The inside of the car is quiet as Diego drives through the city streets towards Griddy's Doughnuts.
Only the squeak of his gloves on the steering wheel and sound of Klaus steadily drinking himself into a stupor can be heard.
And it is enough to put Diego on edge.
Because Klaus is never this silent. He doesn't even seem to understand the concept of quiet, constantly making himself the center of attention in every situation that by this point Diego's used to tuning out the noise.
So after ten minutes of silence with Klaus sitting right next to him, Diego knows without a doubt that something is wrong with his brother. More than just the usual drugs and alcohol and fucked up nature of his ability.
He looks over, seeing Klaus staring out the window, the half-empty bottle of vodka clutched against his chest and eyes vacant.
The sight is so jarringly off, so different to the way Klaus usually is around him – all witty banter, and tasteless jokes that usually serve to drive him up the wall but it’s always been the way Klaus is. And Diego would take any version of his brother over this.
“You okay?” He asks when the silence continues to drag out, needing Klaus to start talking his ear off so Diego doesn’t have time to think about everything fucked up in his own life.
His only reply is Klaus taking another drink from the bottle, gaze not shifting from his sightless stare out the rain-streaked window.
“Wow, this is a first. My brother Klaus is silent.” Diego pokes fun instead, trying to get a rise instead. “Last time you were this quiet we were twelve. Ran down the stairs wearing Grace’s heels, tripped over and broke your jaw. How long was it wired shut again?”
“Eight weeks,” Klaus murmurs, sounding tired and defeated in a way that is so very wrong.
“Eight glorious weeks of bliss,” Diego forces his voice to stay light and teasing, expecting Klaus to rise to the bait and defend himself but instead Klaus lifts his head from the glass, eyes fixed on something outside.
“Hey just… just drop me off here.”
Diego frowns but compiles, turning into the bay of car parks.
Klaus reaches for the door but Diego is faster, gripping Klaus’s arm, feeling how tense his brother becomes under his hand.
“You sure you’re okay?” He asks again and Klaus shrugs, avoiding his eyes.
“Just peachy,” Klaus slips out of his grip and from the car before anything more can be said.
Diego watches Klaus walk towards the entrance of a War Vet bar, tucking the nearly empty bottle of vodka into one of his coat pockets before slipping inside.
And Diego should be glad Klaus is out of his hair – now he can finally focus on tracking down the assholes who killed Eudora. But at that moment he can’t quite will himself to drive away and leave Klaus alone with whatever shit he is going through.
Because no matter how much he might deny it, Diego cares.
And sometimes he hates that he can’t seem to switch it off and be cold and logical like Five or stupidly ignorant about other people’s feelings like Luther. It had been a weakness his father had spent years trying to train out of him – and in a way, partially succeeded.
But when it comes to his siblings – certain siblings in particular – Diego can’t stop himself from caring. Even after all the years apart, he hasn’t been able to completely erase them from his heart. And if he is being honest, he hasn’t wanted to. Because, for all of his shitty childhood, at least he hadn’t been alone in his suffering.
So instead of driving away as he planned, Diego turns off the engine and goes after Klaus, finding him in the far corner of the bar, breaking down quietly in front of an old framed photograph of Vietnam War Vets.
He rests a hand on Klaus' shoulder in silent support, feeling a pang of hurt when Klaus immediately shrugs him off. But he refuses to leave, needing to make sure Klaus is okay before Diego loses someone else important to him.
Before he is even there a full minute a group of Veterans approaches them, the man at the front clearly spoiling for a fight.
And Diego tries his best to diffuse the situation, not really wanting to start anything in a place like this – going as far as to apologize on Klaus’ behalf even if Klaus managed to turn everything to shit moments later with his scathing tongue, goading the man in front to take a swing that Klaus dodges with practiced ease, before headbutting the man in return.
Everything escalates from there and Diego doesn’t even hesitate before he joins the fight, immediately there to have his brother back, protecting him the same way he had done since childhood. And it feels good to release some of the anger and grief balled up tight inside of him – to lose himself in a good old fashioned brawl – even if he doesn’t entirely feel right fighting against War Vets like this. Not when their service to the country is something Diego respects.
So next chance he gets Diego retreats, pulling Klaus with him, only stopping to take the framed photograph from the wall before slipping out the bar with Klaus firm in hand.
They run to Diego’s car, Klaus more lively and animated than Diego had seen him all morning and despite the throbbing in his jaw from where one of the men landed a solid punch Diego smiles at the return of Klaus in all his infuriating hyperactive glory.
Their good mood lasts until they get to Griddy’s, Diego parking across the block where he can keep a watch on the doughnut store without drawing too much attention to himself.
Klaus is giggling, and Diego can’t quite wipe the grin from his face, both of them still riding the adrenaline rush that comes with a good fight.
“You got a big mouth, you know that.” Diego huffs out, still amazed after all these years how Klaus has the ability to cause such mayhem everywhere he goes.
“Oh, wow. What a truly shocking revelation, Diego.” Klaus throws back, before pulling something out of his pocket.
Diego looks over to see Klaus fumbling with a bag of pills. The sight immediately sours Diego's good mood.
“Would you stop it?” He grabs the pills from Klaus who growls at him and tries to grab them back.
“Why are you putting this shit in your body?” Diego demands, shaking the bag of pills, sick of watching Klaus willingly poisoning himself this way.
“All that shit you do man, it’s just weakness.” Diego digs when Klaus doesn’t reply, only sits there sullenly, needing Klaus to explain to him why he feels the need to pump himself with drugs every waking moment of every day.
“Well, weakness feels so good," Klaus responds, not even rising to the bait, before pulling out a half-rolled joint from another pocket in his coat.
Diego slaps him on the back of the head.
“What’s going on with you?” He demands.
“Don’t hit me, asshole!” Klaus spits back but Diego just continues talking over him, too worked up and concerned to try and even sugar coat his next words.
“And don’t tell me everything is alright because I saw you in there. You were crying like a baby!”
“Because I lost someone!”
Klaus shouts the words back in Diego's face, the force of them feeling like a physical blow and Diego sits back in his seat, shocked into silence.
“I lost someone, okay. The only…” Klaus pauses, reaching up to clutch at his chest, voice dropping to a pained whisper, “they were the only person I’ve ever truly loved more than myself.”
Diego has nothing to say to that, too caught up at that moment in his own grief. Too fresh and raw to be ignored.
Because all he can think of is Eudora. Of how hard and fast he had fallen for her at the beginning of their relationship and how the months they had spent together had changed his entire perspective of the world – made him realize that there was more to life than obeying orders and fighting bad guys. She helped him become a better person and even though their relationship dissolved soon after, Diego had never stopped loving her. Even if he might have denied that fact to the end of the world.
But now she was dead.
Murdered for trying to do the right thing and he hadn’t been there. Hadn’t been able to help her when she needed him the most.
He curls his hands into fists until the nails are biting into the soft flesh of his palm, the pain a good distraction as he tries to pack away all the grief and anger and pain away to the back of his mind. He doesn’t have time to grieve when her killers still walk free. And especially not when his brother was having a breakdown in his car.
“Well, you’re luckier than most,” Diego finally responds. “When you lose someone, at least you can see them whenever you want.”
“Yeah, it’s a party,” Klaus mutters, the words bitter. “The corpse of my boyfriend haunting me with a gaping wound in the chest."
Diego blinks and sees Eudora – sprawled across the carpet stained in red, a bloody hole in her chest where a bullet had ripped through, body stiff and cold to the touch – and swallows back the acidic taste of bile at the back of his throat and forces himself to focus back on the present, on Klaus.
"Tell me about him." He asks, needing a distraction right the fuck now.
Klaus looks out the windshield, his eyes glazed over with tears.
"His name was Dave, and he was perfect,” Klaus says after a long moment, voice soft and expression wistful.
"He was so kind and strong and beautiful. He made me want to be better, to make different choices. I would have died for him." Klaus laughs without humor.
“Turns out, he beat me to it.”
Diego has nothing to say to that. He doesn’t even know where to start. Words had never been his strong suit and it makes him feel useless at this moment.
Instead, he lifts a hand, settling it on Klaus' shoulder and hoping the touch would convey what he didn’t have the words to express.
Klaus leans into his grip this time, turning to face Diego again with an expression so shattered, so achingly hollow, that Diego feels his own the pain of losing Eudora threatening to overwhelm him once again.
He looks down, clenching his jaw against the flood of emotion and trying to get a hold on himself again. He catches sight of the edge of the framed photograph he had taken from the bar, tucked against the side of his seat and the door.
Eager for a distraction he pulls it free, eyes glancing over the faded image briefly before offering it to Klaus.
Klaus' eyes widen in surprise before he takes the photograph from Diego, holding it reverently in both hands.
Diego shrugs. "It seemed important to you."
"It's the only photograph we have together," Klaus says quietly, still staring down at the image. Diego leans across, confused and more than a little curious. Klaus tilts the photo a little towards him and Diego’s eyes scan the photo, quickly spotting the familiar face of his brother in the group of soldiers, dressed in army fatigues with a gun slung over his shoulder.
“You fought in this shit?”
“Ten months on the front lines, baby,” Klaus announces with false cheer.
Diego has so many questions, in the end, he settles with the most pressing.
It’s not that Diego doesn’t believe him. Considering their upbringings Diego had pretty much accepted a lot of crazy shit as fact. But when it came to time travel – despite knowing what Five can do – Diego can’t help but be skeptical.
“There was a briefcase, hidden in the vent. I thought it had cash in it so I took it when I escaped. But it sent me into the middle of a war zone.”
Escaped? Briefcase? Klaus’ explanation did little to actually explain anything and Diego frowns, suddenly wondering one important thing.
“Why did you… why didn’t you come back straight away?”
Klaus hesitates then, looking down at the photo in his lap, fingers stroking over the image of a man standing to his left in the photograph.
“Because I found a reason to stay.”
Dave, Diego realizes.
"What am I supposed to do now?" Klaus asks suddenly, looking to Diego like he has the answers. But Diego has never felt more lost in his entire life.
"I don't know," Diego responds honestly, still trying to figure out what comes next after getting his revenge against the SOB’s that killed Eudora.
There isn’t much to say after that and they lapse into silence, both caught up in their own misery. Diego looks up to the review mirror, needing a distraction, and finding it when his eyes catch on movement outside Griddy’s.
Adjusting the mirror he sees a large suited man conversing with one of the Griddy servers, his outfit familiar.
Turning his head to look out the back window Diego confirms him as the male shooter, anger firing through him at how this man got to walk around, laughing and smiling, while Eudora lay in the police morgue.
“Hey, I know that guy,” Klaus says looking in the side mirror, shrinking a little in his seat as he speaks. Diego looks over at Klaus with a frown on his face.
“How could you possibly know that–”
“He and a really angry lady tortured me. I barely got out with my life.” There is anger in Klaus’ voice, but a clear edge of fear too.
“You– they tortured you?”
“Yeah, after kidnapping me from the house,” Klaus responds distractedly, still watching the man through the side mirror.
For the second time in as many minutes, Diego feels like he’s been sucker-punched by Klaus’ words and he turns to fully look at Klaus, eyes wide.
He remembers now, the reason he had rushed to Eudora’s aid when she had left him that message. The reason Eudora has been at that seedy motel in the first place. Because it hadn’t been Five who had been kidnapped from the Hargreeves mansion that night – it had been Klaus.
His junkie brother who everyone had conveniently forgotten about in the aftermath of the shootout. Who had been missing for two days without anyone noticing – too caught up in their own dramas and thoughts of revenge to even wonder where he might be.
In fact, Diego had forgotten entirely about Klaus and his supposed kidnapping until seeing him this morning. And even then he hadn’t even bothered to ask where he had been the past few days – just thrown an insult his way.
You look like shit.
God, he had been an insensitive asshole. Diego felt a fresh layer of guilt settle on his shoulders. He should have noticed sooner. He should have been there to save Klaus – to save Eudora.
But he had let them both down.
“There was a cop.” Klaus continues to speak, drawing Diego’s attention back from his guilt-ridden thoughts.
“She helped me escape, said she was a friend of yours–” Klaus broke off mid-sentence, head whipping around to look at Diego suddenly, his eyes wide. “But I– I heard a gunshot... Is she…”
“She’s d-d–” Diego chokes on the words, but Klaus already seems to know the answer, his expression turning impossibly sadder.
Diego avoids his brother’s gaze, watching instead as the gunman walks to a small blue car and slides into the driver's seat.
“Diego,” he feels Klaus' hand on his arm. “I’m sorr–”
“Don’t. ” He snaps, shaking off the touch. He can’t afford to get distracted now. Not when he has one of the bastards that killed her in his sights. And he doesn’t deserve Klaus’ kindness after everything.
However, he forces his next words to come out gentler, looking back at Klaus with a silent apology in his gaze. “I can’t– we need to get this guy.”
Klaus meets his eyes and Diego sees his own grief and pain reflected back before Klaus nods, his expression hardening into one of dark determination. It’s an expression so unfamiliar on Klaus’ face that it has Diego believing his brother had just spent ten months on the front lines of a war.
“Okay,” Klaus says, and it’s enough to have Diego believe that maybe everything will turn out okay. With his brother by his side, Diego feels like he can take on the world.
Starting the car, Diego puts it into gear and pulls out to tail their target.
“Let’s get those bastards.”