To be completely honest, Klaus hadn’t expected to make it this long.
He wasn’t surprised in the slightest when, after taking far to much of the new drugs on the market, he awoke in the greyscale world with the little bicycle-wielding girl. He was, however, surprised when she told him, you, Klaus, are an idiot. The damage to your internal organs is too great to heal, whatever did you put in it? then simply told him, you can’t stay here, but you also can’t go back to your life. I can clear out the poison from your soul, but not your body. Then, just to make matters worse, she’d asked him, sarcastically, you are familiar with ghosts, yes? before shoving him back down to earth, not as a living person, but as a ghost.
Ben was waiting for him, keeping watch over his body. And wasn’t that a weird thing to see. His own body, clean in death, lying in front of him.
“Klaus?” Ben asked, “You’re dead? And sober?”
Klaus stopped. Eyes flicking to the ghosts now surrounding him. It was clear that God had made him sober, can’t be high as a ghost, the little girl wouldn’t allow it.
When Persephone joined them, a random store owner in tow, her eyes landed on a cowering Klaus and an angry Ben. Then they flicked to Klaus’ body and the store owner, who screamed and immediately called the emergency services.
“Ah, yes,” the owner said on the phone, “there’s a guy out the side of my store, I think he’s dead.”
A long pause where no one said anything, broken only by the store owner—who understood none of what was going on—speaking again.
“Yeah, looks to be homeless,” The owner was saying, “I don’t want to get closer, just in case, you know.” Another long pause as the person on the phone spoke. Then; “Yeah, he wasn’t there last night when I took out the trash and shut up shop. Must have been during the night.”
“So,” Percy said, all of a sudden, “they’re sending a detective to check it out.”
“Diego?” Ben asked, finally turning away from Klaus.
“No.” Percy shook her head, “he’s still in the academy, not a cop yet.”
“How do you guys know this?” Klaus asked, cowering away from a group of particularly leering and rude ghosts.
“We observe.” Percy snapped, eyes turning solid sparking purple as she pushed the ghosts away mentally, destroying what was left of their souls, “We don’t just throw our lives away, and piss it all down the drain.”
“Good thing about you being dead, however,” she continued, “is that you can finally learn how to work your powers without interference. Ben gets a pass because his powers are purely physical and require a physical body, but you and I? Free game. You’re twenty-two, Klaus, it’s far past the time you worked on getting a good quality of life."
“We know,” Ben replied to Klaus’ soft keen. Both siblings looked sadly at him.
“It’s like being behind an opaque veil constantly,” Percy said gesturing around her at the dulled out world. The colours of the world were washed out and all the sounds and smells were duller. “We’re cut off from the outside world doomed to watch and listen.”
“A ghost,” Percy continued, “is a shadow of what Has Been, chasing what Could Be.”
“You,” she explained, “are the doorway between worlds. You can pass through the veil, and with you, you can take others. Not just ghosts, but living too. That's why they follow you. You're a goddamned beacon for the dead. We can all feel exactly where you are and whether you have the ability to help us. The less sober you are, the duller the beacon.”
“And how do you know this?” Klaus asked curiously, trying his best to ignore the growing crowd of ghosts.
“Every time you take too many drugs and banish us, we go up to that greyscale world.” Ben explained, “There we chat with God until you call us back down.”
“You don’t need sleep, and neither do they,” Ben said, pointing at the crowd. “So, no time like the present to start training.”
They waited until the police arrived, and with interest, they followed as Klaus' body was loaded into the ambulance and they tried to bring him back. After a short while, the paramedics gave up and pronounced him dead by overdose.
The shop owner, a lovely Hindu woman by the name of Ashia Pande (who owned Pande Delights, a restaurant specialising in traditional Indian food—her samosas were award-winning) was given a once-over by the paramedics even though she hadn’t been involved at all. The police took her statement and commended her on her speed in calling and how she conducted herself in the situation.
“Detective Olsen?” One of the paramedics asked, “we’ll take this guy to the morgue.”
Percy, Ben and Klaus watched, simply, as the final stages of Klaus’ death were hammered out over the next few days. They watched as the detectives tried to find a next of kin and emergency contacts but Klaus had neither listed under his ‘real-world name’ so the police had reached a dead end.
“Well,” the detective in charge—Bryce Olsen—said, looking over the files he had, as the two detectives working on the case sat around Olsen’s desk. “We have one Klaus Heinemann as he’s listed here, dead in an alleyway. No contacts, nothing to his name. If that’s not confusing then I don’t know what is.”
“Exactly,” the other detective—Annika Matthews—replied, “should we run it again, Bryce?”
“No, Annika,” Olsen replied, “our buddy Heinemann’s got a record. Possession, solicitation, the whole works.”
“Oh shit, that makes it so much worse.” Annika leant over, pointing to a note on the paramedic’s report. “Our guy is dead by a new drug that we haven’t heard of. Don’t know what we’re calling it, but this guy’s the only link we have to it.”
At this point, Klaus had heard enough. "Can we go?" He asked, "and how come I'm listed as Klaus Heinemann?"
"You kept signing as Klaus H," Ben explained. "And Percy filled out most of your files anyway, thank her. It means you have the chance to start again as a Hargreeves, like the rest of us."
"Except Diego." Percy pointed out.
"Except Diego," Ben amended. Klaus still felt like he was over his head, the ghosts weren’t quieting down, and now they could touch him. Could hurt him. Percy and Ben had dispatched of a few of them, but occasionally they were too exhausted to do anything.
“Teach me how to use my powers,” Klaus announced to only his siblings.
It took only a couple of weeks for Klaus to learn how to make himself visible for an hour a day. He couldn’t touch anything, but he made sure to be seen by Diego and Vanya around the city, just to make sure they hadn’t heard he was dead. When he’d seen Vanya it was near the theatre she played at, and she’d said she was proud of him getting clean. Diego had expressed a similar sentiment and offered to buy him dinner. Klaus had panicked and said no, he already had plans. Diego had been proud, and the conversation ended. Not a moment too soon, as Klaus’ energy had been drained and he lost visibility soon after.
After that, it took months for him to figure out how to stay visible all day and to banish ghosts he didn't want to see. How to touch things took far longer. Like months longer. He figured it out though, and a year after he died he could hold himself corporeal for all day with energy to spare. That spare energy was put to work in making Ben and Percy corporeal. That came faster than before, and a couple of months after that, all three could change outfits and pop in and out of corporeality at will, just by leeching power and energy off of Klaus.
After one year and six months, all three of them had paying jobs and an apartment. They were (Klaus was) in contact with Vanya and Diego, and the three of them had weekly dinners at either place—with Diego bring in a paying police job, he too had an actual apartment. It was a weekly moment that everyone involved looked forward to. It took time, but eventually, they were ranting about work and general life.
One of these dinners—a couple of months after they started—Klaus told them about Percy and Ben.
“I’ve been able to see them for a while,” Klaus explained, “but I wasn’t sure you’d believe me, even though I am clean.”
“We believe you,” Vanya said softly, and Diego agreed wholeheartedly.
“I mean I can summon them to prove it,” Klaus insisted, “wait, what? You believe me?”
“Yes!” Diego replied, “we believe you, bring them next week. And I’ll bring my girlfriend, Eudora Patch. Next week’s in my apartment anyway. Vanya if there’s any special person in your life, bring them.”
“Oh,” Vanya looked a bit shy at that, “I do like this person but I haven’t asked them out yet so I’ll bring them to another week’s dinner.”
The dinner at Diego’s was an interesting experience. First of all, it was the first time in nearly ten years that Diego or Vanya had seen Percy, and close to eight years for Ben. Then it was Eudora’s first time meeting any of them and when she said she had been in the police academy at the same time as Diego all of them applauded her restraint.
“Must’ve taken a lot to not kill Diego on sight,” Percy said cheerfully. “He can be a bit of a handful. Mind you, had you killed him he would’ve come back to haunt your ass.”
“Yeah,” Eudora agreed, “but after dating him for four years I think I’ve got him handled.”
“Four years?” Ben asked, “impressive work, Detective.”
“Call me Eudora,” Eudora said softly, with a grin. Though her eyes flitted towards Klaus often, as if trying to remember where she’d seen him before. “So, Vanya, tell me about yourself, please.”
Vanya spoke about her violin and the lessons she taught to mostly younger students. She spoke about how she called up Allison to congratulate her on baby Claire and invited her to next week’s get-together. "She said she'll bring Claire and Patrick if they want to come."
“I’m going to invite Luther,” Percy announced. “With Allison in LA, she’ll only be able to come occasionally, and we need to get Luther out of Dad’s clutches.”
There was a general assent, and Diego even said, “bring him next week.”
“I might even be able to get back at Dad," Percy mused, quiet enough that only the people at the table could hear, “after he had me killed, I could kill him?"
“I'll have to arrest you." Eudora pointed out, “but as you're dead it wouldn't stick."
And thus, the dinner came to an end.
Percy walked through the house incorporeal. Klaus and Ben at her side, both also invisible. Silently, she walked up the stairs to Reginald's office, walking through the door. Then she sat with her hand through Hargreeves' chest and made herself visible by pulling on the link between her, Klaus and Ben. Not fully corporeal, but visible. Reginald Hargreeves nearly screamed.
“Number Eight," he said instead, “Number Four's reached his full potential, then?"
Percy simply glared.
“My name is Persephone." she hissed, deadly as she was in life. “and I am the last face you will ever see."
Then, as calmly as ever, she tugged on the link and made herself corporeal, her hand tight around his heart.
An hour later, a fully human, non-augmented Luther would stumble across Reginald Hargreeves' body and report it to all the right places, organising the funeral for two weeks from then and sending out the notices.
Allison would take that week off work and bring Claire and Patrick, Diego would do the same, Eudora dropping in occasionally. Vanya cancelled all her lessons and took a week off to help get things in order. Klaus, Ben and Percy all took a week off their freelance work, (Ben was an author, Klaus an artist and Percy ran a popular YouTube channel very similar to the Spirits podcast, funnily enough, her channel was called, ‘what Has Been'.)
The funeral went uneventfully, and thanks to the weekly dinners, Diego didn't have as much pent-up anger towards any of them. Luther still tried to start arguments but none of them fell for it.
Things went badly when Allison tried to rumour Klaus into summoning Reginald. She'd said it, her power coming through, but Klaus didn't react. Ben had appeared in a second, hand flying as he punched Allison in the arm.
“You can't rumour ghosts, Allie." Ben hissed when she looked questioningly at him. “And Klaus very much is a ghost, so I dare you to try again."
“Klaus is a ghost?" she said, just a touch too loudly, and everybody reacted. Spinning around the whole household converged on Klaus, checking his pulse and finding none, asking question after question.
“Shut up!" Klaus snapped, going incorporeal and walking through everybody. “Yes, I'm dead. I had to get sober somehow, didn't I?"
Somehow that cleared everything up. There were tears and pain in every face, and Klaus' attempt at humour failed spectacularly, but at least they waited for the whole story. And they got the whole story, a combination of Klaus starting, Ben finishing and Percy adding details that the others missed.
“Honestly," Klaus said, “It's not that bad at all! Everything got ten times better after I died. Like none of us talked to each other before, and now we do. We even have a weekly family dinner on Fridays that you're all invited to, tomorrow's at mine, please come still."
“Of course we will," Vanya consoled gently. “We wouldn't miss it for the world."
Now that the whole family knew that Klaus was dead, he finally could bust out all of his dead puns and jokes. He also changed outfit at will no matter where he was. Percy and Ben followed suit, often beating the other to the jokes they came up with. She was accused of cheating often but it was nothing they could prove.
Reginald did turn up to haunt them but Percy looked him in the eye and told him how little he was worth as Ben (who as he was corporeal more often used the Horror for less horrifying things and now called them Jamin instead of the Horror) tore Hargreeves' ghost apart. It was very satisfying and still kept Percy's promise of her face being the last their Dad would ever see.
Vanya went off her pills soon after that and to everyone's surprise (not Percy's; don't tell Vanya but it was her who lost the medication), Vanya started blowing up lights and moving things when she was feeling very strongly. Together, as a family, in the place of their weekly dinners, they had picnics and taught Vanya how to control it. Allison remembering her rumours causing the whole 'Vanya-has-powers-what-is-going-on?' debacle, caused her to re-think her moral code in regards to her powers. Patrick and Allison drove to therapy every week and together they worked through Allison's upbringing and what was acceptable and not. On days that Allison was struggling she called up Klaus, who was by far the best with kids. The rest of them went to therapy, working through what had been done to them.
As a result of the therapy, Luther knocked the mansion down and rebuilt from scratch; only a couple months after Vanya had found out about her powers. He built a far smaller house, big enough for all of the family, including but not limited to Claire, various spouses (including Vanya's new girlfriend Amy Spence (the new third chair after Vanya got second)Amy had the power to manipulate metal and used her ability to make Vanya many lovely gifts) and kids planned but not yet born or adopted. It was finished within the year as they all chipped in to help. The finished project was a cute house that was no longer an eyesore, complete with a huge garden and chalkboard paint on the walls. Klaus and Percy had been banned from interior decorating, excepting their rooms. Luther (being sentimental) built a room for Five. Diego and Pogo worked on updating Grace's software to allow for more growth and freedom.
Countless family dinners later, Five popped back into their lives. In the courtyard of the newer family house, simply dropped down onto the grass talking about an apocalypse. Allison flew Claire and herself in to see him, while Patrick had to stay for work, the sort of thing that couldn't be put off.
This family was far more put together and trusting than the one if Klaus had lived that night in the alley. So when Five dropped in chasing coffee and being chased by gun-wielding assassins, they all chipped in and helped. Percy had a personal vendetta against the agents they sent to kill Five and she took out the majority of them, leaving Hazel behind because he fell for Agnes and wanted to retire and she had a soft spot for healthy relationships.
That Friday, three days before the world was scheduled to end, they had their first family dinner with every single person in the family, dead or alive. Eudora and Diego (who'd taken Patch as his surname when they got married), Vanya and Amy (both were planning on proposing to the other after the performance on Monday, Vanya would take Spence as her surname). Allison and Claire, (Patrick being the only person missing), Luther and his cat, Haylee; Ben and Percy, neither of whom had partners. Klaus and Dave, who'd been dead fifty years (still the gunshot in the chest) but both loved each other very much and Dave had been added to the power link to Klaus. And finally, Five, who objected the whole time but relented and enjoyed himself very much, along with his mannequin wife.
Five seemed more confused around Luther, Percy, Ben and Klaus, who either “looked different" or “weren't there" as he privately told Vanya (as Ben, incorporeal, told Klaus and Percy). He moved into his new room that all of them congratulated Luther on. “I knew he would come back," Luther insisted, pretending, badly, that he wasn't sentimental. No one believed him.
Monday came and with it Five’s paranoia. His glass eye lead had been a dead end, and no one had gone through looking for the eye with the same serial number as Five’s. That meant that Five was at a loss, and thus had nothing better to do than watch Vanya and Amy play at the Icarus Theatre. After the performance, breathtaking like usual, the family met the two backstage and watched as they both proposed at the same moment. It was funny to see, as Amy insisted she was proposing because she’d bought the ring a couple of months prior, then Vanya defeat her in an instant with Vanya’s, “I bought it the day we started dating.”
The apocalypse didn’t happen and on April second, Five woke them all up at three in the morning crying his eyes out and insisting that they all go out to breakfast to celebrate saving the world.
"Five?" Luther had groaned, "are you okay?"
"I will stab you if this isn't an emergency." Diego snapped as Eudora slept soundly beside him.
Klaus and Dave were both in Klaus' room sleeping even though they didn't need to, and as a result, both were incorporeal.
Ben was highly addicted to sleeping and he wouldn't wake for the smoke alarm let alone Five.
"It's three a.m." Vanya had her pillow over her eyes. "This better be an emergency."
Percy was the only person up and awake apart from Five and she took him out to a spontaneous celebration breakfast while the rest of their siblings slept. They ordered doughnuts and coffee from Griddy's and had a loud and bright celebration that Five would remember for the rest of his life.