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all the glamour & the trauma

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1. Admitting powerlessness over the addiction

 

Klaus realizes that maybe things have gotten A Little Bit out of control when he snorts a line of coke off the lid of a dumpster in the middle of the day. We’re talking like two in the afternoon, here.

It’s not the lid, really, ‘cause it’s not closed. It’s like... the side? The rail? He doesn’t know what to call it — the edge of the dumpster, because it’s thick enough to scrape some coke into a line on top of it, and the crackhead who sold it to him refused to get out of the dumpster he was chilling in because that’s just how crackheads are. Klaus didn’t bother arguing with him, because he just paid good money and he didn’t want it to go to waste because he annoyed his dealer or something.

So he snorts a line of coke off the edge of a dumpster at two in the afternoon, on a Tuesday. Or a Monday. Sometime early in the week. Not a Saturday or anything, when most young adults are looking to get fucked up. He rolls up a one dollar bill, and snorts a line of coke with it.

Is it his best moment? No. But he was desperate — he’d ran out of pills the day before, and his weed dealer got busted last week and hasn’t made bail yet. Klaus was tempted to go down to the station and do it himself, only he didn’t have the money and the people at the station knew him a little too well already. It’d be shady, and probably wouldn’t work. But he had thought about it.

Ben had said: “Seriously? You want weed that bad?”

And Klaus had said: “Not weed, necessarily. Sometimes he sells acid, too.”

At the end of the day, Klaus hadn’t bailed the guy out because he knew he’d make bail eventually. Instead, he’d rationed out the rest of his pills over the next four days, and wound up here, doing a line of coke on a dumpster two blocks away from the police station, because he was desperate and on his way here he had to sneak around the ghost of a car crash victim with half their face bashed in, asking him if he knew who hit them so they could go haunt their sorry ass. He said no, sorry, he didn’t know because he hadn’t been around for the whole thing, and the ghost had gotten pissed off and said well why don’t you go find out? like Klaus didn’t have a life and plans for the day or anything.

One thing he hates about the dead is that they’re so selfish; they’re so entitled — to his time, or his space, or his general well-being. Like they’re the only things in the world that should matter to him. Which is pretty fucking rude, even by Living People Standards. And they used to be living, so there’s really no excuse for them to be acting like that, unless they’re just assholes. Which they are.

There’ve been a few who have asked him for shit nicely. Once, he tracked down this dead little girl’s doll that her parents had given to a thrift store years after the fact, and brought it to her grave for her. She had wandered all the way into town from the countryside, and she’d called him sir and asked if he knew where she could find it, and he would’ve felt like a dick if he had just let her wander around forever. It had taken him three days to track it down, but it had been worth it to see the look on her pale, sickly little face when he did. He must’ve been eleven, or maybe twelve, when that happens. Before the mausoleum.

He thinks that if more ghosts behaved like that, maybe he’d be more inclined to listen to them every one in a while.

But they don’t, so he’s here, in the alley, living out that before-mentioned low moment in his life.

He’s had more than a few of those before now — the time he stole one of Diego’s fancier knives and pawned it for some even fancier vodka; the time he saw Ben’s ghost for the first time and the two of them just cried for like an hour, together but also incredibly alone because they couldn’t even touch each other; the few times he’s gotten on his knees for a hit or two because his broke ass didn’t have shit else to pay with.

Yeah, he’s had a few. But none of them have really hit like this one suddenly does, right now. He’d been vaguely high or in the early stages of withdrawal for most of them; his awareness of just how low he had sank was pretty much gone after he got what he was after and floated blissfully back into the sky again. Coke takes like ten minutes to hit all the way when you snort it, and in those ten minutes, he sits against the wall and really thinks about it for a moment.

He’s put worse shit in his body, but has he ever done a line of anything in a nastier place than he just did? He doesn’t know.

The first step to recovery is acceptance, he remembers hearing at rehab a couple times. He remembers thinking, the first few times he wound up there: I’m not like these other people; I don’t do this for the fuck of it, I do it ‘cause I need to. They don’t need to like I do.

And damn, he thinks, that was kind of a dick thing to think. At least he hadn’t said it in group therapy or some shit. He might’ve gotten punched.

He wonders if he still feels that way now. Thinks for a moment, decides that maybe he doesn’t. He stills needs it — he still can’t sleep in the dark and still hates seeing the inside of people’s skulls and shit and hates the way they always know his name. He still wants to forget, and be numb, and be happy. But, he wonders, if he didn’t need it, would he still want it?

He doesn’t know. He thinks that maybe he would. It makes him feel good. It makes him feel better, more human, less fucked up, even when he’s in the clouds, stupendously fucked up, but in the good way.

“Shit,” he says — to Ben, because he notices that Ben has now showed up for whatever reason, “Maybe I do have a drug problem.”

Ben blinks at him. “No shit.”

Then Klaus laughs, because Ben never would’ve been that damn blunt before he died and it’s two pm in the afternoon and he has a drug problem, because dear old daddy fucked him up and also because he’s probably a certified drug addict. He probably has been for a while now. It’s funny, so he laughs, and Ben rolls his eyes and settles down next to him, because he’s a good brother and they’ve done this a lot together, over the last few years.

“Sorry,” He says, the word just slipping out. He doesn’t know who he’s taking to; if it’s Ben or if it’s the crackhead in the dumpster or if it’s himself.

“It’s okay,” Ben says, or maybe he doesn’t, but Klaus can’t tell because the coke hits hard and he slumps back against the hard stone wall, and forgets all about his brand new drug problem.

 

 

2. Believing that a higher power (in whatever form) can help

 

Jail is a pretty solid way to get sober.

Klaus learns this the hard way, when the police raid a party that he’s at and he gets busted for possession and they slap him with Intent To Sell, too, even though god knows he’d never buy shit to just give it away. No one comes to bail him out, because he doesn’t call anyone, because he hasn’t talked to any of his siblings other than Ben and maybe Diego in the last four years and he’s not too keen to start now. This is before Vanya’s fifteen minutes of fame; he’s been out of the house for what, maybe seven years now? Allison isn’t even married, yet, so no, he hasn’t seen any of them in years and no, he’s not gonna start now.  

He doesn’t know why, really, but he doesn’t want any of them to see him like this. It’s bad enough having Ben here to watch it all. He doesn’t want any of the rest of them to say I told you so, say that they expected it, look at him disappointed or disgusted or tell Dad. Of course, dad probably already knows, somehow, because he’s freaky like that, but it’s not like he’s gonna he the one to tell him: oh hey, dad! Remember me, your very favorite son? Well I’m in jail now, just like you told me I would be someday when you caught me with ecstasy in my room that one time! How about that?

Fuck no. He’d go to jail a billion times before he gave that fucker the satisfaction. Or maybe it would be better to rub it in his face that one of his little experiments is out there tarnishing his stupid, rich name. He’ll have to pick later, he decides, once he gets settled in.   

The first day, and he’s already starting to go through withdrawal. He meets his cellmate, a pretty solid looking guy with a sick dragon tattoo who eyes him but doesn’t say shit. If Klaus wasn’t starting to sweat, he’d try to make conversation. But he is, so he doesn’t. He’ll try later.

The first day, and he’s been listening to some old guy, a guard or an inmate or fucking something, following him around and yelling about some riot that must’ve happens years ago. Snapped his neck in the commotion, or something, like that’s Klaus’ problem. Old fucker won’t shut up; makes him wonder if someone didn’t snap his neck on purpose.

The first day, and there’s some fucker eyeing him up in the courtyard during whatever free hour thing they have (he didn’t listen to a goddamn thing the warden said earlier). He’s heard prison stories, obviously; he’s known a lotta people who’ve spent some quality time behind bars. He knows what he looks like, knows the kinda vibe he gives off, but he has no intention of becoming anyone’s bitch — especially on his first day. Maybe he’ll get with someone — for protection or something, or just because he wants to — but he’s not getting with this fucker.  

“Hey, sweet thing,” the ugly fucker says, sauntering up all big and posturing, with his big, posturing buddies behind him. “You’re new here, huh?”

“You just figure that out, or what?” He bites out; ugh, his fuckin hands are staring to shake.

The guy seems to notice. “You scared, baby? You don’t gotta be scared. I’m here to offer you a deal.”

Klaus barely keeps from rolling his eyes. Has this jackass watched too much TV, or is this really just how he talks? Klaus doesn’t know which one is funnier.

“I’m here to say fuck off,” he says. People are starting to watch, at this point, and Klaus can feel Ben hovering nervously behind him, hand resting over his shoulder like he could actually touch him if he tried. Careful, Ben’s ghosty hand says. Klaus has never been very good at being careful.

The guy raises his eyebrows, like no one’s ever spoken to him like that before. Then, he smiles. It’s an ugly thing, like a shark or something — except that Klaus kind of likes sharks, so maybe that’s offensive.

“You wanna do this the hard way, then?”

“I don’t wanna do this any kinda way,” Klaus says, and he leans back against the gate he was chilling near before these pricks showed up. He stares up at the man, stares like he used to stare at bank robbers or murderers, cause he knew it would freak them out with his mask on. “Fuck off.”

“The hard way, then, bitch.”

Klaus does his best to channel Diego, does his best to puff up like Luther, stand up like Allison.

“Listen,” He says, “There’s some old asshole yelling at me, I haven’t had a hit in two days and I’m fucking pissed about it, so if anyone tries to put their dick anywhere near my mouth, I will bite it off.”

Someone whistles; the ugly fucker bristles up, squares his shoulders. “You’re a ballsy little bitch,” he says.

“Try me,” Klaus says, and then someone blows their whistle and that’s the end of their outdoorsy free time shit.

The fucker does try him, a few days later. Gets him in the bathroom — he’s not naked, luckily, but he’s halfway there. Jumpsuit unzipped down to his waist, shoes off, and the ugly dick and his uglier buddies jump him, hands on his wrists, twisting in his hair, forcing him to the ground. The tile is cool and wet against his knees, and he can hear Ben yelling somewhere in the background — yelling like someone will hear him, and it kind of breaks Klaus’ heart.

The fucker unzips his jumpsuit, gets a hand in Klaus’ hair. Klaus sighs, because he really did warn him. He is, however, (sometimes) a man of his word. So he bites down, hard.

There’s blood all over the bathroom floor for hours.

Klaus is sat down and questioned and everything, like it was just as much his fault as the other guy that he was almost like, assaulted.

When the man asks him what exactly the fuck happened, Klaus says: “I told him if he put his dick near my face, I’d bite it off. He tried to stick it in my mouth, so I did what I said I’d do — I bit it off. I gave him a warning and everything. S’ not my fault he didn’t listen.”

“Crazy fucker,” the guard calls him, but he’s let off with a night in solitary while they ‘figure things out’ and a warning.

Needless to say, no one else sticks their dick anywhere near his face without his enthusiastic consent. He makes some buddies, has an illicit romantic affair with the guard who called him a crazy fucker, and is a free man once again eight months later.

He managed to get his hands on some weed, every so often. It wasn’t a super high security prison, but no one was willing to sneak in much harder shit than that. That didn’t mean he didn’t manage to convince a fella to get a hold of some pills once or twice, but Klaus went weeks at a time without a hit of coke, or heroin, or anything. It was horrible, especially since he would get a hit or two every few weeks and then he’d have to go through a bit of withdrawal again, which always sucked.

He remembered, from rehab, the higher power shit. He was pretty it was talking about god or something, considering AA and NA were Christian-y things, but he guessed the whole prison system could maybe be considered a higher power, too. Fucking wild, he thinks. Consider it believed in.

 

 

3. Deciding to turn control over to the higher power

 

The guard who called him a Crazy Fucker is actually pretty hot, Klaus realizes sometime in the next month. He patrols Klaus’ cellblock, and he’s there during their courtyard time, and sometimes Klaus catches him looking at him. Klaus looks him up and down, looks at the way his face is shaped all solid and rugged, and decides that he likes the way the guard looks at him.

He finds himself looking back.

It’s a difficult ordeal, he reasons, going through withdrawal in prison. He might as well find something to distract himself, other than doing laundry and playing poker with his cellmate, who always cheats.

So, he decides to distract himself. With a tall glass of Hot Prison Guard. It’s a bad idea, and probably illegal, but that’s his favorite kind.

“Hey, officer,” he starts one day, strolling up to rest against the wall in front of the handsome guard — Jefferson, he thinks his name is. If his first name is Thomas or something, Klaus will lose his shit.

“I’m not an officer,” the guard says, “I’m a guard.”

“Well that’s way more boring, but hello mister guard, sir. See anything interesting on your guard duty, today?”

“Only a bunch of inmates doing boring, inmate shit,” he says, but he sounds more amused than anything, “Some cuter than others.”

Klaus’ heart gets all fluttery, and that’s probably convening. He pushes it down. “You talkin’ about little old me, mister guard?”

“You’re a vain little thing, huh?”

Klaus snorts a laugh, “Only when I know someone’s into me.”

“You think I’m into you?” The guard asks; his voice is sharp, but there’s an interest there that Klaus latches onto.

“I’ve seen you looking at me, mister guard. You seem real into it to me. Pretty sure that’s illegal,” he says, lowering his voice, leaning in like he’s got a secret to tell, “But don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.”

The guard laughs, shakes his head like he can’t believe what he’s hearing. “You’re ballsy,” He says. “You should be careful with that; might get you killed in here.”

“Might save my life,” Klaus counters. “Might get someone into me.”

They end up making out in the laundry room two nights later; Klaus is on laundry duty and the guy that’s usually down there with him is in solitary for stabbing a guy in the hand with a fork in the cafeteria, so Jefferson slips down and locks the door and Klaus leaves the laundry for later. He’s pressed up against the dryer, still doing its job, and the vibrations make him feel warm and jittery. The guard kisses like he’s pent the fuck up, kisses like he wants to devour him, and Klaus loves it.

It’s thrilling. They make a habit of it, sneaking glancing and stealing kisses and fumbling into each other’s pants in the darkness of storage rooms. And it’s thrilling. Klaus calls it their illicit, romantic love affair, and Jefferson laughs and ruffles his hair and makes Klaus feel light and happy.

Ben doesn’t approve, says it’s dangerous and definitely illegal, but Ben hates fun, and he’s also dead, so Klaus generally ignores his comments.

Klaus thinks about the higher power thing again — god, or maybe the prison system, or maybe even Jefferson — and thinks that if this is what “turning over control to the higher power” feels like, than maybe he could be down for that.

Their romantic love affair lasts about five months, until they get caught, and the absolute asshole pins it all on Klaus. Says Klaus “seduced him”, says Klaus “blackmailed him into having sex”, says Klaus “said he would cry rape if he went to the warden”.

“You fucking prick,” Klaus says, disbelieving and fucking — heartbroken, or some shit. “You were the one who was looking at me, first.”

Jefferson ends up either getting fired or transferring prisons; Klaus doesn’t know, and he doesn’t care to find out. Klaus ends up being watched more closely, getting a week in solitary and another three weeks added to his sentence for whatever the fuck reason.

Klaus is pissed the fuck off for a while, ranting to Ben about how Ben was right and he should’ve listened, about how men really ain’t shit, huh, about how much of a coward that fucker was. Nobody questions him talking to what is essentially thin air to them; he’s sure everyone thinks he’s batshit, or at least a crackhead, but he’s well-earned the right to be left alone.

After he’s done being pissed, he’s just sad for another while. He laments to Ben, who listens, even if he huffs and rolls his eyes a lot, and says that if he could haunt the asshole he would, would knock over his shit and freak him out and all that. Klaus says thank you, that’s so nice, and talks his cellmate into smuggling in some more weed.

Fuck a higher power, he thinks, and especially fuck the prison system.

 



4. Taking a personal inventory

 

He hears the words personal inventory a few times in rehab, and once from Ben, who has also spent time with him in rehab, and wonders what the fuck that even means.

Like, know what you have? Take account of your possessions? Inventory sounds like something a scholar would say, or maybe something in a video game. Klaus doesn’t know. He just knows that his Personal Inventory probably goes something like this:

1. His brother’s ghost.

2. A god awful curse of a superpower and a debilitating substance abuse problem that stems from it.

3. A shit ton of pills in a little baggie in his back pocket (refer to number two) and a pack of cigarettes in the other

4. A lighter

5. A shitty dad and a crazy dysfunctional family (including a famous actress, a vigilante who couldn’t cut it at police school, a giant with a stick up his ass, and a talking monkey. oh, and a robot mom)

6. Uhhhhhhh, a favorite Waffle House?

7. A favorite rehab worker

That’s what, seven things? Seven things for seven fucked up siblings, he thinks, high out of his mind, and laughs.

 



5. Admitting to the higher power, oneself, and another person the wrongs done

 

Nobody in their family has ever been very good at like, admitting when they’re wrong. Maybe it’s because their dad never, on his old ass life, would ever admit that he did something wrong or made any kind of mistake, not even when one of his adopted children died because of his choices.

So when Pogo confronts him, however indirectly, the night after the funeral about stealing that fancy box (that he did, in fact, steal) he doesn’t admit that he did it, because why would he? As long as he gets the stupid important papers back, who cares if he took it? Of course, he never actually found the shit, but he looked for it. Besides, his dad was dead. What the hell was he gonna need his dumb box for, now that he was nothing but nasty ash?

When Dad yells at him about outing himself on TV, or about sneaking out to get his tattoos, or rolling blunts at the dinner table — maybe he says sorry, but he doesn’t really mean it. He didn’t do anything wrong; he wasn’t hurting anyone. His dad was just a hardass.

It’s not like he was the only one making mistakes he shouldn’t have the apologize for. Diego’s stutter wasn’t his fault, even if Dad and sometimes Luther acted like it was. Vanya’s lack of like, power, wasn’t her fault, no matter how they all treated her. Ben’s dislike of his crazy, monster tentacle power wasn’t his fault — Klaus thought it was very reasonable. Even Luther’s general stick-up-his-ass-ness was vaguely understandable, even if it was annoying as all hell.

When they were fourteen, Klaus got drunk as shit for the first time. When he somehow managed to stumble home, Luther had to carry him up the stairs and rush him to the bathroom before he threw up. He remembers begging Luther not to tell Dad — “he’s gonna kill me, Luther, c’mon, please, I didn’t mean to get this wasted, I was just - just messing around, please” — and the bastard had told him anyways.

Klaus held a grudge for that for at least the next month, and he made a solemn vow to never trust Luther with risky info again. Luther had refused to admit that he’d done anything wrong, that he’d betrayed Klaus’ trust and totally ratted him out; Luther was always like that, always all snitchy, about everything except whatever he and Allison got up to when they fucked off somewhere, which Klaus thought was super hypocritical of him.

Klaus refused to admit that he’d done anything wrong, either, because he didn’t. He was just trying to have some fun for once in his shitty life; it wasn’t his fault Luther wouldn’t know fun if it slapped him in the face. Sure, underage drinking was technically illegal, but he’d paid the bartender good money, and rules were made to be broken, anyways.

So he never told Luther anything risky/personal again, and Luther continued to be Luther until Ben died and everyone collectively decided to get the fuck out of their house.

Klaus had his one bag packed, all that he needed: clothes, money, a few of his dad’s valuables, some nail polish, some pills and some weed, with Ben in tow. He’d been behind Klaus leaving one hundred percent, which he was grateful for.

Luther had been standing down by the front door in the opening hall, like he was waiting for him. Maybe he was; Klaus didn’t know, and didn’t really care to ask.

“Where are you going?” Luther asked, in his bossy Luther-y voice.

Klaus had sighed, already exhausted. “I’m leaving,” he said, simple and to the point.

Luther had the gall to look shocked, like all of them weren’t going on their merry way one by one. “You’re leaving?”

“That’s what I said, yeah.”

“And where exactly are you planning to go?”

Klaus shrugged, “I don’t know. Anywhere but here.”

“What’s so bad about here? We grew up here; Dad gave us everything here.”

Klaus’ heart broke just a little, hearing Luther defend their shit father after everything, but it wasn’t his job to fix anymore. He didn’t think Luther would even let him try.

“Ben is dead,” Klaus says, even though Ben is standing right beside him, “Diego is gone, and I don’t wanna be here anymore. I don’t — I don’t get how the fuck you wanna be here anymore. Vanya fucked off to college as soon as she could. Allison has her bags packed.”

Luther’s face had been smooth as stone until he mentioned Allison. “What?”

“You didn’t know?” Klaus asked, actually surprised, “She got an audition, in Cali. If she gets the role, it’ll be a real big deal. She didn’t tell you?”

“No,” Luther said softly, hurt, disbelieving, “She didn’t.”

There was silence for a few long moments, the two at a standstill.

“I can’t be in this house anymore,” Klaus said finally; maybe, if it was any other day, any other time, he would’ve tried to make a joke, but he couldn’t think of a single funny thing to say. Ben was dead, and stuck with him, and their family was fractured. Maybe for the better. “I’m getting out. Allison is getting out. You should get out too, man.”

“The world needs us,” Luther said, quiet but firm in its stupid, stupidly loyal resolve. Klaus ached for him; he was exhausted by him.

“For what? What does it needs us for?” Luther opened his mouth, but Klaus cuts him off, shaking his head, “I haven’t even been on a mission in months. You don’t need me here.”

Luther’s expression darkened the way it did when he was about to be a dick. “I guess you’re right; your junkie habits make you pretty useless in the field.”

Klaus hardened, laughed, spat it back in Luther’s face so it didn’t sink under his skin, “Exactly! That’s what I’m saying. So just fuck off, and let me leave.”

“I’m surprised you’re actually using the door.”

Klaus rolled his eyes, fingers suddenly itching for a hit. “Yeah, well, I thought about climbing out a window or something, but maybe I wanted to say goodbye to my dear old brother of mine. Whatever. See you never, I guess.”

And he walked past him, head held high, ignoring whatever look Luther might’ve had on his face. He thought for a moment that maybe Luther was going to turn, say something else, but then Klaus heard Allison’s small murmur of “Luther?” on the stairs, and knew that his brother had already moved on.

He shut the door behind him, and didn’t give a shit.

He made it halfway down the block when Allison caught up with him.

“Klaus,” she had said, sounding vaguely out of breath, “Where’re you headed?”

He had blinked, shrugged, relaxed. “Nowhere in particular. I’m a free spirit now, sister. Why?”

Allison had smiled at him, like she used to when they would paint each other’s nails and talk about boys, and said, “You wanna catch a cab with me? I’m headed to California, but I can drop you off wherever.”

Klaus had felt his heart go all warm. Luther’s dismissal didn’t matter, suddenly, not when he had Allison giving even half of a shit about him.

“Sure,” He said, “As long as you’re paying.”

Allison had laughed, “Of course,” and they had flagged down a cab together, trying to see who could stick their thumb out further without losing it to a car speeding by. She had won.

He remembers settling in the back of the cab, propping his legs up to make room for Ben, and taking one last glance at that damn nightmare house they’d spent their lives in. He remembers wondering if Luther had been looking out at them, watching them leave. If Luther had been regretting his choice to stay, to not come with them, or if he’d still been annoyingly firm in his shitty decision.

It wasn’t his problem anymore, he told himself. He was getting out. Luther was an adult now — they all were — so he could make his own bad decisions and fuck up his own life just as much as the rest of them. That wasn’t Klaus’ fault, just like it wasn’t Allison’s or Diego’s or Vanya’s or Ben’s.

That wasn’t his wrongdoing. It was his dad’s and Luther’s, and no one else’s. Like, yeah, Klaus made plenty of his own mistakes, committed plenty of his own “wrongdoings”, like they said in rehab, but that was on him. Those were his bad, and he talks about those plenty in rehab — a “higher power”, oneself and another person, as they like to say.

Luther wasting his life on their shitty dad was not, and is not, his bad. So he doesn’t think about it, and moves on with his life.

 



6. Being ready to have the higher power correct any shortcomings in one’s character

 

“Shortcomings in my character,” Klaus says, pursing his lips. He crosses his legs, taps his foot against the ground. “Shortcomings in my character.”

“You’re a drug addict?” Ben offers next to him. There’s one less person than usual today — he thinks they might’ve snuck out the window last night — so Klaus snagged the chair for Ben. Everyone’s real nice about letting him clear space for his brother at this center, even if they don’t really get it.

“Yeah, but that’s everyone here. This is supposed to be, like, personal.”

Ben tilts his head in vague agreement.

“If Dad were here, he might say my love for men is a shortcoming.”

“Your sexuality is never a shortcoming,” one of the other patients says, a young-looking girl with a cool nose piercing. He forgot other people can hear him talking to Ben, like he does sometimes.

“Thanks,” He says, and he means it. The group leader looks vaguely uncomfortable, the way his siblings used to for a few weeks after he accidentally came out, like they weren’t sure how to act about it. “Right back at you, girl.”

She smiles, tucking her hair behind her ears. She has track marks all up the inside of her arm, and he does not look at them.

“Shortcomings in one’s character,” the group leader says, gently bringing the convo back to the group at large, “don’t have to be huge, identifying traits. They can be small, personal things. Mistakes you’ve made. Choices you regret. Things that shaped you, maybe for the worse.”

Klaus leans back in his chair, and thinks for a moment. Things that have shaped him for the worse.

“The mausoleum?” He asks, turning to Ben.

“I dunno, I don’t think that one was your bad.”

“Ghosts?”

“It’s not like I chose my power, either.”

“So what you’re saying is I’m perfect,” Klaus smiles.

Ben scoffs, rolls his eyes. “You’re definitely dramatic,” he says.

“Finally, something constructive.” He turns back to the group leader, “So I’m dramatic. I guess I hold stupid grudges, too, not even important ones. Also, I’m a drug addict.”

The group leader leans forwards a bit, “What does that mean to you?”

Klaus huffs a confused laugh, “Uh, that I’m addicted to drugs?”

The group leader seems to smile a little bit, despite himself. “Yeah, that’s the definition. But what does it mean? What shortcomings in one’s character come from addiction?”

“Dependency?” The girl with the nose ring offers.

“Makes you flighty.” Says a boy in a hoodie. “Makes you paranoid.”

“Makes you untrustworthy,” Ben says. And that stings, Klaus thinks, surprised. That does sting a bit. But he thinks for a moment. The things he’s snatched up, the places he’s slipped out of, the people he’s left behind.

“Untrustworthiness,” Klaus says, and the word stings his throat again as it comes out. “You can’t trust people, and people can’t trust you.”

The room is silent for a moment. He can feel Ben looking at him.

“You’re always looking for your next hit, right?” the girl with the piercing says, looking at him steady. “Everything else comes second to that. Even the people you love.”

Klaus thinks about the knife he swiped from Diego, the fancy silverware he took when he left home, the people he’s got on his knees for. Everything he kept on doing, even when Ben asked him not to — begged him not to, after the first time he accidentally OD’ed and woke up in an ambulance with Ben hovering over him like he was gonna shake apart.

Yeah, he supposes that’s a shortcoming. Even he can admit that much.

“Yeah,” he agrees. “Even the people you love. And it makes you feel like shit. At least until you need your next hit.”

The group leader is saying something else, but Klaus has zoned out by then, crossing his arms and settling further into his uncomfortable seat. His pants are too small; they don’t even brush his ankles.

He wishes that knowing his shortcomings, knowing what makes him bad, what makes him low, would mean that he would stop. He wishes he would stop — he wishes he could stop, that he didn’t have all these dead people yelling at him, all this baggage that drags him down when he’s not in the sky.

But he does, and so he won’t stop. He knows this in his bones. He thinks that Ben might know it too, and that just makes him feel worse.

 



7. Asking the higher power to remove those shortcomings

 

So God doesn’t love everyone, and she apparently doesn’t like him very much, either. He doesn’t think to ask her to remove his shortcomings, that time when he dies for a bit, and he doesn’t think that she would do it for him if he did.

He thinks that’s kind of funny, and then decides that he has more important things to worry about (read: saving their timeline and world from the apocalypse) than his own personal failings as a human, and he saves it for later.

 



8. Making a list of wrongs done to others and being willing to make amends for those wrongs

 

They’re supposed to write a list, on their own time, of either the wrongs they’ve done to other people or the people that they’ve done wrong to, whichever one is easier. Klaus rolls the pencil between his fingers, taps the eraser against his lip, tries to teach himself how to twirl it like a little baton, instead of thinking of who or what else to put on the list.

So far he’s got Denny’s I stole a syrup bottle from, with buy a new syrup bottle and return it as a possible solution.

My dead brother, is second. Can’t bring him back to life, so nothing to be done there.

Third on the list is, and okay, here’s a story, he tells the circle later that day, leaning forwards to really make it pop.

He met this guy when he was like, sixteen? Seventeen? It was before he moved out. The guy must’ve been like twenty two, twenty three, and he met him at this college party, and he seemed pretty cool, and he took Klaus back to his place - a cute, surprisingly homey little apartment for a twenty three year old - and they, y’know, got it on. It was real fun, real sexy, he was great in bed. He was cool, and handsome, and had money, so they started kind of maybe dating, he supposes. They didn’t put a label on it.

He was way nicer than anyone else he’d dated so far. He wasn’t a dealer, but he always had lotsa shit anyways, so they’d go to his apartment and shoot up and have fun and shit. He was real nice, always bought him food and didn’t care if Klaus talked to people he couldn’t see.

And see, one day Klaus is at the apartment, yeah? And this lady walks in, and it turns out she’s his wife! His wife! The asshole had been taking Klaus to his like, secret, on the side apartment — made him a home wrecker without him ever knowing it.

And he had kids, too! So he was definitely not twenty three, considering one of them was like eleven - which was pretty fucked up when Klaus thought about how that asshole was fucking around with someone barely five years older than his own kid.

“So you want to apologize to the family?” The group leader asks once he’s done with his story.

“Yeah,” Klaus nods, “I dunno why, but they were one of the first that popped into my head. I didn’t mean to like, wreck their marriage, and I feel bad about makin’ their kids grow up without a dad, on account of, y’know, me wrecking their parents’ marriage.”

The group leader nods thoughtfully. “Anyone else you can think of?”

Klaus bites his lip, breathes in deep. So many, he thinks, ignoring Ben standing behind him. So many. But he doesn’t think he’s ready to admit how many, so.

“No,” he lies, “Not right now.”

 



9. Contacting those who have been hurt, unless doing so would harm the person

 


“Hey, Vanya,” he says into the phone; nobody had picked up, so he’s leaving a voicemail, “I know we haven’t talked in like, a long ass time, but I thought — y’know. I, uh, I read your book. Big fan of the way you flamed the shit out of Dad. Didn’t love all stuff you wrote about Ben, thought it was kinda outta pocket, but that’s not - not actually why I’m calling.

I’m actually in rehab right now — I know, surprise, surprise, right? — and we’re doing that twelve step shit, right? And I made it further than I have before, setting new records and all that — I’m at step number nine,” he swallows, wonders if his sister is on the other end just listening to him ramble, “And — well, step number eight was writing this list of all the people you’ve hurt, either with the addiction, or I dunno, just as a person? And uh, you made the cut!” he huffs a laugh, “Step nine is um, contacting the people on the list to, y’know, apologize, unless it would hurt them. And I dunno, well I hope that this doesn’t hurt you. ‘Cause I…I liked you. As kids. Even though we didn’t do much together. I did like you.”

There’s a long pause here, where he breathes into the receiver, feeling like a dumbass, and sighs. “Sorry, that was - this was stupid, I’m sorry. I’m just — well, I don’t know how I coulda made it better, back then, but. I wish that I’d tried. I’m sorry. You’re doing really good with your violin stuff. I watched a video on YouTube the other day, of one of your performances — they let us use the internet a few hours a day, which is nice — and you were really good. Sorry. You can ignore this, if you want.”

 

Then later, when he’s worked up the courage.

“Hello Diego, crime-fighting brother of mine. I’m on step nine, so. Sorry I pawned one of your knives when we were sixteen. And sorry I asked you to pay bail a few years back. And sorry you got kicked out of the police academy, even though I didn’t do that.

Sorry I OD’ed last month, too, even though you don’t know about that — I was thinkin’ earlier, about what it would mean if I OD’ed like, for real, and I figured it’d be a dick move to make you lose another brother, even if we aren’t close, so. Sorry about that. Miss you, even if I don’t really think about you. Have fun breaking bones and cracking skulls, man.”

 

He does not call Luther, because he’s still bruised after all these years, and has nothing to say to him. Also, he’s on the moon. That’s a pretty solid excuse that no one, not even Ben, can really argue with.

 

“Sorry you died,” he says to Ben. “And sorry I wasn’t there to help. And sorry you have to watch me do this shit. And sorry I won’t stop.”

“Are you apologizing for future-you’s actions?” Ben cracks a sad smile.

Klaus huffs a laugh, “Yeah, ‘cause I know he probably won’t.” A pause. “I really am sorry.”

To his horror, he feels the salty sting of tears behind his eyes, and so he swallows down the pit in his throat and forces them back.

“I know,” Ben says, and Klaus thinks that he might really mean it, “I’m sorry it got all fucked up, like this.”

“I’m sorry you’re stuck with me.” It slips out so fast Klaus doesn’t have time to catch it.

Ben looks incredibly sad, and incredibly tired. “I’m not stuck with you. You’re stuck with me, too.”

“We’re stuck with each other,” he agrees, and then he can suddenly breathe again, “Can you imagine if you were stuck with Luther? You’d be so bored all day — at least with me, it’s an adventure, right?”

“If I was with Diego, I could watch him fight crime.”

“And if you were with Allison, you could travel the world. Tough fuckin’ luck, baby, but you’re stuck with the best. My life’s like, exciting.”

“Your life’s like, dangerous. And chaotic.”

“That’s what makes it exciting!” Klaus says. “Plus, it’s not chaotic with you around. You’re like…  the calm island in the middle of the raging sea that is the world.”

“Poetic.”

“I try my best. It’s my last day in rehab, brother. You wanna get waffles in the morning to celebrate?”

They both know that Ben can’t actually touch the waffles, but Klaus will order two plates anyways.

“Sure,” Ben says, and that’s the closest to any kind of win that they’re both going to get together.

 

(Later, years later, he cannot say sorry to Dave, because he can’t reach Dave, because he doesn’t know why — because he’s weak? Because Dave doesn’t want to be found? Because he’s not sober enough? He doesn’t know why, he just knows that he can’t reach him to tell him he’s sorry, he’s so sorry, he wishes he could have helped him, saved him, taken his place. That he’s sorry he never told him he loved him as deeply as he did. He’s just so fucking sorry.)

 


10. Continuing to take personal inventory and admitting when one is wrong

 

“Okay,” He says, “Okay. Maybe I shouldn’t’ve taken that extra shot.”

“You dumbass,” Diego says, “How the hell have you even lived this long?”

“Lotsa luck, baby,” Klaus says, and laughs. Diego’s a lot stronger than he looks - and he looks pretty strong to begin with, even at seventeen, before they moved out - because he’s somehow managed to drag Klaus all the way up the stairs and into his bedroom without dropping him, without alerting anyone, and Klaus knows he’s not making it easy.

“How the fuck do you fall out a window?”

“There’s this thing called gravity, and like, height and shit.”

“J-Jesus, you’re ridiculous,” Diego huffs, but he does stutter, just a bit, and maybe it knocks some self-awareness back into Klaus’ drunk ass head.

“Hey,” he slurs, letting himself flop back onto the mattress when Diego sets him down, “Hey, hey, Diego.”

“What.”

Klaus opens his mouth. He feels bad, suddenly. The party was super fun, until someone slipped something in his drink and he left through a window instead of going down the stairs like a reasonable person — his reasoning was: well what if I run into the fucker who tried to roofie me? And his brain had said: window.

By then, he had already texted Diego, asking if he could please come and pick me up because i don’t have a car and kids have started doing hard drugs, like he was fooling anyone. He isn’t sure why Diego actually answered this text, out of the many that he’s sent, but he’s grateful that he did. There were some bushes he fell into, but there’s still glass in his arm, and he still feels strung out and tired from whatever it was that was in his drink.

“Sorry,” he finally says. “I shouldn’t’ve bothered you.”

If anything, Diego looks even more pissed off than he did before. “What, you saying I was just supposed to l-leave you there? Someone fucking roofied you, dumbass.”

When did he tell him that? Klaus wonders. He doesn’t remember much of the drive home, so he was probably sometime then. Curse his inability to shut the fuck up when he blacks out.

“I don’t,” He sighs, blowing air out of this nose because he can’t seems to get his mouth and brain to work together; usually it’s fun, but right now it’s just irritating, “I just feel bad. I always do stupid shit. Sorry I always make you fix it.”

Diego is silent for a moment. He pulls out the piece of glass in Klaus’ arm and slaps a bandaid on; Klaus barely even feels it, gone as he is.

“It’s better I fix it than something happen to you.”

It makes Klaus’ heart clench, and crack, and soften. Diego’s such a softie, underneath the whole prickly, argumentative angry layer on top.

“Something always happens to me,” Klaus laughs, “It’s not your problem. It’s my fault.”

“I see we’re being responsible for our own actions tonight,” Diego says, voice vaguely mocking, “You’re acting more adult than you ever do when you’re sober.”

“Sober me’s a stupid ass.”

“So is drunk you,” Diego’s voice is softer than it was before. Or maybe Klaus is just falling asleep.

“Yeah,” Klaus sighs, eyes slipping shut, “Sorry. Sorry I’m... this way.”

Diego doesn’t say anything, but Klaus feels the hair on his forehead being smoothed back before sleep snatches him up.

They don’t mention it in the morning.

 



11. Seeking enlightenment and connection with the higher power via prayer and meditation

 

Klaus doesn’t know much about prayer and meditation, but he damn well does know about taking baths. He loves taking baths - they’re soothing, and peaceful, and as long as he doesn’t stay under the water too long, they’re relaxing. He can light a few candles, listen to some music, throw in a bath bomb to add a little more fun to the mix.

He thinks it’s the closest he’ll ever get to like, enlightenment or whatever, the way he feels when he’s taking a bath. He’s liked baths since he was a kid — it used to be the best way to sober up quick, or the best way to wind down after a mission or a night out. Sometimes he’d sit in the water just to remind himself that he was alive, to clean himself up when he felt dirty and sometimes he’d stretch out in the water for fun, because he felt good, felt pretty, felt clean.  

He doesn’t really know how to explain it all the way, but that’s just how he feels. Even though he’s not super fond of the house, he is fond of the bathroom on the third floor, and he’s very fond of the tub.

So he’s chilling there, apocalypse averted, headphones on, music blasting, enlightenment on his way, and he thinks: things are going to be okay.

He doesn’t know why he thinks that. Just because they’ve stopped the apocalypse doesn’t mean they’re home free. They’ve still got a lot to fix.

But Klaus is cleaner than he’s been in years. He’s been learning to better control his powers, control the ghosts, control his nightmares. He’s almost, he’s sure, almost been able to find Dave.

He did his nails this light purple, lavender looking color yesterday, and it looks pretty in the water. Dad is dead, and that’s just fine by him.

At least from the water, things are, very very tenuously, looking up.

 



12. Carrying the message of the 12 Steps to others in need

 


“Accept the higher power into your life,” he tells Five. “Admit the shortcomings of your character.”

“Like fucking what?” Five snaps.

“Like your dirty mouth for one, young man.”

Klaus cackles as he dogged the coffee cup the little bastard throws at him.

“I’m serious,” he laughs, “I should be first on the list of people you make amends to.”

“Dolores would be first,” Five says, suddenly serious, “Vanya would probably be second. Maybe you could be third.”

“As long as I’m in the top five,” Klaus concedes. “Also, to be clear, we’re talking about your obvious caffeine addiction and alcohol abuse here, right?”

Five, having run out of the one coffee cup he had to throw at Klaus, gets creative and throws a spoon instead.

With love, obviously, Klaus thinks. Definitely (read: hopefully) with love.