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The consciousness comes to him slowly, as if he’s trudging through the mud of darkness in his own mind. His head pounds. His skin feels scrubbed raw and there’s a feeling of adriftness to his whole body. A sense of terror clogs up his throat.

He opens his eyes to shadows, blackout curtains drawn, the door closed. A soft, feather-light blanket draped over him. It’s Allison’s, colored in pale pink and smelling like vanilla fabric softener. It makes him feel even worse because it means things are really bad.

He breathes out slowly, scared to make any noise, scared to move. He still feels shaky, still can’t understand what’s happening. His mouth is dry.

From somewhere in the house, a faint tune is playing, slow, soft notes swaying through the air, washing over him and settling inside his bones. Goosebumps break over his skin and he shivers, imagines thin, silky ropes tying him down, grounding him inside his body and inside the house.

He chances getting up, jello-like, shaking against his own accord. His bare feet touch the floorboards, send tiny pins up his legs. He finds that he’s dressed in pajama pants and an old, threadbare T-shirt that might have been Luther’s a long, long time ago, before he grew out of it.

That means that someone changed his clothes for him. He’s not embarrassed by being naked but that just means he’s been so miserable he couldn’t even dress himself- and that makes everything so much worse.

The tune falters, just for a second, then it picks up again, from the start. Diego finds it soothing in an eerie way, especially as he realizes he can’t actually hear it.

He stands up on wobbly legs, breathes through sickness caused by position change- and that, at least, is familiar. He doesn’t bother with socks or anything else, somewhat disturbed by how quiet everything is. The mansion is a huge monstrosity and it swallows up everything but the sound; Luther’s records player, Klaus singing, Allison practicing her speech, Vanya playing her violin.

The door creaks when he pushes it open, the sound scratching against his temples. The hallway is empty and he ventures further. His head swims, pulsing weakly just to show it exists, confused and frazzled.

Making his way down the stairs is a journey; the one that he survives, thankfully. He takes each step carefully, not confident in his own balance, elbow a single point of contact with the fancy old handhold.

This time, he shivers at the cold of the floor in the foyer, so that’s progress, he supposes.

Finally, there is sound.

His mystery tune is coming from the kitchen, as are his sibling’s voices.

He shuffles in slowly, feeling stripped out of his skin and wondering how he looks as his siblings take note of him. He pauses at the entrance while they watch him. They regard him warily. Nobody dares to speak.

Klaus quickly reaches for the phone on the table, turning off the soft music. Diego swallows thickly at the sudden movement.

“Hey,” he rasps, cringing along with his siblings at the sound of his voice.

“How are you feeling?” Vanya asks slowly.

Nobody comes to help him as he drags his feet to the counter- which he’s glad for. His pride aside, he’s still not entirely sure he wants anyone to touch him. He doesn’t know why, but the thought alone makes him panicky.

He takes a glass in his hand, fills it with water.

“Better,” he says. He wants to down the whole glass in a single gulp, but his stomach is already rolling as it is so he forces himself to take painful, small sips, cradling the glass close to his chest.

The silence settles over them again. They are still watching him, on intervals as he drinks. Vanya, Klaus, Five and Luther, Allison. It’s annoying until he has to remind himself that it means they care. They care and Diego is not going to be an asshole about it. Again. It’s progress. They are making progress.

Allison scribbles down on her notepad, turns it so he can read the questions. “Are you? Really?

Well, compared to the first time he woke up, he’s feeling fucking awesome.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he tells her.

Then, the phone rings. Klaus and Five twitch. Luther stands up suddenly, almost out of his seat before Five zaps away to answer it. Diego’s stomach lurches, everything blurs as pain spikes behind his eyelids.

He throws up into the sink.

  • ●●●●

“You look like shit,” Klaus tells him, peering at him upside-down from behind the couch. He gingerly drops a peppermint into Diego’s hand, careful not to touch him.

Diego aims a withering look at him, pops the candy in his mouth.

“What the fuck is happening?” He mutters, loud enough for his siblings to hear before digging the heels of his palms into his eye sockets. Nausea retracted significantly but his head still hurts, makes everything feel weird and off-center.

Everyone turns to look at Five. He scowls.

“Why the fuck are you looking at me?” He asks, the coffee in his hand almost sloshing out of the cup.

“Hey, you’re the smarty-pants of the family,” Klaus says defensively, dropping lightly on the couch, leaving a whole cushion between him and Diego.

Five’s scowl deepens and he says sharply, “I’m not a superpowers expert.” His eyes flicker somewhere to the left, where Allison is, and whatever she does has him adding, “I’ll have to check Dad’s notes.”

He jumps out of the room and Diego groans, winding his arms around his middle and bending towards his knees.

“I’m fine,” he says when everyone gets ready to bring him a bucket or something.

“You don’t look so fine,” Luther tells him.

Gee, thanks,” he responds.

He closes his eyes, slumps in the corner of the backrest. If anything, at least he dialed down from feeling like he’s about to die any moment to feeling like’s he’s about to throw up any moment. He’s seriously messed up if he considers that to be a good thing.

  • ●●●●

“Well, you’re fucked,” Five tells him boldly when he appears in the living room two hours later.

“Five!” Vanya scolds as everyone startles at the fact that he walked in.

“What do you mean?” Luther asks.

Five’s eyes flicker over them. They don’t settle at Diego.

“We’re at level 1,” he says. Like that makes any fucking sense.

“A what?” He questions.

“Well, most of us are,” Five goes on. “Klaus and I are at level 2. And as of late, Diego.”

“Level 2 of what?” Diego asks again.

Five glances at him quickly. When he speaks again, he’s addressing everyone in the room.

“Level 1 is the groundwork of our powers. Dad thought there is a possibility of us advancing to higher levels.”

“Like, evolving?” Luther asks, intrigued. Diego is curious too, he has to admit.

Five shrugs, “I guess you could call it that. We don’t lose our primary abilities, we just gain more.”

“Doesn’t really explain why Diego here looks like the one going through withdrawals instead of me,” Klaus pipes up, jerking a thumb at him.

“Actually it does,” Five responds.

Everyone looks at him.

Allison writes “Explain” on her notepad.

“I think Diego’s going through the sensory overload of some kind. Because of his new power.”

Diego swallows. “But I don’t have a new power,” he tells Five with a frown, Klaus’ peppermint candy clicking against his teeth.

Now, everyone switches to look at him.

“Do you…not remember what happened?” Vanya asks tentatively.

Diego’s frown deepens. “What? I remember. The support beams gave out and the roof caved in-“

“But do you remember what you did?” Five interrupts him.

Diego blinks at him blankly. Once the beams cracked, Diego admits things got a bit fuzzy for him.

“You, um, “Luther clears his throat, “you moved everything.”

It explains absolutely nothing.

“Yeah, man, everything was coming down on us and you just… whoosh,” Klaus says, mimicking an explosion with his hands. Which-

“What?” Diego asks faintly.

Klaus turns his head slightly, then says, “Ben says it was like the thing you do with knives. Just this time you weren’t throwing anything. And it was coming towards you instead of away from you.”

Diego… Diego still doesn’t get it.

“What’s the heaviest thing you ever controlled?” Five questions him.

“Um, “Diego shakes his head- oh, a bad, bad idea, shit- “um, a cinder block? Why?”

“That was a lot more than a single cinder block,” Five states simply.

“What, you think I overloaded my brain?” That’s ridiculous.

Five shrugs, “You should know. It’s your power.”

Diego scowls, “It’s not like it came with instructions.”

Five harrumphs.

Diego pulls his legs up on the couch and winds an arm around them, his other hand massaging his throbbing temple.

“I just latch onto things. It’s like there’s a string connecting me with whatever I’m throwing and, I don’t know, letting me control it.”

Even when he’s not the one throwing something, he can feel himself being drawn to it.

“Maybe there were just too many strings,” Vanya says quietly.

Diego sighs.

“Is it going to stop?” Surprisingly, Luther asks the question Diego was too afraid to ask.

Five doesn’t answer immediately.

“I don’t know. It’s getting better, though?”

Diego nods. This is just his fucking luck.

  • ●●●●

No loud noises and no sudden movements because, apparently, Diego can sense the air moving. Which is bullshit.

Five comes up with the rules and Diego despises them from the bottom of his very soul even though he only gets sick two more times after they get established.

The first time it’s Five breaking his own rule. He appears in the kitchen to get himself coffee and locks his jaw in frustration at his forgetfulness as Diego throws up in the sink. Again.

The second time it’s Klaus. He bangs his toe on the corner in the hallway, screeches out a swear and flails his arms, and then tip-toes after Diego as he beelines it for the bathroom.

Sleep doesn’t come easy. When he crawls into his room, he expects to feel relieved, but the cold grips him despite the fact that the heater is turned on high enough he could sleep only in his underwear. He feels blind in regards to sensation and feeling, and figures that’s just perfect. The icing on the fucking cake.

He gets out of the bed with a huff, dresses again, and stomps out of his room. He thinks about taking a shower, but he’s not sure if having a stream of tiny drops pelting over his bare, oversensitive skin is a good idea. So he vexes that and ventured downstairs for a midnight snack.

He doesn’t know if it’s because he’s not closed in his room anymore, but, demolishing a bag of chocolate chip cookies Klaus thinks he so sneakily hid between the top of the fridge and cupboard cabinet, he doesn’t feel so alone anymore. The air flows around him lightly, and he thinks he can hear Luther leafing through a book in the library.

He settles down at the table, sitting cross-legged on the chair and props his cheek on his palm. He falls asleep with a cookie in his hand.