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Reginald Hargreeves' Greatest Disappointment

Chapter Text

If Klaus Hargreeves had learnt one lesson from rehab so far, he’s not sure it’s quite the progressive bullshit the staff had wanted from him.

This lesson is: Sobriety is so overrated.

It had been two weeks since he had been admitted to rehab – again, and whilst the physical withdrawal was starting to fade, Klaus had always needed to feed his psychological addiction more than his physical one, and that wasn’t going away any time soon.

He rolled over for the fifth time in ten minutes, the cheap thin sheets bundled and messed below him. Groaning much akin to the ghosts he was haunted by, Klaus kneaded at the growing headache thrumming behind his eyes, to no avail. The cause of this headache was currently slumped across a bed, mindlessly chattering, shoe-clad feet haphazardly propped up upon the mattress, with a dozen knife wounds embedded in her chest. The lady was obnoxious, loud, and currently bemoaning her deathly state from where she had stationed herself upon a vacant bunk. First she droned on that her method of murder apparently 'Lacked finesse,' then moved on to her ‘Cheating, no good, murderous husband,’ and finally, as though she hadn't gone on enough, began complaining that her husband wasn't going to clean the stove properly on his own. Klaus, admittedly, had begun to develop a guilty kinship with the husband, before realising she wouldn't be bothering him now without his decided lack of temper control.

As the woman then begin moaning about how her husband couldn't even tie his own shoelaces, Klaus felt his temperate mood, stemmed from continuous headaches and forced sobriety, dour ever further. Not to mention the continued and forever unresolved argument between Klaus and Ben around Klaus' addiction, that had been again rekindled that very morning. A recurring and exhausting theme in their recent lives, and ultimately, deeply upsetting for both of them. Klaus had been snappy, Ben had gone on a recurring spiel about Klaus throwing his life away, Klaus fired back some sharp comments disguised as humour, and on it escalated, until he told Ben to fuck right off.

Somehow, it had still surprised him when he turned around and realised Ben was alone.

After ten more agonising minutes of continuous complaints, Klaus finally looked over and raised his eyebrow at the woman’s beaten in face and droning voice. She startled as he looked at her, and perhaps, Klaus then reflected, she had just been ranting to the room at large and hadn’t quite realised that Klaus could actually listen. Or perhaps she was startled that after what seemed like days of her prattling nonsense, this was the moment he finally caved. Klaus didn’t care much either way. She was finally blissfully silent for a few seconds before –

“You can see me?” She slid off the bed with the sickening sound of sloshing liquid, then took a hesitant step forwards, regarding him with a glistening hope which left Klaus’ heart decidedly untouched. He merely raised his eyebrow higher, and with a flamboyant groan flopped back down onto the bed, curling into himself and cursing the fact that he wasn’t allowed anymore pain-meds. “Wait, please, I need your help!” She cried in a crazed frenzy of motion, dragging her limbs to shuffle right next to Klaus' bunk.

“Sorry, I would, but,” Here he rolls over and immediately regrets it when he’s looking straight into her swollen eyes, “I really don’t want to.”

“But – but you,” she looked close to tears, her voice raw and desperate. Klaus liked to consider himself a reasonably kind and empathetic person, but there is a time and a place for being sympathetic, and in Klaus' humble opinion, he nor had the time, neither was he in the right place to deal with this bullshit. 

Whilst, upon later reflection, not exactly proud of his next words, Klaus would never say that he did not feel at least slightly justified in them. “Look," he finally spat out at her, earning a startled gasp from the insufferable woman. "I get it, you’ve been murdered and all – boo freaking hoo. We all have problems, yeah? We all have issues. You might be dead but I’m the one who has to listen to you moan about it!" He stopped a moment to attempt to glare at her, though all he really managed was a wince, "What the hell am I even meant to do while inside rehab?” He sits up and throws his arms in the air, then cries out at the thrumming in his head, a sudden, intense feeling of nausea swelling deep within his stomach. The woman comes closer and pleadingly reaches out a hand, “Ah, ah, ah, no, thanks, but no. Nice try, but you can’t touch," he waved his hand at her, hoping to warn her off.  "And I mean that literally. You literally cannot touch me, but I also wouldn’t want you to.” She continues to reach forward, “Look, lady, I appreciate your resilience but I have an evening full of silent self-loathing and a god-awful headache to get back... to.”

Klaus stared in an odd mix of shock and horror at the decidedly corporeal weight of the hand resting upon his arm. An incomprehensible feeling of cold shot through the limb and nestled itself into his bones. The texture of skin and the weight of a hand, inconceivable with her dead, pale, ghostly flesh.

He suddenly couldn’t breathe. He continued staring at her, as she looked back, both equally shocked. Then...

Well, then he started screaming.

By the time Ben came back, Klaus was huddled on his bed, crying and alone. No more were his thoughts spent on his headache. He could hear the approaching footsteps of the staff. He could hear Ben calling his name, concerned, but he was shaking too much to respond, his throat too raw. As his door was thrown open and warm, living, naturally corporeal people filtered in, Ben tried to come closer to his brother. He startled back as he Klaus suddenly jolted in response to his presence, and looked on with a horror filled rejection as Klaus’ screams grew  ever louder.

When Klaus emerged from rehab, following the longest sixteen days of his life, he had never been more terrified of his curse. He managed to overdose in less than twenty-four hours.

This time, it wasn’t an accident.

He hadn’t expected to come back.

But he did.

Chapter Text

It took Klaus thirteen attempts to kill himself to finally admit what he had truly realised months earlier.

He couldn’t die.

This inevitable realisation didn’t stop him from giving it his best damn shot by taking enough drugs to kill a small elephant. For a moment, his heart had stopped, and denial had never before tasted so sweet. God gave him an exasperated look, muttered an annoyed ‘You again?’ and chucked him back.

The next morning, when Klaus woke in his own vomit, Ben is a constant presence beside him. He’s looking at him warily, not venturing too close. He hadn’t dared since that night in rehab, unwilling to trigger another attack. Klaus, for his part, was studiously following the pathology that if he doesn’t mention that night, it didn’t happen. Both were intimately and uncomfortably aware of how their relationship was obviously suffering.

Klaus' mind was a churning, muddled mess of thoughts and messages. For what must have been hours, he lay vulnerable and unresponsive, staring at the dirt caking the floor with blank, empty eyes. The moments ticked by sluggishly, and as Klaus finally came back to himself, he took a deep, shuddering breath. Curling up on the concrete flooring, he dry heaved as nausea rocked his form. His arms wrapped desperately around his legs, body shaking for minutes on end with sobs and broken, aborted breaths.

By the time his mournful panic subsided, his head felt weighted where it was nestled in his knees. His arms hurt where he finally loosened their hold from his calves, and deep grooves were left in his abused skin. He looked towards Ben, offering him a weak grin which did nothing to brighten his eyes. Recently, Ben had started to believe that whilst Klaus’ physical form couldn’t die, those eyes spoke of a death that happened long ago.

“Hey Ben,” Klaus greeted with a disturbed normalcy. Perhaps this was, in some way, their new deranged version of normal. Klaus waking from death. Ben feeling his heart break all over again. Both of them orbiting each other. Neither of them braving the gap forming ever wider between them. Klaus giggled and folded in on himself, “I – I really think I’m getting through to her,” He joked, though soon the laughing devolved into soft sobs, as he covered his mouth with a trembling hand. Ben’s heart ached as he fought the urge to reach out and venture into the unspoken void that separated them. To break this tenuous stalemate they had found themselves in.

“Klaus,” he began, but what could he say? Ben had tried to convince Klaus that this wasn’t a curse, this was a gift. Klaus would never end up like the lost and demented souls which plagued him. He could never end up like Ben.

He could also never join him.

Ben pulled in a breath which never filled his lungs and tried again. “Klaus,” he whispered, “It’s going to be okay.” He knew that wasn’t true, that it was a pretty lie. He knew that every day he was losing Klaus more and more, while Klaus lost himself to his own all-consuming fear. Ben understands, he really does. He lived and died with the fear of what’s inside himself – what he is. He knows that it is near impossible to escape that fear until it devours you.

Even though they both knew it was merely a lie, they pretended to believe it, and Klaus calmed. He took some steadying breaths and looked to Ben with determination. “Please,” he pleaded, determined and careful, “Come here.”

Ben froze. He’d been so careful to keep his distance. He'd told himself it was for Klaus’ benefit, but he knew that was only partly true. The truth being that deep down, Ben knew that if Klaus were to flinch away from him again, it would hurt more than death. If he had to hear those same wailing screams, knowing that he contributed to it, well...

He doesn’t know if he would have the strength to return to Klaus.

So Ben hung his head and balls his hands into fists, pretending they're not shaking. “I... I can’t Klaus.”

Klaus holds out an arm and looks at him with an intense suffering, voice verging on desperation, “Please. Please come here.”

“Don’t do this.” He knows the words are sharper than he intends them, he knows that he will regret his tone later, anger laced with deep hurt. But right now it hurts too fucking much and he doesn’t give a shit. “This isn’t fair.”

He hears Klaus shift and can almost see that confused expression on his brothers face, the hesitant hand hanging in the air, alone and unmatched.  “Why?” There’s a beat of silence, and Ben doesn’t know if he has an answer Klaus will understand.  “Ben?” It’s so confused and distraught, weak and needy, akin to a child’s call. Suddenly Ben is painfully reminded of a younger and more innocent Klaus, aged six, seeking their father for comfort and Sir Reginald turning away.

“I don’t want to scare you Klaus,” he said, the words ghosting past his lips, choked out yet soft. It hurts more than he ever expected to say, to speak aloud the truth he had known within himself for the past few months and make it reality. The truth that his brother is scared of him.

Suddenly, though, Klaus is scrambling up onto his feet. He immediately presses himself to the wall and takes some heavy breaths as he steadies himself and fights a fresh wave of nausea. His legs are shaking just from standing. He looks towards Ben with a horrified expression. “How could you – you don’t scare me Ben! You’re the only one who doesn’t scare me!”

“Then how do you explain that night? You were lying there, crying. Crying because of a ghost.” Ben felt his voice get inflicted with a hint of pained anger and didn’t bother to fight it back. It wasn’t at Klaus, it really wasn’t. It would be easier to be angry at Klaus than at himself. “I just wanted to be with you, to comfort you, and I couldn’t even get close without making it worse!” He looked up at Klaus’ wide eyed expression, “Am I just another ghost to you? Just another dead person haunting you?”

No, no, no, no, no, Ben, no!” Klaus finally pushed himself off the wall, and staggers towards Ben, stopping an arm’s length in front of him.

It’s the closest they’ve been since the incident.

Klaus stared at Ben for a few moments, contemplating. “I didn’t realise that’s why you weren’t coming close anymore... I thought.” Klaus cut off, starting to shuffle his feet like he did as a child when he'd done something wrong. “I thought you were ashamed because of what I’ve been doing,” he finally admitted.

Ben’s head shot up and he looked at Klaus in wonder. “Klaus,” he gasped, making sure he had his brother’s full attention, “I may not always agree with your actions, but I will never, ever be ashamed of you.” He took a step forwards, and they were finally at a companionable distance. “I do understand. I understand what it is to be afraid of yourself, of what you can do. I understand that more than you know. When I was alive, there were literal monsters inside of me. But Klaus, I have also never felt so much like a monster than when I thought that I was hurting you.”

A bitter laugh escaped Klaus’ lips as he curled his arms tighter around himself. “Guess we’re just really bad at communicating, huh?”

Ben joined him, and even though slightly forced, there was a genuine relief in his next words. “Yeah, I guess we are.”

“We’ll have to work on that,” Klaus grinned, and after a few moments silence he hesitantly put his hand in the air. “Ben?” The question was soft and weighted, so unlike Klaus, and Ben immediately understood.

“You’re sure?” He asked. When Klaus nodded, he thought his incorporeal heart had somehow managed to skip a beat. He slowly raised his hand till it hovered just in front of Klaus’ own. Then, gently pushed forwards. There was a moment of slight pressure, an impression of contact, before his hand passed through.

Klaus let out a breath and slumped in disappointment. Ben tried not to let his own sadness show on his face. “You know what?” Klaus snarled, and Ben looked over at him with surprised, searching eyes. He was stunned when he saw underneath the glazed stare and layers of hurt, a fire in his brother’s gaze he hadn’t witnessed in years. A conviction which had been missing for a very long time. “Fuck this, I’m going to get clean.”

Ben knows this promise, has heard it a thousand times before in a thousand different phrasings and ways. He has learnt to not believe those words, to wait to be disappointed and to watch the repeated loop start again and again.

Yet this time, looking towards his brother, swaying yet standing tall, fists clenched and a life back in his eyes that Ben realises he hasn’t seen in years –

Ben believes him.

He would have thought those words impossible for anyone who had been through the shit Klaus has, but if anyone could get through this, Ben believes that Klaus Hargreeves could.

He sees Klaus' true strength more than anyone. Even Klaus himself.

Through the following months, Ben continued to believe, encourage, and support Klaus. It wasn’t an easy or clean ride by any means. There were rough starts and bad patches and days where it seemed impossible, but sooner than either of them thought possible Klaus was collecting his one-hundred day chip, a grin stretching his face and his eyes just a little brighter. He looked healthier, some meat on his bones and a little muscle building which was previously being eaten away by sickness. By the two-hundred mark, Klaus was buzzing with pride, acting like a child who was getting a golden star. Only, Klaus never got a gold star as a child, he never got pride or reward.

Klaus may never have gotten a gold star, but on the year mark of being clean he held a chip in his hand which signified something far more important.

He looked over to his right, locked eyes with Ben, and held out his hand. Ben reached out and Klaus hooked his hand into Ben’s solid grip, entwining their fingers as they walked. Ben gently squeezed his hand, confirming his presence, and Klaus squeezed back before a wide and true grin split his face, crinkling his eyes.

Ben answered with a soft smile of his own, though his heart warmed with pure joy. This was everything he'd ever wanted, yet hadn't dare imagine. He was so proud of his amazing brother.

Together they walked as they did in their teens, hands linked and smiles on their faces. Strolling down desolate streets at night, avoiding people and basking in one another’s easy companionship. When Klaus turned to him and questioned, “Waffles?” Ben nodded.

They had been practising helping Ben experience taste again, and were progressing slowly but steadily. Klaus had been able to make him corporeal enough to hold the food, though as soon as he stopped using his powers the undigested food would fall trough Ben to the floor. No matter how many times this happened, Klaus' peals of laughter never showed sight of waning, and Ben's unimpressed look never stopped containing hints of fondness and mirth. They had been developing many of Klaus’ powers in the past year, and were both astonished by just how far they could reach when off the drugs. His control was better than ever, and his abilities stronger with time.

That night, eating waffles and wearing matching grins, Ben caught a hint of sweetness on his tongue and told Klaus. Klaus looked like Christmas came early, happier than Ben had ever seen him high, and at that moment Ben thought this is what perfection was.

A diner, some waffles and his brother smiling across from him, expression filled with beautiful life.

A week later, the news came on with the headline that Reginald Hargreeves was dead.

Chapter Text

Ben and Klaus were sitting in a slightly worn down motel, looking through the newspaper for available flats for the sixth time in the past few days. Ben had finally convinced Klaus that it was time to settle into one space, and that the constant moving they currently did wouldn’t be good for him in the long run.

Klaus had proudly come home from his work a few months back with his first honest pay check. Whilst Klaus had initially scoffed at the idea of working in a coffee shop, noting that it was something only cliché characters in fanfiction do, once he started there he realised quite how much he enjoyed it. The colours were bright without being jarring, the people were generally sweet, and him and his co-worker Maggie swapped fashion tips in their breaks. He was literally being paid to chat to people and learn how to make fancy, kick-ass coffee!

It wasn’t exactly the best paying job, especially for someone who was coming up to thirty and ew – that was a nasty thought. Good thing Klaus hadn’t really seemed to age since his mid-twenties, and for an ex drug addict who occasionally lived on the streets, he looked pretty amazing if he did say so himself.

His appearance had helped him quite a bit over the years, considering the lengths he'd go to in order to pay for his addiction. In fact, the meagre savings from his old life was where most of the money for this room was coming from. A leftover pay from his more risky endeavours. Ben and Klaus were studiously not mentioning how the money was made, but both were more than ready to get rid of it.

In the mornings it became custom to look through housing ads during breakfast, before Klaus would rush off to work, complaining about the liberty of dead people not being required to work, but being perfectly content to eat his hard-earned cereal.

One morning, Klaus went to unroll the newspaper left outside his room and froze. “Uh, Ben, buddy? You might want to come and see this.” He heard a groan from the other room and soon Ben materialised beside him, making him jump. “Hey, no fair! Gods, and you call me lazy,” he grumbled before thrusting the newspaper into Ben’s face.

“Klaus I cannot possibly read whatever this is if you hold it that close – would you just...” He trailed off and if it was possible Klaus thought Ben looked paler than usual. “Oh,” he simply said.

Klaus sighed as he looked at the bold headline declaring his father dead. He skimmed the paper, confirming his suspicions that it would all be a pile of bullshit about the famed man. Even Vanya’s book had only been able to sway the papers for so long, considering Reginald was a literal billionaire with money invested in half the papers in the city.

Klaus turned to Ben with a smile that was weaker than it should be, “Well, seems like we have one less problem to worry about.”

Ben frowned, “Okay, I know Reginald,” Ben had stopped calling him ‘Father’ or ‘Dad’ years ago, “Was a bad man. I agree he probably deserved this honestly. But it’s not nice to speak ill of the dead.”

“You just said he deserved this!” Klaus accused with a laugh.

“Yeah but I am dead – I’m allowed to speak badly of the dead.”

“Didn’t stop Vanya,” Klaus scowled, rolling his eyes. Ben winced, knowing it was a sore spot for the both of them.  Ben was hurt by her words, but overall annoyed at her unwarranted exposure of Klaus' personal life. Klaus, in turn, didn’t give a shit about what Vanya or the world at large thought of him, but was livid over her descriptions of Ben for months. There was still some lingering resentment there. He didn’t begrudge Vanya for her version of the truth. They all had their own narrative. However, her seeming obliviousness to the fact that her views were so obviously biased and one sided grated on his nerves. “But, anyway, that wasn’t what I was talking about!” Klaus exclaimed, switching back to his usual cheer, “I mean the flats! They’re all way too expensive – it’s ridiculous really. But now we don’t need to worry about all that. We could probably afford a house soon!”

Ben frowned, confused. “Why’s that?”

“Inheritance money Ben! The goddamn inheritance money! All we need to do is show up, shed a few tears for the old bastard and then be on our merry way with our pockets full of cash and an easy ride ahead.” Klaus grinned and sat back at the table, incredibly self satisfied, “This is fantastic.”

“Klaus, that's no way to speak!” Ben admonished.

“Yeah, but you’re not actually telling me not to do it,” Klaus pointed out, and they shared a grin.

A couple hours later, Klaus had gotten Maggie – bless her soul – to cover his shift that day and put him on a weeks leave, just in case something came up.

As soon as Ben and him arrived at the Hargreeves Estate, Klaus immediately headed to the old office room. Rummaging for expensive keepsakes, he mentally sent out his own personal 'Fuck you' to Reginald. He could sell some of this for a decent price, hell, some of this shit he might even keep! The golden rhino head pencil holder was pretty weird, but Klaus was pretty sure it would look frankly fantastic on his conceptual kitchen table.

“Klaus,” Ben caught his attention, and he looked over whilst holding up a gold chain necklace.

“Hey Ben why the actual fuck did dad even have this? Could you ever even imagine him wearing it? God, what if dad had a rapper phase!” Klaus laughed as he tucked it under his... mesh crop top. Okay that wasn’t going to work. Into the coat pockets it went.

“Klaus, come on, listen to me! I was thinking, considering we’ve made some progress with your powers we didn’t even think possible, maybe we could get some more insight into them though Reginald?”

“Huh, how’s that work?” Finally that seemed to have caught Klaus’ attention.

“Well he kept files on all of us as kids, yeah? Let’s find the file.”

“Oooh, do you think it might be in here? Oh, let’s get looking.” Klaus leapt up and started rummaging through draws. After a few minutes he wasn’t able to find them. “If they’re not here where the hell would they even be?”

“What about this?” Ben asked, pointing to an ornate looking golden box. Klaus looked over with curiosity, before opening it. Under some pieces of paper he saw a flash of a red book – like the ones they had as children. Just as he was about to reach inside and see who’s it was, he heard approaching footsteps down the hall. He quickly ducked behind the desk and worked on concealing the box.

Then Allison arrived and she was fun, but then Luther arrived and he was a downer and made Klaus drop most of his items – even the rhino head pencil holder! He managed to keep the box though, and quickly headed back to his room. He looked around his old room with heavy nostalgia, and breathed in the clean air which had replaced the acrid scent present when he had stayed. Probably to the credit of Grace, the angel she was. He went inside, throwing himself bodily down onto his old bed, before there was a harsh stomping down the hall. God, he couldn’t even get a moment alone in this house. He shoved the box under the bed and pretended to be studying his nails just in time for Diego to throw the door open with a bang. Must be angry. Or maybe he was just being Diego.

When he saw Klaus, though, something odd overtook his expression for a moment. An overwhelming storm of emotion so brief and wild and raw that Klaus could not place it, before it was gone. He stared at Klaus for a few moments in silence, before shutting the door and fully entering the room, eyes still fixed on where Klaus lay.

“Whoa – whoa buddy, where’s the fire?” He put his hands up into a placating gesture, offering a smile that Diego didn’t return.

“Vanya’s here.” Diego scowled, his posture stiff in the doorway. Klaus grimaced. He knew Diego had been a little closer to Vanya than the rest of them as children. Remembering some of the things Vanya had written on Diego, well... ‘Ouch’ was putting it lightly.

“You’re hiding then?” He questioned.

“I am not hiding,” Diego scowled, “I’m just here because I need a moment so I don’t punch her.”

“Wow, pretty intense Go-Go,” Klaus grinned as he saw Diego bristle slightly. “Anyway, how have you been doing, huh? Heard you were part of some police force now – wow, that's a real step up!”

Diego looked quickly and pointedly away. “Actually... that didn’t exactly work out. I’m more freelance now, suits me better,” Diego muttered, shuffling his feet awkwardly.

“You never were a team player,” Klaus nods sagely, inwardly grinning that he could still rile Diego up after all these years when he saw him tense.

“Oh for Gods – I just like it better alone, okay?” Diego snapped, before seeing Klaus’ cheeky grin and sighing. “What about you then? I stopped hearing reports about you getting arrested a while back, did you move to a new city?”

“Aww, didn’t know you cared enough to keep tabs on me,” Klaus teased.

“I didn’t keep tabs on you,” Diego said stiffly, “I just happened to hear from my colleagues about a man in tights and immediately knew it must be you.” At Klaus’ raised eyebrow he caved, “Fine, I may have asked around once or twice.”

Klaus laughed good naturedly, “Okay, okay. Well, for your information, I did not move. I’ve been in the same city I always have. I just cleaned up my act!” He finished, spreading his arms with a proud grin, and he saw Ben smiling and giving him a thumbs-up from the corner of the room.

Diego scoffed and looked at him disbelieving, “Very funny Klaus, as if you’d ever clean up your act. We all know what you’ve been doing all these years.”

Klaus stiffened and the smile slipped off his face. He looked at Diego with hurt whilst Ben looked at him dangerously. “What would that be, oh dear brother?” The words were cold and pained, but if Diego noticed he didn’t show it.

“Well, I assume that you know, you just continued with what you did as a teen. Getting high, partying, sleeping around. The things you love.” Klaus physically cringed. He hadn’t done any of those things in so long. He was doing so well. Looking back, he didn’t think he ever really loved any of it. The activities were merely a distraction. At the start it was the better alternative and then it became a self built prison he couldn’t escape. Oh, there were elements of it he enjoyed, but at the end of the day it left a bad taste in his mouth and a heavy feeling in the pit of his stomach. He was incomplete; he just hadn’t known it yet.

But, as Klaus generally did when faced with uncomfortable emotion, he laughed. “Yeah, well, as much as I hate to disappoint Diego, it has been a while since we’ve seen each other. Things have changed.”

Diego huffed a laugh in response, “Sure man,” he casually muttered as he walked out of the room, “Hey, I think Luther wanted to call together a group meeting to discuss dad’s funeral. Come down soon okay?”

Klaus took a vivid satisfaction with Ben’s shouted “Asshole!” To Diego’s retreating back whilst he left the room.

 

They all sat in the lounge area, Klaus’ fingers twitching at the sight of all the bottles neatly lined up behind the bar. Ben sat next to him, distracting him with kind conversation as they mindlessly chatted, waiting for everyone to gather. Their conversation was broken rather abruptly by Allison.

“Who are you talking to?” She asked gently, shuffling closer to him on one of the sofas. She looked to the side of him as though she would be able to see what Klaus does by sheer force of will.

“Oh, I’m just chatting to Ben.” Klaus said casually, “He thinks we should dump dad’s ashes down the shitter,” he laughed for a moment before realising how the room had gone cold. Everyone was looking at him with either anger or worry.

“Klaus,” Allison spoke softly, the calm in her voice tinged with a hint of concern, “Ben isn’t here. He hasn’t been for a long time.” She spoke slowly and carefully, as though not to spook a frightened animal.

Klaus frowned. Did they just forget he could talk to spirits? “Uh, yeah he is. He’s right there.” Everyone continued to look at him, “Did you all seriously forget that I can talk to the dead?”

“We’re not doubting your powers,” Allison started gently, but was cut off by Luther.

“What Allison means to say is, we know you can’t talk to ghosts when you’re high.” He had his arms crossed and was standing in his ‘I’m-the-eldest’ stance. Klaus found himself largely unimpressed by it.

“But I’m not high!” Klaus exclaims, “Why won’t anyone believe I’m sober?” He knows it sounds like he’s whining, but he figures that if his siblings are acting like dicks then he is allowed to damn well whine about it.

“Because we know you Klaus,” Allison sighs.

“Guys, lay off,” Diego cuts in, and for a moment Klaus thinks he may hug him until, “Maybe Klaus really does thinks he’s talking to Ben.” Diego's voice is laced with pity as he looked at him with sad eyes. Gods, how can defence possibly be so patronising?

Klaus gapes. He turns to look at Ben and sees him clenching his fists on his knees next to him. For a moment he wonders if he should just manifest Ben and prove them all wrong, but as though knowing what he’s thinking, Ben looks over to him and shakes his head with a frown.

“Why not?” Klaus hisses, and he can feel the gazes of the rest of the room.

The look Ben gives Klaus is both angry and heartbroken, “Because I shouldn't be the reason they believe you.”

“Klaus,” Luther cuts in, and his voice is clipped, “If you truly believe you can conjure ghosts, then it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to talk to dad.”

He is about to reply when everyone sweeps into the conversation. Suddenly it becomes a muddle of annoyance, grudges and even fucking murder accusations. At that point Klaus leaves.

 

Later, he is standing in front of his father’s urn, trying to mentally prepare himself. Ben is sitting on the bar-top, swinging his legs.

“You know you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to,” he gently pressed. Klaus knows that Ben thinks this is a bad idea, that seeing the man who sent him spiralling the first time was potentially damaging.

“Yeah, well, didn’t have much else planned for this evening. I figured, why not talk to our dead dad?” he joked with a hysteric laugh, flexing his hands in a showman like manner. With a wave of his hand, the urn lifted into the air and floated over to him.

Ben staged a little applause from where he sat, and Klaus laughed as he bowed. “You’re getting better at that,” Ben praised, and Klaus lit up. He held it out with both of his hands, and took a deep breath.

It would probably take a while to conjure good old Reggie Hargreeves. When Klaus had first tried to conjure a ghost which wasn’t Ben, to actively call one forth, it had taken three days. So, Klaus let out his breath in a steady whoosh and prepared for the hours it could take for this to actually-

“Number Four.”

Oh. That was easier than expected.

Ben laughed at his shocked expression and Reginald’s head whipped round. “Number Six... You’re here.”

Ben raised his hand in greeting, “Hey Reginald.” If the lack of affection in his tone affected Reginald, he didn’t show it.

He turned back to Klaus to take in his stunned expression, not having mentally prepared himself for this encounter quite so soon. “Number four, I am impressed.” Years ago, those words would have filled Klaus with joy, but now it only filled him with cold resentment.

“Luther wants to know how you died,” Klaus bit through his teeth. He had forgotten how much he hated the old man. Under the haze of drugs, his anger towards him had previously been numbed and muted. Now it swelled and rushed forth as though a dam had broken, a cold heat under his flesh he found difficult to place.

“Ah, does Number One suspect foul play?” Reginald looked highly amused by this notion.

“He accused all of us of killing you,” Klaus ground out, tone clipped. 

Reginald snorted derisively at that, “As though any of you would be able to kill me,” he scoffed. Klaus rolled his eyes, and saw Ben do the same behind where Reginald stood.

“So, how did you kick the bucket old man?” Klaus said with a falsely loud bravado. Flamboyant, yet straight to the point.

He took satisfaction from the way Reginald grimaced at that. “Some things may be best left for later Number Four. Truly, I did not expect you to be able to conjure me so soon. You never excelled in any of your training as a child, after all. Perhaps my death managed to give you the push you’ve needed all this time.”

Klaus felt the last remnants of restraint he held over his temper suddenly snap at Reginalds condescending tone. He took a couple aggressive steps forward and jammed a finger right into Reginald’s stunned face. “You had nothing to do with my powers. I improved myself." He sneered, tone full of righteous self-vindication, "If anyone – anyone at all, can say that they have anything to do with that, it’s Ben.”

Reginald turned his unimpressed stare to where Ben sat tensely at the table, looking ready for a fight. “Ahh, Ben,” he used his name only mockingly, “A faithful companion, I’m sure.” He turned back and looked Klaus dead in the eye as he considered his next targeted words. “Shame you never cared about him enough to get sober, isn’t it.”

Klaus closed the gap and promptly punched Reginald right in his dumb fucking face.

Reginald stumbled back a moment, almost falling from the shock. His head cracked up and he gaped at Klaus with wide eyes. He raised a shaking hand to his cheek, and distantly noted the sound of Ben’s astounded cackles in the background. Klaus was breathing harshly, a cruel ejection of air to a dragged on inhale. His eyes burned with rage amongst their blue tinged glow. His arms bore a dim blue flame, much less power required than when he had first attempted to physically manifest beings.

“No – impossible!” Reginald sputtered incredulously.

“If you ever so much as dare imply that I don’t care about Ben again, I swear to you I will do much, much worse.” His warning was spat out and layered with a pure anger Reginald had never before witnessed from his adopted son. No, not his son, his test subject.

“I always knew you had potential. You were always my greatest disappointment. I don’t understand what changed.” Reginald snarled with a detesting tone.

“Of course you don’t,” Klaus raged, hissing the words low and angry, “You don’t understand love, you don’t understand affection or care. Of course you wouldn’t understand why I wanted to make myself better.” He paused, taking some deep, steadying breaths before standing tall and proud. “I wanted to get better because I finally realised I had a reason to get better.” He looked towards Ben, who grinned at him and nodded proudly, “In short, dad, I got better because I got away from you.”

“Number Four, I will not allow you to talk to me in such a way!” Reginald thundered, somehow managing to turn a rather uncouth shade of red.

Klaus stepped backwards a few paces, keeping eye-contact and holding the urn out at arm’s length, mirroring his stance at the beginning of this session.

“Oh, go to Hell dad.”

Klaus looked Sir Reginald Hargreeves dead in the eyes, and promptly dropped the urn to the floor with a clatter. The ashes spilled across the stone ground as Klaus looked on, uncaring.

The last thing Reginald saw before he was ejected back into the aether was Klaus’ cold slate eyes watching him fade impassibly.  There was nothing he could do to halt his dismissal.

There was a moment of silence in the room, before Klaus looked at Ben and shakily smiled, a tiredness settling behind his gaze. Finally, he dramatically lent forward and stage whispered to him, “Mic-drop.”

He winked. Ben promptly stood from the bar, chuckling, and strode over to Klaus. Klaus’ palms flared, an automatic response to the arms wrapping around him. Ben pulled Klaus to his chest and they both laughed, anchoring each other down, out of breath and slightly delirious. Ben pulled back and his eyes seemed wet, a few lasting giggles clinging to his lips, his eyes crinkling with mirth.

“Did you see the look on his face!” Ben gasped out, slipping back into his incorporeal form.

“Amazing, right? I really thought for a moment that he – wait... What the hell was that?” There was a loud storm sounding outside, sudden and unexpected. They heard their sibling’s yelling and looked towards each other, nodding once and sprinting towards the door, leaving the ashes scattered in their wake.

Feet pounded as they rushed down the halls, and as they stumbled past another corner Klaus suddenly staggered to a stop, “Wait, wait, wait, Ben - I’ve got to get something!” Ben turned to see Klaus motioning with his hand, stumbling from the impact as a fire extinguisher flew off the wall and into his arms.

“What the hell is that meant to do?” Ben exclaimed.

Klaus shrugged as he began running again, “Better than nothing!” He called over his shoulder as he passed.

They reached outside only to see a vortex open in midair. There is a swirl of blues, melding and blending. Their siblings are crowded round. Klaus rushes through and on impulse chucks the fire extinguisher through where it... immediately gets sucked into the void. Fuck.

“What the hell was that meant to do?” Someone yells, and honestly, Klaus doesn’t see anyone else offering any better ideas. He honestly just feels so attacked right now!

Though he doesn't dwell on it for long, as all of a sudden, Five is falling through the portal, and reality starts to feel a little less real than it used to.

That’s the first day Klaus’ new, nice, normal life begins to go to shit.

Chapter Text

All of a sudden Five’s back, making Klaus resign himself to the fact that life has just become much more complicated. After a small speech on time travel, equations, and time shenanigans,  Klaus looked around at his siblings, deciding they were all taking this far too well.

When Five asked for a ‘Decent cup of coffee,’ Klaus responded as though this was his own personal calling. Telling them to wait, he ran upstairs and rummaged through his bags till he found some of the coffee supplies he had ‘borrowed’ from work. He came back down and set them out proudly.

“What type of coffee do you want, Five?” He asked pseudo cheerfully, as he began making an unnecessary amount of noise preparing the drink. Ben rolled his eyes at him fondly, knowing Klaus’ activity driven distraction tactics better than anyone.

“Just black, thanks.” Five turned to the rest of the group, who seemed to be taking his reappearance harder the longer they let it sink in. There was silence except Klaus humming something vaguely resembling a tune. “It seems that Klaus is the only one here who has managed to pick up certain crucial life skills,” Five finally deadpanned.

Klaus admittedly felt certain smugness at those words, managing to hide his smirk by turning fully to the task at hand.  It was just about enough to stop him calling out Five for his boring taste in drinks.

“That is hardly important right now!” Luther barked, “Five, why only now have you decided to come back?”

Five groaned dramatically, “I’ve already explained everything to you, genius,” he drawls derisively, “It isn’t my fault if in your simplicity you simply cannot understand it.” With that, he plucked the waiting cup from Klaus’ hand and strolled out of the room, leaving Luther with a wonderfully dumb look on his face.

Klaus laughed a little louder than he probably should before going to his room. He needed to see what was in the box nestled under his bed.

Unfortunately, on the way up the stairs Klaus managed to bump into Pogo. “Ah, Master Klaus,” the ageing monkey regarded him with suspicion evident in his beady gaze, “A rather ornate box containing invaluable items within it seems to have gone missing from Master Hargreeves’ office.” He fixed Klaus with a pointed stare. “You wouldn’t happen to know where it is – would you?”

Klaus nervously laughed, trying to control the way his eyes darted around the room. All he succeeded in doing was developing a rather unattractive and obvious facial twitch. He could see Ben laughing at his blatant guilt. “No, of course not Pogo! I’ll keep a lookout for you though, yeah? In case someone accidentally misplaced it somewhere or something.” He babbled, fingers fiddling with the hem of his skirt.

Pogo hummed, seemingly having his suspicions confirmed, “Well, rest assured that if the box did happen to find its way back into Master Hargreeves’ office, the issue would not be further pursued.” Pogo hinted monotonously, before he swiftly turned on his heel and shuffled away.  Klaus, in turn, hurried quicker up the stairs. Reaching his room, he wrenched open the door to find Grace standing there.

He regarded her with slight suspicion, wondering for a moment if Pogo had sent her to scavenge his room for the box. However, his thoughts were swayed upon seeing her gentle smile. A sudden rush of happiness came from seeing her after so long, and Klaus realised just how much he had missed his mum. He took a swift few steps towards her and encased her in his arms. She instantly wrapped her arms around him solidly, and Klaus melted into her.

Klaus realised in that moment that the last time he felt this safe – this content and happy and warm, was thirteen years earlier when he had last hugged his mum. Suddenly, he was fighting tears as he held her ever tighter.

“Klaus,” Grace began softly, and Klaus had to hold back a sob. He knew he was shaking slightly. “I noticed you were looking a little worn out earlier. I came to check on you.”

He finally, with a ridiculous amount of willpower, pulled back from her with a puzzled frown, “Mum, didn’t you hear the noise outside?”

Grace held the same smile she always did, but concern bled into her gaze. “What noise silly?” She asked with a cheerful tone, “Is everything okay?”

Klaus stared, stunned at her words. A dark worry began bleeding into his body and clouding his mind, whispering that there was something wrong. “Mum,” he began hesitantly, unsure how to break the news to her, “Five came home.”

“Oh,” Grace’s smile widened, and she looked truly joyful, “It has been so long since he’s been back, hasn’t it? Maybe I should make some cookies.”

She turned to leave, but Klaus’ voice called her back. “Wait.” She turned with a smile in the doorway. “Are you okay?” Klaus asked, wary of the answer.

“Of course I am,” Grace replied, “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Klaus decided that he would ask Pogo to have a look at Grace’s settings later. He doubted he would get any useful answers from the woman herself.

However, despite Grace seeming slightly... lost today, she was still his mother. He wanted to share something with her.

“Hey Ma. Is... would it be okay if we talked? But you can’t tell the others!” His words were reminiscent of his rushed childhood confessions. Whispering to Grace that he had gotten mud on his trousers again, revealing to her that he was the one who had stolen Allison’s nail varnish, telling her he was gay. Every secret he told, she had pulled him close and told him that everything would be okay. Right now he needed to hear that everything would be okay.

Grace came over and carefully sat next to Klaus on the bed, angled towards him. Klaus took a breath as he started again. He knew logically that Grace was different from his siblings, but after the day he’s had he’s not sure how he would cope without her support. “I – I’m a year clean mum.”

There was silence for a moment and Klaus barely dared to look towards her, fearful of her reaction. Then, “Klaus,” she breathed, and at that moment the emotion in Grace’s voice betrayed her automated function, “I am so, so proud of you.”

He looked towards her, and her ever present smile seemed a little larger, her eyes calmer and holding a hidden relief. For a moment, Klaus wondered that if she were human, he might find tears resting on her alabaster cheeks. He finally let go of his wavering emotional control, and clamping a hand tightly over his mouth, began to cry.

Grace quickly kneeled in front of him, gently taking his hand away from his face to nestle it between her palms. She reverently brushed his tears away, and when he leaned forward into her arms she gently rocked them on the floor. No words were spoken. Grace had never been programmed to provide verbal comfort. The physical comfort she offered was due to her evolution, finding loopholes past traits of her code over time. No matter how much she evolved, however, she was not able to bypass her facial programming, locking her face into its permanent smile.

But none of her programming limits, including her permanently frozen smile, mattered to Klaus. He loved his mum just the way she was. Klaus finally managed to calm slightly, and gasped out, “You believe me?”

Grace pulled back to look him in the eyes, “Of course I do, darling.”

“Even... Even if I didn’t have any proof. Even though I’ve shown you nothing to convince you, you still believe me?” Klaus looked at her with wonder. This wasn’t just about belief, it was about trust. As he tried to control his breathing, he realised, throughout this entire experience, Grace was the first person to trust him. Absent from his recovery, but to truly believe in it, from trust of his word alone.

“Klaus, sweetheart,” Grace trickled her hand through his hair comfortingly, teasing out the knots. “Your word is all the proof I need.” He smiled at her, the smile wavering, yet more genuine than since he had arrived at the mansion. A weight lifted from his soul and he felt light, almost as though he could float. “I always knew you could fight it.” Grace guided Klaus' hand away from where it had been rubbing at his eyes, and kissed the mess of tears and eyeliner which rested there. “It’s going to be okay,” and there it was, “You were always meant for great things, my son.”

They shared a smile, and a moment of silence. Klaus looked over at Ben and saw him nod. “Mum, Ben’s here. Would you like to talk to him?”

If Klaus didn’t know any better, he thought he might have seen a flicker of distraught amazement on Graces face, though he knew he was likely projecting. “He is? Where is he? It’s been so long since he’s been home. That mission he’s been on... he’s been gone an awfully long time.” She looked toward Klaus, and despite searching, he saw no remnants of the emotion he thought he had seen, “It must have been an awfully hard mission.”

Something in Klaus froze at that. “Did... did dad never tell you what happened to Ben?” He stuttered. Reginald must have, right? At least someone must have. Grace may not be human but she was still a person, and Ben was still her son. She must have known. He had a statue, a grave.

But... Grace had never been allowed outside the house before. She must be able to see the statue through the window, but did she understand its function or purpose? Could she read the delicate scripture at the base?

Had... had she ever been told about Five? Or just left to endlessly wonder why her children weren’t coming home?

“No, what happened to him?” Grace asked innocently, horrifying Klaus by confirming his suspicions, “You all used to cry so much about him being gone. It was almost as though he wasn’t coming back.” Klaus stared at her incredulously; realisation dawning that no one had bothered to inform Grace of that horrendous day. “Darling, where is Ben?” There seemed to be something desperate in her tone, but again, Klaus couldn’t be sure.

Ben stepped forwards, and as he began to kneel down beside her, Klaus let his fists begin to glow.

“I’m here, mum,” Ben said shakily, and Grace’s head turned towards him. They held eye contact for a few seconds, drinking in each other’s visage, before Grace reached out her arms and cupped his face as she did Klaus'. Her fingers ghosted against his skin as though encasing a precious and delicate relic.

“Ben,” she gently traced lines down his cheeks, “What a beautiful man you have grown into.”

At that, Ben’s hands shook as he gripped onto his mother for the first time since he was a child, and buried his head into the crook of her neck. Grace reached out and gently guided Klaus to join the embrace.

This moment in the room was a drop of light in their new and confusing world, their little bubble of perfection. Their small unit of family, together and contented with merely holding each other, an anchor in a storm meant to set them adrift. However, moments like this rarely lasted, and like most perfect moments in Klaus’ life, this one was quickly broken.

Luther’s stomping footsteps ascended the stairs, quickly followed by his deep brazen voice thundering upwards, bellowing Klaus’ name.

Oh shit. Luther must have found the shattered urn! Despite knowing that Luther could very well have plans to murder him, Klaus couldn’t help but let a grin form at imagining the shade of red he must currently be. He looked over to see Ben pulling the exact same expression, and locking eyes, they both simultaneously burst into inappropriate laughter.

“You are so fucked!” Ben spluttered between shaking cackles.

“I know right?” Klaus managed to gasp back. Grace gave them both a fond but vaguely concerned look.

Soon, Luther’s furious shouts were far closer, and Klaus hastily scrambled to the door, knowing that going to Luther gave him the best chance of not being murdered on the spot. As he reached the doorway, he quickly wheeled round.

“You coming Ben?” He hurriedly asked, but as soon as he saw Ben’s hand gently clasped within Grace’s, he didn’t need the negative shake of Ben’s head to know he wasn’t following.

Nodding, he changed course and stumbled over to his cupboard, rummaging for some gloves to cover his glowing hands, wrenching them on before racing down the hall. He immediately managed to run straight into Luther, the impact sending him falling on his arse. Not a moment later, Luther hauled him up by the front of his shirt, gripping his shoulders and manhandling Klaus down the stairs. Diego saw them halfway down, and jogged to catch up and keep pace with the two.

“Luther, what the Hell are you doing?” He snapped as they entered the bar area. “You can’t just – oh.” He trailed off as he saw the smudged pile of ashes on the floor next to the scattered remnants of the urn. Diego looked between Luther’s livid expression, and Klaus’ attempts to hide his amusement, and started laughing.

Luther rounded on him instantly and shoved him back, “If you find this so funny, you can help Klaus clean every damn bit up! I want to see that urn either fixed, or a replacement found. There had better not a speck of ash left on the floor when I get back!” He began to stomp away, before stopping short and turning. “Actually, I’m not sure I trust either of you. Where’s mum?”

Klaus panicked, not wanting Luther to split up Ben and Grace so soon after they’d been reunited. “Wait, come on man! I can clean it.” Luther leered at him; equal parts distaste and distrust marring his expression into an ugly grimace. “What could I even do to make it worse?” Klaus whined.

Luther considered this a moment, and despite taking time to think, came up with an answer which completely disregarded any logic. “You could like... snort it. Or something.”

Seeing both Klaus and Diego desperately fighting down treacherous giggles at the ridiculous answer, he huffed before storming out. Klaus figured that at least he had stopped Luther from disturbing Grace for now. Though Klaus didn’t doubt that the ashes would need to be cleaned up thoroughly and quickly, otherwise there was a high chance Luther would come back and decide their progress wasn’t good enough.

Klaus looked towards the scattered remains of his father and sighed. “You know, you really don’t need to stay and help. I’ll clean it up.”

Diego punched Klaus in the shoulder in a way that was probably meant to be friendly, but left Klaus hissing and massaging a forming bruise. “Nah, I’ll stay. I would have offered to help anyway.” He walked over to the doorway of the kitchen, throwing over his shoulder, “Take it as a ‘thank you’ for the laugh. Any enemy of Luther is an ally of mine!”

Klaus watched him leaving with puzzlement, “Where are you going? I thought you were helping.”

“I’m getting a dustpan and brush,” Diego called from the other room. He reappeared in the doorway, brandishing the items as though they were his knives. His expression was grim, as though preparing for a long battle ahead.

Klaus chuckled at the absurdly exaggerated resignation in Diego’s gaze. “Diego, we really don’t need those. I can clean it myself. It’s no problem.”

“Klaus, cleaning these ashes up is going to be a very long, very annoying task. Don’t downplay it. You’ll need my help.” Gods, the way Diego described what was essentially a really weird household chore; you’d think he was talking about the apocalypse or something!

Klaus finally sighed and decided to act. “No, Diego,” he stressed, “I literally mean it’s no problem.” With a wave of his gloved hand, the scattered ashes drifted up, swirling and congregating together in a mass of grey mist and blue light. The urn pieces floated to join the dancing ashes, pieces slotting neatly together. The ashes swirled and looped back into a pile on the bar top. The urn lazily drifted over to Klaus, where it nestled itself into his arms like a baby, his powers keeping it from falling apart at the moment of contact. “We just need some strong glue. I don’t really want to spend the entire evening having to hold this thing together.”

He tuned to Diego, who had frozen the moment the ashes began to move, and was greeted with a truly beautiful sight.

Diego was stock still, his mouth hanging open by a few inches. His eyes seemed impossibly wide and small high pitched noises, reminiscent of a startled kitten, were escaping his parted lips. He was still brandishing Grace's dustpan and brush, though he seemed to have forgotten they were there.

Finally, his eyes stopped spasming between the urn, the bar top, and Klaus. He dropped the items with a clatter, pointing at Klaus as though that very action said everything his failed words couldn’t.

After what must have been minutes of Diego’s illiterate sputtering, and Klaus’ progressively raising eyebrow, Klaus decided he would have to find the glue himself, as Diego was obviously broken. Just as he was passing Diego to get to the kitchen, Diego's hand flew out and grasped his arm, jolting him back.

“Wait, man,” Diego regarded him with awe, “You really weren’t bullshitting earlier?” Klaus shook his head at him sadly, before gently pulling away from the grip and heading into the kitchen. Diego, finally snapped out of his trance, followed like a stray puppy. “Wait, Klaus! Are we really not going to talk about this?” He asked incredulously.

At that, Klaus stopped his rummaging in the cupboards and whirled on Diego, surprised at his sudden spike of hurt. “If you even think for a moment that I owe you any explanations Diego, I’m afraid you’re sorely mistaken,” he spat, turning back and finally finding the glue, before stomping over to the bar top to begin reassembling the urn.

There was a shocked silence for a moment, before Klaus felt Diego come to hover next to him. Eventually, he pressed their sides together as they stood side by side, a rare breach of personal space. They both stood, pretending to not notice that Klaus’ hand had frozen in his task, leaving them both in a state of stasis. Diego let out a strained and unhappy sigh.

“Klaus, I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do to make this better?” He tested, searching for Klaus’ gaze and finding it carefully elusive.

“I don’t know,” Klaus whispered, hands beginning to shake. “You really hurt me Diego. You know that, right?” After a moment’s hesitation, Klaus finally met Diego’s gaze, letting him see the tired pain nestled there.

There really wasn’t much Diego  could say to that. He gently took the urn and glue from Klaus’ hands and began systematically tracing glue into the lines of the pottery. “You do know I didn’t mean to hurt you, right Klaus?”

“I know,” Klaus offered a smile, though it was weak, “But that doesn’t make it much better.”

“You’re right. It doesn’t.” The words were stiff and forced, but no less genuine. There was an obvious awkwardness in Diego's movements, displaying his discomfort with Klaus' freely portrayed emotions. He finished lining the urn, the glue spilling out in ugly rivets over the cracks. Klaus winced. Diego had never exactly been the most delicate in the family, and it showed in the haphazard way he had patched the urn together. However, he had managed to fill every crack, so whilst not pretty, it was functional.

“Thank you,” Klaus said, gesturing to the urn.

“No problem.” There is a heavy silence as they waited for the glue to dry, staring together at their fathers urn, then – “I looked for you.”

“What?” Klaus frowned at Diego, who was now avoiding his gaze.

“It was when I had just become a cop. I wanted to find you, make sure you were okay. I didn’t just check up on reports, like I said earlier. I spent the first couple months looking, and when I couldn’t find you, well, for a moment I thought maybe...” He sucked in a sudden breath, his form shuddering for a moment before forcibly smoothing out, “I thought maybe you weren’t out there to find.” He met Klaus’ gaze, “Then one day, one of my work colleagues bought you up. At least, I was sure it must have been you. I... I’d told her about you, before, and I think she knew, or suspected, or something, because she just bought it up one day and,” he pushed himself away from the bar suddenly, dragging a hand roughly through his hair, “Fuck, I was so grateful.”

Klaus watched with wide eyes, before hesitantly moving forwards to place a hand on Diego’s arm, grounding him. Diego offered a smile in return, and surprising Klaus, linked their hands together in a firm grasp. “She sounds like a really nice person,” Klaus offered.

Diego chuckled, “Yeah, she is that.” There was something in Diego’s gaze that Klaus had never seen before, but he decided he liked it there. Suddenly, Diego's voice smoothed, loosing the awkward, jolting tone. Klaus' didn't think he had ever seen Diego speak so relaxed or freely. “After that, I swear she must have asked around about you, because every few weeks there would be days when she would sit across from me, offer me a coffee, and tell me a new crazy story about a mysterious yet charming guy who just kept getting into trouble. Said the guy reminded her of me in that respect. The stories came from everywhere, and often from completely different people. A few times the tales came from entirely different departments, some even a couple cities away. I don’t know how she did it, or how she knew, but whenever it had been a while since one of her stories, and I was getting anxious and lashing out more, I was so grateful and relieved when she would take a seat across from me and hand me a coffee.” Klaus looked on with wonder as Diego grinned at him with true happiness, “She never pushed me, never even asked me who you were. I’d never even told her that you were my brother. She’s good like that – kind like no one else I’ve ever met.”

Klaus grinned back at Diego, “I think I’d like to meet her – that is if she hasn’t arrested me at some point already.”

Diego laughed, “I think I would like that too.”

“I’m sorry for worrying you, Diego. I wasn’t in a good place back then. A part of me is glad you didn’t see me like that.” Before Diego could object, Klaus continued, “I did miss you though. I missed all of you, in a weird way. Even Luther!”

“You take that back!” Diego gasps with exaggerated horror, making Klaus laugh.

“No, seriously!” He insists, slapping Diego’s arm playfully, “And I would have come to find you when I got clean but I just...” Suddenly the mood dipped once more, “I didn’t think any of you cared about a worthless junkie anymore.”

“Klaus,” there was something commanding and absolutely broken in Diego’s tone, “You will never  and have never been a worthless junkie. You must believe that. You must believe that no matter what happens, I will always care about you.” Suddenly Diego looked incredibly uncomfortable, as though being snapped back to reality where he and emotions were mortal enemies, and he punched Klaus in the arm again, effectively destroying the moment as Klaus let out a undignified stream of yelps, followed by whining complaints, “So there, you big baby!”

Klaus grinned, “I think we have some catching up to do.”

Diego grinned back companionably, “Yeah, we probably do. For now though, I think we’ve dealt with enough big stuff. We can come back to it later.”

They finished patching the urn up together, and when done, Klaus’ wordlessly moved the ashes back into place.

When Luther returned, Diego and Klaus were sitting on the bar top together, laughing and swinging their legs, the complete and fixed urn sitting between them.

Too soon, though, Luther had claimed the urn from them and was calling everyone together to prepare for the funeral. Diego turned to him and promised that they would hang out again soon, before leaving to find an umbrella for the rain.

Klaus went to get his wonderful umbrella from his suitcase. The Queen herself owned one like this, which was admittedly a large portion of the reason Klaus bought it. But he reasoned if the umbrella was Queen approved then it must be fashionable!

The funeral was... to put it in one word: Awkward. 

Still the best funeral Klaus has ever been to, no doubt, but still. Damn.

Reginald's ashes didn't exactly do a good job scattering in the tone appropriate rain, then Diego and Luther got into an argument, their poor mother's first time outside wasn't exactly made into a pleasant experience (the looks she had gotten when asking why Ben wasn't there were... painful to say the least), and Ben's statue got destroyed.

Though, Klaus had struggled not to laugh himself when Ben cheered at his own beheading.

"They never did get my nose right," he reasoned to Klaus with a wink, causing Klaus to snort and Five to shoot him an odd look. 

Finally, after a good series of yelling and fist fighting (where Klaus cheered a little for Diego if he were being honest), Luther's coat got snagged and he rushed inside. Klaus frowned in confusion. He knew something had happened a few years ago to Luther - an experiment gone wrong, or an experimental procedure after a failed mission, or something along those lines. Honestly, it wasn't exactly subtle. It was almost made more painful by Luther's delusional belief that the trench coat actually fixed anything, but he wasn't expecting to glimpse quite so much... arm hair. Very long arm hair. Only now he started to wonder what Luther actually looked like under all his layers, and felt a pang of sympathy if it was bad enough that Luther felt the need to hide it even from his siblings.

People went inside quickly after that, and saying some final words to his dear old dad, Klaus did too.

By the time he got inside, Diego and Five had already gone their separate ways from the mansion, and despite the funeral technically being over, he felt a sudden inexplicable pang of hurt as he considered that they may not come back.

Klaus shoved the feeling forcibly away as he stalked up to his room, where groaning, he immediately slammed the door before flopping face first onto his bed.

He breathed deeply for a few moments, finally being able to appreciate a few moments of piece and quiet.

He couldn't waste this time though. This could be his only chance in a while to get some privacy in this constantly bustling mansion. His arm flung lazily over the side of the mattress, where it fumbled under the bed, coming in abrupt contact with the box. He pulled it out, and watched with unsated curiosity as it seemed to glint in trepidation, before taking a deep breath, and wrenching it open.

He hastily puts aside the bundle of papers scattered within, until nothing but one item is left inside the golden case.

In a fierce red that screams a warning, the book sits smug and proud in its intricate prison. The gold emblazoned letters RH glare out from the cover mockingly, settling perplexion within Klaus' bones from sight alone. Fingers shaking with anticipation, Ben leaning eagerly over his shoulder, Klaus opened the cover, flicking past The Umbrella Academy logo.

After a few moments of reading, Klaus froze. He suddenly felt the space Ben occupies at his shoulder get drastically cold.

Reflected back at them are the endlessly damning words of someone who shouldn't even have a book in the first place:

‘Number Seven.’