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Family Role

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"I bet..."

"Yeah?"

A look of mischief flickers over her face. "I bet..."

"What do you bet?"

"That you can't find me."

Klaus raises an eyebrow. "Oh?" He says. "Is that so?" He leans forwards, elbows on his knees, and surveys the surrounding area. Her favourite park, with multiple sets of swings, slides of varying heights, a sand pit, small climbing walls, a whole array of toys and equipment that he, at her age, would have lost his mind had Reginald ever let them visit a park. He looks back at her. “Bet.”

A small giggle leaves her lips, slightly muffled by her hands, hidden beneath the sleeves of her sweater. “Count,” she says, taking a step back. Klaus furrows his eyebrows.

“To what?”

She grins. Throws a look over her shoulder, at the park and the other kids there, and then she looks back at him. She shrugs, hesitating, before lifting her hands away from her mouth to say, “twenty.”

Klaus throws his hands over his eyes. “One,” he proclaims loudly, and he parts his fingers to peer out only to be met with green eyes as she leans close, placing her small hands over his. “No peeking!”

He pouts, slumping. “Fine, fine! You got me. I won’t peek,” he promises. “No peeking.” He starts again. “One… two…”

He hears her laugh, high pitched and carefree, and then hears her footsteps as she scurries away, heading towards the park. Klaus lifts his head from the shield of his hands so that he can look at Dave sitting beside him on the bench.

“She’s getting good at hiding,” says Dave, eyebrows raised. “You watch, she’s going to bet you like, twenty dollars one day, and you’ll have to cough it up.”

Klaus snickers, knocking his knees against Dave’s. “You’re just saying that because she scared you,” he teases. Dave eyes him, unimpressed.

“I’m serious,” he says. “She’s good at it!”

“Oh, I know,” Klaus laughs. He reaches out to cover Dave’s hands with his, nimble fingers cupping around his. “I’m proud.”

Dave snorts but responds by squeezing his hand gently, eyes ghosting over the park.

He had met Dave years ago. Dave had been working in a library temporarily and had taken to talking to Klaus when he began to frequent it during a harsh winter, and they had continued to run into one another. Dave had bought him coffee and hadn’t wanted things from Klaus like other men did. He spoke and he was interested in what Klaus had to say and Klaus, had he not been intrigued by him from that first day in the library, rapidly found himself hooked.

When the weather had been bad – dropping to the lowest it had been in years, snow and all – Dave had seen him in the doorway of a building, too high to hardly notice the biting cold. He had coaxed him onto his feet and brought him back to his apartment, let him warm up and eat and, slowly, sobered up a little. He let him stay there as the weather stayed bad, and they got close in that period of time. Dave understood him, didn’t exploit him, and he was kind, so kind.

And, a little under a year ago, he had proposed. Klaus had cried, and they both had rings that hardly ever left their fingers. Of course they had discussed having an actual wedding, and although Klaus would eagerly jump at the chance to wear a huge wedding gown and descend a wide staircase, glass stained windows casting illusions across his skin, striding down an aisle, they had simply never gotten around to it. There was the issue of money, and of time, and of thinking of family, personal preferences, the consideration of Dave being Jewish and discussing how they could acknowledge and incorporate that, etcetera, etcetera. They simply hadn’t found the time.

Klaus didn’t mind much. He knew that he loved Dave, and a marriage would just be an official title for them. As long as he could be by his side, he didn’t mind.

Of course, though, perhaps the most drastic change since meeting Dave was Sadie. Dave’s daughter of whom he had had with one of his relationships that ended badly and with Sadie in Dave’s custody, and Dave had been ecstatic when Klaus had not only gotten close to him, but to her too. Previous relationships had seen him struggle with his partner interacting with Sadie, or struggling to find a relationship at all as a single father.

Never had Klaus given thought to being in a committed relationship, discussing marriage, with his own daughter. Had someone suggested the idea of being a father to him, he would have raised his eyebrows and pointedly looked at the syringe he was about to jab into his veins.

He had since gotten sober (for the most part.) He had never counted weed as a drug in the first place, and at least he could actually function on it. He was worse off it than on it, and he knew to keep it well hidden, using it to simply keep the ghosts at bay, and to drown the rest out with Dave and Sadie and Ben and music.

Klaus slides his hands from Dave’s grasp, standing up. “S’pose I better go find her before she starts her new life without us,” he comments, eyes roaming over the park. He stretches his arms up above his head, joints cracking, and as he strolls towards the park, he calls out; “twenty! Ready or not, here I come!”

She is damned good at hiding. Tiny and able to squeeze into places that took Ben to properly find, being able to stick his head through walls and tight spaces, she loved hide and seek.

He looks under the climbing frame first, eyes scanning the ground, and then he peers around the climbing wall, up on top of it, and in the little plastic playhouse, round by the garden. He clambers up onto the playground equipment. He crouches down by the tunnel slide, sticking his head in, balancing himself with a hand above him holding a railing. He catches a glimpse of dark, tightly curled hair, not unlike his own, and a flash of the emerald green of the sweater she had been wearing, and he grins.

He sticks his legs into the slide and has to go down at an extremely awkward angle to actually fit himself into the tight space.

“Got you,” he says, reaching forwards to wrap his arms around her as he goes down. Her excited yell echoes off the walls of the tunnel, her fingers curling tightly into his sleeves as she clutches onto him. They come out the other side of the slide, almost falling off it and onto the ground, and Klaus holds her close, held trapped. “I won,” he teases in a sing-song voice, a grin on his face. “I won, I won. What do I get? What do I win?”

“Nothing!” She says, trying to squirm out of his grip.

“Do I get a hug?” He asks. “A kiss? Do I get to play with your doll? Or,” he gasps, leaning in close by her ear. “That secret chocolate you have – oh yeah, I know about that, you,” he grins, then leans his head over her shoulder to look at Dave, tipping his head in his direction. “Aba doesn’t know, though. I’ll keep it quiet if you let me have some.”

Sadie giggles, bouts of hardly restrained laughter slipping past her lips, and her hair falls across her face as she nods her head. “Okay, okay. Promise?” She asks, and Klaus grins, reaching one hand up and sticking out his pinky finger. She curls her own around it and then presses her thumb to his.

“Pinky promise. Come on, up you get, let’s go see him,” he coaxes, lifting her onto her feet and following after her as she hurries ahead to Dave. By the time he’s reached them, she’s sat on one of his legs, eying Klaus as if he might spill the secret of the chocolate she had been hoarding in one of the drawers in her bedroom. Klaus simply winks at her and stands by Dave’s other side.

“I won,” Klaus reports with a cocky smile. Dave gives him an amused look, a snort leaving his lips.

“I’m so proud,” he replies and Klaus preens, a wide grin spreading his lips. “Alright, come on. We can stop by the sweet shop on our way home for you two.”

Klaus grins even wider and when Sadie stands up, he holds out his fist and it only takes her a moment before she bumps it with her own. She raises her arms up, face expectant and hopeful. Klaus crouches down, hands hooking under her arms, and then he stands and lifts her up in a familiar motion, setting her on his shoulders. Her hands go to his head, burying into the thick curls of hair. He had been growing his hair out lately, letting it grow into ringlets similar to Sadie’s, just long enough to be pulled back into a bun. He was still debating whether or not he liked it better than the styled mess his shorter hair had been, but he was happy with it so far, and Sadie liked to play with it and put it into different styles. She was slowly reaching the point where Klaus couldn’t keep her on her shoulders for long, but she loved it.

“Lead the way, Davey-boy,” he calls. Sadie hits the air with one of her fists. One of his own hands stay up, settled on her leg to keep her steady, and the other one searches out for Dave’s. He can feel the silver band of his engagement ring on his finger and it brings a smile to his face.

He feels happier than he has in a long time. Not artificial happiness drawn out from drugs, but a kind of happiness he had doubted even existed for a long time.

The sweet shop door hits a chime as they enter, and the smell of sugar and candy hits them like a wave. He sets Sadie on the floor before they go in, watching the way her eyes take in the shelves upon shelves of sugar filled snacks, widening with childlike amazement.

“One sweet,” says Dave, looking at both Klaus and Sadie. “One.”

“You’re no fun,” Klaus pouts, shoulders slumping. Nonetheless, he lets Dave follow after Sadie while he searches out what it is that he’s craving. He grabs a simple packet of chocolate buttons before turning down an aisle and pausing. Dave crouches down behind Sadie, pointing at different sweets and wondering about the options.

No, Klaus certainly didn’t have this scene in mind when he imagined his future. But he was glad that it was happening nonetheless.

He creeps forwards, setting a hand onto Dave’s shoulder. “What’s she getting?” He asks, eying the shelves. Sadie comes forwards, holding up her hands to show a packet of m&m’s. “Oh,” he breathes, “that’s a good choice.”

Dave stands, knees groaning, and he takes the sweets to pay for them, and then they head back out, Sadie busy with her sweets, walking in front of him and Dave.

“She takes after you a lot,” Dave comments. Klaus hums, lifting his gaze up from the floor.

“We just have the same minds,” Klaus says. Dave snorts.

“I know that,” he says sarcastically. “But it’s nice to see.”

“Awww,” Klaus coos, grinning and squeezing Dave’s hand. “Dad of the year award, huh?”

Dave nudges him. “You’re not as bad as you might think you are,” he comments, and Klaus’ cheeks warm slightly. Instead of replying, he focuses on watching to make sure Sadie doesn’t run into something in her entranced state with her m&m’s.

 

####

 

They reach the apartment quickly. Klaus kicks his shoes off and hangs his coat up as Sadie leans against Dave to take her own shoes off, neatly setting them aside next to theirs, tiny sneakers in comparison to Klaus’ thick heeled boots and Dave’s leather shoes. Klaus doesn’t think he’ll ever get over how small her clothes are.

She takes off, heading into the living room to sit down by the coffee table and pick up a pencil, continuing immediately from where she left off with a drawing.

“Coffee?” Dave asks, a hand on Klaus’ back. Klaus hums.

“If you’re making one,” he nods. Dave leans forwards, pressing a chaste kiss to his cheek before drifting into the kitchen. Klaus falls down onto the couch, sighing and stretching his legs out along the cushions where he reaches for the television remote, turning it on for some background noise.

His head rests on a cushion, eyes flitting down to the paper Sadie’s drawing on, watching her absentmindedly. Then he looks aside and hums.

“I don’t know how you aren’t sick of that book,” he comments. Ben, sitting on an armchair with one leg crossed over the other, his book held in his hands at a random page. He looks up from what he’s reading.

“It’s a good book,” he says. Klaus quirks an eyebrow.

“Maybe the first time,” he says.

“Is Ben here?”

Klaus glances at Sadie, humming. “Yup. Benny’s sitting over there.” He points a finger at the armchair and the girl turns around expectantly.

“Hi,” she says, waving a small hand, a small smile on her face.

“Hey,” Ben replies.

“He says hi,” says Klaus. Sadie smiles, turning back to her picture.

“It’s still good,” Ben continues.

“Debatable,” Klaus murmurs with a small smirk. Dave’s footsteps creak against floorboards as he comes close, holding out a coffee to Klaus that he accepts happily, blowing gently across the surface to cool it down. He moves so that Dave can sit next to him, thigh touching his, and he melts into his side. Hands cupping his coffee, he lets his eyes drift shut. He’s content like this; the scribble of Sadie’s pencil against paper, the drone of unintelligible television, a good coffee, Ben turning book pages and Dave, steady beside him.

“How’s it going, Ben?” Dave asks, eyes bouncing briefly to the armchair.

Ben approves of Dave, too. Dave talks to Ben as if he can see and hear him, with Klaus translating for him, after Klaus had done a lot of explaining and waving Umbrella Academy magazines and news articles at Dave.

“Fine,” Ben says. “I think you should check out that new movie coming out, though. The musical.”

“He wants to see a new musical coming out,” Klaus says. Dave hums.

“We could check it out.”

“I think it’s supposed to be good. Trailer looks good.”

“He says the trailer looks good for it.”

Dave nods his head, shoulder slightly jostling Klaus. “We’ll check it out, then. See when it’s in the cinema.”

Ben throws Dave a smile that goes unseen by him, but Dave still manages to smile in his direction as well before turning his attention forwards to the television.

“I was thinking we could have chicken tonight,” he adds, some time later when the coffee in his hands is near empty. “How’s that sound, princess?”

Sadie hums, her tongue poking out between her teeth. She concentrates on finishing a line on the paper before turning to look at Dave and nodding. “Uh-huh,” she says, and then turns to the drawing again.

“That’s sorted,” Klaus says. He stretches out to set his coffee aside so he can more easily melt into Dave, head on his shoulder. Dave sets his own coffee aside so that he can wrap an arm around Klaus. “You do make good chicken,” Klaus murmurs. His nose nudges his neck and he tips his head forwards so that he can press a gentle kiss on his neck, and then another, followed quickly by another and another.

Dave lets out a huff of breath. His thumb rubs the exposed skin of his waist from where his shirt rides up slightly. Klaus peels his eyes open to peer up at him, his strong jaw and warm eyes, softly tousled brown hair.

“I’m a good cook,” Dave murmurs back, eyes flicking down. Klaus’ lips twitch upwards and he nods his head in agreement – he is a surprisingly good cook – before he forces himself to sit upright better, turning to face him easier. He brings his hands up to cup his cheeks, catching his lips with his own, letting his eyes slip closed. Dave kisses gently, something tender and loving, with a hand that holds his jaw lightly, fingertips gracing over his skin. It never needs to be something heavy and hot to leave Klaus breathless and with a stomach full of butterflies, swooning over every little touch he offers.

He’s reluctant to part the kiss, but eventually he does so, lingering a few inches from him before Dave steals one last kiss.

“Help me make it?” Dave requests, voice hushed ever so slightly. Klaus hums, takes Dave’s offered hand and then follows him into the kitchen. He’s not as good a cook as Dave might be, but Dave directs him to and fro, telling him to do things that he finds easy enough. He preheats the oven, sets out plates, gets Sadie a glass of orange juice and when he returns to the kitchen, he reaches inside a cabinet to the top shelf, pulling down a Tupperware box of brownies.

“Don’t eat too much,” says Dave. “We’re cooking.”

Klaus hums, waving his hand dismissively and dropping a brownie into his mouth. Weed doesn’t quite do the trick like other drugs used to, and he finds himself having to keep a steady constant high, jumping from joint to edible to keep the ghosts away, lest it wear off.

He does put the brownies back away again before Sadie can notice the treats and attempt to get them later on, and instead tasks himself with pouring her some juice and setting it nearby on the coffee table. He risks a glance at the picture she’s drawing and catches four figures; her in between Dave and Klaus and, slightly off to the side, is Ben. His lips twitch upwards.

“Guess you’re just a little artist now, huh?” He comments, bringing her gaze up to him. She beams, nodding her head happily.

“It’s us,” she says, “and Benny. You said he wears black.”

“Spot on, princess,” Klaus nods. Ben lifts his head from his book to peer over at the paper, his own lips curling upwards.

“Does he like it?” She asks.

“He loves it,” says Klaus, then tips his head to the side, patting her shoulder gently before returning to the kitchen to help Dave finish cooking.

Sadie sits up on the couch between him and Dave, plate balanced on her lap, and she has her own cartoons on the television as they eat. Something Klaus doesn’t actually know what’s going on but recognises it from one of the cartoons she frequently watches. When dinner’s done, she curls up next to them and, while watching the cartoon, she begins to doze off, eyes fluttering closed and head drooping. Klaus smiles, draping one arm over her, his hand absentmindedly twirling curled hair around his fingers, and it isn’t long before she’s snoring quietly against his side, fingers curled into his shirt.

Klaus never imagined himself in a family setting like this, but he’s already decided that the kid owns his heart just as much as Dave does.

“She asleep?” Dave asks from the kitchen.

“Out like a light,” says Klaus. Dave sets a dish aside to dry before he comes close again. He smiles, reaching a hand over the back of the couch to brush hair from her face slightly.

She’s small in stature, with hair a rather dark brown and tightly curled in a similar fashion to Klaus’, ending around her jaw, thick and unruly, and she likes how it matches Klaus’. Skin like Dave’s when he manages to catch a tan, and wide, inquisitive emerald green eyes, she almost looks a mix of Dave and Klaus’ own child. He does consider her his own, too. She’s his daughter, in every way other than blood, and he loves as much as any parents loves their child, even if calling himself a parent or father gives him an existential crisis. She’s a happy child, Klaus knows. Always energetic and excited, ever curious and always ready to play or talk or do something, and always happy to fall asleep next to either of them.

Dave sits down on Klaus’ other side, changes the channel to the news, and Klaus lets it wash over him in a drone in the back of his mind.

Dave nudges him. Klaus blinks, humming and lifting his head up. Dave, wearing a grim face, eyebrows furrowed, nods his head towards the television. Klaus looks to it.

A news reporter’s mouth is in a pinched line, their hands clasped together on their desk. Reginald Hargreeves, they say, is dead. His father died of a heart attack.

“Shit,” says Ben. Klaus agrees.

It’s only common sense that there’ll be a funeral. He knows that Pogo and Luther will ensure this, and probably Grace, too. There might be a whole situation in concern with the Umbrella Academy, and surely with their inheritance, too, unless Reginald decided to write in his will that he wants the stacks of cash he has hidden somewhere set alight rather than landing in the hands of his children.

The realisation that Klaus might have to go back to the Academy, and for a funeral no less, makes him groan. He scrubs a hand down his face.

“Shit,” he mutters, repeating Ben’s eloquently put response. He had almost been convinced that Reginald had been invincible, that not even death could catch up to him. He had been convinced that he’d never have to go back to that place, too.

“I’m sorry, Klaus,” Dave says, his voice soft as he reaches out to find his hand and offer some comfort. Klaus tears his eyes away from the screen and the picture of the Umbrella Academy, the infamous one where they’re all lined up outside the bank after the robbery that sent them into the limelight, rather to focus on Dave.

“Don’t be,” Klaus dismisses, shaking his head. “Was about time,” he admits with a snort, then he bites down on his lip. Had anyone been called? He hadn’t ever checked in with Pogo in recent years to clear his status from dwelling in alleyways to actually living what one might consider a relatively normal life. What’s supposed to happen now? Nothing?

“Still,” says Dave, squeezing his hand. “I am.”

Klaus stares at the television. “Do you think your family will call?” Dave asks. Klaus huffs a breath.

“Luther will do something,” Ben utters. “And Allison, probably.”

“Probably,” Klaus grumbles, sparing him a brief glance. They probably would. “Not call,” he clarifies to Dave. “They don’t have my number; I’ve not spoken to them in years. But Pogo and Luther would plan something.”

“You think everyone would go?” He asks. Klaus sighs.

“I have no idea,” he admits. It’s typical, of course, to have some kind of funeral or memorial when someone dies. Of course it is. But of course, they’re the Hargreeves. Who knows. He might go and only Luther might be there because he never left in the first place. Diego wouldn’t be happy to go, and who knows what Allison and Vanya think. It would feel odd to go back there and Klaus realises that he really doesn’t want to.

Reginald isn’t, and never was, part of his family. His family is here with him, Dave beside him and Sadie slumping onto his lap, holding his shirt like a substitute for a teddy bear, and Ben, sitting in the armchair nearby. Not the Umbrella Academy.

Something tells him that it would be worse if he didn’t try and go. If anything, he owes it to Pogo to try and show up at the very least.

“Think about it,” Dave tells him. “You have time.”

Klaus sighs and closes his eyes, listening as Dave changes the channel on the television to something else. He focuses on Sadie’s hair, curled gently around his fingertips. He focuses on his family.

 

###

 

Klaus stands in front of the mirror, eying himself. He’s changed out of the clothes he was wearing prior, rather wearing a pair of proper black suit pants, patterned with flowers and a leather belt. On his top half he wears a horrifically plain black button up, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, alternating between the buttons done right to the top and the top few undone and left open.

Dave comes up behind him, resting his chin on his shoulders, arms wrapping around his torso. “How are you feeling?” He asks. Klaus sighs.

“This is so dull,” he mutters, looking himself up and down. “I look like I’m trying to look like a man.”

Dave snorts. “You look nice though. Fancy.”

“That’s disgusting,” Klaus jokes, tipping his head back and resting his hands over Dave’s.

“One night,” he tells him. “Then you can wear whatever you want.”

At the very least, he thinks, he still has smudged purple eyeshadow around his eyes that he’s refused to wipe off.

“Why are you leaving?”

Klaus startles at the voice, turning around to see Sadie in the doorway, her pyjamas on and hair ruffled from getting out of bed, and a unicorn plushie in one hand.

“Hey, princess,” he says, voice instantly melting into something soft and gentle. He turns, crouching down as she comes close. “I’ve just got some dumb adult stuff to do, don’t you worry about that. You need to be getting your beauty sleep, you know.”

She keeps staring at him, eyes wide and sleepy, slightly teary.

“Don’t go,” she says, holding out a hand. Klaus sighs gently, reaching out to take the hand and tug her closer.

“I’ll be back before you know it,” he tells her, and she slumps into him, small hands curling into his shirt and tugging slightly.

Dave comes up, crouching beside them. “Come on, darling. He’ll tuck you back into bed, okay?” He persuades, hand on her back. Sleepy and clingy, Sadie moans sadly, tucking her face into the crook of Klaus’ neck. Klaus can only smile sadly, continuing to rub his hand up and down her back.

“It’s bed time for you,” he says, and he stands, bringing her up with him with a small grunt. “You go to bed and close your eyes, and I’ll be back when you open them.”

He’d much rather stay here with her and Dave, much rather that, but his conscience wouldn’t stop nagging him and nor would Ben if he didn’t go. So he carries Sadie into her bedroom, lowering her into her bed and tucking her in, making sure to slide the unicorn teddy in next to her so she can wrap her arms around it.

“I’ll be quick,” he tells her.

“Promise?”

Klaus smiles. “Pinky promise.”

He holds out his pinky and she wraps hers around it, and then they lock it at the thumbs. “Get your beauty sleep, alright?” He leans forwards, lips pressing a kiss to her forehead, thumb brushing aside curls, and then he stands.

“I love you,” she says quickly. Klaus smiles.

“I love you too,” he replies, and he leaves the room reluctantly, quietly shutting the door behind him.

She is a clingy child, more so when she’s tired, and goodbyes always feel like someone’s stabbed him and keeps twisting the knife further into his guts. Dave squeezes his arm as he composes himself outside her bedroom door, and then guides him to the front door so he can grab his jacket and throw it on. He checks the pockets – empty save for a wallet with a little money in it, a packet of cigarettes (with two joints stuffed inside) and a lighter, and his phone that he had almost forgotten about.

“She’ll be fine,” Dave tells him, leaning against the doorway. Klaus lets out a small laugh.

“I know, I know. She has those puppy dog eyes, though,” he whines. Dave quirks an eyebrow.

“She learned them from you,” he replies. Klaus smiles.

“I have got good eyes,” he snickers to himself, fluttering his eyelashes.

“You do,” Dave agrees. He comes close, then, hand on his hip pulling him close enough so that he can catch his lips. Klaus’ hand lingers on his cheek, immediately melting into him before he pulls away too soon. “Try not to get into a fight, okay?”

Klaus snorts. “No promises,” he mutters, then slumps. “Do I have to go?”

“Probably,” Dave shrugs. Klaus groans, shoulders rolling back.

“Funerals are shit,” he mutters.

“Of course. You’ll be back before you know it,” Dave tells him. Klaus groans once more.

“Fine, fine. Try not to miss me too much.” He forces a grin and then lunges forwards, catching one last kiss. The taxi outside honks its horn and Klaus finds himself taking steps outside, sitting himself into the backseat of the taxi as it takes him further away from his family. His fingers fiddle with the engagement ring on his finger and he wonders, briefly, how long it’ll take for him to be accused of something, or how long it might take for them to notice he has another family, now. 

Chapter Text

The Academy glowers down at him, tall and imposing, as unwelcoming as it had always ever been. Klaus tucks his hands into his pockets as the taxi behind him takes off, leaving him on his old front door and lingering, Ben standing beside him. 

"Never thought I'd be here again," Klaus mutters.

"You and me both," Ben hums. His eyes take in the building, the iron gates and the towering doors. His foot scuffs the floor. "Suppose we better get it over with, though."

Klaus sighs, reluctantly nodding his head in agreement. He pushes aside the iron gates and goes up to the door, and it groans open beneath his touch. He steps inside, boots clicking on marble floor, and he’s assaulted by memories. Trudging inside after a mission, someone else’s blood on him. Hurling insults at Reginald in the midst of night, fifteen years old and pupils blown wide, and his family looking at him with disapproval. Wearing his best clothes to Ben’s funeral, twitchy with withdrawals, a shadow flickering in his peripheral. Sneaking out to Griddy’s, falling down the massive staircase towering in front of him now, being shoved forwards to receive his tattoo first, standing for photos and portraits, stealing anything small but expensive looking that wouldn’t be noticed for a while.

This place isn’t home.

The door thuds closed behind him, snapping him free from his trance and urging him to wander further inside. He tilts his head up, eying the door to the kitchen and dining room, the door to the living room, the staircase. He can hear footsteps somewhere distant and wonders if it’ll just be him and Luther.

He goes up the stairs, hand drifting along the bannister, taking steps with nostalgia and he isn’t sure if it’s a good feeling or not. His eyes bounce around the corridor, at all the doors to their rooms and bedrooms never used. Sadie would love it, he thinks. He’d never find her in this maze.

He turns down another corridor, away from footsteps in a bedroom, in Luther’s bedroom, heavy and something he doesn’t want to face yet, and he finds himself in a corridor he’s hardly ever been in. They only came up to Reginald’s office to try and say goodnight or when they had something to report – powers, missions, failures. It makes him feel tense, but Reginald’s dead, and Reginald can’t say anything to him now, can’t even stop him from shoving aside his office doors and having the room to himself. Part of him wants to trash it just for the sake of trashing Reginald’s stuff, and another part curiously roams his eyes over everything.

He leaves the door slightly ajar behind him. “Isn’t this the jackpot?” He says, turning to glance briefly at Ben.

“What are you even doing in here?” He asks. Klaus shrugs honestly, rounding his desk so that he can collapse heavily into Reginald’s infamous chair. He slumps into it, and then kicks his feet up onto his desk, purposefully knocking a few things off.

“Dunno, really,” he admits. “Spite, probably. Old man can’t stop me from doing this-“ He jerks his foot and kicks off an ornament from his desk, hearing it thud to the ground and roll away. His hand dips to a nearby drawer, pulling it open and fishing inside, grabbing a handful of papers. He glances briefly over it, eyes taking in the scrawl of ink, dated over a decade ago, and then he lets it flutter to the ground in a mess. “Or that.”

“So really you’re just being a little shit?” Ben says, quirking an eyebrow, and Klaus grins.

“Pretty much. Some things never change, Benny,” he says, punctuating his sentence by throwing something over his shoulder and grimacing when he hears what he’s sure is not a thud but rather a crunch. “Plus,” he adds, “maybe there’s something nice here I can bring back. Or pawn and get us all a holiday to the Himalayas,” he muses. There’s got to be a million dollars kicking around somewhere, surely. He wonders where Reginald actually kept all of his money, and curiosity has him fishing around in the drawers of his desk.

One drawer’s locked, and it piques his curiosity. Sharing a look with Ben, he sets about first trying to find the keys and, when he can’t, he pulls a bobby pin from his pocket – pink with flowers on it, a stray of Sadie’s – and sticks it into the lock. A few seconds pass and the drawer pops open, contents free in his hands. The only content of the drawer is a box, though – sure, one that looks expensive, no doubt, but a simple box. He holds it up and shakes it near his ear, hearing paper rustle and thud heavily. He uses the bobby pin to pick the lock again, wondering if he really did just strike gold – only to slump in defeat at the sight of a red book on stacks of paper, covered in his scrawl again. Klaus groans and throws it all aside with some force, not caring much that the box and its contents bounce off the window sill and teeter for a second before succumbing and tumbling out of the window.

“Old man ruins all my fun,” he grumbles.

“For all you know that book had the number to his safe, or something,” Ben tells him. Klaus glares at him.

“Don’t even tease me like that,” he pouts, a flare of regret flashing in his chest. “Fine. I’ll get dear dad’s book later, but I blame it on you for not-“

“Klaus?”

He hardly hears her entering and he startles, jumping slightly in the seat and sitting upright.

“Allison?” He says, eyes swiftly flicking up and down her. He’s familiar with her now, though, what with her face on just about every magazine and in every film these days, but it’s still a slight shock to see her, especially in person, after so long. To hear her voice after only ever receiving that of her agent’s whenever one of them was to phone or write to her. “Oh my, the Allison Hargreeves?” He gasps, quickly changing his tone to a mock awe-struck one.

He rises in a fluid motion, eating the ground in long strides before he comes to a stop in front of her. “Mind if I get an autograph? I’m a big fan,” he says, grinning. Allison huffs a laugh, lips curling upwards, and then she looks him up and down.

“It’s… been a while,” she says, and Klaus hums.

“Indeed. Don’t just stand there, then,” he says, and he holds out his arms, quirking an eyebrow. He doesn’t wait for her response, pulling her into a tight, albeit brief, hug, his hands lingering on his arms when he pulls back. “Super stardom treating you well, I see.”

Allison lets out another soft laugh, and then raises an eyebrow. “You’re looking good too, Klaus,” she says, a hint of something in the undertones of her words, and Klaus grins.

“Oh, I know,” he says. He doesn’t confront her unspoken questions – rehab? Sober? High? Homeless? – not bothering to sate her curiosity, instead turning to the door as footsteps come closer, heavy. He has to do a double take, eyes blowing wide.

Luther is, quite frankly, huge. He had always been the tallest, but he seems to have grown even taller still, and looks as if he’s stolen the body of a body builder.

“Shit,” Ben mutters, and Klaus swallows.

“Oh,” he says, “hey there, Luther.” He takes a step back from Allison and composes himself quickly.

“Klaus,” Luther says with a nod, his eyes roaming up and down him with a sparkle of shock. No crop tops, glitter restrained to his eyelids only, no smell of booze or sex on him, no unhinged look to his eyes. Klaus places his hands upon his hips.

“Moon works wonders for the body, huh?” He muses, and Luther’s gaze briefly breaks. “Well, I won’t linger; best let you two catch up, huh? I’ll just…” He slips past Luther, squeezing himself out of the space in the doorway and hurrying away down the corridor, avoiding whatever questions they might have for him. 

"That's weird," he mutters when he's out of earshot, looking at Ben, who snorts. 

“He’s a damned giant,” Klaus retorts, shaking his head. “Maybe he wins prize for most changed.”

“I’m surprised you aren’t flaunting that ring of yours,” Ben states, nodding his head to Klaus’ hand. The ring Dave got him is simple; a silver band with a single square cut diamond that he has facing upwards, and on the inside of the ring is the simple word beyond. A part of a saying they had amongst themselves, a little secret of their love that no one else had, no one else could share, and it never failed to make him smile – and, initially, cry when he had first seen it. While Klaus had joked about huge rings covered in diamonds and amethysts and emeralds that only Reginald might ever be able to afford, he doesn’t think there’s anything out there better than this one.

He wants to flaunt it around, of course. Had Luther not come in and Allison had caught sight of the ring, he probably would have burst into telling her how beautiful his fiancé is, and how amazing their daughter is. Part of him isn’t sure he wants them to know, though. He tries to keep the Umbrella Academy and his home life separate, tries to keep them from ever meeting at all. He doesn’t want the Umbrella Academy to seep into his home life like a disease, tainting and corrupting it. But he supposes that he can’t lie about the ring either, so he decides to simply see what happens over the night and do what is best for his family. He has that responsibility now.

He wanders into the living room and pauses in the doorway. Turning around to look at him from the fire is Diego, and he hasn’t changed at all either. Black sweater and knife harness and brooding look; all of it. His eyes take in Klaus, too, like a hawk’s, and he raises his scarred eyebrow.

“Hey, bro,” Klaus says, offering him a smile and drifting closer.

“Klaus,” Diego greets, turning to full face him. “You don’t look like you’ve crawled out of a gutter, huh?” He jokes, and Klaus snorts.

“Fuck you,” he says, but he forces Diego into a hug. “I wish I could say the same for you.” Diego scoffs, patting his back a couple of times before pulling away and once more looking him up and down.

“Seriously, bro,” he says, “how’s everything been? You look… good,” he says, words ever so slightly hesitant.

“I’ve been good,” Klaus simply says, shoulders shrugging. He watches Diego’s eyes narrow and he reaches a hand out to grab Klaus’ left one, lifting it up.

“Is that a fucking wedding ring?” He says, eyebrows reaching to Heaven, and so much for not bringing it up immediately, Klaus thinks.

No,” he says, letting Diego eye it for a moment before taking his hand back. “It’s an engagement ring,” he states, rolling his eyes and looking down at the silver ban.

“You’re –“ Diego pauses, seeming to eye him in search for any lies. “You’re engaged? You?”

“Wow, thanks, my self-esteem is skyrocketing right now, dear brother,” drawls Klaus. Diego waves his hand dismissively.

“That’s not what I meant,” he says, head shaking. Ben snorts. “I didn’t think you wanted to settle down,” he says. “You’re settling down?”

Klaus huffs out a small laugh. “Nor did I, trust me. Things happen,” he says, patting Diego’s chest. “True love changes things.”

Diego rolls his eyes at his overly-sappy tone and Klaus grins. “Well, uh, shit. Congrats, bro,” he says, a little awkwardly, and Klaus nudges him.

“Thanks. Don’t tell the others; they’ve not noticed yet.”

Diego gives him a look but nods obligingly anyway. “So, what’s her name?” He asks, and Klaus drifts to the couch and falls onto it, crossing one leg over the other.

His name,” he says, “is Dave.”

Diego hesitates for only a moment before nodding, returning to the armchair seated near the crackling fireplace. “So, Dave’s shackled?”

Klaus laughs, bobbing his head. “Stuck with me now,” he hums, running his thumb over the band.

"Well," says Diego, "he must be a good man to get you to settle down and wear your shirt buttoned up."

Klaus snorts. "He is," he agrees. "He is good, and kind, and beautiful, and perfect. I'm... I'm happy."

Diego's eyes linger on him, a flicker of emotion that Klaus can't quite decipher in his eyes, and then he nods. "Good," he says, voice soft. "That's good, Klaus. I'm happy for you. Really."

Klaus hesitates a moment, simply watching Diego before he closes his mouth without saying anything, smiling instead. "Thank you," he murmurs. He opens his mouth to say something else only to hear the front door groan open on its hinges and for quiet footsteps to echo in the hall outside. He shares a look with Diego, only to notice Diego’s face turning somewhat cold, and he grimaces. Vanya’s book had been brutal and he had had no doubt that Diego would have hated it.

He leaves Allison to be the one to greet her, instead quietly waiting for them all to filter in and join them in the living room, spreading themselves out around the room. Klaus thinks they look like a band after an awkward breakup rather than a family, but he offers no help in relieving some of the tension. He does nod at Vanya when she sits down on the couch next to him, though, offering her a smile that seems to help her relax.

“I’m glad to see everyone here,” Luther comments, and Diego grunts. With a sigh, Luther steps forwards. “I guess I better get this started, then. I figured we could have a memorial service for him. Maybe say a few words in the courtyard at sundown, you know, by dad’s favourite spot.”

Silence answers him.

“Dad had a favourite spot?” Allison asks sceptically. Luther blinks.

“Yes,” he says dumbly, “underneath the big oak tree. We used to go sit outside there all the time. None of you ever did that?” He asks it with genuine shock in his tone and Klaus laughs. Already he feels an itch in his bones and an ache in his head, feels backed into a corner, feels on edge, on the defensive. He doesn’t like being back here and it evokes all kinds of memories and emotions he had been so good at avoiding in the recent years. His fingers tap anxiously on his thigh before he gives in, hand dipping into his pocket to fumble for his cigarettes and lighter. It flickers on, quickly catching and he draws in a deep breath and sighs it out slowly, hoping it works enough to chase away some agitation and unease in his bones.

“Will we have drinks?” He asks, raising an eyebrow at Luther. “Refreshments?”

“What? No,” Luther answers, eyebrows furrowing, and he scowls at the cigarette dangling from his fingers. “Put that out; you know dad doesn’t allow smoking inside.”

Klaus hums and takes another drag, smoke tumbling from his lips as he speaks; “dad can’t stop me now,” he says.

Luther sighs, heavy and resigned. “Look, we still have important things to discuss, alright?”

“Get to business then,” Klaus urges, waving a hand at him. Luther eyes him for a moment.

“Like what?” Diego asks, though his face and tone tells Klaus that he knows exactly what Luther’s about to say and he’s daring him to do it.

“Like the way dad died,” Luther says, and immediately Diego snorts bitterly, shaking his head.

“I thought he died from a heart attack,” says Vanya, face pinched.

“According to the coroner,” Luther says.

“Well, wouldn’t he know?”

“Theoretically.”

Theoretically,” echoes Klaus, shaking his head slightly.

“I’m just saying,” Luther’s voice picks up, silencing them once more, “something odd happened. The last time I talked to dad, he sounded strange.”

“Strange how?” Allison asks, peering over at him.

“He sounded on edge,” Luther says. “He told me to be careful who I trust.”

Diego sighs, heaving himself up onto his feet. “Luther,” he begins, “dad was a paranoid, bitter old man who was beginning to lose what was left of his marbles-“

“No,” Luther interjects, voice firm. “He must have known something was going to happen.” He turns his gaze from Diego to Klaus with an intensity Klaus associates with Reginald and bad things. “I know you don’t like to do it, but I need you to talk to dad, Klaus.”

Klaus tilts his head to the side, blinking incredulously. “Uh, what?”

“You need to contact dad, Klaus. Ask him what happened,” Luther insists. Klaus taps ash from his cigarette out onto the floor by his feet, head already shaking.

“Nope. Nada, nuh-uh, not happening, big boy. I’m – no. No.”

“You’re high,” he accuses, then, and Klaus’ eyes flick to Ben with a pointed look. Ben just shrugs and Klaus takes another drag of his cigarette.

“No,” he lies. He’s a mellow weed kind of high as opposed to the high pills and powders and syringes and crystals brought him, and so that’s virtually not high at all. “But that’s not how my powers work anyway. I don’t just dip my hand into a bag of ghosts and pull out dad. I can’t just stick my head into the afterlife and request dear dad stops playing tennis with Hitler so he can take a quick call,” he scoffs, slumping into his seat.

“You’re sober?” Asks Allison and Klaus grunts, dismissively flapping a hand in her direction.

“Is that a ring?” Vanya asks, voice quiet beside him. Klaus stills briefly, putting his hand right back down onto his lap.

“A what?” Allison asks, eyebrows furrowing, and Diego catches Klaus’ eyes and shrugs helplessly.

“A ring,” Vanya repeats. “It is – are you…”

“I thought we were here to discuss the tragic passing of our father,” Klaus interrupts, raising his voice over Vanya. “Not my private life.”

“Are you married?” Allison asks, and she pushes herself off the pillar she’s leaning against to come forwards, peering down at his hand and the silver band around it.

“Married?” Luther echoes with obvious scepticism. Klaus throws his head back and groans slightly.

“No, I’m not married,” he states, lifting his hand up. “It’s an engagement ring. I’m engaged. Now can we get back onto the subject at hand-“

“When did you get engaged? Why didn’t you tell us?” Allison asks, a little hurt in her voice. Klaus sighs. "We've never met them."

“A while ago,” he states. “Ten months ago. I was a bit busy and half of you are unreachable anyway.” He gives her a pointed look and she briefly glances away. "But hey, you know now."

“You got engaged?” Luther echoes, evidently shocked. Klaus waggles his finger in the air.

“Yes, Luther. As I’ve said. I know, did a full one-eighty, who would’ve guessed,” he says, and he looks down at the ring. He already misses Dave and Sadie.

“We don’t mean it like that,” Allison hurries to say.

“We’re happy for you,” Vanya says. Klaus offers a smile to her.

“What’s their name?” Allison asks.

“His name is Dave,” Klaus repeats, a small smile creeping onto his face despite himself. Luther clears his throat awkwardly.

“That’s, uh, good, Klaus. Really." He pauses in his words, and there's something in his eyes for a brief moment, something Klaus isn't sure of what it is. Klaus wonders if it's memories of the first time he passed out, high, in the bathtub and he had to kick down the door to get to him, or if he's thinking about the first time he went into hospital for an overdose, or the nights he would sneak out and he'd catch him on his way back in, smelling of nicotine and alcohol and with bruises on his neck and lashing out whenever he was confronted about doing potentially dangerous thing. Maybe the day he saw Klaus on the streets, or the winter he broke into the Academy because he was scared he might die in the cold on the streets. Klaus knows that there were plenty of times his siblings had thought he was dead or were scared he might be on the way to it, times they feared that this was something Klaus would never get to have, and he hadn't shown signs of leaving the path ever. There's a flash of something brotherly, emotions from near two-decades past, and Klaus swallows. Luther pushes on, choosing not to confront that topic - it seems none of them want to, not yet, at least.  "But can we stay on topic?”

“That’s what I was saying,” Klaus says, waving his hands in defence and then ducking his head.

“There’s also the issue of the missing monocle,” Luther states, dragging the conversation back to the original topic.

“Who gives a shit about a worthless monocle?” Diego snorts. A knife twirls absentmindedly in his fingers, blade hot and reflecting the fire, glinting in its orange light.

“Exactly,” says Luther. “It’s worthless. So, whoever took it, it’s personal. Someone close to him. Someone with a grudge.” He speaks a little slower, eyes drifting over them all.

“What do you mean?” Vanya asks.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Diego retorts, jabbing his knife in Luther’s direction. “He thinks that one of us did it – killed dad.”

“You think that?” Vanya recoils, staring at Luther with evident hurt and Klaus can’t help but let out a bitter laugh and shake his head. He wonders how he managed to rationalise that thought to himself; what one of them he thinks did it, or if they all teamed up together to take him out and manage to do it in a way that made it look like a heart attack.

“If only I thought of that,” Klaus snorts, rising to his feet.

“Where are you going?” He asks, and Klaus waves his hand over his shoulder, heading already to the door.

“Just gonna go kill mom,” he calls back, “I’ll only be a sec.”

He hears more footsteps shuffling out not long after him, hears Diego and Allison say something. With a sigh, Klaus gravitates into the kitchen aimlessly, a hand scrubbing down his cheek. He feels wound up and tense, agitated and angry, and he tries to focus instead on looking through the fridge and the cupboards in search of food.

“Can’t believe you killed dad,” says Ben. Klaus snorts.

“That’s news to me,” he replies in a mutter, reaching into the fridge and pulling out a box of grapes. “I knew this was a bad idea.”

“Well,” says Ben, “it was never going to be a particularly good idea, but everyone’s here. And,” he raises an eyebrow, “you get to flaunt the fact that you’re somewhat stable. Can they say the same?”

Klaus laughs lightly. “That is a good argument,” he muses. He drops a few grapes into his mouth, heaving himself onto the dining table. He misses Sadie, he realises. Her teary goodbye echoes in his head and he curses the girl for having him wrapped around her little pinky. He’d much rather be there with her, reading her a book to sleep or letting her paint his nails.

A draft snakes over his arms, leaving goose bumps in its wake. He glances up, a grape perched between his teeth. He can’t see any windows open, but there must be for the draft turns into what must be wind, messing up his hair, and throwing his grapes aside, scattering them across the floor like stray marbles. He lunges forwards to try and catch them, ducking down and it’s lucky he does so for a ton of knives are stolen by the sudden wind and sent flying over his head, landing in the wall with a thud. He stares, wide eyed, at them all, and then shares a look with Ben. Lightning crackles outside and as he slides off the dining table and up to a window to peer outside, he hears hurrying footsteps coming closer, Diego, Luther and Allison all rushing in and heading immediately for the door, as if it’s a wise decision to just run right outside into a storm.

Nonetheless, Klaus follows.

Outside, hovering in the courtyard, is a crackling, rippling storm of blue light that hurts his eyes to look at. It seems to be the centre of the storm, crackling violently and pulsing, and when it gives off a stronger pulse, Luther and Diego take steps forwards to place themselves between the thing, whatever it is, and him, Vanya and Allison.

Klaus, if he looks close enough, thinks that he might be able to see something in it, like some distorted kind of picture. A garden, a fence, an old man right up, like a person right beneath the surface of water, trapped beneath a sheet of ice, rippling and pushing up against it, trying to break free. And then he does.

There’s a blinding flash that makes him duck his head and screw his eyes shut, and he hears a thud, a grunt, and a gasp.

Peeling his eyes open, Klaus’ hands shove his hair back from his face and he peers over Diego’s shoulder. Then he blinks harder, tongue dashing out across his dry lips.

“Does anyone else see little Number Five, or is that just me?” He asks in a dazed murmur.

 

###

 

For someone who just fell out of a tear in reality, space and time – or whatever that thing was – Five is remarkably fast, remarkably calm, and remarkably frustrating.

He goes inside with everyone trailing after him like a flock of sheep, speechless and gaping. Five hardly spares them a second glance. He flashes around the room with an obviously more important mission in mind, searching cabinets and drawers and the refrigerator. They crowd around the far side of the dining table, giving him space and keeping a close eye on him despite the constant teleporting. Klaus’ mind reels and he has pink marks from pinching the back of his hand as if expecting this all to be a dream. Five disappeared years ago, and yet here he is, looking no older than he did the day he ran away, and acting as if he had never left. Instead, he asks for the date.

“Are we going to talk about what just happened?” Luther asks. Five doesn’t look up. “It’s been sixteen years.”

Klaus glances away. “It’s been a lot longer than that,” Five scoffs. He looks up only when Luther steps right in front of him, blocking his way, and there’s a flicker of something unreadable in his eyes before he teleports right behind him. Luther’s shoulders slump slightly.

“Haven’t missed that,” he mutters, turning to watch Five once more. “Where have you been, Five?”

“The future,” says Five. “It’s pretty shit, by the way.”

Klaus raises a hand. “Called it,” he says, though his comment goes by disregarded, and Five mutters to himself instead, shaking his head and pursing his lips with some kind of bitterness before he dismisses it. He glances up, then, looking at everyone. He glances at Klaus.

“Nice ring.”

Klaus looks down at it, sitting a bit upright. “Oh! Thanks,” he says, waggling his finger and watching the silver catch the light. He doesn’t notice how Five hadn’t even glanced at it before complimenting it.

“Wait, wait,” interrupts Vanya, shifting on the spot. “How did you get back, then?” She asks.

"In the end I had to project my consciousness forward into a suspended quantum state version of myself that exists across every possible instance of time,” Five says off handedly, focusing more so on the bread in his hands. Silence echoes.

“That doesn’t make sense,” Diego says, eyebrows furrowed.

“It would if you were smart,” Five says. He grabs his sandwich, finishing it up and lifting it to take a bite out of it. Diego huffs a breath, glaring briefly at him.

“How long were you there?” Vanya asks. Five hums, eyes flicking briefly aside.

“Forty-five years, give or take,” he says with a half-hearted shrug. Klaus’ eyebrows raise and he turns his head just enough so that he can catch Ben’s eyes. Ben shrugs.

“So, you’re, what, fifty-eight, then?” Klaus asks, leaning closer. Five eyes him.

“No. My consciousness is fifty-eight. My body seems to have reverted back to its thirteen year old state.” He pauses to mull the thought over in his head. “Delores kept saying the equations were off.” He pauses once more before snapping out of his daze. “Guess I missed the funeral, then,” he states.

“How do you know about that?” Luther asks, eyebrows knitting together.

“What part about the future do you not understand?” Five retorts, rolling his eyes. He sighs, takes another bite of his sandwich, and then he turns towards the door.

“Is that it?” Allison asks. “That all you have to say?”

Five peers back at her over the back of his shoulder. “What else is there to say? The circle of life,” says Five, and then he’s gone as quickly as he came, as quickly as he had disappeared previously, leaving them him in the heavy silence that falls.

There’s nothing else to be said, no answers to their questions, and Klaus stays sitting in the dining room even as everyone else filters out.

 

###

 

At least, Klaus thinks, that he hadn’t brought along Dave and Sadie with him.

Not with the way that everything spirals out of control, although expected, with arguments and a fight between Luther and Diego that surprises absolutely no one, and ends with Ben moaning over his beheaded statue and Klaus with what he’s sure is the beginning of a migraine.

Everyone seems eager to avoid one another after the funeral. Luther and Allison part ways and Vanya goes somewhere, Diego to another place, and Klaus lingers in the kitchen by the table, hands clasped upon it and looking absentmindedly out of the window.

“Well,” says Ben, sitting in his old seat. “At least we were all here for the funeral.”

Klaus snorts. He runs his hands through his hair. “No amount of drugs could have conjured that up,” he mutters, and he rubs his eyes with the heels of his hands before groaning and slumping back in his chair. “What time is it?”

Ben hums for a moment. “Coming up for half ten,” he responds. For a moment Klaus debates hauling himself back up to his childhood bedroom and spending the night here, but the idea of going back in there makes him tense. The idea brings with it a sudden itch in his bones and memories of every hiding place he ever had in his bedroom.

Of course, temptation was not uncommon. What was one little pill? It would wear off and everyone would be none the wiser, but he would get a brief rest, a blissful handful of hours in which he can forget everything and feel so good.

But the image of Dave coming in with Sadie the next morning, and Saddie going up to Klaus’ room to get him while Dave introduces himself to everyone, nudging open the door and calling out excitedly “Daddy! Daddy!” and she’ll come up to Klaus, a mess on his bed, limbs tangled in his bedsheets, hanging over the edge of the bed, or maybe he’ll be on the floor, eyes open and staring blindly ahead, his lips tinted blue, skin either clammy or already cold to the touch. Maybe he’ll be convulsing, jerking oddly on the floor, gasping uselessly for air as he chokes on his own vomit, keening and whimpering pathetically, and she’ll shake him gently, and get upset when he doesn’t respond and keep scaring her with his weird noises and movements or lack thereof, and she’ll poke her head out of the bedroom and call, “Aba, Daddy’s sick!” And she’ll have that image stuck in her mind for years, forever, because he got careless and selfish.

He can hear her voice and imagine Dave’s rush to get her out of the room, his frenzied yells for an ambulance, and asking why, why, why had he done that? And he has no response.

It makes his throat close up, his eyes sting, and it brings him up onto his feet, out of the Academy, and smoking a cigarette as he waits for a taxi, foot tapping anxiously. He wants to go home, to his real home, to his fiancé and to his daughter, and he wants to get on with life unhindered as if tonight had never happened. He’ll deal with the Academy later.

Chapter Text

"You're home early."

A sigh leaves Klaus' lips, one of instant relief, and he lets Dave's voice wash over him, soothing tension from his muscles. "Yeah," he says, shuffling in and peeling off his coat to hang it up. "Didn't think I'd keep my sanity if I stayed there overnight."

He drifts into the living room with the full intent of collapsing onto the couch with Dave and sprawling out across his lap, only to pause in his steps. He raises an eyebrow and Dave smiles innocently.

"She was upset that you left and wouldn't sleep," defends Dave, for stealing his lap is a snoring Sadie with her fluffy blanket thrown over her.

"And you tell me to put her to bed," Klaus retorts. He sits down carefully next to them, though, couch dipping with his weight, and he watches Sadie's face screw up and her fingers curl tighter into her blanket.

"It's the puppy eyes," Dave says. One of his hands, the one resting on Sadie's hip, turns upwards. Klaus slips his own hand into his.

"Are you okay?" Dave asks, voice hushed and soft. Klaus' eyes flick to the television where Bambi plays at a low volume, close to the end of the film. Dave squeezes his hand.

"I think I get a gold medal in having the most dysfunctional family," he groans. "Luther thinks that one of us killed dad." Dave quirks an eyebrow. "Not that I've not thought of it, but still. It doesn't matter; I'm back, everything's A-okay," he dismisses, shaking his head. Dave eyes him with that look of his.

"Klaus..." Dave drawls off and Klaus avoids his gaze. Sadie shifts slightly.

"Aba?" She lifts her head, blinking blearily and peering out between long strands of hair. Dave raises his eyebrows at her, greeting her with a smile, and then her eyebrows furrow and she turns her head.

“Hey there, princ – oof.” His words get interrupted by a grunt as he finds Sadie suddenly very awake and against his chest, her head tucked under his chin, fingers tugging his shirt. “You never wake up this quickly when we need to go out,” he tells her, but his hands are quick to settle on her, keeping her close.

“She never wakes up that quickly for me – period!” Dave says with amusement. Klaus grins at him.

“What can I say?” He hums, standing up with a groan and bringing Sadie with him. “She just loves me – don’t you, princess? You love me more, right? Am I your favourite?” He ducks his head to catch her eyes, his eyebrows raised expectantly. A burst of giggles leave her lips, muffled slightly by her hand.

Dave rises up to his feet, extending a hand to run it along Klaus’ back. There’s a fond smile on his lips, something warm in his eyes as he looks at them both. “You’re great with her,” he says. Klaus’ cheeks warm slightly and he looks down at her. Dave draws his attention back to him though when he bumps his hip against his and when he turns to face him, he comes close, catching him in a gentle kiss.

Klaus melts into it wholly, feeling the tension that had built up earlier instantly seep out from his shoulders and his muscles, bring him back to reality, out of his muddled thoughts. He’s perfectly fine, and he has a responsibility now that he needs to focus on – multiple, actually. On Dave and Sadie and on himself. He has his own life now, and he can be the bigger person, work on that responsible adult shtick he ought to work on.

Gross,” whines Sadie, pulling him and Dave apart. She looks at them with her face screwed up dramatically, head shaking.

Gross?” Echoes Klaus. “Is that gross, huh?”

“Mhmm,” Sadie says. “Gross.”

“Is this gross?” He asks, and then he pecks Dave’s on the lips again, drawing out a squeal from Sadie. “Or is this? This?” He turns from Dave, planting kisses around her cheeks, her forehead, on her nose and on her chin. She tries, in vain, to turn her head away from him, giggling as she does, but Klaus lifts her off his hips and into the air so that she can’t hide her face against his chest. “Say it’s not gross,” he demands, “and then I’ll stop. Say it.”

“No!” She yelps, shaking her head. Klaus shares an exaggerated look with Dave.

“You know what we’ve got to do,” he says, and Dave grins, rounding to Sadie’s other side.

“You’ve got to say it,” Dave insists. Sadie shakes her head again, grinning.

“No!”

“In that case…” Both Dave and Klaus duck forwards to catch both of her cheeks in pecked kisses until she relents, squealing her victory.

“Ugh, my noodle arms can’t keep this up, down you go,” Klaus groans, lowering Sadie onto her feet. “You ought to be in bed, you – oh, no, don’t do that – stop that-“

She’s already turned the puppy dog eyes on at the mention of bed, her lower lip jutting out, eyes large and round and soft. Klaus slumps in defeat, throwing a desperate look at Dave who holds his hands up in defence.

“The movie,” she says, “it’s not done.”

“You can finish it in the morning – come on.” He reaches his hand out to take her and she does so sadly.

“I missed you, daddy.”

Klaus stills at her wavering tone, his heart heavy.

“She missed you,” coos Ben, ever on Sadie’s side, and Klaus groans.

“Fine, fine,” he sighs. “Fine. This movie, alright? Then bed time.”

Her sad face instantly lights up. She hops up onto the couch, waiting for Klaus expectantly. Dave snickers.

“Hot chocolate?” He asks, watching Klaus trudge, defeat, after Sadie.

“Please,” he says, sounding rather dramatic, as if he’s sat down at a bar after a long day of work and has been offered a shot of vodka instead.

Sadie’s quick to huddle into Klaus’ side, with Klaus draping an arm over her and absentmindedly twirling her hair gently around his fingers. Dave hands him over his hot chocolate gently before sitting down next to him, thigh against thigh, and they all fell quiet, all intrigued by the cartoon playing out in front of them. Klaus sips at his hot chocolate and responds to Sadie’s occasional comment on the film or something entirely unrelated that seems to have just popped into her mind, and it’s nice. Exactly what Klaus needed.

Dave sets aside his mug when he’s finished his hot chocolate and then takes his hand in his, running his thumb over his knuckles. Klaus rests his head on his shoulder and Dave kisses the top of his head and the Academy’s long forgotten in favour of this moment. He can let his eyes slide shut and just revel in the feeling of Dave’s hand, fitting perfectly with his, and the weight of Sadie resting, nestled right up against his side, snoring quietly, and the sound of the film gently going on in the background mingling with Ben’s page-turning. It might as well be bliss, he thinks.

Then there’s a knock at his door. Klaus pries his suddenly heavy eyelids open to peer over at it, then shares a look with Dave. It’s late, and the only visitor they typically get is elderly Mrs Bauer every now and then, though she’s typically also asleep by now. Dave pries himself from Klaus, gently as to not awake Sadie, and goes up to the front door. From where Klaus is, he can’t see whoever’s at the door, but he can hear them.

“Is Klaus here?”

Dave stands, looking rather dumbfounded and flicking his gaze back to Klaus on the couch. “Uh, yes – why?”

“Let him in,” Klaus says, voice raised ever so slightly. He sits up, eyes on Sadie, ever aware of not waking her up as he moves. Dave steps aside and in walks Five, looking surprisingly tired though largely covering it up. He pauses to eye Dave first and foremost, looking him up and down, and then he turns to walk further inside only to pause again as he eyes Klaus and the sleeping child, with Klaus looking as if he’s been caught red-handed.

“What brings you to my humble abode?” Klaus asks. Dave shuts the door gently, wandering in after Five and looking no less confused.

“I wanted to talk to you,” he states, tucking his hands away into the pockets of his shorts. He glances briefly at Sadie. “If you have a minute.”

Klaus quirks an eyebrow at him, glances at Ben who shrugs helplessly. “Could be interesting,” he says, closing his book.

“Alright, just – give me a second,” Klaus mutters. He shifts his hands on Sadie, though with her already practically wrapped right around him it’s not overly difficult to lift her again. As he makes his way to the door leading to Sadie’s bedroom, he tips his head back to his fiancé and his brother. “Make yourself at home, I guess. Dave, that’s my fifty-eight year old brother, Five, if you were wondering.”

“Oh,” says Dave, looking a little lost in the middle of the living room. “Of course. Would you, uh, like a drink?”

Klaus leaves them to it, focusing instead on prying Sadie’s hands from his shirt to lay her down in his bed. Her face screws up in protest and she blinks her eyes open, hand reaching out and catching his hair. “Uh-uh,” Klaus hums, prying her hand away again. “It’s bed time for you, miss. No ifs or buts,” he tells her. He manages to get her beneath the blankets of her bed without much help from her, pulling it up to her chin.

“Read me a story?” She asks him, grasping the blankets and peering out from over them to watch him with pleading eyes. Klaus throws a brief glance back to the door leading the living room just as Dave appears in the doorway like a knight in shining armour. He offers him a smile, sliding up to his side and sitting on the edge of Sadie’s bed.

“Daddy’s got to talk to a friend quickly, alright? Pick a story and I’ll read it to you.”

Sadie pouts for a moment, eyes flicking between Klaus and Dave before nodding, as if giving Klaus permission to leave, and then she turns her attention to Dave. Klaus smiles ever so slightly and leans down to kiss Sadie’s forehead, murmuring a gentle “goodnight.” He rests a hand on Dave’s shoulder, too, pressing a chaste kiss to the top of his head. “Thank you,” he murmurs. Dave simply nods at him, squeezes his hand, and lets Klaus leave the room, gently closing the door behind him.

Five’s leaning against the counter in the kitchen, a cup of coffee nursed between his hands. Klaus slides into one of the bar stools opposite him, propping his chin up on one hand and staring at him for a moment before speaking up.

“How did you find my house?” He asks. Five shrugs, glancing briefly at his coffee.

“It was surprisingly easy,” he says. Klaus snorts.

“That’s reassuring.”

Silence stretches between them for a moment. Five nods his head towards Sadie’s bedroom door where Dave’s voice can be heard talking to her. “How old?” He asks. Klaus smiles slightly.

“Six as of three months ago,” he says.

“She’s cute,” Five says. Klaus nods his head in agreement.

“And she knows it,” he says with a small laugh.

“Vanya’s book never mentioned anything about a marriage,” Five comments. Klaus hums.

“Funny story, actually. I didn’t tell any of them until earlier today – they didn’t know. And plus, we’re just engaged. Still working out all the kinks and stuff – who would’ve thought planning a wedding when you don’t have Allison’s budget and planners is actually kind of hard?” He jokes lightly. Five eyes him for a moment, eyes on his ring.

“You’re not married yet?” He reiterates. Klaus raises an eyebrow.

“Uh, no? Don’t tell me something’s happened and you’re one of those people that don’t agree with, like, living together before marriage,” Klaus groans. Five blinks a few times as if trying to dislodge a train of thought, then shakes his head.

“No. No, it’s not that,” he says. He looks away. “It doesn’t matter. I’m happy for you.”

Klaus, after brushing over whatever slipped Five up, smiles. “Thanks,” he murmurs, running his finger over the silver band on his finger. “Who would’ve thought that I’d end up like this, huh? The universe works in mysterious ways.” He taps his fingers on the counter, then leans close. “Can I help you with anything? I’m sure she’d love to see you and talk your ear off, but she’s weaselled her way out of bedtime long enough now.”

Five shakes his head. “No, no. I have to talk to you, Klaus. Or, I want you to listen. I already spoke to Vanya about this, but she doesn’t believe me.”

Klaus quirks an eyebrow at him, not so subtly turning his head to catch Ben’s eyes. “Vanya’s, like, the most down to Earth one out of all of us,” he states. Five stares at him.

“But she’s got no reason to believe me,” he says.

“And I do?”

Five’s eyes briefly glance to Sadie’s bedroom door and whatever remains unspoken from Five has Klaus sitting upright, protectiveness coiling in his stomach at the many implications behind that gaze.

They move to the living room to sit more comfortably, Klaus considerably more on edge now, his hands clasped together tightly.

“When I jumped forwards and got stuck in the future, do you know what I found?” Five asks, and his eyes avoid Klaus’, going distant and unfocused. Klaus toys with his bottom lip. He shakes his head.

“I don’t.”

“There was nothing,” says Five. “Absolutely nothing.” He continues before Klaus can even question what he means by that. “As far as I could tell, I was the only person that was left alive. I never figured out what killed the human race, but… I found out when.”

Klaus leans forwards, urging Five on when he pauses, tongue dashing across his lips. He brings his gaze up from the floor, focusing on Klaus with a sudden intensity. “We have eight days until the world ends, and I don’t know how to stop it.”

Klaus leans back in his chair as if the statement had physically hit him, shoving him backwards. Neither he nor Five breaks eye contact, though, Five waiting to see if Klaus might call bullshit on him, but there’s something in his eyes that gives Klaus pause. Then he nods. “Okay,” he says, running his hand over his jaw. “Okay. Well… what was it like? From the beginning?”

Five seems to relax a fraction, shoulders slumping ever so slightly. “It was a mess,” he states. “Everything was in ruins, everything was on fire. I survived off scraps; canned food, cockroaches, anything I could find. When they said that Twinkies had an endless shelf life, that was a load of bullshit. But you do what it takes to survive – you adapt, in that situation. We had to, if we wanted to live.”

Klaus quirks an eyebrow. “I thought you said you were the only person left alive?”

Five eyes him. He eyes his coffee. “I don’t suppose you have anything stronger?” He asks, lifting his coffee mug slightly. Klaus looks at Ben, then turns his head to the kitchen. Typically, they don’t keep a lot of alcohol in the house – the joys of having an ex-alcoholic and a six year old in the house – and so he shrugs.

“Maybe some fancy champagne,” he says. Five runs his tongue along his teeth and then dismisses the offer with the shake of his head.

“Never mind. I should’ve guessed it was a dumb question.”

Klaus shrugs. “I’m flattered you’d come to me when you want alcohol. I’d come to me, too. Just not at the moment. But do go on, bro. I’m listening.”

Five sighs, draining the last of his coffee and then setting aside the cup on the coffee table. “There was… one person,” he says. “Her name was Delores. She kept me company. I could bounce my equations off of her, and she understood. It was just her and I.”

“Well, uh, I’m glad you weren’t alone, at least,” Klaus says. “For that long – I can’t imagine.”

Five grunts his acknowledgement. “I spent a long time there, trying to perfect the equations to get back here. It wasn’t as simple as just jumping back.”

“I can’t imagine it would have been,” Klaus agrees. He understands, like the rest of them would be able to, sans Vanya, that their powers often weren’t trustworthy things. Especially not Ben’s, certainly not Five’s. Five stares at him for a moment and Klaus wonders if he had gotten that assumption of Vanya not understanding right. “And the whole thirteen year old body thing – equations?”

Five bobs his head in a nod. “Something must have been off. The most important thing is that I got back, though.”

Klaus nods. He falls silent, looking away from him as he tries to wrap his mind around the situation. Eight days, he said, though the clock in his kitchen ticks steadily ever closer to midnight, and he’s seen Five cast glances to it every now and then as if he’s hyperaware of time, too. Eight days until the complete annihilation of everyone on Earth, apparently.

The idea, of course, was ludicrous. Something that only Klaus could come up with when he’s high and paranoid or something, and he can easily tell why Vanya didn’t believe him. Klaus isn’t sure he believes him, either.

“You got any idea how it happens?” He asks.

Five presses his lips together and glances away. One of his hands moves away to his side, dipping inside his pocket. “I… I might have one lead,” he says. “It’ll be too late to follow it tonight, but tomorrow… maybe.”

Klaus hums, raising an eyebrow. “What is it?”

Five eyes him. “I think it’s a person that does it. Or multiple,” he states.

“What? Like an – an army?”

Five shakes his head. “Not an army, no. But… something, someone-“

“That doesn’t tell me anything, Five,” Klaus states. He’s hiding something and Klaus can tell. He’s dancing around a subject that he doesn’t want to address, but as soon as Klaus implies that he might confront him, he sits up, eyes turning defensive, cold. He’s hiding something that Klaus won’t be able to get out of him now. “But, I think you’re right. It’s late, and you look like shit, to be honest. Understandable, considering you’ve just been talking about the end of everything. How about you stay here for the night?” He offers. “I’ve, uh, not got a spare bed, but I’ve fallen asleep plenty of times on the couch before and it’s not as bad as you might think.”

Five hesitates, eying him, then looks around his living room. His shoulders slump. “Alright,” he says, and Klaus grins.

“There you go,” he says. “I’ll grab you some blankets and a pillow, right, and in the morning if you want to talk some more and go follow that lead of yours, I’m all ears.”

He drifts away from him, heading into his bedroom for a quick moment to steal a couple of pillows and a blanket, bringing them back to the living room and setting up the couch.

“Do you believe me?” Five asks him, hovering by his side and watching his hands smooth out the blanket. Klaus doesn’t pause.

“Yes,” he says, glancing briefly at him from the corner of his eye. He isn’t sure if he does. He doesn’t think Ben does, either. But Five looks one disbelief away from disappearing and Klaus’ stomach twists at the prospect of scaring away Five after only just getting him back. And plus, the Five he remembers wasn’t irrational. Had he thought that time travel might be messing with his mind, he would have brought up that possibility. He would have considered it.

But at the same time, maybe this isn’t the Five he knew. He isn’t the same Klaus that Five knew, either. He’s still his brother, though, and either it turns out that his mind is muddled and nothing bad is going to happen, or something bad is going to happen but he helps Five make an attempt to stop it.

Five nods his head, then, looking aside.

“Although I found a copy of Vanya’s book, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect if I returned around the time that I have. It was weird to read about what you had done after I had gone and what happened. It seems things went pretty south.”

Klaus snorts. Ben scoffs. “Yeah,” he says. “They did.”

“And Ben…”

Klaus does pause at that, eyes flicking to Ben, sitting ever unseen by everyone. “It was bad,” he states, looking back down at his hands as he fixes the blanket on the couch. He supposes it was Ben’s death was like the last nail in the coffin.

“Are you sober?”

Klaus gives him a look, face screwing up. “What?”

“Are you sober?” Five repeats. Does weed even count? He doesn’t think so.

“I’ve not overdosed in a long time, if that’s what you’re asking,” he says, taking a step away from the couch. Klaus knows what he’s asking.

Sadie’s bedroom door creaks open as Dave slips out of it, silently closing it behind him. Klaus grabs the opportunity to turn away from Five, smiling at Dave.

“Get her to sleep?” He asks, stepping around the couch and to his side. Dave nods.

“After a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, yeah,” he hums. He looks between him and Five. “I hope you got to talk about what you needed to.”

“Oh, yeah. Brotherly bonding an all that,” Klaus says. “He’s gonna kick it here tonight, though.”

“That’s fine,” Dave says, offering a smile to Five. “As long as you’re fine with a six year old demanding pancakes in the morning.”

Five snorts. “No different to living with Klaus, then,” he comments, and while Dave laughs, Klaus gasps.

“Plus, it’s nice to actually meet one of Klaus’ siblings,” Dave sighs.

“Patience, Dave, is a virtue,” Klaus says, nudging his side. Dave raises an eyebrow sceptically at him. “We’ll let you sleep then, dear brother. Come get us if you need something, hmm?”

Five nods at him, and Klaus is pleased to see that he does look a little more relaxed, and so he adds, “we can talk more in the morning if you want,” just on the off chance that he has the idea of running away in the middle of the night. Five nods once more, glancing down at the makeshift bed in front of him. “Thanks,” he utters, and with that, Klaus takes Dave’s arm and brings him into their bedroom. He all but collapses onto their bed, throwing his arms out and moaning. Dave perches himself on the edge of the bed, peering at him with raised eyebrows.

“Alright there?”

“I just expected a normal funeral,” he says. “Apparently, I expected too much.”

Dave snorts. “Well, Five seems nice,” he offers. Klaus peels himself off the bed to sit upright. He rubs the heels of his hands against his eyes, slumping, and lazily undoes the buttons to his shirt and throws it across the room. “Klaus.”

“I’ll get it tomorrow,” Klaus groans. He turns to look at Dave, then watches as Dave’s hands go to his shirt to tug it off. Klaus reaches his hands out to help with a small grin, tugging Dave’s shirt over his head. Dave, for his part, seems largely unfazed by Klaus’ grin and mischievous eyes, simply giving him a look.

“I’ve gone hours without seeing you,” Klaus defends as he comes close, resting his chin atop Dave’s shoulders. And then, imitating Sadie; “I missed you.”

Dave snorts, shoving him back onto the bed.

“Get your beauty sleep, princess,” Dave says, standing up so he’s able to shimmy out of his jeans, setting them aside in a neater fashion than Klaus does, kicking his pants aside to join his shirt on the floor before crawling under the heavy duvet on their bed.

“Hmm, I dunno, I kind of like how you said that,” he hums, voice high pitched and mock-flirting. Dave rolls his eyes, resolutely laying down on the far end of the bed only for Klaus to shimmy up to his side. “I love you.”

Dave snorts. He reaches out a hand to settle onto Klaus’ and then he turns around to face him. “I love you too, Klaus,” he assures.

“You do?”

“I like-like you,” Dave emphasises to a widely grinning Klaus whom reaches forwards to set his hands on Dave’s cheeks.

“Put that in your wedding vows, please.”

“Already have,” Dave tells him. Klaus hums his approval, swooping forwards to kiss his cheek.

“You’re such a romantic, David,” Klaus murmurs. Dave scoffs gently, swiftly turning his head when Klaus goes to kiss his cheek again and catching him on the lips instead. Klaus certainly doesn’t mind, lifting himself closer to Dave and kissing him like he had the second time they had kissed – less uncertain and hesitant than the first, something excitable and giddy and eager to simply be close to Dave, to feel his chest warm beneath his, heart beating against his.

One of Dave’s hands lift out of the maze of bedsheets draped over them, searching for Klaus’ cheek and running his thumb along his cheekbone affectionately, and then running his hand up and through his hair, brushing thick curls back from his face, tucking a few back behind his ears. He’s ever so slightly breathless when Klaus pulls back, lowering himself to tuck his head in the crook between his neck and his shoulder and peppering his skin there with gentle kisses.

“You won’t be able to get rid of me once we’re married. Tied the knot. Legal soulmates,” Klaus hums, voice humming against his skin. Dave’s fingers intertwine with his and squeeze gently.

“Good,” he says, and Klaus can’t help but smile.

He could give a list of reasons for how Dave manages to get him to smile. The things he says, for one. His gentle touches, his hearty laugh, his sarcastic comments, his drunk dancing, the voices he puts on for Sadie’s stories, the way includes Ben, the way he comes up from behind Klaus and wraps his arms around his waist and sets his chin on his shoulder. How he sings when he cooks when he things Klaus isn’t listening, the way he looks when Klaus catches him giving in to Sadie’s puppy dog eyes, just as helpless as Klaus is. The way he looks when he falls asleep on the couch with her on his lap, fast asleep against his chest too, or the way his eyes light up when Klaus walks into the room, the way he just knows what to say to Klaus to make things seem perfectly fine.

He opens his eyes just to catch a glimpse of Dave, freckles splattered like paint across his face, his hair untidy and curled slightly, eyes closed and a small smile on his face that stretches wider when Klaus kisses the underside of his jaw, when he slips one of his legs between his and rests his forehead on his shoulder.

Klaus feels perfectly content here. He knows Sadie’s fast asleep with her night light on and her favourite unicorn teddy tucked tightly against her chest, her hair somehow becoming a lion’s mane as she sleeps. Dave’s heart beats a steady rhythm beneath his ear, meeting his hand that rests on his chest, and Dave’s hand weighs comfortingly heavy on his shoulder, as if the idea of letting go of him is unimaginable.

No, he never imagined this kind of a situation would happen for him – and that he’d happily settle down into it, either. But he doesn’t think he’d have it any other way.

“I love you,” Klaus murmurs, voice gentle in the dim light of their room. Dave hums.

“I love you too, Klaus. Get some sleep,” he tells him, ducking to kiss his head and squeeze his shoulder, and Klaus finds it easy to chase sleep with Dave with him like this.