It had been weeks since he’d left rehab. He’d stayed sober for that entire time at Ben’s request. Wanted to try to make an effort for his brother. Managed to find things to occupy his time instead of thinking about the siren-call of the drugs. And the haunting screams of the ghosts. Music helped to quiet the cries of the dead. He tried meditation. At some point, he’d managed to get his hands on some art supplies. It was just a simple sketchbook and some wooden pencils. But it was enough. Some days he’d wandered into the public library. Filled with free books and access to a computer. He’d learned to keep quiet enough to be allowed to stay. And he was incredibly glad for that as he read the news.
“Reginald Hargreeves Dead”
Klaus felt a shaky breath escape him as he read and reread that headline. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He wanted it to be true. But couldn’t-- wouldn’t-- believe that it was really true. The old man seemed practically immortal. One of the librarians (one of the younger ones that actually kinda liked him) walked over and gently placed a hand on Klaus’ shoulder.
“Are you alright, Klaus?” the librarian, Tommi, asked softly. Worry was evident in her voice.
“The bastard is finally dead,” Klaus replied as he shakily pointed to the computer screen. “I’m finally free.”
Tommi shook her head as she read the words in front of her. Klaus sat there in shock. He thinks he hears Tommi say “Good riddance” but he isn’t quite sure. A soft, shaky, and hesitant chuckle slips past his lips.
“DING DONG THE BASTARD’S DEAD!!!” Ben yells excitedly behind him. Ghosts didn’t have to follow the same rules in the library.
“I guess it's time to finally go home,” Klaus said to himself. “If we can even call it a home.”
The front gate was as daunting as ever. Klaus took a deep breath as he slipped past the golden entrance. The front door was next. But it was easier to approach. The house seemed almost untouched by the passage of time. Klaus could feel the difference in the atmosphere that had come with dear daddy’s death. He felt lighter as he walked into the foyer.
“Ah. Master Klaus,” a familiar voice said, surprising Klaus enough to cause him to jump slightly.
“Uh, hey, Pogo. It's good to see you again,” Klaus replied hesitantly.
“I assume you have heard of your father’s passing?” Pogo asked.
“Yeah. I figured that everybody would be coming back for some kinda funeral or something,” Klaus explained.
“You are correct in your reasoning,” Pogo said. “I would have contacted you to tell you myself, but since you are without a phone…. Regardless, it is nice to see you again. I hope you will be staying here in the meantime.”
“Yeah, I don’t really have anywhere else to go. The local shelters are kinda crowded.”
Pogo nodded his head in understanding. A moment later the British-accented, chimpanzee butler took his leave. Likely to take care of some post-mortem work for Reginald. Klaus decided that it was time to head to his room. And get rid of whatever vices that he’d left behind. There were baggies of weed inside cut out books. Pouches of pills inside old shoes. All of which Klaus flushed down the drain. Ben beamed proudly. Klaus felt lighter at the reaction of his brother.
“Hey, maybe you could raid Allison’s old clothes before she shows up. I know that you’ve been wanting to wear a skirt for a while,” Ben suggested. “Besides, you just took another big step in your recovery.”
“Probably should take a bath and get cleaned up first. Alli would kill me if she caught me wearing her clothes without washing off all this sweat and dirt. Even if it's just old clothes that she can’t even wear anymore.”
Klaus swung into his old room to remove his dirtied clothing. His long black coat had bits of mud along parts of its edge. His crop top wasn’t in as bad of a shape at first glance, but it smelled terrible. His pants had much more mud on the edges. Now down to his underwear, Klaus began to prepare for his much awaited rendezvous in the bathtub. Before he even stepped out of his room, he snagged a pair of scissors and finally snipped off his identification bracelet from the rehab center. A quick glance in the bathroom cabinet gifted Klaus with a half-filled bottle of lavender bubble bath. He bounced happily toward the bath and turned on the tap. Nice and hot. Perfect to balance out his naturally cold self. Once he’d plugged up the drain, Klaus poured in a fair amount of the bubble bath.
As the bath filled, Klaus hopped back into his room to grab his music. He stopped himself before remembering to grab some soft, clean towels. He gently sat the towels by the sink and placed his headphones and music player on the windowsill. Turning the tap off as the water reached Klaus’ ideal level, he slipped off his final article of clothing before stepping into the steaming water. The gentle scent of lavender wafted up and gave him an immediate sense of calm. He let out a soft breath of an almost-sigh in response. The deep chill in his body eased out as it met with the hot water. To complete his tranquility, Klaus slipped on his headphones and began to listen to his music. Warmth, calming lavender, and finally the lack of ghostly wailing. He felt so at peace. Peace that he’d once found in the harsh grip of his addiction. But now, he was sober and had a clear mind. He smiled at that thought as he began to wash his body. His music only interrupted as he removed his headphones to wash his hair. A soft curl presented itself as the grease and oil washed away into the water.
His warm haven faded as the water began to turn cold. A glimmer of disappointment crossed his mind. But leaving the bath meant that he would be able to raid Allison’s wardrobe. He smiled as he climbed out of the tub and wrapped one of the soft towels around his torso. The other towel was wrapped around his head to help dry his hair. Covered by his towels, Klaus pulled out the drain stopper and began to release his dirtied bathwater. He slipped his headphones back over his ears and danced his way back into his room. He hadn’t changed much physically since he’d left. He’d only gotten taller. So fortunately, his old underwear still fit him. Shame wasn’t very prominent in Klaus’ mind, but he didn’t want to flash his junk at any more of his family members than necessary. Ben was a different story because he was tethered to the former-junkie and didn’t have much choice much of the time.
Finally clothed, even if just with a pair of briefs, Klaus bounded over into Allison’s room. He opened up her wardrobe and spotted a knee-length black skirt made from soft faux leather. She’d worn it when they were teens. Klaus snatched it up in a heartbeat. He happily slipped it on and pulled it to his waist. A perfect fit. There were a few tops in there that would’ve gone well with the skirt, but Klaus didn’t want to push his luck by taking more than one garment at a time. Besides, he knew he had a nice black crop top stuffed somewhere in his own wardrobe. He pulled said shirt on as soon as he got back to his own room.
"Going for a subtle look?" Ben teased.
"I suppose I could add a scarf or something to spice it up," Klaus said as he continued rummaging around through his clothes.
His eyes brightened and his smile widened as his hand met with a bright pink, feathered boa. He'd taken it from Allison when they were kids. When she'd found out, she had chuckled and said that it suited him better. Of course, Reginald would've been furious if he'd caught Klaus wearing it about, so the scarf was only ever worn whenever Klaus knew it was safe. But now, Daddy Dearest couldn't say or do anything about the scarf. Klaus draped the pink feathers over his shoulders and tossed one end behind him. He eyed himself in the mirror to appreciate his outfit. There was something missing. With that in mind, Klaus pulled out a buried pair of black wedges out from under his bed and slipped them on. As a final touch, he gently applied fresh eyeliner around his bright green eyes. Once again, he looked himself over in his mirror. And smiled.
"Perfect," Klaus whispered.
"At least most of it is black," Ben chimed in.
"Of course. I might not have liked the bastard, but I know when to follow a bit of tradition."