down the hallway. Yeah, he could do it. Mom stared at him a moment longer her blue eyes, blue like plastic or paint, before she turned her skirt spinning around her knees and walked down the stairs.

Carefully he mimicked the signs mom had made and nodded. He remembered. Dad had forced them to learn ASL in case of emergencies and after one too many trips to the mausoleum that ended with Klaus temporarily being deaf; child services would definitely get a kick out of that. He had practiced even on the streets with Ben.

The hall was a blur of moving walls and a heaving floor. Klaus paused by the bathroom and stared inside at the large claw-foot tub. He didn’t want to die again tonight. At least not temporarily.

Klaus turned and padded into his room, the warm yellow glow of the fairy lights like a balm of liquid warmth. Klaus stumbled forward; his fingers brushed slowly over his arms as he tried to unbutton his shirt. It felt like he had popsicles for fingers, like his hands were disconnected from his body. Klaus’ fingers slipped over the smooth surface of the button again and again. Klaus huffed frustrated and let his hands drop to his sides.

Fuck it.

Klaus couldn’t muster the energy to care that his uniform was torn, dirty and bloody, half clinging to his body. He couldn’t find the energy to be concerned about the cuts still sluggishly leaking blood or the way his hearing was fuzzy and everything hurt.

He crawled under the covers and glanced around his room. There wasn’t a ghost in sight. It was silent. Klaus closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.

It didn’t work.

Flashes of the mausoleum from before. The trenches as bombs went off and Dave dying in his arms. The streets and all of its nightmares.

The door creaked open.

Klaus’ eyes flickered open and he stared at the door, shivering beneath the covers arms wrapped tight around his chest. Was it dad? Come to take him back to the mausoleum for round two. To try and force Klaus’ potential to the surface. Maybe he had seen Klaus die when he re-watched the footage and decided to test his hypothesis.

But it wasn’t dad in the doorway.

Ben closed the door shut quietly behind him and his eyes slowly locked onto Klaus’.

His brother sucked in a ragged breath of shock and Klaus tilted his head. Had they not been expecting him to be back yet? Was he still supposed to be distracting dad?

The bed dipped and Klaus tilted his head to stare up at Ben unwilling to let the cold in.

“Klaus?”

He could see Ben saying his name but the words didn’t really connect. Klaus shook his head and flinched when Ben reached forward with gentle fingers to run over his cheek. In the golden glow of the fairy lights the concern on Ben’s face when he saw the blood was like liquid warmth in his chest, like hot chocolate on a rainy day.

“Klaus what happened?”

Ben asked and Klaus tilted his head getting the gist of what he was asking. Klaus shook his head and turned his face into the pillow. He wasn’t ready to talk about it thank you very much. Ben’s eyes narrowed and his expression darkened, cold and hard like when they were fighting.

“He put you in there didn’t he?”

Klaus glanced away from the fury in Ben’s eyes. For so long when Ben had been dead and it had just been the two of them, he had refused to speak of it, because who would believe him? And it had been over. But Ben had caught him while he was down, a sleepless night, jumping at shadows and sobriety casting the world into stark relief. He had told him. Ben had threatened to kill dad, to haunt him. It was over Klaus had replied. He thought it had been over.

“I’m going to kill him.”

Ben said the words ground between his teeth as he sat still as a board, Klaus imagined he could see The Horror glowing behind Ben’s eyes and shifting through his clothing as if in total agreement. For a moment, Klaus contemplated it, letting Ben kill dad. He would never be able to order them around or force them into training until their bodies collapsed.

But that would mess up the timeline, send the Commission after them, and blah blah blah as Five had explained it.

Klaus settled a hand on Ben’s arm, stared at it to make sure it wasn’t glowing blue, to make sure that Ben wasn’t dead, wasn’t a ghost he had conjured. He shook his head.

Ben slumped the fire in his eyes extinguished as he nodded. Klaus tried to smile but knew it came out as more of a watery grimace.

“Enjoy the movie?”

He asked, it was weird knowing you were speaking but not actually hearing the words. Ben startled eyes wide like he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He glanced at Klaus long and hard before his head tilted towards the bed spread and he said… something. Klaus assumed it was an apology but it could have been a justification all the same.

Ben’s head drifted up slowly and he must have seen something in Klaus’ expression because he asked, “Klaus can you hear me?”

Klaus shook his head with a wide grin, he didn’t actually mind not hearing anything, and tapped the area over his ears where he could feel blood dry and tacky pulling with every facial movement. Ben’s expression twisted flashing through anger, sympathy, guilt, and landed firmly on horror; it wasn’t as if this hadn’t happened before jeez.

He flinched back as warm arms suddenly encircled him, burning hot like fire, like a live wire. Klaus shuddered and stilled before he relaxed into the embrace his limbs numb and trying to resist as he clumsily brought them around Ben’s small shoulders.

Ben pulled back, one hand trailing lightly over Klaus’ cheeks until his eyes were on Ben’s face.

“I’m sorry. I should have been there. I promised I would be here and I wasn’t.”

“S’okay.”

Klaus slurred with a shrug and rested his face right in the crook of Ben’s neck where he could hear his heartbeat and feel his pulse. Ben stiffened at Klaus’ words but a moment later his shoulders slumped and his warms hands encircled Klaus like a protective circle.

“Which movie did you watch?”

He mumbled into Ben’s shoulder. Ben’s hand carefully guided Klaus’ fingers to rest against his neck as he replied. Klaus didn’t hear the answer but the vibrations of Ben’s voice was good enough. He exhaled, so tired, and closed his eyes. He fell asleep to the feel of Ben’s voice.

X

Klaus woke up cold, like those nights on the streets in the bitter chill of January when he couldn’t stay the night in someone’s bed. The cold had always bothered Klaus. More so than anyone else in the family. He wondered if it was something genetic or related to his powers.

Klaus shivered and tugged the comforter close to his body wiggling his toes in the hope that it would generate some blood flow. He wanted to be warm. He had been warm. Klaus heaved a heavy breath and opened his eyes.

For a moment, all he could see was darkness. His heart abandoned his chest and flopped onto the floor.

 Klaus blinked again, shedding the flashes of the mausoleum as the golden glow of the fairy lights infiltrated his sight and the pale glow of early morning sunlight fell into his room.

Klaus blinked and glanced at his arms. Scratches? Stitches?

The once pristine bed sheets were covered with dirt like someone had let a wild animal in during the night.

Klaus exhaled slowly as he remembered. The mausoleum. Dying. Using his powers to make the ghosts leave. And Ben.

Disappointment fluttered in his chance as he glanced at his bed, looking for a Ben shaped lump. He knew that if dad caught Ben in his bed again, they would both be punished. But it was so cold. And he wasn’t really used to being alone again. Ben was always there, reading some ghost book and rolling his eyes at whatever shit Klaus had done the night before, but he had been there.

It was quiet too.

Klaus brought his hands up in front of his face, the stitches were red and raw, the smaller scratches had dried blood crusted around them. With a wince, Klaus clapped his hands. The sound reached his ears, fuzzy, faint, like he was hearing it from under water, but there. He should probably have mom look at his ears.

But he had training.

Inhaling shakily, Klaus muffled a curse into his arm and gingerly attempted to climb out of bed. His muscles protested the movement, in fact his whole body protested the movement and his head decided to start pounding along like some bad band. He should just go back to bed. Yep what a great idea.

He hissed as his feet touched the cold floor, it was like all his muscles had cramped at once.

Klaus swayed on his feet as the world spun in dizzying circles around him; it was like a bad trip, like when his hit was laced. He took a tentative step forward and keeled to the side. Klaus caught himself on his dresser with a muffled yelp as it buried its pointy corner in his side and glanced at the mirror perched on the wall. Fuck he looked bad.

Scratches ran red down his cheeks and he wasn’t sure who had done it, dried tears tracked through a layer of grime, his hair looked like something out of a B movie horror film, and he didn’t bother looking at his eyes. Huffing Klaus attempted to run a hand through his hair and the unruly curls that even Hargreeves couldn’t tame; it didn’t do anything. He tried tugging a smile on, friendly, just a bit manic so no one would look underneath. It was a fragile broken kind of smile that wouldn’t fool Ben or Five, probably wouldn’t fool anyone, but it would have to be enough.

Klaus attempted to smile a few more times in the mirror as his eyes flickered around the room, searching. There was nothing, no one, it was like a ghost town (ha), like the ghosts had declared a truce. That had never happened unless he was high off his ass.

Creeping into the hallway Klaus peered at the clock and heaved a sigh of relief. There was still time until breakfast.

The bathroom was unoccupied. Score!

Klaus would never understand why Hargreeves had decided one bathroom was enough for seven kids, not to mention seven teenagers. There were things people liked to do in bathrooms and sharing it with one person was bad enough never mind seven.

But Klaus got the bathroom so ha.

The bath tub in all its porcelain glory was kind of (very) intimidating as Klaus turned to face it fingers sticking on buttons as he attempted to shuck his torn-up uniform. Yeah no. But there was a shower head which would work.

Klaus carefully and slowly kicked his way out of his trousers as he reached over and with all of his inconsiderable strength turned the handle. The shower head squeaked and squealed, or at least Klaus supposed that was the sound it was more like the distant sound of a tea kettle going off. Water spit from the spout gradually increasing to a pleasant downpour.

He sighed as the hot water poured over his skin and well you get the rest.

The air outside the bathroom was cold as Klaus tucked the towel tighter around his chest, thankful for once that he was thirteen and hadn’t hit his growth spurt. A door creaked open and Klaus paused outside his door and tilted his head back to peer down the hallway wondering who was abandoning the unofficial official sanctity of their rooms so early.

Five stepped into the hallway, already neat and pressed into a uniform like the perfect little boy scout, like a cookie cutter. Five’s eyes darted up and down the hallway like the paranoid old man he was before his eyes landed on Klaus.

Klaus nodded once and hoped that would be all thank you. His fingers were tight on the door knob as Five’s hand, latched gently onto his wrist. Klaus flinched back still carefully holding his towel and protecting his modesty as he turned to face Five.

“Klaus what happened to you? Did dad do this?”

He puzzled through the vague feedback and the mouth movements for a long moment before he shook his head and replied, “Nope wasn’t daddy dearest, he’s not a big fan of physical abuse you know? Well look at the time I really do need to get chan- “

“Klaus what happened?”

Five interrupted with a heavy frown that pulled all the way from his brows to the corners of his lips. Klaus smiled, bright as if nothing was wrong, because nothing was wrong, and replied cheerily, “Just training. Oh, speaking of which don’t worry about dad today, I’m keeping him occupied, lucky me.”

Before Five could respond, he wasn’t certain he wanted to hear said reply, Klaus flashed his brother a pleasant smile and disappeared inside the depths of his room. He waited for a moment on the other side of the door, pressed up against the wood with shaking legs and even shakier breathing.

Right. Inhale. Exhale. Just keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other and all that.

First get dressed.

Check.

Inhale. Exhale.

Don’t think about it. Any of it.

Mostly check.

Breakfast.

Klaus was the last to the dinning table and he could feel his siblings’ eyes on him like he was a cute bunny in a forest full of wolves. Hargreeves frowned at Klaus with his usual motif of disappointment and nodded for the others to sit down. Chairs scraped loud enough for even Klaus to hear as he settled in the hard wood chair.

He stared at his plate for a long moment, a sunny side up, two actually, with a piece of bacon, and some toast all arranged like a face because mom was awesome like that. He reached out and picked up his fork, still staring at his plate. He carefully cut away at the white of the egg, till only the sunny yellow yolk was left, and took a bite of the egg white. It tasted like rubber. Mom’s cooking was always good. Klaus stomach turned, he grimaced and swallowed before carefully setting his fork down. He wasn’t hungry anyway.

Ben was staring at him, eyes wide but also lips narrowed as he glanced at Klaus’ plate as if ordering him to eat. Klaus rolled his eyes and dutifully picked up a piece of toast and added some jam. He glanced around the table. Luther had a stormy expression fraught with something underneath as he glanced between dad and Klaus with narrowed eyes.

 Diego was frowning, glaring at dad like he was about to vault over the table and stab the dude. Five was staring straight at him and Klaus cheerily waved his half-eaten piece of toast before continuing his observation. Allison kept opening and closing her mouth as if she wanted to rumour him to look better, like that would magically change him from looking like death warmed up. Vanya was hiding behind her hair again but she kept sneaking glanced at him from the corner of her eyes.  

He appreciated it. Really.

“Dad where was Klaus yesterday?”

Vanya asked, her voice barely a whisper to his still damaged hearing. But it was fine. If anyone else had asked dad would have told them to be quiet and get back to eating, but because it was Vanya, who got some privileges, he replied, “Number Four was training.”

“All day?”

Diego asked suspiciously. Wow for once they had actually noticed. Only twenty years too late. Hargreeves nodded with a raised brow as if there was a problem with that and pulled out his pocket watch. Who even used pocket watches? It was gold with ornate etching on the lid and told the time in thirty-six different countries.

“Number Four.”

Dad said and Klaus almost wished he was deaf enough that he couldn’t hear dad say his number in that disappointing tone. He shrunk back in the chair for a fraction of a second, enough for Ben and Five probably to notice, before he rose to his feet with a nod.

Klaus pasted a smile onto his face as dad rose to his feet and stalked towards the hallway. Tossing his smile at his siblings Klaus carefully, but it looked effortless, flounced to his feet and followed dad out into the hallway. If he could walk in six-inch heels drunk off his ass, he could do this.

They walked silently down the long hallway, the mansion was full of them, and Klaus muffled a shiver. He resolutely didn’t think about what his training was going to be. He had heard about his siblings’ training; been part of it sometimes. Diego throwing knives with Klaus right beside the target. Five teleporting till he threw up. Allison rumouring till she couldn’t speak. Ben. Luther and whatever inane strength training he did.

Hargreeves stopped in front of one of the many doors lining the hallway and pulled out a key, Klaus wondered if he had a key ring somewhere underneath the suit. It would probably be too loud with all the keys and secrets the man kept. The door opened with a click and without a backwards glance dad went inside. Klaus followed hesitantly behind him.

The room was smaller than the one they did their group training in, with simple concrete walls and a concrete floor. It was cold and empty except for a lockbox in the centre of the room. Klaus glanced at Hargreeves who was standing by the door one of his damned notebooks in his hands. In the future they would probably look at those and go, “Ah here a classic example of the abusive obsessive delusional father.”

“There are items possessed by the deceased in the lockbox. Summon them, manifest them, and find out how they died Number Four.”

Sure fine. No big deal.

He was honestly a little relieved he had been thinking it would be something like the mausoleum part two; Hell on Earth, again.

Klaus nodded and cautiously approached the lock box. He settled criss-cross apple sauce on the ground and reached out. Some part of him was wary of a trap of some kind. But the box opened with a little creak of the hinges.

Inside the box were five items, a bloody knife, ominous, a small practically ancient stuffed frog, a locket, a small bible, and a bone, an actual bone. No big deal.

His hand hovered cautiously over the five items as he debated. He glanced around the room but couldn’t see any ghosts.

So, the locket it was. Klaus carefully pulled the locket out of the box and studied it. The locket was made of gold with little flowers and spirals on the front. It flicked open with a press of his thumb and inside was the picture of a young man, probably from around the early 1900’s if the clothing was any indication; Klaus knew his fashion thank you very much.

Right okay. Just got to summon a ghost. No big deal.

Klaus started by just focusing on his breathing. In. Out. Until his chest didn’t feel quite so tight. He searched for his powers. What did that meditation teacher always say? Visualise. Right. Okay. They were like a still lake, actually more of an ocean, waiting, deep, unfathomable. Klaus inhaled and exhaled. He imagined it as if he was dipping just his toes into the water. There was a tugging sensation in his chest but also curiously a tingling sensation in his toes.

When Klaus opened his eyes, the room was filled with spirits. So many that he could hardly see the walls as they surrounded him, all staring down at him, waiting, watching. Klaus shut his eyes tight as possible and heaved a ragged breath. Nope definitely not what he had wanted.

Klaus pictured the ocean again, except this time he peered into the ocean. For a second there was nothing, just the water. His fingers brushed over the cool metal of the locket and with an inhale he pictured it and peered into the lake again. This time he saw what looked like a few fish swimming through the water.

He brushed his fingers through the water until he came to rest in front of a goldfish, the shine of its scales(?) glittering up at him like a beacon. Something inside of him said this one.

Klaus opened his eyes, in front of him was a young woman, she wore a high collared blouse, a long skirt, and was holding a handkerchief stained with blood. Klaus glanced around the room but she was the only spirit in the room.

“Uh hello?”

The ghost tilted her head. Klaus couldn’t shake the feeling of how strange this all was.

“My name’s Klaus what’s yours?”

“Estelle.”

She said, her voice was soft and sweet and she reminded Klaus of a deer. He smiled, a little quirked smile and replied, “That’s a very pretty name. Can you tell me how you died Estelle?”

“He finally came back from overseas. We were so happy. But then he took ill and I followed after. He got better and I didn’t.”

“What was this uh illness?”

Klaus asked gently. The ghost frowned tears sparkling like jewels in the corners of her eyes as she replied, “Influenza.”

She coughed, a horrible cough. It sounded like she was drowning in her own lungs.

“Influenza was around after World War one, right?”

“Yes. He finally came back from overseas. We were so happy. But then he took ill and I followed after…”

Klaus nodded as the ghost repeated the same words like a broken record. He glanced down at the locket, that must have been her boyfriend. Klaus’ heart went out to the boyfriend whoever he was; lived through the war only to come home and lose his girlfriend. Klaus knew what it was like.

“Number Four, make the ghost corporeal.”

Hargreeves’ voice shattered the strangely comforting bubble Klaus had built for himself. Estelle flickered for a moment before Klaus got a hold of himself, it was similar to trying to hold water in your hands, and she solidified.

Klaus glanced over his shoulder at the old man. He was staring at Klaus with an expression that wasn’t his usual disappointment which Klaus took to mean he had summoned the right ghost. That and he had shown that he did in fact have potential. Yay!

Part of Klaus was tempted to just leave. He was tired, sore, still recovering from withdrawal (you didn’t get sober in a week), and overall kind of done. But Vanya needed the training time and he would be able to summon Dave if he kept training. Or at least that was the hope.

Nodding, Klaus turned his attention to Estelle and the locket in his hands. He closed his eyes and pictured the ocean again. Had Klaus seen the ocean before? There was that one time with the hippie chick. Great lay, even better weed. And he was sidetracked. Klaus inhaled again and focused on the ocean. He wasn’t really sure how to visualise making a ghost corporeal. Did he stick his arm in the water? No. That didn’t feel right.

What if he took the fish, the spirit out of water?

Klaus glanced at the goldfish who hovered around his mental projection toes. It was worth a shot. The water was cold around Klaus’ fingers as he carefully scooped the fish into his palms, the water didn’t drain out of his cupped hands and the fish floated along content as it had been in the water.

He opened his eyes.

Estelle was still sitting daintily in front of him, except there was a faint blue glow around her, like she was glowing from the inside out. When Klaus glanced down at his hands, they were also blue, and his veins glowed like the neon bracelets they sometimes handed out at raves.

Klaus glanced at Hargreeves who nodded once and proceeded to write in his notebook. Klaus could feel his powers pooling in his gut and tingling like pins and needles throughout his body. The imaginary water in his hands began to spill. He tried to hold onto it, but his control slipped and Estelle flickered back to her regular ghosty self.

He panted, feeling as if he had run a marathon and only realised it at the very end of the race. But he had done it, on purpose too. Take that.

Klaus glanced over his shoulder at Hargreeves who was frowning again as he wrote something down in his book, a chill swept over Klaus, racing down his spine and straight through his chest. Hargreeves looked up and with narrowed eyes stated, “Again.”

X

The water was boiling hot and Klaus felt like a lobster, a very happy lobster as he hissed out a sigh of content and slid into the water. Everything hurt. His muscles, his brain, his chest, even thinking hurt. He had trained for eight hours. It wasn’t even like working a retail job which Klaus had done on occasion. No. Because retail jobs were shit, the customers were shit, the workload was shit. But training? That was something Klaus felt on a soul deep level.

He idly watched as the water lapped at the sides of the tub, bubbles swirled, and beneath the surface of the water he could see his limbs, pale and almost translucent. Klaus watched as his hand moved through the water and with a heavy sigh his eyes slid shut.

After training dad had nodded, which was more than the man had ever given him in the past. Like he hadn’t been a disappointment this time. Then the man, after eight hours of training, had told him to do some research on his own. It was like homework, which they were rarely given, but worse. Klaus needed his me time.

And okay, maybe Klaus was a little bit curious about what he could do with his powers. Sure, he could manifest the dead now. That was pretty cool. But could he control them? Could they posses him? There was literally a metaphysical ocean of stuff waiting.

He was also kind of scared though.

If they could posses him what if he lost control? What if something dangerous, more than a few angered spirits, appeared? What if?

Klaus blinked, slow and lazy, and shook away the dark thoughts. He would just have to see what the library had to offer. It was worth a search if only because the old man had stocked the shelves with any book pertaining to their powers even a little bit; to encourage self-study. Klaus knew Five had read every book the library had to offer on quantum physics by the time he was ten and Ben had stayed firmly away from the Lovecraftian collection.

Still he was the Séance. A little research wouldn’t hurt. Or maybe it would. He could always bullshit stuff too. It’s not like dad would be able to tell.

But first Klaus was going to try and sleep. Take some time for himself after you know eight hours of forcing his powers to work when he had never even trained them before.

 He wondered how Vanya’s training had gone. Klaus’ eyes slid shut, heavy with the weight of exhaustion as he pictured Five standing in the corner of the room writing in a notebook and stroking his invisible beard just like dad; they were more alike then either liked to admit. Hopefully, the notes Five had stolen were helpful. He wanted, couldn’t wait to see what Vanya could do once she was off the pills and in control.

Klaus slid deeper under the water, it brushed against his lips with every inhale.

He was so tired but all his mind could do was circle back to the training. All the spirits he had summoned. Some had already passed on like that dude from the seventeenth century who had been really hard to find. But the others hadn’t. All he could think of was that night in the mausoleum, one way or another he had helped the ghosts passed on. He kind of wanted to help Estelle reunite with her boyfriend, or Suzan with her dad, or Ernie with his cat if that was at all possible.

More than that he wanted to see Dave.

Klaus’ head listed to the side as his thoughts grew fuzzy and warm. The glow of the bars in Vietnam and the burn of the alcohol on his tongue, the sweetness of Dave’s chapped lips.

His head slipped under the water.

They crept through the woods, the five of them scouting ahead, the forest floor dry and cracked beneath their boots. It was supposed to be humid, but the fires had swept the region and everything was dried out like a husk. They were supposed to be searching for hidden Viet forces. It was supposed to be an easy mission.

The gunfire rang out of nowhere. Klaus dived to the ground fingers scrambling for his gun as he crawled forward to rest beside Dave as the bullets whizzed and zipped over head. Timmy, the de facto leader, scowled back at the four of them and jutted his head forward. They were out in the open with no cover.

He turned the kid over, hands already pressing into what he knew was a fatal wound, blood sticky and hot stained his fingers as he murmured reassurances, it was okay his mom would be okay they would make sure she knew you had died fighting okay kid? The kid coughed, blood foaming the corners of his mouth as the light behind his eyes began to fade. Klaus had always thought that was an expression until he watched it actually happen and compared it to the ghosts he had seen. The kid had been too young.

Klaus stomach heaved and he kneeled over the bucket as he puked his guts out. Someone was rubbing his back but all Klaus’ could see was Jamie with a bullet between his eyes the back of his head like a fricking minefield. Or Trix, with infection lacing the cut on his arm his spirit pulling away from his body like a balloon in the wind.

He cried out as blood welled beneath his hands as Klaus pressed firmly on the wound. Fuck. The heat beat down upon his head as Klaus tore a rough strip of cloth from jacket and turned it into a tourniquet. Bullets whizzed through the air and the scent of blood was thick as soup.

With an inhale Klaus rose over the trenches and fired. One. Two. Three.

That had been a close one. Dave? Klaus’ hands pressed over the wound as Dave gurgled blood and words Klaus couldn’t hear. No. Please. No. But he could already feel the tug of Dave’s spirit slipping through his fingers like the blood sticky and tacky in the heat. No. No. No.

Klaus!

Klaus shot out of the water like a rocket through the atmosphere choking for breath and shivering like the dead had crawled under his skin. Tears burned behind his eyes and Klaus heaved in a ragged sob as he opened his eyes, water droplets like rain on a window.

Crash!

Klaus stared in surprise as anything that hadn’t been bolted to the wall crashed to the ground. The hairbrushes, the toothbrushes, the towels, his clothing, that stool, all of it. His chest felt tight and Klaus’ head lolled on shoulder adrenaline and pure exhaustion warring with each other as he watched the faint blue glow surrounding everything fade. What the fuck?

X

Chapter Text

X

Klaus liked the library. He hadn’t before. But now it was actually quiet with the ghosts gone, and Klaus as much as he loved the sound of his own beautiful voice, also liked the quiet. It wasn’t an oppressive quiet like the public libraries he occasionally wandered into; the librarians always watched him with wary suspicion, even the nice ones. But the Hargreeves library wasn’t open to the public and the only sort of librarian was the security cameras plastered along the walls.

His fingers skimmed the shelves, the ones Hargreeves had pointed out to him when they had finally been allowed in the library, as the occult section, the Klaus and Ben section as it was otherwise dubbed. There were some funky titles and Klaus was certain Hargreeves had read like two of the books before declaring the rest poppycock of the relatively useful kind.

There were such illustrious titles as: A Guide to Contacting the Spirit World, A Hundred and One Herbs and Fungi, A History of Ouija Boards and Other Traditional Methods to Speak to the Dead, and The Dead and You.

The list went on. Klaus picked up the book on different stuff to contact the dead and flipped through the pages. It was obvious that dad had ordered these books as soon as their powers presented themselves because there really weren’t a lot of pictures and Klaus was definitely a what do you call it? A visual leaner!

But that was besides the point. Klaus tucked the book into the crook of his arm, he was definitely more of a Ouija board guy but hey it was important to do a little exploration every now and then, and tucked the book on herbs on top. Look Klaus would be skeptical too about the herbs and the incense tying into his powers. But he had a fling with a girl for a while, she was big on the whole homeopathic movement. Peppermint oil, he would like to testify, was actually great for headaches. So, maybe there was some spiritual stuff attached to it too.

Klaus was willing to try. Dad had ordered suggested he do some research and the man could always tell when Klaus didn’t study or practice the disarming movement or whatever.

And besides, the library was quiet.

Klaus curled into an arm chair close to the window and propped open the book on herbs. He flipped the pages in between in his fingers, felt the texture, and glanced around the library. Shafts of sunlight slanted through the paned windows and caught on the dust motes in the air, there was the faint library smell of old paper and binding. He turned his eyes back to the book and began to read.

Sage is a hardy perennial of the mint family. Purplish flower spikes appear in the summer. Many species become shrubby and woody. The name Salvia derives from the Latin word Salveo, "to heal" or "to save" (more like, to salve, as in, apply a salve). It has long been used in healing. An old proverb says "why should a man die who has sage in his garden?". It was used in the Middle Ages to treat fevers, liver disease and epilepsy. In England, the tea drunk as a healthful tonic. It was also believed to strengthen the memory. An old English custom state that eating Sage every day in May will grant immortality.

Sage is masculine in nature and associated the element of air and the planet Jupiter. Sage is sacred to the Greek Zeus and Roman Jupiter. It is also a symbol of the Virgin Mary. Sage is used in magical workings for immortality, longevity, wisdom, protection and the granting of wishes. Sage is also believed to help alleviate sorrow of the death of a loved one. Burn sage at funeral and remembrance ceremonies to help relieve the grief of the mourners.

The door to the library creaked open. Klaus tilted his head and peered around the bookshelf to stare at the doors. It was Five, pressed perfectly into his uniform and glancing furtively around the room like he was expecting to be caught breaking into something. Klaus wasn’t quite sure why Five was sneaking.

He decided to wait and see.

Maybe Five had a secret stash of cigarettes or alcohol in the library. Klaus did. Well he had hollowed out one of the books in the occult section, one on the greatest witches and wizards in history and filled it with a baggie of weed. Maybe he could…

“Klaus?”

Oh, Five had noticed him. Five always noticed him. So did Ben, but he didn’t really have a choice. The same couldn’t necessarily be said for the others.

“Five what are you doing here in the library? If you’re trying to catch up on pop culture, I’m sorry to inform you the library is not the place for that.”

Klaus said with a bouncy little smile. It was still weird hearing his voice but only barely. Mom had said that his hearing would probably come back but was also a little bit permanently damaged. Which was okay, which was fine, now he had a valid excuse to listen to his music really loud.

“I could say the same for you.”

Five said, voice a whisper, with one perfectly articulated brow as he settled on the arm of the chair Klaus was curled in. With a twist of his lips Five plucked the book out of Klaus’ hands and stared at the table with both brows raised as he asked, “Really? Herbs and fungi.”

“Well if weed’s out of the question…”

Klaus joked with a wink as he crossed his legs, one over the other, and rested his chin on his hand. Five frowned for a moment and stared at the cover with narrowed eyes before he glanced back at Klaus and shook his head with a fond but resigned grin; it was almost a grandfatherly gesture but from a thirteen-year-old.

One hand darting out Klaus triumphantly snatched back his book and settled it closed on his lap. Five glanced at Klaus for a long moment before he looked away and stared out at the library, but his eyes weren’t seeing the library. There was something pensive to his expression, and with just the two of them there alone it felt heavy and real, something tangible, like the aftertaste of something.

“When I first arrived in the future, I arrived at the mansion. You were all there in the rubble. I-I buried you all myself. It took a month just to dig the graves. No shovels in the Apocalypse you know.”

Five stated simply as if he was talking about the weather, but the way his voice shook and wavered was enough. Klaus glanced at Five, he looked like a statue, he looked like a boy king. Klaus had known that they had all died in that future, but that Five only thirteen, for real, had found them like that was a bit much.

Klaus leaned his head against Five’s shoulder. It had taken a lot for Five to say even that Klaus knew. He probably expected a confession of some kind in the near future. Five tensed for one long second like he was about to whip out the small knife he had stolen from Diego, who had yet to notice which was a miracle in of itself. Instead Five sagged and his shoulders shook. He didn’t make a sound. He didn’t cry. Klaus ran his hand slowly over Five’s back.

A little while later, Klaus was never really sure about the passing of time anymore, Five straightened spine like steel again instead of bowed beneath the weight of the world and turned to Klaus. His expression serious and a bit sorry.

“We’re having a group meeting tonight in the attic.”

Klaus nodded and waited there was more, always more. Five stared at him like a general instructing his soldiers.

“We need you to keep distracting dad.”

“Like the three days a week he has planned for individual training isn’t enough?”

Klaus asked quietly, a little bit dangerously not that anyone but Ben would be able to tell. Five frowned and really glanced at Klaus. Could he see the still healing scratches on his cheeks, the deep bags under his eyes, just because the ghosts were gone and the war was over didn’t mean his brain remembered that, did Five see the stitches that were almost ready to come out?

“Vanya’s making progress, but she’s off the pills now and she needs control before an accident happens and Hargreeves notices.”

Five responded softly, maybe that was just Klaus’ hearing though. Maybe he would have to stand really close to people from now on and make them uncomfortable. He knew a guy who was legally blind but could still see a bit, he would read books and hold them right up in his face.

But yeah sure. It wasn’t like Klaus was also learning how to control his powers and no offence Vanya they were a bit more unknown. It wasn’t like he needed a break. He had to carry the weight of the family after being a junkie and doing nothing for years, right?

“Yeah okay.”

Klaus said deflating into the chair as his fingers traced the glossy press of the cover and its weird little sprigs of herbs that looked like weeds. Five stared at Klaus for a long moment in the silence of the library, it hadn’t been heavy before but now it felt like it was pressing down on his chest, the weight of the sky.

“Once Vanya has control, you’ll be able to stop.”

Five stated. Klaus laughed.

“As if he’ll let me stop. I’ve finally unlocked my ‘true potential’.”

He rose to his feet and didn’t bother to glance back at Five as he tucked the book under his arm. Five hadn’t seen Hargreeves alive in Forty-five years, he must have forgotten, impossible, that when Hargreeves wanted something he got it. And that something? Well currently it was to train Klaus until he broke or tapped into his true potential. God, he hated the word potential.

X

He could hear her playing down the hall, even though the walls were mostly soundproofed and again Klaus’ hearing was mostly shot. Still the sound seemed to vibrate through the walls, through the floor and filled the air.

It used to sound like a shrieking cat, like nails on a chalkboard, like the poor violin was being tortured not played. But this wasn’t thirteen-year-old Vanya even if the appearance did say otherwise, and the melody that drifted through the air was clean and dark, like velvet, loud, and powerful too.

Klaus hovered in the door frame, he was supposed to go and distract dad, again, but he would rather do this for a bit. It boiled something inside of his chest, it was like dry ice being commanded asked by Five to distract dad. Why couldn’t anyone else volunteer? Luther could say he was interested in testing his capabilities in a space environment. Allison could say she wanted to test non-verbally if her powers would work. Diego could say he wanted to test if his throws could go through solid materials.

He understood why.

They were useful and he wasn’t. But Klaus was already tired, sick with grief, and he wasn’t sure how long he could keep it up.

He liked learning about his powers. Liked having that control.

But he didn’t want to train four, five nights a week with dad. Not while his siblings trained together, laughed together, and in the meantime, he bled, he cried, he became exhausted alone. What had happened to supposedly being in it together he wondered. Maybe there was an exception, some loophole no one had mentioned. We will stick together (except for recovering or current drug addicts).

The music stopped suddenly. Klaus glanced up from where he had been internally monologuing to his shoes and glanced at Vanya. She had turned around at some point and was staring at Klaus with wide eyes, like she hadn’t expected him to be there. Klaus waved his fingers and tilted his head.

“Can I come in?”

Vanya nodded her face still surprised. Klaus slipped inside. Vanya’s room was nice, it wasn’t Klaus’ room which was amazing, but it was nice. Simple but warm with too many soft throw blankets, sheet music cluttered everywhere, little musical decorations and sayings hung on the walls.

“Keep playing?”

He asked gently and Vanya after a moment nodded and raised her bow to the strings. Klaus settled on the bed, it was bouncy, and listened. The sound was a bit faint but familiar, something Vanya had played before probably.

He remembered before, trying to escape the screaming, high on weed, everyone else’s disparaging glances, coming to Vanya’s room. She would let him sit with a confused expression, similar to now, and Klaus would float there in the music even through the strangled and bugled notes; sometimes Ben would join them.

 Klaus’ eyes started to droop. It was warm in Vanya’s room, like a furnace, like a warm belly and a hot shower after weeks on the streets. He leaned his head back against the wall and watched blurrily as Vanya’s bow moved up and down the strings with graceful ease.

“Klaus?”

She asked. Klaus opened his eyes; he hadn’t realised he had closed them. Vanya had put her violin down at some point and was sitting on the bed beside him one hand hovering oh so tentatively over his arm like he was made of cotton candy fuzz. Klaus muffled a yawn and said, “Sorry, your playing didn’t put me to sleep, m’just tired from training.”

Vanya nodded and in a slow carefully telegraphed way leaned against Klaus’ shoulder, she was warm but not Ben warm, but still nice. Klaus rested his head on top of hers and they sat together in the silence for a simple moment.

“How is your training going?”

Klaus asked, studying his nails with a critical eye, they were red, and broken like jagged glass; they could really use a paint job. Vanya glanced at Klaus from behind the mop of her hair and smiled, a small secretive smile that was very fragile.

“It’s been good. I-I never realised what I could do. It’s kind of freeing in a way. It’s like I’m literally shoving it in dad’s face. It’s like transformative I guess.”

Vanya said and Klaus liked the expression in her voice. He was pretty sure he remembered a time before when Vanya hadn’t been all monotone, had been emotional and generally awesome. Klaus grinned and replied, “That’s great a total stick it to the man I like it.”

She smiled pleased and brushed her hair out of her face.

“How about you? Are you okay Klaus?”

“Oh yeah fine. You know just training tons with dad, seeing dead people, so much fun.”

Klaus replied pleasantly, hands twitching over each other in his lap. Vanya’s fingers, smaller and calloused, tangled with his own and squeezed gently as she replied, “Really?”

“Don’t worry about me little sister I’ll be fine. I’m resilient that’s what all the guys used to say.”

“Klaus, I don’t want to know about your sex life, and I’m older than you.”

Vanya replied with a groan and rolled her eyes, flipping her hair with the motion. Klaus shook his head and waggled a finger in her face as he turned to face her, “Technically we’re all born at the same time. But also, I’m ten months older than all of you because of time travel except for Five but he doesn’t count cause he’s a geezer.”

“What time travel?”

Vanya asked very still, very quietly. Klaus shrugged with a little huff of breath and replied, “Oh just popped back in time and visited Vietnam for a bit, lovely weather in the fall every other season killer on the hair, after I was kidnapped.”

“Kidnapped?”

“Mhmm.”

Klaus replied nonchalantly, because that was really the only way, he was going to be able to talk about ‘nam and Dave without breaking down and sobbing. His fingers traced unconsciously over the cool metal of the dog tags beneath his shirt.

“But that’s all in the past now. Like your hair, which I think we should cut.”

“I don’t know.”

Vanya said fingering the long locks of her hair, her bangs hanging in her eyes. Klaus tilted his head and waited for the inevitable. He watched as Vanya considered the idea, glanced at the hallway where their siblings were inevitably in their rooms, where dad was probably in his study. It was another kick in the face.

She seemed to think the same thing. Vanya turned with a small smile and nodded. Klaus grinned and pulled out a pair of scissors he had snatched from his room. Vanya’s face widened in surprise; eyes white with two black holes.

“Klaus, how did you?”

“A Queen is always prepared.”

He stated with a shake of his head and guided Vanya to her feet to stand in front of her small mirror. He studied her face for a few minutes considering different styles and her bone structures. He was thinking a feathered pixie almost bob style. Get rid of the bangs, but frame the face, longer in the back. Snip. Klaus carefully maneuvered the scissors, locks of hair falling onto the hardwood floor like spools of silk.

 Finally, Klaus was done. He stepped back with a grin, hands settled on his hips. Vanya glanced up from where she had been studying her socked feet and shook her head, marveling at how light her skull felt probably, then she glanced at the mirror. Her mouth dropped open; one hand reached up to cover it as the other hand brushed through her hair.

“Klaus this is… wow I actually like it.”

“Excuse me, of course you like it. I’m not Luther who would have given you a military buzz.”

Klaus replied with a roll of his eyes a grin settled firmly on his lips. Vanya’s fingers trailed through her hair and she couldn’t stop staring at her reflection. It was a good cut, it defined the soft slope of her jaw, made her eyes big, took away the curtain in front of her face.

He glanced at the window and faltered. It was time to go they would still need to train Vanya. He wondered how everyone would react.

Pressing a kiss to the top of her head Klaus said, “I’m off, have to go entertain dad. Tell me about everyone’s reactions.”

Vanya startled like she was coming out of a trance and nodded faintly. Klaus pressed a final kiss to her newly shorn head, hiding a grimace, and turned to leave the room. His heart sunk in his chest even as he tucked the memory of his sister’s smile close to his chest. It was time to train.

X

Dad’s office was as intimidating as ever, it was like he had hired the interior decorator for like every monster movie ever. Klaus entered the room and shut the door behind him before waiting in front of the man’s desk with his hands behind his back. It was a huge desk, stretched out and seeming to fill the dusty room all in a deep mahogany.

Hargreeves’ pen moved across whatever sheet he was signing in silence; it was probably a tax evasion thing or a message to his home colony on the planet of abusive assholes. Klaus didn’t quite frown but his lips twitched nonetheless as he waited with his hands clasped behind his back. It was some kind of interrogation technique, Klaus knew Diego had told him and he had watched enough movies, to make him wait, all those thoughts swirling and bunching together in his chest.  

He wanted to leave, flee the room before he could open his mouth and Hargreeves’ could level him with another disappointed stare. Klaus didn’t want to be here. He already had training scheduled for tomorrow and the day after that. He could just leave.

But Klaus had already committed, he was in the man’s office. If he tried to leave Hargreeves would demand an explanation and then Klaus would probably get punished for wasting his time. Besides, Five was right, Vanya did need the training. The thought of her smiling and touching her hair was enough to ease some of the lump in his chest, but not totally.

God Klaus hated being selfless.

“What is it Number Four?”

Hargreeves asked, his voice heavy and authoritative seemed to fill the room even as the man kept writing. Klaus inhaled softly and released the fists he had balled at his side. It would be fine, he would tell dad about his new power, or at least what seemed to be a new power (?) and then dad would schedule even more training. He almost missed group training which was kind of sad.

“Number Four.”

Hargreeves said and his voice had that familiar bite of annoyance now. Klaus flinched back slightly and sucked in a breath.

“I uh think I’ve manifested another power. I made a bunch of stuff float accidently.”

Klaus said the words tripping over themselves. It would be fine he repeated to himself like if he said it enough times, he would actually believe it. Hargreeves set down his pen and glanced at Klaus with a raised brow, interest, but like mad scientist interest, on his features like carved stone.

“Interesting. We will explore this further tomorrow,” Hargreeves stated casually, picking up his pen once more he began to write something in his book. He continued, “Since you are here Number Four you will follow me.”

“Yes sir.”

Klaus replied, his hands shaking where they hid behind his back. Fuck. Fuck! That wasn’t ominous at all. Why couldn’t the old man have just dismissed him, he could have gone back to his room and mourned the fact that My Chemical Romance was barely a band because it was 2002 or something. Okay, he was whining. But it was justified.

Fuck. Klaus should have known dad wouldn’t let him waltz into his office and just let him leave. That would be too easy. He should have known, should have waited till tomorrow but Five had been all insistent and he was trying to be better, trying to help his family. And now? He had no idea what was going to happen.

Hargreeves wrote for a few more minutes like the absolute dick he was before he set his pen down with a click that was as loud as thunder. The old man rose fluidly to his feet and nodded once to Klaus before he pushed the doors to his office open and began to walk down the hall.

Klaus stared after the slowly retreating form. He could leave. Could run in the other direction. Nothing was stopping him. Nothing. That was a lie. But Klaus could leave, find a stash of something, he knew he still had a few pills tucked into a pair of old shoes, or he could grab something shiny and trade it for something hard. Nothing. But his family.

Klaus seemed to collapse in on himself before with an inhale he followed after the old man.

When Hargreeves turned towards the kitchen everything in Klaus froze, from his toes to his head, he felt like a block of solid ice. No. He couldn’t. Go. Back. There.

“Number Four.”

The old man said impatiently holding the kitchen door open and glancing at his watch with a raised brow. The two words seemed to say everything, disappointment, ‘I thought you had gotten over your fear’, disappointment, oh and another heaping of you guessed it disappointment.

Klaus sucked in a breath and forced his feet to move, it was like wading through the thick current of a river even as he watched his feet move normally. The air outside was mild, spring in full effect as blossoms adorned the trees and the grass waved green and long.

Hargreeves kept walking. Down the hill. Across the small street. Through the tiny cul-de-sac.

The cemetery gates loomed in the distance. Klaus forced his legs to keep moving, one foot in front of the other, inhale, exhale. He had never willingly entered this place, not when he had moved out, not when he was high as the blue sky above, not when dad was dead. And now here he was willingly walking into the one place that had traumatized him more then probably anything else. No big deal. It was fine. He was fine.

There was a perpetual aura of gloom over the cemetery, the sky suddenly seemed washed out and the air chill, it was like November never left. The cemetery itself was old and run down, Klaus speculated the caretaker had died and no one had ever replaced them. The graves were overgrown with weeds, lettering faded, the trees drooped, everything felt ancient, abandoned. In the back of the cemetery he could see the mausoleum, the doors were hanging open and the sunlight weakly attempted to pierce the gloom of the tomb but failed spectacularly.

Hargreeves pulled out a key and opened the padlock keeping the gates shut. Klaus watched silently.

The doors creaked and shrieked open. Klaus flinched back; the sound muted enough but sinking deep into his bones nonetheless. Klaus glanced at Hargreeves and waited, hand pressed at his side to keep them from swinging and jerking about. Hargreeves turned and from inside his jacket pulled out a notebook with metal spirals and a pen.

“Sir?”

Klaus asked glancing between the two objects and the old man. Hargreeves raised a brow, looking gaunt in the washed-out sunlight, like a corpse that had just clawed out of the grave, and ordered, “You will take these and go into the cemetery. You will summon the spirits, detail their manner of death and other relevant information.”

“How many?”

Klaus questioned quietly as he took the notebook and the pen. Hargreeves studied Klaus.

“Until I say you may stop. Understand Number Four?”

“Yes sir.”

Klaus replied stiffly and entered the cemetery.

He plopped down at the closest grave, it was old, the grey stone weathered and the name barely legible. The ground was kind of cold as Klaus reached out and ran his fingers gently over the name Eleanor Rugby 1922-1954. Klaus understood a little bit why the old man had forced him into the cemetery again. Here he didn’t have any items to which the deceased held an emotional attachment. It was a test.

That didn’t mean Klaus had to like it though.

He shivered and glanced over his shoulder. He could see the old man, watching, waiting.

Klaus pulled. It was easier now, to find that connection within himself, his powers. It still helped to picture the ocean. But he could use his powers without it now. He searched for a moment. Klaus had gotten a little bit faster too. But finding a ghost using only their name and the residue of their presence on Earth was difficult.

When he opened his eyes Eleanor was there, she looked healthy enough but for the blood staining her lips and the press of her ribs through her hospital gown. Klaus plastered a soft smile across his lips and questioned, “HI are you Eleanor Rugby?”

“They always spell it wrong. It’s Rigby.”

She replied sadly glancing at her own grave with a forlorn expression. Klaus nodded in sympathy and jotted that down in the notebook. He glanced at the ghost and asked, “What did you do for a living ma’am?”

The older ones like being called ma’am. Eleanor glanced down at Klaus and smiled, it was fond and reminded him of mom’s smile. She settled on the grass in front of him, the hospital gown like spider silk around her.

“Why are you asking? There’s far more interesting people to summon, Elvis, or J.K.”

Klaus hadn’t thought of that yet. But he did remember vaguely talking to a historical figure of some kind before everything became so bad. She continued, “But my life isn’t that interesting. I was born during the war in England we moved here after it was over. My father was a scientist and we lived in another city for a while before I moved out. Then I got cancer.”

She finished sadly. Klaus reached out and rested one hand over hers, materializing her with a little push. She smiled at his hand looking almost serene; some of them were like that. Klaus finished writing down Eleanor’s details in the book and smiled at her.

“Thank you for talking to me.”

“Be careful dear, I sense that others are watching you.”

She replied trailing a careful finger over his cheek before she flickered and disappeared in the sunlight. Klaus stared with wide eyes and tried to tug her back but she was gone. He sighed and closed the book before moving to his feet.

To the next grave. And the next. The one after that. And so on.

X

The house was dark and gloomy as Klaus slipped back inside, the lights were dim as always, old flickers of a lukewarm yellow, that cast the shadows into sharp relief. Klaus swayed on his feet, tilting against the counter as Hargreeves shut the door with a near silent click.

“Your performance today was satisfactory Number Four. I will see you for training tomorrow at 8:30.”

“Yes sir.”

Klaus replied, the words felt numb in his mouth, like he had swirled them for too long and now they were bland and tasteless. A part of him was fluttering at the words of praise, rare as diamonds in this fricking household, but the rest of him was insisting that he was too old for that and that he was also far too tired for that.

Hargreeves nodded and swept from the room. The dude should get a cape, it would be perfect for dramatic swirls, like Snape from Harry Potter. Klaus tilted his head and vaguely contemplated whether Harry Potter existed yet, he was almost certain it did. Ben would know.

Mom bustled into the kitchen a while later, Klaus wasn’t quite certain how much time had passed with him leaning against the counter just observing the kitchen. He had known he needed to go to bed or maybe eat dinner. But he was almost comfortable, and it all seemed like so much work.

“Klaus you’re back from training.”

She stated as she bustled over to him, he could see concern flickering in those plastic bright eyes of hers as one hand reached up to rest against his forehead. Klaus swayed into the contact, warm against his chilled skin. It had been warm out. But after hours of the cold Earth and the setting sun the familiar and unwelcome chill had swept through his body once more. Even now he felt cold in the warmth of the kitchen.

Mom pulled back hands warm on his shoulders and stared at him with a manufactured look of concern that Klaus knew she actually meant. One hand brushed through his unruly curls as she stated, “Why don’t you go to bed I’ll bring you dinner later.”

“But dad.”

Klaus replied the words sour and heavy on his lips. Mom’s expression twitched ever so slightly and Klaus wondered if she was going to start waxing poetic about the dude or if she was going to grab one of the kitchen knives and leave the room.

“I’ll tell him you were tired. He’ll excuse you.”

Her voice brooked no argument. It was how they had gotten ‘enrichment’ days, ones where they went to the museum, or the mall, or on other field trips.

Klaus nodded, smiling felt like a huge drain but he tried it nonetheless. Mom’s fingers ran through his hair once before she stepped away and opened the fridge. Klaus had forgotten how nice it was to have mom there. There had always been that awareness that she was an android, one that was programmed to follow dad’s orders, a prisoner like them. But beneath that she cared for them, against or maybe because of her programming.

Mom began humming and it was enough to jolt Klaus into semi-awareness.

With a heavy huff he pushed off of the cabinet and walked towards the door. The tile seemed to sway beneath his feet, uneven and lopsided, shifting so that every step didn’t land quite where he thought it would. The main hall was lighter than the kitchen, but also darker as the walls seemed to loom and tower over him. It was so weird being small again, everything was larger, his arms didn’t reach quite as long, and his feet took smaller steps.

The stairs loomed in front of Klaus.

He stared at them, dejection bubbling up with denial in his chest. Why hadn’t the old man installed an elevator?

“Klaus?”

It was Allison, coming down the stairs like those scenes in the Disney movies where the princess was finally revealed in her full glory. Well mostly, Allison’s hair hung in a frizzy halo about her shoulders and she was wearing her uniform.

“Are you okay Klaus?”

Her hand was on his shoulder. When had that happened? Klaus glanced at her hand in confusion brow furrowed before he glanced at her face. Allison’s lips were quirked and her eyes were narrowed as she stared at him, he wondered if she thought he had been out on the streets again. Technically he had been. Just you know not for drugs.

Everything felt so heavy. He couldn’t. Couldn’t.

Klaus collapsed to the side.

Luther’s arms wrapped around his body, warm and already strong for his age.

“Klaus!”

Was that Allison’s voice?

Klaus felt a warm hand on his cheek and opened his eyes.

Luther was staring down at him, arms ever so gentle like he was holding a baby bird, around Klaus, face twisting between concern and confusion. Allison was hovering on his other side, her hand drifting to check his temperature. Over Allison’s shoulder, Diego and Vanya were hovering, Diego frowning and Vanya, her hair all short and feathery and face open with worry.

Klaus blinked. What had happened? Had he fainted?

It wouldn’t have been the first time. But it hadn’t happened at home before.

“Klaus are you okay?”

Diego asked, an aborted movement to reach forward just visible to Klaus. He glanced around at his sibling slightly confused. Why were they all here? Oh, right dinner.

Klaus nodded and tapped at Luther’s arm with his fingers until his brother put him down. Klaus leaned against the bannister for a moment as his siblings all stared at him with varying levels of concern. Something in him seemed to melt like a flood at the reminder that they did care.

“What happened?”

Luther asked brows furrowed and eyes searching, like if Klaus pointed him towards the perpetrator Luther would go and fight for him. Ha. Klaus appreciated it though. He plastered a small smile on his lips, it felt like plucking hairs from his arm, or carrying the bodies of his comrades through the trenches and the mud. It was nice to consider they cared as long as he wasn’t high on drugs. Then again, they probably suspected he was.

“Just training. Don’t worry I’m fine, just going to take a little nap.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

Vanya asked, hand warm on his arm. Klaus smiled, bright fluorescent even, and replied, “Peachy just tired. You all should go and eat dinner before dad gets impatient.”

At the reminder he watched as their faces flickered through fear, anger, reluctance, and a bunch of other emotions Klaus couldn’t catch. It was funny how even though they were all adults they still feared being late to dinner. Funny in a very sad way.

Klaus pushed off the bannister and made a flapping motion with his hand as he took a slow step up the stairs. He could feel their eyes on him, Diego especially who always had a soft spot for wounded animals (there had been so many secret pets), and Vanya.

At the top of the stairs Ben and Five were speaking softly to each other, their eyes kept glancing at Klaus before they would glance away. Fine, keep your secrets. Klaus thought as he trudged up the last few steps hand on the railing for balance.

“Klaus.”

Ben’s voice, his hand warm on his arm. Did Klaus ever mention how much he loved being touched? Not like that perverts, though that was good too.

Klaus glanced at Ben, the concern on his features raw and honest, telling him that if Klaus only said the word, he would follow him back to his room. Klaus wanted that, wanted to curl in bed with Ben’s heartbeat next to his ear and the warmth of his arms around him. But Ben needed to put an appearance in at dinner or else dad would get suspicious. It was fine he would be fine.

“I’m okay.”

I’m not okay, I’m not o-fucking-kay. Klaus missed his music. That’s what probably sucked the most, half of the bands he liked didn’t even exist or were still in their fetus stage.

Ben stared dubiously at Klaus, and Five raised a brow of disbelief.

“I’m going to go have a nap. I’ll see you guys tonight.”

Klaus reassured the two of them and tried not to slouch quite as much into the bannister. Ben expression twitched like he wanted to disagree, wanted to drag Klaus to bed anyways. He glanced at Five though who nodded once and that was that. Klaus exhaled, small and slight so it wouldn’t draw attention.

“Klaus,”

Five’s hand on his wrist as he turned to walk down the hall. Klaus tilted his head at their technically older brother.

“What we’re you doing in training today?”

“Just hanging about the cemetery.”

Klaus stated nonchalantly, he patted Five on the arm and continued walking down the hall. He carefully didn’t glance at Ben, because if he did, he knew Ben would follow him, was maybe already doing that, and they really needed to keep dad from noticing shit. He wanted to be selfish though.

The door to his room shut silently behind Klaus and he was alone.

Klaus swayed on his feet, the glow of the fairy lights warmed something in his chest as he stripped off his socks and the vest of the academy uniform. He slipped under the covers and knew that Ben or Five would wake him up for the meeting tonight. He was so tired. Who knew summoning over a hundred ghosts would do that? Klaus suspected it was probably logical. His eyes slid shut and Klaus’ fingers grasped around the cool metal of Dave’s dog tags.

X

“Go, Go!”

Sargent John ‘Pixie’ Howe called out, his voice cracked and breaking through the early humid morning air. They ran through the bushes, the soil mushy and damp underfoot, clinging to his boots. The gun was heavy in his hands and his vest clung to his sides like a second skin.

Klaus.

Bullets ripped through the air; the leaves rustled. Klaus’ breath was heavy in his lungs. Go. Keep moving. Ignore the others, your brothers, falling beside you. Klaus paused beside the stump of a tree, his breath raged out of his lungs, wait, one, two, three, he rose aimed and fired. Klaus ran out from behind the tree stump and kept moving always peripherally aware of Dave in front of him, the back of his head, blond hair peaking out from beneath his helmet like sheets of gold.

Klaus.

They were in the med bay, Klaus’ hand was tight around Dave’s as the surgeon threaded the needle, the alcohol glimmered strangely in the low light of the med tent, the wound on Dave’s chest wide and open, blood strange and dark. He could hear the other soldiers, pained grunts and cries. In the bed to the left another surgeon was amputating a soldier’s foot, Tim from Virginia he thought, the sick sound of flesh and bone rending beneath the sound lurched through the room. It smelled of death in there, with the nurses bustling about in grim determination, red crosses like bearers of a last breath.

Please Dave he begged. You stubborn bastard. You’re not going to get an infection and you are sure as hell are not going to die on me.

He did get an infection. He didn’t die then. But he did die later. Because of Klaus.

Klaus!

Dave choking on blood, his everything pulling away from Klaus. Please. God. No. Stay. Please. Klaus begged fingers uselessly pressing on the wound, applying pressure. It was useless. He was gone. Dave was gone! He wasn’t coming back. Why hadn’t he come back?

Klaus!

He woke up. 

Klaus jerked up, blankets pooling around his hips. He sucked in rattling breaths his chest heaving, he was shaking, he was pale, he couldn’t breathe. Where was he? Oh God! Dave! Where? No. No! Why? Help. Someone please. He couldn’t breathe.

Cold hands grasped his cheeks.

Klaus blinked and sucked in a stark breath, tears blurred his sight and all he could see was the faint blue outline of a ghost. Army greens. Blood. Dave? The words passed soundlessly from his lips as his breathing continued erratic and unsteady, he couldn’t stop shaking.

Right. Inhale. Exhale.

The door to his room opened.

“Klaus?”

It was Diego?

Klaus shrunk back against the wall. Tears still blurred his vision as he watched what he was almost certain was Diego move through his room to halt hesitantly in front of his bed. Klaus sucked in a rattling breath and glanced around confused. Where was he? Where was Dave? Dave? Please don’t go. Don’t leave him alone, again.

“Klaus?”

Diego asked, a warm hand settled on his arm. Klaus stared confused, panting as his fingers dug into his arms.

“Hey you’re okay, you’re in your room at the mansion. You’re okay. It’s me Diego. You’re safe. You’re home.”

Klaus listened to the steady drawl of words, Diego’s arms were warm around him and he struggled between flinching away and leaning into the warmth. He focused on the words, on Diego. Inhale. Exhale. He was in the mansion. Dave was gone. He was home. The war was over. His mind just couldn’t seem to remember that.

“You w-w-wanna talk about it?’

Diego asked when Klaus’ breathing has returned to a semi-regular state and he wasn’t quite composed entirely of shakes and shivers. Klaus shook his head and ran his fingers over his arms, focused on the feeling of his skin.

“Is it about the guy you lost?”

Klaus twitched and glanced at Diego. That timeline had been erased, but when they had been sent back, they had all gotten a glimpse of it. Klaus had hoped Diego had forgotten. Klaus sucked on his lip and stared at the bed sheets as he nodded once.

“I-I lost someone too.”

“I know.”

Klaus croaked. He had heard about Eudora Patch, had met her on multiple occasions during his brief stunts in jail. He had tried to warn her about Cha Cha, or was it Hazel? She had died. He had heard the gun discharge and he hadn’t done anything. He truly was such a coward.

Diego stiffened beside him.

“Were you there?”

“She helped me escape, and stayed behind.”

Diego exhaled long and slow before he said, “That’s her. Always willing to sacrifice shit for other people.”

“You could meet her again.”

Klaus murmured and tucked a blanket around his shoulders. It was so cold. He should buy a heater. He could sell something precious and then go to the Walmart or whatever. Bam heater.

Diego sighed and glanced at his knuckles, bruised from whatever fight he and Luther had the day before. Klaus hadn’t been there but Ben had said it was entertaining, and of course it was, their fights were always entertaining. It had also happened to keep up appearances.

“Nah I d-don’t think w-we worked out.”

Klaus tipped his head against Diego’s shoulder. Just because it didn’t work out didn’t stop the fact that he loved her. That much was clear for Klaus to see.

“What about you?”

“He’s gone.”

Klaus tried to say simply but the words were a cracked and broken thing, the ruins of a temple once glorious. Tears burned his eyes once more and Klaus sucked in a heaving breath. He was gone. Unless Klaus could summon him, he would never see Dave again, never hold him, kiss him, whisper lewd jokes and watch him blush.

Diego’s arms encircled Klaus. He gave the best hugs, warm and tight like nothing in the world could hurt you. Klaus tightened his arms around Diego and rested his face in the crook of his neck, listened to the sound of his heart.

“We s-s-should go to the a-attic, the o-others are waiting.”

Diego finally interrupted the silence that had settled over them. Klaus nodded and replied, “Go on I’ll be there in a minute.”

His brother stared at him for a long moment before he nodded and rose to his feet. Klaus watched Diego disappear through the door and into the darkness of the hallway.

Closing his eyes, Klaus’ fingers grasped the dog tags around his neck. They were cold, always cold no matter how long Klaus wore them. He searched, he pulled, scraping from the bottom of the well. Klaus opened his eyes, breath held between his lips.

Nothing.

Klaus sighed and rose to his feet. He listed from side to side as his balance reappeared. He felt like he hadn’t slept at all.

The hallway was dark, the lamps on the wall glowed like the barest hint of embers in the grate. He trailed his fingers along the wall, over the faded yellow wallpaper and up the stairs to the attic, the stairs which were temperamental and creaky on the best of days barely whispered as he stepped lightly.

Everyone was already seated when Klaus stumbled inside, the old lamps with their hideous shades cast everything in a golden light.

Luther was seated in the large armchair again, but Five was coiled on the armrest, like a strange picture of David and Goliath or a King and their advisor. Allison was curled up on the couch with Vanya, threading her fingers through Vanya’s short hair with a pleased little smile she probably thought no one else could see. Diego was sitting beside Ben, the two speaking in a hushed whisper; probably about him.

Klaus stumbled over the uneven floors and sank into the couch cushions on the other side of Ben, who’s fingers instantly tangled with his own warm and alive. Klaus squeezed back and refused to take notice of the silence that had settled over the attic.

“Now that everyone’s here we can begin.”

Five said, not quite pointedly, but the intention was still kind of there. He could practically feel their eyes drilling into him. Look he was trying okay.

“Klaus were you able to secure more training with Hargreeves?”

“Yeah.”

Klaus replied, the word heavy on his tongue, like a pill. He curled into the couch and watched his siblings’ reactions. None of them said anything or looked surprise that Klaus was training even more with dad. No big deal. Wasn’t like he was already burning out. Like he couldn’t sleep. He felt seen and yet still ignored, like they cared for him when it was in front of their faces but the rest of the time, he was just Klaus, just high, drunk, useless Klaus.

“Excellent. I estimate that Vanya will have enough control of her powers in the next three to six months all things considered.”

“What then?”

Diego asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

“We need to stick to the timeline as close as possible. Anything too suspicious and the Commission will get involved.”

“So what? We just keep pretending that Vanya doesn’t have powers until we’re eighteen and then we all leave the nest and go and live normal lives?”

Ben asked, crossing his arms over his chest. He actually liked the idea of living normal lives it was the bit about Vanya that rubbed him the wrong way. Five frowned that expression of a teacher speaking to a young child appeared and he said, “That would be the best plan yes.”

“I want to fight.”

Vanya said, the words weren’t quiet. They were loud and there even to Klaus’ hearing which was really distorting everything. Everyone’s eyes swung to their younger sister (no matter what anyone else said she was definitely the youngest and this they all agreed upon).

“I want to help you guys, if I have powers, I want to fight with you. Now that I know the danger your lives are in,” here she glanced at Ben, “If I can help, I want to.”

“The Commission will notice.”

Five commented with a frown but he had a soft spot for Vanya and wouldn’t say no outright.

“Then we fight them off.”

Luther announced, back straight and looking like he was posing for a statue. Honestly though, points to Luther, Allison must have slapped him again. Usually he would be in total agreement with Five and advocating for locking up Vanya on the side.

When he glanced at Vanya she was beaming.

“It’s not that simple. Let me do the math and we can talk about this when Vanya has more control. Speaking of I suspect we will be sent out on a mission soon, does everyone remember protocol?”

Klaus began to tune out when Allison, Luther, and Diego began to state their roles and their game plans. He was always lookout.

Ben was like a heater beside him and Klaus was tempted to steal him for his room as he leaned his head against Ben’s bony shoulder. It wasn’t the most comfortable shoulder, that would probably be Allison, but it was warm. Klaus eyes fluttered shut, warmth and exhaustion tugging him into the welcoming arms of darkness.

X

Klaus’ head tipped forward and he caught himself before he smashed his face into the plate of eggs and turned them into scrambled eggs. He was tired. So tired. It was like he could barely think, like his brain was functioning solely on muscle memory as he stared absently at the eggs on his plate.

He had gotten about an hour or two of sleep in total last night.

Maybe even less.

Sleep had been stolen from his grasping fingers time and time again as nightmares of the war, of the corpses, of the mausoleum, surged from his subconscious and chased away any possible remnants of sleep. At some point he had given up. The memories of the early morning were hazy, but he remembered speaking to a ghost, had it been Shakespeare, or maybe Kurt Cobain? He couldn’t recall, everything was hazy like a fever dream.

Klaus’ eyes were so heavy, it felt like they weighed an impossible amount, like the anvils in those cartoons and gravity was but a helpless enabler.

Ben’s hand found his under the table. It was warm, hot as the heat of a fire after a day out in the cold. Klaus blinked and glanced at Ben who was staring at him in concern, he looked like he wanted to demand an answer but under the weight of Hargreeves gaze they were all silent. He glanced around the table.

Everyone else was already almost done, Luther was the only one still eating but he always ate more because he had a super (ha) metabolism, he also kept unsubtly glancing at Klaus out of the corner of his eyes. Vanya was staring at him eyes crinkled and lips pressed into a thin line, Allison beside her was idly finishing a piece of toast as she studied Vanya’s hair which was a fluffy, very cute, mess. Allison should probably introduce her to styling gel, of course Klaus didn’t have the time. Diego looked murderous, again, he was glaring a bit at dad but also was staring at Klaus with his helpless puppy look. Five was the only one who was sitting normally, but Klaus was certain he was plotting something.

Did he look that bad?

So maybe he had dark bags under his eyes, the kind that made him look dead, and maybe his skin was pale and a bit feverish, maybe the healing scratches on his cheeks looked all the more raw because of that, and sure his eyes were red and dull. But he was fine. Super fine.  The finest person on Earth.

The mission siren went off.

It wasn’t a loud siren like that one in the Ghostbusters movie. But it permeated throughout the house just enough to hear and remain; persistent.

Klaus stared at the white of his eggs for a long moment as chairs scraped around him. Maybe dad would say he could stay home.

He had done that when they had been older and Klaus had been more of a hazard then any help. He was pretty sure he posed quite the hazard at the moment.

When he glanced at Hargreeves he raised one brow as if to say, ‘Well why aren’t you following your siblings?”

Klaus didn’t slump but it was a very close thing. Instead he nodded his head, the motion more that his neck had given up on supporting his head, and carefully clambered out of his chair. He was already in his uniform so at least there was that. He made his way to the stairs, each step seemed farther than the last, knowing he couldn’t drag his siblings down and make them late or he would be punished.

Diego pounded down the final step attaching a knife to the holster at his hip and another knife to the one on his arm. Diego did actually like missions, always had, it meant he got to help people, show Luther up, and get some pent-up aggression out.

Five appeared next in a burst of blue light, mask firmly in place over his eyes. He was grinning looking almost like a kid again. Klaus couldn’t tell if it was the thought of a mission or being able to kill people. Dad had never really cared if that happened on missions.

Luther thudded down the stairs next.

Allison stepped away from a silent and pale Vanya with a careful squeeze of Vanya’s hands and followed Luther.

Ben was the last one down the stairs. It was only then that Klaus remembered he was actually supposed to go up the stairs.

“Here.”

Ben said and when Klaus looked down his mask was in his hand. Klaus smiled and carefully placed it over his eyes, he wiggled a bit at the strange sensation, the almost claustrophobic feeling. He had forgotten what it was like to wear these again.

“Come on let’s go.”

Ben stated looping his arm through Klaus’ and dragging him gently away from the staircase. Klaus glanced up the stairs at Vanya who lingered in the shadows upstairs, he could see the sad and concerned expression better now without the curtain of hair.

They all gathered in the front hallway where Pogo had parked the car out front.

“What are we dealing with sir?”

Luther asked as they all stared at the man. It was like they were generals in a tent preparing for war. Hargreeves opened the door and ushered the six of them into the car, well car was a nice word it was really more of a van, the kind you could totally see in a spy movie full of high-tech equipment.

Klaus settled on the bench beside Ben with Allison on his other side.

“There is a hostage situation at the Wall corporations building, you will dispatch the intruders and free the captives without harm. Understood?”

A chorus of ‘yes sirs’ followed the order.

Klaus tucked his head against Ben’s shoulder and let his eyes drift shut. Ben was a warm presence at his side as the van bumped over the road and squealed around the corners; it was better not to focus on the driving.

The van stopped.

They piled out into the early morning sunshine. The Wall corporation building was a small skyscraper with about ten floors, the exterior of the building was composed of planes of glass that attempted to reflect the blue of the sky but mostly caught the grey indistinct blob of the surrounding buildings. Police cars were parked by the entrance, lights flashing, and the area roped off.

“Five secure the hostages. Ben go with Five and halt any hostiles, deadly force not required. Alison find their comm system. I’ll deal with floors one to five and create a distraction. Diego deal with floors six to ten. Klaus can you find anything out about the building?”

Luther stated taking his role as commander. Except he actually did a good job and considered their individual strengths and needs. Maybe they could learn. Klaus processed the last bit of the sentence and nodded before he closed his eyes and pulled. Nothing. Wait. There.

When he opened his eyes there was a balding man with a pouch and lopsided glasses.

“Ah what a terrible emergency. Such a shame, such a shame. But that is what we plan for yes. An emergency exit, hidden stairwells, some not even in the public blue prints. Always told Thomas he shouldn’t have estranged the Neida family but he’s a stubborn man…”

Klaus dismissed the spirit and swayed as the exhaustion swept over him. Turning to his siblings who watched with wary eyes he announced, “There’s an emergency exit on the third floor and a bunch of hidden stairwells. Expecting roughly forty-five men. Potential perpetrator the Neida family.”

Luther, and well everyone, stared at Klaus for a moment in a silence disturbed only by the police officers talking into their walkie-talkies. Klaus glanced between his siblings confused, why wouldn’t he be able to tell them anything? He had been training with dad.

“Right. Klaus accompany Allison, help with evacuation of the hostages.”

Luther finished with a nod and as one they turned and entered the building. Inside it was blissfully (dreadfully) cool and gunfire ripped through the air and over their heads as they scattered. Five and Ben disappeared in a burst of blue as Diego and Luther tackled the five men in the room.

Alison ducked behind an overturned table and Klaus followed her, his limbs still felt clumsy but adrenaline flushed through his system and the gunfire shook through him like the burn of Vietnam. He wanted to hide. Wanted to grab a gun, aim, duck, aim rinse and repeat.

“Klaus.”

Alison grabbed his arm and tugged him forward across the smooth marble floor towards the emergency exit sign as the sounds of fighting echoed behind them. The door clanged shut behind them and with it the sound of fighting cut out. Alison huffed and ran a hand through her hair.

“I forgot how stressful these missions were. Back then we thought we were immortal.”

She stated as she began to climb the stairs. Klaus followed carefully behind her alert and more awake then he really felt he should be. Resting his hand on the bannister Klaus called out, “Where are we going to find the comms?”

“We’ll exit on the next flight, floor three, I’ll find a comm and give the order to stand down.”

“Then what?”

“Then we’ll head to the top floor that’s usually where the final confrontation takes place. Honestly these villains are so predictable.”

Klaus nodded and Alison glanced him over her shoulder as she paused in front of a door marked only with a blocky three. She tilted her head with narrowed eyes and a scrunched brow, “You really weren’t involved in the missions much when we were young huh?”

“Not much seeing ghosts can do.”

Klaus replied. Alison stared at Klaus for a moment before her gaze hardened and she pushed the door open. They peered down the long hallway it was empty. Klaus focused and tugged; eyes open as he followed Alison down the hallway. A ghost in a striped suit appeared at his side. Klaus tilted his head and the ghost nodded with a wink and faded from view. A moment later he reappeared and held his hands up, eight fingers, down the hallway.

“There’s eight of them ahead.”

Klaus whispered fingers itching for a gun. Allison turned to Klaus with a raised brow but nodded and replied, “Can you distract them for a minute?”

He nodded. Klaus was good at being a distraction.

They rounded the corner. The eight hostiles were standing in a circle around a group of hostages, guns in their hands and body armour. Klaus plucked off his mask, tossed a wink at Alison and stumbled into the room.

“Please help me!”

“Hey stop! Hands where we can see them.”

The man at the front commanded pointing his gun at Klaus. He brought out the fake tears and slowly raised his hands, they were shaking and he hoped they thought it was from fear and not because of the adrenaline.

“Please help me! There was a man and he-he had a gun.”

“Shut up! Get in the circle.”

Klaus flinched back, but the guard had stepped closer and nudged Klaus towards the circle with his gun. Klaus pressed a thumbs up into the back of his spine as he stepped into the circle with the cowering civilians. Perfect.

The hostiles quickly moved their attention away from Klaus, after all he was just a kid.

The moment of inattention was all he needed. Klaus pressed his mask back onto his face and reached out to snatch a gun. He motioned everyone to duck and carefully shot one hostile in the head and another through the shoulder before they noticed. One dude turned around and aimed, Klaus ducked to the side in time for a bullet to hit one of his comrades. Klaus aimed the pistol, fired. Again. Klaus jumped out of the circle, five down three to go. Bullets zipped overhead, away from the civilians. Klaus ducked behind a chair. He aimed and fired, one, two. The third one, the guy who had pointed his gun at Klaus dropped the weapon and raised his arms above his head.

Klaus rose to his feet and held the gun out as he walked carefully forward and beckoned Alison into the room. She stared at the guys on the floor with wide eyes before she glanced at Klaus.

“I didn’t know you could use a gun so well.”

She stated casually but it was a dig for information. Klaus shrugged what was he supposed to say? He had trained with the rest of them, they just mostly forgot that, himself included granted. He was usually on look out or high though so it didn’t matter. That he had been training with dad. That he had fought in the Vietnam war.

Alison sighed but let it go and turned to the hostile Klaus was casually holding at gun point. He glanced at the bodies on the floor and waited for his stomach to turn but it never did. He hadn’t killed anyone before the war, he had injured people, seen people dead or killed in front of him. But he had never pulled the trigger himself. These days he didn’t feel anything; he wondered if he really was a monster.

“I heard a rumour that you gave me your comm.”

The glazed look appeared in the man’s eyes and Klaus muffled a shudder as he turned his attention to the civilians.

“If you go down the hall there is an unmarked door on the left, it leads to a stairwell which will take you to the first floor. Please proceed quietly and quickly.”

They all stood around for a moment before a woman in a business suit nodded, fixed her blouse and glanced out into the hallway before disappearing through the doorway, the others followed soon after. He was probably supposed to go with them but he didn’t like the idea of being alone, or leaving Alison alone. Alison lifted the comm to her mouth and with a wink at Klaus stated, “I heard a rumour that you all dropped your weapons and surrendered.”

It was kind of cheating but Klaus was neither honourable nor particularly honest. In fact, he rather encouraged cheating.

Alison knocked the man out with a well-placed blow to the neck. Klaus glanced at the men on the floor, the blood red and sticky, and tucked the pistol into his belt and followed Alison as she stalked down the hallway towards the elevators hair flying out behind her. They waited in silence.

Finally, the doors slid open with a whispered hiss of automatic air. Klaus followed Alison inside the elevators and she pressed the button for the tenth floor.

“Hopefully, Five and Ben have dealt with the leader already.”

“Yeah.”

The doors dinged. The elevator stopped. Klaus glanced at Alison and tightened his hands around the gun at his side.

The elevator doors slid open.

Luther frowned at the two of them and stepped inside. Diego followed behind him with a scowl, Klaus wondered if he had even had a chance to separate from Luther. They worked well together when they weren’t competing.

“All of the hostiles have surrendered, good job Alison.”

Luther praised, the touch of warmth and a smile to his features. Klaus squished himself into the corner beside Diego. It was weird actually being on the mission. He could steel feel his heart beating double time in his chest, his hands were shaking with the adrenaline but exhaustion lingered a constant presence.

The doors opened on the tenth floor.

Luther led the way towards what appeared to be the main office.

It was quiet.

Five and Ben were inside, there was a man with a bullet in his brain at the foot of a large desk. Ben didn’t have a speck of blood on him which made Klaus happy. Five however, definitely had some blood on him as he stated, “The hostages are all safe.”

Luther nodded and they crowded into the room.

“So, was it the Neida family?”

Klaus asked with a raised brow settling onto the desk he plucked a piece of paper and pretended to scan it. Five shook his head and replied, “Yes and no.”

The room temperature seemed to drop as Five’s face darkened, he glanced at the five of them with cold eyes.

“The Commission was involved.”

X

Chapter Text

X

Klaus stared at the baseball. He frowned and tried to stare harder. It remained still in the centre of the training room without even the suggestion of movement. Klaus groaned and glanced at his hands which were resolutely not glowing blue and in fact were shaking a bit. They were also depressingly blank. He missed his tattoos. Klaus ignored that part and focused on the baseball again.

He had made everything in the bathroom levitate. That was the only explanation. He could do this. He had done this.

Klaus remembered, faint like the washed-out image of an old badly developed photograph, being small and wanting something. It had appeared in his hands whatever it was. There was a reason that Hargreeves hadn’t been surprised when Klaus had brought it up and of course there was a reason he was always demanding of Klaus’ supposed potential. At least that was what Klaus assumed.

He sighed and uncrossed his legs, toes digging into the bottom of his shoes as he stared at the baseball.

Why couldn’t he do this?

He should be able to do this. Right?

Part of Klaus just wanted a pay-off of some kind, that maybe his powers, which had been useless, which had only brought him pain, were actually useful. That he could actually be useful.

Because this? Whatever it was. Telekinesis? Telepathy? The force?

This power meant he could actually help his siblings on missions, that he could be useful. It was sad that all he wanted was to be useful. He blamed it on the childhood abuse.

Speaking of. Klaus glanced over his shoulder where Hargreeves was standing and writing in his notebook, as imposing as ever, like a bronze statue. He wondered what the others were doing. They were probably in the room with the elephant statue or the old ballroom. Five was probably writing some math formula in a notebook with a unicorn on it. Vanya was concentrating, trying to shatter a row of glasses while Alison watched on in silence occasionally touching her throat. Luther would probably be sulking in the corner while Diego and Ben talked about whatever book they had read for book club.

He wasn’t bitter.

Okay. Klaus was a bit bitter.

He exhaled long and slow out through his nose and opened his eyes again.

The baseball seemed to mock him in all of its dingy white with little red stiches. Where had dad even got one of those?

“Number Four.”

Speak of the devil and he shall say your number with great disappointment. Klaus glanced over his shoulder at the old man who was frowning and had stopped writing in his notebook. He stared at Klaus with thin lips as he ordered, “Demonstrate these new powers you mentioned. You are wasting my time.”

“Yes sir.”

Klaus murmured with a dip of his head that itched beneath his skin, a literal stitch in his side. He turned and glared at the baseball; his hands were shaking. That tone of voice always meant punishment if he failed to follow the order. Punishment used to mean the mausoleum. Now? He had no fucking clue what it could be. It was almost more terrifying than knowing.

He glared at the baseball and willed it to float. Lift God damnit. Levitate. Up. Rise. Jump.

Nothing.

It was mocking him. Klaus could tell, those beady little red stitches like eyes seemed to be laughing at Klaus. He frowned and tugged, pulled at the water inside of him. Like waves crashing against the rocky shores or a cliff face.

Nothing.

Klaus growled and shook his hands staring at them with a helpless expression. He needed this to work! He couldn’t. Couldn’t experience whatever new punishment Hargreeves had dreamed up. Because it would be worse than the mausoleum, so much worse.

Move.

He pushed all of his anger, his fear into the command and tugged at his powers.

The baseball shifted forward slightly.

Klaus screamed. Head in his hands as his body shook. Dammit! He needed the ball to move. Needed his powers to work. Why? Why did they never respond to him? It was always a struggle to get them to even listen to him. The others didn’t struggle like he did. They all could control their powers instinctively. But Klaus?

For the longest time there hadn’t even been control. He had tried. Everything. Anything. None of it worked. Why?

“Number Four!”

The bark of his number jerked Klaus out of his self-induced pity party and he opened his eyes. The tennis ball was hovering in the air, bouncing along on an invisible breeze like in those movies with cleaning spells. The baseball wasn’t the only thing levitating. The boxes in the corners were levitating, and if anything else was in the room it probably would have been levitating as well. Klaus glanced down at his hands, they were glowing a pale blue, almost pulsing, veins like stitches of blue.

He giggled, the sound devolving into laughter as he watched the ball rise higher and bounce along. He glanced down and noticed that he wasn’t quite touching the floor. Klaus was levitating himself. That was cool. So cool.

Okay he took it back his powers were actually pretty cool if it meant he could fly. No one else could fly.

Klaus closed his eyes and searched. He needed to figure out how to recreate this again. Emotions were obviously the key, his fear in the bathroom, his desperation a few minutes ago, even his happiness. He grinned as he recalled a line from a song, just think happy thoughts and we’ll fly high. It wasn’t quite the answer because Klaus kind of lacked in happy thoughts. Again, child abuse to thank for that issue.

But he thought about it. Klaus focused on how light he felt, like he was floating, he pictured the ocean beneath him, around him but not drowning him, just buoying him beneath its waves. It was safe. He was safe.

Klaus opened his eyes and exhaled slowly and thought of being dry.

Slowly, he drifted towards the floor until his feet landed on the ground. The baseball and the boxes began to follow and Klaus gasped as his body made him aware of just how much power it was using to levitate the stuff. Klaus heaved out a shaky breath and focused on gently lowering the objects to the ground. It felt like he had dragged the boxes and the baseball around the room a hundred times, every muscle in his body was taut as the baseball and boxes landed on the floor with an inaudible huff.

Klaus collapsed sideways panting for breath like a fish out of water. Sweat beaded his forehead, his limbs were shaking, oh and he was exhausted more so than when he had walked into the training room after a mission the day before and no sleep.

“Number Four.”

Good old dad. Never could give his kids a break.

Klaus rolled over, dignity was great once you didn’t care about it, walk of shame more like walk of pride, and stared at the man. There was something satisfied in his expression, like a cat who got the canary rather than the cream, and he was staring at Klaus as if he was his newest science experiment. Which, Klaus supposed he kind of was, they were all just one big experiment.

Dread curled in Klaus’ chest as the old man finished writing in his book and stared at Klaus panting on the floor like he was nothing more than dirt. The man’s lips pinched and Klaus already knew what he was going to say before he said it. Fuck. He was so tired.

“Again.”

X

It was early afternoon when Klaus finally escaped from training. Every inch of him was sore, he felt as if each cell in his body had been taken out, examined under a microscope, baked in an oven and put back in his body. He felt like soil about to crumble in the wind.

He wanted a hot bath, wanted a ten-hour nap with no disturbances, even a cup of coffee would be lovely.  Someone else training instead of him for once would also be nice. At the thought of his siblings Klaus tilted his head from where it had been resting against the wall right before the stairs. He wasn’t quite sure how long he had been there but the stairs were daunting enough that he had stopped in the hope of regaining some energy; unlikely. The stairs were quickly becoming number one on his enemy list by the way.

But his siblings. Where were they? Probably still training. Right?

Klaus tilted his head and glanced up the stairs with a petulant expression. Elevators. Please. He would pay for them himself.

One step at a time. That’s all he had to do. Klaus focused on the drag of his feet over the carpeted stairs, his hand sliding inch by inch up the railing, he counted the stairs and focused on that like it was the only thing that mattered. At the top of the stairs he sat down and gasped for breath for a few moments.

Maybe dad’s insistence on physical training wasn’t such a bad idea.

But Klaus doubted it would actually help with training. It was kind of like working a muscle you’ve never used before. You can train all you want to climb mountains but if you’re swimming that’s a completely different story. At least that was how Klaus was trying to think of it because he was hoping using his powers wouldn’t knock him the hell out every time.

After that motivating pep talk Klaus grabbed the banner and struggled to his feet. A part of him was actually excited at the prospect of telling his siblings what he could do. He imagined their reactions as he began to drift down a hallway.

Ben would smile, that smile that lit up his eyes and spread all across his face like the sun coming out after a long winter. Vanya would be happy for him; she would hug him and talk about all the things he could do with his powers that he would never even think of. Diego would be proud, probably demand a demonstration and then pull him into a hug. Alison would smile her Hollywood smile and promise him a makeover or something because she wasn’t really good at emotional connections but she meant it honestly. Luther would pat him on the shoulder and start talking about how they could include Klaus on missions now. Five would congratulate him, he would mean it honestly, but he would be calculating odds and evens beneath it all.

Klaus checked in the Elephant room, that was its name now no one could tell him otherwise, it was empty. His shoulders slumped and he sighed as he turned away from the door and dragged his shoes against the floor towards the ballroom. He hoped they were in the ballroom because Klaus, very reasonably, didn’t want to walk around the house. In fact, what he really wanted to do was go to bed but the desire to see his siblings outweighed his exhaustion.

Klaus paused for a moment by one of the many windows of the mansion and basked in the sunlight. He missed the sun. Spending most of his week training meant he couldn’t take many cat naps in the sun and just decompress.

He glanced down at the backyard. Lush green grass in the high of summer, willow trees bent with the weight of their branches. And.

His siblings.

Curled on the grass together. Laughing. Smiling.

Without him.

Something sunk in Klaus’ chest and it suddenly felt like he was drowning. Like he couldn’t breathe.

His eyes stung. Klaus glanced down at his hands through blurry vision and stared at the faint blue around his hands with pressed lips. He shook his hands and it disappeared. Klaus couldn’t help but glance out the window again like a moth drawn inevitably to a flame. Wanting what it couldn’t have. Wanting what would only hurt it.

They had probably just assumed he was still at training. It wasn’t like they would purposefully go out of their way to exclude him. They weren’t like that. Except they were. Hadn’t they all done that to Vanya? But they were older now. They probably just. What. Forgot about him? Maybe they just finished training early and thought he was training that was all. That was probably correct.

Or they just didn’t want to hang around with useless Klaus, who was high, who had PTSD, who always irritated them even if they hid it well. Klaus who had somehow slightly caused the Apocalypse when he had thrown the old man’s notes out even if whatever his name was would have gotten to them eventually. Klaus who had practically killed the love of his life.

Why would they want to hang out with him? Why should they? Maybe it was better if he didn’t interact with them.

They probably didn’t even like him. They just pretended to when he was around. They were probably talking about him behind his back now, glad that he wasn’t there to ruin the fun.

What else had he missed?

Had they seen more movies together? Gone shopping together? The waterpark? The mall?

Were they even actually training Vanya?

Was it all just a pretense? Were they laughing at Klaus who was training with dad to finally be useful?

He should. He should go to bed.

Klaus turned from the window a hiccup, a sob building in his chest as he dragged his feet down the hallway.

He knew he wasn’t thinking rationally, that exhaustion and a whole other slew of issues were digging their greedy claws into his subconscious. But Klaus couldn’t erase the image of the six of them lying there on the grass happy together without him.

Klaus’ room was a mess, clothing on the floor, sheets of paper littered the floor. He slumped onto the bed and stared at his empty hands, there was a faint glow around them but nothing was levitating and he was pretty sure it was just his emotional state. He felt trapped, even in his own room.

He wanted out.

Klaus glanced at his window.

He could leave. There was nothing stopping him. Absolutely nothing.

Screw Vanya. Screw Ben.

Sorry. He was sorry.

But he could.

Klaus wanted a hit so bad it was like blood, like air. He wanted it all to go away, the pain in his chest, his sore eyes, the exhaustion, the fear, worry, anxiety, everything. He should do it. No one could stop him. There was no one to stop him.

Klaus.

A whisper. The breeze.

Klaus rose to his feet and turned in place for a moment indecision warring with desperation. Making a decision was kind of energizing. Finally, he shucked off his uniform and dug into his closet for their ‘civvies’. They had a few simple outfits just in case they needed to do something public and show that they were in fact normal kids (ha). Klaus pulled on a pair of jeans, a shirt and a jacket. He dug around in the back for a moment before he found the loose board and pried it up. Inside, as he remembered, was a wad of cash, his so-called rainy-day fund. Most of it had been stolen from wherever they stopped a robbery (listen when you were in an abusive household you did what you had to) or given to him by grandmas who thought he was such a darling boy.

Klaus shoved the money in his pocket and glanced around his room.

He would be back.

But he could also leave. No more Hargreeves. No more training. No more missions. Just Klaus. Alone.

He would come back he had a promise to uphold.

The door clicked silently shut behind Klaus as he walked casually down the many hallways towards the window. The camera in front of the science room didn’t have a light on and Klaus’ shoulders slumped slightly as he paused by the window.

It was so easy. Why?

It didn’t matter why.

The alleyway was familiar and dingy. Old newspapers, crushed beer cans, cigarette butts. In a strange way it was home. He had spent so many of his formative years in this alley, high off weed, LSD, alcohol, eventually the harder stuff. It had been an escape, safer than inside.

Klaus trailed his fingers along the rough brick wall as he came to the mouth of the alley. He glanced once over his shoulder and stepped out into the fading sunlight. 

His feet led him as Klaus walked familiar and alien streets, ones in which stores he remembered had closed in a future that would never be, ones in which he could barely remember anything and so any potential differences were lost. It was almost nice.

To see people going about their daily lives, mom walking with their children, business men talking on their cellphones, teenagers with their friends. They were so isolated in the mansion, in the Umbrella Academy that it was like that thing, Flowers in the Attic and all that. It was lonely.

That was one thing about living on the streets. Klaus never ran out of new people to meet (and fuck). People were always willing to talk if he was dressed well enough or did a simple enough task. It was refreshing to talk without the weight of the world or punishment. It was a breath of fresh air.

Klaus realised he had come to a stop.

He glanced at his surroundings. He was in the seedier part of town, a part he was well familiar with, there were brothels tucked into the back of stores, dens and clubs at every corner, and sellers waiting in the shadows. Klaus glanced at the particular alley he was standing in front of.

There was a dealer, one he was familiar with. LSD, weed, other little happy pills. Pretty cheap, mostly safe. Wouldn’t fuck over a kid. Klaus hesitated and glanced down the emptying street, the lamps were starting to flicker on.

Klaus.

Klaus entered the alley.

It was like any other dingy alley with broken beer bottles and a chain-link fence. Klaus waited and glanced up and down the alley fingering the right amount of money. Nothing more nothing less. He waited. And waited.

Oh. Right.

Klaus giggled as he remembered that this dealer, Timmy, hadn’t started dealing till he was fifteen and actually brave enough to enter this part of town. Klaus sighed, slumping inward but supposed it was God either attempting to look out for him or condemn him.

He trudged out of the alley in the gathering gloom and stared at his hands. He missed being an adult, the confidence, the things he could do. He could vote, that was pretty cool. He could get tattoos. He missed his. The one on his arm from Vietnam, his hands which he had gotten high as all fuck but never regretted, the other little ones which were a secret (sorry).

He missed his independence. Living on the streets had been tough, it had been hard, maybe as hard as living at the Umbrella Academy. But it had been freeing. There was no bed time, no training, he didn’t have to talk to people, he could lie in a ditch and the only person who would nag him would be Ben.

His heart panged at the thought of his brother as he walked down the street. He missed Ben. How strange was it to miss a person who lived in the same house? Klaus missed talking to Ben at three in the morning about Alien conspiracies and the future, his sarcastic commentary, the little twitches of emotions that he knew as well as his own hands. He wanted Ben back. But he didn’t Ben dead. He just had to share now.

Not even.

All of his time was taken up with training and Ben was alive again. He was out there living his (moderately) best life. Klaus couldn’t take that away from him, he wasn’t selfish enough. Besides Ben was probably sick of Klaus. Sick of dealing with his problems, watching him spiral again and again. Klaus would be if he was in Ben’s position. He couldn’t even blame him.

“Watch where you’re going kid.”

Someone grunted as Klaus bumped into them, he bowed his head and mumbled a quick, “Sorry sir,” before continuing onwards. Klaus glanced at his surroundings again. he was still in the seedier part of town, but in the dawning darkness everything felt tainted, darker somehow.

He had stopped in front of a tattoo shop. Fluorescent light spilled from the sign some cheap thing like Wild Ink or Bone and Needle. He could see a tattoo artist at a desk but otherwise the building was empty. Klaus glanced at his hands again. Fuck it. He had the cash.

The inside of the tattoo parlour was sterile enough, though it reminded him of the ones in Vietnam which were very far from up to code. The tattoo artist was a grizzled man with a head of frizzy hair pulled back into a ponytail and a weathered face with a beard. He squinted at Klaus and asked, “What do ya want kid? I ain’t buying any newspapers.”

“I’d like a tattoo.”

Klaus stated standing in front of the man and staring at him with the full force of his eyes; if he tried, he could look maybe fifteen. The artist tipped his head back and laughed, deep belly wrenching laughs. He frowned and pulled out half of the money and slammed it onto the table loud enough to get the man’s attention.

“Kid you’re what fourteen? Listen it’s against the law. I could lose my practice if I’m found out.”

The artist said but was studying the money on his desk with greedy eyes. Gotcha! Klaus grinned and replied, “Good thing I’m excellent at keeping secrets.”

The tattoo artist peered at Klaus for a long moment from underneath bushy brows before he sighed and stated, “What do you want?”

Klaus told the man who nodded and started the lettering. Klaus settled in the chair to wait watching as the blue of night settled like a fog over the city. He wondered what his siblings were doing now. If they had all come in for dinner and were wondering where he was. Mom would say he was tired from training, which was true, and bring his dinner up later. If he wasn’t there, she wouldn’t say a thing.

They would probably all share a concerned look and dismiss it. Maybe Five would pop in quickly before assuming Klaus was in the washroom and go to bed.

Maybe they wouldn’t even notice.

“Ready?”

The artist asked Klaus nodded and settled into the chair, he placed his hands on the table and watched as he sterilized them, no need to use a razor when there wasn’t any hair. The whirr of the tattoo machine filed the air and something in Klaus’ chest settled for the first time since they had come back.

He couldn’t regret this.

It was like he was reclaiming his past. The others wanted to forget, to move on. But Klaus couldn’t. The past was his love, his freedom, his destruction, his certainty. The future was unknown.

The first press of the needle was like a pinch, or maybe pins and needles. Klaus resisted the urge to clench his hand or flinch and just relaxed as he watched the needle trace the smooth lines in the same font as before. He watched in silence as the ink filled his hands and was wiped away, first the left, then the right. Then it was done.

The tattoo artist wrapped them in cling wrap and that was it.

Klaus nodded and placed an extra few hundred on the man’s desk before he stepped out into the cool may evening. It was time to go home.

The walk home was silent but for the gentle breeze in the trees. Klaus paused outside the warm glow of a store and glanced inside, rows of records, their covers bright like candy, caught his eye. He fingered the cash he had left and went inside. They were playing something from the 60’s. He stood in the doorway listening for a long moment before he entered the rows of bins all piled together with letters or band names scratched over top.

He remembered this. Flipping through the records trying to find one they could all agree upon.

His fingers stopped as they caught first on the image of a man on fire, then a familiar prism, and finally a weird mash of shapes and colours. Something inside him seemed to whisper yes so Klaus tucked it under his arm and meandered his way over to the counter. He hadn’t been planning to get a record. But that was okay.

The girl at the register, gages, yellow hair, piercings galore, studied him and the cd with an intrigued expression but rung it out and accepted the cash with a nod as she wrapped the album in brown paper. Klaus smiled in thanks and left the shop, the album tucked under his arm.

He slipped in through the window to silence. It was silent in the hallway with everyone still at dinner. It was silent in his room. His hands hurt, pulsing with pain as Klaus tore apart the brown packaging and put the record on, stripping out of his civvies with careful motions. He paused, naked and listened to a voice cry out about the post-war dream. Tears dripped from his eyes and Klaus went to sleep feeling lighter than he had since they had arrived in this distorted past.

X

Klaus studied the ground, where his toes were wiggling back up at him, pale and all bones. He hadn’t meant to forget his shoes and socks but he had slept in to the point that mom had come into his room to shake him awake. She had been worried when she saw him apparently dead to the world. Klaus had rushed like the devil himself was at his heels to get dressed. Being late was not an option with daddy dearest and only meant punishment. Klaus was kind of trying to avoid that.

“Number Four.”

Hargreeves snapped, the words like a whip through the air. Klaus jerked to attention and stared at his father who was frowning staring down at him with those beady black eyes. Hargreeves, Klaus suspected, was the sort of man who had been serious since he had been born, frowning, never even a child always serious.

The man’s eyes swung to his hands; the wrap clearly visible. He said nothing.

Klaus had been waiting silently in front of the doors to the training room for the past ten minutes, hands pressed behind his back regardless of the pain and his feet cold on the marbled floor. Hargreeves reached out and unlocked the door, producing the key from somewhere beneath his coat, before stepping inside. He followed silently after him.

The room was cold, like Hargreeves had decided to turn up the air conditioner in this room alone, and it was no longer completely empty. Near the door were a set of chairs, in the back there were a few boxes, and a square had been marked out in chalk. This had all apparently happened over night.

“Sir?”

Klaus questioned, staring at his toes and focusing on not fainting. He had missed breakfast because he had slept in and dinner felt like forever ago, his hands stung, the fresh ink red and tender beneath the wrap. Oh, and he was exhausted. He had gotten some sleep yesterday but Klaus was kind of certain that was because he had literally been too tired to dream, it had probably been closer to a coma than a nap. A coma actually sounded nice right about now.

“You requested a selection of ten different herbs, athames, incense and candles correct?”

“Yes sir.”

Klaus replied unsure where this was going. He had asked for the materials in part to show he had actually researched his powers, and in part to experiment. Who knows maybe incense would open up his third eye. The old man nodded and wrote something down in his book. Klaus waited in silence.

“Your brother will be here in half an hour, practice in the mean time.”

“Yes sir.”

Klaus replied even as his mind finally whirred to life. Which brother? Klaus kind of had four brothers. He ran through the motions of opening one of the boxes and pulling out the tennis balls, setting them on the ground, and sitting criss-cross apple sauce as he considered who it was going to be.

Five? He could teleport. Maybe dad was going to see if Five could enter the realm of the dead with Klaus’ help, which would be really cool.

Luther? Could he levitate Luther? What if he materialized a ghost and made it fight Luther? That would be way better than the sparing dad always made them do in group training; Klaus always got decked.

Diego? Testing Klaus’ psychic abilities to deflect a pointy object flying towards him. It was probably Diego.

Ben?  Klaus wasn’t really sure what training with Ben would involve.  Before it would have been manifesting Ben, who was dead. But now? Ben was alive now; he didn’t need Klaus to interact with the rest of the world. Klaus suspected the others also didn’t need him, except to distract dad, in the same way he needed them.

He shook away the memory of watching the six of them on the grass. He was fine, he was okay. He was alone but wasn’t Klaus used to being alone? No.

Klaus exhaled and opened his eyes; they were stinging but it was nothing compared to the pain of his clenched hands. Which were going blue. Klaus smiled, a tiny smile and glanced at the tennis balls which were floating just a little bit off the ground, barely noticeable if it wasn’t right in front of you.

He closed his eyes and focused on that buoyant feeling, that weightless feeling.

It was easier.

Klaus tilted his head to the side as he pulled at his powers. He didn’t have to tug quite so hard. For once it was easy, they came when he called like an over-excited puppy. Klaus focused on that feeling curious as to what was making his powers respond better. Was it more sleep? Probably a little bit but Klaus was still exhausted. He ruled that theory out.

He had gotten his tattoos yesterday,

Klaus thought about it. Hello and Goodbye, the words printed on either side of the Ouija board, the ones that helped to guide those trying to contact the spirits. Klaus focused on the pain his hands, burning and itchy, it was like… like a focal point, something to direct his powers from instead of trying to use all of his body. It was probably why his hands glowed blue instead of his nose.

But that wasn’t all of it. Was it?

Something in Klaus whispered no. Because he had his tattoos before and they had never helped, not really. There was something else, kind of like in a slot machine, the kind with the three pictures, he was almost at a jackpot. Sleep, tattoos, and what else?

Klaus opened his eyes and studied his surroundings. The tennis balls were floating high off of the ground now, bobbing about in a happy little circle around Klaus. They were the only things floating in the room which was good because Klaus could skip the fifth lecture about control. Well, Klaus lied, he was also floating. Klaus muffled a giggle as he stared at his hands resting on his lap, glowing blue, and his toes peeking out from beneath his legs. The ground below him seemed to be reaching towards him, trying to tie Klaus down, but it couldn’t touch him.

Wait. His toes.

Klaus tilted his head and considered it. Did he normally wear shoes? Yes. Did he like wearing shoes? No, not really but they were good for protecting the feet from well just about everything.

He closed his eyes and focused on his powers, he tried to picture the ocean again but found it didn’t quite work. After all, he couldn’t touch the water but have his feet in the air unless he was doing a handstand which was silly. Instead, he thought of it like he was at the bottom of the ocean, feet in the sand, and hands gathering the water around him. Oh, that made sense. His feet were grounding him, even when they weren’t touching the Earth, it was a connection, one born of flesh, that sounded poetic or lewd, which allowed him to drift amongst his powers, like a tether, without getting lost.

Klaus grinned and opened his eyes.

The tennis balls were still floating around his head and he focused on manipulating their movements. He had them zig zag like a snake, zip up and down across the room, form a weird snowman. The whole time he could feel his powers pulsing beneath his skin, the draw on his energy wasn’t as bad as yesterday, he felt less like he had run a marathon and more like he had walked a bit fast.

Shoes were out. Bare feet were in.

The door clicked open.

“Number Four.”

Klaus jerked; he had mostly forgotten Hargreeves was there, not entirely because the man’s presence alone was unnerving. Klaus exhaled and dropped gently to his feet; the tennis balls bounced to the floor in a circle before rolling back into the box with a twitch of his fingers. He turned around wondering who would be there.

Diego stood in the doorway, his mouth was hanging open like his jaw might unhinge itself any moment and his eyes were the size of the moon. Klaus grinned and ducked into a small bow, something not warm but electric in his chest at showing his brother that his powers were actually useful. That Klaus was useful.

“You can levitate stuff now?”

Diego asked as he stepped inside and closed the door. Klaus nodded and with a tug lifted one of the tennis balls out of the box and spun it around Diego’s head. Klaus was and would always be a show-off he was not at all ashamed of this fact.

The surprise on Diego’s features didn’t fade as the tennis ball landed in his outstretched hand.

“Number Two.”

Dad said and Diego straightened like a soldier called to attention hands clasped behind his back and features neutral. Klaus grimaced but wiped the expression away, he could guess why Diego had been brought to the training room and it wasn’t to talk about aerodynamics.

“You will throw your knives at Number Four.”

“S-sir?”

Diego asked with a tilt of his head like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Hargreeves frowned, the lines on his face sticking out likes ripples in fabric as he asked, “Do I need to repeat myself? You will throw your knives at your brother.”

“I-I c-can’t.”

Diego shook his head; his fingers were clenched at his side. It was nice that at least they weren’t willing to physically harm him. For everything else it appeared all bets were off. Klaus sighed; it would only cause more trouble for Diego if dad decided to punish him for disobedience. Besides it wasn’t any different than the training Diego had done in the past to hone his accuracy.

“It’s fine Diego I can handle it.”

That was probably a complete and utter lie. Dad probably knew it too. This was as much a lesson on control as a lesson on pain, something to remind him of why he needed these powers to be perfect. Something to punish him for failing to master it in the eight-hour training session from Hell that was yesterday.

Diego’s face twitched, and he stared at Klaus long and hard like he was trying to say, ‘if you say the word I won’t’ but they couldn’t afford open rebellion. Five had said they needed to remain inconspicuous as long as possible and that meant staying on their father’s good side. Klaus had no doubts that the man probably had a contact with the Commission who he gave a detailed report to. Maybe he had wanted the Apocalypse all along rather than to prevent it.

It was only five more years. He could do this.

Klaus stood in the centre of the square, this was probably what it was for, and watched as Diego pulled out a few of his knives. He was nervous. Klaus could tell watching him flick the knives into the air, spinning as they caught the light, and back into his hands.

He would be lying if he said he wasn’t nervous as well. It prickled beneath Klaus’ skin, memories of standing in the training room trying to be as small of a target as possible as Diego threw his knives and tried to hit the target next to his head. He usually didn’t miss.

Klaus focused on his power and let the weightless feeling of floating wash over him, his feet cold on the floor grounded him, and his hands two points of dull pain guided him. He nodded at Diego, hands blue at his sides, who grimaced but prepared to throw.

The first knife spun through the air towards Klaus with deadly accurate precision. Klaus attempted to take control of the knife but could feel Diego’s will fighting him. That will which demanded the knife hit its target regardless of velocity, aim, or aerodynamics. Klaus struggled, he pushed his will against Diego’s and demanded the knife listen to him. Only him.

The knife wobbled and wavered in mid-air before it began to glow blue and clattered to the ground. Hargreeves nodded and wrote something in his book. Diego threw another knife.

Klaus settled into a rhythm of stopping the knives before they could hit, fighting Diego’s will each time, taking less and less power to control the path of the knives.

Then Diego threw two at once.

Klaus caught the first knife and tossed it the side as quick as possible, the clatter of metal something distant as he focused on the second piece of metal hurtling towards him. It was too late. Klaus twisted out of the way but it wasn’t enough to stop the knife from scoring a gash across his cheek.

Klaus hissed and finally caught the knife with his power before it could embed itself in the wall. It clattered to the floor in a sudden and thick silence.

“Klaus are you alright?”

Diego demanded crossing the border of the square to peer at the cut on his cheek. Klaus shook his head and with a quick wave of his hand replied, “It’s nothing.”

“Number Two continue.”

Hargreeves’ voice cut through the room and Klaus flinched, close enough for Diego to see it. Diego frowned but exited the square and returned to the end of the room fingering one of his knives with a frown etched onto his face.

Again.

Klaus struggled over and over again, always catching one knife but failing to catch the other, lines scored into his body in trails of stinging red. He wanted it to stop. He wanted it to be over.

Panting for breath, Klaus doubled over and held up a hand begging for a moment of respite. Perspiration beaded his brow, his muscles were sore, and the slivers of cuts burned. Ditching the shoes and having his hands helped to eliminate some of the struggle of using his powers, but it was still like using a new muscle, it had to be trained.

“Enough. Number Two you are dismissed. I will have need of you again.”

“Yes sir.”

Diego murmured and Klaus, through the tangled sweat dripping curls of his hair, could see the apology on his face. What good would that do him? Klaus flashed a watery smile and doubted he even meant it, probably just his guilty conscious. Diego was done training but Klaus still had another six hours of training. It was fine. Klaus was fine.

The door shut with a click and Klaus felt suddenly undeniably alone. Enough that he was tempted to summon the ghosts. Almost.

“Number Four stand up.”

Klaus did so.

“You will levitate the objects in the red box until I tell you to stop. Understood?”

“Yes sir.”

Klaus was so tired.

X

Klaus stared at his plate, it was swimming before his eyes and Klaus was almost certain it was actually moving. Almost. He should have just gone to bed. Why hadn’t he? Right, dad had insisted, something about an important announcement maybe?

He swayed in his seat. His eyes were so heavy. Why was he still awake? Why was he still here?

Darkness enfolded him.

X

Klaus wasn’t really aware that he was awake. It was a slow sort of drifting rhythm, the pass of his breath over his lips feather soft, the warmth of something surrounding him, his toes were cold, his chest was heavy, everything was heavy. Klaus drifted in that strange state, awake but not, simply existing.

It was nice to exist. In the past Klaus hadn’t even wanted that much, life had been tainted too heavily with death or with drugs. But this existing was nice, almost peaceful, almost warm. If he could stay like this forever, he would, just drifting, content.

Something shifted outside his awareness.

Klaus shifted ever so slightly and listened. It was his door? When had he entered his room?

The last thing Klaus remembered was dinner, he had been so tired. Had he fainted again? It sounded probable enough. Getting three to four hours of sleep every night, barely eating, and training all day would probably do that. It sounded bad in his head. But Klaus couldn’t really think of it that way. He couldn’t sleep because of nightmares, wasn’t hungry, and he really hadn’t chosen to train all day.

There were footsteps in his room. Who? Why?

Klaus was tempted to open his eyes, to exit this strange state of being. But in the end curiosity won out and they remained shut.

“I just don’t understand.”

That was Alison, her voice had an almost melodic quality to it, he could picture her leaning against the window peering at the yard below. Someone settled on the bed by his feet, the bed dipping with the motion. Klaus focused on keeping his breathing normal and waited.

“Understand what?”

Five said with an audible sigh, he was probably crossing his arms over his chest.

“What’s going on with Klaus.”

Alison again. Someone snorted and the bed shifted again.

“What do you think’s going on? He’s training with dad.”

That was Luther trying to state the obvious. Klaus’ fingers twitched beneath the cover wanting to throw it to the side suddenly too hot and yet his fingers and toes were cold.

“And what he’s showing up to dinner so exhausted he can’t even stay awake.”

Ben retorted, the voice close, he was probably the one sitting by Klaus’ feet.

“He’s probably on drugs again.”

“He’s not! Klaus got clean; he wouldn’t throw that away.”

Ben replied to Luther’s accusation. Klaus had known they had all thought he was still on drugs but it stung to hear it admitted. Couldn’t they tell? Didn’t they know him or even trust him? Maybe all he would ever be to them was a junkie.

“Where did he disappear to yesterday then?”

Diego this time. Ouch. It burned like boiling water somewhere in his chest. Why?

“He’s clean. The signs are obvious, his pupils aren’t dilated, there’s no puncture wounds, strange smells, or any other signs.”

Five replied with a huff and Klaus could picture him rolling his eyes as a general air of chastisement filled the room.

“I just don’t understand what’s going on with him.”

Vanya, concerned voice willowy. Were they seriously all in his room?

“You could always you know ask me.”

Klaus croaked and blearily opened his eyes. Allison was leaning against the window, Vanya was sitting on the colourful meditation cushion staring at her hands, Luther was settled in Klaus’ arm chair, Five perched on the arm rest again, Diego was standing by the door, and Ben? He was sitting on the bed at Klaus’ feet.

“Klaus!”

They all said his name at varying times and frequencies so it was more of a cacophony then anything particularly heartwarming. Klaus pressed his lips into a thin line and struggled upwards alone until he was leaning against the wall and staring at his siblings.

“Klaus what happened?”

“I fainted.”

He replied with a shrug and watched their expressions carefully. It was mostly concern but Klaus couldn’t tell if it was a front or real.

“That happened a couple of days ago too.”

“Are you okay Klaus?”

Vanya asked gently, staring at him with her big doe eyes. He shook his head and glanced at his hands, mom had thoughtfully changed the wrap and cleaned the tattoos. He would have to thank her tomorrow.

What was he supposed to say? No. Sorry. I’m not okay, in fact I’m completely fucked up because you guys forced me to occupy dad as much as possible. Or maybe he could talk about how his psyche was completely messed up and he was super traumatized and still not over the loss of the person who meant the world to him.

Instead he said, “I’m tired.”

“From training?”

That was Luther. Luther who probably did back-breaking strength training but only had to do it maybe twice a week. He watched Diego’s face flicker, watched the guilt carve its way there and wondered why. Diego didn’t even know the half of it.

“Training five times a week will do that to you.”

Klaus replied resolutely staring at his drawer. Why hadn’t any of them noticed sooner? Why were they only now trying to stage an intervention? Klaus hadn’t had the energy recently to flounce, to smile bright enough to blind, to be himself. He had been hollowed out, empty.

“Klaus you know we need you to distract dad for Vanya.”

Alison said and she probably didn’t mean it manipulatively, but with Alison it was hard to tell. She ran on lies and secrets. Klaus frowned and didn’t reply because he understood that, but he was so tired. Who did they think he had been doing this for?

“If you needed a break you should have told us?”

Five said almost lecturing, and when Klaus glanced at him, he had a neutral expression on. He huffed, he wanted to scream, wanted to shout, wanted to cry.

“Sure, and then you would have told me that it would all be over soon and I could hold out for a month, right?”

Five had the decency to look guilty. Klaus knew people, knew that going to them wouldn’t have made a difference. Not when they didn’t care. Not when they actively excluded him. Not when he was nothing to them.

He wanted them to care.

“Klaus you need to be responsible, if this is too much you need to tell us.”

Diego trying to sound concerned. He just didn’t want to train with dad right.

Why was it his fault?

“Klaus, we feel like we barely see you.”

Vanya said, soft and entreating. Klaus muffled a giggle and smiled, bright and brittle.

“I wonder why it’s not like I’m training every day for eight hours.”

Vanya flinched, Five and Alison glared at him. Klaus couldn’t even find the energy to feel guilty, that had been mildly sarcastic at best and besides Vanya was a grown woman she could deal with a bit of sarcasm. It was like they traded one favourite for the next in this family.

“Klaus it’s not fair to blame Vanya.”

Well at least Luther was on her side now. Klaus laughed a rough abrupt laugh that caught in his lungs and devolved into a choking cough. He wanted to cry. Where had he even suggested he was blaming Vanya? Why wouldn’t they listen to him? Why was it his fault? He just wanted them to listen.

“Klaus this isn’t funny.”

“No, you know what’s funny? That I decided to waste my time getting clean when life would have been so much better if I was high on the streets!”

Klaus snapped, his powers lashing beneath his skin. Something shattered. He didn’t have to glance down to know his hands were glowing blue, probably highlighting the shadows on his face. They all stared at him in horror before the expressions twisted and became just a little bit mean (not Ben or Vanya).

“What so you want to abandon us?”

That wasn’t what he was saying!

“When did you get your hands tattooed?”

Ben asked and everyone fell silent for a moment and stared at his hands which were still glowing blue, the tattoos clearly visible through the plastic wrap. Klaus mustered a grin, all teeth and replied, “Yesterday.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?”

“Why didn’t you invite us?”

Klaus ignored the questions because the response would just make them angry again. Why should he? Why would he?

“You should have told us.”

Five said voice almost low almost an order. Klaus bared his teeth because Five wasn’t their leader no matter how much he guided Luther, and he definitely wasn’t the boss of him.

“It was my choice.”

“You should have told us.”

“What am I a dog who has to report all of my actions to you guys in fear that otherwise I’ll be in an alleyway getting high? After all, most of my time is filled up with training now so you don’t have to worry nearly as much.”

Klaus stated, panting for breath as exhaustion tugged at his limbs and tried to drag him down the wall and back into the warm embrace of sleep. God, he wanted this conversation to be over. He wanted to be alone which was perhaps a first.

“We need to work as a team. You have to keep us informed otherwise things can go wrong.”

And if they do it’s your fault. Isn’t it?

Klaus stared at his hands and with a flicker of concentration turned off the blue like a flashlight. Maybe a part of him could understand where Five was coming from if they were actually a team, but so far, he hadn’t been included on any of the team building activities and was feeling decidedly left out.

“This is for your own safety.”

Luther stated seriously, looking small in Klaus’ arm chair. He frowned. His own safety? What the fuck was that supposed to mean?

“My safety?”

“The Commission.”

Diego replied and Klaus realised very suddenly that they had all talked about the Commission without him. What else had they spoken about behind his back? Probably how unsteady, unsecure, unsafe he was.

“Or rather Vanya’s safety you mean.”

No one denied it.

Klaus sighed feeling defeated and tired. Did they even understand what they had just implied? Course they did. They probably meant it like that to.

“Go please. I’m tired.”

Luther looked like he might protest but Five placed a hand on his arm and nodded.

“Remember Klaus you need to tell us if you need a break.”

It went unsaid that they wouldn’t do anything about if he did ask. Or maybe it was a command, one Five expected him to follow through on. Yeah right.

Diego stared at Klaus for a long moment before he stepped out into the hallway, Vanya followed next, trailing her fingers over his arm ever so gently unshed tears burning like crystals in her eyes. Alison followed with a sorry smile that she probably didn’t mean. Luther left with a nod and a stony expression. Five followed behind him without a backwards glance.

“I can go to?”

Ben said softly, hands warm where they rested above Klaus’ hands.

“Nah you can stay, you’re not a complete jerk.”

Ben grinned and Klaus wondered where his anger at their siblings had gone. The siblings who for years had refused to help Klaus, who had abandoned him, who had killed him. Probably when they had included him on their field trips.

He missed Ben.

Ben curled up beside Klaus and he closed his eyes and tried to sink back into that calm state. It was useless, all he could think about were his siblings’ expressions, their words. They didn’t care. He was nothing to them even in control of his powers.

X

Klaus.

He jerked awake, breath hammering in his chest, he was shaking like a twig in a storm.  Flashes of the mausoleum, Vietnam flickered behind his eyes and Klaus slumped and glanced beside him. Ben was gone. For a second he contemplated that Ben was just a ghost and had dematerialized. But he was gone and Klaus was alone.

Klaus.

He curled his knees to his chest and tucked his arms around them. His eyes were burning and Klaus didn’t try to stop the tears from falling, the hiccups and rattling sobs. He buried his face in his thighs and shook.

Klaus!

He opened his eyes. Someone had called his name.

There was a blue figure in front of him, army cameo, a helmet.

Dave?

He blinked the tears out of his eyes before his heart could leap out of his chest.

Sergeant Pixie grinned back at him a bullet in his chest and that chainsaw grin across his lips.

“Took you long enough Twiggy.”

X

Chapter Text

X

Klaus settled into his chair as the sound of wood scraping against wood filled the air dull and still a bit distant. Hargreeves seemed to loom over all of them at the head of the table, larger than life just as in death; Klaus repressed a shudder. Something was wrong, or was going to go wrong. He had been getting flashes of that feeling all week and Klaus wasn’t quite sure if it was some new found sixth sense or the dead trying to communicate with him.

He stared at his plate, the happy face of sunny side eggs and bacon staring back up at him. It looked rubbery, too bright, almost artificial like something out of a catalogue; the ones where they offered to make fake food for shows or something.

The others were eating. He could see them out of the corner of his eyes. Luther and his massive plates of food, Diego munching along like a soldier in a mess hall. God he almost missed the mess halls with their shit food. Five was picking at his eggs with a bored expression and obviously thinking of something else. Allison was eating very slowly, like a dove or whatever the saying was, while Vanya ate with simple mechanic motions. Ben beside Klaus had a huge plate of food that was arguably for the Horror.

When had he last spoken to any of them?

It felt like years since they had first arrived in the past, that exhilarating night in the diner as the hope of a better future stretched out endlessly before them. Klaus repressed a scoff and picked at his egg, swishing the egg white around the plate. He wasn’t hungry, he was never hungry these days. Still he would need some food he supposed. Or maybe if he was closer to death his powers would work better. He wasn’t in a hurry to try that though.

A week. It had been a solid week since he had last spoke with any of his siblings beyond simple pleasantries.

The eggs felt cold and heavy in his mouth.

Klaus forced down a swallow and with a twitch of his fingers levitated the glass of orange juice into his hands. Technically they weren’t supposed to use their powers at the dining table, but Hargreeves made an exception because Klaus was actually practicing. He was really just being lazy.

He ignored the wide-eyed stares of his siblings and glanced at Pixie out of the corner of his eye. The man was leaning against the doorway, blood dripped lazily from his chest onto the floor as he tipped his head to Klaus with a fond smile. Klaus concentrated for a moment and the wound disappeared until it was just the familiar army greens.

Something burned warm and content in his chest as he grinned at the Sargent and glanced down at his plate. The feeling of waking up that blurry morning to the sight of Pixie hovering there was like a fire in his chest. That the others were watching? It made him smile like a teenager with a crush. But he couldn’t help it. He was so used to being alone that the thought of the 173rd watching over him even in death was like a lit match in his chest jumping to the kindling and blazing high.

He had kept the channel, his manifestation of the spirits, open ever since hoping that they would be able to manifest soon. Apparently, it took a lot of energy to travel all the way from Vietnam or other parts of America and then break through the wall he had surrounded himself with.

The other spirits that manifested weren’t like before. Sure, there was the occasional violent spirit but if Klaus concentrated it would flicker and leave, he even sent them on sometimes if he was feeling all right. The other spirits were pretty placid, they would hover like wallflowers or they would whisper to him about things, the past, the present, their lives. He actually didn’t mind it.

It filled the empty void a little bit.

“Number Four.”

Dad said, like a clock ticking out the time. Klaus glanced briefly at his siblings, Ben was staring at him with pinched lips and a furrowed brow but no one else seemed to notice. He wanted to make a scene, stomp his feet, scream and shout about how he was being forced to train almost every day of the week while they lazed around and did nothing.

Instead, he rose to his feet, a twitch of effort and he didn’t even have to walk as he followed dad out into the hallway. Floating instead of walking was weird. At first Klaus had tried to walk and float at the same time, moving his legs didn’t do anything though. So instead, he kind of just drifted, like he was bobbing along on some lazy river.

Klaus was of the belief that if he had these powers he might as well use them how he wanted to. Fuck dad and his waste of energy or Luther’s narrowed eyes that seemed to scream indulgence and laziness. Fuck them in general.

Pixie was hovering by the door, his arms crossed over his chest, he looked grim like when they were sending the fresh blood onto the field against a hurricane of artillery fire. Klaus touched down gently outside of the door, the floor cold against his bare feet, and glanced at the ghost.

“It’s not looking good Twiggy.”

Pixie stated quietly, eyes flickering towards the door before they landed on Klaus. He frowned and glanced at Hargreeves who was standing by the door writing something in one of his many notebooks with an apathetic expression.

He wondered what was behind the door. Diego with his knives again? A tank full of water with a breathing mask to help him enter the spirit world? Another assortment of items except they all belonged to serial killers?

“Number Four before we begin, please see if you can summon the owner of this item.”

Dad stated glancing up only briefly from his book to pass Klaus an engraved fountain pen. Klaus blinked and tilted his head as he studied the item. Hargreeves hadn’t asked him to summon anyone in particular before, much less before they had actually entered the training room.

Klaus shrugged and closed his eyes searching for the energy that the spirit automatically left on anything it was attached to. The more personal the item, the more residual energy to track them down with.

He searched, fishing through hoards of pale white blobby fish that reminded him of the politicians on the news stations but there was nothing. He dug deeper, brow furrowing as he untied tangled fishing lines and lures but still, there was nothing.

“I don’t think they’re dead sir.”

Klaus concluded opening his eyes and wincing at the light of the hallway. Hargreeves stared at Klaus for a long moment like he was expecting an explanation, Klaus wasn’t sure how to tell him that there was always a hint, even for those long gone, if they were dead.

“I see.”

Hargreeves stated simply and tucked the book away before pulling out the key. Something uneasy settled in Klaus’ chest, slimy and cool like what he imagined frog legs might taste like. The feeling stuck in his throat as he glanced at Pixie whose expression was dark, darker than the massacre they had experienced in April.

The door clicked open.

In the centre of the room was a table, one of those cheap folding tables, and on the table was a cage. From a distance he couldn’t see what was inside but the slight squeaking sound was enough of a clue.

Klaus tilted his head confused. If he could levitate himself, he was pretty sure it was pointless to try and levitate a mouse.

“Sir?”

Pixie was glaring at Hargreeves, knuckles white and his wound was back dripping black blood, he looked like he had just come back from speaking with high command. Hargreeves stared at Klaus for a long moment, expectant and heavy like an anvil from a cartoon. He didn’t get it.

“I’m merely testing a theory Number Four.”

Hargreeves stated and stared at the mouse on the table with a dispassionate gaze. Klaus’ brow furrowed as he tried to puzzle through the man’s words feeling like he needed it spelt out as he glanced at the mouse, small and grey, scurrying around the cage.

Oh.

No. Please no. It couldn’t be what he thought. Dad wouldn’t. But he would. Look what he had done to Vanya. What he had already done to Klaus. This was really just a drop in the bucket in Hargreeves list of atrocities and other horrible shit he had done.

Klaus didn’t want this. He couldn’t. No. This wasn’t Vietnam. Wasn’t a rifle or whatever gun and a body a hundred yards away, or a language he didn’t speak but a cause he was fighting against anyway.

He glanced at Pixie who only nodded once lips thin and pressed so tight they were white. Klaus’ eyes flickered to dad who raised one brow as if to suggest he should hurry up before he was punished.

This wasn’t fair. Klaus wanted to leave. He wanted to go to his room and slip out the back alley find some club where he could drink it all away. The memories of ‘nam bubbling beneath his skin and the mausoleum chilled him to the core.

Klaus wanted to go to his siblings and demand they stop this. Wasn’t Vanya trained enough? Didn’t Klaus matter?

No.

He didn’t matter. The life of the mouse on the table didn’t matter.

Did anything matter? Did anyone notice? Did anyone care?

Klaus straightened and walked towards the table, he could see Pixie hovering behind him almost solid and beside the table was an old lady with a ball of yarn and a scarf wrapped around her lined face. She smiled at Klaus with a crinkle of her lined eyes and continued to hum an old tune.

The mouse was a tiny thing, a soft grey with big ears and black eyes like drops of liquid night. It squeaked and stared at him with those big eyes and something in Klaus’ chest crumbled like the eroded side of a cliff.

With a shaky inhale he unlatched the cage and reached inside. The mouse peered curiously at his palm and didn’t resist when he tucked it into his palms. He didn’t want to do this. He was praying that he couldn’t do this. That his powers stopped at levitation and communing with the dead. That would be enough. Please.

He would have to try though. Hargreeves would know if he was faking it, he always knew.

Klaus closed his eyes and searched for the light of the mouse in his hands, it was small and so incredibly fragile like the glow of a firefly. Klaus reached out and carefully snuffed out that light.

No. Please no.

He opened his eyes. The mouse which had been alive a moment before was still in his palms.

No, no, no, no, no, no.

Tears spilled from his eyes, he couldn’t breathe, oh god he couldn’t breathe. Klaus’ stomach churned and he turned and heaved, the little bit of breakfast he had eaten decorated the floor as he dry heaved and tears spilled messily down his cheeks. No. Please.

Klaus shut his eyes and searched for that light, the one he had extinguished. It was fleeing, trying to escape. He grasped it with gentle hands and placed it back where it belonged. It shuddered and flickered trying to escape. Klaus shook his head and prayed to the pre-pubescent girl in the sky. Please. Sorry, God he was sorry.

The light took with a final flicker and began to glow almost brighter than before.

Klaus opened his eyes and peered at the mouse which stared back up at him with its dark eyes. Klaus heaved a shuddering sigh of relief and collapsed to his knees. He cradled the mouse close to his cheek and listened to the steady beat of its heart, faster than his own as he tried to process what he had done.

He had taken life. He had given life.

That shouldn’t be possible.

Listen Klaus wasn’t religious, never had been, in fact he had always been a bit of an Atheist and meeting God hadn’t changed that. But he knew that the ability to take and give life was not something a human was supposed to be able to do. It was too much power. Who was he to decide who had the right to live and die? He was just a former junkie with a homeschooling education in vigilantism.

Klaus shuddered and listened to the tiny sounds of the mouse as the tears dried on his cheeks. He didn’t want this power. Didn’t want to see what Hargreeves would force him to do.

He had killed before. His count in the war had been one of the highest.

But that had been in battle with a gun. Even then, those deaths haunted him, men who were just fighting for their land, the children that would be affected by Agent Orange for years to come. They were reoccurring themes in his nightmares.

This? It was personal it was the very act of severing a life by his own hands.

“Number Four. Put the subject back in the cage, we will continue training for today.”

Hargreeves announced simply and when Klaus glanced at the man, he showed not even a lick of emotion. Put the subject back in the cage. Who was the subject the mouse or Klaus? He nodded and rose to his feet, carefully cupping the mouse to his chest he placed it gently in the cage and latched it shut. Pixie watched him with a concerned expression and Klaus could almost feel the phantom warmth of his arms as he turned to face Hargreeves.

Fuck. He couldn’t do this anymore. Not with what tomorrow would inevitably bring.

X

Ben set the book he had been reading down on his lap and exhaled slowly. He had just reached the part where the author revealed that the main character had been lied to his whole life. It was emotional, it was nerve wracking and Ben relished in the feel of it.

He glanced slowly around the room, evening had set in and it cast everything into a darker, richer hue. The gold elephant, which had become something of a joke amongst them glinted in the flicker of the lights and the blue curtains seemed to capture the early evening sky. Ben could probably talk about colour and light for hours if given the chance. Everything was just dull when you were dead, like winter.

Five was scribbling in his notebook again, mumbling equations under his breath as he tried to calculate the many possibilities if Vanya revealed her powers to the world, it had been going on for quite a while. Five had been the one to show them to the Elephant room (or the elephant in the room as Klaus would have said), and Ben was never more thankful for the lack of cameras and the privacy it provided.

Vanya had her violin beside her, and a book full of sheet music in her hands. She was pouring over it and writing little detailed notes in the margins that Ben couldn’t make sense of. Diego had stolen Allison’s spot and was curled up beside Vanya, pouring over a few case sheets he had stolen from the nearby precinct on their latest mission, the one yesterday with the robbery.

Luther was sitting beside Five and was reading a book on great leaders or something. Maybe it was one of the therapy books Vanya had tossed at his head when he tried to insist she continue taking her pills last week. Or maybe it was one on how to be a proper leader.

Something felt missing.

Ben glanced around the room with a furrowed brow and quirked lips trying to puzzle out what was itching at the back of his head. The Horror shifted inside him, like it was perking up in interest and Ben silenced it with a soft reassurance they weren’t in danger. It had taken a while before he realised, he could interact with the Horror and not just repress it unless it was for violence.

The door to the room slammed open, Vanya visibly flinched but it was only Allison, curls a righteous halo around her head as she trudged in with a huff and turned to Luther. They all stared at her in concern, Ben noticed Luther’s eyes softened but it wasn’t like the lovesick puppy he had been before. It was better.

“Klaus locked himself in the bathroom again,” Allison stated with a roll of her eyes before she paused, concern flickered over her expression as she continued, “He won’t respond, I even banged on the doors.”

“He’s probably shooting up.”

“Luther!”

Vanya snapped, glaring at him with fire in her eyes. Luther wisely flinched back and put his hands up defensively. Ben nodded and crossed his arms over his chest and added, “Klaus is clean, he did it on his own this time without rehab isn’t that evidence enough of his dedication?”

Something in Ben, not the Horror, twisted at his words. Not that they were wrong, but something about them didn’t sit right.

Five sighed and responded dryly, “He’s clean. Besides mom mentioned Klaus is suffering from acute hearing loss. He was probably listening to his music again and couldn’t hear you.”

“Still, Luther please.”

Allison replied with a frown tangling her hands together as she glanced at the door behind her. Luther glanced around him, at their faces before he nodded and rose to his feet. Automatically, Ben mimicked the motion and watched the rest of his siblings stand up.

“I really don’t think we all need to investigate.”

Five said but he was also standing so they didn’t pay it any mind. Diego jostled his shoulder against Ben’s and said quietly, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

“It’s happened before.”

Ben replied, he tried for quiet but he was still learning how to modulate his voice again so it came out mostly even. Diego shook his head, lips pressed into a thin line as they filed into the hallway and down towards the bathroom.

“Yeah but Klaus usually replies.”

It went unsaid that was the past. Klaus was like an unknown variable now; well he always had been Five revealed as much. But now it was hard to tell what was going on with Klaus, one minute he appeared happy and extravagant, the next his face was blank, a terrible empty blankness. Klaus hadn’t been like that before, oh a bit bipolar yes, a hundred percent and Ben was used to that.

But the emptiness was new? It was terrifying. Klaus was never empty, not when he couldn’t find a hit, not when he was surrounded by death.

Guilt slithered inside him, icky and cold as Ben glanced at the bathroom door. He should be there for Klaus. He hadn’t even realised at first so caught up in the joy of feeling, tasting, hearing, touching, everything again that he hadn’t noticed. The exhaustion, the fear when he entered the room, the tears, the emptiness.

When was the last time he had an in-depth conversation with Klaus? That night where they dismissed his suffering because they had to train Vanya, and he was silent. When was the last time any of them had talked to him?

God he was a horrible person. They were supposed to be trying to be better. Yet they had focused all that good will on Vanya and left little if any for Klaus.

Luther tried the door knob, it squealed but didn’t turn with a light touch. Shrugging, Luther twisted the doorknob until it broke off completely from the door. Allison rolled here eyes as their brother stared at the door knob with a ‘what do you do?’ expression and pushed open the door.

Allison stepped inside first and they all crowded behind her trying to see if Klaus was in the tub having one of his soaks. If he was even in the washroom, maybe to see if the window was cracked open too wide.

At first Ben couldn’t see anything, just the big porcelain tub, the window was shut and everything seemed in its place. Allison cautiously walked forward, really it wasn’t anything they hadn’t seen before, Klaus had many nude phases.

She screamed.

Ben rushed forward and Five mimicked the motion shoving aside Vanya who was frozen with wide eyes and Luther who stood uselessly with the door knob in his hands. Ben’s mouth opened and closed as he stared at the tub.

Under the water was Klaus, his curly hair floated ethereally around his head, longer than it had been since they were young. There were no bubbles drifting from his lips to breach the surface. His eyes were closed and his lips were pale. No. He couldn’t be. There wasn’t. It wasn’t possible.

Five growled something under his breath and stuck his hands into the tub grasping at Klaus’ body and ignoring the voices of their siblings. Ben’s system tried to shock him into action but it was useless as his brain kept trying to process what he was seeing. Repeating like a bad feedback loop.

“Get back.”

Five snapped and they all crowded back into the doorway as with a grunt Five lifted Klaus’ body into his arms and placed it gently on the cold tile floor. Vanya shuffled forward and handed Five a towel which he wrapped around Klaus’ waist.

“He’s not breathing.”

Five stated silently, voice heavy as he leaned his head against Klaus’ mouth and checked his pulse.

“What do we do?”

Allison asked tears streaming down her cheeks.

“CPR?”

Diego suggested stepping forward with hooded eyes.

“Does anyone know how long Klaus has been in here?”

Five asked as he carefully rested Klaus’ arms at his side. They all glanced at one another with guilty faces and didn’t mention how most of them didn’t try and keep track of Klaus anymore. Ben felt like he was going to be sick. This wasn’t possible. Any minute now Klaus was going to wake up and say it was all a joke. Any minute now.

Diego kneeled beside Klaus and when Five nodded he opened Klaus’ mouth and gave two breaths. Then he started on the chest compressions.

Ben was frozen watching as Diego pressed on Klaus’ chest over and over again, blew air into his lungs only to watch Klaus’ chest fall flat. Please he thought. Please. Wake up. Wake up. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that it took you dying for me to realise how I abandoned you.

“Diego, stop.”

Five commanded brushing at his eyes, his voice a wreck. Diego stiffened and replied, “What no, I have to, he has to wake up.”

“We don’t know how long he’s been… under there. We need a hospital.”

Five replied staring at Klaus, he couldn’t seem to take his eyes off of Klaus. Ben felt the same.

“Children what is going on here?”

They all stiffened as Hargreeves appeared in the doorway like the spectre of the grim reaper come to collect Klaus’ soul himself.

“It’s Klaus.”

Luther stated, the words were stiff and short like Luther could barely speak. Hargreeves huffed and brushed past them to asses Klaus, who was still on the floor lips pale, everything so pale and lifeless.

Hargreeves bent down and pressed his fingers to Klaus’ neck. A moment later the old man shook his head and rose to his feet, he glanced at the rest of them with a dispassionate eye. Vanya was openly sobbing into Allison’s shoulder, Five was in Shock, Diego looked furious, Luther was confused, Allison was crying, Ben wasn’t sure what he was doing.

He just knew that Klaus couldn’t be gone. Klaus who always made a dark situation better, who had kept him around after he died, Klaus who was always there if any of them needed to talk. He couldn’t be gone. Not like this. Not without any last words.

“A shame. Return to your rooms, children. We shall have a week of mourning and then the funeral.”

“He’s not dead! He can’t be.”

Diego snapped fists white at his side as he glanced at Klaus tears dripping from his eyes. Hargreeves surveyed the six of them with an apathetic expression and continued, “It is a shame but Number Four has left us.”

At that moment Klaus jerked upright.

He coughed and turned water spilling out of his mouth and onto the floor as his shoulders hunched in on themselves and he shuddered. The sound of hacking coughs filled the air before Klaus settled upright and scrapped a hand over his face.

“Man, that one was a dozy, and my skin’s all wrinkled too.”

Klaus rolled his neck and it cracked, he seemed unaware of their presence eyes shut tight. If Ben payed close attention he could see a faint glow coming off of Klaus like a glowstick. His eyes fluttered open and they were blue, pure as the sky in summer, or paint.

He turned and stared at them with wide eyes.

“Oh, you saw that.”

Ben jolted back to reality. Right. He remembered this. It was fuzzy like most of those memories (his brain trying to process being dead Five said), Klaus jerking awake after a bad hit, that one time with his partner, the rave, a hundred other times.

“Very interesting Number Four. You will report for training tomorrow”

Hargreeves stated simply, but his eyes had an unholy glean. Before any of them could protest the man turned and left the small, tightly packed bathroom. Ben watched as an animalistic fear washed over Klaus’ face, he paled even more if that was possible. A second later the expression was gone, something nonchalant and airy in its place.

“Sorry you had to see that; I generally don’t try to die in the bath tub.”

He huffed a weak laugh that was one hundred percent fake. Klaus tugged the bath towel around his waist and shakily rose to his feet. Ben reached out to help him but stopped dead in his tracks as Klaus flinched away from him. Something inside him tore itself in two.

“Well thank you for all coming to the show, if you could leave the performer to get dressed?”

“Klaus you just died.”

Vanya said quiet and shocked, tears still slipping down her cheeks. Klaus opened his mouth and Ben recognized his ‘mean expression’ the one he put on when he was going to get defensive and try to hide what was really going on below the surface. How often had Ben missed that expression? It disappeared and instead it was that emptiness again as he replied, “It happens.”

“And you magically come back to life?”

Five questioned tense as a wire stretched between two extremes. Klaus stiffened, eyes dark for a moment before it was gone and replaced with a cheery smile as he replied, “You can ask dad about the science behind it tomorrow! In the meantime, I think I’m going to take a nap dying sure takes a lot out of you.”

“Klaus.”

Ben said helplessly, reaching out only for his fingers to barely brush Klaus’ arm as he walked past them. They were all too shocked to protest Klaus leaving, or to try and explain that they had thought he was actually dead. They should do something. They shouldn’t just stand there silent. They had done that too much already.

Klaus paused in the doorframe, something that imitated a smile settled on his lips and with a wave of his fingers he stated, “Don’t worry God doesn’t like me, I’ll always be back.”

Then he was gone.

They shared a glance, a conversation brimming behind closed mouths and in shed tears. Something needed to change and it was them.

X

Klaus trudged through the hallway his feet dragged against the ground and he couldn’t muster the energy to levitate himself as he trundled down the stairs. He glanced carefully at his surroundings around a muffled yawn but there was no one. It was late, very late for breakfast. That was on purpose.

God he was tired. Dying always took a lot out of him, it was like every cell in his body decided to regenerate. Then another sleepless night had piled onto the ones before with nightmares of drowning along with killing his siblings for extra fun. He wanted it to be over.

They were all eating when Klaus stumbled into the dining room. He could feel their eyes on him, Hargreeves disappointment filling the room like some kind of poisonous cloud and his siblings staring at him out of the corner of their eyes.

Klaus settled into his chair with a loud scrape and ignored the faint press of Ben’s shoe against his bare feet. He felt vindicated in stating he wasn’t in the mood.

“Klaus are you okay?”

Vanya asked, he could see her big eyes staring at him from across the table, she looked close to crying. But then again Vanya had always looked one minute away from crying when they were kids. He wasn’t sure if it was the emotional abuse or just her face.

Klaus glanced at Hargreeves but he hadn’t said anything so Klaus took that as permission to respond. He plastered a bright smile onto his face and replied cheerily, “Just dandy. Drowning is a great stress reliver.”

“This isn’t a joke Klaus!”

Diego snapped, stabbing his knife into the table like he was Five throwing one of his tantrums. Klaus frowned why did Diego even care? Wasn’t it all a joke to them anyways? Look at Klaus he died but now he’s back, look at how much of a freak he is. They didn’t care he knew that already.

“Of course not.”

He replied with a shrug and picked at his eggs begging for once that Hargreeves would stop their conversation. He didn’t want to talk about it okay? What was there to talk about anyways when they didn’t even care?

“Klaus did you kill yourself?”

That was Ben’s voice beside him, the barest hint of a whisper but it cut through the silence of the table like a hot knife through butter. Klaus scrunched up his face and pressed his lips together. He had tried to commit suicide before. In the alleys when there wasn’t any hope, wasn’t anything. He always woke up before the ambulance came. He wondered if his siblings would have visited, if they would have tried to help if they found out what happened.

He hadn’t meant to sink under the water. But everything had been too loud, his heartbeat in his head like the drums of the war and the feel of taking a life like an oil slick inside his chest. He had just wanted it to stop.

“It was an accident, I wanted to try this deep sensory technique I hear about which is supposed to greatly improve sex.”

“Don’t be crude.”

Allison replied with a huff and a roll of her eyes, Diego was doing his ‘too much information’ expression and Luther looked confused. Vanya looked shocked but Klaus was almost certain he could detect a hint of amusement behind it all. Five looked bored but Ben was staring at him with a knowing expression. Crap he had been banking on whatever Ben had been doing for the past week. Ben knew him too well and so of course he knew what Klaus was trying to do. It was kind of sad it took him this long to notice.

“Number Four.”

Hargreeves commanded and pulled out his pocket watch glancing at the time with a raised brow. Klaus nodded, fear churning in his gut like a bad hit as he rose silently to his feet. Ben said his name softly but Klaus ignored it as he followed dad out of the dining room.

Instead of turning down the usual hallway, Hargreeves continued walking. Great a secondary location. Klaus exhaled slowly and followed Hargreeves down a different hallway, the walls on either side seemed to loom over him and he tugged at the connection he had with Pixie until the man appeared beside him. His expression was grim.

They stopped outside of a closed door, which looked like any other one. Hargreeves pulled out a key and with a turn of the lock the door swung open. Inside was a hospital bed, a surgical set of instruments, and a heart rate monitor.

Klaus took an unsteady step back.

No. Please.

A part of him had hoped that Hargreeves wouldn’t try to test this aspect of his powers, that he would just let it be. The rest of him had known and it still couldn’t have prepared him for this.

“Number Four.”

Hargreeves snapped with a frown, eyes hooded and the wrinkles on his face like the sharp fold of pressed paper. Klaus swallowed and squared his shoulders. He could do this. But why was he doing this? This wasn’t manifesting his powers so he could see Dave. This wasn’t for Vanya or Ben, not when he could do other training. Besides shouldn’t they share some of the weight? Why was he occupying dad all the time? Didn’t he deserve a break? Didn’t he deserve to not be killed by the man?

He could just leave.

Something seized the collar of his shirt and began to drag him forward.

“Please no. Stop. Anything else.”

Klaus begged as he was dragged into the room his voice cracked and shook, his eyes were burning as he struggled and tried to pull away. His hands began to glow blue as his powers swelled in his chest and the objects in the room began to shake.

“Enough.”

Hargreeves commanded and nodded at mom, Klaus just noticed that she had been in the corner of the room the whole time. She stepped forward with that vacant smile and Klaus could see a needle in her hand. No. The objects on the tray rose in the air and began to spin towards Klaus.

“Just a pinch and then it will all be over.”

Klaus opened his mouth his chest tight and then he felt the burn of the needle and watched with wide eyes as mom pushed the plunger. The needle shattered before she could push it all the way down but it was too late.

The surgical objects dropped to the ground as a haziness descended way too quickly to be natural. Hargreeves nodded and he dully felt as mom lifted him up and placed him on the hospital gurney. Straps went around his chest, his legs, and his neck.

Klaus stared at the door and wondered when someone would arrive to help him. They would come right? They had to know what Hargreeves was doing. He had even given them a clue. They would save him, right?

“Number Four I will inject you with a toxin that will kill you. You will be plugged into the monitor and after ten minutes an antidote will be given if necessary. Understood?”

Hargreeves stated and Klaus barely felt the pinch of the IV line as mom stood at his side anxiously tangling her fingers together. Hargreeves held up the needle, tapped it once to dispel air bubbles and pressed it into the IV line.

Please. He wanted them to burst through the door, to see what dad was doing to him. Where were they?

As everything became slow and sluggish Klaus remembered that they didn’t care. They hadn’t cared when he had been kidnapped by Hazel and Cha Cha and they hadn’t cared when he had come back with PTSD. No one was going to save him. He would have to save himself or accept it.

Everything went dark.

“You know technically suicide is a sin.”

A voice drifted through darkness and all Klaus could see was the red behind his eyelids. He felt frozen, an observer as something inspected him, he could feel it, digging deep into the marrow of his soul. It was probably disgusted at what it found. 

The voice tutted and continued, “Ah but then again there wasn’t a choice. It doesn’t matter either way I don’t want you here and you’re not allowed to stay. Though, do be careful dear one with those powers of yours, you’re on a slippery slope and God has a bicycle.”

Klaus jerked to life sucking in a heaving gasp of air as he struggled against the straps blinking spots out of his eyes. He stared fuzzily at the operating room as his heart tried to settle in his chest.

“Fifteen minutes. Interesting. I suspect that your powers Number Four are far greater than your siblings’.”

Hargreeves stated, what a thing to wake up to. Klaus managed a weak nod even as his stomach churned itself into knots and he felt like he was going to be sick. The taste of death lingered on his tongue and he could feel an all-consuming exhaustion spread through his veins.

He glanced at the old man and already knew what he would say. Klaus wanted it to be over.

“Again.”

X

Klaus drifted up the stairs, he was cheating and using his powers. Originally, at the bottom of the stairs he had been utterly drained, enough that even levitating a leaf would seem taxing, but faced against manually walking up the stairs Klaus had persevered.

He was still utterly exhausted.

Klaus felt exposed, like he had been on the operating table, cut open with each organ and all the little hidden parts of himself exposed. He basically had been. Dying once wasn’t fun, it wasn’t anything close to fun to jerk awake, feel his body kickstart into action like it was jumping gears. But dying twenty times in one day? Klaus could only consider that pure Hell. Maybe he should have stayed in the darkness, it would probably have been kinder.

Why was he even here?

His siblings practically ignored his existence and didn’t care about him. Klaus’ so-called father had forced him to train until his body collapsed, forced him to kill an innocent life, and then killed him twenty times. Why? What was the point?

He wanted to scream at God and ask her why? Why was he even alive if this was all there was for him?

Alright he got it that she didn’t like him, but she also probably didn’t like Hitler and his life wasn’t as utterly crap-tastic as Klaus’ seemed to be.

He could end it.

Oh, wait no he couldn’t.

Klaus growled and touched down at the top of the stairwell. With a muffled scream he turned and punched the wall. The wall decided to apparently punch back because it hurt like a mother fucker. Klaus hissed and cradled his hand close to his chest as he glared at the wall.

Fuck.

He couldn’t escape.

If he went onto the streets now Hargreeves would find him, he was too powerful, too much of an interesting experiment. Besides that, he was what thirteen? He couldn’t get a job, or a home, or a credit card. Even the pimps wouldn’t take a thirteen-year-old without incentive. Not the ones you wanted to be under anyways.

He couldn’t go to Child Services because Hargreeves would just bribe them, blackmail them, or kill them. He couldn’t even expose the man because he had a share in any big media company.

Fuck. Fuck!

Klaus slid against the wall and tucked his head into his knees, his chest was heaving, great wracking sobs burst from his mouth and tears welled in his eyes burning the whole way down. Klaus shook and shuddered as he squeezed his eyes and cried.

He wanted it to be over. Klaus wanted to be an adult again, able to make decisions and choices. He wanted Dave to comfort him and listen to him, then talk about the laundromat his mom worked in and how he once got stuck in one of the machines. He wanted to be free. Man wasn’t meant to be caged or all that.

He hated it here! He didn’t belong, he couldn’t go where what he wanted, the house was always so dark and cold, he couldn’t go and buy a chocolate bar if he wanted, they he was utterly isolated. What was the fucking point of living? It’d be better to be in the streets again so high that nothing mattered.

Klaus tilted his head; his ragged breathing filled the hallway as he wiped at his eyes.

If he was high dad couldn’t force him to use his powers. He couldn’t kill him because he wouldn’t know if Klaus would come back while high. He could be free.

Klaus attempted to rise to his feet but his legs crumpled beneath him. Pixie caught him with gentle hands, he was glowing blue like a force ghost. Klaus smiled in thanks but he could see the concern on Pixie’s face as he helped steady Klaus.

“Okay Twiggy?”

Klaus shook his head, he opened his mouth but the words felt lodged in his throat too heavy, too much energy, even as something stirred in his chest. Pixie’s face fell and he tucked Klaus into a tight hug that was comforting and familiar. He buried his head in the man’s shoulder and let the last of his sniffles out.

Resolve, began to rise from the ashes. If he was high, he could escape. He would be safe. Safer than he was sober.

In his room was there anything?

The old pair of shoes? No tossed it out. The dresser? Burned it. The stuffed animals? Hadn’t hidden anything there yet, he had still been too attached to Mr. Santa at thirteen.

The library. He hadn’t hollowed out the one on witchcraft, but he had hollowed out the one on various fauna and their biological evolutions or whatever. It was the good stuff too, a bunch of happy pills. And if that wasn’t enough, he could go out into the side alley a block over. The dealer there had the hard stuff. It wasn’t like Klaus hadn’t used a needle enough today.

Klaus knew, in that small logical part of himself, that he should be worried about this sudden descent into dangerous territory, that he was turning to the drugs so quickly. But it was the only option. The only escape. The only chance for freedom.

With a rough inhale Klaus rose to his feet and drifted down the hallway towards the library.

The doors were open. Klaus paused and leaned against the door frame head tilted in confusion. There were voices coming from inside the library. Too many. Too young. What time was it? It was sometime in the afternoon. Shouldn’t they be training Vanya? That was why he was training with dad after all.

Klaus shrugged; he could just sneak inside without them noticing. Why would they notice Klaus?

He stepped inside the library and winced at the bright light that slanted through the windows. He glanced at the rows of books and tried to remember where one of the books he had stashed was. If he could find the section on animals that would be perfect.

“Klaus?”

A voice called out. He froze and turned in the direction of the seating area where he could see his siblings. Five was settled in the armchair by the fireplace, Luther was squished onto a love seat with Ben in the middle and Diego on the other side. Allison was curled up beside Vanya who was staring at him.

Sighing, Klaus’ shoulders slumped as he trudged towards his siblings. Couldn’t he just get his drugs and go?

“Whoa man you look like shit.”

Diego said with a huff staring at Klaus with wide eyes. That got the others’ attention and they all stared at Klaus with varying degrees of horror. Now they notice. It was like he said, they only noticed when it was right in front of them.

“It’s rude to insult a woman’s makeup.”

Klaus lectured with a wagging finger as he leaned unsteadily against the armchair close to the fire and attempted to subtly bask in the warmth.

“Klaus what happened?”

Allison asked like she wanted the latest scoop. Klaus swayed and placed a hand on the armchair as he shook his head, God he was so tired.

“Dad just wanted to test some theories of his. You know how he is, absolutely fanatic about his human experimentation.”

“You should sit down.”

That was Five, who was staring up at him with narrowed eyes. If he sat then he would have to stay longer. Klaus opened his mouth to protest but the floor decided it suddenly hated him and tried to jump up and attack him. Klaus wisely settled into the vacant seat and Five perched on the arm rest.

“Klaus what happened?”

Ben asked voice gentle like he was talking to a wounded animal. Klaus rubbed at his arms and avoided the bandages in the creases of his elbows and all down his wrists. God it looked like he was cutting himself.

“Like I said dad wanted to test his hypothesis.”

“Which hypothesis?”

Luther asked with a grunt staring at Klaus like he couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing. Five huffed beside Klaus, but he could see that the old man was stiff as a board as he announced, “Whether Klaus could come back repeatedly from the dead. I’m correct, aren’t I.”

“Well surprise I’m still here,” Klaus announced with a bright grin before he continued around a yawn, “But if you don’t mind, I’m going to go catch up on my beauty sleep.”

“Wait, dad killed you?”

Diego demanded, he was pale, and his fists were shaking. They were all staring at him with horrified expressions. Jeez for people who didn’t care they sure liked to act like they did. Klaus shrugged and replied, “He probably wouldn’t consider it that because I came back. Anyways toodles.”

“Klaus, wait.”

Ben said staring at him with his big eyes, the ones Klaus could never resist. He paused in his slow movements to rise from the chair and waited for whatever Ben would have to say.

“You should sit with us we’re talking about group training.”

Oh, now they felt pity for him because they had seen him die. Klaus wanted to laugh, a weak bitter laugh. Instead, he rose to his feet, he would find a stash tomorrow, he was too tired to even reap any of the benefits, unless he had any melatonin.

“Nah thanks for the offer dears I appreciate it really, but my bed is calling my name and I never disappoint.”

Allison rolled her eyes and Luther looked relieved at the temporary reappearance of his normal flamboyance. Klaus wanted to sink to the floor and ask them why they couldn’t see that he was drowning. Instead, Klaus turned and ambled out of the library, Pixie carefully supporting his weight. No one called him back

X

“Fuck Klaus looks bad.”

Allison stated brushing her hand over her face as they watched their brother sway out of the library looking like he might collapse to the floor at any moment. Ben felt sick just watching Klaus. What had they done to him?

“He looks like he’s dying.”

Diego stated with a growl, he looked like he was about to start pacing at any minute. Diego was right too. Klaus had been pale, like a corpse, his hair had hung limp around his head, his eyes had been dark and empty, his lips, chapped, and he was thin, all bones with skin barely stretched over them. He looked like a walking skeleton. Vanya sniffed and rubbed at her eyes as she questioned, “What can we do to help him?”

“We can kill dad for one.”

Diego suggested with a frown and Ben remembered that Diego was usually the one to pick Klaus up from rehab. Out of any of them excluding Ben, he had seen Klaus at his worst, gripped by a fever crying out about the ghosts, or after an overdose looking two minutes away from death.

“No, it would mess up the timeline and call the Commission down on our heads and get us all killed.”

Five replied but he was also frowning and staring at the doorway unto which Klaus had disappeared. Ben wondered if Klaus would even make it down the hallway.

“It’s not like the Commission isn’t already watching us.”

Ben replied crossing his arms over his chest as he soothed the Horror which rustled at the guilt and fear bubbling up inside Ben. Five rolled his eyes and replied, “Yes but they aren’t after us, if we were to kill dad they would be.”

“So, what do we do? We need to stop dad from killing him.”

Luther replied, staring at all of them. Ben was almost proud of the progress he was making; he hadn’t even hesitated about the part about dad killing Klaus. Which was messed up. It horrified him in a way that struck him to the core. While they had been eating breakfast, Klaus had been dying. He had probably been waiting for them to come and save him but they hadn’t. Which reminded him.

“You’re one to talk Luther.”

“What are you talking about Ben?”

Vanya asked, her voice dangerously sharp. Ben stared at Luther, who looked confused. Oh, he hadn’t even noticed. Ben sighed and with a roll of his eyes stated, “In the past that wasn’t when you went to the night club Klaus followed you, he had been trying to stay sober… I encouraged him to help you, told him it was what you would do. I guess I was wrong, about all of us, including me. You angered someone’s girlfriend and Klaus jumped in between you two and got his neck broken as payment.”

A horrified silence settled over the library as they all stared at Luther, who looked utterly shocked but also genuinely remorseful. Ben remembered when he probably would have protested with something about the moon but he was getting better at understand the emotional impact his actions had.

“At least I didn’t willingly throw knives at Klaus though.”

Luther defended a moment later. Allison whirled on Diego and said, “You did what?”

“Dad ordered me to throw knives at Klaus and he stopped them with his powers. I didn’t even realise what was happening and Klaus told me it was alright.”

Diego defended but his tone was apologetic and guilt-ridden as he studied his hands. Vanya was cupping her mouth as she stared at them and numbly asked, “Oh God what have we done to him without realising?”

“Well he was kidnapped and you guys didn’t notice.”

Ben snapped. It should have felt good revealing how they had failed Klaus, but he was part of that group now wasn’t he?

“What?”

Allison demanded and Luther looked furious as if he might personally tear apart the house to find the culprits.

“When Hazel and Cha Cha invaded the home correct?”

Five stated but the words were heavy and his eyes were dark. Ben nodded and replied quietly, “They tortured him and he knew that we wouldn’t come to find him. He only gave in when they tried to take away his escape. He got out thanks to Diego’s girlfriend and from what I know he grabbed their brief case and time traveled.”

“Where he met Dave.”

Diego stated quietly. Ben nodded.

“Who’s Dave?”

Allison asked with a frown, tangling her fingers with Vanya’s.

“He was Klaus’ lover in the war and he died there. It’s the only reason Klaus came back.”

Ben replied, a part of him itched at revealing all of Klaus’ secrets but it was important that they were all up to date if they were going to try and help Klaus. God why where they only now trying to help him? Why did it take Klaus looking like death, literally dead for them to realise how bad it had gotten?

“The Commission killed him because of that.”

“How do you know? Did you kill him?”

Diego asked looking like he might punch Five regardless of whether he had a choice in the matter. He just needed somewhere to direct his anger.

“No, but Klaus figured it out and asked me some questions about the Commission.”

“So, what do we do to help Klaus?”

Allison asked lips pinched and her expression sad.

“First we need to make amends.”

Ben replied. Luther’s brow furrowed and he asked, “For what?”

“Do you seriously still think Klaus is on drugs Luther? How stupid can you be?”

Allison snapped, looking like she might burst into tears, Vanya beside her was already crying and Ben was half certain it was from being off the pills.

“No. You’ve all made it clear that he isn’t high. It’s just what have we done wrong?”

“We’ve all made it clear? The evidence-“

“Enough,” Five interrupted with a glare and continued, “We forced Klaus to train with Hargreeves pretty much every day of the week, which doubtless included some kind of physical, mental, and emotional trauma. We’ve isolated him, forgotten to include him in meetings and outings because he’s been training. We’ve dismissed his concerns and refused to give him a break. The list goes on.”

“Basically, we were shit siblings.”

Diego replied breaking through the heaviness that lingered weighing on all of them with the guilt and horror they rightfully deserved. Ben grimaced, he had made a promise to himself that he would still support Klaus and yet, the moment the world had opened for him he had left him in the dust.

“So, what do we do?”

Luther asked solemnly. They all looked to Ben; he sighed and considered it. Klaus was tricky, if he knew they were attempting to help him he would probably consider it pity and refuse it. They would have to be subtle and unrelenting.

“He needs a break; we need to get Hargreeves out. And we need to show him that we love him, make apologies, include him, talk to him. Let him know that we made mistakes, that we weren’t ignoring him on purpose, that we do care about him. Show him, tell him. He’s going to lash out but ignore it.”

“I can work on getting Hargreeves out of the house for a bit.”

Five stated and Ben could see they were all considering his words forming their game plans. Five disappeared with a pop of blue light and Ben wondered how they would ever fix this. They had come back to try and fix their family and instead they had fucked it up even worse. Ben had fucked it up. But he would make it better.

X

Chapter Text

 

Hello everyone, we are here with another chapter! A huge thank you to everyone who commented/reviewed on the last chapter! This chapter is going to be a bit lighter than the last one but is still going to deal with some heavy topics so just be warned. Read on and enjoy!

X

Klaus jerked awake as something loud burst through the haze of sleep and shattered the rough edges of a nightmare about to bloom into terror. Klaus blinked and shifted up to peer around his room searching for the source of the noise. Maybe something had fallen?

Light spilled into his room bright and sharp against the warm glow of the fairy lights. Klaus peered at the doorway where Hargreeves stood, imposing as ever in his old man suit, his monocle reflecting the light like a laser.

Klaus rubbed at his eyes confused, he glanced out the window but it was still dark out, the heavy darkness of early morning. Was he actually awake? Dad never bothered him before breakfast unless it was the mausoleum but Klaus doubted, he was going to toss him into the mausoleum now.

“Number Four get dressed and meet me in the lobby. Understood?”

“Yes sir.”

Klaus replied around a muffled yawn. Hargreeves stared at him for a moment longer, the threat of what would happen if he forced the man to wait weighing over his head like an executioner’s axe. The door clicked shut behind Hargreeves as he left and Klaus was plunged back into the warmth of the fairy lights.

Sighing Klaus slipped out from under the mound of covers. He hissed as his feet touched the cold floor and glanced longingly at his bed before he tottered over to his wardrobe. Amidst the dull whining of his brain for coffee and the tangled strings of thought Klaus wondered what they were doing. Where they were going?

He tried to think if today was anything special. Birthdays? No. Funerals? No. Holidays? No.

The only thing even a little bit close was the summer solstice and that wasn’t for a month.

Shrugging, Klaus ignored the uneasy whispers of his mind, the ones that speculated on how dad would try to kill him next, maybe he had hired a hitman, or something equally violent. He couldn’t change what would happen now. But tonight, he could. It would all be over. No more death, no more killing, isolation, it would all drift away.

Tugging his jacket on Klaus tugged on his powers, the feeling like pulling on a rope with the other end attached to a baby elephant, and floated out of his room; it would be quieter. It was weird to see the house early in the morning, no one else was awake, probably not even Pogo. Klaus was used to sneaking in at this time, but that had been later, most of the time he had stayed out all night eager for a break. It was kind of funny how history was repeating itself huh?

Hargreeves was waiting in the foyer, glancing at his pocket watch with narrowed eyes. Klaus wasn’t sure what the man was expecting, even Klaus had limits and there was no way he was running down the stairs after four hours of sleep. That was how someone, definitely not him, probably broke their jaw.

Klaus landed in front of the man who stared down at him with narrowed eyes for a long moment before he turned and walked out the front door. Klaus longed for the day he had a growth spurt and would be taller than dad, if he wasn’t heels always added the extra pizazz. It wasn’t like he would ever grow out of dad’s shadow anyway.

The door shut behind him with an ominous bang as Klaus followed dad into the car. Someone in a black suit was driving the car and Klaus wasn’t certain if it was a servant Hargreeves had hired or someone who worked for a different company.

The drive drifted between long and short as they bumped along the desolate road, not a single car passed them and the loneliness inside of him seemed to keen out to the empty world. He watched the car’s headlights dance along the road and wondered what the future would bring, maybe they were all only destined to repeat their past mistakes.

The car pulled up to a halt outside of a large multi-story white building. Hargreeves exited the car with a slam of the door and Klaus stepped outside onto cracked pavement. He shivered as he glanced up at the building, lights were on and he could see the words General Hospital on the side of the building.

A hospital?

Klaus tilted his head confused even as he hurried to catch up to Hargreeves who was striding briskly forward. What were they doing at a hospital? Was Klaus going to have a surgery? For what? His hearing? To test even more ways to kill him and see if he came back from the dead?

The doors whooshed open with the hiss of pneumatics and Klaus repressed a shudder as he followed Hargreeves inside. He had always hated hospitals, they were always so white and clean, everything perfectly placed like some weird dystopian nightmare. It wasn’t even that though, it was the pervasive feeling of death. It filled the air, a tangible scent that was heavy on his tongue, ghosts crowded every corridor and walking through the building for five minutes was like wading through the sea. Klaus felt justified in his hatred of hospitals.

Hargreeves walked silently past the front desk, they didn’t raise a single protest, and Klaus followed demurely behind him. He glanced firmly at the floor and focused on shutting off his connection to the spirit world, or at least the part that made the ghosts visible. He was fine with seeing them elsewhere, but in the hospital, it was as good as blinding.

They paused in front of a hospital room. Klaus glanced at Hargreeves who stared at Klaus for a moment before he pushed open the door. Inside the room was white, but it was more of a cream colour, there was a hospital bed, a monitor, a table with some cards, and in the centre of the bed was a woman. She was asleep, with a head of bright red hair, and she had a tube shoved down her throat.

“Sir?”

Klaus questioned as he stared at the woman, watched the gentle rise of her chest. Hargreeves raised one brow and handed Klaus a clipboard; Klaus was officially confused. Frowning he poured over the clipboard, which was one of those medical ones the doctors always had when they walked into the room. It listed the name of the patient, Kat Tawny, internal bleeding from a car accident, needed a transplant and blood transfusion, chances of survival twenty percent.

He stared at the paper as if wiling it to change before he glanced again at the woman on the bed. He didn’t know her but he felt kind of sorry for her.

What was he supposed to do though? It wasn’t like he could heal her.

Oh. Klaus supposed Hargreeves wanted him to try.

Klaus placed the clipboard down and walked closer to the bed, his feet sounded too loud on the hospital floor. Up close he could see how gaunt she was, but he could also see her tattoos, roses and skulls decorating her arms like stained glass.

Okay, right he could do this. Klaus reached out and placed a gentle hand on the woman’s arm and closed his eyes.

Klaus searched for a moment, swimming through fish that were thin and dull, lights flickering, others with bright scales that seemed to leap through the air. He found her in darkness, dull and flickering barely holding on. He cupped her light in his hands and just watched the way light bounced off of it for a long moment.

Inhaling, Klaus tugged on his power and encouraged that light to grow brighter, to heal and replace the blood and organs she needed. He whispered that if things seemed dark, they could get better. How hypocritical Klaus thought aside. Slowly, the light in his hands began to glow brighter, he could feel it like a wash of warmth tingling over his skin that she would be okay. Placing the light down Klaus stepped back and watched it soar away, some longing tugged at his chest.

Klaus opened his eyes, the heartrate monitor was still beeping steadily and the woman was still alive, her face seemed somehow less gaunt and she looked at peace. Klaus tucked a tiny smile into chest as he knew that she would be okay. He wiped away the smile when he turned to face Hargreeves. The man nodded once and exited the room.

His shoulders slumped and Klaus exhaled long and slow as he swayed on his feet for a moment before he centered himself and followed after dad. God, he wanted a break. What he wouldn’t give for a vacation, sleep in, freshly made waffles, maybe a margarita, the sun, skirts and dancing. The fantasy occupied his head as he followed Hargreeves down a different corridor and into a different room.

Instantly, Klaus stiffened. Death hung over the room like a tangible shroud, the feel of souls gone or barely hanging on was like the threads of spiderwebs against his skin.

Klaus glanced at Hargreeves who stated, “Heal them if possible. If not end it.”

“B-But.”

Klaus protested. That was killing someone! That was murder! It wasn’t euthanasia or assisted suicide because they had no way to consent, no one else was consenting for them, and Klaus sure as Hell wasn’t qualified.

“Number Four you will obey my orders. If it isn’t possible to heal them then they will not wake up it is better to relieve the family of the burden, kill them. If not, I will arrange it.”

Better to relieve the family of the burden. Was that all he was? When would they get rid of him?

Klaus stared at the rows of beds with pressed lips. He couldn’t. It was murder. But hadn’t he killed people before? What made him any better just because it was a war?

Pixie appeared in a halo of blue, Klaus could feel the ripples of power it had taken for him to cross the barrier Klaus had erected. Ha. Pixie was glaring at Hargreeves and Klaus could just imagine him punching dad, it would be epic.

“Twiggy…”

He started but didn’t finish because they both knew Klaus didn’t have a choice, he couldn’t escape. If he tried to leave, well there was only one exit excluding the windows, and dad would definitely retaliate. If he refused to kill them then dad would. Klaus was trapped.

Just for today. Just get through today and it would all be over.

“Thanks for being here.”

Klaus whispered as he walked past Pixie towards the first bed. On it was an old man, with hair like strips of shredded paper and a lined face, he looked like someone’s grandparent. Klaus rested a hand on the old man’s and closed his eyes.

It wasn’t hard to find him. His light was small but bright, hidden within itself, like it was trapped by a thin membrane. Klaus could sense that no matter what he did the old man wouldn’t have long to live. But if he healed him, he would probably have a few months with his family.

Cupping the light in his palms Klaus nourished it and encouraged it to grow brighter, to step out of its shell, it was okay. Klaus didn’t really understand medicine or the human body but he knew on an instinctual level that he wasn’t really healing the body; he was helping the soul do that. Or maybe he was, maybe Klaus’ power incorporated tissues alive and dead. If so that probably meant he could summon and army of the undead. He was totally trying that.

Blowing a last bit of energy into the light Klaus took a step back and opened his eyes.

He promptly wavered on his feet and collapsed into Pixie’s side. He materialized him just in time for the sergeant to catch Klaus. He sucked in a breath and stared at the old man; he could tell it had worked. Smiling to himself Klaus leaned into Pixie’s side for a long moment as he tried to catch his breath.

Klaus turned to the next bed where a young man was resting, he was pale, and looked simple enough with brown hair and a kind face. It should be fine he tried to reassure himself. He closed his eyes and searched for the man’s light.

He found it.

It was the size of a grain of sand, not even trying to glow, just waiting, bobbing along in the currents and Klaus could tell that no matter how much he tried to help the man wouldn’t wake up. He was too far gone.

Hargreeves didn’t have to know. Klaus could just say he wouldn’t wake up now but he would later. Who was Klaus to take away a life? He probably had people that visited him, maybe even a girlfriend. What would it be like if they woke up only to the news that their son, boyfriend, friend was dead? 

But Hargreeves would know. He always knew. He would check the records he would pay someone off to kill him anyways because to Hargreeves he was just a waste of life and nutrients. He was a human being. He had a life, had value based just on that fact, there wasn’t any justification necessary.

Maybe it was better then if Klaus rather than Hargreeves ended it. Because he cared, he knew the man was a human being, that he deserved life even if he couldn’t get it. but Klaus could make sure he passed on to the right place.

Klaus glanced at the light in his hands. Could he do this? Could he become a murderer? Wasn’t he already? Kill an innocent life because it was better than letting his dad do it, because to Klaus it was personal, and to Hargreeves it was anything but, it was punishment, it was the circle of life.

He inhaled and with breath blew out the light. It flickered and died and with a twirl of his fingers he guided it towards the light.

When Klaus opened his eyes the heartrate monitor had flatlined and he was already gone. Klaus stumbled back horrified. God what had he done? He was sick, he was a horrible person, no he wasn’t even a person he was a monster. How could he? Klaus was going to be sick.

“Hey Twiggy it’s okay, you did what you had to.”

Pixie’s soothing voice settled the rising tide of panic as cool hands settled on either side of his face and wiped away the tears spilling down his cheeks. Klaus sucked in a shuddering breath and buried his face in Pixie’s shoulder.

Klaus composed himself a moment later, he could cry at home when it was safe. With Hargreeves it was never safe.

He glanced over at the man who was speaking to someone in a black suit. Klaus tilted his head curious and watched as Hargreeves expression darkened and he dismissed the man with a jerky nod.

“Number Four, come we are leaving.”

“Yes sir.”

Klaus replied and dutifully trotted to the door. Hargreeves glanced at Klaus out of the corner of his eye as they bustled down the hallway past nurses hurrying towards the room they had just been in. The man hummed and stated, “Research the anatomy books in the library while I’m gone.”

“Gone?”

Klaus questioned as they stepped out onto the cool pavement. Hargreeves frowned and with a nod replied, “Yes I have a business venture I need to attend to for a week. You will practice in the meantime am I clear Number Four?”

Klaus nodded as they slid into the car, something in his chest sloshed like a glass too full of water as the car shifted into gear. This was his chance. Hargreeves would be gone for a week, and a week was all he needed to disappear. He could leave it all behind. One way or another Klaus was going to be free.

X

Klaus glanced out the window with a yawn and stared at the green grass below, God how he would love to be buried six feet under. Or maybe not, wasn’t there a character who couldn’t die who had done that? Klaus tilted his head to the side with a crack and glanced at the sky outside, it was a pastel blue, soft like something out of a painting with fluffy clouds. He squished his brow; Klaus was pretty certain it was around noon but he had no idea.

Mom had woken him up maybe an hour ago and told him that dad was off on that business trip he had mentioned earlier that morning. Relief still flooded Klaus’ chest, light and airy like LSD or an upper as he peered at the grounds below. He wouldn’t have to deal with dad killing him, or forcing him to kill things.

He was still going to get to one of his stashes today. Whether he took them or not depended on how the rest of the week went. But when dad came back Klaus’ brief stint into sobriety was over.

Having a plan felt nice, like some weight had been taken off his shoulders. Maybe it was like walking to your death knowing it was going to happen and being okay with it. God knows Klaus had done it enough.

A small squeaking sound broke through hazy memories of early morning sunlight slanted through the trees, casting the mud and their army greens into a dream mist. Turning Klaus glanced down at the small cage Mom had given him when he asked. Inside the cage two coal black eyes peered up at him. Klaus smiled and opened the lid of the cage, he hadn’t decided on a name for the mouse yet, and he was hoping Hargreeves wouldn’t notice long enough for Klaus to think of one.

You might be curious as to how Klaus got the mouse.

Klaus maybe broke into the security room and found out where Hargreeves was keeping the mouse. He then maybe opened the cage and levitated the mouse gently to his room with his powers. Maybe. The point was that Klaus had killed the mouse and brought it back to life, that counted for something. They had a bond.

Running a finger gently over the soft head, Klaus sighed and rested his head on his hand. It was weird not to have training. Klaus was, unfortunately, used to having to wake up early in the morning, being forced to train his body and powers until the point of exhaustion. Having nothing to do was just weird. He imagined it was similar to the first few days of summer vacation.

In any case, he did technically have homework. He was supposed to read the anatomy books in the library, probably to help his healing or whatever. Klaus would rather graffiti the books but dad would totally know if he hadn’t read them. Unless Klaus was high. Then he wouldn’t be expected to do anything. It was kind of sad how he missed being useless.

Closing the cage Klaus turned and rummaged through his closet.

He pulled out a large cardboard box and set it on the carpet. Sitting criss-cross apple sauce, Klaus opened the box with a soft smile. He hadn’t had the chance to open it yet, even though Mom had put it in his room last week. When you were exhausted it was hard to do much.

Klaus was still kind of exhausted but the extra few hours were nice.

Inside the box, there were surprise, more boxes. Klaus opened the first one labelled Herbs and peered at the plastic bags with dried herbs, all helpfully labelled, there were even a few seeds. Klaus was not good at gardening. But it couldn’t be too hard right? Dave was good at gardening, he loved to speak of his mother’s garden at home, the gardenias, tulips, and peonies he would help her tend even when she got sick.

Klaus wiped at his misty eyes with a heavy sigh. He missed Dave, sometimes it was a quiet sort of longing, but other times it was a raw open wound, something that would never really go away. It would always leave a scar.

He shook away the morose thoughts hanging around his head like a swarm of moths and pulled out another box. In this one there were incense sticks and an incense burner. Klaus couldn’t believe Hargreeves had actually gotten that after the numerous times Klaus had purposefully accidently set his drapes on fire. Shrugging, Klaus tore open one of the bags and the poignant smell of sage filled the air. Klaus closed his eyes and tipped his head back, just breathing in the scent. It reminded him of fortune tellers at the side of the road, of the forests, of the Earth.

Opening his eyes, Klaus closed the bag and opened up one of the bigger boxes, inside were two athames. They were simple, iron and steel, unadorned, they looked kind of like letter openers. Klaus held the iron athame in his hands and closed his eyes, tugging gently on his powers. He could it feel it vibrate, ringing almost like a bell, interesting. Klaus opened his eyes and pressed the side of the blade against the top of his wrist.

Blood welled up beneath the thin cut, dark as wine against his skin.

Someone knocked on the door.

Fumbling the athame, Klaus accidently scored another cut on the inside of his wrist, but it wasn’t too deep so he focused on putting the athames away.

“Come in.”

Klaus called out as he put the first athame back into the box. The door creaked open. Klaus had refused to let Pogo oil it for that exact reason; the aesthetic was also a valid reason. Ben stood in the doorway, he was wearing his civvies and had a nervous expression plastered across his face. Klaus tilted his head confused as to why Ben had come to his room.

“Hi?”

Ben closed the door behind him and stared at Klaus, just stared at him before Ben’s gaze fell on the athame in his hands.

“Klaus are you cutting yourself?”

He asked horrified. Klaus glanced down at the athame, then at the shallow cuts on his wrist still bleeding. That did look pretty incriminating. But why did Ben care? None of them cared they had told Klaus that already.

“No, it was an accident.”

“And you just so happened to have a knife?”

Ben replied crossing his arms over his chest. Klaus frowned, there had been a time where he had done it for a little bit, on his thighs where no one, not the press or dad, could see. Once he had moved out and onto the streets it hadn’t been safe to do it anymore. It still took him months and too many nights close to death with no one to help for him to stop.

“So, what if I do?”

Klaus responded instead of explaining. He didn’t owe them anything, not anymore. Ben’s expression twitched, anger briefly flashed there like lightning in the dark before it was gone and his shoulders slumped, “Klaus you’re really not cutting yourself?”

“What don’t want me to be a danger on missions?”

Klaus replied with a frown as he glanced at the distorted reflection of his face in the polished surface of the athame. Ben flinched back as if stricken before he replied, “What? No! I’m concerned about you idiot.”

“You sound really concerned.”

Klaus replied sarcastically as he placed the athame back in its box. Ben took a step forward before he paused with a huff. Klaus glanced at him out of the corner of his eyes as Ben’s eyes went wide and he said, “Klaus you’re bleeding!”

“It’s fine.”

Klaus waved off Ben’s concern. Closing his eyes, Klaus tugged at his powers and focused on his arms until the dull pain was gone. When he opened his eyes, the cuts had healed and the blood had dried. Ben stared at him with wide eyes, mouth opening and closing like a fish.

“That’s new.”

Ben stated. Klaus nodded and closed the cardboard box. With a grunt he picked it up and rose to his feet. Klaus swayed for a moment and decided that the few steps to the closet were a few too many, with a flick of his fingers the box floated through the air, glowing blue, and into the closet. Klaus settled onto his bed with a huff and glanced at Ben who had watched the whole thing with wide eyes.

“Klaus… can we talk?”

Ben said quietly, staring at him with his signature puppy eyes. Klaus frowned, what was there to talk about? Could he not just stay in his room alone and go back to bed. Instead he replied, “Talk away, no guarantee I’ll listen. Hearing damaged from training you know?”

Klaus gestured to his ears and watched with a dull vindictive pleasure as Ben flinched, horror and guilt like a flash in the pan across his face. Ben took in a shuddering breath and said, “I’m sorry.”

That wasn’t what he had been expecting to hear. Klaus frowned confused, he had been expecting another request to occupy dad once he got back, or maybe a pity invitation to come and study with them in the library or even excuses, always excuses. But an apology wasn’t what he had expected at all. He waited silently.

“I’m sorry that I abandoned you. That we forced you to train with dad and none of us volunteered to train with him. That we excluded you and that I basically forgot about you.”

“Nice to apologize when dad’s gone and it’s all over with.”

Klaus replied glancing out the window as his chest constricted like he was being hugged by a particularly enthusiastic snake. What good was an apology when it was too late? When they hadn’t done anything while he had been suffering.

“We got rid of dad for a week doesn’t that count for something?”

Oh, that was nice. They got rid of dad so they wouldn’t have to worry about Klaus collapsing and being unable to occupy the man.

“Sure.”

He replied dismissively.

“God you’re so irritating can you just accept the apology?”

“Why the fuck should I Ben?” Klaus rose shakily to his feet and stared at Ben, they were about the same height, he continued, “Do you know what I’ve had to do? He put me back in the mausoleum, he forced me to train for eight hours straight every day, he made Diego throw knives at me, he made me kill a living creature! He… he killed me Ben, twenty times and none of you did anything! Actually, you did something worse than that, you did nothing.”

Klaus finished panting for breath as his eyes burned and his chest felt tight, like when he had worn corsets for a little while. Ben’s arms were at his sides and there were tears literally pouring from his eyes and Klaus could see The Horror moving beneath Ben’s shirt.

“Twenty times?”

Ben asked. Klaus slumped onto the bed all his energy gone as he nodded once staring at the ground. Ben turned and punched the wall with a loud exclamation, “Fuck!” he repeated it again as he cradled his hand to his chest and stared at Klaus with a raw expression.

“Klaus I didn’t-“

“Course you didn’t.”

Klaus interrupted. Ben glared and continued, “I didn’t know and that’s not an excuse. I should have talked to you when I noticed how bad you looked after your first training session. But I didn’t and I can’t take that back. I can’t change the past not anymore. But the future’s open wide and I’m not going to make the same mistake.”

Ben took a step forward and everything around Klaus became fuzzy as he tried to process the words. Ben knelt in front of Klaus and grasped his hands, warm like a fire around Klaus’ cold fingers.

“You’re my brother Klaus, more than Luther, more than Five, or Diego. I’m happy to be alive, but I would never take back the years I spent haunting you, even though you were an idiot, because I love you. I made a mistake but I’m going to fix it. You’re not going to have to drain with dad alone again. I’m not going to let you be alone again.”

“That will get awkward pretty fast.”

Klaus replied with a weak grin but there were tears on his cheeks as he stared into Ben’s eyes. Ben couldn’t lie to him, couldn’t lie to save his life actually. But Klaus could tell he meant it. Everything wasn’t magically better, he was still hurt, none of the others had talked to him, but Klaus thought he could forgive Ben just a little bit.

He surged forward suddenly and wrapped his arms around Ben’s neck, Ben wrapped his arms around Klaus and God how he had missed this. It was warm and it smelled like Ben, laundry detergent and that spicy other scent.

“I’m sorry.”

Ben repeated and Klaus buried his face in Ben’s neck as he replied, “God we’re all a bunch of fuck ups.”

“God save the damned.”

Ben replied and tightened his arms around Klaus. It wasn’t okay, not even close to is, but for some reason Klaus felt lighter, like he wasn’t in it alone anymore.

X

They were all sitting at the kitchen table, Klaus liked it a whole ton of a lot better than the dining room table. The sun that slanted in through the window wasn’t heavy with drapes and there was something open about the kitchen. Mom bustled about setting plates with grilled cheese and vegetables in front of them as she hummed to herself.

Klaus could feel their eyes on him as he stared at the ketchup smile mom had put on his plate, Vanya always thought it was weird but Klaus liked ketchup with his grilled cheese. He actually felt a bit hungry but under the weight of everyone’s gaze he was decidedly waiting.

He could see Five at the head of the table where dad would normally sit, Luther was on his right with Allison beside him, the three were speaking in low whispers and glancing at him every minute or so. Diego was sitting beside Vanya, who was sitting beside Allison, and they were talking quietly about a book Klaus was certain. Ben sat beside Klaus, his knee was pressed up against Klaus’ and for once he wasn’t talking to anyone else. It reminded Klaus of pulling out chairs and setting down a plate for an empty spot.

He wanted to go back to his room. More specifically, he wanted to go and find some weed. Light up and just drift in a pleasant high. Ben would be disappointed but Klaus didn’t feel quite as damaged by said disappointment as he did in the past.

Besides, as much as Ben liked to promise he would prevent dad from torturing training Klaus, he probably wouldn’t follow through. And, even if he tried, Ben wouldn’t be able to stop dad. More and more, Diego’s idea to get rid of dad seemed appealing. Not that Klaus would ever do it.

The table was silent but for the whispers of conversation and Klaus could feel words itching in his throat, something acidic and sharp.

“So, Klaus what are you going to do with your week off?”

Vanya asked smiling timidly at him. Where was the fire of a week ago? Was she scared of him? Had the others smothered her after all?

Klaus shrugged and rubbed his fingers together itching for a cigarette and knowing that morally it was okay to have one. Picking at a piece of crust Klaus glanced around the table and wondered what they wanted him to say. Was he supposed to say he was planning to go watch a movie? Maybe he would go visit Dave and all the others. He could probably speak to some of them if he did. It would be nice. Final. But nice.

“We were uh thinking you could join us when we go to Griddy’s?”

That was Diego, he wasn’t stuttering anymore which was good, but he was staring at Klaus with his ‘older siblings’ face. Really Klaus was ten months older than all of them bar Five who was an outlier and therefore not to be counted.

“I’m good.”

He waved off the pity invite. If they were inviting him because they finally felt bad at how he was being treated he was rather not interested. Besides it would probably be worse than the heavy silence hanging over the table.

“Why not?”

Allison demanded placing her fork on the table with a loud clink. He could feel their eyes on him again. Had no one ever taught them it was rude to stare? Klaus glanced at his hands, Hello and Goodbye, winking back up at him; they were mostly healed.

What was he supposed to say without stepping on any toes? Heck maybe he should step on some toes.

“I’m okay I don’t need to attend a pity party I can throw enough of one by myself.”

He waved off nonchalantly and took a bite of his grilled cheese; like always it was good. Allison pursed her lips and tilted her head, a classic tell for when she was gearing up for an argument but it was Luther who responded, “Pity party?”

Klaus raised a brow, Luther had a brain somewhere in that thick skull of his, surely, he could figure it out. Klaus took another bite of his sandwich and glanced at Ben who was frowning at their siblings with narrowed eyes. Ben had always been better at emotional stuff; he was the brains of the operation.

“Why don’t you want to come with us Klaus?”

Five asked with a jut of his chin all challenging eyes like he was daring Klaus to answer truthfully. It was a bait; Klaus could see that much. But he would answer and Five knew he would answer, it had been the same when they were all actually kids.

“Maybe cause I’m not a member of your little attic gang.”

Klaus replied with a shrug and took another bite of his grilled cheese, it was hard and cold in his mouth but he forced himself to swallow it anyway. Luther frowned clearly confused but Five’s face had twitched into a speculative expression.

“Attic gang?”

Allison questioned with a raised brow. Klaus glanced at Ben, who was still silent. Gee, thanks. Sighing, Klaus really wanted a cigarette and instead he had to have another confrontational meal with his family, at this point he was ready to take meals in his room. God he could use a drink, it was like Thanksgiving or something. He wasn’t expecting some kind of Spanish Inquisition.

“Well you all spend so much time training Vanya it’s like a little cult.”

He replied with a bright smile and a little clap of his hands. He watched as they all flinched, expressions twisting from guilt to denial to something sad.

“Klaus.”

Vanya began quietly before she stopped. Diego frowned and said, “You know Vanya needs training.”

“Apparently I do as well.”

Klaus replied and took another bite of his sandwich watched the expressions flicker across their features in minute shifts. He was full. Klaus pushed his plate away and waited, he would leave soon if no one replied. Why would they? He was just the scapegoat taking the brunt of dad’s attention and all they felt for him was pity. Klaus felt suddenly glad they didn’t have a mind reader in the family.

“Klaus, we didn’t mean to force you to train with dad so much.”

Allison said, words always dipped in honey. Klaus tilted his head to the side with a slip of his shoulders and replied, “Really? Doesn’t seem like it to me.”

“We told you if you needed help to come to us.”

Luther added as Mom swept in and took away Klaus plate, still mostly full of food.

“Gee my current physical state wasn’t enough of an indicator?”

“We are bad at asking for help in this family.”

Vanya added quietly but Klaus was certain they didn’t hear her. Guilt washed over their features again and Klaus’ pity sensor went through the roof. God he was tired of this, why were they even trying if all they felt was pity. They didn’t care they had shown that.

“We should have noticed.”

Diego said, the closest any of them had come to an apology so far. Klaus glanced at Diego long and hard before he nodded once and replied, “You should have.”

“Klaus come to Griddy’s with us.”

Allison entreated with one of her fake-gentle smiles. Klaus shook his head and rose to his feet. He swayed for a moment as gravity reasserted itself, maybe he needed some more iron in his diet, before he pushed in his chair.

“We’re trying to include you Klaus!”

Luther protested and Klaus paused with a heavy sigh and stared at the six of them.

“You’re trying now after everything has happened, when dad isn’t even here, only after you saw me almost faint. How do I know you’re not just doing this to absolve your own guilty complexes? If you wanted to include me you would have done so earlier, if you all cared you would have intervened earlier. Stop trying to pretend that you care.”

Klaus finished the words light on his tongue, burning fast like they couldn’t get out there sooner. He watched the horror slip across their faces, but was he wrong? He wasn’t. They just felt guilty. Ben was the only one who had apologized and he wasn’t completely forgiven yet.

How do you prove to someone you actually care?

It was a hard question, with a hard answer.

“Klaus that’s not-we do care about you.”

Vanya protested and the others nodded in agreement. Klaus rolled his eyes and slouched against the door frame. Weed. He was going to go get some weed and get high as Hell.

“You sure show it in a weird way then.”

“We got dad to leave.”

Luther protested indignantly. Klaus grimaced and replied, “Thanks I could use a break but when he comes back, you’ll all go back to training Vanya and I’ll have to entertain him seven days a week and nothing will change.”

“You could stop training with him.”

Five stated but he was calculating odds and he already knew the answer. Klaus shook his head, “I’m too much of an experiment. He still hasn’t tried strangulation, or hanging, or drowning so that will probably be the morning schedule on his first day back.”

They all looked horrified. Good.

“Klaus, please we want to help you.”

Allison said. Diego added, “Yeah just let us help you.”

“First you want to include me now you want to help me, make up your minds people.”

Klaus replied throwing his hands into the air as his eyes lingered on the hallway. He wanted this conversation to be over. He was tired.

“Why won’t you listen to us Four?”

Luther asked honestly curious but all Klaus could hear was his number, they never called each by their numbers. He straightened, like he was speaking to the commander and stared at them with narrowed eyes and thinned lips.

“Why won’t I listen? Why won’t you listen to me? You say you want to help me, that you want to include me but none of you have listened. You didn’t listen to my words. You refused to see what was in front of you. You all blinded your senses to me and you what expect me to forgive you all the moment you decide to throw a pity party because I must be so desperate for human contact right? Just leave me alone, you can’t do anything about dad, you can’t do anything for me anymore. Oh, and by the way, I’ve decided what I’m going to do this week, I’m going to find a nice alleyway and I’m going to buy a shit ton of drugs and forget all of this miserable shit ever happened.”

Silence. Golden silence.

“What about Dave?”

Ben asked quietly. Klaus shook his head and replied, “If he was going to show he would have.”

“Klaus please just give us a chance.”

Diego said staring at him with dark eyes. Klaus pressed his lips together and glanced at the hallway as he replied, “Why should I?”

“You’re right we’ve been horrible to you, absolute fuck-ups we ignored you when you were in pain, we practically refused to help you, we didn’t include you. And for what it means I’m sorry. You’re our brother Klaus, this family has stick together. Let us try, we can’t fix our mistakes if you don’t let us try.”

Klaus stared at the table for a long moment, stared at each of his siblings and wondered if what he was seeing was actually regret and apology. Vanya was right though; he could at least give them a chance. They didn’t deserve it. But he would give them that chance. If they fucked it up, he was done.

“I’ll give you guys a chance if you figure out how to deal with dad and my training. Now I’m off to go find some weed.”

“Klaus you’re clean!”

Allison protested.

“And until you find a solution it’s the only defence I have against dad. Besides weeds not addictive.”

Before they could lecture him on relapsing Klaus turned and entered the hallway. He paused beside the doorway for a long minute sucking in harsh breaths as his chest felt tight, like there were stones pressing into it. He vaguely heard Diego say, “So stubborn, I can’t believe he’s going to start using again after all that.”

Ben replied, “Give him time. Let me talk to him.”

Then the sound of footsteps. Inhaling Klaus pulled off the wall and floated down the hallway. Dealing with family sucked, it was tricky and tiring and painful. He just wanted to sleep.

X

Ben charged up the stairs breath tight in his lungs, still a weird feeling. The sound of fighting was a cacophony beneath him and the sound of gunfire was loud as thunder to his ears. He grimaced and pushed forward the image of Klaus standing in the doorway staring at all of them with an expression that looked mean but Ben knew was desperate. They were all such idiots some times.

And now? Now it was a repeat of when Hazel and Cha Cha had attacked the mansion. Except, they were all just kids and Ben was actually alive, could actually warn Klaus.

He should have followed him into his room regardless of the slammed door. But he had wanted to respect Klaus’ need for space and now the others were in the main hall hiding behind tables and chairs as he raced to try and warn Klaus before the Commission found him.

Five didn’t even know why they had attacked. They hadn’t done anything incriminating, sure they had been contemplating allowing Vanya to fight with them. But they hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary otherwise.

Ben panted for breath at the top of the stairs before he ran down the hallway.

It didn’t make sense. Yet here they were fighting for their lives. And this time, Ben could jump in front of a bullet to try and save someone only this time it would work.

Ben skidded to a halt in front of Klaus’ door and banged on the wood paneling. There was nothing for a moment, just the sound of gunfire belting out like a beat before the door swung open. Klaus was wearing a skirt and an open chested blouse that reminded Ben of the streets and messy eyeliner, he had his headphones around his neck.

“What?”

Klaus asked softly, he tilted his head to the side and squinted, “Is that fireworks?”

“No, the Commission attacked us.”

Ben gasped out and paused as he forced himself to try and regulate his breathing and his racing heart. The Horror was stirring inside his chest, concern and anger at whoever had caused the fear.

“What why?”

Klaus demanded eyes wide as he tossed his headphones onto his bed and stepped out into the hallway. Ben followed beside him as they walked carefully towards the stairs lowly explaining, “We don’t know, I went back downstairs and suddenly the back door burst open and they were filling in. Five transported us all to the main room and Diego got Mom out of the way.”

“What even is our lives.”

Klaus complained with a huff as he stared trepidatiously at the bottom of the stairs where they watched as Five appeared on the back of a Commission soldier and stabbed them. Pleasant. Ben nodded in agreement and glanced at Klaus.

This was familiar, it was mission after mission wishing they could sit it out and have a normal childhood. Klaus flashed him a weak smile, the bags under his eyes were dark in the gloom of the house. With a nod they walked down the stairs and onto the first floor.

It was pure chaos. Luther was throwing soldiers left and right with little care for dad’s weird furniture choices. Allison was rumouring soldiers to turn on each other with a pained expression as Diego stood beside her and incapacitated the ones she couldn’t reach. Five was shielding Vanya, who was hiding behind a couch, occasionally she would stand up and with a wave of her hand send a soldier flying; sometimes it was less flying and more bisecting.

A soldier charged towards Ben and he ducked underneath the overhead strike and with a grim smile let the Horror out. The feel of warm blood on his face was familiar and just as unsettling as always, unsettling because a part of him enjoyed it, the part where he couldn’t tell where the Horror began and Ben ended. The Horror settled inside his stomach and he watched as Klaus, hands glowing blue, sent two soldiers flying with a flick of his fingers; they crashed into the walls with broken necks.

It was strange how calm and in control Klaus looked.

Another soldier decided, unwisely, to attack Ben and with a sigh he elbowed them and slammed his fingers into the jut of the man’s neck. If he could incapacitate someone by hitting a pressure point, he preferred to even if the Horror objected.

The sound of gunfire rang out beside him and Ben jerked. He watched with wide eyes as Klaus took down the remaining soldiers one after another, like they were bottles lined in a row. He would bring the scope to his eyes aim and fire, like a machine.

Right Vietnam.

Silence descended like the aftermath of a collapsed building as they all paused gasping for breath. Klaus glanced at the gun for a long moment before with one smooth movement he put the safety on and slung it over his shoulder.

“Klaus, how did you?”

Luther questioned as they all glanced at the main room, there were bodies cloaked in death’s black shadow lying all over the room and the furniture was practically destroyed, but all they could seem to focus on was Klaus. Ben also couldn’t look away as the blue covering his hands faded away and he shrugged, he looked like the Klaus knew. Not the shadow of exhaustion and training.

“You learn to shoot fast in a war. The bigger question is why they attacked the mansion.”

The last part was directed at Five who was wrapping a piece of cloth around a bullet wound with a grimace. It reminded Ben to take stock of his own injuries as the adrenaline began to fade. Klaus stalked over with a blank expression on his face, and before Five could protest he pressed his hand over the wound, it began to glow blue and a moment later Klaus dropped a bullet on the ground and stepped away.

“Klaus what?”

Five questioned with wide eyes.

Ben became aware of the pulsing pain in his stomach, letting his fingers drift there he swallowed heavily at the sight of blood on his hands. He hadn’t even noticed. He could feel the Horror’s anger like fire in his veins as he sunk slowly to his knees.

“Ben!”

Klaus was at his side in a moment.

“Fuck, Ben.”

Klaus said and he could hear the desolation as he batted away Ben’s hand. The glow of his Klaus’ hands was bright and he gasped as a cold feeling washed over him, like shivers, like someone had walked over his grave in the future. Suddenly, it was like a deepfreeze, time seemed to slow and the bullet wound felt like it was hot, so hot it was cold.

Then the feeling was gone and a bullet clinked to the ground.

When he glanced at Klaus’ face, so close to his own there were tears and emotions so raw that Ben felt like he had to look away, instead he pressed his forehead to Klaus’.

“I’m alive. Thank you.”

“Fucking idiot.”

Klaus choked out and a moment later pulled away expression pressed into semblance of composure. Ben’s fingers hovered over the former wound, there was still a hole in his shirt and dried blood but the pain was gone and so was the wound.

“So, Five why did the Commission attack?”

Allison asked as she ran a soothing hand over Vanya’s shoulder. Diego was cleaning his knives as Luther was attempting to right the couch. Klaus looked like he might faint as he leaned heavily against one of the pillars, he was pale and flushed.

“This wasn’t an infiltration mission to get information and I doubt they were for Hargreeves; they would have sent assassins. Which means they were here for us.”

“But why?”

Diego asked as Ben stood casually beside Klaus and pressed his hand into Klaus’ cold one. Five frowned and replied, “I don’t know I don’t like not knowing. We haven’t done anything to attract the attention of the Commission. Our training Vanya might have been recorded but if they were going to attack it would be in three to six months when they were certain of the variabilities. For now, too much is in the air. There must have been something else.”

“Has anyone done anything recently that might have alerted the Commission?”

Diego asked. Ben considered it but they hadn’t, they had been quiet like Five wanted, on the few missions dad had sent them on they had acted normally. Five scowled and Ben expected him to pull out a piece of chalk and start writing on the walls but instead he turned to Klaus.

“Klaus could you summon one of these soldiers? Higher command the better.”

Klaus frowned eyes hooded for a second before he plastered on a fake smile and nodded. Ben watched as he closed his eyes, his hands started to glow blue. Ben watched as it grew brighter before Klaus opened his eyes with a frown.

“Look I’m not sorry but can you answer some questions? I don’t care about your loyalty your dead!”

Klaus said to thin air with an affronted expression hands planted on his thin hips.

“Materialize them please.”

Five asked and Klaus’ eyes flickered to Five, he scrunched his nose and nodded. Klaus’s hand glowed blue once more and like a heat distortion a ghost materialized, he was dressed in the same black of the soldiers, but his mask was off and he was glaring at Klaus with his hands crossed over his chest, there was a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead.

“Rank?”

Five questioned walking forward to stand in front of the soldier. The soldier glared at Five and kept his lips shut. Klaus’ sighed and closed his eyes, a moment later something small and white appeared in his hands, flickering like a candle flame. Klaus pressed two fingers around the flame and Ben watched as the ghost’s expression contorted in fear.

“Is that his soul?”

Ben demanded, some part of him felt sick or afraid. Klaus grimaced expression dark as he nodded and added aloud, “I can make sure you don’t pass on to the right afterlife, I can even make your spirit linger somewhere you probably don’t want to linger. Answer the questions.”

“First Lieutenant.”

The ghost replied. Five nodded at Klaus and returned his attention to the soldier.

“Why were you sent?”

“To retrieve the Hargreeves children.”

“Why?”

“Information received that they were aware of the timeline and altering it.”

Five scowled and questioned, “The Handler sent you?”

The soldier nodded. Five’s brow furrowed and he added, “Who gave you this information?”

“Unknown, informant is an outside member.”

“Outside member?”

Vanya questioned, Ben glanced at his siblings, they were all staring at the ghost. Ben glanced at Klaus, he was pale, eve more so than before, sweat glistened on his skin, and when Ben glanced at his hands frost seemed to be covering his skin.

“Someone who works with the Commission but isn’t a member. Usually there is a contract involved,” Five replied and turned to the soldier, “Who is the contact?”

“Unknown.”

“Is anything known about the contact?”

“They supplied information regarding the Hargreeves children in the past.”

The soldier replied glaring at Klaus, who was leaning heavily against the pillar.

“That’s enough.”

Ben said, Klaus didn’t look good and he was still exhausted from training. Five glanced at Ben with a raised brow but nodded. Klaus slumped and with an exhale the soldier flickered out of sight. Ben carefully grasped Klaus’ hands in his, they were ice cold.

“So, what do we do now?”

Diego asked as they stared at the bodies. Five grinned, a bloody grin and replied, “Now we attack the Commission and find out who the informant is.”

“What?”

Allison demanded, Luther rose to his feet and added, “Five, that’s crazy.”

“Is it? They’ve already attacked us and failed. They’ll send another stronger team soon. Why not attack first?”

No one protested.

“Can we have a nap first?”

Klaus asked, skin pale and sweaty. Five glanced over his shoulder at Klaus and his eyes softened. He nodded and replied, “We’ll regroup tomorrow morning to plan everything. For now, we need to get rid of the bodies.”

“I love getting rid of the bodies.”

Klaus said with a sigh. Ben stared at his brother for a long moment, unease curling in his gut. Something wasn’t right about the whole situation but they couldn’t do anything about it. Ben just prayed that they would all be okay.

X

Thank you all for reading! I hope you all enjoyed this chapter we’re really starting to get into the action now. I hope all my American readers had a Happy Thanksgiving if you had to deal with pesky relatives, I feel for you and so does Klaus. There will probably be 1-2 more chapters after this one and then this fic will be over. Reviews/comments are always appreciated, till next time!

Chapter Text

X

Klaus stumbled, it was like he had been squeezed through a straw and spit out the other end. The others looked equally unsteady and somewhat green in the face except for Five who was checking his watch and tapping his foot with an impatient expression. Klaus inhaled and attempted to banish the uneasy turn of his stomach as he glanced at their surroundings. They were in the back of an underground parking lot, beside a white van. It was dank, dark and cold; Klaus repressed a shudder.

“Where are we?”

Allison asked as she tugged at the mask over her eyes, they were all wearing their uniforms, they were Kevlar after all. They wouldn’t stop a bullet but they at least provided some protection. Five frowned and glanced at the six of them before he replied, “In the Commission parking lot, the only camera is at the other end. The real question is when we are.”

“When?”

Luther questioned confused, Diego beside him had the same expression. Five raised a brow and Klaus could just see the annoyance on their brother’s face as he sighed and replied, “The Commission must function both in and out of time, they are a fixed point in time in every time.”

“Like when you appeared in the past?”

Ben asked crossing his arms over his chest. Five nodded with a miniscule smile and continued, “Technically we’re the 1950’s headquarters, it’s the Handler’s favourite era.”

Five grimaced at the mention of the Handler, who Klaus had only vaguely heard about but already disliked. She had been the one to order Dave’s death, she was the reason the whole Apocalypse had happened regardless of whatever fate or destiny bullshit they believed.

“What’s her deal again?”

Diego asked as he idly inspected a knife. Five grimaced and Klaus could almost feel the weird tangle of emotions in the expression, it was sort of weird because Five generally didn’t show anything beyond his limited emotional range.

“She runs the organization. Remember in a worst-case scenario let me deal with her. Do you all remember the plan?”

Just like that the air was heavy and serious. It reminded Klaus of that mission before Ben died, or any of the other ones where one of them always came back on a stretcher. Klaus had once been tortured for three hours on a mission like this. Vanya was the only one who had never felt it or seen it.

Five nodded and began to run over it quickly, “Remember, I’ll disable the security camera. Luther and Diego, you will pose as hitman (hence the bloody suits they had brought along). Vanya and Allison, you will be delivering a new change to the timelines, remember code 0322. Ben and Klaus, you’re handling the covert aspect using the soldier. Meet back in this location if all else fails. If this area is compromised meet at where our first mission was. Understood?”

God, he sounded like Pixie giving battle orders. They all nodded faces grim. Five stared at all of them for a long moment before he smiled, sharp enough to cut and said, “Good luck.”

They repeated the words to each other a promise to come back, to make it out alive, they would be together again. They were family after all, they had their problems, too many, but that much was true. It was the choice to try, the choice to be family even at the end of it all.

Five disappeared and it began.

Klaus turned to Ben and with a nod they left the others who needed to change. Klaus wasn’t sure how well thirteen-year-olds would pass as adults but Five had said not to worry. They were apparently still working on a bug in the briefcases at this point.

With an inhale Klaus tugged at his powers. He still felt like shit, yesterday had been like being punched repeatedly after just leaving the hospital on crutches but he was fine. Totally fine. The soldier from yesterday metalized in front of him, the wound in his head leaked blood sluggishly as he glared at Klaus and reluctantly turned. Klaus followed with Ben beside him.

“Copy everyone is go cameras are disabled.”

“Copy.”

Ben replied beside him, as they stepped through the parking garage door and into a brightly lit hallway. It was almost blinding, doors on either side like an office nightmare with dull green carpets and grey walls. Klaus shivered and followed the soldier down the hallway the air stale.

“Hey Five, how did the Commission come to exist?”

Diego asked over the comms, which were better than the ones they usually used on missions.

A woman entered the hallway head buried in a folder. With a twitch of his fingers both he and Ben lifted quietly and slowly towards the ceiling. The woman walked past without glancing up from her folder; most people didn’t look up. Ben had a look of wonder on his features as Klaus set them gently on the ground and they followed the soldier into a stairwell.

“The founder of the Commission was said to be the first man to invent time travel, then he discovered the need to regulate time itself. Others believe the organization started with a seer who could see the potential disruptions of the timeline. Others believe it was God.”

“I met God; she doesn’t like me.”

Klaus stated casually as with a shake of his head he decided resolutely that they were not climbing the stairs. Had Klaus ever mentioned how much he hated stairs? Ben grinned at him with a knowing expression as they started to float straight through the centre of the stair well, Klaus flipped the middle finger.

“You met God?”

Vanya asked.

“She?”

Luther demanded.

“Yeah when I died in the Apoca-wasn’t in the club I met God, she’s a kid with a bike. I think I met the Devil as well but I couldn’t see him so that could have been the void.”

“You’ve got be joking.”

Allison said voice heavy with amusement but also pleading just a little bit that Klaus was lying. Nope. Face the consequences of your actions he thought vindictively as he replied, “Yep. One time, I think towards the end of that training session I actually almost entered the rebirth cycle, that or a different religion’s afterlife.”

The soldier was paused outside the top door and Klaus slowly lowered them both to the floor. Ben tried the door but it was locked. Klaus sighed and the knob glowed blue for a moment before it turned and the door clicked open. Having powers was cool, but having to use them all the time because they were versatile and he was exhausted wasn’t as cool.

“How long did you work for the Commission, Five?”

Diego asked and Klaus could hear the sound of their shoes pressing into the tile from over the comm.

Klaus and Ben followed the soldier down the hallway, past even more, yep you guessed it, doors all with numbers on them. Klaus hated it; it was like the capitalistic dream nightmare of the fifties all rolled into one. He could tell Ben also didn’t like it. There was something oppressive about the hallways.

“Twenty years give or take. Time travel complicates the time line.”

“In what way?”

Vanya’s voice drifted quietly over the comms, the sound of keys in the background. Five made a vague sound and for a long moment there was silence before he replied, “Sometimes we were frozen in place, or we had to erase or add days in our own timelines if necessary; especially if we entered a time where we already existed.”

“The whole don’t meet yourself thing?”

Ben questioned as they flattened themselves against a corner and watched a janitor push by with a cart.

“Sort of. I rarely had a mission in America in the 2000’s. I had one once, but I couldn’t talk to any of you.”

“Why?”

Allison asked.

The soldier paused in front of an elevator door with a pin code. Klaus sighed and stomped his foot; the soldier was smiling. Klaus closed his eyes and dug, it would probably take forever to find the right spirit who had the recent code and not an old one. Oh, it was right there. Klaus stepped forward and entered the pin, 1030. The doors slid open with a beep.

“I wouldn’t be able to leave and I still needed more information on the Apocalypse. I wanted to though.”

Five’s voice was vulnerable even as the sound of fighting destroyed the tenderness of the moment.

The soldier’s fingers hovered over the top floor and Klaus reached out and pressed it as boring elevator music drifted through the speakers.

Silence rang heavy over the speakers for a long moment. Klaus tilted his body against Ben’s and focused on inhaling and exhaling slowly trying to conserve his energy. He really wished he hadn’t been so lazy and had gone and found one of his stashes. He could really have used it to take the edge off of everything.

The doors dinged open to a small empty room with a closed door at the end of the hallway.

“Five is the handler in her office?”

Ben asked as they stepped into the waiting room. With a press of his powers against the secretary’s soul she fell asleep and wouldn’t wake up for a little while. He wasn’t sure exactly how long; he hadn’t had the chance to train that part of his powers yet.

“All clear. Distraction on aisle six.”

Ben nodded and opened the door. The Handler’s office was nice, almost modern, sleek lines and a bowl of candy on her desk.

“What are we looking for? Also, status report?”

Ben said into the comms as Klaus drifted into the room and glanced at everything. Look he knew where to hide a stash better than anyone.

“Looking for contact contracts, should be in a folder probably in a filing cabinet. I’ve finished dismantling the brief cases and am on my way up.”

“Vanya and I are in the elevator.”

“We’re taking the back entrance, had to deal with security but it’s resolved.”

“Klaus and I are in the office see you soon.”

As the others reported in Klaus drifted around the room. Ben had gone straight to one of the many filing cabinets along the walls but Klaus could just tell there was more. Now way someone named the Handler had nothing to hide, and not even in the kinky sense.

He glanced at the titles of books. World War One, Two, Vietnam. He paused but let his fingers skim over it to the next book, one on French cuisine. Well that didn’t match at all did it?

“Klaus a little help please?”

“One moment.”

Klaus absently replied as he tugged the book down. Something made a quiet snick sound and he glanced to the left as a panel snapped open. Klaus glanced at the folder inside and tucked it under his sweater vest, they could look at it later, then he closed the secret compartment.

The doors creaked open and Klaus froze.

It was just Vanya and Allison, skirts, blouses, and Vanya was wearing glasses.

“Over here.”

Ben gestured as he flipped through a folder. Allison and Vanya instantly went over and helped Ben flip through the folders. Klaus glanced around the room with narrowed eyes, there was probably so much hiding in here but they were there for the informant contract so he padded over and dug open another filing cabinet.

“Good you’ve already started.”

Five stated as he popped into the room with a crack. Klaus wondered what it would be like if he sounded like the Tardis materializing.

“We haven’t found anything yet.”

Vanya stated with a huff as she pulled out a folder and put it back. Klaus was glancing quickly at the information on the page searching for key words but it was hard when he didn’t have a clue what they were searching for or even a name.

He spotted the name Hargreeves and pulled the folder out.

“Guys we have a problem!”

Luther yelled as he and Diego skidded into the office and shut the doors behind them with a bang. Just then sirens started ringing low and long.

“Fuck.”

Five said passionately as Vanya and Allison each tucked a separate folder under their shirts.

“What happened?”

Ben demanded over the noise of the sirens. Diego panting for breath, glared at Luther and said, “There were complications and the secretary was awake and well here we are.”

“Not good very not good.”

Five mumbled as Ben grabbed another folder and passed it to Klaus. It wasn’t smart of Ben to hold onto any of the folders.

“Ah Number Five and your siblings what a pleasant surprise.”

A female voice slithered into the room. Klaus whirled around, there was a woman in the doorway, soldiers in black on either side, she had platinum blond hair and was wearing a black dress. She reminded him a tiny bit of Mom but like an evil robot version of Mom.

 “I don’t think pleasant is quite the right word.”

Five replied with a tilt of his head and a just of his chin, challenging and knowing.

“Well imagine my surprise when the squad I sent out doesn’t return and yet here are the Hargreeves children in my office.”

“Why did you attack the mansion?”

Five demanded. Klaus could see Luther open his mouth but Allison glared at him and he closed it.

“Why, that’s a great question isn’t it?”

She reminded him of the evil queen from Snow White, or a witch.

Five frowned lips peeled back in a snarl. They weren’t really in a position to argue.

“Well we received information that you children had been naughty and were playing with the timeline, of course we can’t have that.”

Before Five could reply the soldiers surged forward and chaos erupted.

Klaus pulled out his gun from yesterday, aimed and fired. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. He dropped the gun as one tried to creep up on Allison and sent the soldier flying with a wave of his hand. Ben hadn’t released the Horror but was using his weird pressure point magic. Klaus flicked away a stray bullet and shot another soldier. Vanya had shattered the candy bowl and a few soldiers had been unlucky recipients of the shards of glass. Luther was tossing soldiers left and right as Diego threw his knives.

“Everyone now.”

Five yelled and they all moved towards him. Diego vaulted over one soldier and stuck a knife in his neck. Klaus glanced at the Handler, she was watching the chaos with an amused smile, like one might watch a mouse struggle against cat. He tugged and watched as she collapsed, it wouldn’t stop her indefinitely but it was enough. It also felt good.

They all reached Five, hands on his arms as with a nod his powers engulfed them and they were gone.

X

They landed jerkily with a bone-wrenching crack in a parking lot. Klaus swayed unsteadily, adrenaline and exhaustion at war with his body as he glanced blearily at their surroundings. They were in a parking lot, it was dark out, a few cars like strange animals, everything felt twisted and strange; false. In front of them, the Griddy’s sign glowed florescent and bright, the I flickered rapidly.

Five collapsed to one knee with a heartfelt curse and Klaus watched as Vanya carefully helped him up, as Luther glanced at their surroundings with Diego, as Allison and Ben spoke softly to Five. It was all rushing together inside him, the fight, the folders itched against his stomach, Dave, the Handler, his siblings.

“When are we?”

Luther asked, his hands crossed over his chest as Five rose to his feet. Their oldest brother rolled his neck with a crack and glanced at the Griddy’s for a long moment before he replied, “2002, in the new timeline. I need coffee.”

And without further ado, Five stumbled towards the Griddy’s.

“Won’t the Commission come after us?”

Diego asked as they followed Five over the cracked and uneven parking lot. Klaus stuck his hands in his pocket and shivered, it was cold for May. Ben pressed his shoulder against Klaus’ a line of warmth as he whispered, “You okay?”

No. He wasn’t okay. He was tired and they had to confront the Handler and Klaus had to do most of the heavy lifting and he felt like they had only brought him along because his powers were useful (and wasn’t that what he had wanted originally) and they were just using him. And God, they were thirteen without all the rights of adults and he couldn’t summon Dave, and it was cold.

“I’m fine.”

Klaus replied with a shake of his head as Five paused in front of the entrance and with a tilt of his head replied, “Eventually yes. But it will take them some time to mobilize a team and find our location.”

“Time which they control. Couldn’t they pop out at any second?”

Allison asked as they filed in through the doorway. Plastic vinyl seats, fluorescent lights. Back to where it all began again.

Five shook his head, “Think of this similar to Doctor Who it’s near impossible for them to calculate things to the minute, especially with their methods. Even for me. I wanted to arrive a month earlier but instead arrived a week earlier. It likely won’t take them a week but a few hours.”

They crowded around the counter in silent agreement that times like these required donuts. The lady at the counter smiled at the seven of them and asked, “Another field trip?”

“Yes, a play.”

Vanya replied as if it might explain the blood on their uniforms. The woman smiled and took their orders, she only raised a brow when Five asked for coffee but prepared it anyway which was a relief. Klaus settled in a booth near the back with a window, Ben squished beside him, and Vanya on his other side with Diego beside her. Five, Alison, and Diego squished into the other side of the booth.

Silence hung for a moment, heavy and expectant like when you came out of a movie theatre having seen the best or worst movie of your entire life and it changed you in some way. Maybe, that wasn’t the best analysis but it worked.

Agnes passed by their table and set the donuts in front of them, in front of Five she set a cup of coffee. He glared viciously at everyone and wrapped his fingers around the mug, he would not be parted from his coffee upon pain of death.

Five took a long sip and began, “So, what folders do we have?”

Klaus pulled the folders out and spread them in front of him. Except for the one which had been in the secret compartment, that he held in his hands. He watched as Vanya and Allison put their folders on the table and then he said, “I found a secret compartment, this folder was inside.”

Five reached out in a silent order. Klaus was kind of sick of Five’s orders. Sighing Klaus passed the folder over to his brother.

Diego picked up another folder and flipped through it, Ben mimicked the motion. Klaus took a bite of his donut, with rainbow sprinkles, and watched as in silence they poured through the folders. He glanced at Five, who’s lips were pressed tightly together, Klaus couldn’t tell if he was furious or afraid.

“It was dad.”

Allison announced suddenly.

“What?”

Luther demanded as Klaus shrunk back into the booth confused. Everything felt too loud, too much.

“Dad was the informant.”

Allison continued, she was pale, her fingers around the binder were tight. Vanya replied, “That’s impossible right?”

“No, it says here, ‘Sum payed to [Redacted] Hargreeves for information concerning the Hargreeves children’s developing powers.’ Dad sold them information on us.”

“Why?”

Klaus asked, because that was the important question. He wasn’t surprised, not even a little bit that Hargreeves had been selling information on them to the Commission. The question was why and what the Commission needed that information for.

“Because he wanted the Apocalypse to happen.”

Five stated as he set the folder in his hands down on the table.

Noise erupted as they all tried to speak at once. Klaus leaned against the side of the booth and listened to their protests, their questions, their demands. It was almost funny, in a sad way, how much they still trusted the old bastard even after everything.

“Enough,” Five commanded and the noise stopped as they all stared at him, the one who was supposed to know what to do. Five continued, “In hindsight, it makes sense. He raised us to be divided, rather than actually creating a bond between us.

“Diego, you and Luther if you work together are a near unstoppable team, but because of your competitiveness to be number one that would never happen. Vanya, rather than attempting to teach you control once you were older, he continued to suppress your powers. Ben and Allison, he shattered your self esteem preventing you from tapping any deeper into your powers because of fear. And Klaus, he knew you were high but let you because your powers are dangerous. I suspect that he has been training you so intensely in the hope that you would turn back to drugs.”

Fuck. Fuck! How could their fucking dad do this? And yet, Klaus wasn’t even surprised. It made perfect sense; he was just using them. But fuck! He had known about Klaus using and had let him. He had been training for nothing! All the man wanted was a little experiment that he could shove back into the corner once he was done. Klaus wondered what the man would have done if Klaus decided to stay clean, would he drug his food? Give him money in the form of an allowance? Fuck. He shouldn’t be hurt over it but he was.

Silence.

“Why would he want the Apocalypse to happen?”

Vanya questioned, she looked like she might start crying any moment.

Klaus couldn’t breathe. Was everything a lie?

“Why wouldn’t he? He’s a megalomaniac, look at all the treasures he’s collected over the years sitting in that old mansion.”

Diego bit out, he was pale as the napkins in the dispenser. Luther scowled and opened his mouth before he paused and shut it, a thoughtful expression appearing. Five frowned and stared into his coffee as if it might provide an answer.

He couldn’t breathe. Could only hear it all on repetition dull like it was coming through water.

“It just doesn’t make sense why would he go through all this trouble of raising and training us only for the world to end? We were already well on our way towards that without superpowers.”

Allison asked tapping her nails against the table with red eyes. Luther covered her hand gently with his own and she flashed him a watery smile.

He needed some air.

“It’s impossible to deduce without speaking to the man. What we need to focus on is our next step.”

Five stated with a heavy frown and steepled his hands in front of him.

He couldn’t.

Klaus exhaled. He inhaled. He needed space.

With a tug Klaus floated carefully over the table and onto the ground.

“Klaus?”

Ben asked as they all stared at him. he couldn’t do this right now.

“I need some air.”

Before anyone could protest Klaus ducked out the doors and into the chill of the night. It was pleasant against his warm skin as he went around to the side of the building and slid down the brick wall. The night all around him was heavy and dark, the stars gleamed overhead, like scattered grains of rice.

In. Out.

“They really worked you to the bone huh?”

Pixie said as he settled beside Klaus against the brick wall, glowing like a night light. Klaus scrubbed a hand over his face and nodded, it wasn’t even a biased observation he had been a sergeant. He was tired, the adrenaline had faded and all that was left was what had happened raw and binding like shackles on his wrists.

They were trying. He knew that. Trying to include him but it was hard trying to make a hole where already all the shapes had been filled, like those toys for kids, trying to put a square in the circle hole. And then the Commission attacked and dad wanted the Apocalypse and it all just felt so hopeless.

“What are we even supposed to do now?”

Klaus questioned aloud and glanced at Pixie who was smoking a ghost cigarette; Klaus hadn’t known that was possible. Pixie frowned and pulled the cigarette out of his mouth, he passed it to Klaus, who took a long drag of something like cold evaporated tea, and passed it back.

“It’s hard to say Twiggy. You just have to follow your own path; things will turn out alright in the end.”

“Rich coming from someone who’s already dead… Should I even be giving them a chance? I could leave now. Leave this all behind.”

Klaus questioned staring at the stars above, what a life far away from the troubles of Earth and all you had to care about was the nearby stars ever wandering into your orbit. Pixie glanced at Klaus out of the corner of his eye for a long moment before he shook his head.

“Nah you’re too loyal for that even if most can’t see it. I think you’ve already decided to give them a chance Twiggy. Its whether your ready to put the effort in, and whether they’re ready to do the same.”

“When did you get so wise?”

Klaus questioned as he tugged at the sleeve of his uniform, the fabric always itchy. A part of him felt a bit settled at the pep-talk, the words maybe weren’t the truth yet but there were elements of it in there. He was ready to try even if he was still afraid of getting burnt.

It wasn’t just that though.

The whole thing with dad was kind of depressing to put it lightly. Klaus sighed and pressed his palms into his eyes, he wanted to go home to his bed and his mouse, to the little pots of dirt without any sign of life yet. But he couldn’t. Not yet at least.

He should probably go back in. Find out what their next step was.

Klaus felt he should be used to this lifestyle already. But he still wasn’t.

Gun shots rang out.

Klaus cursed and shot to his feet. He slammed around the corner of the building and paused outside the doors training demanding he observe the situation. He could almost hear Hargreeves voice in his head, telling him to be patient Number Four.

The Commission had found them.

Klaus could see his siblings spread out behind the booths but there wasn’t enough cover and the cramped quarters wouldn’t help but hinder. If it was just Five maybe it would have been fine but with all seven of them it was less than ideal.

Klaus cursed and pulled the gun out; he checked the cartridge and unclicked the safety, it would be enough. Klaus had never wanted to be a hero.

As bullets cracked through the air Klaus slipped in through the doors, immediately the noise was deafening. Klaus rolled to the ground, ‘Nam roaring in his head as he aimed and fired. Two soldiers went down silently. One turned to shoot at Klaus before with a tug he sent the man flying into the wall.

With that the others noticed his appearance.

Klaus ducked behind a booth and popped up. One. Two. Three. Always counting. What was his tally these days? He knew it. The number on the tip of his tongue always going up.

A soldier charged, Klaus exhaled and sent the soldier flying.  A part of him whispered that there was a faster way to end it. Klaus ignored that voice and rose again. Four. Five. Six.

He ducked between the booths as the soldiers became distracted by Five. Klaus fired as he went, his aim was slightly off but it was enough as he paused, panting for breath, beside the booth his siblings were in.

“Klaus are you okay?”

Ben demanded as Klaus scoped the room. Ten soldiers remaining. He nodded and with an inhale rose. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. 

He was out of bullets.

Klaus dropped the gun and glanced at his siblings.

“Luther swing around from the left, Diego the right. Ben cover Vanya and Allison.”

He didn’t wait to see if they were listening.

Klaus walked over the booth, his powers levitating him as he lifted the bar stools and flung them at the soldiers. They scattered. Luther appeared from the left and tossed a soldier through the window. Diego threw two knives and the soldiers went down. Klaus ducked under the punch of a soldier and sent him flying into the wall as Allison rumoured another to shoot the other. Five popped in with a crack and the last soldier collapsed to the ground.

He sucked in a shuddering breath and glanced at everyone. They were all okay.

It was over. It was okay.

“Klaus!”

He moved before he was even thinking about it. He shoved Ben out of the way and stood in front of Vanya as the crack of a gun shot split the room.

“Klaus!”

Vanya cried out as he sunk to his knees with a grimace and watched as Five killed the man with a brutal twist; he should have taken the time to aim better. Scrunching up his face, Klaus breathed through the pain and mumbled, “M’fine.”

With an inhale he pulled on his powers, it was like pulling teeth, he reached towards his own soul, towards the bullet and pulled. It was like liquid fire, like dying and living again as the bullet dropped onto the floor and the skin pulled itself together.

Vanya peeled away his hands and checked the wound with tears in her eyes.

“Is he okay?”

Luther asked looming over both of them and glancing uneasily at the doors.

“He is okay thank you.”

Klaus responded with a huff as he rose unsteadily to his feet. He stumbled and Diego wrapped an arm around him and supported him. Black was creeping around the edges of his voice and his chest felt too tight. God this was worse then overdose or the bad hits.

“We need to go back to the mansion.”

Five stated, he was trying to subtly check on Klaus, it wasn’t subtle at all. The others nodded and Klaus glanced at the bodies littering the floor and wondered if he was supposed to feel guilty. He couldn’t change any of it though. It was time to go home, whatever that entailed.

X

The mansion loomed over the seven of them, tall and imposing like it never was during the day. But it was early morning and they were seven children, with blood on their uniforms. Klaus leaned heavily against Ben, who was warm, and glanced at the others.

Allison had her arm wrapped around Vanya, who was visibly shivering. Luther and Diego were trying to lean unsubtly against each other, whispering heatedly about who was being weak or maybe how they weren’t telling anyone, ever. Five stood at the front of their group, the folders tucked under his arm.

The night never seemed to end.

“What now?”

Vanya asked as she leaned her head on Allison’s shoulder. Five glanced at the six of them, his eyes darted to the side as he admitted, “It’s likely Hargreeves is inside the mansion, probably the Handler as well.”

“How likely?”

Diego demanded patting his sides for his knives.

“Very. But there is a probability that dad’s still in the south.”

“So, what’s the plan?”

Ben asked and pressed gently at Klaus’ wrist, checking his pulse or maybe reassuring himself. Five scrubbed hand over his face, they were all tired, trapped in a world without any of the power they actually needed. There was no where, no when, to run.

“We’ll go inside. There’s no point planning an infiltration. They’ll be expecting us.”

Five began, crossing his arms over his chest. Diego frowned and asked, “What about Mom?”

“She’ll be safe, she still has to follow dad’s orders,” Klaus flinched and Ben noticed. Five continued, “Let me do the talking. In the worst-case scenario, I want you to get out without me.”

“Five, we can’t leave you.”

Vanya shook her head and took a wobbly step forward to place a hand on Five’s arm. He shook his head, emotions flickering open on his face before he squared his jaw and continued, “Allison you’ll be able to rumour the Handler and Dad into forgetting us or the Apocalypse, it will probably only be temporary but will provide some time. Klaus you can use your powers to find a safehouse and money. Stay in hiding until you’re adults and… and make sure the Apocalypse doesn’t happen.”

“Five you can’t.”

Luther said, staring at their oldest brother with his puppy eyes (which were less powerful than Diego’s but still quite strong). Five shook his head before he composed himself and replied, “That’s a worst-case scenario.”

“What’s our best case?”

Allison asked and crossed her arms over her chest. Five glanced at the six of them and sighed, he looked like he needed an expresso before he replied, “We convince the Handler that we don’t know anything about the future and dad has a heart attack.”

“Five, that’s pretty heartless.”

Luther stated and Klaus giggled at the pun, to which Diego rolled his eyes at him and Ben glanced at him with concern all over again. Five nodded in agreement and continued, “It’s just the best case. Be careful everyone.”

The words hung heavy over all of them as they stared at the mansion where they had grown up. Their home which was now its own trap. Klaus couldn’t shake off the sinking feeling in his chest that something wasn’t going to end well.

After a moment, Five turned and walked through the gates. They followed silently after, a grim procession.

The doors creaked open and they filed inside the foyer. The lights were on, and Klaus could see the furniture that had been broken yesterday was either gone or fixed as they entered the main room. The Handler and Hargreeves were on the couch each with a little tea cup and saucer in their hands.

“Ah children you’re late.”

The Handler said with a perfectly poised smile, it was so fake it could have been drawn by a computer. Hargreeves set his cup down and stared at the seven of them with those dark eyes of his, Klaus wondered if he could see the hate, he had always felt in them.

“Children I’m extremely disappointed to learn of your actions.”

The man said as if he was actually a concerned parent. Five rolled his eyes with a huff and replied, “I’m sure you are. Tell us father, why do you want the Apocalypse to happen?”

If possible, the atmosphere became even more stilted, Klaus felt like he couldn’t breathe amidst the tension. The Handler smiled with an artificial tilt of her head as Hargreeves blinked just as inhuman as the woman beside him.

“It is the natural course. It is a moment in time that must exist, a fixed point, just as the creation of the Earth had to occur.”

“So, you would condemn seven billion people to death because you think its supposed to happen?”

Five asked calm and controlled but Klaus could see his fists were white at his side. The Handler smiled with a tilt of her head and replied, “It is supposed to happen.”

“And how do you know that?”

Five asked. Klaus caught sight of a spirit hanging in the corner of the room. It was a soldier, one of the ones from yesterday. But he had sent them all on so they wouldn’t linger and glare at him. Which meant it was a new spirit. One from the diner?”

“It’s one of those events that has to occur.”

“I think God disagrees.”

Klaus interrupted, still staring at the soldier with narrowed eyes.

The Handler startled, Five had turned to stare at Klaus, and even Hargreeves looked ever so slightly shaken.

“I mean she sent me back last time, and if I hadn’t been sent back then we probably wouldn’t have been able to get to Vanya.”

Klaus said idly as he stared at the soldier, he was still talking into his comm. Who was he talking to?

“Regardless it is supposed to happen.”

The Handler said, but she looked ever so slightly disturbed or uncertain.

“And how do you expect to do that if we know about it?”

Five questioned, it wasn’t a challenge, but a pointed question.

“You all will be brought to the Commission where your time lines will be sorted out.”

Hargreeves ordered stated with a nod. The Handler smiled and continued, “In other words we’re going to erase your memories of the past timeline and the Apocalypse is going to happen.”

“And how do you expect to enforce that?”

Five asked but behind his back his hands were tapping out the message to leave. They were all stiff with tension and Klaus watched as the soldier in the corner put down his walkie-talkie and turned the safety off with a loud click; Vanya flinched

“Number Five you know there’s nowhere to run this time, and don’t you think I brought the best this-“

“I heard a rumour that you forget about the Apocalypse and wanted to dismantle the Commission.”

Allison bit the words out fast and hard, the syllables tumbling and jangling against each other. The Handler stiffened and her eyes got that peculiar haze that was Allison’s powers, it faded after a moment, in the way that deep rumours always did.

“Children what have you done? Number Three undo your rumour immediately.”

Hargreeves ordered but it was too late as suddenly from the doors, soldiers appeared. Except this time, it wasn’t just soldiers. It was assassins in suits with scary masks, like Hazel and Cha Cha, a hundred times more deadly than the soldiers.

Fuck. They were so fucked.

“Five.”

Luther began but Five glared at him and stared at the Handler who was sitting quietly glancing at their surroundings confused. She wouldn’t be of any help.

“Is this the worst-case scenario?”

Ben asked beside him, Klaus could see the Horror moving beneath his shirt as the stalemate stretched on.

“Close enough.”

The Handler rose to her feet and walked out of the room.

Everything exploded.

Klaus grabbed Vanya and tucked her behind the couch as Five teleported away, Luther stood beside Allison as she rumoured soldiers. Diego was throwing knives and Ben had released the Horror in one corner of the room, screams loud as the gunshots around them.

It was Vietnam, it was crawling through the mud, blood on his tongue as his brothers fell around him. Explosions and bullets a ceaseless cacophony, the burn of a bullet and adrenaline. It was Hell.

“You okay?”

Klaus asked as he twitched his fingers and five soldiers slammed into the walls. He reached forward and grabbed a gun, cocked it, and glanced at Vanya. She nodded with a shaky smile and pointed forward. He aimed and fired. Two men collapsed and glass shattered in the distance.

“I’ll cover you. Think you can try and take some out?”

Klaus asked as he picked off a soldier who was attempting to shoot Allison. Vanya nodded and Klaus grinned encouragingly at her as he shot another soldier. The others were handling the hitman but Klaus could handle the soldiers.

Splinters of glass flew through the air and impaled five soldiers pinning them to the ground. But more kept coming. More soldiers filed into the room and the hitmen poured in one after another for every one that was taken down. It was never ending and they were already worn to the bone.

Allison dropped to her knees, a bullet grazing her cheek and a cut in her leg. Diego had run out of knives ten minutes ago and was throwing anything he could get his hands on, Luther’s body was littered with injuries, and Klaus could see him tiring. Ben was soaked in blood. Five had picked up a gun and was shooting from the second floor. It wasn’t enough.

They were all going to die. It was ‘Nam all over again. It was the theatre. It was his family dying and Klaus being powerless to stop it.

He felt something begin to burn in his chest as he shot another soldier, watched blood that wasn’t the enemies begin to stain his siblings. The feeling grew until it felt like it was consuming him, all that existed was the burning. And then he heard it. Pixie’s voice ordering them to move forward.

 The 173rd burst to life inside the mansion.

Spectres in pale blue stepped onto a battlefield and their gunfire was real as soldiers, hitmen, and the siblings alike stared. Klaus was burning, everything was the deep dark of the ocean, the highest altitude of the air, and he was the blue of it all.

Vaguely he could see the 173rd push forward, Tommy with a bullet in his chest kicking a soldier. Dickey slamming his rifle into an assassin’s head. Little John shooting with an accuracy that was always scary. Pixie stood beside Klaus smoking his ghost cigarette with one hand as he fired with the other.

His siblings stumbled towards him.

Burning no longer blue but brilliant white.

Klaus turned his head to the side. Dave? Where was Dave?

He saw dad on the couch, so still and wondered.

Burning alive like a witch.

Silence.

It was over.

The burning all consuming, he was burning now.

Then darkness.

X

“Here again.”

A voice stated drawing Klaus from the darkness. He shifted tenderly expecting pain but there was nothing. Not hot. Not cold. No hunger or exhaustion. Just him.

Klaus opened his eyes.

Long blades of grass stretched besides him, a soft grey in colour with brighter patches of grey at the tips. He shifted slowly upwards but again there was no pain, not even the feel of his breath rustling over his lips. It was quiet, not the fuzzy sound of distorted noise, but a deep silence as if there was nothing there to make noise, the absence of sound.

This was familiar.

There was a girl sitting across from him in the grass, hair dark as she braided strands of grass together and untied them again and again. There was a bike parked against a tree in the distance.

“Am I dead?”

Klaus asked his own voice was clear to his ears for once. The girl glanced up at him with narrowed eyes as she messily tangled two flowers together, she stated, “I still don’t like you. But I dislike you less now.”

“Thank you?”

Klaus responded as he stared at God. It had been a while.

“You still can’t stay here.”

God said simply as she plaited seven strands of long grass together. Klaus nodded the answer wasn’t necessarily unexpected. But there was a question he could ask.

“Do you want the Apocalypse to happen?”

“That’s a strange question to ask. Would I like the Apocalypse to happen?”

God tilted her head as she added a few strands to the plait, they didn’t fit quite as well together but it was good enough. Finally, she shook her head, “I don’t control things like that. But I think I wouldn’t want to see the end of creation.”

Klaus nodded with a smile reassured that he had been right.

“It’s time to go back now Klaus.”

She stated and this time she looked a bit sad.

He didn’t want to go. Here there was nothing, no pain, no exhaustion. It was quiet. And Dave.

“He’s not here.”

She said and glanced at him with a small smile.

“He can’t be in Hell! I’m pretty sure being gay isn’t a sin.”

“You’re right it isn’t one. Goodbye Klaus.”

Klaus opened his mouth to press another question but then everything went dark.

X

It was warm, everything felt soft, still, the gentle press of the waves. Klaus drifted content. He was safe. There were no threats, no pressing matters. Just him. How strange to be just him. Was there something special about that? What did it mean to be him? Being. Maybe that was enough.

Slowly.

Slowly he became aware of the sensation of his breath on his lips, his left foot was cold, a muscle in his neck was stretched. His throat was dry and his eyes were closed. Klaus didn’t open his eyes content to wait as sensations filtered in piece by piece.

There were sounds outside of his self. The beep of a monitor, the soft whirr of an air conditioner, the creak of an old house, and the sound of pages flipping every so often. He was safe. Klaus could tell that much amidst the warmth and the familiar sounds.

What had happened?

Klaus’ brow furrowed as he recalled the attack, the break-in, going back to the mansion, meeting God. It all blurred together in his mind a tangle of feelings and blurred actions. He tried to remember what had happened before he met God again but all he could remember was the 173rd and his siblings rushing towards him.

God had mentioned Dave, hadn’t she?

He wasn’t in whatever afterlife Klaus had been in, probably Heaven (which meant dad had gone to heaven in the previous timeline which was just fucked up) and he wasn’t in Hell. What did that mean? Klaus doubted Dave was in purgatory, he was too good for that.

Thinking hurt. He would figure it out.

Klaus exhaled long and slow and opened his eyes. He stared up at a cracked white stucco ceiling, a little drawing of a demon dancing in the corner. He would recognize that ceiling anywhere; he was in the med bay. Klaus glanced down from the ceiling, he was in one of the gurneys, not the one dad had put him in, a knit blanket spread over his legs. His arms were pale against the yellow wool, an IV in his wrist, and his veins like streaks of paint.

“You’re awake.”

 A voice, familiar, said to his left. Klaus tilted his head, Ben was sitting in the chair, he had a book open in his hands and was staring at Klaus with wide eyes.

“Am I?’

He asked, but the words came out in a croak. He had a moment of panic at the thought of losing his voice but it was just disuse he was sure. It had to be. Ben helped him drink from a glass of water, his fingers warm against Klaus’ skin and the water cool on his tongue.

“You’re awake.”

Ben reaffirmed as he settled in his seat and stared at Klaus like an oasis in the desert. Klaus rubbed at his face with the hand not attached to the IV and asked, “How long?”

“A week.”

Ben replied and glanced at the door as Mom bustled inside carrying a laundry bin on her hip. Klaus watched her sequential movements with a soft feeling in his chest as she hummed to herself. Glancing at his brother Klaus stared at Ben’s face for a long moment before he asked, “What happened?”

“What do you remember?”

“I remember the fight at the mansion, I summoned the 173rd and then nothing.”

That was sort of a lie.

Ben nodded and replied, “You summoned a ghost army, which was fucking awesome, they dealt with the rest of the hitmen and the soldiers. Suffice to say the Commission will be understaffed for a while. Five says the Handler is dismantling the Commission, and that a new less violent organization is supposed to be put into place. After you summoned the ghosts you fainted, Mom says it was because of exhaustion.”

“What about dad?”

Klaus questioned, the words burning like bile up his throat. Ben frowned and glanced at his hands before he stared into Klaus’ eyes, “He died during the fight a stray bullet, no one knows which side.”

He had a feeling it wasn’t a stray bullet. It was strange to imagine the old man dead. Again. it was even more unrealistic then it had been in the future that would never be. Something about that man lingered like even after death his shadow stood. They would have to have a funeral again.

“How are you feeling Klaus?”

“I think I met God again.”

Klaus replied, not really answering Ben’s question. Ben blinked and tilted his head, he stared at Klaus for a long moment before he replied hesitantly, “And how did that make you feel?”

He grinned and shook his head before he replied, “She said she still doesn’t like me. But uh she said Dave’s not in Heaven or Hell.”

“That means he has to be somewhere else.”

“Duh.”

Klaus replied with a grin his chest was feeling warm in the sunlight. Klaus reached out and Ben reached back his hand was warm around Klaus’ as he stared at his brother and asked, “What happens now?”

Ben shrugged and replied, “I don’t know. Mom is going to take care of us, she’s getting custody with Five’s help and Pogo’s going to fix her programming. We go on Umbrella Academy missions if we want to… we’re going to try and be better to you. We all talked while you were in the coma, I think the others kind of got kicked in the face when they saw how much you helped us. We want to do better, be a family. Look Klaus I’ve already said it but I’m going to say it again, I’m sorry, for not being there. But I’m going to be there from now on, they’re going to have to separate us with a saw.”

“That would be painful,” Klaus replied and tightened his fingers around Ben’s as he stared into his eyes, “Thanks. I want to try to. I want this crazy messed up family with all of our problems.”

Ben grinned and for a long moment there was silence. Klaus felt the rise and fall of his chest. He felt light, like air itself, or the breeze. No more forced training, no more missions he didn’t want to go on. He could do what he wanted, be what he wanted. What did he want?

“What are you going to do Ben?”

“Think I’m going to go to school. University. Sit in a bunch of Starbucks like a hipster. Catch up on the media you couldn’t afford to watch. Go to concerts. Eat fancy food. What about you Klaus?”

Ben replied with a grin, and Klaus understood that the words weren’t separation but an invitation to follow Ben or even do his own thing. Klaus thought about it. For the longest time his only future had been the streets. He had a choice now. He could be what he wanted. It was a crazy idea. But he did know one thing he wanted.

“I’m going to find Dave.”

“I’ll help you.”

“Of course, you will Benny otherwise you’ll have to listen to me pine.”

“The Horror.”

Ben replied with a barely suppressed giggle. Klaus laughed out loud, a deep belly laugh that shook his body. His chest was warm and he couldn’t stop grinning as he stared at Ben. There was so much still up in the air, his future, Dave, their family. But Klaus was ready to face it.

X

Chapter Text

X

Ten Years Later

Klaus shivered and wrapped his coat tighter around his body, Ben had said he shouldn’t have worn the trench coat, but Klaus had to disagree on the basis of fashion. But it was cold out. Too cold for October in Klaus’ opinion as he strolled down the street.

Technically, Klaus was supposed to be meeting the Gallery Manager in an hour, but he was a douche who liked to stick his nose in the air and pretend that Klaus had just come in off the streets. Which he hadn’t, ten years thank you very much.

The heady aroma of coffee drifted through the air.

Klaus paused and tilted his head to stare across the street. Okay, so maybe Five had helped him get addicted to coffee, if Klaus was being honest Five had gotten them all addicted to coffee especially when exam season rolled around. So, Klaus could appreciate a good cup of coffee, and really, he couldn’t go back to fast-food burnt coffee; his tastes were ruined. But the place across the street smelled heavenly, and not in the afterlife sort of way.

The coffeeshop was small, tucked in between two dominating office buildings, with a slanted roof, and cozy looking chairs. The sign over head read, “Bean There, Done That,” Klaus snorted, Ben would appreciate it. Glancing down the street at the bus which was peeling away Klaus shrugged and crossed the street.

Sue him he still couldn’t drive. It was the principle.

And Diego was always busy these days.

The door opened with the tinkle of a bell and the scent of coffee saturated the place, a bubble of soft chatter and some old jazzy music filled the background. A strange chill ran over Klaus’ shoulders ad he shivered as he joined the line. He glanced idly at the menu, mochas and lattes with cute little names all in swirling chalk.

He glanced behind him.

It felt like there were eyes on the back of his head. Like there was an energy in the air; brewing, the calm before a storm.

Klaus searched for any spirits but there was only a young woman on her laptop, the faint glow around her shoulders the only sign that she was dead. Klaus frowned and wondered if there was going to be another attack.

Last week, someone had decided they wanted to try and build a death ray; they were one of Luther’s coworkers which was hilarious. Actually, fighting the weird army of robots wasn’t so exciting. He had almost died. Again!

Klaus stepped up to the cash and stared at the barista.

Oh.

He had the same blue eyes, the little dimple at the corner of his lips, the fall of his blond hair. Everything went blank distilled into this moment of staring at the face he knew better than his own, soft around the edges with time.

What was he supposed to do?

He felt like the world had inverted, time had trickled to a stop. Nothing mattered but this.

The man in front of him tilted his head staring at Klaus with those blue eyes.

“Klaus?”

His name spoken from those lips oh so familiar.

“Dave.”

Klaus replied and suddenly it felt like there wasn’t enough air, wasn’t enough space and too much space. Klaus watched as recognition blossomed over Dave’s face, bright as the sun, as the first thaw of spring. Dave reached forward and caught one of Klaus’ hands, he turned it over and stared at the tattoos, Hello and Goodbye, pressed into his palms.

“You’re real.”

“You’re here.”

Klaus responded acutely aware of how public their location was. Dave must have noticed, he always noticed, because he called something over his shoulder and suddenly, he was stepping out from behind the counter.

It happened in the span of a few seconds but felt like an eternity as Klaus’ eyes tracked Dave, the familiar way he moved always favouring his left, his broad shoulders, Dorito portion sizes. He pulled them out of the coffeeshop and onto the street. Dave’s hand was warm and oh so real around Klaus’ as he dragged him into a side alley.

“Dave.”

Klaus said tenderly as he reached out and touched the side of Dave’s face, afraid he might melt away. That it was all a dream.

It had happened before.

“Klaus.”

Dave breathed back, and suddenly his arms were around Klaus solid and oh so real. His eyes were burning as his fingers tightened on the back of Dave’s uniform, the fabric bunching beneath his fingers. The alley was dark and dank but that didn’t matter, nothing else mattered.

“Ten years.”

Klaus said, relief and grief thick into Dave’s shoulder, just inhaling him, the scent of coffee, something golden like fresh pastries or sunlight in the morning. Dave’s fingers tightened in Klaus’ thin coat even as he pulled back and glanced into Klaus’ eyes.

He continued with a weak laugh, “I’ve been searching for ten years and I find you in a coffeeshop a block away.”

“Ten years huh?”

Dave responded with a lopsided grin and his hands were like fire on the side of Klaus’ face as he leaned his forehead against Klaus’. For a moment, there was nothing just the sound of their breathing and the pass of cars on the streets.

“How?”

Klaus finally questioned studying the fall of Dave’s eyelashes, the curve of his lips. Dave frowned before the expression fell away and he smoothed his fingers over Klaus’ cheeks and replied, “I don’t know. I remember ‘Nam, remember dying,” he shuddered eyes dark, “Then I was a kid in the suburbs. The memories came back slowly, I though I was just dreaming for the longest time.”

“She said you weren’t in Heaven or Hell and yet you were in the suburbs.”

Klaus replied weakly with a shake of his head. Ten years of searching, taking opportunities in different countries, galleries, famous dead people, just to search. Allison always on look out, Luther, Diego, they all had an eye out and Dave had been here the whole time.

“You look so different.”

Dave murmured as he pulled back slightly, too much space between them. Klaus blinked and tilted his head wondering if it was really such a difference. It was hard to know a difference when you saw your face everyday. Still he was younger, no facial hair because Ben complained and made him shave it off in a bet, his hair was long too. But was he really that different?”

“It’s a good difference.”

Dave said, ever the mind-reader, and tangled his fingers in Klaus’ hair with a grin. Klaus smiled chest light like cotton candy and everything felt too warm in the best kind of way and with a wink he replied, “You look gorgeous as always Davy.”

It was almost disorienting how Dave looked like he had stepped out of the backdrop of ‘Nam. Klaus had been prepared to love Dave in whatever form he came in, old, young, female, male, whatever. But here he was the same and Klaus’ heart couldn’t keep up.

“What have you been doing other than looking for me?”

Dave asked, eyes twinkling, and his expression was all knowing. Klaus bumped his head against Dave’s and replied, “A lot’s different.”

“I gathered. What happened?”

“We reset the timeline cause Vanya almost ended the world. So, we went back to when we were thirteen and I guess somewhere you got tangled in all of that.”

“Probably. knowing your luck Twiggy.”

Dave replied wrapping an arm around Klaus’ waist like he couldn’t bare to be separated. Klaus felt the same. He could almost hear Pixie laughing in the background as Klaus swallowed the words somewhat heavy as he replied, “I’ve stayed sober.”

Dave pulled back to stare at his face eyes wide and searching, “Really?” he questioned but the words weren’t doubtful. Klaus nodded. Dave smiled, his brilliant smile and Klaus’ chest ached with how much he had missed that smile as Dave twirled Klaus in his arms laughing.

“I’m so proud of you Klaus.”

Dave whispered into his ear and Klaus shuddered but couldn’t suppress the smile that stretched across his lips. Dave set Klaus on the ground and pulled back a serious expression on his face as he asked, “Still smoking?”

“You couldn’t pry nicotine and weed from my cold dead hands.”

Klaus replied laughter bubbling his words as Dave shook his head with a knowing and fond smile. He couldn’t believe it, it all still felt too surreal, like any minute an alarm clock might go off and strip it all away.

“What have you been doing?”

Klaus asked and pulled out a cigarette, he offered one to Dave who took it with a soft smile, even in the tragic lighting he looked like a sculpture, defined angles, and precious marble. Dave lit his cigarette by pressing it to the lighter Klaus was holding and inhaled for a long moment before he replied, “It’s been simple. I went to college this time. Apparently, there’s this huge need for the trades and you know I like working with my hands. Have a few siblings. I’m just working to pay off the college debt now… I felt like I was waiting for something and I couldn’t tell what.”

“Dave.”

Klaus said softly, trying to communicate reassurance. They had found each other. Dave smiled and plucked the rest of Klaus’ cigarette from his hands as he asked, “What about you and your siblings?”

“Well we stopped the world from ending again,”

“All in a day’s work?”

“Yeah. Hargreeves passed away so Mom raised us this time around. They’re doing better. Allison is on the Broadway circuit last I heard she was in some historical musical. Vanya is first chair and we go and see her play a lot. Diego is a cop and he and Patch are living together but not dating. Luther is working for NASA, which is so weird. Five is a professor whose students either hate him or like him, he also is like secretly running the new Commission but we pretend we don’t know that. Ben’s alive but it was kind of touch and go for a while, he’s like studying to be a librarian?”

Klaus finished with a shrug, his tone bright to try and hide the ache beneath it, to try to capture ten years of memories, moments, most of them good, some bad. Dave noticed he always noticed. He stubbed out his cigarette and enfolded Klaus in a hug, it was familiar and Klaus couldn’t stop the way the tears flooded his eyes not even burning their way down just trying to get out.

“What about you? What are you doing now that you’re not a permanent resident of the streets?”

“I could be. Nah, I’m a Medium, I help people speak to their dead loved ones. Oh, and I also do art.”

“You can control your powers now?”

Dave asked staring at Klaus like he was the stars, not the blinding sun, or the distant moon, just the stars.

“That and more.”

Klaus replied with a wink as with a tug he levitated them off the ground. Dave giggled, his stupid stoner giggle and kissed him. It was heat and God it was everything Klaus had been missing. It was cheesy as fuck, but Klaus didn’t care; it was home.

Dave pulled away first, his breath fanning over Klaus’ lips as he whispered, “Fucking missed you.”

“Same.”

Klaus replied with a shit-eating grin as he brought them gently to the ground. Dave rolled his eyes and flicked Klaus gently but he was definitely amused.

He wanted this to last forever, just the two of them again. A span of ten months stretching into eternity.

His phone rang.

He could ignore it. But it was probably important. It was his family’s ringtone after all (it may or may not have been Hollaback Girl).

Klaus pouted and slouched as he pulled out his phone.

“Crap its Five one second,” Klaus replied apologetically and answered the call, “Hello?”

“Klaus can you report for a mission downtown?”

“Now?”

“Yes, we need you it’s critical.”

“Anyway, I can get a ride or do I need to super-man my way over?”

“Diego can drive you.”

Klaus paused and glanced at Dave who smiled and said, “Go ahead its okay, we’ve got all the time. Besides I have to get back to work. College isn’t cheap.”

“Yeah I can come. Send Diego to Adelaide St.”

“Done.”

Five replied and the call ended.

Klaus turned to Dave who had procured a pen, he grabbed Klaus’ palm and on the back of his hand scrawled his number and address; it tickled. Klaus leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Dave, inhaling everything as he whispered, “I’ll see you soon. That’s a promise.”

“I know. Be careful.”

Dave replied. Klaus winked and with a chaste kiss darted out of the alleyway before he became anchored any more. He would see Dave again. The air seemed cold without Dave’s warmth but the skies seemed brighter, endless.

Diego pulled up.

X

Ben huddled against the door as a gust of cold wind entered the car along with Klaus. It was hypocritical but Ben was only wearing a sweater, he had been in a rush buried in a textbook on the smaller sects of religions that cropped up throughout history. If Klaus said anything, he would suffer through it.

Klaus squished against Ben, shoving Diego’s folders onto the ground with a blinding grin. Diego frowned but only rolled his eyes, he would totally have yelled at Ben for doing that but he was lenient with Klaus; they all were. The door slammed shut with a click and Diego’s car peeled onto the street, dodging around traffic as if there were a pair of flashing lights on the hood; there wasn’t. Diego could drive, it just usually wasn’t relaxing for the passengers in any way shape or form.

Ben glanced at Klaus; he was staring out the window at the rapidly distant street. He was smiling softly, the smile he always got when he was thinking about Dave, and looked like he had been crying.

“You okay?”

Ben asked as he bumped his shoulder against Klaus’. His brother startled as if Ben had popped some sort of bubble and nodded, head bobbing up and down like one of those stupid figurines as he replied, “Yeah, sure, great. What are we fighting? Five didn’t specify.”

He had no idea, Five had said it was critical and he usually didn’t call Ben unless they needed heavy manpower. In some ways Ben felt sorry for Klaus, he was always getting called on because his powers were the most versatile and he didn’t have a ‘stable’ job; that was a lie the others told themselves to feel less guilty about not turning up. Still Klaus had the choice to say no, and he did often enough that Ben didn’t feel like Klaus was being overworked or used. Still he should probably bring it up.

Klaus had a bad habit of letting things lie, unless you forced them to the surface. It wasn’t his fault though, it was theirs.

“Five said something about duplicating mutations.”

Diego grunted with a tilt of his head as he barely cleared the intersection; it was fine Ben wasn’t gripping the Hail Mary handrail with white knuckles. Klaus pouted for a solid few seconds before the expression slipped away and he returned to glancing out the window with that smile.

“Did you get permission to leave this time?”

Ben asked conversationally as they sped over the bridge. He could almost hear the sounds of destruction in the distance. Joy. Why had he accepted? He could be reading a dissertation on the Mayan religion. Ben would be the first to admit that he was still kind of coward, being dead put the fear of God into you, but also that he wasn’t a fighter like Luther was.

He could also say that his near death (again) experience a few years ago had summarily traumatized him even more.

“Yeah she ‘let’ me.”

Diego replied with a huff even though they all heard the dressing down Patch gave him last time; it had lasted two hours and forty minutes exactly.

“We’re here. All suited up?”

Diego asked as he pulled the car into a side building hopefully far enough away from potential devastation and destruction. Ben nodded; he was wearing one of mom’s sweaters which just so happened to have Kevlar woven into the fabric. Diego of course was in his vigilante onesie as Klaus called it. He glanced at Klaus who barely appeared to notice they had stopped.

“Dude are you high?”

Ben asked as he jostled Klaus’ shoulder. Klaus blinked eyes wide as he glanced at their surroundings and shook his head, that smile was still there and Ben was curious. It was also apparent that Klaus wasn’t high. But it could have been one of his off days.

“Klaus are you suited?”

“Hmm? Oh yeah, this trench coat mom made it.”

Klaus replied with a hazy grin. Diego glanced at Ben; Ben glanced at Diego. They were both tempted to tell Klaus to wait in the car but Klaus was usually trustworthy once they entered whatever battlefield and Five had said it was critical.

“Come on then.”

Diego stated as he popped the door open and stepped onto the streets flicking a knife into the air. Ben watched to make sure Klaus exited the car before he followed behind. The air was acrid and sharp, fear, and smoke. If he squinted, Ben could see the faint grey wisps a block over.

They walked briskly, Diego and Ben unanimously decided to make Klaus walk in front of them in case he fainted or got distracted.

“He won’t stop smiling. Do you know what happened?”

Diego asked in a whisper as they rounded the corner. There was a pale pink something on the ground, it looked sort of gooey. The Horror stirred and Ben calmed it with a light press of his hand as he replied, “No. But it has something to do with Dave I think.”

Diego looked like he wanted to respond but then Five appeared in front of them with a crackle of blue light. Some part of Ben still found it strange to see Five as an adult, for over twenty years he had been thirteen and now he wasn’t; tall for one, and all defined bone structure like a model. It was sort of like the freaky experience of seeing his own face change, or having to shave.

“Finally, you all take way too long.”

“I drove as fast as I could.”

Diego replied and Ben nodded in unfortunate agreement. Five rolled his eyes and placed his hand on Klaus, Ben and Diego followed suit.

“So, what time of mutation are we dealing with?

Ben asked before they were sucked into the squeezing, nausea-inducing, whirl of Five’s powers. They landed in the street and immediately Ben was hyper aware of a low growling sound and the scent of blood. Five frowned and replied, “Rabbits, someone mutated rabbits. Hence the duplication.”

“And the blood?”

Diego asked as he pulled out his knives. The Horror stirred hungrily inside Ben. Five pressed his lips together and with a shake of his head glanced at a white spot in the distance. Suddenly, there was another one. And another. Fuck.

Five handed out the comms, pausing for a moment on Klaus to who he said a quiet word. Klaus nodded once and the hazy look left his eyes enough that they were sharp again; the sharpness that had never left after everything with the Commission.

“Try to get rid of them as soon as sighted, before they can multiply. Good luck.”

“Copy.”

Ben mumbled as he strode casually down the street. A rabbit appeared and hopped towards him with beady red eyes. The Horror shifted and Ben could almost imagine a curious head tilt, he nodded and with a lurch the bunny was gone and Ben had blood on his sweater again. Great.

“Just the four of us?”

Diego’s voice crackled over the line as The Horror consumed five bunnies, they looked so innocent, but also definitely blood thirsty it was all in the eyes. Ben was definitely having Alice and Wonderland dreams of some sort tonight.

“My student cancelled so I’m here.”

Vanya’s voice drifted over the comms, Ben kind of loved listening to the rhythm of Vanya’s voice, it was like she spoke what she played. In the background he could hear the hum of her powers. Ben questioned, “Helen was busy too?”

Vanya huffed a laugh and Ben muffled a grin, they all liked to tease her about Helen and thinking she was straight. By all of them, he meant Klaus who still couldn’t believe that Vanya thought she was straight. Five grunted and replied, “Luther is testing a shuttle of some kind.”

“Is he trying to go to the moon again?”

Diego asked and Ben could just picture his grin.

“Yes actually.”

Five replied and he sounded either disappointed or amused, it was hard to tell with Five. Ben wondered where Klaus was, something itched at him, not something wrong, but different for sure.

“Why?”

Vanya asked. The Horror ate a few rabbits, then a few more. Ben searched for Klaus.

“Something about aliens I think,” Five replied and continued, “Allison is performing today so she was unable to make an appearance.”

“Is she still dating what’s his face?”

Klaus’ voice drifted over the line and something in Ben’s chest eased slightly. He kept looking though because Klaus was not a good judge of his own strength and would probably in some strange twist of events tame the duplicating rabbits.

“No, she’s dating someone else remember?”

Vanya replied gentle and just a touch concerned. Klaus made a vague sound of acknowledgement and then Ben rounded a corner. Klaus was sitting on a piece of debris; the mutant bunnies were in piles around him and Klaus didn’t even seem aware of it. What was his life? Why had he agreed to keep fighting in the Umbrella Academy? He would never know (to make sure someone stood up for Klaus when he was being an idiot).

“You okay?”

Ben asked as he approached carefully. Sometimes Klaus still had flashbacks and it was better to be safe.

Klaus turned towards Ben, and he was smiling still glancing down at his hands with such a raw expression that Ben’s chest felt itchy. He saw a few rabbits and The Horror twisted out of him, avoiding Klaus but for a wave as it destroyed the rabbits.

“Five, estimated how many more?”

Vanya asked and she sounded a bit out of breath. Five would probably go and help her.

“Roughly eighty percent of the mutations have been destroyed. The creator has already been dealt with.”

“What, when?”

Diego demanded as Ben settled beside Klaus on the piece of debris. He rested a hand on Klaus arm and watched as a group of bunnies attempting to duplicate froze, blue light engulfing them and then they were still.

Was it an anniversary today? Ben wondered. He stared at Klaus and waited for him to focus, it could be that he was speaking to a spirit, or was travelling. Ben kind of hated it when Klaus travelled, which is what he called it when Klaus went into the spirit world or whatever; Klaus had tried to explain it but he was bad at explanations.

“Before you all arrived.”

“Was he a colleague?”

Ben asked with a grin thinking of the thing last week. He glanced at Klaus to see if he was paying attention but he was still studying his hands. Ben blinked and glanced at Klaus’ hand, there was writing on the back of it, pen, a phone number.

That wasn’t necessarily strange, Klaus wrote customer numbers and other information everywhere anytime he could get a pen. But usually he put a name.

“No, he published a paper and I had concerns.”

That was just like Five.

“Klaus are you okay?”

Vanya’s voice drifted over the comms and Ben glanced at Klaus. He blinked once slowly, languid, before he did it again and with a full body shake Ben could see him again. Klaus studied the rabbits with narrowed eyes before he replied cautiously, “Something happened today.”

And suddenly Klaus was all energy, bouncing and twitching like he couldn’t contain whatever he was going to say next.

An expectant silence settled over the comms and Klaus grinned, a brilliant, blinding grin that Ben didn’t see often enough.

“I met Dave today.”

Dave, Dave as in that Dave? The man who had saved Klaus, led him to sobriety, the reason Klaus was still with them, the love of his life, that Dave?

“Klaus… Klaus that’s amazing!”

Vanya said the words honest. Diego added, “Dave as in Dave from Vietnam?”

“Yeah, I met him in a coffeeshop, he’s like the same age as us. He… he remembers me.”

Oh. Ben couldn’t help but wrap his arms around Klaus and hug him tightly. For so long all of them had been doubtful about Klaus finding Dave, it had been like the search for some mystical grail, they hadn’t even known if it was real. Then there was the fact that Dave could have been old, dead, maybe didn’t even know Klaus.

“You know you have to introduce him to the rest of us now?”

Vanya said, and Ben could just see the smile that mimicked Allison’s, the one she had learned from Allison. Ben expected Klaus to groan as they dispatched what was hopefully the last of the rabbits, but instead, if possible, his smile grew brighter and he replied, “Yeah, you all should meet him.”

“Later. There’s still more rabbits not to mention clean up.”

Five replied and Ben groaned picturing their brother’s sadistic smile. Klaus didn’t even groan and when Ben glanced over at him, he looked happy, genuinely happy like he hadn’t looked for the longest time. It felt like the end of something, a chapter, a page, but the beginning of something new.

X

Klaus twirled in front of the mirror, the skirt fanning around his ankles in graceful arcs of black. He glanced over his shoulder at Dave who was leaning casually against the headboard, petting the cat, Mr. Fluffer-Duster, as he stared at him with dark eyes. Klaus winked and returned his attention to the mirror as he reached out and grabbed a tube of lipstick. Dave was the one who had to make an impression but Klaus always dressed to the occasion; and this was an occasion.

“Nervous?”

Klaus question as he tugged at his mascara, it bobbed over from the dresser and landed in his outstretched hand. Dave made a vague sound and shook his head, “Nah, if anyone should be nervous it’s your siblings.”

Dave grinned suddenly sharp and bloody. Klaus hummed in agreement as he leaned close to the mirror and applied a coat. Hargreeves was lucky he had died ten years ago, but Klaus had the feeling if he really needed to, he could summon the man’s spirit just to watch Dave punch him. Still, he had told Dave that they had sorted it out for the most part, they had grown.

Okay, so maybe Klaus still held a tiny, very tiny thread of resentment. But his siblings had tried to fix things, they had tried to be there for him and listen. Most of the time they were successful, sometimes they failed; they were human. Klaus wasn’t perfect either, he had done shit. But Dave was the unforgiving sort and intense at that when he wasn’t high or bouncing like a golden retriever.

Dave’s arms wrapped around Klaus from behind, warm and real. Dave watched as Klaus did his other eye in silence but for the faint sound of a certain band drifting from the speakers.

“Still hard to believe.”

Klaus nodded and placed the mascara down and turned in Dave’s arms. He placed a quick peck on Dave’s cheek, dark lipstick like a bruise on his cheek.

“Just wait till you have to attend one of the group therapy sessions, you won’t be doubting anything then.”

Klaus replied with a grin, those therapy sessions always ended with a piece of furniture destroyed and yelling. But it was kind of cathartic, in a way and usually whatever shit someone was hiding came to light. They were probably going to talk about the moon next time.

“I’m excited to meet your mom.”

“She’ll love you.”

Klaus reassured as he straightened Dave’s shirt and glanced at the picture of them in the mirror. His dark hair, dark eyes, and Dave like sunlight in the winter, with his dirty blond hair and blue eyes. It still felt surreal but he knew it wasn’t going away. He felt impossibly happy, like it was all going to slip away even though it hadn’t yet.

Someone knocked on the door.

“Are you two being gross or can I come in?”

Ben asked in a resigned tone.

“You can come in either way, might scar you again though.”

Klaus replied with a giggle and glanced at Dave who had rolled his eyes. The door creaked open and Ben stood in the entryway with a cup of coffee and his Doctor Who pajama pants. He looked tired, but more in the stayed up all night binging a new show tired. Klaus was pretty sure he had heard the tv on last night. But well…

“We should get going now if we want to be ‘fashionably’ late.”

Ben said with a shrug looking for all the world like he didn’t care but Klaus could see a smile tucked into the corners of his lips. Klaus nodded and replied, “Can’t keep my adoring fans waiting,” he tossed his hair for extra dramatic effect.

Dave’s laughter filled the air as Ben rolled his eyes and added, “I’ll be in the garage, Diego should be here in a few.”

“Yeah, see you down there.”

Klaus replied and earned a raised brow that said Ben should not have to come back up. Klaus would try. He got distracted easily though.

“Diego’s totally going to grill you, just so you know.”

The door clicked shut behind Ben and it was the two of them again. Dave grinned and replied, “I can deal with it. Come here beautiful.”

 Klaus walked forward and leaned his head against Dave’s chest and breathed, listening to the sound of his heartbeat. He had no idea what would happen when everyone would meet Dave, they were all still struggling with being fucked up, still trying to save the world, he couldn’t say what would happen tomorrow or in the next year. But with Dave and his siblings by his side, Klaus was ready and willing to try.

X