"Dad, who the hell are these assholes?" The members of the Umbrella Academy stared with mixed emotions at this being wearing a familiar face.
"Ben," Klaus whispered, unable to stop himself. He took a step forward but was blocked by Five and held back by Diego. 'Ben' looked at him with a tilted head and furrowed eyebrows.
"Why do they look like us?" Another voice asked, and the attention went to the five figures standing on the second floor. This one also had a familiar face and Vanya gasped at the sight. Her own face was staring down at her, but it looked different. This other-Vanya is now leaning on the railings, making her face visible, narrowing her eyes at the intruders, with pure confidence radiating from her.
The other four followed to show themselves, and it's just plain weird. Everyone looks…proper. Allison's face shows up, Klaus' lookalike is standing beside her. One of them looks weirdly like Five but only if he physically aged to be the 30-year old he was meant to be. There was another girl that stood at the sides, looking incredibly amused at the situation, but she wasn't someone they recognized. All of them were wearing the red blazer Ben's lookalike was wearing.
Sir Reginald Hargreeves cleared his throat and the Umbrella Academy members turned to look at him. So did the 'Sparrow Academy', as they were apparently named. He looked straight at 'Ben'. "Gather everyone to the study. I will need to brief you on the situation."
"Zero," he started, and the others turned to see the unfamiliar one stand more attentively. ('Zero?' Diego mouthed to Allison, who he exchanged looks with. But all of them were just confused.) "Put our unwelcomed visitors on a timeout and watch over them. You know what to do."
She gave an affirmative hum with as smile as she skipped (skipped? Klaus felt astounded as he watched this girl skip across the floor with Reginald Hargreeves not even glaring in displeasure) to the stairs and down. The other four disappeared to the direction where they knew the study to be.
As Reginald and 'Ben' started to move out as well, Luther tried to get the older one's attention.
"Dad, can't we at least know what's going on—"
"Do not call me that." Reginald Hargreeves turned to look at him with a cold expression. "I have no memory of adopting you, much less raising you." Allison placed a hand on Luther's arm upon seeing him looking like he just got slapped. "You will wait here and follow as Zero says, or you won't get any answer that you might be looking for."
The sound of his shoes walking away on the wooden floor seemed to echo in the silence that he left. The siblings looked at one another in part fear and confusion.
"Did you mess up again?" Diego demanded, looking at Five. "The damn suitcase was supposed to make things easier!"
"But we're in the right time." Vanya muttered, sounding confused. "We saw the newspaper."
"We are," Five groaned, running his hands through his face. "We are in the right time, but we must have changed the timeline somehow. Back when we were in the 60's."
"But if we don't exist as Umbrella Academy in this timeline, how are we still here? As in existing?" Luther asked.
Diego closed his eyes, breathing in. "I should have at least downloaded the orientation somewhere. Maybe gotten a quick recap from Herbie."
"Uh, guys?" Klaus said, and they all looked to see him staring and pointing. They followed his line of sight and found the girl from earlier sitting on the couch behind Diego.
Diego stepped back in surprise. He definitely wasn't the only one who had forgotten about the girl being sent to them, but as one of the few members who kept up his own training on his own time, no one should have been able to sneak up that close to him.
The girl looked young for someone who is supposed to be thirty. She has straight cut bangs and jet black hair that reached her shoulders. She's smiling back at Klaus' slightly terrified expression before she stood and looked at all of them. "Well, I guess it's time to put you all in timeout now."
"Like hell, you're doing anything to us." Diego snarled and quickly sent a blade of his flying. But as soon as the blade was just a few inches from her skin, she caught it by the handle. (Which, in Diego's opinion, is far more impressive than catching it by the blade since it's more risky and more well-timed. Though he wouldn't be saying it out loud now and definitely not in front of her.)
She shook her head and tsked in a patronizing way, smiling at Diego as she slowly walked forward. The others were frozen at the sight of her stopping his blade. "See? Very naughty and very rude." She had a hint of an English accent, but it was faint. "This is why you deserve a timeout." She whispered before swiftly moving her hand to tap two fingers on his forehead.
A dark violet grow seemed to rush from the point of contact through the rest of his body. It felt cold and heavy, Diego thinks, like he had just gone through a raging waterfall. The others were jolted into action at the color, most of them rushing to Diego to assess what damage might have been caused, but Luther went to grab the girl by her shoulder.
Before he could even demand an explanation, she had caught his wrist and sent a punch to his face. It shouldn't have hurt because durability was his thing, but it did, albeit slightly, and it surprised him enough to make him fall to the ground.
Allison moved from Diego to Luther, who waved off her concerns and stared confusingly at the girl. "Do you think it's like Diego's girlfriend?" He whispered softly to her, but she just shrugged helplessly. None of them knew what was going on.
The girl looked disappointed. "So much muscles on that body of yours and that one punch puts you down? Honestly, what a waste." She took advantage of their surprise and went to tap both Luther and Allison on the ground at their foreheads. Then she turned to the others as a violet glow passed over the two.
Five was the first to move and he jumped to appear behind her, but instead showed up a few more inches further. He went out of balance, yet was able to catch himself from falling. But in his moment of confusion, the girl had walked up to him and held his wrist, the same violet spreading throughout him from there. He felt cold. "Where do you think you're going?"
It's obvious Five was trying to jump again, but there wasn't even a hint of blue around his hands, despite not lacking much energy. He looked up and met her dark brown, almost black, eyes watching him with thinly-veiled amusement. "What the hell did you do?"
"I'm not even attacking you guys." The girl whined now, even going as far as stomping her foot once. The childish reaction was a plus one to the things surprising them about her. "Can't you all just sit down and wait patiently?"
She dragged Five to the couch and made him sit, then turned to the others and gestured to the empty spots pointedly. Not seeing any other choice, they went.
Vanya had only followed despite wanting to help because if this girl can do what Lila did, then she can't give her the chance to mirror her powers. When the girl stood in front of her and reached out, she was mumbling and rolling her eyes. "Honestly, you're all acting like a bunch of children. It's just a fucking timeout, calm the fuck down."
"What does it do?" Vanya interjected before her fingers touched her skin. "What does the timeout mean?"
The girl paused and blinked before continuing on and tapping Vanya anyway. She stepped back and looked at them all with a frown. "Why do you not know what a timeout is?"
"Like a punishment for kids?" Allison asked.
The girl snorted. "Yeah. You kids."
"Seriously." Vanya said. "I don't know what you're assuming, but we don't know what you're doing to us. We don't even know who you are."
This caused more confusion to be visible on her face. "Oh. I…I'm Number Zero? Rita? Do I not exist in yours?"
"We don't have a 'Zero' in our academy." Luther explained. "We start with me, Number One."
"Well, I'm Zero here, Z for short and Rita when outside." She seemed kinder now, less tricky to deal with as she introduced herself. "And a timeout means I block your powers for a while."
This caused everyone to be a bit tense. Everyone except Klaus who was just watching her curiously. "You can do that?"
She nodded. "Can no one in your team do that?"
"No," he glanced at Allison, remembering what happened with Vanya, "well, not exactly."
Zero pursed her lips and walked to stand in front of where he sat, showing her hands with palms up. Klaus placed his hands on hers, as if in a trance, and he felt a different kind of cold from what he was used to wash over him as she squeezed his hands gently. "Training must have been hard for you."
Klaus watched with wide eyes as she went and pressed a light kiss on the top of his head. She then moved back to Vanya, muttered "you too", and pressed a light kiss on the top of her head.
"So, it's just Numbers One through Six for you all, hmm?" She asked as she sat on top of the table, facing them.
"Seven." Allison corrected. "Our Six is gone. Died."
"He looks exactly like your brother just now." Klaus breathed out, still feeling slightly overwhelmed. "Without the scar, but still!"
She glanced at the corridor they had disappeared into and raised an eyebrow. "You mean Ben? He's our Number One."
"What?" Luther blinked. "I…I'm Number One, though."
Zero shrugged. "Maybe, just like how I don't exist in your time, you and your brother," she gestured to Diego, "don't exist in ours. Maybe things are a lot different."
Five narrowed his eyes. "You're taking this quite well. Some people show up looking exactly like your siblings, and you just welcome them?"
She chuckled. "You're all in timeout and, if I wanted to, you or your weapons won't be able to touch me at all. You're no threat. Now," she clapped her hands together, "I, for one, would like to know your numbers and powers to play a game of spot the difference between my world and yours."
"You're Number One." She looked at Luther with nothing but curiosity in her eyes. "Pretty big physique you got there, is that your power?"
"No," Luther answered after exchanging looks with his siblings. "This came after. My power is super strength."
A beat of silence. "That's it?"
"And you're Number One?"
"Huh. Okay then." She looked unconvinced before turning to the rest. "Who's Number Two?"
"My name's Diego." He reluctantly replied. "Reginald called it trajectory curving. Means when I throw something, I can move it across the air."
"That's it?" Zero double-checked after another moment of silence. "No more? Number Two?"
"Yes." Diego replied, not willing to talk more and not seeing the reason for her looking incredulous.
"And Number Three?" They noted that she sounded more unsure and confused now.
Allison sat up. "That would be me. Allison Hargreeves. I can Rumor people to do what I want them to do." She tilted her head. "And I heard a rumor, you'll let us go."
Zero rolled her eyes. "Did you not hear me say I put you on timeout and blocked your powers? Who's Number Four?" She asked, ignoring Allison's narrowed eyes.
Klaus raised his hand, displaying the Hello tattoo on his palm. "Hello, I'm Klaus." He started, taking on his support group voice. "I see dead people."
She seemed to soften at Klaus' voice and sighed. "You do, do you? Do you see your brother?"
He smiled sadly. "No, he's… He's really gone into the light, the sweet bastard."
"And Number Five?" She moved on to the next.
"Me," Five called out, the tone in his voice heavily implying he doesn't trust her. "I'm Number Five."
She smiled. "Alright. Spatial jumps and time travel, yes? You displayed it earlier, so I'm assuming."
Five rolled his eyes but didn't bother responding. She took this as a sign she was correct and moved on. "You said Number Six is dead, and he looked like Number One. You also called him Ben earlier," she nodded to Klaus. "What can he do?"
"He has these monsters," Klaus answered when no one else found that they could really explain. "Under his skin? Inside of him? And he just summons them. Usually, it's the tentacles one." He nodded, satisfied with his own explanation.
Zero turned to Vanya. "That makes you Number Seven."
"Vanya," she corrected automatically. "I… Well, I'm not exactly sure what to call what I do? I didn't train or whatever like the rest."
Zero's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Did you join your academy late?"
Vanya shook her head. "I was adopted same time as everyone else. It's a whole story about suppressed powers and not knowing I even had one until, uhh, does the word 'recently' still apply?" Klaus shrugged helplessly and Five kind of just nodded and waved his hand so she stuck with that. "It's just bright lights and sound waves, I think?
"Interesting." Zero nodded and kept silent, swinging her legs that failed to reach the floor because of both the tall height of the table and her short height.
"Well?" Five prompted, feeling impatient and sounding it.
"Well, what?" She smiled innocently at him.
"What's the result of the spot the difference game here?" He demanded. "We gave you our story. Give us yours."
She laughed (the audacity) and continued smiling at Five. "We didn't have that kind of deal."
The automatic reaction Five had was to jump through space and land on the table behind her, maybe choke her to near death for her damn attitude he didn't have time for. Unfortunately, his hands still refuse to glow blue and the lack of his powers stopped him from doing so. She didn't take away his ability to walk though, so he still stood up and lunged at her, only to hit his head at some invisible barrier and fall to the ground.
"Your temper's probably brought you a lot of problems, huh?" Zero taunted from her spot as she looked down at him. (There was a muffled sound of somewhat agreement behind him that Five didn't bother to check, but he bets it was either Diego or Klaus.)
(It was Luther.)
"Fine," she sighed playfully, as if they had been whining like five-year olds for three hours. "I'm Number Zero or Z for short, as I said earlier. My birth name is Rita, as I also said earlier. Rita Lewis."
"'Lewis'?" Luther repeated, which seemed to bother her but she let it pass. "Why not 'Hargreeves'?"
"I wasn't exactly adopted the same way as the rest of you were, I'm assuming." She hummed thoughtfully. "I was about ten when I was added into the Sparrow Academy because my parents both died and my father and dad (Sir Reginald) were somehow acquainted. I think news reached dad that I was one of those special kids born that special day so he took me in instead of having me fall into some orphanage."
"I'm something like a barrier? A dam? An amplifier?" She went through words, testing them out. "You know how in radios there's the volume knob that you twist to make the sound the loudest or non-existent? That." She nodded. "I can either block your powers or make it stronger for a certain amount of time. It's can work like a physical shield thing too, like what just happened." She gestured to the spot where Five had fallen.
"Next is Number One. Given his number, he also has the leadership role."
"Why not you?" Diego asked. "Zero comes before One, after all."
"Yes, please." A new voice joined in. They turned to see other-Ben walking through the corridor. His eyes scanned the team on the couch, but landed on Zero in the end. "Take the leadership position as you were always meant to." It was said in such a monotone voice, and they didn't know this Ben enough to know whether he was joking or not.
"And take away your leadership privileges?" Zero replied with a roll of her eyes as she moved to give other-Ben space to sit beside her. "I'm not cruel, Benny."
(The nickname caused Klaus to flinch internally. It was all too familiar and all too soon.)
He leaned on the table instead of sitting on it and faced the others. "Are you supposed to be talking to the hostages?" The term made the team tense up again (they didn't know when they began to loosen up), but Zero quickly batted at his shoulder.
"They're unwelcomed visitors, like Dad said." She corrected, her tone joking. "At most, they're intruders, yes? And what would you rather me do? Making them sit in silence means I have to endure that too and it's so boring. Guess what I learned though: Your doppelganger's name is Ben too, and he's dead!"
Other-Ben blinked. "Huh."
"And you were Number Six instead."
Zero watched the team carefully before leaning to Ben and stage-whispering. "I think their dad ranked it the opposite way in terms of powers. Don't tell them though, I don't think they know." It could be seen from their faces that they find this entire situation incredibly amusing, but the members of the Umbrella Academy were still mostly confused.
"Anyway," she spoke loudly again, "this is Number One, Ben, like your Ben. Around the powers as yours too. Say hi." But she looked at them instead of other-Ben so it felt like they were the ones she was encouraging to greet the other.
Klaus gave a tiny wave of a hand in the silence and it seemed to be enough for Zero to move on.
"He's the leader because he was already the chosen leader before I even joined. And what was the point of tipping the balance. I don't even go on missions."
"Why not?" Five asked.
She shrugged. "I didn't want to."
Klaus recalled the times he didn't feel like joining missions and voiced it out. "You expect us to believe you told Reginald Hargreeves 'no' and he just accepted it?"
A smug smile. "He didn't really have a choice. He tried forcing me into it but I'd just not do anything, or he'll have me locked up for punishment but I'd mess with the trainings by shutting down or extremely amplifying their powers, making it hard to do proper tests. He tried punishing the others for my mistakes, but I learned other ways to shield too. I got a grasp of my powers really quickly out of pure spite."
"Took three years for him to accept she didn't want to do missions and just made her the second supervisor for training." Another voice chimed in accompanied by soft footsteps. The other four walked in and strategically placed themselves around the room. Other-Vanya led this group and was obviously the one who spoke. Only now do the Umbrella Academy members notice that there is a streak of white across her hair that was tied back.
"And with that," Zero slipped off the table, "I also became the group therapist and was also sent to med school. Dad thought if he couldn't torture me with training, he'd make me a scientist like him and my father. Collecting doctorates like it's my only purpose."
"Chatting with the prisoners?" Allison's lookalike asked. She had a short haircut that their Allison would never have wanted, and it was neatly braided back.
Zero shot her a playful glare. "Unwelcomed visitors."
"Intruders." Other-Allison smiled. "And how do we treat intruders?"
Zero blinked and exhanged a look with other-Klaus, who Klaus was not able to look away from. "Well, no one's ever really bothered to try it so there's no… what's the word?"
"Precedent." Other-Ben answered. Zero snapped her fingers and repeated the word.
It was extremely unnerving to watch these people, most who have familiar faces and familiar voices, work together in harmony. There was no tension anywhere and they looked absolutely comfortable around each other, safe and content in this place they call home. Because they successfully made this damn place a home, didn't they? Diego thought bitterly.
"Hold on, I'm not yet done with introductions." Zero turned to face them again. "Let's go through this with speed, hmm? Keep the questions at the end, like civilised people?"
"This is our Number Two, our Vanya, as Mom has named her." She gestured to other-Vanya who just raised an eyebrow at them, looking unbothered by everything. Diego instinctively looked around to see if Mom would appear, but she didn't and the glare of one of the unfamiliar faces stopped him from asking. "She also has the 'light and sound waves' thing you mentioned, but definitely better trained than you."
"We have the same Number Three, the same Allison, the same powers." She moved on to other-Allison. "Rumoring." She sent a knowing look to her that Five thinks they weren't supposed to notice, which means they're probably hiding something.
She looked around for a while before pausing as if she just remembered something. "Right, our Number Four had a long day of training yesterday. She's not yet here."
"Dad sent Pogo to get her. She'll be down soon." The only other unfamiliar face said. He had a clean haircut and stood straight. There was this aura of 'I know a lot' from him that the team could already guess exactly who this is. Zero moved towards him.
"We also have the same Five. He even prefers to stick to the number, despite being named Daniel when he was ten." She poked him on the shoulder which he just rolled his eyes at. "Ours looks older, but," she looked at the young-looking Five sitting on the couch, "I remember him looking exactly like you when he was younger. Same kind of pretentiousness too." She avoided the hand threatened to hit the back of her head.
Klaus watched as she moved on to other-Klaus. "Your Number Four is our Number Six. Same name, similar enough powers." He's wearing dark, loose clothes under the blazer with tears on it, and had the short curly hairstyle that Klaus remembered having before all the time travelling. Klaus is sure there's this faint smell of alcohol coming from other-Klaus and he could almost conclude that they aren't all that different. But this other-Klaus looks more at ease, and when Zero moved to tap lightly at his hand, he relaxed even more. Klaus thinks that this would have been him at his best if the training went well, and he knows that the main difference is that other-Klaus had a Zero, a Rita, and damn if that didn't make him feel even a bit bitter.
As soon as the introductions finished, there was the sound of scrambling from the hallway where the rooms were and another familiar face appeared.
"Lila?" Diego asked, not expecting to see her. He almost went to (tackle? kiss? high-five?) her, but other-Vanya noticed him and kept a firm hand on his shoulder to keep him sitting.
'Lila' froze at the sight in front of her. It was obvious that she had just woken up and rushed to get ready. There was a comb in her hand and she was hopping on one foot to adjust her shoe, but she looked exactly like the Lila that they met in the 1960s.
"Am I seeing double?" Even her accent remained the same. "There's two copies of some of you, did you know that?"
"Did Pogo not tell you anything?"
"He might've." Lila nodded slowly as she moved to join them. "But I also might've been half-asleep still." She looked at Zero, and there seemed to be an entire silent conversation happening between them until both nodded and 'Lila' looked at them with a blank expression
"I'm Number Four, you could call me Lila." She met Diego's eyes. "Seems you know me?"
"We're acquainted, yes." Five answered instead, the suspicion was back in his eyes. "What are you doing here?" The confusion on her face was clear, but Five wouldn't trust it. The Handler would have trained her only daughter to be the best actress if it was possible.
"How do you know her?" Zero interrupted, stepping between them and blocking Five's sight of 'Lila'. "You said there were only seven of you. Didn't mention her."
"We didn't lie." Luther quickly said, making sure they weren't suspected of wrong things. "We didn't. We were really only seven, but we kind of… fought against her. She used our powers against us."
"She was nice at the end, though." Diego added, so as to not give them any ideas. "But she just left without a word, so it's… weird she's suddenly here."
"A villain?" Zero gasped dramatically, making her siblings fight down a smile. (Except other-Klaus who willingly played along and gasped with her.) "Knew you had a mean streak to you, Four."
Lila, whether she was the Lila they knew or other-Lila, gave a wicked smile. "I'm gonna burn this whole fucking place to the ground."
"I hope you don't, Lila. I just finished vacuuming this morning." Mom entered with a serving cart with plates of cookies and sandwiches, and glasses and mugs of different kinds of drinks. "Your father is going to take a little longer than usual. I thought it's just right for me to provide a little food and drinks. We rarely have people over."
"Intruders." Ben corrected softly in a sing-song voice before reaching out to grab a cookie for himself.
Zero gestured for them to take whatever fits their taste. Klaus didn't hesitate, and Diego was never able to resist the freshly baked cookies their mom made (and this looked and smelled exactly the same). Luther reached out for one after seeing Diego enjoy a piece, and Allison followed hesitantly after.
Vanya tried to hold herself back, but after not having eaten for what feels like days, she gave in to take something and was pleasantly surprised to see it was a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich. She met Five's eyes at her discovery and found he was looking back at her. His eyes softened, but he refused to take one despite feeling the hunger more strongly.
About ten minutes of awkward silence passed. The members of the Sparrow Academy would mutter things to each other, while those of the Umbrella Academy would only exchange looks.
Five gave in to take a cup of black coffee after seeing no effect on his siblings, and the sharp pain of hunger after days of not eating was just not worth it.
More minutes pass, but it feels like it's been hours.
"Hmm." Klaus furrowed his eyebrows, as if deep in thought. The Sparrow Academy members eeriely look to his direction at the same time, as if waiting. "Interesting," he commented, smacking his lips.
"W-What's wrong?" Diego asked, not realizing his stutter. It didn't escape Allison and Five's attention as they began to watch him suspiciously.
Klaus was staring into the cup of coffee he was drinking, then he looked at Zero before turning to his siblings. "We've definitely just been drugged."
His words cause the rest of his team to jump to their feet, but other-Allison was already standing in front of them. "I heard a rumor you're feeling very tired and you want to go to sleep. Why don't you all take a seat?"
Luther yawned as he fell back down on the couch with his siblings. "What… What do you…"
"You've travelled so far. You all deserve a nap, don't you think?" Other-Vanya smiled as she moved to stand beside Allison.
"Wait till I… I get my fucking hands on you all." Five glared and had interrupted himself with a yawn. He tried throwing a punch but the exhaustion only caused him to fall to the ground, losing balance.
"Ooh," Other-Five mocked, standing with his siblings. "Somebody's gonna throw their little hands around."
I'm the top assassin of the goddamned commission, Five wanted to say, but his eyes were fluttering closed.
Other-Klaus watched amusedly as they tried to fight off the sleep brought by the rumor and the drugs. "Oh come on, just give in. I'm betting these two have the highest tolerance but look at them." He gestured to Vanya and Klaus who leaned against each other and were still compared to their siblings. Their eyes were half-closed, though their siblings couldn't muster enough energy to check.
Zero stepped forward to pat the top of Vanya and Klaus's heads, a soft smile on her face. All the attention they could have, which, admittedly, wasn't a lot, were on her. "Thanks for all the intel. I learned so much today."
Other-Ben stood in the middle of his siblings, arms crossed in that stupid red blazer. "Goodnight, sweet dreams." He grinned at them.
The last thing that those of the Umbrella Academy would remember is the familiar, yet slightly different, faces watching them and the almost maniacal laughter of Zero as she walked to the direction of Sir Reginald Hargreeves' study.