Whenever Diego used to think about leaving home, silence was one of the main things he looked forward to. The Academy was always so noisy. During the day, someone was always training, and their father’s voice would echo down the halls, snapping at them to be faster, to focus, to try harder, to be better. The rest of them would just block it out, either recovering from their own training or anticipating their turn. None of them ever said anything. Maybe they should have.
At night, all he could hear was muffled crying. A different person every night. Some nights, when the sobs came from just through the wall, he knew it was Klaus. Sometimes he’d knock on the wall, just so Klaus knew Diego was there with him, and sometimes Klaus would knock back. Other nights, the sounds came from further down the hall, and Diego wouldn’t be able to tell who exactly it was. He could always tell in the morning though. They’d sit down for breakfast and one of them would be hunched over, trying to hide their blotched face and red rimmed eyes. They all knew, but none of them ever talked about it. Maybe they should have.
The only time he remembered crying, really crying, was after their first ever mission. He did good. He did really good. Took down two bank robbers with one throw and another with his back turned. But he was used to practicing on moving targets, or on his siblings in his free time with rubber balls. He’d never thrown a knife at a real person before. His targets had never screamed or bled before. Everyone kept telling him how great he’d been, but once they got home he locked himself in his room and sobbed until he had nothing left. He didn’t remember crying after that. He didn’t remember feeling much of anything after that, other than a deep, burning need to get out of there as soon as he could.
And now he was out, only it turned out silence wasn’t what he thought it would be. Silence was lonely. It still wasn’t true silence, what with the railway line running right behind his apartment. But the routine thundering that shook the building was nothing compared to the screams of his siblings waking up from their nightmares, or the alarm that used to pierce right through him to alert them of a new mission. He still hated sirens to this day. Not ideal, given his line of work, but he got by. But this morning, even with the rumbling of the train in his ears when he woke up, it was silent. Just like it had been for the last thirty mornings. No sounds of life, just him, with a whole empty apartment to himself.
The dark walls of his bedroom felt like they were closing in on him and he forced himself upright, wincing as pain shot through his skull. A stark reminder of the blow he took last night. Nothing unusual, just a standard mugging in a back alley that he happened to stumble across and put a stop to. But one of them managed to get behind him and smash a bottle over his head, and boy was he paying for it now. All he wanted to do was lie back down, roll over, and sleep it off, but Patch needed him at the precinct and the thought of letting her down again could outweigh any amount of pain he was in.
Swinging his legs off the bed, he dragged his feet across the floor as he headed to the bathroom. The sight of himself in the mirror made him cringe. There was dried blood streaked across his forehead and under his lip, and the makings of a nasty bruise on his left cheek.
“Shit,” he grumbled, splashing some water on his face. Even with the blood gone, he still looked like he hadn’t slept in a week, which wasn’t far from the truth. The longer he was alone in the apartment, the more restless he got. He’d been out every night for the last nine days, seeking out bar brawls and back street fights to put a stop to. When he first started the whole vigilante thing, he knew exactly what he was doing it for. He missed the feeling of helping people, of doing good. He missed being a hero. Nowadays the lines were blurred, and he wasn’t sure whether it was the thrill of helping someone that gave him that rush, or just the thrill of a good fight.
He staggered groggily out into the front room and his eyes immediately falling on the couch where the pillows and blankets lay undisturbed for the thirtieth morning in a row. Like clockwork, he circled the room, checking the batteries and the bulbs in each of the strategically placed lamps and nightlights. They hadn’t been used for thirty nights now, but he still checked they were working every morning. He had to be sure they wouldn’t run out halfway through the night. At first, they had all been electric lights. Plugged into every spare socket in the room to keep each corner lit. Then they had a power cut, and the next day Diego went out and bought battery-powered lights, because he never wanted to be woken up by those terrified screams again.
Once he was satisfied all the lights would make it through the night, he grabbed an energy bar from the cabinet full of untouched snacks and plopped himself down on the armchair opposite. Even after thirty days, he wouldn’t touch the couch, because the couch wasn’t his. The apartment was his, the bedroom, the food, all his, but the couch was Klaus’.
They left the academy together when they were seventeen without much of a plan, and with no idea of how long they’d end up sticking together. Diego had always been a little optimistic about how easy it would be to fall into an adult life. Figured after a couple of years they’d both have stable jobs and their own houses and see each other on weekends, but it turned out the real world wasn’t that simple. After a couple of years they were still staying in seedy motel rooms, drinking cheap liquor and living off scraps. It wasn’t until he graduated that things finally started to pick up, but even then it wasn’t by much. Eight years on and what had they gained? A shitty one bed apartment with damp walls and a recurring roach problem. Klaus didn’t even have a bed . Though, as he often reminded Diego during his more coherent moments, a couch and a roof over his head was probably more than he’d have if he were going at it alone. These days Klaus was either high as a kite or tearing his hair out when the ghosts got too loud, and he couldn’t work in either of those states. Diego tried not to think too much about where that left him, or what kind of future he could possibly have if they ever went their separate ways. During the rare moments when they did talk about it, Klaus always spoke like his future was hypothetical, like still being around in five years was a possibility, not a certainty. Diego tried not to think too much about that either.
Once Klaus had suggested that he could just go back to the Academy. Live with Luther and Pogo and mom and eat smiley face pancakes with whipped cream every day. But Diego had sworn to him the day they left that he was never gonna let their dad anywhere near him again, and he didn’t plan on breaking that promise. Not ever.
His head was still pounding as he made his way outside, and he found himself wondering for a brief second whether he should even be driving. He’d driven in worse conditions. As far as he was concerned, so long as he was reasonably sober and not losing a life threatening amount of blood, he was okay to be in control of a vehicle.
The drive from his apartment to the station was only five minutes, and before he knew it he was pulling up outside, trudging past crowds of people in suits towards his desk, where Patch was waiting for him. She stood out against the brown of the room and the grey of everyone in their suits mulling around her, wearing a bright blue, loose fitted shirt tucked into black suit pants. He didn’t make any effort to hide the way his eyes trailed over her, taking everything in and locking it in his memory, just in case he blinked and realised she was a dream.
Her hair was slicked back, pulled into her usual tight ponytail. From an outside perspective, it looked like she put the minimum of effort into her hair, but he knew that wasn’t true. He knew it naturally fell in tight curls around her face, and that every morning she straightened it out before she left the house. He’d told her once that he thought the curls suited her, and she’d told him she couldn’t give less of a damn what he thought. It just made him fall ten times harder for her.
Her dark eyes bore into him with an intensity matching his own, flicking across his face as she noticed the fresh bruises. A faint blush warmed her cheeks when she realised she was staring at him and she cleared her throat, looking down at the coffee cup she was holding and tapping her nails across the lid.
“You look like hell,” she finally said, holding the cup out to him.
Shrugging, he took the coffee, knocking it back like it was water. “Yeah well, you should see the other guys.”
“I did. This morning, after we got an ‘anonymous tip’ that two muggers had been apprehended.” Patch nodded over to the holding cell where the sources of his headache sat fidgeting on the bench, shooting him a disapproving look.
Diego cocked his head innocently. “I’ve never seen those men before in my life.” He smirked, pausing for a moment before adding, “Officer.”
She folded her arms, warning him silently to back off, but her eyes still lingered on his a little too long and he knew he’d had an effect. It had been over a year now since she’d officially broken things off with him, and two months since they’d last been together and she’d insisted it was absolutely the last time. Apparently they were ‘too different’, but Diego didn’t think they were different at all. She was just better at hiding who she was, and he brought too much of it out of her. Still, he kind of enjoyed the challenge now. He knew her well enough to know that if she really, truly wanted him to back off, she’d have no problem telling him that. And she knew him well enough to know that if she told him to back off, he would. But she never did, so neither did he.
“So,” he finally said, “Any good cases come in? Arson? Serial killer?”
“Oh, yeah, plenty. None of them assigned to you, because you,” She punctuated her words by shoving a thick binder of paperwork into his arms, “are still on desk duty, after last time.”
Diego clenched his jaw and bit his tongue to stop himself blowing up at her about it, again. It wasn’t her fault. Not like she was the one calling the shots around here. Though she hadn’t exactly jumped to his defence about the decision either.
The job had been simple enough. A girl had been caught stealing sandwiches from a corner store, all he had to do was get a statement from the owner and bring the girl in for questioning. When he got there, he was greeted by a furious store owner with a red face and veins popping on the side of his head. It was a miracle he made it through Diego’s questions without bursting a blood vessel.
Then he got to the kid. She was a small, scrawny little thing, with big wide brown eyes and her hair in long box braids. She’d backed up against the wall when he approached, her eyes focused firmly on the police badge hanging around his neck.
“Hey,” he’d said, as gently as he could, crouching down in front of her. He always got nervous when he had to deal with kids. Maybe because he knew how easy they were to hurt. “I’m Diego. You wanna tell me your name?”
“Are you a cop?” Her eyes were still fixed on his badge and he nodded, twisting it in his hand. “Mom told me not to trust cops.”
“That’s good advice. Your mom sounds like a smart lady,” he’d replied, watching as she played with the beads on her wrist. “You don’t have to trust me. I’m just tryin’a find out what happened.”
“Are you gonna arrest me?” She’d asked, finally looking into his eyes.
“No. I just have a few questions I gotta ask you. I’m supposed to do it at the station, but if you don’t wanna come with me that’s okay, we can just talk here.”
She didn’t want to stay in the store, so they sat outside. Her name was Olivia, she was eleven years old, her mom lost her job two months ago and couldn’t afford to pay for her school lunches anymore, and she was hungry. The store owner had wanted to sue the parents, and Diego told him they’d be in touch, then he drove Olivia home and shredded the report. It took less than twenty four hours for his Captain to find out what happened and ground him to his desk indefinitely.
“Diego.” Patch’s voice snapped him back to reality and he blinked absently at her. “You good?”
“Never better.” He patted the binder in his hands and gave her the fakest enthusiastic smile he could muster. “Duty calls, right?”
“Right. Let me know if you need anything.”
“An aspirin would be great,” he mumbled, still struggling to ignore the throbbing ache in the back of his head.
Patch just rolled her eyes, patting him on the shoulder and leaving him to sulk at his desk. He watched her as she marched across the room to discuss a case with one of the other guys. It wasn’t even an exciting case, from what he’d been able to gather. A burglary with one suspect and eighty pieces of evidence stacked against him, but it still would have been more exciting than the seventy hours of surveillance footage he was about to spend the day staring at.
Two hours in, his headache was ten times worse and he kinda felt like he was going to puke. He opened a separate tab to search for concussion symptoms. Four hours in, he was googling his legal rights to sue his employer for eye strain. Six hours in and he was weighing up the possibility of just going apeshit and throwing his computer at the wall. Would he get fired? Sure. Was that really such a bad thing? Jury’s out.
Seven and a half hours in, his phone lit up with an alarm he’d set thirty days ago.
Klaus – 30 minutes
He didn’t need the alarm to know what day it was. He’d been counting the days down from the moment Klaus checked himself in.
It was a little out of the blue, but when it came to Klaus, most things were.
They’d rented a movie to watch, but neither of them ended up paying much attention. All Diego could remember was that robots were involved. Klaus was uncharacteristically quiet, sitting in a contorted position on the floor trying to paint his toenails. It was obvious from his silence that something was on his mind, but Diego had learned it was usually best to let him bring it up on his own. Any time he tried to push it himself, Klaus would just change the subject and lock whatever he’d been thinking about behind another wall.
Sure enough, after almost an hour of complete silence, he told him he was going back to rehab. It came as a shock, just like it had the last time he’d said it, and the time before that. Klaus hated rehab, and made no secret of it. And yet, every couple of years, like clockwork, he’d go back and put himself through the whole thing again. Diego could never quite work out if it was just another habit he’d fallen into, or if deep down there was a part of him hoping that this time he might find someone who could actually help him. Either way, Diego went along with it, sometimes lent him some money if Klaus hadn’t managed to scrape enough together. Leaving the Academy meant they got to make their own decisions now. If Klaus decided he wanted to go back, Diego wasn’t gonna tell him not to, though sometimes, he wondered if maybe he should.
Shutting off the monitor that had been turning his eyes square all day, he grabbed his jacket and sauntered over to Patch’s desk. Her eyes flicked up briefly when he perched himself on the edge of her desk, before focusing back on the paperwork she was filling out. She made him wait almost two minutes, scribbling away at a leisurely pace before firmly punctuating her last sentence.
“You need something?” She asked, still not looking up at him as she neatly filed the stack of papers away in her desk drawer.
“I gotta get out of here early. If anyone asks can you just… say I went to look for some files or something?”
“How about I tell them the truth, and you accept the consequences of your actions like an adult?” She countered. “What’s so important that it can’t wait another twenty five minutes?”
He shifted where he was sitting, lowering his voice to barely more than a whisper. “My brother gets out of rehab soon. I- I… If I-”
The words got stuck in his throat and he cursed himself internally, looking up at the ceiling as he tried to picture what he wanted to say.
“If I don’t go h- he’ll just get himself in trouble again.”
Patch’s face softened, her warm brown eyes melting some of the anxiety away as she looked at him.
“He’s not your responsibility. You know that, right?”
“He’s my brother.”
She reached across the desk and took his hand, squeezing it gently as she studied his face.
“Fine,” she agreed after a moment, slumping back in her seat. “But this is the last time I’m covering your ass.”
He’d heard those words a hundred times already, but he wasn’t about to rub it in her face and risk her changing her mind. Instead, he pressed a kiss to her knuckles, partly to distract her from that brief hint of vulnerability, partly because he wanted to.
She snatched her hand back and he chuckled, hopping down from her desk and patting her shoulder. “Relax, Eudora, I’m leaving.”
“Don’t push it, Hargreeves,” she muttered, cradling her hand like he’d burned her and turning away from him before he could get another word in.
The sun was just starting to go down when he pulled up outside the clinic and got out of his car, and every minute that passed as he stared intently at the door felt like an hour. He started to wonder if maybe he’d missed him already, but as he looked down at his watch he heard the clinic’s door swing open and the unmistakable sound of Klaus’ voice, already in full conversation with someone.
“I don’t want to go see a movie with you. .…. Because you always talk through the whole thing! Go by yourself if you’re so desperate, nobody’s forcing you to follow me around.”
Diego watched him sauntering up the path towards him, chatting away to thin air. It wasn’t until Klaus stood a few feet away that he finally noticed him.
“Diego! Hey!” He beamed, throwing his arms around him.
He spoke with his usual cheery tone, but Diego could feel the shakiness in his hands as he grabbed fistfuls of his shirt, holding onto him like he was afraid he might suddenly slip away.
“It’s good to see you,” Klaus said in a quieter voice, pressing his nose into Diego’s shoulder and letting out a breath when Diego squeezed him tightly.
The cheap fur trim of his coat scratched his skin, but Diego didn’t let go until Klaus did. His hand lingered on his shoulder while Klaus wrapped his arms around himself, rocking back on his heels awkwardly.
“You okay?” Diego finally asked, looking him up and down.
“Oh, yeah I’m fine. I’m fine! I’m cured, actually. Can you believe that?”
Diego cocked his eyebrow, unconvinced. “You’re cured?”
“Yep! Yeah see I realised that actually, drugs are overrated! Yeah, no that’s all behind me now. I’m done with that.” He nodded, like he was trying to convince himself. “Rehab worked! Third time lucky, I guess.”
“This is your fourth time.”
“What? No it’s not.” Klaus looked away from him, counting on his fingers for a second. “Oh, no you’re right. Fourth time lucky then!” He grinned.
Diego nodded slowly, watching him intently. He was already fidgeting, shoving his hands in his pockets and rocking back and forth on his toes.
“Anyway, uh, it’s been great catching up and all but I actually… I actually have somewhere I need to be. So I’m just gonna… go. Okay bye.”
He made it two paces before Diego was grabbing the fur on his coat and yanking him back, ignoring the childish whine Klaus let out.
“Cured, huh?” He said flatly, holding him in place. “Like hell you are.”
“Let go of me, asshole.”
“Fine.” Diego released his grip, shrugging nonchalantly. “I was gonna ask if you wanted to get fried chicken? From that place you like, a couple blocks away? But clearly you got more important places to be.”
Klaus stared at him, searching his eyes for any signs of deception before sighing loudly and hanging his head in defeat.
“Okay, fine,” he said, throwing his hands in the air. “Fine. We’ll do your thing.”
“Good. Get in.”
Diego held the passenger door open while Klaus bundled himself into the car, grumbling inaudibly as he curled himself up on the seat. It was completely pointless trying to keep him from getting high again. Diego knew that. He’d find a way to slip away from him somehow, or Diego would finally break and let him go. One way or another, he always got what he wanted in the end. But he’d be damned if he didn’t make him work for it first.
When they were teenagers, they were pretty much joined at the hip. It was strange, living with so many people, how alone he still felt most of the time. He got on well enough with Luther, but Luther thought the world of their Dad, so conversation topics were limited. Allison was usually hanging around with Luther. Even before Five disappeared, he was difficult to have a conversation with at the best of times. Any time Diego said anything to him, Five would just look at him like he was an idiot and walk away. Ben started shutting himself away a lot as they got older, and Vanya… Dad always kept her away from them as much as possible, until eventually he didn’t have to any more. She kept to herself, and they shut her out.
Klaus, though, was just Klaus. He hated Dad, and the Academy, and the missions as much as Diego did. He could be a lot to handle sometimes, even before he fell into the drugs, but he was always the easiest to talk to, and Klaus seemed to think the same of him. So any spare minute they got, they were together, sometimes complaining about whatever bullshit Dad had them doing that day, sometimes laughing about something dumb Luther had said at breakfast, sometimes not talking at all. Just being in each other’s company was enough to make everything a little more bearable, and a little less lonely. But that was then. Now, whenever they did spend time together, Diego felt like he was holding his brother hostage. He felt that way now, glancing over at him, with his knees pulled up to his chin and his head pressed against the car window, pouting like a stubborn toddler as he watched the streetlights and refused to acknowledge him.
“Put your seatbelt on,” Diego mumbled.
Klaus gave him a hard stare and stuck his tongue out, so Diego slammed his foot on the brakes and sent him lurching forward with a shriek.
“Are you completely insane!?” Klaus snapped as he scrambled back onto his seat, staring at him with wide eyes. “I could have died .”
“Would’a been fine if you had your seatbelt on.” Diego shrugged, smiling smugly to himself when Klaus begrudgingly strapped himself in.
They pulled up a few minutes later, and Klaus’ mood seemed to lift a little once he had a bucket of chicken in front of him. Diego watched him, perplexed, as he tore his way through it like he hadn’t eaten in days. He could get a better look at him in the harsh white light of the restaurant. His face was slimmer and paler than when he’d last seen him, and the dark circles under his eyes stood out in stark contrast. It looked like he’d tried to disguise them somewhat by smudging his eyeliner out further than usual, but it was obvious he hadn’t been sleeping. He’d taken his coat off, and Diego could just make out the scratch marks running up and down his forearms. Some of them had almost faded away to nothing, but others were red and raw, and couldn’t have been done more than a few hours ago.
“They not feed you in that place?” Diego asked as Klaus tossed aside another chicken bone onto the napkin in front of him.
“Most days.” He shrugged, already gnawing on another drumstick.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Klaus just rolled his eyes. “I’m kidding, we get three square meals a day. Are you gonna eat those fries?”
He shook his head and Klaus snatched them, shoving a handful into his mouth.
“It’s just,” He said through the mouthful of food. “Crazy as it may seem, having a bunch of corpses following you around all the time can kinda put you off your food.”
Diego frowned at him. He never knew quite how to respond when Klaus started talking about his powers. There was no right thing to say, nothing that could make it better. All he could do was nod and try to pretend he even remotely understood what was going on in Klaus’ head.
“Was it any better this time?” Diego asked, quietly clinging to the idea that maybe the last thirty days hadn’t been complete hell for him, but Klaus just shook his head.
“I mean, it wasn’t worse . Just the same, I guess. Had to sit in a circle with a bunch of assholes and talk about my feelings again. Then they’d be all ‘ooh, Klaus, maybe you’re just using drugs as a way to cope with all that childhood trauma’, and I’d be like ‘whaaaaaat?’ you know? Shit like that. It’s almost worth it for the look on their face every time when they think they’ve said something genuinely groundbreaking.” He huffed out a laugh, shaking his head to himself. “Like I actually paid someone to tell me that. Do you have any idea how much crack I could have bought with that money? I could have bought so much crack with that money.
“But you didn’t,” Diego pointed out, nudging his foot under the table. “I’m proud of you.”
The corner of Klaus’ mouth twitched into a semblance of a smile, but his eyes were still sad, studying him curiously.
“You know the moment you stop talking to me I’m gonna go straight to my dealer, right?”
“Then why are you doing this?”
Diego mulled the question over for a second. It was something he’d been asking himself a lot lately, and something a lot of people had been asking him. Any time he mentioned Klaus to anybody he’d be met with this sad, sympathetic look, like they felt sorry for him . And he didn’t understand that. He didn’t understand why he was the one they felt sorry for, and not Klaus. Brushing him off seemed to come easy to everyone else, but not to him. He’d tried, once or twice, to stop caring, but it didn’t come that easy to him. Maybe it stemmed from how close they were as kids, and all the promises they made to each other, or maybe he just didn’t know how to let go of the past. For a while he thought they all had that problem, but then Allison got married, and everyone but Klaus was invited. Then Luther went on his moon mission, and everyone but Klaus got a handwritten goodbye letter. He got it, to an extent. By all accounts it would be easier to forget about him, and sometimes he wished he could. Just flush out all the memories, the nightmares, the overdoses, all of it, and just move on with his life, but he couldn’t. At the wedding, Allison told him that Klaus was leeching off of him, and she was probably right. But at least he knew Klaus was safe. As safe as it was possible for him to be.
He could tell Klaus all of that, but they didn’t really talk to each other like that. Not anymore. And especially not in the middle of a run-down chicken shop. So instead he just shrugged.
“Maybe I just want to hang out with my brother,” he said, folding his arms. “Someone’s gotta.”
“Wow. You have such a way with words.” Klaus smirked, his first genuine smile of the day. “Have you ever considered branching out into poetry?”
Diego bit back a laugh and shook his head. “Nobody would wanna read that.”
“Uh, Diego, I think you’ll find poetry about repressed trauma always sells. We should-” Klaus gasped, his eyes going wide as he slammed his hands on the table. “We should become slam poets !”
“That is the stupidest thing you’ve ever said.”
“Thank you.” He grinned. “We’d be great! Hey I took that creative writing class a couple years back, remember? Tragically you would have to quit your job so we could tour, but you’ll get over it I’m sure.”
“Yeah, well, I hardly have a job anymore anyway,” Diego mumbled, slumping back in his seat. “So that’s not much of a loss.”
“Oh?” Klaus leant across the table, propping himself up on his elbows and cocking his head like a curious puppy. “What happened?”
Diego shook his head and Klaus whined. “Oh, come on! I thought the whole point of this was to keep me sat here so I don’t go on a bender. Tell me. Teeeell meeeeee.”
So Diego told him about the shoplifting. About the little girl and the angry store keeper and his prick of a boss, embellishing a few details to make the whole thing seem a little more badass. He tried to ignore the way Klaus’ eyes occasionally flicked over to the seat next to him, like a third person was privy to the whole conversation. It sent a chill up his spine to think that someone was sat next to him, completely invisible to him, but Klaus seemed completely unbothered by their presence, so he tried to stay unbothered too.
“So you cussed him out? In front of the entire precinct?” Klaus asked when he’d finished his story.
“Yup,” Diego lied. “Told him right where he could shove his bullshit morals.”
“Wow. And he didn’t fire you?”
“Hell no. They need me.”
In reality, his boss had cussed him out, for almost twenty minutes, before sending him back to his desk like a berated schoolboy. It was a miracle he hadn’t been fired, and Diego had a sneaking suspicion Patch may have had something to do with it. Still, he preferred his own version of the story.
Klaus was staring at him with a smug grin spread across his face, and he rolled his eyes. “Go ahead and say it, Klaus.”
“What?” He asked innocently. “I mean, yeah, usually I’d take this opportunity to point out how morally corrupt the police system is, but I feel like you’ve pretty much made that point for me this time.”
“There it is.” He sighed, mentally bracing himself for another lecture.
“I’m just saying if you’re so desperate to help people, you could have been a fireman. What they lack in brutality they make up for with sex appeal and basic levels of empathy.”
“Can’t stop murderers with a hose.”
“Not with that attitude.” Klaus shrugged, making an uncomfortable level of eye contact with him as he took a drawn out sip of milkshake. “Can we go? It’s getting a little crowded in here.”
Diego glanced around the empty restaurant and then back to Klaus, whose facial expression was suddenly a lot more solemn.
“Sure.” He nodded, following behind as Klaus bolted for the door.
It was disheartening, seeing Klaus get back in the car looking just as tense as he had been when they arrived, but that was how it always went. Any time it felt like he was getting somewhere, something would send him right back to square one.
“You okay, man?” He asked after a couple of minutes.
Klaus shrugged, propping his feet up on the dashboard. “Mmhmm. Yeah, I’m fine. I think we should find a new favourite fast food joint though. Some really freaky shit went down in that place.” His eyes went wide for a moment and Diego shuddered. “We could try Thai next time?”
“Or that Italian place we keep saying we’re gonna try,” Diego suggested. “That freaky shit could be the best thing to happen to us.”
They both sniggered quietly. Klaus switched the radio on and turned the volume down until it was almost inaudible, closing his eyes while Diego drove them the rest of the way home. When they got back Klaus immediately screwed his face up, staring straight ahead at the sink.
“How long’s it been since you did the dishes?”
Diego looked over at the dirty pots and bowls piled high across the counter, and a hint of shame washed over him as he tried to remember when he last washed anything.
“I don’t know. A week?” He finally said. “I’ve been busy.”
“Who raised you?” Klaus shoved his sleeves up to his elbows and started filling the sink up while Diego watched. “I mean I’m just trying to understand you here, Diego, because you spent more time with mom than any of us. And yet ,” He glanced around the apartment and screwed his nose up, “you live like this . I spent one afternoon with mom and now I make homemade pasta. So what the hell did you do with her all day?”
The thought of their mom ever seeing his apartment filled Diego with a primal sense of dread and he folded his arms defensively, slumping against the fridge and shrugging. “We just talked, most of the time,” he mumbled. She did teach him how to crochet one weekend, but if he told Klaus that he wouldn’t hear the end of it for a while, especially if he knew he’d kept the little rainbow octopus he’d made. Klaus was clearly not paying much attention to him, cursing as his coat sleeve slipped into the dishwater.
“Just take your coat off, you idiot.”
“ Urgh just take your coat off !” Klaus mimicked, waving his hands in the air. “No, it completes my look.”
“Is that what you’re calling it?” Diego snorted, looking him up and down. He was wearing almost exactly the same thing he’d had on when he went in thirty days ago. A multi-coloured 80’s pattern tank top, cropped patchwork denim jacket, and the same cut out leather pants he seemed to wear everywhere nowadays. The bright purple converse, however, were a new addition.
“Where’d you get the shoes?” He asked, already knowing the answer.
“Oh! You like them? They’re Marvin’s. Or they were. They’re mine now.”
He nodded. “And does Marvin know you have his shoes?”
“By now? Probably.” Klaus sniggered. “I’ll bet he’s pissed .”
“You stole his shoes.”
“What? No! I left him my shoes! That’s not stealing, it’s swapping. Just because he didn’t explicitly agree to it doesn’t mean I stole them.”
He grinned at him and Diego rolled his eyes, grabbing a dishcloth and helping him dry off a few of the plates.
“Oh, nice of you to contribute,” Klaus said sarcastically. “Hey does your girlfriend know you get a crackhead kleptomaniac to do your dishes for you?”
“She’s not my girlfriend anymore,” Diego muttered.
“Well what am I supposed to call her now then? Your slam piece?”
Diego whipped him around the head with the dishcloth and he yelped, flicking water in his face in retaliation. They finished the dishes and Klaus left him to put everything away, pottering over to his little corner of the apartment.
“Did you remember to water Ben?” He asked when Diego approached, crouching to inspect the aloe plant he kept on the coffee table. “If he’s dead I’ll never forgive you.”
“He’s fine,” Diego told him as he sat back in his armchair. He might not be able to keep on top of dishes, but he could remember to water a houseplant every couple of days. Especially when Klaus was so weirdly protective of it. “And I still think you should choose a different name. Not sure this is how Ben would want us to remember him.”
“You know it’s funny, I named it after him because I thought it would piss him off but I actually think he really loves it,” Klaus chuckled, settling himself amongst the cushions on the couch and closing his eyes.
It was all a show. Diego knew that. He’d left his coat on, his shoes on. Any time he was still for a moment his finger would start tapping, or his knee would start bouncing and his eyes would flick over to the clock on the wall again. Sure enough, before even five minutes had passed he was sitting upright again, clapping his hands together.
“Well! This has been so much fun but I uh… you know. Things to do, places to be and all that.”
Diego didn’t say anything, and Klaus made it halfway across the room before he turned back around.
“Are you not even gonna try to stop me?”
He shrugged. “You’re an adult. You can make your own decisions.”
“Yeah, but…” Klaus trailed off. He wrapped his arms loosely around himself and rocked back on his heels for a moment before nodding his head slowly. “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll see you later.”
With that, he disappeared out the door, leaving Diego alone again. Part of him wished he’d done more to stop Klaus, but all it would have done is delay the inevitable. It was impossible to keep it from happening again.
He curled up on the armchair like he used to when he was little, wrapping his arms around his legs and resting his chin on his knees. The last thing he wanted to think about was Klaus stumbling down some dark back alley to do fuck knows what, but in the silence it was hard to think about anything else. For almost ten minutes he sat, listening to the clock ticking behind him, before he gave up.
With a resounding sigh he trudged to his bedroom, fishing his mask and radio out of his drawer, throwing on a darker jacket and getting back in the car. He drove out to the edge of town to the docks, staring out at the water for what felt like an eternity, listening to the reports coming through on the radio.
…Reports of some teenagers loitering outside a Taco Bell…
…Got a call coming in of two men in hoodies stealing cigarettes from a mini-mart…
…Yeah we’ve had a report of gunfire in a residential area…
His ears perked up and he honed in on the report. The house was only a block away, and with the speed he drove, it barely took more than a minute for him to get there.
It was a tiny house, more like a glorified shed, squashed in among a row of similar buildings. The garden was overgrown, and ivy trailed up the walls and along the gutters. One of the windows was smashed out, with a few flimsy wooden boards nailed across as a makeshift repair job. It made Diego’s apartment seem like a dream. From outside, it looked like all the lights were off, so he jumped the gate and snuck around to the back of the house.
The backyard was just as unkempt as the front, and there was still no sign of activity inside. His eyes fell on the backdoor, which was just slightly ajar, with a large crack in the glass that looked as though it had been put there recently. Pulling his mask on, he started carefully edging the door open. The hinge creaked and he froze as the sound echoed through the house, but after a few seconds the only sound he could hear was his heart pounding in his ears. With the door open, he slipped inside, his eyes adjusting quickly to the darkness.
The inside was no better kept than outside. The floor was covered in crumpled beer cans and cigarette butts, and there was a thick musty smell in the air. Diego almost wished Klaus was here so he could appreciate that in the grand scheme of things, their apartment was pretty tidy.
Treading carefully around the trash that littered the floor, Diego made his way into the next room. There was a mattress on the floor in the corner, covered in yet more cans, and a desk against the far wall. Outside, a car drove past the window, and the headlights lit the room enough for Diego to make out a figure slumped in the chair by the desk. As he got closer, he noticed the gun still clutched in the man’s hand, and as he got closer still, he noticed the blood and brains splattered across the desk and the wall behind him.
“Shit,” Diego muttered, crouching down to get a better look at the bullet hole in the man’s skull.
The blood and the cold, dead eyes staring into his didn’t faze him. He was seven years old the first time his dad had slung a corpse in front of him and shown him which arteries to aim for on their next mission. It didn’t take long for Diego to develop a strong stomach after that.
He must have let his guard down, because he didn’t hear the footsteps creeping through the door, but he did hear the vaguely familiar voice behind him.
He whipped a knife from his belt and spun around, slamming the guy against the wall by his shoulder.
“Christ, Diego, it’s me,” Klaus said, slapping his hand away. “Relax a little will you?”
Diego stared at him in disbelief as he brushed off his shoulders and straightened his coat out.
“How many more attempts are you planning to make on my life today? Because- Oh wow.” Klaus’ eyes went wide and he snorted out a laugh.
“Oh my fucking god,” he choked, wiping a non-existent tear from his eye. “You look like such a prick.”
It took Diego less than a second to realise what Klaus was talking about, and he whipped the mask off his face with lightning speed. It was already too late, Klaus was doubled over laughing, making goggles around his eyes with his hands.
“Don’t worry everyone, The Kraken will save us.”
“Klaus, what the hell are you doing here?” He demanded.
“Looking for my dealer.” Klaus glanced over Diego’s shoulder and shrugged. “Guess you beat me to it.”
For a moment Diego’s stance softened as he studied Klaus’ expression. Usually he could see past the walls Klaus put up, but even he was having a hard time reading him now. “You knew him?” He asked, squeezing his arm hesitantly.
Klaus just waved him off. “Barely. Actually I think we slept together?” His eyes went distant for a moment and he shook his head, chuckling to himself. “No. No, that was a different guy. Never mind. What was the question again?”
Before Diego could answer, the sound of police sirens cut through the air. They both flinched and Diego felt Klaus grab his hand, just as scarred by the noise as he was.
“You need to leave. Right now,” Diego said, bundling Klaus towards the door.
He didn’t need to be told twice, scurrying off into the darkness with all the finesse of a blind baby giraffe. Diego followed him out, jumping back over the gate and perching himself on a wall in the shadows as the police car pulled up. Two detectives ran straight into the house, but the third, with her instantly recognisable blue shirt and ponytail, noticed him waiting.
“You ever stop working?” He asked when Patch approached him. “You gotta learn to switch off, Eudora. Take a break. I have a few suggestions if you-”
“What are you doing here, Diego?”
He shrugged, hopping down from his perch and smirking at her. “Following up on a gunshot report. You know the police response times in this city are appalling.”
Patch rolled her eyes and turned away from him, her eyes flicking across the boarded-up windows and overgrown weeds at the front of the house.
“Alright,” she sighed. “What did you find?”
“Not a lot. Guy shot himself in the head.”
“Yeah.” He looked down at his feet, the image of the blood-splattered wall still burned into his brain. “You might wanna do a sweep of the house though. I’ve got it on good authority he was a dealer.”
“We’ll check it out. Thanks.” She nodded, turning back towards him. “You okay?”
Diego smirked. “I’m always okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Patting her arm reassuringly, he winked as he turned on his heel and headed back down the path to his car. He made it four paces before he heard her voice again.
He stopped. Her voice was lower now, and a second later he felt her hand on his shoulder, spinning him back around to face her. Even through his jacket, he could feel her fingers burning his skin where they lingered. The streetlamp above them turned her dark eyes to amber and her brown skin to gold, and with her this close it was impossible not to stare. She stared back at him, using her free hand to brush away the wisps of hair that had escaped her ponytail.
“Your collar’s crooked,” she finally said, running her hand along Diego’s shoulder and smoothing his jacket collar down. Her fingers brushed his neck lightly, making him shiver, and he could see the corner of her mouth twitch into a smile. “Fixed it.”
There were a million things he wanted to tell her. He wanted to tell her how beautiful she was, how he still couldn’t believe someone like her even existed. He wanted to tell her he missed her so much it hurt, and he wanted to tell her all the things he wanted her to do to him. But when he opened his mouth nothing came out, and he couldn’t tell if that was the stutter, or just the effect she had on him. She seemed to hear it all just the same, and smiled up at him. Really smiled. The kind of smile that made her rosy cheeks glow and her eyes crinkle at the corners.
She took his hand, a mischievous glint in her eye as she pressed a kiss to his knuckles, the same way he’d done earlier, and he narrowed his eyes at her.
“Screw you,” he muttered.
She smirked. “That’s for leaving me to cover for you earlier.” Turning his hand, she pressed another kiss to his palm.
“What was that one for?”
“Just felt like it.” She shrugged, dropping his hand and reaching up to pat his shoulder. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He watched her as she turned on her heel and walked confidently back up the street, disappearing into the house. Letting out a breath he didn’t realise he was holding, Diego got back in his car, with plans to take a cold shower the second he got in.
Klaus was already home when he got back, wrapped up in a blanket on the couch with the stereo playing quietly in the corner of the room. At first Diego thought he was asleep, but when he walked past, Klaus peered up at him with glazed eyes and a wide smile.
“Diego,” he croaked, reaching out towards him. “Hey, what took you so long?”
He took Diego’s wrist in his hand and squeezed it, smiling to himself. He always got more affectionate when he was high, so Diego just let him get on with it. Once he’d released his grip, he slumped onto the floor by his feet and huffed to himself, trying to get the thought of Patch’s lingering fingers out of his mind.
Klaus watched him curiously, propping himself up on his elbows.
“What’s your problem?”
“I’m horny as hell. That’s my problem,” he muttered, fidgeting in his seat.
“Well don’t look at me. I’m into some weird shit, but not that weird.” Diego grimaced at him and he chuckled to himself. “I have people I can connect you with though. What are you feeling, big man? Guy or girl? Neither? Both? You’re into big biker guys, right? I know a couple of those. Give me like, five minutes and I’ll have you sorted right out.”
“Klaus, no offense, but I don’t wanna sleep with anyone who feels comfortable giving you their phone number.”
“Yeah, that’s fair,” Klaus nodded, nestling back against the couch cushions and staring up at the ceiling. “We could go to a club? Like when we were teenagers, remember? You used to get really drunk and start dancing like an idiot, and somehow there’d always be someone who was into it.”
Diego sniggered at the memory. “You’d start hitting on guys twice our age and I kept having to step in and punch their lights out.”
“Hey, I never asked you to do that. I knew what I was doing.”
Klaus laughed, a little deliriously, when Diego rolled his eyes, sticking his leg out and prodding Diego’s cheek with his foot. “So who’s got you so worked up?” He asked. “Your lady detective friend again?”
He nodded and Klaus hummed happily to himself. “That’s sweet. What’s her name again?”
“Patch! Yeah. We like Patch.” He sighed, his voice going hazy. “What’s she up to nowadays?”
“Currently, she’s clearing out your dead buddy’s house.”
Klaus was quiet for a moment, and Diego worried he might have been too blunt, but then he nodded. “That’s good,” he mumbled. “Is she gonna find the guy that killed him?”
“No, she…” He trailed off as he processed Klaus’ words, looking over at him and frowning. “What did you say?”
“That’s what you guys do, right? Bring murderers to justice.” Klaus waved his fist in the air triumphantly and Diego stared at him, bemused.
“Yeah but… Klaus, he killed himself.”
Diego shuffled a little closer to him and Klaus shook his head. “That’s not what he said. Someone broke in and-” He made a shooting motion with his hand, rolling his head to the side to look at him.
“You saw him?”
“Yeah, Diego, that’s kinda my thing, remember?” Klaus snorted. “He was pretty upset about it actually. It was sad. Last time I saw someone right after they died was…” He trailed off and his eyes flicked over to the empty armchair opposite, his mouth turning up into a sad smile. “Never mind.”
“Hey, focus,” Diego said, snapping his fingers to get Klaus’ attention back. “Did he say anything else?”
“Uh, not really. He was being really whiny so I just tuned him out after a while. Why?”
Diego rubbed his temples and let out a deep sigh. Why, of all people, did it have to be Klaus that could talk to the dead?
Klaus rolled over on the couch and curled up in the blankets, closing his eyes and leaving Diego to think over what he’d said. If it had been anyone else, they would have just dismissed it as some weird cry for attention, but Diego knew him. Klaus lied all the time, sure, but only to save his own ass. And when he did lie, he was terrible at it. It was easy to see through if you’d known him long enough, and Diego had known him long enough to know that he wasn’t lying about this. Eventually he got to his feet, pacing over to the other side of the room and dialling Patch’s number. The first time it went to voicemail. The second time she picked up instantly.
“This better be good, Diego. I’m in the middle of something.”
“Are you still at the house?”
“Yeah,” she said, a hint of pride in her voice. “We just found a whole lot of cocaine in his dishwasher.”
“Don’t touch anything else. It’s a murder scene.”
There was a long pause, and Diego drummed his fingers on the kitchen cabinet impatiently. “I’m serious, Patch.”
To his surprise, when she finally spoke, her tone was still completely serious. “How do you know?”
“It’s uh… kinda hard to explain over the phone. I just need you to trust me.”
He could hear her deep sigh over the line, and could almost picture her pinching the bridge of her nose like she always did when he asked her to trust him.
“I do,” she finally said. “Fine. I’ll get forensics in. Anything else?”
Diego glanced back over at Klaus, passed out on the couch and mumbling to himself in his sleep.
“I need you to get me on this case.”
Will Diego convince his boss to give him the case? Will Klaus stay sober long enough to help? Will Diego finally get RAILED by Patch? Will I ever start planning my fics in advance so I can answer questions like these? Who knows. What I do know is we meet Dave in the next chapter and Klaus is gonna bust his strongest ho moves out so slam that bookmark button to stay updated babes.
There were a lot of things Diego missed about Klaus when he wasn’t home. He missed the jokes that could pull him out of almost any bad mood, and how stubbornly affectionate he was, and the mixtapes that he always took with him when he left. More than anything he just missed having someone to talk to, someone that understood.
One thing he hadn’t missed, however, was Klaus’ unshakable early morning waking. The sun was barely peeking over the horizon through the crack in his curtains when he found himself being pulled into consciousness by the clattering of pots and pans in the kitchen. Diego had been awake most of the night thinking over what Klaus had said last night. He couldn’t have fallen asleep more than a couple of hours ago. Grunting, he rolled onto his stomach and closed his eyes again in the hope of catching another thirty minutes.
His hopes were dashed when, five minutes later, he heard a rhythmic knock on his bedroom door.
“Piss off.” He grumbled, pulling the duvet up over his head.
Ignoring him, Klaus threw the door open and strode in.
“Diego! Are you awake?” He chirped, taking Diego’s grunt as an answer. “Great! I’m making pancakes. Do you want some?”
Diego peered up at him from under the covers. He wanted to tell him exactly where he could stick his pancakes, but his stomach betrayed him, growling loudly at the mention of food.
“I’ll take that as a resounding yes.” Klaus grinned as he reached down to pat Diego’s back. “Get up, I’m not doing room service.”
“I hate you.” Diego muttered, pressing his face into the pillows while Klaus paced across the room and threw the curtains open.
“You love me.”
Klaus breezed out of the room and left Diego alone to feel sorry for himself. His head hurt more than yesterday, only now it was less a result of the blow to the head, and more a culmination of stress, no sleep, dehydration, and poor lifestyle choices. There were too many questions that he had no idea how to answer. Patch had said last night that she’d try and talk to their Captain about putting him on the case, but he was still gonna take a whole lot of convincing. And what did he have to back himself up? The word of his brother, whose addiction was no secret to anybody. He still didn’t even know if what Klaus claimed he saw was anything more than some drug induced hallucination. And even if, by some miracle, he did get the case, he had no leads, no suspects, and no evidence that a murder had even been committed. Diego lay there for a few more minutes with his eyes closed, trying to focus on the sound of Klaus chattering to himself in the kitchen instead of the noise in his head. He needed to talk to him about it, but the odds of Klaus remembering anything from last night were next to none.
His mood lifted when the smell of pancakes drifted into his room. It smelled like home. Not the bad home, that smelled of blood and steel. That tasted of salt and sounded like wounded cries and his father’s voice in his ear screaming at him to do it again. It smelled like real home. Like Sundays when their father would spend the morning locked away in his study and they got to have breakfast on their own. Mom made them all pancakes and they each decorated their own. Luther would sit on his left and show him the poem he’d written the day before, and Ben would sit on his right and tell him about the book he was reading. He’d toss blueberries across the room while Five jumped from one end to the other trying to catch them in his mouth, sometimes he tried to do it without teleporting, but he was never fast enough. Klaus perched himself in their father’s chair and did impressions that had them all falling off their chairs laughing, and if they all finished breakfast fast enough, Vanya would show them all the new violin piece she was working on while Allison sang along, making up the words as she went.
Finally dragging himself out of bed, he trudged out into the front room where Klaus was twirling in small circles to Marvin Gaye in a baby pink silk bathrobe and fluffy slippers. He stopped when he saw Diego approaching, chuckling to himself.
“Good morning, sunshine,” He grinned. “You look like shit.”
“I feel like shit.” Diego grumbled, dragging a hand down his face. “Didn’t get much sleep last night.”
Klaus’ expression turned more serious and he cocked his head. “Are you okay?”
He nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine, just got a lot on my mind.”
Klaus smiled sadly at him and nodded his understanding. Sleepless nights were nothing new for either of them. He held his arms out silently and Diego slumped against him, resting his forehead on Klaus’ shoulder and letting out a deep breath when Klaus wrapped his arms around him. They stood like that for a while, but Diego soon realised if he let Klaus hug him any longer he’d start crying like an idiot baby, and he tore himself away.
“You want whipped cream on your pancakes, tough guy?”
He laughed despite himself when Klaus waved the can in his face and waggled his eyebrows at him.
“Yeah, I do.” He finally said, and Klaus smiled knowingly at him.
“Great! Sit down, sit down, they’re almost done. “I made coffee too.” He gestured to the table where three cups had been poured out.
Diego sat in one of the hard metal chairs and drained one of the cups, pouring himself a refill immediately. He made a mental note as he tried, to no avail, to get comfortable, that they really needed to get some new chairs. He’d forgotten how shitty they were after spending the last thirty days eating almost exclusively in the armchair, but Klaus, for all his questionable lifestyle habits, always preferred sitting at the table. It was fine for him, the bright yellow wicker chair he’d brought back from a flea market a month after they moved in looked ten times more comfortable. Klaus claimed he bought it because two chairs weren’t enough, but Diego was almost certain he just hated the metal ones.
“Et voilà.” Klaus said, blowing a kiss to the air as he set down a plate piled high with pancakes, cream, and raspberries.
His presentation skills were a far cry from mom’s, but they tasted just as good. They ate in silence, except for the sound of Klaus humming along to the Whitney Houston song playing on the radio. Diego swiped the leftover cream from his plate, licking it off his fingers as he mulled over how to broach the murder topic.
Eventually, Klaus spoke, his voice distant out as he held his plate out towards him. “I gave myself too many raspberries. Do you want ‘em?”
He nodded, silently taking the plate and tossing one of the berries into his mouth.
“Klaus, I need to have a serious conversation with you.” He said as he set the plate down.
Klaus groaned loudly and hung his head. “Ugh, Diegoooo,” He whined. “It’s too early for another intervention. Can I at least get dressed first?”
“It’s not an intervention.”
“No? Oh.” Klaus leant back and kicked his feet up onto the table. “Carry on then.”
“Okay,” Diego said, scratching his neck nervously. “Do you remember anything you said to me last night? Before you went to sleep?”
“I’ll level with you. I don’t even remember getting home.”
He giggled and Diego sighed, folding his arms on the table and resting his chin on them. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
Klaus looked thoughtful for a moment and Diego could almost see the cogs turning in his head as he mentally retraced his steps.
“We uh… we got chicken. Then I left and… my dealer texted me to meet him at his house which was kinda weird. OH! And you were there! And he was dead! He was pissed about it.” He paused, furrowing his brow. “Why do dead people always feel like they have to yell about everything? Like, nobody’s gonna hear you!”
“I need you to focus.” Diego said when Klaus’ eyes started to go distant again. “Last night you told me someone broke in and killed him, and I really need that to be true, otherwise I’m gonna look like a total asshole in front of everyone at work. I’m not trying to pile the pressure on you here but I could probably lose my job over this.”
“That’s actually quite a lot of pressure, Diego.” Klaus mumbled, scratching the back of his hand anxiously. “I don’t remember much else.”
Diego sighed and buried his face in his arms. Just once in his life, it would be nice if something could be easy. He took a couple of deep breaths to stop himself losing his temper. If he did that, Klaus would never want to talk about it again.
“Okay. J- Just t-” The words got stuck again and he kicked the table leg in frustration, making Klaus flinch. Diego threw him an apologetic look but he waved him off, nodding at him to continue, so he took another breath and tried again. “Just tell mm- me you remember him saying that.”
Klaus nodded, worrying on his bottom lip. “Yeah. It’s hazy, but I think I remember.”
A hint of relief washed over him and he sat up again. “Good. That’s good. Do you remember anything else he said?”
“No. Oh wait, yeah! Yeah, he said whoever killed him ran out through the backdoor. He was all ‘Klauuuuus he went that waaay. Aveenge meeeeee’.” He sniggered. “I mean he didn’t say it like that. Ghosts don’t talk like that in real life. Be fun if they did though, right?”
“Sure.” Diego mumbled, barely paying attention to his rambling. “Okay, I can work with this.”
It wasn’t enough, nowhere near enough, but it was obvious Klaus was done with the conversation. He tried to visualise how the conversation with his Captain was going to go. The man hated his guts already, and barging into his office to demand control of a case he had almost no information about was surely not going to help matters. There had been many times when he’d found himself wishing he could swap powers with Klaus. Not usually because he had any great desire to see the dead, but just to give him a break from what was clearly a living hell. Right now though, seeing the dead would be real convenient. The only way Klaus could help is if he stayed sober long enough, and he’d be even tougher to convince of that than his boss. Still, he had to at least try.
“Hey,” He said as he looked up at Klaus, who was licking leftover pancake batter from a spatula. “If, hypothetically, I asked you to sober up for the day and use your powers, what would you want in return?”
Klaus hummed thoughtfully. “I don’t know. Fifteen dollars?” He shrugged. “Oh! And a smoothie. I’m really craving a smoothie.”
“You could buy your own smoothie with the fifteen dollars.”
“Uh, sure, but then I wouldn’t have fifteen dollars anymore, idiot.” He huffed, leaning back in his chair. “I don’t wanna buy one, you make way better ones at home. Where are you going with this anyway?”
Diego didn’t say anything, and Klaus’ eyes went wide with dawning realisation.
“Oh. No. Nononono, no way. I’m not doing that. No.” He said, waving his hands in front of his face. “Nope. Absolutely not. No way.”
“Forty seconds ago you said you’d do it for a smoothie and a couple bucks.”
“You said hypothetically !” He exclaimed. “I’d do anything hypothetically!”
“Fine,” Diego sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Non-hypothetically, what would it take?”
“Nothing! You can’t just pay me to psychologically torture myself. What kind of terrible brother are you?”
“I will give you fifty dollars.”
“Really? Okay yeah I’ll do it. I’ll do it.” He nodded. “Do I get the smoothie too?”
“Can I receive my payment up front?”
“No.” Diego said, ignoring the scowl Klaus gave him. “Come on, we gotta go.”
Klaus blinked at him. “What? Right now? I’m not ready.”
“How long can you possibly need to get ready?”
He shrugged. “Well, first of all I gotta take a bath. I can cut that down to two hours at a push.”
“Just take a shower like a normal person.”
“Oh, sure. Yeah! And when I’m done I’ll just throw myself right onto the tracks outside since clearly you wanna take away all my reasons for living.”
Sighing, Diego closed his eyes and tried to think.
“Fine,” He said after a minute, getting to his feet. “I’ll go, convince my boss to give me the case, and then when I need you I will call you. Capiche?”
“Waitwaitwait, you don’t even have the case yet?”
“That’s not important,” Diego mumbled. “I’m gonna get it. And when I do, you can meet me at the house and do your… thing.” He gestured vaguely at Klaus, who just raised his eyebrow at him.
“You think you can lay off the drugs until then?” Diego asked, looking him up and down with uncertainty.
“Yeah, yeah. Sure.” Klaus nodded, waving him off.
Diego wasn’t convinced, but he didn’t push it, leaving Klaus to ruminate on everything while he got ready for work. Before he left he assured him once again that he would be getting the case, and would call him when he was headed to the house. He said it so confidently that he almost started to believe it himself. He believed it all the way to the station, and all the way up to the office door. It wasn’t until he was called inside, and stood face to face with his Captain that he remembered exactly who he needed to convince.
Captain Carmichael was a tall, boxy man, who always sat hunched over at his desk with his fingers laced together like he was trying to be a James Bond villain. He had a pale face with a turned up nose, and thin sandy hair that he kept slicked back. His eyes were pale grey and deep set, always peering up at him with a fixed look of disapproval that mirrored his father’s. From the moment Diego had arrived, Carmichael had made it very clear that he wasn’t welcome. He was lumped with the worst cases, ranging from boring to unsolvable. If something went wrong, somehow Diego would end up with the blame. If he did something right, someone else would end up with the credit. It felt like Carmichael was playing a drawn out game of chicken with him, trying to see how far he could push him before he quit. How many curveballs it would take for Diego to slip up and finally give him reasonable grounds to fire him. He’d spent many a night racking his brain trying to work out what he’d ever done to get on his bad side, but there was nothing.
Carmichael just hated his guts, and now Diego had to convince him to put him in charge of a murder case.
“Hargreeves,” He grunted, staring intently down at the case notes spread across his desk. “You know, I had a real interesting morning. I expect you want to know why?”
He leant back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head, looking up at him with a piercing stare. Diego opened his mouth to respond, but he cut in before he could say anything.
“See, I came in this morning, and what do I find?” He asked, not giving Diego a chance to answer. “A forensics report, requested by you, for a suicide case you were not assigned to. Maybe I’m missing something here, but it seems to me like you’ve got a hell of a lot of explaining to do.”
Finally, he paused, looking up at Diego expectantly. Diego took a breath and thought out exactly what he was going to say, determined not to trip over a single word in this conversation.
“It’s not a suicide case.” He said firmly. “He was murdered.”
Carmichael let out a booming laugh at that. “Oh?” He wheezed. “And I supposed you’ve come here to present me with an organised file of evidence.”
Diego folded his arms defensively. “Not exactly.”
“But you do have evidence?”
It was obvious Carmichael was enjoying this, his lips twisted into a thin, crooked smile as he watched Diego racking his brains for something he could use.
“He was shot at his desk.” He continued, ignoring Carmichael’s taunting chuckle. “The killer set it up to look like suicide and left through the backdoor.”
“And, what? You just decided this? With no evidence?” Carmichael laughed again. “I know exactly what’s going on here, Hargreeves. This is just another sad attempt to get yourself back in the spotlight. But you know what? It’s not gonna work. You’re a desk jockey, not a superhero. Get out of my office.”
“I have a witness.” Diego blurted out.
He regretted it the moment the words passed his lips, but it seemed to pique Carmichael’s interest.
“Oh?” He said. “Alright. You’ve got five minutes. Who is it?”
Diego pursed his lips and wondered for a moment whether it was worth trying to spin an elaborate lie. Carmichael would see through it almost instantly, but that still felt like a better option than giving him the truth.
“It’s uh…” He paused, looking down at his feet and lowering his voice in the hopes it might fly over Carmichael’s head. “It’s my brother.”
Unfortunately, Carmichael heard him loud and clear, his smug smile twisting into a snarl. “Your five minutes just dropped to one, so you better start wrapping this up.”
“He saw the victim just after he was killed and got information on what happened. If you just let me take the case I can find the evidence and-”
“And what was your brother doing at a dead junkie’s house, exactly?” Carmichael interrupted, continuing before Diego had a chance to interject. “Actually, let me guess. He was getting high, as usual. You’re dismissed, Hargreeves.”
Diego stood his ground, flexing his fingers in frustration. “With respect, sir. You know who I am. You know who my brother is, and what he can do. I’m not just pulling this out of my ass.”
“Yeah, I know who your brother is,” Carmichael said, sitting upright in his seat. “He’s a washed up junkie who’ll do or say anything if he’s bribed with a quick high.”
“He’s more than that,” Diego muttered, clenching his jaw. His fingers itched to reach for the knives tucked under his jacket. He hadn’t killed anyone since he left home, maybe a little nostalgia would do him good. For a moment he weighed up the pros and cons of murdering his boss in broad daylight, in a building crammed with armed police officers, before quickly pushing that thought back out of his mind, flexing his fingers to stem the impulse. “I know he’s not exactly a credible witness,” He continued. “But I trust him, and if you let me take control of the case I can use the information he gave me to get some solid evidence.”
Carmichael studied his face for a moment, narrowing his eyes at him. “And if you don’t ? You will have wasted police resources, wasted a lot of people’s time, embarrassed yourself, and made me look like a damn idiot.”
He nodded, chewing his lip thoughtfully. It was gonna take something big, and dramatic. Klaus was usually better at doing the dramatic thing, but… one idea sparked in his head. A really stupid, reckless idea.
“Alright,” He said, leaning over Carmichael’s desk and locking eyes with him. “You give me the case, and if I can’t solve it in two weeks, I’ll walk. That’s what you want, right?”
“Is this all just a game to you, Hargreeves?”
Diego shrugged. “My job here’s been a game to you from day one. Why stop now?”
There was a long pause, and Carmichael leant back in his chair, lacing his fingers together and eyeing him thoughtfully.
“Alright, Hargreeves,” He said, with an air of mockery in his voice. “Two weeks. You’ll need a partner.”
For a moment Diego just blinked dumbly at him, struggling to process his own success. “Uh… right.” He cleared his throat. “Detective Patch already has some information about the case. I was think she and I could-”
“Detective Patch,” Carmichael interrupted. “Has better things to do with her time. Take Katz.”
“The new guy?”
“Yeah the new guy,” He nodded, smiling wickedly at him. “Who better to make him feel welcome than you?”
Diego bit his tongue and nodded. “Is that everything, sir?”
Gathering up the papers on his desk, Carmichael handed the file to him. “The forensics report,” He said as Diego snatched it from his hand. “Once Katz is briefed you can head back to the crime scene.”
With a curt nod, Diego turned on his heel and left, still trying to process what he’d just agreed to.
Patch was waiting for him outside the office, leaning back against the wall with her arms folded. Despite having worked late into the night with the forensics team last night, she was fresh faced and bright eyed as usual. Her hair was restyled and she’d swapped her blue shirt for a deep purple blouse and blazer.
“Do you ever sleep?” He asked as he approached her, looking her up and down.
She ignored the question and nodded to the file in his hand. “He actually gave you the case?”
“Don’t act so surprised, Eudora,” He smirked. “Why wouldn’t he put his best detective on the case?”
Patch laughed at that and he corrected himself. “Second best detective.”
“Thank you,” She said, her lips twitching into a smile. “So what’s our next move?”
“I don’t know. I’m thinking drinks at your place? Maybe a movie?” He grinned cockily and she slapped his arm.
“With the case, asshole.”
He chuckled, looking down at the file in his hand. “Yeah, about that. You’re not working with me.”
The look of disappointment on her face caught him off guard, and he found himself getting flustered as he tried to explain. “He uh… he’s putting Katz on the case with me instead. Guess he wants me to break him in.”
He decided to omit the detail about gambling his entire career on this stupid case, unable to face the inevitable lecture that would follow. Instead he just shrugged.
“Try not to take it too hard, yeah?”
She rolled her eyes. “Just give me five minutes to go cry it out,” She said, smirking up at him. “Good luck, Hargreeves.”
Patch patted his arm and headed back to her desk, leaving him to try and pick Katz out among the faces in the room.
Eventually he spotted him by the coffee machine, his curly hair setting him apart from the others milling around him. He strode confidently over to him, waiting to be acknowledged. Katz had only started a week ago, transferring to Diego’s precinct from Canada, and Diego hadn’t had a chance to get much of a read on him yet. Currently, he looked deep in thought, fixated on the coffee he was sipping with his brow furrowed.
“Am I interrupting something?” He asked, pulling Katz out of his thoughts.
He looked up at him, shaking his head. “No. No I just…” He screwed his face up and set the cup down on the counter behind him. “I’m pretty sure I just put salt in that.”
Katz snorted and Diego blinked at him, drumming his fingers on the papers in his hand.
“Right,” He said. “Well, how about instead of putting more salt in your coffee, you help me put a murderer in jail?”
“Oh?” His eyes flashed with intrigue and he cocked his head. “You need a partner.”
Diego nodded and Katz grinned. “Alright. It’s Hargreeves, right?”
“Diego.” He corrected. “Not a fan of the surname thing.”
“Diego Hargreeves. That rings a bell.” Katz chewed on his lip thoughtfully for a moment and shook his head. “Nope, it’s gone. Anyway, since we’re not doing surnames, you can call me Dave.”
“Well, Dave,” He said, thrusting the file into his arms. “Do me a favour and go over this forensics report while I make a phone call.”
“Sure.” Dave nodded and grabbed his salted coffee from the counter, shuffling off to his desk while Diego made his way outside.
Klaus’ phone went straight to voicemail the first two times he dialled and he groaned, scuffing his foot against the ground in frustration. The third time, it rang for forty seconds before Klaus finally answered.
“Diego,” He said bluntly, not bothering with a hello. “I think I’ve figured out why you’re single. It’s because you’re so needy. Nobody wants to date a guy that phones three times in less than two minutes. Get a grip! You look desperate!”
“I told you I was gonna call. What were you doing?”
“Drying my hair! I’m not gonna put my whole life on hold because I’m expecting a call from you.”
He rolled his eyes, resting his head back against the wall behind him. “I got the case. How soon can you get to the house?”
There was a pause. “Thirty minutes probably. Twenty if I don’t paint my nails.”
“Why would you need to paint your nails? You’re going to a crime scene, not a party.”
“First of all, those things are not mutually exclusive,” Klaus told him. “Second, I have to paint them because, unlike you, I take my appearance seriously. What if I meet the love of my life today and I have chipped nails?”
“You got problems a lot bigger than chipped nails, Klaus,” Diego muttered, rubbing his temple impatiently.
“Still, I’m not prepared to take that chance. I’ll see you in half an hour.”
He hung up before Diego could get another word in and he sighed, shaking his head to himself as he pushed through the door and headed back inside.
Dave was sat at his desk when he got back, his finger circling the edge of his empty coffee cup as he looked over the page in front of him.
“Tell me there’s something good in that report.” Diego said as he sat on the edge of the desk, snatching the papers from under his nose.
“Two sets of prints on the gun, one matching the victim. Three sets of fresh prints on the door.”
Diego nodded. “I can guess where at least one of those came from.” He mumbled, remembering the frenzied exit Klaus made when the police arrived the night before.
“They match with the first two,” Dave continued. “So someone else was in the house, holding the gun that killed him.”
“Son of a-” He cut his own sentence off midway, glaring over at Carmichael’s office door. He’d known, the whole time, that Diego was right, and he’d let him gamble everything away to prove it anyway.
He shook his head, slapping the file back down on the desk angrily and making Dave jump.
“Sorry,” He mumbled. “You ready to head to the crime scene?”
“Sure. But can we stop off at Starbucks first so I can get the taste of salty coffee out of my mouth?”
Diego stared at him for a second. “Why would you drink the whole thing?”
“I thought I might just get used to the taste,” Dave shrugged. “Let me tell you, I did not.”
He didn’t have a response to that so he turned and left, letting Dave follow behind him out to the car. At Starbucks, he decided to get something for Klaus to avoid the whiny comment he would inevitably make if he saw Dave’s cup. He could feel Dave’s eyes on him as he ordered it. Caramel frappe, with cream, chocolate sauce, and three shots of espresso.
Back in the car, he could see Dave out of the corner of his eye, nursing his iced macchiato and glancing back and forth between Diego and the heart attack currently sitting in the cup holder.
“It’s not for me,” Diego finally said. “It’s for my brother. He’s meeting us there.”
“Oh, okay. Is he in forensics or something?”
Diego snorted. “Not exactly.”
There was no sign of Klaus when they pulled up outside the house and he took a breath, turning back to Dave.
“So, about my brother. He’s a little…” He trailed off, struggling to think of a word that came close to capturing Klaus’ personality. “Unpredictable. You’ll see what I mean instantly but just… for your own sake I’d advise against trying to start a conversation with him unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
“He sounds fun.”
As if on cue, Diego heard a knock on the window, and turned to see Klaus waving at him through the glass.
Klaus grabbed Diego’s arm as soon as he got out of the car, thrusting his other hand in front of his face to show off his electric blue fingernails.
“See? Absolutely worth it.”
“Get off me, you idiot,” Diego muttered as he smacked his hand away. “I need you to-” He stopped, midway through his sentence when he saw what Klaus was wearing. The ripped up ombré jeans were nothing new, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the hauntingly familiar multi-coloured mermaid scale crop top that sat a little big around his shoulders. “Are you… Is that my old binder?”
“Oh, yeah!” Klaus grinned. “Always thought the print was more my style anyway. I mean you wore it what, once? When we were nineteen and crashed that house party? You know you should really start experimenting with your wardrobe again. The black on black on black works but you could take it so much further. Hey, you got Starbucks?”
Klaus’ eyes lit up as he spotted the liquid sugar bomb Diego was holding and he snatched it from his hand.
“You remembered my order? That’s sweet, we’re like a married couple.” He grinned, taking a sip and practically vibrating at the bolt of pure energy shooting into his system.
“Don’t be disgusting.”
“Relax, you’re not my type.” Klaus chuckled, slapping him on the shoulder.
He started taking another sip from his cup and Diego shook his head, the sound of the passenger door slamming pulling his attention away. It must have caught Klaus’ attention too, and Diego heard him inhale sharply and choke on his drink. After a minute long coughing fit, he regained his composure and turned back to Diego.
“Who’s your friend?”
Diego sighed, already regretting every decision that lead him to this point. “Klaus,” He said, gesturing over to Dave as he approached. “This is Dave. He’s my partner on the case. Dave, this is my brother, Klaus.”
Dave stared at Klaus for a moment, like he wasn’t sure how to respond to what he was seeing.
“I like your nail polish,” He finally said, his eyes lingering on Klaus’ hands wrapped around his Starbucks cup. Klaus cocked his eyebrow at that, giving Diego a knowing look while Dave continued to try and process everything. “You two are brothers? You look nothing alike.”
“Our mother had a sordid affair.” Klaus grinned, snaking his arm around Diego’s shoulder.
“We’re adopted.” Diego corrected. “You wanna start taking a look around the house, Dave? My brother and I need to have a conversation.”
Dave nodded, heading off up the path and through the door. The second he was out of sight, Klaus turned to look at him.
“I’m in love with him.”
“No you’re not,” Diego mumbled, dragging his hand down his face. “Can you please be serious?”
“Diego, I’ve never been more serious about anything in my life. I’m gonna get his name tattooed on my stomach. That’s how serious I am.”
“I bet you don’t even remember what his name is.”
Klaus paused and Diego folded his arms, raising his eyebrows expectantly. After almost a minute of silence, Klaus finally spoke.
“I knew that, I was testing you.” Klaus mumbled. A second passed and he shook his head, waving his arm around. “I- I don’t need to know his name to know I’m in love with him! That’s the least important thing to know about a person. You knew me for ten years before you found out my name! Does that mean you don’t love me? Because I got a friendship bracelet back home that I think proves otherwise.”
“You didn’t have a name until we were ten, it’s not the same,” Diego said flatly. “And that’s not the point. You always do this. Any time a guy is remotely nice to you, you claim he’s the love of your life. I need you to focus.”
“I do not always do that. Name one time I’ve done that.”
Klaus gasped and scowled at him. “How dare you say his name.”
“He was a barista, right? You told me he was your soulmate because he drew a cute little heart next to your name on your coffee cup.”
“But,” Diego continued. “When we went back the next day, he drew a heart next my name too. In fact, he drew hearts next to everyone’s names. That night I found you sat fully clothed in the shower listening to Gilbert O’Sullivan.”
“I was fine.” Klaus muttered, sipping at his drink and avoiding Diego’s eyes.
“You were crying.”
“Well joke’s on you, Diego. I’m always crying.”
“Whatever,” Diego said, giving up on that conversation. “Can you please focus? Have you sobered up?”
“More or less.” Klaus shrugged.
“It’s a yes or no question. Can you see the ghosts or not?”
“Uh,” Klaus’ eyes flicked over to Diego’s car bonnet. “Not yet. You know there’s no guarantee your guy is even still here, right? And I never fully figured out how to conjure specific people so-”
“Just get inside,” Diego sighed, ushering him up the path.
The house looked even worse than he remembered in the light of day. The walls were covered in muck and grime and the wallpaper was peeling in several places. There were stains all over the floor and the couch, and Diego didn’t want to think about what they might be from. Dave was inspecting the cracked glass in the backdoor, glancing over his shoulder when he heard Klaus and Diego behind him.
“You think this is old? He asked, swinging the door on its hinges. “Given the rest of the house, I’m not sure getting his door fixed would be that high on his priorities.”
Diego shook his head. “A crack like that would spread, can’t be more than a couple days old.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I think-” Dave paused, glancing over Diego’s shoulder. “What is he doing?”
On the other side of the room, Klaus was tripping over scattered beer cans, drumming his hands on his thighs and making kissing noises.
“Here, ghosty ghosty,” He called as he wandered around in circles. “Come oooooooon. Work with me here.” He looked over at the empty couch and rolled his eyes. “Shut up. I know what I’m doing.”
“Klaus,” Diego said flatly, snapping him back into reality. “You got anything yet?”
“Yeah. One dead jerk who thinks he’s soo smart even though he never even graduated,” He stared pointedly back at the couch. “And a really angry looking grandma who won’t stop staring at me. I can’t find Josh though. I don’t think he’s here.”
“The dead guy.” Klaus and Dave said in unison.
Diego shrunk back against the wall and made a mental note to actually read the case file when they got back. “What do you mean he’s not here?” He asked, trying to move the conversation on. “Where else would he be?”
Klaus shrugged. “I don’t know, I keep telling you they don’t always stay in the place they died. Sometimes they follow their body around and end up stuck in a graveyard for eternity, sometimes they follow treasured loved ones around,” He paused, blowing a kiss to the couch. “A lot of the murdered ones will follow their killers around, so unless you murdered him, we’re probably not gonna find him here.”
The thought of all the people Diego had killed when he was younger following him around wasn’t one he wanted to dwell on. He glanced over at Dave, who either wasn’t listening or was completely unphased by their casual conversation about the habits of the dead. Instead, he was watching Klaus with a strange sort of fascination as he bickered with the empty space next to him. His eyes were fixed on Klaus’ wrist, and it took Diego a moment to realise his tattoo was on full display.
“Wait…” Dave said slowly, turning towards him. “Wait, I knew I recognised that name. You’re the umbrella kids, right?”
“Umbrella kids?” Klaus giggled. “I enjoy you.”
“Klaus, focus,” Diego told him, ignoring Klaus’ disgruntled muttering and turning back to Dave. “Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Yes, I’m the knife guy. No, we don’t do the superhero thing anymore. My brother really is on the moon, and I can’t get you my sister’s autograph. Under absolutely no circumstances am I gonna talk to you about Ben or Five or the Academy in general, and he,” He pointed over to Klaus, “really can see dead people. Any other questions?”
Dave looked thoughtful for a moment and shook his head. “Nope, you’ve pretty much covered all bases there.” He looked back at Klaus. “So he’s gonna talk to the victim for us?”
“That’s the plan, if he can get his shit together,” Diego sighed. “Nobody else knows about this, by the way. So if you could keep this between us that’d be great.”
“Hey, don’t worry. You can trust me.”
Trust wasn’t something that came easy to Diego, but for some reason he trusted Dave. He turned his attention back to Klaus, who was now sitting cross legged on the kitchen counter and seemed to have completely forgotten what he was supposed to be doing, picking absentmindedly at the laces of his stolen shoes. He looked up when Diego approached him.
“This is boring,” He whined, slumping back against the wall. “Can I have my money now?”
“Nope, we’re not giving up yet.”
Klaus groaned and pulled a cigarette out of his pocket, which Diego immediately smacked out of his hand.
“Will you please focus for five minutes?”
Behind him, Dave piped up, “Maybe it’ll work if we go into another room?”
Klaus smiled at him affectionately. “You’re adorable. That won’t make any difference.” He paused thoughtfully for a moment, and held his arms out in front of him. “My powers actually work better if someone holds my hands.”
Without questioning it, Dave took his hands, and Diego shook his head in bewilderment. It was, by no means, the first time Klaus had made an idiot of himself with whoever had caught his eye at the time, but it was the first time Diego had seen someone so receptive to it. He let out a deep breath and rubbed his temples, his headache showing no sign of subsiding any time soon.
“Klaus,” He said slowly, taking Dave by the shoulders and pulling him away. “What is it gonna take to get you to concentrate?”
“I already told you, he’s not here!” Klaus said, throwing his arms up in the air. “What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to try and get him here!”
“I. Don’t. Know. How.” He clapped to punctuate each word. “I don’t know how! I’ve never done it before!”
“I know that,” Diego said bluntly, struggling to hide his irritation. “But you’re not even trying.”
Klaus groaned and buried his face in his hands, and Diego folded his arms impatiently. He turned to Dave to say something, but no sooner had he taken his eyes off Klaus, he heard the sound of smashing behind him. They all stared at the shattered cup on the tiles and Diego looked up at Klaus in complete disbelief.
“Are you serious, Klaus? How fucking childish can you be?”
“What!? I was sat two feet away from it! How could that possibly be my fault?”
“You’re unbelievable,” He muttered, flexing his fingers angrily.
“I’m unbelievable? You’re unbelievable!” Klaus hopped down from the counter and jabbed him in the chest. “When we left you told me this was never gonna happen again. ‘Ooh once we get out of here you’ll never be forced to use your powers again, bro. We’re never gonna go on missions again, bro.’” He mimicked, slumping back against the counter. “This feels a hell of a lot like another mission, Diego.”
He opened his mouth to respond, but no words came out. Instead he just gawked at him as what he’d said sunk in. And, Jesus, was this who he was now? Reginald Hargreeves 2.0? Maybe that had been dad’s plan all along. Twist them all into some sick image of himself to feed his God complex and then send them out into the world to ruin even more lives. Or, maybe this was nothing to do with dad at all. Maybe this was just him. Either way, Klaus was right. This was exactly what they’d left the academy to get away from.
Klaus was staring awkwardly at his feet like he wished he’d never said anything at all, scratching the back of his neck and scuffing his shoe against the tiles. When he finally did look up, he barely made eye contact with Diego for a second before his eyes flicked away, going distant again. Next to him, Dave cleared his throat uncomfortably, shifting where he stood like he was hoping the ground would swallow him up.
“Klaus,” Diego said quietly after a moment. “I didn’t-”
He was interrupted by Klaus waving his hand in his face, still not looking at him.
Diego persisted. “No, listen, you’re right. I shouldn’t have pushed-”
“Shut up,” He hissed. “I can hear something.”
He followed Klaus’ eyes to the open bedroom door, trying to no avail to hear whatever he was listening to. Klaus shoved his shoulder gently, pushing him out of the way as he wandered across the room and poked his head through the doorway.
“Uh, Diego?” He said, turning back towards them. “I found your guy.”
Klaus disappeared into the bedroom, and Diego and Dave followed behind him. The room was cramped once all three of them had bundled inside, but Klaus barely even acknowledged them, sat with his knees pulled up to his chest next to the mattress in the corner.
“Hey,” He said, snapping his fingers in the air. “Hi! Me again. Sorry I kinda took off yesterday but you know, I’m a busy person and avenging dead acquaintances was pretty low on my priorities that night so-”
Diego coughed, getting Klaus’ attention before he could go any further off track.
“Oh right, yeah! Anyway, this is my brother, Diego. He’s a cop. Him and his cute friend are gonna find the guy that killed you. I just need to…” He trailed off, looking back over at them. “Wait, what do you need me to do again?”
Dave shrugged and suddenly all eyes were on Diego. He couldn’t even see the dead guy, but somehow Diego knew he was staring at him expectantly too. He racked his brain for a moment as he tried to remember how to do his job, and cleared his throat.
“Okay, well, first off, can you ask him how much he remembers from last night?”
“Diego, I don’t need to ask him everything,” Klaus said, blinking at him like he was an idiot. “He can hear you.”
“Right,” Diego mumbled. “Dave, you got a pen? You should probably write all this down.”
Nodding, Dave pulled a notepad out from his back pocket, pausing to look at him. “Won’t it be quicker if Klaus writes?”
Klaus giggled and Diego shook his head. “We’d be here forever.”
“I’m dyslexic,” Klaus grinned, winking up at Dave like it was a brag.
He didn’t seem to question it, sitting cross legged on the floor next to Klaus without another word. Diego briefly considered sitting down too, but he only had to take one look at the state of the floor, and the even worse state of the mattress, to decide against it.
“So,” He said, unsure whether to direct his questions at Klaus, or the empty space on the mattress. “Last night. What does he - what do you remember about the attacker?”
They managed to get a pretty good picture, via Klaus, of what happened. The guy, Josh, had been sat at his desk, heard a noise behind him, and the next thing he knew there was a gun against his head and a bullet in his brain. He ‘woke up’ in time to see someone with buzzed blonde hair and a scarf pulled over their face setting up the suicide and run out the door, talking to themselves the entire time. They were short, shorter than Josh anyway, skinny, with tattoos on their shoulders that he couldn’t make out in the dark. According to Josh, they’d seemed panicked as they left, swinging the door open so hard it cracked the glass. They still had a way to go to prove anything, but it was a better starting point than Diego usually had for his cases. It occurred to him, while Klaus reeled off information and Dave rushed to get everything written down, that if they found a way to control Klaus’ addiction, this could be a job for him. Carmichael would laugh him out of the precinct if he tried to suggest it, and given how his last conversation with Klaus had gone, he wasn’t about to broach the subject with him again any time soon. Still, the thought lingered in his mind, along with a faint glimmer of hope that Klaus’ future might not be a total improbability.
“I think, if we’re gonna get anywhere here,” Dave said, pulling Diego out of his thoughts as he tapped his pen thoughtfully against the notepad. “We gotta figure out why you were killed.”
Another thought that crossed Diego’s mind was how easily Dave had taken to interviewing a ghost, talking to thin air like there was nothing unusual about what was happening.
Klaus shrugged. “He’s a loser who barely leaves his house. He just sells pot to pay for his geology classes. Why would anyone wanna kill him?”
“Patch found a stash of coke in his dishwasher, Klaus,” Diego told him. “I’d hardly call that ‘just selling pot’.”
“What !?” Klaus snapped his head back towards the mattress, his mouth hanging open. “And you didn’t share ?”
There was silence for a moment and Klaus chuckled. “Oh, he wasn’t selling that.” He paused. “Do you have more?”
“Klaus,” Diego said bluntly.
“Killjoy,” He muttered, not taking his eyes off the empty space in front of him. “Still, no idea why anyone would wanna kill him for that. Like I said, he barely leaves the house. Maybe it was just some lunatic with a bloodlust.”
Diego shook his head. “You don’t break into someone’s house, shoot them, and then cover up the murder all on an impulse. It’s premeditated.”
For a few more minutes they all sat, throwing out ideas and getting them shot down. He had no enemies, no sour relationships, and no dramas. The most noteworthy thing to happen to him all month was two weeks ago, when he had to send a burger back in a diner because he’d asked for no onions. Eventually, both Diego and Dave had exhausted all of their questions, and Klaus was getting too restless and distracted to even get a full sentence out without going off topic. It was obvious he didn’t want to be there any more, glancing up at Diego every couple of seconds like he was waiting for permission to leave.
Finally, Diego put him out of his misery. “Okay, I think we’re done here.”
“Great!” Klaus leapt to his feet in a blur. “I’m gonna go get fucked up. You are not invited.” He said, looking over at Diego. “Dave, you’re invited! Drinks are on you because I have no money.”
Dave chuckled. “I can’t, I’m still on duty.”
“Aw,” He pouted. “Next time then.”
He ran his hand affectionately through Dave’s hair before turning and heading out through the door. Diego followed him. He wasn’t great at the apology thing, or talking about feelings in general, but he felt horrible about forcing Klaus to use his powers. Klaus was marching so fast he almost had to jog to catch up to him, grabbing his arm before he could get to the door.
“Klaus, wait,” He said, frowning when Klaus wrenched his arm away. “Can we talk?”
“What? No, you just said we were done! I’m going home.”
Klaus contradicted himself by staying put, wrapping his arms around himself and waiting for Diego to say something.
For a moment Diego just stared at him. He wished Klaus would have rambled for a little longer so he could have taken a minute to plan what he wanted to say.
“Uh, first off, you did really good. I’m…” He hesitated, trying to get a read on where Klaus’ mood was. “Proud of you?”
“Don’t patronise me, Diego.”
Okay, so he needs to get better at judging Klaus’ mood.
“Sorry,” He mumbled. “What I mean is… You really helped me out, and I really appreciate it.”
Klaus didn’t say anything and he sighed. “And, I’m sorry I yelled at you.”
“That’s what you’re sorry for?” Klaus shook his head, chuckling to himself. “Okay, well, the yelling worked, right? So maybe dear old Papa wasn’t so crazy after all.”
Before Diego could even open his mouth, Klaus turned on his heel, thrusting his left hand into Diego’s face before he walked off.
When Klaus got his tattoos, Diego had been a little unsure why he wanted them on his hands of all places, especially after listening to him whine about how much they hurt for the next week. He had to admit though, having a bold GOOD BYE thrust in his face definitely got the message across that their conversation was over. He let him leave without another word, and when he turned around he saw Dave loitering awkwardly in the bedroom doorway.
“Sorry about that,” He said, holding the front door open and gesturing for Dave to follow him. “I don’t… We’re not like that all the time.”
Dave waved him off, shaking his head. “I got a brother and two older sisters, I get it.” He glanced up the path just as Klaus disappeared around the corner. “Is he okay?”
He wasn’t sure he remembered a time when Klaus was okay. Not by normal standards anyway. But even by Klaus standards, Diego hadn’t seen him that upset in a while. They couldn’t have been older than fifteen the last time he’d had to use his powers for anything, before their dad wrote him off as a lost cause and left him to go off the rails. The more he thought about it, the more he realised how much shit he’d probably just dredged up by making Klaus do that again.
“I shouldn’t have brought him here,” He said quietly, thinking out loud.
They both got back into the car without another word and sat in silence for a while, Diego staring blankly out at the road in front of them while Dave flipped through the notes he’d made.
“I think we should start by talking to this Alex guy,” Dave said after a while, tapping his notepad thoughtfully. “See if he knows anything.”
Alex was, from what they’d been able to gather, the only person Josh saw regularly. He referred to him as a friend, but Diego got the impression he was more of a customer. Their whole relationship comprised of getting baked together and then going home.
“Hey, you alright, man?”
It wasn’t until Dave nudged his arm that he realised he’d been asked a question, and he nodded absently.
“I’m fine,” He murmured. “It’s been a long day.”
“Really ? Shit.”
He let out an exasperated sigh and turned the keys in the ignition. “Okay, let’s find the stoner.”
As they drove, two main questions stuck in his mind. One: What were they gonna ask Alex if they found him? And two: What the hell was he gonna say to Klaus when he got home?
ahh I planned on resolving the argument at the end of this chapter but then the word count started to get too long so guess y'all will just have to tune in next time to find out if Klaus will ever experience happiness again :/ feel free to cyberbully me
Alex was an asshole.
They tracked him down easily enough. He attended the same college as Josh, and, according to his professor, spent most of his time in the library, which was where they eventually found him. He was a little younger than Josh. If Diego had to guess, he’d say around twenty. His blond hair was matted and pulled back in a ponytail, and Diego took an instant disliking to him the moment he saw him. It wasn’t until Dave cleared his throat that he even realised they were standing over him and looked up, staring at Diego with a hazed out expression he was used to getting from Klaus.
“Alex Jeffords?” He asked, holding his badge up when Alex nodded. “I’m Detective Hargreeves, this is Detective Katz. You got time for a couple of questions?”
It was a rhetorical question. Judging by the Gameboy clutched in his hands and the unopened textbooks shoved to the side, it was clear he had the time. Still, Alex gazed blankly up at him like he didn’t understand what he was being asked.
“Am I under arrest?”
Diego cocked his eyebrow at him. “Should you be?”
“No… Nope,” He murmured, shaking his head and looking back down at the game he was playing. “Is this gonna take long? I’m in the middle of something.”
“It’s about Josh Haywood,” Dave said. “He was a friend of yours, right?”
Alex nodded but didn’t look up. “Yeah I guess, what about him?”
Dave looked a little taken aback by Diego’s bluntness, but Alex didn’t react.
“Yeah, I know. Heard it this morning,” He said flatly. “Suicide, right? Yikes.”
They both stared at him, bemused, for a moment, glancing over at each other as they tried to figure out how to respond.
“We uh… actually have reason to believe he was murdered,” Dave told him.
That seemed to pique Alex’s interest enough to finally switch his Gameboy off and set it down on the table. Dave pulled up a chair and Diego followed suit. He let Dave take the lead with the questions, worried that he’d lose his temper too quickly if he tried to talk to him himself. The first ten minutes of their conversation consisted of Dave attempting to convince Alex that nobody was trying to kill him, and that they were not there to protect him from some kind of college stoner serial killer. Once that was laid to rest, they tried to get some kind of background information on Josh, but Alex didn’t seem to have much to offer.
“I didn’t really know him that well, to be honest,” He shrugged, rocking back on his chair. “He kept to himself most of the time. Pretty sure the only person he spoke to regularly was his mom.”
They tried exploring his relationship with his mom, but that got them nowhere. For over an hour they tried prying for some disagreement, some tiny thing Josh might have done to upset someone, but there was nothing. He was just… normal. Slightly closed off, but normal. Someone had broken into his house and shot him point blank in the head, and there just didn’t seem to be a single reason why. Eventually, Alex had to leave for a class, and Dave and Diego were left staring at each other, none the wiser about anything.
“Well, that was a waste of time,” Diego mumbled, folding his arms across the table and resting his chin on them.
Dave hummed quietly, drumming his pen against the table. “I dated a guy almost exactly like that when I was seventeen.”
“Wow,” Diego snorted. “I hope your tastes have improved since then.”
“Oh, I didn’t really like him at the time. I just wanted to rile my parents up.” He paused, worrying on his lip thoughtfully. “Wasted a lot of time doing that, then wasted even more time trying to do exactly what they wanted. Then, last month, I realised nothing I did was gonna be good enough, so I left.”
Diego blinked at him and he chuckled. “Sorry, that got a little heavy. This place is giving me high school flashbacks.”
“Yeah? Is it the textbooks or the pot smell?”
They both laughed and Diego nodded. “Yeah, me too,” He said as he got to his feet. “Let’s get out of here.”
As they walked back to the car, Dave spoke again.
“Hey, can I ask you a personal question?”
It caught Diego off guard, because people usually didn’t ask permission. Most people he met seemed to think that because they knew who he was, because he’d been on TV and done a couple of magazine interviews, that they were somehow entitled to his entire life story.
Dave seemed to sense his trepidation and hastily added, “You don’t have to answer it.”
They reached the car before Diego could answer, and it wasn’t until they were both inside that he turned back to him.
“Okay,” He said as he started the car. “What did you wanna ask?”
“I just wondered what it was like, growing up in a house full of superkids,” Dave said quietly, looking out at the road. “I mean, it was hard enough fighting for attention with three normal siblings. Must’ve been rough.”
Diego let out a somewhat hysterical laugh at that. “Yeah, you could say that. Five insanely powerful siblings and what can I do? Throw knives around corners.”
“Throwing knives is pretty cool too.”
“I can also hold my breath indefinitely,” Diego chuckled. “But that’s only cool if you don’t have a sister who can alter reality, or a brother with an interdimensional monster under his skin.”
He frowned, gripping the wheel a little tighter. “I don’t think we were fighting for attention, though. Attention from dad was just about the worst thing that could happen to you. If anything we were trying to avoid it,” He paused. “Except maybe Five, but look where that got him.”
Dave nodded slowly. “I mean, when you put it that way…” He trailed off and stared out the window for a moment. “So can you control anything you throw?”
“Yeah, within reason.”
“Can you control things that other people throw?”
Diego’s face fell and he moved his hand instinctively to the scar that ran along the side of his head, a permanent reminder of the time his father had asked the same question. It was only by sheer luck that Pogo had been sitting in on his training that day, and managed to convince Reginald to stick with knives at first, rather than bullets.
At least he had time to try and jump out of the way.
“No,” He mumbled. “I can’t do that.”
The two of them fell silent for the rest of the drive back to the precinct, and the conversation barely picked back up once they got there. They spent what felt like an eternity going back over all the notes Dave had made, bouncing ideas back and forth. Diego must have read over the forensics report ten times now, each time hoping that some new detail would suddenly appear that pulled everything together. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Carmichael watching him through his office window with a smug smirk on his face. He was probably already mentally picturing Diego’s empty desk. Fantasising about Diego turning in his badge.
Eventually Diego’s brain ran out of rational thoughts, and they called it quits. Dave still somehow managed to maintain his unshakable optimism, clapping him on the back before they went their separate ways and assuring him that tomorrow they would crack it, then beaming at him before leaving him alone in the parking lot.
He checked his phone. Almost two hours ago he’d sent Klaus a message in an attempt at making peace, asking what kind of smoothie he wanted. Klaus had read the text but hadn’t responded, so Diego fell back on his usual favourite, stopping off on his way home to get the blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. He was pretty sure Klaus liked the colour of it more than anything, but it usually seemed to cheer him up. The lights were on in the window when he pulled up outside, and when he walked through the door he could see Klaus out of the corner of his eye, curled up in the furthest corner of the couch and engulfed in an oversized pastel blue unicorn hoodie.
He didn’t acknowledge Diego when he came in, though he couldn’t be certain if he was intentionally ignoring him or not. His eyes were firmly locked on the battered sketchbook clutched in his hand, his brow furrowed and his tongue poking out in concentration as he scribbled furiously on the page with a worn piece of chalk. Diego decided it would be best not to disturb him and left him alone, quietly unpacking the groceries and rooting around in the cabinet for the box of fruit teas Klaus liked. Klaus needed an advanced warning before he used the blender for smoothies, but for now this was the next best thing. Behind him, the sound of scribbling had stopped and he could tell Klaus was watching him, but he glanced away again any time Diego turned to look at him.
It was only when Diego came over to him and thrust the mug of tea towards him that he finally made eye contact with him. He set his drawing down and took the cup wordlessly, nursing it in his hands while Diego stood in front of him and tried to think of something to say. He’d gone over several potential conversation starters in his head while he’d been at the precinct with Dave, but none of them felt right anymore.
After almost a minute of awkward silence he cleared his throat.
“Can I sit with you?” He asked, shifting his feet awkwardly.
Klaus nodded without much hesitation so he sat down next to him, propping his feet up on the coffee table. They both sat silently, Diego picking at a loose thread on his jacket and Klaus circling the rim of his mug with his finger. When they finally did talk, it was at exactly the same time, both talking over each other and then snapping their mouths shut again.
“You go first,” Diego said quietly.
It took a moment for Klaus to speak again. Up close, Diego could see the orange chalk dust in his hair and smeared across his face. He could see how sore his eyes and nose were, how his eyeliner smudged down his face even more than usual, the way it always did when he’d been crying.
“I’m sorry I was such a prick earlier,” He mumbled, looking down at his tea.
Diego frowned at him. “What are you talking about?”
He shrugged, curling in on himself even more. “You were trying to do your job and I was being really difficult and I… I shouldn’t have said that stuff about dad and the missions. It wasn’t like that. You’re not like that. It was just a lot of pressure and I-”
“Klaus,” Diego interrupted him. “You’ve got nothing to be sorry for.”
Klaus looked at him like he didn’t understand what Diego had said, but he continued regardless.
“Look, what happened was my fault, okay? I- I... I shouldn’t have pushed you to use your powers. You don’t- We don’t do that anymore.” He paused, chewing on his lip hesitantly. “I was an asshole. I’m sorry.”
He thought he saw the faintest smile twitching on Klaus’ face at that, but he didn’t respond, sipping his tea silently. A few minutes ticked by and Klaus set the mug down on the coffee table and picked his sketchbook back up, smudging the chalk out with his thumb a little less frantically than before. Diego was starting to think the conversation was over, but before he could get up to move Klaus shuffled closer to him until their arms were pressed together, and silently nestled his head against his shoulder.
“My powers get stronger when I’m anxious, I think,” Klaus said quietly after a while, not looking up from his drawing. “I always suspected they did and... I guess today confirmed it. I get all this noise in my head but then it goes quiet and everything gets stronger. Does that make sense?”
Diego put his arm around him and squeezed his shoulder, and Klaus hummed appreciatively in response. “It’s pretty useless, right? I mean my powers are useless anyway, but… well who wants to see a dead person when they’re having a panic attack? I’m no expert on mental health but I don’t see how that’s supposed to benefit me.”
The sombre tone in Klaus’ voice was completely undermined by the smiling unicorn hood that greeted Diego when he tried to look down at him.
“It’s real hard to take you seriously with that thing on your head,” He said and Klaus giggled quietly, pulling the hood down. “Do you think dad knew?”
Klaus shrugged. “I don’t know. When he used to…” He trailed off, snuggling closer to him. “He always said it was because I needed to get over the fear.”
“Could have been lying. Could have been trying to scare you and see how strong your powers were.” He balled his hand into a fist at the thought, but Klaus just shook his head.
“Dad lied about a lot of shit, but he was usually pretty upfront about why he was torturing us.”
Unsure of what to say, Diego just hummed in agreement, running his hand up and down Klaus’ arm absentmindedly. “Well, either way, I’m not gonna make you do that again.” He paused, looking back down at him uncertainly. “Are we… Are we good?”
“Yeah, we’re good,” Klaus said softly. “I just wish you’d told me that a few hours ago. I’ve been stone cold sober all day ‘cause I didn’t know if you were gonna call again.”
Diego watched as Klaus pulled a bag of pills out of his pocket, knocking a couple back before he could react. Though, at this point, he wasn’t sure he even wanted to stop him. Klaus sighed and turned his sketchbook on its side, tilting it at different angles for a few moments.
“Either I draw ten times better when I’m sober,” He said slowly, holding it up for Diego to look at. “Or ten times worse. What do you think?”
He looked down at the page, which was an explosion of orange, yellow, and indigo streaks and smudges. “What’s it supposed to be?” He asked, tilting his head.
“I don’t know.” Klaus shrugged. “I haven’t decided yet. It’s abstract, I think. You wouldn’t understand.”
“No, I like it,” He insisted, taking the sketchbook and flipping it upside down. “It’s different to your other stuff.”
Klaus’ art style varied a lot depending his mood and whatever he’d taken that day. Most of the time he drew his dreams. Those were kept in the far corner of the apartment out of sight. Canvases stacked behind one another and turned to face the wall, filled with clusters of skeletal figures and wide empty eyes. Sketchbooks with singed corners and entire pages painted black, kept buried underneath a pile of clothes. Other times he flicked paint onto the pages and blurred everything together until the colours turned to mud. On really bad days he would curl up in the corner, tucked away behind the TV, pressing pencils down so hard they tore and through the paper, a decent alternative to scratching through his own skin. He didn’t show Diego those pages often, but the ones he did see never made any kind of sense to him. Just a series of markings and words in languages he didn’t understand or an order that made no sense.
Still, the one consistency in all of them was how dark everything was. Everything was blacks, greys, deep purples, and blues. The brightest colour he’d seen Klaus use before was the red he used on the gory bodies from his nightmares. The orange and yellows in this picture were new, and it occurred to him that he’d never seen Klaus make anything while he was sober before.
“Hey, not to push the subject or anything,” Klaus said next to him, pulling him out of his thoughts. “But when can I get that money you promised me?”
Diego rolled his eyes and pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. “I know you’re gonna spend all of this on drugs,” He said as he counted the notes out. “But for my own peace of mind can you just... pretend you’re gonna buy something else.”
“For your information, Diego, I was going to buy some new paints. The chalk was fun but it’s not me.” He paused, chuckling to himself. “I’m a medium that can’t find his medium.”
“You’re hilarious,” Diego mumbled, handing him the money. “And paints do not cost fifty dollars.”
“I know that. The rest will be spent on drugs,” Klaus said plainly. “Oh! And a belly button piercing.”
“Why belly button?”
Klaus shrugged. “I have so many crop tops now. It just seems like the natural course of action to take.” He sighed thoughtfully to himself. “That being said, I think I’m gonna throw this one back in the garbage,” He said, gesturing to the mermaid top he was still wearing under the hoodie. “It fits me weird.”
“Yeah, because it was designed for me,” Diego reminded him. “Not you and your scrawny, flat ass chest.”
“I’m not scrawny,” He muttered and Diego chuckled, wrapping his other arm around Klaus’ tiny frame and pulling him effortlessly onto his lap to prove his point.
“See?” He smirked, holding him in place. “Scrawny.”
Klaus wriggled in a futile attempt to get free.
“Get off me, you ass,” He protested. “I’m forty eight minutes older than you. Whatever happened to respecting your elders?”
“I’m bigger than you.” Diego said confidently and Klaus snorted.
“I’m half an inch taller and you know it.”
“Your hair is taller than me,” He muttered. “That doesn’t count.”
Klaus finally wrenched himself out of Diego’s arms and clambered back onto the couch next to him, smirking cockily at him. “Yeah, well your combat boots don’t count either.”
“Go fuck yourself.”
Giggling to himself, Klaus wrapped his arms around Diego’s neck and attempted to kiss the side of his head, laughing even harder when Diego shoved him away. “Can’t you just accept me as your big brother?”
“No,” Diego said bluntly. “I would rather die.”
“Well now you’re just being dramatic,” Klaus mumbled as he rolled over, curling back up against the arm of the couch and plopping his feet into Diego’s lap. “And that’s coming from me.”
They both fell silent for a while. Diego peeled his jacket off and shifted round, lying back on the pillows at the other end of the couch and staring up at the ceiling. He could hear Klaus fumbling around next to him, and a couple of minutes later the TV in the corner of the room clicked on. The volume was too low for him to make out what was playing, but he welcomed the background noise, closing his eyes for a moment and listening to the muffled conversations between characters.
“Hmm,” Klaus hummed thoughtfully after a few minutes. “Do we have vodka?”
“We always have vodka,” Diego said quietly, not opening his eyes.
He didn’t need to look to know exactly what Klaus was doing. He could hear him scrambling to his feet, padding across the room, scraping one of the metal chairs cross the floor and climbing up to reach the top of the fridge where they kept all the alcohol. A few bottles clinked together as Klaus searched for the one he wanted, and then the fridge door swung open and a moment later he heard Klaus let out a frustrated sigh.
“We have two bottles of tequila, half a bottle of gin, a bottle of whiskey, three opened bottles of vodka, but no orange juice?” He paused. “Diego, are we alcoholics?”
“That’s the least of your problems, bro.”
“Yeah, you’re right. You’re right,” He mumbled. “Still. Why do we have no juice?”
“What do you need juice for?” Diego asked, finally turning to face him. “Just drink it neat like an adult.”
Klaus ignored him and continued rifling through the fridge, eventually pulling out a bottle of ginger ale and flopping back onto the couch.
“Wanna get drunk with me?” He asked, offering out the bottle of vodka he was clutching in his other hand and pouting when Diego shook his head.
“I have work tomorrow.”
Taking a swig from each bottle, Klaus cocked his eyebrow at him. “That doesn’t usually stop you. You’ve gone to work still drunk at least twice. Side note: I really think you might have a drinking problem.”
“I don’t have a drinking problem,” Diego insisted. “And I don’t usually have cases to work on that actually matter. I need to focus.”
“Why’s this so important to you?”
He paused. “Because… murder is bad?”
“Wow,” Klaus said sarcastically, taking another sip of vodka. “And here I was thinking the Police Academy was a waste of your time.”
Diego narrowed his eyes at him and he sniggered. “Seriously.” He prodded Diego’s leg with his foot. “You were getting really worked up about it earlier too.”
For a moment Diego said nothing, mentally weighing up the pros and cons of telling Klaus everything that happened with Carmichael that morning. It was impossible to hide anything from Klaus for long. Somehow he always knew when there was something Diego wasn’t telling him, and then he’d push and push until he finally cracked. But Diego couldn’t blame him for that. They weren’t supposed to hide stuff like this from each other. They were supposed to have each other’s backs. Any time Klaus got himself into trouble, real trouble, he always came to him, and they’d figure it out together. Diego didn’t find himself in these sort of situations that much anymore, but when they were kids he was knocking on Klaus’ door almost every night because he’d gotten himself into another mess that needed fixing. He seemed to have a talent for upsetting the others when he was younger. It wasn’t intentional, not all the time, he just seemed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time and the next thing he knew Allison was crying or Five was pissed at him. Klaus, on the other hand, always knew exactly what to say to fix everything. He still did, most of the time.
He felt Klaus poke him again and he sighed, curling his legs up.
“I did something really stupid,” He mumbled.
“That’s not exactly off-piste for you, Di,” Klaus said, chuckling when Diego gave him a cold stare. “I’m sorry. Continue.”
“I uh… I sorta told my boss I’d quit my job if I don’t solve this in two weeks.”
Klaus blinked at him and held the vodka out again. “You sure you don’t want any?”
This time Diego took the bottle, knocking almost half the bottle back and letting it burn down his throat.
“Jesus,” Klaus murmured, holding the ginger ale up. “You want something to wash that down, bud?”
“No. I’m a grown man.”
“I need you to understand that drinking neat spirits is not something any other normal adult does. Not unless they’re severely depressed.”
Ignoring him, Diego took another swig and handed the bottle back to him. “We spent over an hour interviewing our only lead and got fuck all, and now I’ve got thirteen days left to turn fuck all into a solved case.”
Klaus hummed thoughtfully. “I can try and help if you want?”
“You already helped,” Diego reminded him. “And I’m not making you do that again.”
“I don’t mean with my powers. Josh barely had a social life but he was a dealer, and I know a lot of people who probably had a run in with him at some point. Everyone pretty much knows everyone. I bet if I talk to a few guys I could find someone that knows something.”
He frowned when Diego didn’t immediately say anything. “Or I can stay out of it.”
Diego wasn’t ignoring him, just thinking. Maybe the alcohol was already starting to cloud his judgement, but it seemed like Klaus had actually had a good idea.
“That’d be great actually,” He said, nodding slowly. “Thanks.”
Klaus’ face lit up at that and he sat upright, grinning from ear to ear. “Really? Okay. This’ll be so much fun! We’ll be partners! Oh!” He gasped, his eyes going wide. “Do I get a badge ?”
“Absolutely not,” He said firmly. Klaus opened his mouth again and he cut in before he could speak. “You’re not getting a gun either. Don’t make me regret agreeing to this.”
“Aw.” Klaus pouted and took a sip of his drink, grimacing. “Ugh, this is making me feel sick,” He said, drinking another mouthful anyway.
“Have you eaten anything?”
His hesitation told Diego all he needed to know.
“Have I… Have I eaten anything?” Klaus wasn’t looking at him anymore, staring over at the empty armchair against the wall. “Oh yeah! I had some stale Cheez-Its three hours ago. Also we need more Cheez-Its.”
“I’ll make some dinner.”
“Oh Jesus, please don’t,” Klaus said. “Last time you did that you set the spaghetti on fire. I still don’t understand how.”
Diego folded his arms defensively and Klaus sniggered.
“Can we get pizza?” He asked, slumping against the arm of the couch. “I want pizza.”
“You have money now,” Diego pointed out. “You can order your own pizza.”
“I already told you I’m gonna use that for paints and a piercing. Sheesh, Diego. Learn to listen.”
He didn’t have the energy left to argue with him so he just sighed, pulling his phone out. “Fine. What do you want?”
They ordered way too much, drank too much, and probably talked too much. Diego must have fallen asleep on the couch, because the next time he opened his eyes it was morning, and he was lying on his stomach with a pillow tucked under his head and a blanket draped over him. His right arm and leg had gone numb from the awkward position he’d fallen asleep in, and it was a struggle trying to sit upright. Klaus was curled up tightly in the armchair across from him, passed out with his head slumped against the back of the chair and a notepad loosely clutched in his hands. He woke up when Diego started moving, sitting upright with a grunt and blinking into the sunlight.
“Morning, sunshine,” Diego smirked, chuckling at the dirty look Klaus gave him. “When did you go to sleep?”
“Uh, about forty minutes ago,” Klaus mumbled, glancing up at the clock above his head. He held his notepad up and tapped his pen against it. “I was thinking of ideas about who to talk to today.”
Unable to think about work related things this early in the morning, Diego just nodded and got to his feet. “I want eggs,” He grumbled, changing the subject.
“Are you gonna cook them this time?”
Klaus snorted but Diego ignored him, leaving him giggling to himself while he made them breakfast. They didn’t talk much more that morning. Klaus seemed to be taking his newfound responsibility on the case very seriously, continuing to scribble notes down on his pad while he drank the smoothie he’d been promised. Eventually Diego left him to it, getting himself ready for another day of work he really didn’t want to go to. Interestingly, his chronic headache had lessened today, and he was still trying to work out whether he was still drunk, or if alcohol really had solved some of his problems.
Before he left he tapped Klaus on the shoulder, bringing him back from wherever he’d drifted to.
“I’m going to work. You find anything, you call me. Okay?”
“Yeah,” Klaus nodded absently. “Yeah, okay. Sure.”
“You alright, man?”
“Severely sleep deprived, but other than that I’m fine.” He paused and smiled to himself. “Fine by my standards anyway.”
“Alright, take care of yourself.” Diego said, patting him on the shoulder and heading out.
Dave was waiting for him when he got to the precinct, with a large coffee in each hand and a sickeningly cheerful smile on his face.
“Good morning,” He said perkily, his eyes going wide when Diego snatched one of the coffees and started chugging it. “Woah, long night?”
“You could say that.”
“Yeah, me too. I was up all night thinking about this case and ended up falling asleep with my contacts in, so now I’m scared my eyeballs are gonna fall out or something. Hence,” He gestured to the glasses now framing his face. “Anyway, I shotgunned two Redbulls for breakfast so I’m raring to go, partner!”
Diego couldn’t fight the smile that crept onto his face when Dave grinned at him. He reminded him of a much younger version of Klaus, back before all the cynicism and the drugs twisted him into what he is now.
“You come up with anything before you passed out?” He asked, tossing the empty coffee cup into the trash and following Dave inside.
“A couple things, yeah,” Dave nodded, pulling some crumpled up notes out of his jacket. “First, I think we should try and track down Josh’s mom. It sounded like he had a pretty good relationship with her. Maybe she’ll know something his friends don’t. And, oh,” He chuckled and handed one of the pages to him. “This one’s from just before I passed out. I popped some sleeping pills and came up with this whole theory that he’d been killed by time travellers to trigger World War Three. It made a frightening amount of sense to me at the time.”
“Right,” Diego nodded. “Let’s stick with the mom thing for now.”
“Do we know where she lives?” Diego dropped himself heavily into the chair at his desk and loaded up the clunky computer.
It took a torturous amount of time for them to find Josh’ mom. With the internet cutting in and out, and the computer taking twenty minutes at a time to load anything, it almost would have been faster for them to knock on every door in the city until they found her themselves. Especially given when they did find an address for Patricia Haywood, it turned out to be an apartment complex only a couple blocks away.
As they made their way there, Diego mentally prepared himself for what they were about be faced with. A grieving mother who thought her son had killed himself two days ago, and he was gonna have to tell her he’d been murdered. He hated delivering news like this at the best of times. Sometimes they cried, and he never knew what to do. Sometimes they got angry, which he was somewhat better equipped to deal with, but usually just ended up escalating the situation further. Sometimes they just shut down, which was understandable, but not ideal when he needed to question them. His only hope was that Dave was better at this than him.
What he hadn’t prepared himself for were the cop cars surrounding the apartment complex, or the police tape across an open apartment door when they got inside.
“Dave,” He said slowly, watching the forensics team through the doorway. “Tell me that’s not her apartment.”
“That’s not her apartment,” Dave mumbled next to him.
“You didn’t have to actually say it, but thank you.”
Dave shook his head and held up the paper he’d scribbled the address on. “No, it’s not her apartment. This is flat 24. We’re looking for 29.”
“Oh. Wow,” He said, taken aback that for once something had swung in his favour. “Okay, you go see if you can find her. I’m gonna see what happened here. We can meet back at the car after.”
They split up, and Diego ducked under the police tape to get into the apartment, weaving his way through forensics agents photographing the room. Patch was leant against the bathroom door at the other end of the room and spotted him approaching, watching him with a mixture of surprise and disbelief in her eyes.
“We gotta stop meeting like this, Eudora,” He smirked. “Do you seriously ever stop working?”
“What are you doing here?” She asked bluntly.
“Following up on a lead. You?”
“Investigating a homicide.” Patch nodded towards the bathtub, where a body sat slumped against the wall with a cut throat.
Diego screwed his nose up and she continued. “Hope that guy wasn’t your lead, because he’s not gonna be doing much more talking now.”
“You’ve got a sick sense of humour, Patch,” Diego grinned, shaking his head to himself. “I’m not looking for him. My guy’s mom lives across the hall.”
“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. You mind if I look around real quick?”
Patch cocked her eyebrow at him. “Since when do you ask permission?”
“Thought I’d try something new,” He shrugged.
It must have worked, because the corner of her mouth twitched into a smile and she rolled her eyes in resignation. “You have five minutes,” She said firmly, holding her fingers up to make her point. “Then they’re taking the body. So get to it.”
He didn’t need to be told twice, darting into the bathroom and trying to commit everything he laid eyes on to memory. The lock on the door was still intact, no sign of forced entry. The water in the bath was a deep crimson and the smell of blood was so overpowering he had to hold his breath to stop himself gagging as he leant over to get a closer look at the body. Whoever it was, he was young, mid-twenties at best, with dark hair and an owl tattooed across his chest. His throat had been sliced open and dried blood trailed down his neck and chest into the water. Other than that, there was no obvious sign of a fight. Whoever killed him must have snuck up on him pretty fast.
Somebody tapped him on the shoulder and he whipped his head around, his hand reaching instinctively for one of the knives tucked under his jacket. He was expecting Patch, or one of the forensics guys waiting to usher him out of the building, but instead he found himself face to face with Klaus, who just blinked at him in mild amusement.
“You need to relax, Diego,” He observed, glancing down at the knife holster.
“You need to stop sneaking up on me,” Diego muttered as he flattened his jacket back down. He paused, his brain taking a few seconds to process the situation. “Wait what the hell are you doing here?”
“Looking for you.”
“How did you get in here? There’s cops guarding every door downstairs.”
“Yeah,” Klaus nodded. “But the window was unlocked, and nobody was guarding that. You guys are super bad at your jobs.”
Diego blinked at him. “We’re on the third floor. Di- Did you climb up here?”
“Yeah! It was surprisingly easy, actually. “My theory is that these frequent bouts of sobriety are turning me into a super-human.”
“You’re sober again?”
He nodded. “I changed my jacket at the last minute and forgot to transfer all the stuff in my pockets,” He said, gesturing to the black faux-fur coat he was wearing. “Thus, I also don’t have my phone and couldn’t call you. So now here I am. Did you know you’re a really easy person to find? Or maybe I’m just good at finding people. Should I be a private investigator?”
“Klaus, can we stay on topic?” Diego asked, glancing up at the clock on the wall. “I’m kinda on a tight schedule here.”
“Oh, yeah! Sure! Well, first point: I got the piercing, and I’ve never felt more body confident in my life.” He grinned proudly and pointed down at the purple jewels on his navel. “Second point: I talked to a couple people and I didn’t find anything about Josh specifically, but apparently a few days ago there was a major falling out between two of the big drug traffickers in the city. I mean Christ, I go into rehab for thirty days and everything goes to shit.”
“You think Josh might have got mixed up in all that?”
“I don’t know. You’d think he’d have mentioned it yesterday,” Klaus shrugged, his attention visibly drifting as he leaned around Diego’s shoulder to look at the corpse in the bath. “Oh, hey. I know this guy.”
Diego opened his mouth to respond, but he was interrupted by Patch barging back into the bathroom.
“Diego you gotta go, they’re getting ready to- oh…” She trailed off, her eyes flicking back and forth between him and Klaus. “Your brother’s here. Your brother’s in the middle of the crime scene. That’s great.”
“Patch!” Klaus exclaimed, clapping his hands together excitedly and pottering towards her with his arms outstretched. “Hey! It’s been forever!”
Patch’s face visibly softened for a moment when Klaus wrapped his arms around her and she smiled despite herself, returning the hug and patting his back affectionately.
“It’s good to see you, Klaus,” She said as he rocked her from side to side where they stood.
While Klaus was preoccupied, Patch looked back over at Diego and mouthed silently to him, “What. Is. He. Doing. Here?”
Diego held his hands up innocently and she shook her head, freeing herself from Klaus’ arms. “Klaus,” She said firmly as she tilted his chin down to look at him “You need to leave. Right now, before anyone else sees you in here. Okay?”
“Oh, okay. Okay, sure,” Klaus nodded, heading back over to the window he’d climbed in through. “Diego, are you coming?”
“No,” Patch answered for him. “I need to talk to him.”
Klaus paused for a moment and looked back and forth at the two of them, a knowing smile spreading across his face.
“Ooooh,” He grinned. “Okay, I get it. You guys need to talk. Right, right. I’ll get out of your way.”
“Oh my god, Klaus,” Diego groaned, trying to usher him through the window faster. “That’s not what’s happening.”
“Sure, no, that’s not what’s happening. Yeah,” Klaus said smugly as he lowered himself onto the ledge. “Enjoy your talk.”
Diego buried his face in his hands and sighed deeply, wishing he could just jump out of the window with him. When he turned back around Patch was staring at him with her arms folded.
“You have fifteen seconds to tell me exactly what’s going on.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” He lied. “He followed me here. He’s an idiot. What am I supposed to do?”
“He’s not an idiot,” She said bluntly. “He’s certainly smart enough to know that breaking into a crime scene crawling with cops is probably not the best idea for him. He wouldn’t come here unless it was important. You now have ten seconds.”
“What happens when I run out of time?”
“Okay fine,” He sighed, lowering his voice in the hopes she might not hear him. “He’s helping me with the case.”
Her silence was punishing. She stared at him in complete bewilderment for so long he thought he might have broken her completely. Behind them, the clock ticked on the wall for a painful amount of time before she finally moved, pinching the bridge of her nose and taking a deep breath.
“Okay,” She said slowly. “Okay, no, that’s great. You’ve gone insane. Perfect.”
“Don’t.” She held her hand up to silence him. “I mean, shit, Diego, have you completely lost your mind? If Carmichael finds out about this he’ll be handing your ass to you on a plate. Christ.”
“Dora, calm down.”
“Do not tell me to calm down. I am completely calm. Shit.”
Diego watched as she pulled her rabbit’s foot out from her blazer pocket, rubbing it anxiously between her fingers. “You’re breaking about a dozen laws. If anybody finds out-”
“Nobody’s gonna find out,” He assured her, putting his hands on her shoulders. “I’ve got everything under control.”
“No you don’t.”
“Yeah I do,” He insisted. “Look, Patch, you’ve got nothing to worry about, okay? I- I- I’m not asking you to cover for me. I’m not asking you to get involved. If everything goes south, it’s on me. I’m not gonna let you get mixed up in it.”
“I’m not worried about me, you piece of shit. I’m worried about you.”
He stared dumbly at her for a moment, struggling to wrap his head around what she’d said. There was no hint of insincerity in her eyes. In fact, it was one of the few times he’d seen her look scared. Her dark eyes were wide and uncertain, flicking frantically across his face.
Frowning, he took the hand that was incessantly worrying the rabbit’s foot and squeezed it tightly.
“I’ll be fine, Patch,” He said softly.
“You always say that.”
“Yeah,” He grinned. “And I’m still alive, aren’t I?”
Patch huffed out a laugh, and it was the sweetest thing he’d heard all day. She loosened her grip on the charm clenched in her fist, reaching up with her free hand to fix his collar, which he was almost certain was perfectly straight already. In the back of his mind, he knew there were about a million things wrong with this situation. The biggest being the bloody naked corpse currently propped against the wall behind them. But Patch was looking at him differently now. Her eyes were softer, but more focused, burning into his in a way that made him forget to breathe. He wanted to say something to her, but he knew the words wouldn’t come out it he tried. Even if he could, he had no idea what he’d say. All he could do was stare back at her, and there were definitely worse things to be stuck doing.
She opened her mouth to speak again, flicking her tongue out to wet her bottom lip and pulling him an inch closer.
She was cut off by a knocking on the window, and they both let out matching despairing groans, turning to see Klaus waving at them.
“What are you still doing here?” Diego demanded.
“Well, see, turns out that climbing up a building is a lot easier than climbing down! And I also think I might be scared of heights because I’m really not having a good time here.”
“Feeling nervous when you’re stood on a ledge three storeys up isn’t a fear of heights, Klaus. That’s just being a normal person,” Patch told him, shaking her head to herself. “Okay, plan B. I’ll go and draw everyone’s attention away from the door, and you two will have approximately ten seconds to get out of here.”
“That’s plan B ?” Klaus asked incredulously as he clambered back through the window and crouched down to kiss the solid bathroom tiles. “Why wasn’t that plan A?”
“Because this plan requires more effort on my part,” She said flatly. “Now please stop kissing my crime scene.”
Klaus scrambled to his feet and followed Diego over to the door. They waited while Patch headed out, and as soon as she gave a signal, Diego grabbed Klaus’ arm and marched him purposefully across the apartment, hurrying him through the door and down the stairs as fast as they could go.
“Well that was fun!” Klaus said cheerily when they got outside, his fear from moments ago apparently forgotten. “We should work together more often.”
Diego gave him a stony faced stare, holding him by the collar as he marched him back towards the car. “Klaus, I swear to God,” He muttered. “I am this close to putting your head through a wall.”
“Okay, clearly you’re upset.”
“Really? What gave you that impression?”
“Is this because I interrupted your moment with Patch back there? Because I really feel like I was doing you a favour. I mean what were you gonna do? Bang right next to a corpse? That’s not a memory you want, Diego. Trust me it’s not.” Klaus’ face turned solemn for a moment, but he waved it off. “Anyway, you’ve got nothing to worry about. I only saw the last forty seconds of whatever was going on in there, and it was pretty obvious she wants to do filthy, unspeakable things to you.”
His heart skipped a beat at that but he tried to remain indifferent about it, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly. “Yeah, well, she’s got eyes hasn’t she?” He said, patting Klaus on the back and guiding him down the street. “Come on, we gotta find Dave.”
“Dave is here? Aw, if I’d known I would have dressed sluttier.”
“What do you call this then? Conservative?” Diego asked, looking down at the sheer mesh crop top and leather pants he was wearing.
“You know I can take it so much further than this,” Klaus said with a wicked smile. “I’m gonna blow that man’s mind.”
Diego didn’t bother to argue, letting him drift into whatever fantasy he was now constructing while they walked back to where he’d parked.
Dave was already waiting for them when they got there, leant against the bonnet of the car and looking absently down at his phone. He waved when he saw them approaching, his eyes immediately falling on Klaus.
“Oh, hey,” He smiled as he stood upright. “I didn’t know you were coming.”
“Showing up completely unannounced is part of my charm,” Klaus grinned.
“I like the new piercing,” Dave observed, nodding down at Klaus’ stomach. “It suits you.”
Diego could probably count on one hand the number of times he’d seen Klaus speechless, but it was always fun to watch when it happened. He seized up completely, total bewilderment plastered across his face like he couldn’t work out what was happening to him, and he opened and closed his mouth repetitively like a goldfish as he tried to think of a response. Dave looked mildly concerned, probably worried that he’d said the wrong thing, but Diego just chuckled and elbowed Klaus in the ribs in an attempt to bring him back to life.
“Klaus,” He said, smirking when Klaus stared blankly at him. “You good?”
“Yeah,” Klaus mumbled quietly. “Yeah, yeah I’m good.” He looked back over at Dave and smiled brightly at him. “Thanks!”
Dave sniggered and Diego rolled his eyes, guiding Klaus towards the backdoor of the car. It was only when they were all inside that he remembered why they’d come to the apartment in the first place and he turned back to Dave expectantly.
“Did you find the mom?”
“Oh, no. She wasn’t in. I’ve been stood out here waiting for you for about fifteen minutes now.”
“Oh,” Diego said, unable to mask the disappointment in his voice.
“Yeah, you find anything in the other apartment?”
“He found love,” Klaus piped up from the backseat.
“You wanna walk home?” Diego threatened and Klaus fell silent, pouting and curling up on the seat.
“I found a dead guy and a lot of blood,” He told him. “Had his throat slashed in the bath. No idea who he was.”
“I know who he is,” Klaus said, leaning forward again and putting his hands on either side of Diego’s seat. “His name’s Dan. I buy molly off him sometimes. And we fucked,” He paused, glancing over at Dave. “But that was two years ago. I’m currently ready to mingle. Just throwing that out there.”
“Klaus,” Diego said, ignoring his attempts to flirt. “Is there anyone in this city that hasn’t sold you drugs and slept with you?”
“Hey! I never slept with Josh, remember? I slept with Dan. I always get them mixed up.”
Diego was about to tell him to shut up again when he paused, turning back around to look at him. “Do a lot of people get them mixed up?”
“Oh yeah, big time,” Klaus chuckled. “They look exactly alike. Except Dan has this really sexy tattoo on his chest. It was really embarrassing actually. I saw him last year and he had his shirt open and I was like ‘Josh! You got a tattoo?’ and he was all ‘Who’s Josh?’ I had to cut off communication with him for two months until he forgot about it.”
Shaking his head, Diego looked back over at Dave. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
Dave nodded thoughtfully. “I should get a chest tattoo.”
“What? No. How was that your takeaway? Christ, I’m talking about Josh. What if he was never the target? We can’t find a motive for his murder because he was never supposed to be the victim. They got the wrong guy.”
“Huh. Explains the rushed cover-up job. Maybe they realised they’d messed up and panicked?”
They all sat in silence for a moment as they considered the idea, the only noise was the sound of Klaus fidgeting restlessly in the back seat. After a while he leant forward again, poking his head between the two of them.
“You want me to see if he remembers anything?” He asked.
“No,” Diego said, shaking his head. “I told you I’m not making you do that again.”
“Klaus, no,” He said firmly. “Now shut up, I need to think.”
He could still hear Klaus muttering to himself behind him but he tuned him out, trying to form some kind of cohesive plan in his head. Ideally, he needed to talk to Patch, but he wasn’t sure he could face her again just yet.
“Okay,” He said slowly. “If they were killed by the same person-”
“They were,” Klaus mumbled and he whipped back around, staring daggers at him.
“Be quiet,” He hissed. “If they were, how do we prove it? There’s gotta be CCTV around here, right?”
“And a whole lot of neighbours that could’a seen something,” Dave added, pulling his notepad out of his pocket and flipping back through the pages. “We don’t have much to go on, though. There’s probably a hundred guys with a blond buzz cut in the city.”
“He had a tattoo on his shoulder.”
“Yeah, so did at least three people in the coffee shop I stopped at this morning.”
Diego sighed, rubbing his temples in frustration. “Yeah, you’re right,” He murmured. “But that’s all we’ve got to work with.”
“The tattoo is an angel wing, if that helps,” Klaus offered, leaning back in his seat. “And she’s a woman, so maybe you should both start examining your personal biases.”
They both stared at him and he shrugged, pointing to the empty seat next to him. “Dan’s right here, if you want anything else.”
“Are you kidding? Why didn’t you say that before?” Diego asked him, looking back and forth between him and the empty back seat.
“I tried! You told me to shut up!”
“You did tell him to shut up,” Dave agreed. “Like three times.”
“Okay, fine. What’s he saying?”
Klaus was quiet for a moment, looking intently at the empty space next to him. “She had the scarf over her face again, but she had hazel eyes, long eyelashes, and- Dan she murdered you why are you describing her like you wanna make out with her? Focus. Okay. She was wearing a green tank top, and the wing tattoo goes right across her back. Is that helpful?”
“Really helpful,” Diego nodded. “Thanks.”
“See! We all make an amazing team!” Klaus clapped his hands together excitedly. “Hargreeves, and… Dave, I don’t know your surname.”
“Hargreeves and Katz! Oh those sound good together. Our children will have adorable names.”
“Yeah, moving on,” Diego said swiftly. “I think we should do a sweep of the apartment complex, see if any of the neighbours saw her coming or going.”
“Can I come too?” Klaus asked.
“If I said no, would you listen to me and stay here?”
“No, I almost certainly would not.”
“Then you may as well come,” Diego shrugged, opening the car door and waving for them both to follow. “Let’s go.”
Klaus whooped loudly, looking more excited than Diego had ever seen him sober.
“This is gonna be so fun,” He grinned, wrapping his arms around them both as they walked back down the street. “Hargreeves and Katz are on the case. All we need now is a theme song.”
10,000 units of my love to whoever writes them a theme song.
You know what they say. The best things in life are worth waiting for. So in the spirit of that, I am blessing you all with this steaming pile of garbage after almost a month of no updates. You're welcome.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Hi, I’m Detective Venkman.”
The man in the doorway watched as Diego attempted to wrestle back his badge, which Klaus had swiped from around his neck and was currently strangling him with.
“Stop taking the badge,” He told him when he finally wrenched it free, pulling the chain off his neck and shoving it in his pocket out of Klaus’ reach. “And stop telling people you’re a detective.”
“Venkman… like from Ghostbusters?” The man asked bemusedly and Klaus clapped his hands together excitedly.
“Exactly like Ghostbusters! Thank you for noticing.”
He looked completely lost for words, and Diego couldn’t exactly blame him. Sighing, he pushed Klaus off to the side and turned back towards him. He was tall, and slim, and his lips were pursed together as he tried to stay civil.
“Sorry about him,” He mumbled, giving Klaus another hard stare. “We’re trying this new thing where we bring minor offenders out on patrol. Kinda like community service.”
“How’s that working out for you?”
“Horribly,” He said bluntly. “Just try to ignore him. Is it okay if I ask you a couple of questions?”
The man sighed. “Is this about what happened upstairs?” He asked, frowning when Diego nodded. “I didn’t hear anything last night, if that’s what you’re gonna ask.”
“That’s fine, I just need to know if you’ve seen anyone since yesterday morning that matches this description.”
He listed off everything Klaus had given him, but the man just shook his head.
“Sorry, doesn’t ring any bells,” He said, shutting the door abruptly in his face before he could get another word in.
“Wow,” Klaus chuckled. “Is it always like this?”
“More or less, yeah.”
Klaus hummed thoughtfully. “What are the benefits of this job again?”
“Catching killers and saving lives,” He told him, taking him by the arm and leading him down the hall.
“Right, right. When you say it like that, it sounds exciting. But this…” He paused and gestured vaguely at their surroundings. “This is boring.”
“You asked to be included,” Diego reminded him. “And it’s not supposed to be fun.”
Huffing, Klaus stuck his bottom lip out childishly at him. “Can I go upstairs with Dave instead?”
“Can I hold the badge?”
“Well what can I do?”
Diego thought for a moment and dug his hand into his back pocket, fishing out an old rubber bad and holding it out for him. “You wanna play with this?”
“I’m not a child, Diego.” Klaus muttered, but his eyes stayed fixed on the band and Diego cocked his eyebrow at him.
“I’m not hearing a no.”
They both stared at each other in silent challenge, waiting to see who would break first. Klaus narrowed his eyes at him and Diego shrugged, slowly moving to put it back in his pocket without taking his eyes off him. He’d almost put it away when Klaus finally stomped his foot.
“Okay wait, wait, wait. Fine. I do wanna play with it. Please.”
“Go wild, pal,” Diego smirked and tossed the rubber band into his hands, watching him immediately start looping it around his fingers.
Shaking his head, Diego left him to it, turning and heading to the next door along the hall. The woman in the next flat was so small he didn’t see her until he looked down. She was half his height and twice as wide, with long auburn hair and a round face covered in freckles, and seemed more than a little apprehensive about opening the door any further.
“Hi,” He said in the most non-threatening voice he could muster, pulling his badge out of his pocket and flashing it to her. “Detective Hargreeves. You got time for a few questions?”
The woman worried on her bottom lip for a moment and glanced over her shoulder, and when Diego followed her eyes he saw a baby laid out on a play mat behind her.
“It’ll only take a minute,” He assured her.
She still looked unsure. “What’s it about?”
“You heard about what happened upstairs?” He asked and she nodded. “We’re just trying to find out if anybody saw anything.”
Finally, the woman gave a resigned sigh and opened the door the rest of the way. “You wanna come in?”
“Thanks,” He said, turning to Klaus, who was focusing intently on the star pattern he was making with the rubber band, and patting him on the shoulder. “Klaus, come on.”
He could see the confusion on the woman’s face and he threw her an apologetic look. “Sorry. I can’t legally leave him unsupervised.”
“Hi!” Klaus said behind him, waving cheerfully at the woman in the door. “What’s your name?”
“Penny,” She answered, a little hesitantly, and Diego realised it hadn’t even occurred to him to ask.
Penny led the two of them into the flat and Klaus gasped excitedly when he saw the baby, crouching down and making quiet cooing noises. It seemed to put Penny a little more at ease and she smiled as she sat on the couch next to them.
“Her name’s Mae,” She told him.
“Moving on,” Diego cut in, determined to stay on topic. “We’re looking for a woman with a blonde buzz cut, wearing a green tank top with angel wings tattooed across her shoulders. You see anyone like that yesterday?”
Penny looked thoughtful for a moment and then nodded. “Yeah, actually. I was just getting back from my dad’s with Mae, and this woman came running down the stairs and shoved me out of the way to get through the door. There’s a few weird people living around here so I didn’t think much of it at the time, but she looked exactly like that.”
“Okay, what time was this?”
“Um, about 9:30 I think?”
He talked to her for a few more minutes to see if he could get anything else. She didn’t have much more information, but just having one actual, living person say something that aligned with everything Klaus had said felt like a massive breakthrough. After saying goodbye, and tearing Klaus away from the baby he was seemingly enamoured by, they headed back out into the hall and made their way to the stairs to find Dave.
“Diego,” Klaus said as they walked. “I have some unsolicited advice for you.”
“I don’t want your advice.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s literally… Do you know what unsolicited means?”
Diego gave him a sideways glance. “I know what everything means.”
“Okay, I hear you. But your refusal to give me a straight answer kinda makes it look like you don’t know what it means.”
“What were you gonna say, Klaus?” He muttered.
“Oh, right, I was gonna say you need to work on your people skills. You know, since so much of your job involves interacting with…” He trailed off, gesturing with his hands while he tried to find the right word. “Well, with people.”
“My people skills are fine,” Diego said defensively.
Klaus winced, his voice coming out a pitch higher when he spoke again. “Are they?”
Ignoring him, Diego pushed past and jogged the rest of the way up the stairs, almost slamming straight into Dave going the opposite way.
“Whoa,” Dave chuckled, putting his hand on Diego’s arm to steady them both. “I thought you said we were meeting downstairs?”
“Oh, shit. Yeah,” He mumbled.
They’d only had that conversation twenty minutes ago and already it felt like a distant memory. Time had been moving weirdly ever since he took this case. It was only their second day of investigations, but it felt like they’d been working on it for months. Maybe after all those weeks on desk duty he’d just forgotten what it felt like to be busy. They all made their way back down the stairs and Diego filled Dave in on what they’d found. Dave had gotten a pretty similar story from one of the guys he’d spoken to, about a woman matching the description Klaus had given them barrelling down the stairs just after 9pm.
“Okay,” He said as he rubbed his forehead, trying to concentrate. “We need to find some CCTV.”
“Oh! There’s a pawn shop along this street,” Klaus piped up. “That’s where I sold our last TV set.”
Diego blinked at him. “You sold our- You told me someone robbed us.”
“And you believed me?”
“I don’t have time for this,” Diego muttered. “We’re gonna continue this conversation later. Where’s the pawn shop?”
Klaus led them back out onto the street to a seedy looking store just a few yards away from the apartment.
“They have CCTV up there,” Klaus said, pointing up at the camera tucked into the corner by the window. “And there’s cameras across the street, there,” He pointed to another store on the other side of the road. “And down there.”
“You know all that offhand?” Dave asked and Diego chuckled.
“No, I’ve just stolen from here many times,” Klaus grinned. “But nobody can prove that! Now let’s roll, team.”
Shaking his head, Diego followed him inside. It was a cramped little shop, and the shutters on the windows only let in thin streams of light that did little to illuminate the place. One wall was completely covered in guitars, while the other side of the room was wall to wall cabinets filled with lamps, picture frames, watches, and a whole collection of other trinkets. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Dave walking up next to him, screwing his nose up.
“It smells like my grandma’s house in here,” He said quietly, and both Diego and Klaus gave him equally perplexed looks.
The man hunched over the corner counter scowled at them when they looked over at him, fixing Klaus with a beady eyed stare.
“You got a lot of nerve, Klaus. I’ll give you that,” He said gruffly, striding over to the jewellery cabinet and standing firmly in front of it with his arms folded. “You here to rob me blind again?”
“Aw, don’t be like that. As if I’d rob you when I’m here with two respected officers of the law.”
Klaus shoved his hand into Diego’s pocket and pulled his badge out, smiling innocently when the man sighed. “Fine. What do you want?”
“We need to look at some CCTV footage,” Diego answered for him, pausing for a moment before he added, “If that’s okay.”
“Sure, whatever. But he…” The man jabbed a finger at Klaus. “Doesn’t touch anything.”
“I’ll be keeping an eye on him,” Dave said from behind them, blinking when everyone turned to look at him. “What?”
“You want me to keep my hands where you can see them, officer?” Klaus purred and Diego groaned.
“Okay, let’s go look at some tapes,” He said before Klaus could get another word in. “Where are they?”
The man pointed to a door at the back of the shop, and Diego promptly marched the others through it into the backroom. It was dark and cramped, with barely enough standing room for the three of them. A desk was shoved up against one wall, which Klaus immediately climbed atop, crossing his legs next to the two monitors, and a solitary chair that Diego immediately claimed. Dave went to close the door behind them and Klaus’ whole face twisted as he shrunk in on himself, suddenly looking a lot younger.
“Leave it open,” Diego told him and Dave shrugged, perching himself on the edge of the desk next to Klaus, who instantly relaxed back into his cheery persona.
“This place still remind you of grandma’s?” He asked, rocking side to side and grinning in amusement.
“Big time,” Dave chuckled. “This room especially.”
“Dave, you are the most compelling person I’ve ever met in my life.”
“Oh, thank you.”
Diego did his best to ignore them, trying to focus on the blurry footage from the front of the shop flickering on the monitor in front of him. It took an age to rewind the tape back to last night, and served as a painful reminder of his weeks of desk duty. He couldn’t help but laugh to himself at the fact that, after finally getting put on a case, he’d still managed to end up stuck going through security footage again.
When he looked up again Klaus was stretching the material of his crop top out and leaning over for Dave to inspect it.
“See? It looks like stripes but actually it says ‘bitch please’ in really tiny letters,” He grinned, pointing to the yellow lettering. “It cost me two dollars in a thrift store.”
“I love that,” Dave said softly. “I haven’t worn anything like this since I was a twenty.”
“God that is a stunning visual. Why would you even say that to me?”
“Why’d you stop?” Diego asked in a feeble attempt to intervene before Klaus’ mind wandered too far astray, and Dave shrugged.
“Parents, general society, uniform regulations. I could go on.”
“Ugh, society,” Klaus grumbled, yawning and rubbing his eyes. “Wow. Running on forty minutes of sleep is a lot harder when you’re sober. Does anyone have a Red Bull? Or some cocaine?”
Before either of them could respond, he slumped against Dave’s shoulder and closed his eyes. “I’m gonna just take a nap,” He said. “Wake me up when something exciting happens.”
Diego rolled his eyes, and within less than a minute Klaus was snoring quietly.
“How can he even sleep like this?” Dave asked, craning his neck to look at him.
“You learn to sleep in some interesting places when you grow up like we did. It’s a talent.” He paused, looking over at his brother leant heavily on Dave’s arm. “You know he won’t mind if you move him, right? You don’t have to let him lay all over you.”
“It’s fine.” Dave shrugged. “You find anything yet?”
“I have rewound two hours.”
“Yeah. Better get comfortable.”
He was in need of a strong drink by the time he got to yesterday evening on the tape, and Dave looked like he was about to fall asleep with Klaus. They hadn’t even found anything yet, but just reaching the 8pm mark felt like it warranted its own celebration in the form of a high five. The high lasted all of five seconds, before they realised they now had to sit through two hours of real time footage, and by the 9pm mark they’d both lost the last of their enthusiasm for the case.
“Dave,” Diego said groggily, sliding a little further down in his chair. “I feel like we’ve built a decent relationship over the last couple days. We can rely on each other right?”
“Great, because I need you to do something for me.” He looked up at him seriously. “I got a knife in a holster under this jacket. I need you to take it and slit my throat.”
Dave laughed, and next to him Klaus jerked awake, sitting bolt upright and looking around with a disorientated look on his face. The screen Diego was watching blacked out and he cursed under his breath, smacking the monitor in frustration.
“Sorry, darlin’.” Dave smiled. “You okay?”
“Where the shit am I?” He asked as he rubbed his eyes. “Did we save the day yet?”
“Not yet,” Diego muttered, giving the monitor another whack and jolting it back to life.
“Shame. I’m going for a cigarette.”
Klaus shoved both his hands in his coat pockets and hung his head. “Uuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrggggggggggggh they’re in my other jacket,” He groaned, holding his hand out. “Diego, give me one of your knives so I can kill myself.”
Silently, Dave pulled out his own cigarette pack and handed it to him, and Klaus looked at him adoringly like he’d just presented him with a bouquet of roses. He hopped off the desk and strode across the one foot of floor space between them and the door, turning back expectantly.
“Are you coming?”
Dave looked over at Diego, who just shrugged at him. “You don’t need my permission, man.”
“Oh, right.” Dave chuckled. “I’m an adult.”
With that, he followed Klaus out and left Diego alone at the desk, staring at the continuous footage of an empty street. After a couple of minutes he pulled his phone out, deciding he should probably give Patch an advanced warning that he was working on her case. The first call went to voicemail. The second call she picked up after two rings, sounding less than thrilled to talk to him.
“What do you want, Hargreeves?” She demanded.
“Damn, Eudora. You greet everyone that way?”
“Just you specifically,” She muttered, and he could hear her letting out a deep breath on the other end of the line. “Sorry. It’s just… been a day. What’s up?”
“Okay, well, now I feel bad, because you’re really not gonna enjoy what I have to say.”
“When do I ever?”
He chuckled, but he could sense her impatience so he didn’t keep her waiting. “I need to take over your case.”
There was a long pause, and he was about to check if the signal had cut out when she spoke again.
“Feel like I misheard you there, Di.”
“I’m serious,” He told her. “My case and your case are the same case, and I need to… Shit, hang on a second.”
He looked back up at the monitor just as someone walked into frame. The second he saw the shaved head and tank top, he hit pause and grinned to himself.
“Patch, I gotta go,” He said abruptly.
“No, no. No way. What are you doing?”
“Investigating your case. I’ll tell you about it later.”
“Where are you?”
“Diego! ” She cried, but he snapped the phone shut before she could get another word in, shoving his phone back in his jacket and unpausing the tape.
The woman in the footage was walking slowly, with her hands hidden in her pockets. He could see the tattoo spread across her back, but not her face, and she kept her back to the camera as she walked along the street. The only glimpse he could get of her face was a brief profile shot just as she came onto camera, and it was barely enough to identify her. He was so focused on the screen in front of him he didn’t notice Klaus and Dave returning until Klaus was behind him, leaning over his shoulder and scaring him half to death.
“Find anything interesting, officer?”
“Don’t call me that, you idiot,” He muttered, shoving him away and pointing at the paused screen. “I found her.”
“Oh, great! Solving crime is so easy!”
Diego blinked at him. “What are you talking about? We’ve been working on this for two days and all we have is seven seconds of blurry footage of our suspects back, and absolutely nothing that physically connects her to either crime scene. We haven’t solved anything.”
“Aw,” Klaus pouted. “Does that mean I can’t go home yet?”
“Klaus, you can go home whenever you want. You chose to come with us.”
“Oh yeah.” He grinned, patting Diego’s shoulder. “I’m actually having a really fun time, to be honest. What’s next?”
Diego popped the tape out and held it up. “We need to take this, and-”
“Oh, give it to me. I’ll stick it down my pants and we can roll.”
He didn’t say anything, cocking his eyebrow at him and waiting for Klaus to work out where he’d gone wrong.
“Oh,” He said after a minute. “Oh, you mean legally take it. Okay, yeah. Sure, we’ll do that.”
Diego just shook his head to himself, guiding Klaus back through the door into the main shop. The owner watched them, still eyeing Klaus with suspicion as they walked past, and it took Diego a moment to get his attention, practically waving the tape in his face.
“It cool if we take this?”
“Can I say no?”
“I mean, you can,” He shrugged. “But then I gotta go get a warrant to take it. And then we have to come back, and it’s a whole thing.”
The man narrowed his eyes at him and let out a frustrated huff. “Fine,” He said, waving his hand. “If it means you’ll leave.”
“Thank you,” Diego said sweetly, and the three of them trundled through the door and back down the street.
Klaus didn’t say anything until they were inside the car, shuffling awkwardly along the backseat and leaning he head forward between the two of them.
“Can I interest anyone in a bracelet?” He asked, reaching into his coat pocket and pulling out a fistful of tangled jewellery. “I have plenty.”
“Oh, wow,” Dave said quietly. “How did you even… That’s amazing.”
“That’s nothing, check this out!”
They both watched as Klaus started pulling an endless stream of material from his other pocket, finally holding up the deep blue fabric proudly.
“It’s a skirt, I think. I didn’t get much of a look at it beforehand.”
“How the hell did you steal a rack of jewellery and a skirt without any of us noticing?” Diego asked, staring at him in bewilderment. “There were three of us.”
“It’s pretty basic disarming, Diego,” Klaus said, like it was obvious. “Dad was a prick but he did teach me how to get a gun out of a holster without anyone seeing me.” He grinned and turned to Dave. “I was really good at disarming. One time, this guy twice my size had me with both hands behind my back and a gun to my head and I did a cool flip and got it out of his hand with my foot. It was very sexy of me.”
“Klaus, we were nine,” Diego reminded him.
“Were we? That’s horrifying.”
“Have you guys actually had, like… therapy for this shit?” Dave asked, looking at them with a grave expression on his face.
Diego scoffed at that. He’d been to a total of three therapy sessions since he left home. No, three and a half, if he counted the one he stormed out of. The first time he went was after Klaus’ first spell in rehab. He told him about the group therapy he had to do while he was in there.
“I mean, I don’t feel like I gained much,” He’d told him. “There was no big epiphany moment or anything like that. But I sure got a lot off my chest.”
And Diego had a lot to get off his chest, so he figured he’d give it a shot. The first session was great. He wasn’t sure he’d ever talked for that long, continuously, in his life. He talked about everything that had happened to him, to all of them, when they were kids. About all the things dad did, all the things he made them do, and, temporarily at least, he felt a little bit lighter. Halfway through the second she’d pointed out that he was describing everything objectively, almost like it had happened to someone else, and after that things went downhill. Because as soon as he tried to connecting any kind of emotion to it, he froze up. He just felt angry. But it wasn’t real anger. That was just the only thing he knew how to recognise anymore. He didn’t go back after that, telling Klaus it wasn’t doing anything for him. Really he was just terrified of finally feeling everything he’d been numbing himself to for the last fifteen years. The second time was towards the end of his and Patch’s official relationship, when she’d all but marched him into the therapist’s office in a last ditch attempt at making a dent in the steel walls he’d apparently built up around himself. And this guy was determined to get him to confront that… hence the storming out. Since then he hadn’t bothered with the whole thing, deciding he’d rather stay like this than turn into Klaus, who he once found sobbing in the kitchen because he’d dropped his toast butter side down.
“Diego?” Dave asked and he blinked at him.
He and Klaus were both staring at him expectantly, and he realised he hadn’t been listening to anything either of them had been saying.
“I said, what’s our next move?”
“Oh, right,” Diego mumbled, trying to focus on forming a coherent thought. “Give me a minute.”
Behind him, Klaus snorted and leant over to grin cockily at him. “This is why you were never in charge.”
“Shut up, like you’d do a better job.”
“Uh, I’d be an amazing leader, Diego,” Klaus scoffed. “I already have the perfect plan. First we all get baked.”
“I like this plan,” Dave said, nodding along intently.
“Second, we find the scarf. Third, we get donuts and congratulate each other on the amazing detective work.” He paused for a moment. “Actually maybe we should move that ahead to now. I really want a donut. Diego, can we get donuts?”
“Forget about the donuts,” Diego grumbled. “What scarf are you talking about?”
Klaus shrugged. “Everyone kept saying she had a scarf over her face, but she didn’t on the tape.”
“That is… a really good point,” He said, making no attempt to hide his surprise. Klaus made a face and glanced over at the empty seat next to him, and Diego frowned at him. “What?”
“Nothing, nothing. Thank you for appreciating my good idea, which I came up with, on my own.”
“Right,” Diego mumbled. “It’s a good idea, but we can’t do anything else until I talk to Patch.
“Diego, we’re investigating two murders. Is your sex life really a priority right now?”
“Whaaat?” Dave cut in, grinning at Diego like a child. “You and Patch?”
Klaus let out an exaggerated laugh. “Have you been living under a rock, Dave?”
“In my defence, I only started working here a week ago.”
“And you spent that week under a rock?”
“Can you stop ?” Diego asked, exasperated. “I need to talk to her because this is her case, and considering our last conversation ended with me hanging up on her, she’s probably not gonna be too keen on giving it over to us.”
“Lover’s quarrel?” Klaus smiled, yelping when Diego spun around and thumped him in the shoulder.
“You are only a part of this because I’ve decided to allow it,” He reminded him. “Don’t push it.”
Klaus slumped back in his seat and folded his arms crossly. “I still think we should look for the scarf before we leave.”
“You just want an excuse to go through some garbage.”
“I’m trying to help, you condescending prick.”
“Klaus is right,” Dave agreed, glancing back at him. “If she did ditch the scarf here, we wanna find it as soon as possible. Longer we leave it the less chance we have of finding it at all.”
Sighing, Diego held his hands up in defeat. “Fine,” He huffed, turning to Dave while Klaus immediately scrambled out of the car behind them. “But we’re leaving in fifteen minutes, regardless of whether we find it or n-”
They both looked out the window, where Klaus was proudly waving a square patterned scarf in the air and pointing to the trash can they were parked next to.
“It was in here! Right on the top!”
“You gotta be fucking-” Diego rolled the window down and Klaus grinned at him smugly. “Stop looking at me like that.”
“I found it so easily, Diego. It’s a shame I’m not a class traitor, because I really think I could make a great cop if I wanted to.”
“Just get back in the car,” He muttered.
Klaus did as he was told, and Diego drove them all back to the precinct, leaving him and Dave in the car while he went to find Patch. He wasn’t surprised to see her back at her desk, focused intently on the file in her hand. She didn’t look up until he was a few feet away from her, and as soon as she saw him her eyes went cold. Hopping to her feet, she grabbed him by the arm and marched him back across the room, shoving him into the conference room and slamming the door shut behind them.
It took him a few seconds to regain his composure, staring dumbly at her and wetting his bottom lip before he spoke.
“Thought you wanted to keep things professional at work,” He choked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She punctuated her sentence with a confident cock of her head. “We’re just two co-workers having a private discussion.”
“If that’s how we’re having discussions now, maybe we should do it more often.”
“Pretty sure you started it this time,” He smirked and she scowled at him.
“I mean it, stop. I’m trying to be angry with you,” She muttered. “I mean what the hell, Diego? First you waltz onto my crime scene, with Klaus of all people, which I don’t even have time to lecture you about again. Then you call me and just drop that you’re gonna take my case, which you’re not, by the way, and before I can even get a word in you hang up on me!? You do not get to hang up on me, Hargreeves. And now you’re just marching in all cocksure of yourself like you didn’t just hang up on me. I cannot believe you hung up on me.”
“Okay, you’ve made your point.”
“Have I though?” She asked, sighing and pinching the bridge of her nose. “God, you give me a headache.”
Diego chuckled, leaning back against the table behind him. “You need to learn to switch off, Patch.”
“We both do,” She said, her voice softening as she looked back up at him. “Okay, tell me why you need my case.”
He paused, worrying on his bottom lip anxiously. “You’re gonna hate all of this.”
Patch just shrugged and hoisted herself onto the table next to him, folding her arms and looking at him expectantly. So he took a breath, and he told her everything. About what Klaus had told him after he found the first body, and what he found out when they went back. He told her about the dead ends, and what Klaus found out from the second victim, and the tape, and the scarf. He decided to omit the minor detail of the two week time limit Carmichael had agreed with him, not wanting to stress her out even more, but he gave her everything else.
She was silent for a moment after he finished talking, stroking her rabbit’s foot keychain thoughtfully.
“So, to clarify,” She finally said. “Your brother, who just got out of rehab, is helping you solve an incredibly important, complex murder case?”
“Pretty much, yeah,” He nodded, avoiding her eyes. “And I know how stupid it is. You don’t need to tell me.”
“I know, but as your co-worker I feel obligated to reiterate that what you’re doing is really stupid.”
He huffed out a laugh at that and she shifted closer, until their shoulders were pressed together. “As your friend, though,” She said, softer. “It’s a good idea.”
Diego blinked at her. “Come again?”
“I mean, the guy can see dead people. Pretty invaluable when you’re working a murder case.” Patch shrugged, and a few moments passed before she seemed to partially come to her senses again. “This doesn’t mean I’m defending you. What you’re doing is insane, and reckless, and mind bogglingly stupid, and… I mean shit, we’d never have known the cases were connected without him.”
“We still don’t have actual proof that he’s right,” Diego pointed out. “Whatever he says is just his word against everyone else’s.”
“I’ll get forensics to look at the prints from both crime scenes again. If it’s the same person something’s gotta match.”
Diego nodded but didn’t say anything and Patch frowned, nudging his arm gently.
“Nothing,” He said, shaking his head. He paused for a moment and turned to look at her. “You know he’s been sober all day?”
“This isn’t the way to keep him clean, Diego.”
“I know, but since he got involved it feels like he’s actually trying.” He sighed and looked down at his hands. “He’s been doing really good since he got out, by his standards, and I keep being an asshole to him.”
“He’s your brother,” Patch reminded him. “You should hear the shit me and my sister say to each other sometimes. If you think it’s bad when I’m cussing you out…” She laughed to herself, and Diego couldn’t help but smile at the way her eyes crinkled up. “But she knows I don’t mean any of it, and Klaus knows that too.”
And he knew that, because they’d been way worse to each other in the past. Calling each other every name under the sun and then falling back into normal conversation an hour later like it had never happened. It was the same with all his siblings. But he still couldn’t help but feel like he should be nicer to him sometimes. To all of them.
“Anyway,” Patch said, nudging his arm again. “You wanna see what I found while you and Katz were staring at CCTV tapes?”
That piqued Diego’s interest and he sat upright. “You found something?”
“Yeah I found something,” She scoffed. “Because I’m awesome at my job. Come on.”
She lead him through the door and back to her desk, thrusting a file into his hands and watching him smugly as he flipped through it.
“I pulled all his text conversations and contacts from his phone,” She grinned. “No surprises, most of the ones I’ve found already have records for drug possession. There’s one guy I haven’t been able to ID yet, he’s just down in the contacts as ‘M’, and he’s the last person our guy talked to. Texted him not long before he died asking if they’re still ‘on for tomorrow night’.”
“Sounds sexy,” Diego mumbled and she snorted.
“I mean, I went back through the conversation and they were planning to meet at this club downtown, Neon Palms,” She said, quirking her eyebrow when Diego smiled. “You know it?”
“Yeah, it’s a shithole,” He chuckled. “Klaus and I used to live in that place when we were teenagers.”
“Oh, then you’ll be more than happy going there tonight to look for this ‘M’ guy!”
She smirked at him and he rolled his eyes, fully aware he wasn’t going to get more of a say in the matter.
“Fine,” He shrugged. “Does this mean you are giving me the case?”
“I’m already starting to regret it.”
“Don’t be like that, Patch. You’ll find something else to do. Take a day off or something, if you even know how to do that.”
She narrowed her eyes at him, but she couldn’t hide the smile on her face, shoving him away from her and back towards the door. Taking the hint, he left her alone, heading back out to the car where the others were waiting.
When he got back, Dave was twisted around in his seat with his arms folded on top of the headrest and his chin resting on top of them, watching Klaus intently while he rambled about something.
“And that,” Klaus said as Diego got back in the car, “is how I got banned from Barnes and Noble.”
“Okay, you win. I can’t compete with that,” Dave said with a grin. “I got banned from an Arby’s once, but that was a completely different situation. I was set up, for one thing.”
“Ooh, what happened?”
“Can you guys have this conversation later?” Diego asked and Klaus flinched behind him.
“Christ. When did you get back?”
“What are you- Just now? How can you possibly not have noticed that?”
“Gotta be honest, I didn’t notice either,” Dave said, shrugging as he turned back around.
“Great. Well, I’m back. Okay? And I have a plan, if anyone cares.”
“Diego, you seem a little worked up,” Klaus observed, poking his head over Diego’s shoulder to look at him. “Did you and Patch finally… I mean… you know, did you…”
Klaus trailed off, wiggling his eyebrows, and Diego stared coldly back at him.
“Yeah, Klaus,” He said sarcastically. “Patch and I just banged it out in the middle of a busy police precinct.”
“Why are you acting like that’s something you’ve never done before? Who are you trying to impress? Dave ? Dave’s not gonna care.”
“We’ve all done it, man.”
Diego hung his head and closed his eyes, taking a few deep breaths before he sat upright again.
“Okay,” He said. “Here’s what’s going on with the case.”
He told them what Patch had found, and Dave agreed to meet them at the club later that night before leaving them to make his own way home. Klaus clambered awkwardly into the passenger seat in his place, tucking his knees up to his chest and sitting quietly with his head against the window while Diego drove them back to their apartment. They got about halfway home before Klaus’ silence started to concern him and he turned to look at him.
Klaus nodded, sitting up and resting his head back against the seat. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Just thinking.”
“Didn’t know you had that in you.”
“Mm,” Klaus hummed, not paying attention. He was quiet for a few more minutes before turning towards him and looking at him seriously. “I think I might despise Dave.”
Diego stared at him for a moment. “Okay… That’s not exactly the impression you’ve been giving off.”
“Yeah. No, I think I hate him,” He mumbled, nodding to himself. “I keep thinking about him. But not in a sexy way anymore, just like… in general. That usually only happens when I hate someone.”
He looked so deadly serious that Diego felt bad for laughing at him, but he couldn’t help it. The more visibly offended Klaus looked the funnier it became, and he ended up laughing so hard he almost drove them straight off the road.
“Klaus,” He said as he tried to regain his composure. “You don’t hate him. You have a crush.”
“That’s stupid. No I don’t,” Klaus muttered, folding his arms defensively. “I’m an adult. I don’t get crushes, I just get fucked.”
Diego snorted. “Whatever you say, man. It’s a shame though, if you do hate him. Despite every aspect of your personality, he seems to kinda like you.”
Klaus was silent, and Diego worried for a moment that he’d teased him too far until he saw the smallest smile creep onto his face. It was a side he hadn’t really seen to Klaus before, save one time when they were thirteen and he’d gotten infatuated by a fan who’d presented him with a handmade card. He’d pinned it to his wall and talked Diego’s ear off about it for weeks, though it was hard to tell if that was a crush, or just excitement at getting some positive recognition. Both he and Ben had powers that were a little too scary for a lot of fans, and while Ben seemed glad of it, Diego could tell it got to Klaus sometimes.
When they got home, Klaus’ mood picked up again, and he instantly started busying himself looking through his clothes.
“We haven’t been to a club together for years,” He said excitedly, aimlessly tossing a jacket behind him as he dug through a pile. “What are you gonna wear? I already have some ideas for you.”
Diego plopped himself down in the armchair behind him and looked down at the dark shirt and jeans he was wearing.
“I was just gonna wear this.”
“Tell me, Diego, when did your soul die?”
“We’re not going there for a party,” He reminded him. “This is part of my job.”
“Right, right. Sure,” Klaus nodded. “And nothing screams ‘I’m not an undercover cop’ quite like wearing all black to a disco. Come on. At least wear your sexy jeans.”
“I am not wearing those jeans.”
After ten minutes of arguing, Klaus convinced him to wear the jeans. They were black, and studded, and a lot tighter than he remembered. He felt a weird sense of déjà vu as Klaus moved back and forth around his bedroom with an array of t-shirts slung over his arm, taking full control of Diego’s outfit for the night.
“Is everything you own black and grey?” He asked and Diego shrugged.
“I got one blue sweater, I think.”
“Ugh, okay. Try this.”
Klaus handed him a striped black and white V-neck that was so thin he could see his fingers through the material when he held it up.
“The nipple ring’s coming out tonight, baby,” Klaus grinned. “I mean what was the point of you even getting that if you never show it off?”
“I’m starting to think this is less about helping me blend in, and more about trying to get me laid,” Diego said as he pulled the shirt over his head.
“Well,” He sighed, “you have been a little uptight lately. And I get that part of that is the overwhelming time pressure to get this done before your entire career gets flushed down the toilet, but I also don’t think this whole… situation with Patch is helping. Here, put this on.” He thrust a denim jacket into Diego’s arms and sat cross legged on his bed, cocking his head and looking him up and down thoughtfully. “It’s an improvement. How do you feel?”
“Like I’m trying too hard to be seventeen again,” He mumbled, looking at himself in the mirror. “I’m too old for this shit.”
“Diego, we’re twenty five.”
“Basically middle aged.”
“That’s optimistic,” Klaus scoffed. “If I wake up tomorrow I’ll be defying expectations.”
Diego chuckled, because it was easier than taking Klaus seriously, and let him continue tweaking his outfit until it was time to leave. He wasn’t exactly thrilled about where they were going. While Klaus’ seemed able to reel off endless anecdotes about how much fun they used to have on their nights out, Diego could barely remember any of it. In those days he was usually black out drunk before they even left the house, and it felt strange to go back with no alcohol in his system… Almost no alcohol, anyway, since Klaus suggested they both do a tequila shot before they left.
When they arrived Dave was already waiting for them, leant against the wall with a cigarette in his hand. He was wearing a biker jacket over a green Hawaiian print shirt, with the first few buttons undone, and he smiled brightly when he spotted them.
“Hey!” He grinned. “You look great.”
Dave’s eyes were fixed on Klaus, who had swapped out the leather pants and mesh top for a sheer black tank top and printed geometric pink and blue leggings. He’d smeared purple eyeshadow ungracefully across his eyelids, and he stood a little taller than the two of them in a pair of heeled ankle boots. It was obvious Klaus had messed with his hair after doing his makeup. There were flecks of glitter running through it that glinted every time he moved his head. Maybe it was intentional, it was sometimes hard to tell with Klaus.
He was staring at Dave like a rabbit in headlights so Diego intervened, guiding Klaus towards the club entrance and turning to talk to Dave.
“In the texts Patch pulled, our guy said he’d be waiting in one of the booths. There’s two floors so I figure if you go upstairs and I go down we can both sweep the place and see if we can spot anyone. Then meet back after?”
Dave nodded and they all headed inside, flashing their badges at the bouncer to cut past the small queue of people waiting to get in. It was like walking into a wall of noise, and Diego found himself silently praying that they would find who they were looking for quickly so he could go home. Dave turned to him, mouthing something he couldn’t make out before heading off towards the stairs with Klaus in tow, and leaving Diego on his own to fight through the crowds.
The dancefloor stood between him and the booths on the far side of the club, and it was a battle to get across it, weaving between sticky bodies and ducking out of the way as arms reached out to try and pull him into a dance. He already felt like he’d been stuck inside for hours when he made it to the other side. It blew his mind to think that he used to enjoy coming here. The whole place smelled of sweat and drugs, and everything felt claustrophobic. Slowly, he started pacing past each of the booths, fast enough that he didn’t look suspicious, but slow enough that he could see everything that was going on. Two girls tangled up in each other’s arms and grinding against each other that he quickly side stepped past without a second look. A group of hooded figures exchanging sideways glances before slipping each other wads of cash and packets of pills that he turned a blind eye to. There was nothing that struck him as unusual, and nobody sitting alone. He went back and forth a couple of times, lingering by one of the empty booths for a while to see if anyone showed up, but there was nothing. Finally he gave up and started making his way back across the floor to find the others.
He found Dave at the foot of the stairs, still looking optimistic as ever, and with his shirt now undone almost down to his stomach. He tried to talk to him, but Diego couldn’t hear him until he shouted directly into his ear.
“You find anything?” He yelled, so close Diego could feel his breath on his ear.
Dave shook his head and Diego cursed under his breath, pausing for a moment before glancing over Dave’s shoulder.
Dave frowned. “I thought he went with you?”
A rush of panic hit him like a punch to the gut and he cursed again, reaching out instinctively and grabbing on to Dave’s shoulder to ground himself.
“He can’t have gone far. We’ll find him,” Dave shouted in his ear.
Diego shook his head. Even with anxiety making his heart thump against his chest, he could still think straight, and he still knew his brother.
“I know where he is,” He yelled back, leading Dave back through the crowds to the bathrooms on the other side of the club.
Sure enough, when he pushed the door open, Klaus was slumped against the wall in the corner. He was staring blankly up at the ceiling, a cigarette in his hand and a needle by his feet, with his arm draped loosely around the man sat next to him. It wasn’t until Diego and Dave were stood right at his feet that he seemed to notice them, smiling absently at them.
“Diego,” He croaked, lifting his hand weakly in an attempt at a wave. “Have you met my best friend?”
His companion gave an equally pathetic wave and smiled up at them. “I’ve never met this man before in my life.”
“It’s true,” Klaus chuckled.
“Klaus, get up. We’re leaving.”
Diego nudged Klaus’ leg with his foot and he nodded, waving his arm at him.
“Okay, okay. Yeah, I’m coming,” He mumbled, immediately closing his eyes and dropping his head back against the wall.
“Klaus.” Diego kicked him again, a little harder, and jolted him back to life.
“Yeah, yeah you said that already,” He sighed. “We’re leaving, we’re leaving. We’re going.”
Klaus still showed no sign of actually moving and Diego shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration.
“I got him,” Dave said from behind him, walking around and scooping Klaus up in his arms.
“Oh, that was just effortless for you, huh?” Klaus breathed.
He went limp against Dave, his eyelids fluttering as he stared dully at nothing. Diego just shook his head again and held the door open for Dave to walk past, following him across the club floor and outside. It was a relief when the night air hit him and he let out a deep breath he hadn’t realised he was holding. The temperature had dropped, but it was nice after being stuck inside the hot sweaty building. Neither he nor Dave had taken their cars to the club, and they were forced to walk back home, with Diego leading the way and Dave following behind with an almost comatose Klaus in his arms.
It was a while before either of them broke the silence, but finally Dave cleared his throat.
“So,” He said, his voice uncharacteristically subdued, “this was a total disaster.”
Diego nodded, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground in front of him. He couldn’t bring himself to actually look at Klaus right now, but he could tell from his humming that he was still vaguely conscious, so he tried to lead the conversation away from him.
“Our guy must’ve heard about what happened to Dan and not bothered to show.” He paused, mulling everything over for a moment. “Or, maybe he knows something, and now the cops are involved he’s laying low.”
“Why would he arrange to meet him if he knew something about him being murdered?”
He shrugged. “Throw off suspicion? I don’t know, it’s after midnight. Quit expecting me to make sense.”
Dave chuckled, but it quickly dissolved into a yawn. “Yeah, I’m regretting staying up so late last night.”
“Do you want me to take him?” Diego asked, nodding to Klaus, who was staring up at the sky and seemingly unaware he was being talked about.
“Nah, it’s fine,” Dave said, hoisting Klaus up a little closer to his chest. “He weighs literally nothing.”
Klaus lifted his head slightly and they both looked at him.
“Does anyone have any water?” He asked, blinking a few times and reaching up to hold on to Dave’s arm. “I’m so thirsty.”
Neither of them said anything and he sighed, letting his head roll back again.
“Ugh, Dave, stop swinging me around, you’re giving me vertigo.”
“I think that’s just you, darlin’,” Dave said, but he immediately slowed down and Diego could see he was making a concerted effort to keep his arms still.
Klaus continued mumbling softly to himself as they continued down the street, and Diego did his best to block him out. It was hard. Klaus said some horrible things when he was like this, with his inhibitions even lower than usual. And with the day he’d had, Diego didn’t want to hear any more of it. Instead he tried to focus on the buzz of the telegraph lines overhead, or the cars driving past.
“I’m just saying,” Klaus said, still breaking through the walls Diego was trying to build up with his incessant talking. “If you did want to take advantage of me, now’s the time. This is the sweet spot. Pliant enough to make me do what you want but just coherent enough that I’d put up a fight and make it interesting.”
Diego flexed his fingers, keeping his arms fixed rigidly to his sides, and Dave looked like he was battling between flinging Klaus away from him or holding on to him even tighter.
“I’m taking you home, Klaus,” He said quietly and Klaus sniggered.
“I bet you say that to all the boys.”
Dave looked over at him, and Diego gave him a sympathetic smile. The day felt like it had lasted an eternity, and he had a feeling he wasn’t going to see the back of it any time soon.
Happy Pride Month and Gay Rights to you all
Two updates in one month? Wow the power of women.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They got Klaus back to their apartment and into Diego’s bed with minimal complaints. Diego went to the kitchen to grab him a glass of water, and when he got back Dave was still sat on the bed, watching Klaus with sad eyes. His hands were twitching and fidgeting in his lap, like he wanted to reach out and touch him but was stopping himself, and it took him a few moments to even notice Diego standing in the doorway.
“Can you give us a minute?” He asked and Dave nodded, getting to his feet and shuffling past him.
On the bed, Klaus looked unconscious, but every few breaths his eyelids would flicker again and he’d murmur an inaudible word or two. Setting the glass down on the wooden crate that served as a bedside table, he walked to the end of the bed and attempted to wrestle Klaus’ feet out of his boots. Immediately Klaus yanked his leg away, screwing his face up and whining.
“Klaus, just let me-”
“Get off me.”
“ Klaus . It’s me.”
He lifted his head up and looked down, squinting at him for a moment before relaxing back against the pillow.
“Oh, it is you,” He breathed, offering his feet back up sighing to himself while Diego pulled his shoes off. “It’s too hot in here.”
Pacing across the room, Diego pushed back one of the curtains and cracked the window open, and Klaus hummed happily when the cold air drifted in.
“Sit up for a sec,” Diego said, and Klaus huffed but did as he was told, propping his head up on the pillows.
He thrust the glass of water into Klaus’ hands and sat next to him on the bed while he drank it.
“Better?” He asked when Klaus handed the empty glass back to him.
Klaus nodded and mumbled something that sounded like a thank you, rolling over and snuggling up against Diego’s side. When he tried to move, Klaus flung his arm around his waist and grunted. He didn’t have the strength to actually hold him down, but Diego stayed where he was regardless, running his fingers absently through Klaus’ hair.
Leaning into his hand, Klaus hummed softly and continued mumbling indistinct noises. The glitter in his hair was sticking to Diego’s hand and he rolled his eyes.
“You’re gonna get glitter all over my bed, you dick.”
Klaus lips twisted into a smile and he cracked one eye open to look up at him.
“Maybe now you’ll finally change your bedsheets.”
They both sniggered, falling silent for a moment before Klaus spoke again in a softer voice.
“Can I stay in here tonight?” He asked and Diego nodded.
“I’ll take the couch,” He said quietly, taking his hand out of Klaus’ hair and ignoring the whine of protest he elicited. “Try and get some sleep. You need anything, you call me. Okay?”
Klaus nodded and rolled onto his back, freeing Diego to get up. He kicked the trash can over to the side of the bed and grabbed the empty glass from the side, switching the lamp on and heading back through the door.
Dave was standing in the kitchen, leant back against the counter, and he looked up when Diego approached him.
“Is he okay?” He asked, his eyes flicking over to the bedroom door.
Diego nodded and walked silently back over to the sink to refill Klaus’ glass.
“Are you okay?”
He paused, turning back around to see Dave looking at him. His eyes burned into him and he looked down at the floor, nibbling at his lip for a moment before nodding again.
“I’ll be fine,” He mumbled.
“You want a cup of coffee or something?”
Diego huffed out a laugh. “Think I need something stronger than that,” He said, pausing for a moment before adding, “Coffee sounds good... Thanks.”
While Dave made them both a drink Diego poked his head back into the bedroom, where Klaus was already sound asleep on his bed, flat on his stomach with his arms hugging the pillow tightly. Diego crept across the room and set the water down next to him, and Klaus stirred but didn’t wake up, his eyebrows knotting together as he dreamt. The room was freezing cold now with the window open, so Diego pulled the duvet up over him, tucking him in before leaving and shutting the door behind him.
He sat down on the couch and moments later Dave appeared with two mugs, handing one to Diego before sitting in the armchair opposite. They were both silent for a few minutes, sipping their drinks while the clock ticked by on the wall.
“Sorry for dragging you into all this,” Diego finally said, not looking up from the mug in his hands. “Probably weren’t expecting to get all my family issues dumped on you when you agreed to work this case with me.”
Dave waved him off. “Don’t worry about it, it’s nice that you two are so close.”
Out of the corner of his eye Diego could see Dave curl his legs up on the armchair and he looked over at him sympathetically.
“You hear much from your siblings anymore?” He asked and Dave shook his head.
“I uh… didn’t even tell them I was leaving the country,” He admitted. “I have no idea if any of them have noticed yet, but they haven’t called, so...” He trailed off, shrugging to himself.
“Okay, now you sound like my sister.”
Dave chuckled. “Minus the Hollywood superstardom.”
“Oh, no, not Allison. Vanya,” He said, hurrying to explain when he saw the confusion on Dave’s face. “She didn’t… doesn’t have powers. She was like the dirty little secret none of us were allowed to mention in public… Anyway, it was the same when she left. There was no goodbye or anything, we just woke up that morning and she was gone. I don’t think she expected any of us to notice.”
“You did though?”
“Yeah. How could we not? It was right after…” He trailed off, tightening his grip on the mug in his hands. “Right after Ben died. The same night. It was like, one day there was six of us and the next we were down to four. I don’t know, we just fell apart after that I guess. I mean we were always more than a little dysfunctional, but we were still a family . But after Ben and then Vanya leaving the rest of us barely said a word to each other. At least not until Klaus-”
His stomach turned before he could get the rest of the sentence out and he stopped, knocking back the rest of his coffee and setting his mug down on the table.
“He uh… he OD’d.”
“Yeah.” Diego nodded. He regretting putting the mug down, now wishing he had something in his hands to hold on to. Instead, he wrapped his arms around himself and shrunk back into the couch cushions.
“You don’t have to talk about it,” Dave said, so Diego stayed quiet. But the memory was still fresh in his mind like it had happened yesterday.
He wasn’t there when they found him, and he couldn’t really remember what he had been doing. Probably getting the shit kicked out of him in an alley like he had been most nights after Ben died. He just remembered getting home, slipping in through the kitchen window and immediately being pulled into a crushing hug by Luther. It was the first time… the only time he’d ever seen Luther cry. Even after Ben, he’d still kept his emotions to himself, locking himself in his room for almost two days and refusing to even let Allison inside until he was ready to come out again. Diego had never seen him break the stoic leader facade until then, when he’d clung to him, almost suffocating Diego with the tightness of his grip, and sobbed brokenly into his shoulder.
At first the only word he could get out was “Klaus”, and for a few horrible moments Diego thought he was already gone. The reality wasn’t much better. When Luther was finally able to get some complete sentences out, he’d told him what had happened.
“Neither of us had seen him all day and… and we figured it was just, you know, Klaus being Klaus . But I thought I’d check on him before I went to bed and he was…” He paused, pulling Diego impossibly closer to him. “He looked dead , Diego. I thought… he was cold and I couldn’t find his pulse and… I can’t lose anyone else. I just… I can’t. Mom said if I hadn’t found him when I did he might not have- wait, what the hell happened to you?”
Oh, yeah. He had been getting the shit kicked out of him.
He’d brushed it off before Luther could look too closely at his busted lip or the bruises that were doubtlessly covering his face, telling him it was nothing and asking where Klaus was now. Luther had taken him upstairs, where Allison and their mom were sat with Klaus who, if not for the IV in his hand, would have just looked like he was asleep. Immediately he was pulled into another, not so crushing hug by Allison, and it was the only time since they were fourteen that Diego remembered seeing her without her makeup and perfectly styled hair. Mom told them Klaus would be okay, but she couldn’t be sure when he’d wake up, so the three of them stayed, taking it in turns in the chair pulled up by Klaus’ bed.
At one point, when the sun was just starting to come up, and Diego was sat with Klaus while Allison slept on Luther’s shoulder on the floor, Luther asked him if he thought dad knew what had happened. Even after everything, he couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t come down to see if Klaus was okay. Diego said that maybe he was just busy, and that mom was keeping him updated. He knew it was bullshit, but it seemed to make Luther feel better.
Later, when Luther was asleep in the chair with Klaus’ hand clutched in his, and Diego had taken his place on the floor next to Allison, she’d asked him if he thought Klaus had done it on purpose. He supposed she thought he might know something they didn’t, being the closest to Klaus out of all of them, but the truth was he’d barely spoken to him after what happened to Ben, and he really didn’t have an answer for her. Allison seemed convinced though, and when she took her turn to sit with him, and she thought he and Luther were both asleep slumped next to each other, he heard her whispering to Klaus that she was sorry.
She was wrong, as it turned out. When Klaus did wake up a day later and realised what had happened, he clung to Allison for dear life and sobbed in her arms for close to an hour until he was finally able to choke out enough words to explain what had happened.
“I keep seeing him,” He’d said, and none of them had needed to ask who he was talking about. “No matter what I take. So I just took more and more to try and make him disappear and… I didn’t realise it was that much, I... I’m sorry. I just wanted him to go.”
“Klaus, that’s not your powers,” Allison had told him. “I see him too. All the time. We all do.”
Luther had nodded at that, and Diego nodded along too, but Klaus was still staring with uncertain eyes at the darkest corner of the room, and Diego still wondered sometimes if maybe it really had been him.
He and Klaus left not long after that, and they never spoke about it again. It was like an unspoken agreement between them, the one subject that they’d never go back to.
Across from him, Dave set his mug down on the coffee table and brought Diego back into reality.
“Sorry,” Dave mumbled when he saw the look of disorientation on his face. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. It’s been a long day.”
“We got some good stuff today though,” He said, ever the optimist, but it did little to lift Diego’s spirits.
“Yeah,” He muttered. “Until I fucked it up.”
Dave frowned at him, pacing across the floor and sitting next to him on the couch.
“Diego, this isn’t your fault,” He told him, cautiously putting an arm around him and squeezing his shoulder when Diego leaned into the touch. “He can make his own decisions.”
“He was sober for the whole day and I took him to a fucking nightclub. I mean that’s gotta be up there as one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done in my life.” He laughed to himself. “I may as well have handed him a bag of pills myself.”
Dave didn’t say anything and Diego sighed, looking down at his hands.
“At least nobody saw him this time,” He said quietly, remembering another of Klaus’ overdoses. Someone in the ambulance must have spotted their tattoos, and the next thing he knew it was front page news. The only silver lining was Allison, who flew across the country to see him. She had to leave again before he woke up, too many commitments she couldn’t back out of, and Diego still wasn’t convinced Klaus had actually believed him when he told him she’d visited.
“I should go,” Dave said after a while, slowly getting to his feet. “Try and get some sleep, yeah? It’s the weekend tomorrow, so you can relax for a couple days.”
“No, I’ve got too much to do,” Diego mumbled. “You think you could come over again tomorrow? Just to go over everything?”
“Oh yeah, sure. If you want.”
“You don’t have to.”
“No, it’s no problem.” Dave smiled cheerily at him and started heading towards the door. He made it about halfway before Diego stopped him again.
“Hm?” He looked back over his shoulder and Diego rested his arms on the back of the couch as he swivelled around to face him.
“Thanks for, um…” He paused, looking over at his closed bedroom door and then down at the ground. “Most of the guys at work would jump at the first opportunity to throw him in a cell so just… I don’t know. Thanks for not being a dick about all this I guess.”
Dave turned back around fully, rocking on his heels and shrugging. “This job was supposed to be about putting bad people away. He’s not a bad person.”
“Still. I think you’re the first person he’s managed to make a positive first impression on,” Diego admitted and Dave shrugged again.
“I think he’s sweet,” He said with a small smile, shoving his hands in his pockets and letting out a deep breath. “Anyway, guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He saw himself out, and Diego waved to him as he left, settling back against the pillows and closing his eyes. He didn’t get much sleep, between the thoughts of everything that had happened that day, and the sounds of Klaus mumbling and whimpering to himself in his sleep through the door, and when he woke up the next morning he felt like he’d not long fallen asleep.
It was Klaus that woke him up, throwing the bedroom door open and stumbling into the bathroom to puke his guts up. There was a long silence, and then Klaus crept back out, shuffling silently across the room until he was looming over him. Slowly, he started waving a hand in front of his face and Diego rolled his eyes, finally looking up at him.
“You’re not dead, Klaus. I can see you.”
“Oh, well that’s a shame,” Klaus sighed, flopping down bonelessly onto the armchair with a grunt.
Diego sat upright and looked him up and down. If he were still unconscious it would be easy to think he was on the brink of death, with his pale clammy skin and dark circles hollowing his eyes out.
“You look like shit,” He told him bluntly. “How do you feel?”
“Well,” Klaus said with an empty smile, “I think I just threw my kidneys up, and I’m pretty sure I’m currently having heart failure, but other than that I’m fabulous.”
He attempted to laugh but ended up gagging and having a coughing fit, and Diego narrowed his eyes at him.
“If you puke on my armchair I’m tossing you onto the street,” He warned.
“Please, spare me your sympathy.”
“You’re in for a hell of a disappointing day if you’re expecting sympathy from me,” Diego muttered.
He still felt guilty about what had happened, but if Klaus picked up on that he’d just use it and twist it to get whatever he wanted out of him. So Diego switched all his defenses on and ignored him, staring fixedly out through the window until Klaus gave up on getting a reaction and left to start rifling through the fridge.
“I’m craving…. I don’t know what I’m craving. What do you think?”
Diego looked over at him, but it was clear Klaus wasn’t talking to him, staring over his shoulder at the empty chair pulled up at the table.
“Don’t pull that face at me,” He muttered. “Yes you are! Get over yourself and pick a breakfast food .. Ew , no. God, it’s like you want me to puke again. Shut up and let me think.”
Shaking his head, Diego turned his back on him again. He was able to ignore him for all of forty seconds before Klaus appeared over him again, smiling a little more genuinely this time.
“Can I tempt you with a breakfast sandwich?”
Diego stared up at him for a moment and sighed. “Sure,” He mumbled, nodding his head, and Klaus’ smile stretched a little wider.
“Great! Sit tight and I’ll bring you breakfast in bed.”
“This is not my bed,” Diego said firmly, sitting upright. “This was a one time thing.”
“Is that supposed to upset me? I’d rather die than sleep in that bed again. It’s gross and it smells weird. Have you ever changed those sheets? Like in the whole time we’ve lived here?”
Wrapping one of Klaus’ blankets around himself, Diego said nothing, and Klaus went back to muttering to himself while he clattered around the kitchen. He didn’t know how Klaus could sleep here every night with just the thin blankets to keep him warm. Klaus had never mentioned it being a problem before, but Klaus didn’t mention a lot of things.
“Room service!” Klaus sung a few minutes later, presenting him with a sandwich the size of his head. “Eat up! You’re gonna need your strength for all this high pressure police work, right?”
Diego didn’t say anything, trying to figure out how he was going to get his mouth around his sandwich. Tentatively, Klaus pushed at his legs until he curled them up, giving him room to sit on the other end of the couch. He immediately pulled his own sandwich apart, nibbling at individual components and staring blankly out through the window for a moment.
“So how did it go yesterday?” He finally asked, looking back over at Diego. “Did you save the day?”
“Not exactly,” Diego mumbled through a mouthful of food. Klaus still sounded enthusiastic about the case, but after last night the thought of him getting involved any further made his stomach turn.
“Oh,” Klaus said, oblivious to his thoughts, “Well, I think we’re gonna make some progress today. I’ve got a good feeling, right here.” He held his hand over his heart and nodded to himself. “I was thinking maybe first we could-”
“I don’t want you helping with the case anymore.”
Klaus looked like he’d just been smacked across the face, staring at him with wide, hurt eyes.
“Because- Why do you think, Klaus?” Diego set his plate down and sat upright, staring him down while Klaus shifted uncomfortably. “I mean do you want a list ? First of all you’re not a detective, you shouldn’t be involved with any of this anyway. If anybody finds out you’ve been f-following me around I can kiss my job goodbye, which means you can kiss goodbye to breakfast sandwiches and a roof over your head because this job is the only way I can afford any of this shit. I let you help out because I thought maybe if you had something to do you might stop all this bullshit and what do you do? The second you see an opportunity you crawl off to the nearest crackhead and leave me to scrape you up off the fucking floor. Again.”
He looked down at his lap, taking a deep breath and flexing his fingers. Klaus was quiet for a moment, hanging his head like a scolded child.
“I didn’t mean to,” He said quietly and Diego gave him an unconvinced look.
“So what?” He asked, feeling himself getting more frustrated by the second. “You tripped and accidentally shot yourself full’a heroin?”
“Obviously not,” Klaus muttered. “But maybe if you had corpses following you around all the time you’d-”
“Don’t give me that crap again, Klaus. It’s bullshit.”
“Oh, cool. Great! All those years of trauma are just bullshit! That’s a relief. Guess I’m cured now. Problem solved. Will you be accepting your Nobel Prize in person or by video link?”
Klaus tried to go back to picking at his food but Diego snatched the plate out of his hands before he could, holding it out of his reach.
“Give it back, you prick.”
“No,” He said firmly. “I’m not done talking to you. Look at me.”
Klaus scowled at him, which, he supposed, counted as doing as he was told, so Diego continued.
“Can you honestly, genuinely say that after being sober all day without a problem, your powers suddenly got too much to handle just as we got to a nightclub? Because that just seems a little convenient to me.”
“Go fuck yourself.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought you’d say,” He mumbled. “It’s bullshit.”
He didn’t get a response to that. Instead, Klaus swiped his plate back and shuffled as far away from him as he could, until he was pressed up against the arm of the couch. He curled up in the corner, and Diego watched him as he nibbled on a rasher of bacon, holding it in both hands like a toddler.
“I don’t do this shit because it’s fun you know,” He said after a few minutes.
“No. You do it because it’s easier than making any kind of effort to get better.”
“You’re a really asshole, you know that?”
“Yeah!” Diego said, getting to his feet. “I’m an asshole. But so are you.” He jabbed a finger at him and Klaus jerked away, folding his arms defensively. “Because every time this happens, I wind up feeling like it’s my fault. A-a-and like I should have kept a closer eye on you or done something differently. And yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have taken you to that club and maybe I should have been watching you but you’re a fucking adult, Klaus. And I’m your brother not your fucking babysitter. And you can call me an asshole if you want but I have tried, for years , to help you, but nothing I do is ever gonna work because you won’t even try and you just… You’ll just check yourself into rehab once a year like that’s enough and as soon as you leave you straight back to your bullshit and I have to just deal with that and- A-and you fucking know that whatever shit you pull I’ll end up forgiving you, like an idiot, because I would still rather have you here treating me like crap, than out there dead in some alley. And that’s where you’d be, if it weren’t for me. That or rotting in a jail cell.”
He walked off before Klaus could get another word in, shutting himself in his room… then turning and opening the door again so he could slam it properly and drive his point home. It took him approximately thirty seconds to realise that he was now trapped in his room with nothing to do, while Klaus now had the run of the entire apartment.
“Fuck’s sake,” He muttered to himself, kicking at one of the boxes sat in the corner of his room. It was almost five years now since they’d moved in, and still most of his stuff remained in boxes scattered across the floor, ready for if they ever needed to leave.
He got changed, sat on his bed for a while, then lay on his bed, then he got up and paced around. He flipped through a book from the small stack on his desk. One of Ben’s that had been left in Diego’s bedroom, that he’d never had the chance to reclaim. He hadn’t brought it with him on purpose. When he and Klaus decided they were leaving everything happened in a blur and he’d grabbed everything in sight, throwing it all in a bag without pausing for thought, and now he couldn’t quite bring himself to toss it out.
Outside, he heard the front door open and shut, and when he peered back into the front room Klaus was gone, along with his shoes and coat. Diego’s first instinct was to check his wallet, which he’d left in his jacket slung over the couch. There was nothing missing from it, and he immediately felt guilty about the assumption, but he wasn’t sure if he felt better or worse that Klaus hadn’t taken anything. With no money, Klaus could either stay out of trouble, or get into a whole lot of trouble.
Before he could dwell on it any further, there was a knock at the door. At first he thought maybe Klaus had forgotten his keys again, but it was Dave that greeted him in the doorway.
“Morning, partner!” He grinned, holding up a tray of coffees and noting the troubled look on Diego’s face. “You look like you need this. I also bought pastries if you want one.”
“Thanks,” Diego mumbled as he took one of the cups, letting Dave through and shutting the door behind him.
He took a sip of coffee and slumped into one of the metal dining chairs before responding.
“He uh… went out,” He said, looking down at the cup in his hand. “Probably won’t be back for a while.”
Dave looked a little disappointed at that, sitting opposite him and setting a brown paper bag in the middle of the table.
“Are you okay?” He asked, taking a pastry from the bag and gesturing for Diego to do the same. “You… I mean, don’t take this the wrong way or anything but you really don’t look too good.”
“I’m up to my ass in a case that’s going nowhere, my boss wants my head on a stick, my brother almost killed himself in a nightclub bathroom, and I slept on my couch last night. How’d you expect me to look?”
Dave frowned at him and he sighed, mumbling out a quiet, “Sorry.”
“No, it’s okay,” Dave said. “You sure you wanna do this today? I really think a day off would do you some good.”
“I can take a day off once the case is solved,” Diego muttered, ignoring Dave’s unconvinced face. “And that’s never gonna happen if we don’t come up with some semblance of a plan, because right now we’ve got nothing.”
Apparently deciding it wasn’t worth it to argue anymore, Dave shrugged and pulled a stack of notes from his bag, dumping them unceremoniously on the table.
“I’ve been writing everything down,” He explained. “It’s easier to spot things I’ve missed when I’ve got everything in front of me.”
Diego took one of the crumpled pages and read it over, cocking his eyebrow at him curiously.
“This whole page is just about Klaus trying to conjure that guy.”
He flinched when Dave snatched the paper from his hand and stuffed it back in his bag, folding his arms defensively.
“I didn’t say it was all gonna be relevant,” He mumbled as he sifted through the other notes and quickly returned a few more pages to his bag.
They went over the remaining notes together, bouncing ideas off each other and trying to work out what to do next. Every option was halted in its tracks by the fact that they still didn’t have their suspect, and it was infuriating. Thanks to Klaus, they knew exactly who their killer was, but neither of them knew who she was, and no matter what they came up with, they still weren’t any closer to finding her.
“What are we doing about the guy we were looking for yesterday?” Dave asked, after almost two hours of knocking their heads together. “Are they still a suspect or just another dead end?”
Diego let out a breath and shook his head. “I don’t know,” He said, pausing to drink some of the coffee that had long since gone cold. “That could have been our best lead but we… Without a name or description the chances of us ever tracking ‘em down again are next to nothing.”
He paused again, as he had done multiple times during their brainstorming, waiting in vain for Klaus to chime in with something. If he were here this would probably be the moment that he’d pipe up with something completely ridiculous and off topic, that still somehow lead them right to the answer they were looking for. He looked out through the window, where the rain that had started over an hour ago was still hammering down, and he couldn’t help but worry again about where Klaus might have scuttled off to.
“Maybe we could go back,” He said, trying to keep himself on topic. “Ask around at that club and see if anybody knows anything about an ‘M’?”
Dave nodded, looking back and forth between the notes laid out in front of him and stroking his chin thoughtfully for a moment.
“What if we-”
The door slammed open behind them before Dave could get the rest of his sentence out, and the ceiling light flickered as a rain sodden, stormy faced Klaus trudged past them, leaving puddles behind him on the floor as he walked.
“It’s raining,” He muttered as he gathered a bundle of dry clothes in his arms, storming back across the room and shutting himself in the bathroom without another word.
He grumbled and cursed to himself loudly in the other room while Diego and Dave sat in awkward silence, staring at each other across the table. When he emerged again, in black pyjama pants and a tie-dye hoodie that engulfed his whole body, he gazed back and forth between the two of them for a moment, pursing his lips and shooting a cold stare at the empty space next to him.
“Will you shut up ?” He hissed at nobody, begrudgingly taking a step forward like he was being pushed, and turning towards Diego. He folded his arms, then unfolded them and fixed them at his sides, then shoved both hands in the pocket of his hoodie and hung his head.
“I’m sorry,” He mumbled, almost inaudibly, “For screwing up yesterday, and for messing the case up, and for taking advantage of you, and for being an asshole, and… I’m sorry, okay? And I’m sorry for calling you an asshole and for-”
“Klaus,” Diego interrupted. “You can stop.”
“Oh thank god. I hate this.” Klaus rocked back on his heels and looked up at him with uncertainty. “Are we good?”
He nodded and Klaus breathed a sigh of relief, glancing back over his shoulder briefly before pulling his chair up next to Diego’s and curling himself up in it.
“What happened to your glasses?” He asked, looking at Dave curiously.
Dave moved his hand instinctively to where his glasses would have been, as if he’d forgotten for a moment that he wasn’t wearing them. “Oh,” He said, lowering his hand again. “I don’t usually like wearing them.”
“I thought they were cute,” Klaus said quietly, playing absently with one of the toggles on his hoodie. “I mean, not that you’re not cute without them. You’re really cute. I just liked the glasses too. You shouldn’t let other people’s opinions influence how you present yourself though so I guess it doesn’t really matter what I think anyway.”
“Okay, this is painful,” Diego said, jumping in before Klaus could get another word out. “What were we talking about?”
He didn’t get an answer from either of them, so he went back to the notes by himself, trying to focus on doing his job.
“Oh,” Dave piped up, a few minutes too late. “We were gonna go back to that club.”
“Ew, why would you wanna go back there?” Klaus mumbled, curling into a tighter ball. “In case you’ve already forgotten, I didn’t exactly have a blast last time.”
“You’re not coming this time,” Diego told him, and Klaus relaxed a little. “That guy we were looking for is still the only lead we have right now, and that club is the only place we have any chance of finding him now.”
“Okay… Or I could just call him? And then you can see him wherever you want?”
Diego blinked at him. “Excuse me?”
“He gave me his number last night. That and a whole lotta smack.”
“You… That was… Klaus are you kidding me? Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because I was off my face on drugs?” Klaus reminded him. “And I didn’t exactly get much opportunity earlier since… Well anyway his name’s Morris. No wonder he just goes by the initial.”
“You think you can get him to meet you?”
“Oh, he’ll definitely want to meet me,” Klaus chuckled. “I still owe him money. I’ll call him, I’ll call him. Should I… tell him you guys are coming?”
Diego thought on it for a moment and shook his head. “You should probably keep that to yourself for now. We don’t wanna spook him.”
Nodding, Klaus hopped to his feet and scurried across the room, digging through the pocket of his wet, discarded coat and fishing his phone out. While he made the call, Diego helped Dave gather the scattered notes on the table into a pile.
“You’re not gonna let him meet this guy on his own, right?” Dave asked, a hint of concern in his voice. “He could be dangerous.”
“Dave, we were taught how to kill someone with a toaster when we were six . He’s not as helpless as he looks.” Diego looked over at Klaus, sat cross legged on the couch and chatting away on the phone, before adding, “I’m not gonna send him on his own.”
“Okay, good,” Dave said quietly as he placed the stack of paper back in his bag, pausing for a moment before looking back up at him. “How do you kill someone with a toaster?”
“You strangle ‘em with the cord!” Klaus said, appearing in front of them and pretending to garotte himself. “Or gouge their eyes with the plug, but that’s if you just wanna maim them. Why? Who are we killing?”
“We’re not killing anybody,” Diego told him.
“Oh, well thank god ,” Klaus breathed as he sat back down. “I thought maybe you’d finally gone off the rails completely.”
Diego ignored him. “Did you call him?”
“Oh! Yeah! Yeah he said to meet him in an hour, behind this repair shop a few blocks from here.” He paused, looking down at his lap. “Does this mean I’m still helping?”
“For now,” Diego warned, but then he smirked to himself. “You can be our rookie.”
He reached over to ruffle Klaus’ hair and laughed when he smacked his hand away.
“Don’t touch my hair,” He muttered. “It’s already a mess.”
His hair had dried into a mop of curls, falling in ringlets in his face. He twisted one of the locks around his finger and pouted unhappily. “Do I have time to fix this before we go?”
“Depends if you want lunch or not.” Diego shrugged and Klaus huffed.
“Fine,” He said dramatically. “Then I shall be the laughing stock of the town.”
“I think it looks nice,” Dave said, smiling sweetly at him.
Diego had never, in his life, seen Klaus blush before, and even now he only got the briefest glimpse of his cheeks heating up before he yanked his hood up over his head and hid his face in his arms. He had no idea how to respond to the sight of his brother cowering in his seat after being complimented, so he turned his attention back to Dave, who was still grinning like an idiot at Klaus.
“Can I buy you lunch?” He offered. “Since I’m making you work a weekend.”
“What do you mean? I love working overtime with no extra pay.”
Diego blinked at him and he chuckled. “I’m fucking with you. Lunch sounds good, though.”
“Okay, good,” He said, patting Klaus on the shoulder to get his attention. “Klaus, go get dressed.”
“I am dressed.”
“You’re in pyjamas.”
Klaus narrowed his eyes at him but said nothing, pottering across the room and wrestling himself into a pair of ripped black jeans while Diego pulled his boots on. Dave went ahead of them, and as soon as he disappeared through the door Diego felt Klaus tapping him on the shoulder.
“Di?” He said softly, looking at him with wide, nervous eyes.
Diego frowned as he turned around to face him. “You alright?”
“Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” Klaus nodded, looking down at his feet. “I just, um… I really am sorry. For last night and… this morning.”
“Dude, it’s fine. Come on, we gotta go.”
He moved to walk away but Klaus grabbed his arm and pulled him back, his face still disturbingly serious.
“Please, just let me…” Klaus trailed off, gripping on to the sleeve of Diego’s shirt and letting out a deep breath. “You’re all I’ve got left and I really don’t want to keep treating you like shit when you’re like… really nice to me all things considered and I just love you a lot and I appreciate you and-”
“Klaus, I’m literally begging you to stop.”
They both fell silent and Diego shifted uncomfortably, opening and shutting his mouth dumbly a few times as he tried and failed to vocalise a response.
“I love you too, you idiot,” He finally mumbled, folding his arms awkwardly. “I hate this. Can we please go?”
Klaus grinned, finally letting go of the sad, serious demeanor and relaxing back to his usual manner. “You don’t wanna hug it out first?”
Ignoring him, Klaus wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into a hug, and despite his protests, Diego let him. He hooked his chin on Klaus’ shoulder and closed his eyes for a moment while Klaus ran his hand up and down his back, unsure of who he was trying to reassure.
When Klaus tried to pull away from him again Diego clung on to him, and it took him a few seconds to realise what he was doing and let go of him again, wrapping his arms around himself and clearing his throat.
“Can we go now?” He asked and Klaus sniggered.
“Yeah,” He said, patting Diego’s chest as he started walking past him. “Dave’s gonna think we’re making out or something.”
“You’re disgusting,” Diego muttered. “If anything he probably thinks we killed each other.”
Klaus laughed at that and Diego followed him down the stairs to where Dave was waiting for them, leant back on the hood of his car and cocking his head curiously when he spotted them.
“You guys kiss and make up?” He asked, chuckling when Klaus threw his arm around Diego’s shoulder.
Diego ignored the question and looked down at the keys Dave was twirling in his hand. “I take it you’re driving?”
“Shotgun!” Klaus yelled and Diego looked at him incredulously.
“How come you never call shotgun when I’m driving?”
“Because you drive like a maniac,” Klaus said matter of factly. “And it’s easier for me to bail out of the backseat.”
Dave laughed and held the door open for Klaus to get in, shrugging when Diego gave him a cold stare. They ended up driving around for a while because Klaus kept changing his mind on where he wanted to go. Diego didn’t recall them ever establishing that this would be Klaus’ choice, but he seemed to have given himself that right anyway, and neither he or Dave had bothered to argue with him about it.
After almost fifteen minutes Klaus piped up again, “Actually, I think I do want Subway after all.”
“Are you kidding me?” Diego leaned over the seat to glare at him. “That was your original choice.”
“Quiet, backseat boy.”
They pulled up outside and Diego hurried Klaus inside before he could change his mind again, ordering for him to save time.
“How are we doing for time?” Diego asked after they’d sat down and Dave glanced at his watch.
“We’ve got twenty minutes.”
“We should probably try and get there early so we can-” He paused. “Klaus, what are you doing?”
Klaus, who had elected to sit on the table rather than the multitude of empty seats available to him, had taken one of Dave’s hands in his and was examining it intently, his brow furrowed in concentration.
“Palm reading,” He said, his eyes still firmly fixed on Dave’s hand.
“You haven’t touched your food.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“I swear I’m gonna kill you,” Diego muttered, but Klaus either didn’t hear him, or chose not to respond.
“What’s my palm say?” Dave asked, watching Klaus curiously.
“I’m not sure,” He said quietly. “I read a book on it a couple years ago but I don’t remember much. I think this one is your life line.” He pointed to one of the creases in his hand and hummed thoughtfully. “It’s pretty deep.”
“Is that a good thing?”
“Pretty sure that means you’re unkillable.”
“Do me a favour and slash mine so I can die,” Diego said, holding his hand out to Klaus who just narrowed his eyes at him and said nothing. “Now can you stop… whatever the hell this is, and focus? We need to go and scope this meet point out before our guy gets there.”
“Scope it out?” Klaus scoffed. “Can you unclench for five minutes? It’s a car shop, what is there to scope ?”
“Exits and entrances, hiding spots, anything that can be used to kill us , I could go on.”
“Anyone ever tell you you’re a little paranoid?”
Diego ignored him and got to his feet, prompting the others to follow him back out to the car.
There wasn’t much sign of activity at the repair shop, and the alleyway around the back where they’d agreed to meet was of little interest. It felt vaguely familiar to him, though he wasn’t sure if he remembered it from an old fight, or as one of the many spots he’d found Klaus passed out before. The alley was a dead end, and when they got to the fence blocking the end he turned around and folded his arms as he spoke to them.
“Okay, here’s my plan,” He said firmly. “Klaus, you and I wait here for your buddy to show up so we can talk to him. And when I say ‘we’ I mean I will talk to him and you will keep your mouth shut. Capiche?”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. I capiche. What about Dave?”
“He’s gonna wait by the car in case our guy tries to make a break for it. Any other questions?”
“Yeah, what if he has a gun?” Klaus asked.
“Dave also has a gun. I have many, many knives. You… you can run, I guess.”
“What if he’s bullet and knife proof?”
“That’s not a thing.”
“He could have superpowers too,” Dave suggested and Klaus nodded.
“Yeah, Diego, what if he has superpowers? He could kill us all.”
“What are you talking about that’s not- Can we just get on with this?” Diego dragged a hand down his face despairingly and Klaus sniggered.
Dave headed back down the alley to the road as he was told, leaving the two of them alone to wait. Barely ten seconds passed before Klaus turned to him again.
“I do think maybe you should let me talk a little bit,” He said, leaning back against the fence. “It’s just… I don’t want you to embarrass yourself or, more importantly, me, trying to talk to this guy.”
“You don’t want me to embarrass you ?” Diego huffed out a laugh in disbelief. “Is that a joke?”
“I’m being serious, Diego. You have no clue about any of this. The craziest shit you’ve done is get baked with me a few times when we were teenagers which barely counts as using. Everything you know about the drug scene probably came from the police academy, and that is almost definitely inaccurate. If you start spewing any of that shit to him he’s gonna know instantly that you’re a cop and trust me when I say that will not end well for us.”
Diego didn’t say anything and Klaus frowned, hurriedly adding, “It’s not a bad thing. I just think maybe-”
“No, you’re right,” He said before Klaus could finish, nodding to himself. “Okay, you do the talking.”
“Great! I’m thinking you should play my sweet innocent baby brother and I’m trying to show you a good time. The key to a good lie is to stretch the truth, right?”
“Don’t push it.”
Klaus giggled and patted his shoulder affectionately. “Oh! Do you have fifteen dollars? I told him I’d give him his money if he met me.”
Rolling his eyes, Diego handed him his wallet, and the two of them waited in silence for M to show up.
He was ten minutes late, and they’d been close to giving up when he finally strolled up, waving at Klaus who immediately pulled him into a hug.
“Sorry, man, I got held up. You know how it is with- Who’s this?”
His eyes fell on Diego and his expression shifted as he pulled away from Klaus, instantly looking defensive. Klaus just grinned and draped his arm over Diego’s shoulder.
“Relax, he’s my little brother,” He said sweetly, resting their heads together. “He’s the one that dragged me home last night.”
“Oh… you don’t look related.”
“Adopted,” They said in sync.
“I’m trying to broaden his experience of the world,” Klaus added, and M visibly relaxed at that. “Pull the stick out of his ass, you know?”
“I hear you,” He chuckled, pulling a needle and a bag of powder out of his pocket. “How much do you want?”
Diego tensed and his legs threatened to buckle just at the prospect of that needle coming anywhere near him, and Klaus quickly put an arm in front of him protectively.
“Whoa, okay, I want to show him a good time not destroy his life,” He said, laughing nervously. “Actually I was hoping you could help me find somebody.”
Klaus proceeded to give the vaguest description of a person ever. So vague, it even took Diego a few moments to realise he was describing Dan.
“He’s uh… he’s got like dark hair… about yay high, I think… uh… I think he had a tattoo?”
“You’re talking about Dan?” M said, against all odds, and Klaus nodded.
“Yeah! Yeah, that’s his name. Yeah, it’s nothing personal, I just wanna break my brother in gently.” He squeezed Diego’s shoulder and grinned over at him, and Diego smiled awkwardly back at him. “You know where I can find him?”
There was a long silence, and M stared right through them for a moment before shaking his head. “No he uh… he died.”
“Whaaaaaat?” Klaus said, in a voice so high and dramatic it would have sounded ridiculous coming from anyone other than him. “When?”
“Couple days ago,” He mumbled, shoving his hands in his pockets. “I don’t know anything about it. Probably overdosed.”
Diego knew a liar when he saw one, and it didn’t take a genius to spot this guy’s restless hands and shifting eyes. He was itching to ask him a million questions. How well did they know each other? When was the last time they saw each other? How did he-
“How’d you find out?” Klaus asked, as if he’d pulled the thought straight out of Diego’s head.
The question appeared to catch M off guard and he stared dumbly at them, stopping and starting as he tried to get a sentence out.
“I… He… Well… See I… have a uh… a friend who knew him and they told me what happened so… yeah,” He stammered, glancing over his shoulder and then back to Klaus. “Look I have places to be so if you’re not buying anything I really gotta… go. Here’s the number of a girl I know. She’ll be able to hook your brother up with something.” He grabbed Klaus’ hand and scribbled a number on the back with a marker. “I’ll see you around… or not, or… I don’t know. Bye.”
Klaus waved cheerfully at him as he walked away, waiting until he’d disappeared down the road before turning back to Diego with a huge grin plastered across his face.
“Police work is so easy. You had to do training for this? Get a certificate and everything? To do this ?”
“Shut up and let me see that,” Diego muttered, twisting Klaus’ hand to look at the number written on it. “Don’t wash your hands until we’ve written that down.”
“If only he’d written it on your hand, it might have been preserved forever.”
Diego ignored him and started walking back towards the street, leaving Klaus to follow behind him.
“So, are you glad you decided to let me help?” He asked when he’d caught up, still smiling like an idiot at him.
“Not really. You’ve been a pain in my ass since we left the house,” He said, before letting out a sigh and glancing over at him. “You were great.”
“Oh! Well, thank you.” Klaus smiled even wider and puffed his chest out proudly. “And if I may say, you did a wonderful job playing my boring and hopelessly stupid baby brother.”
“Don’t make me take it back, Klaus.”
Dave was waiting in the car when they reached him, and they quickly filled him in on what had happened. They all debated for a while about what to do next, whether to keep following him, or try calling the number he’d given them.
“I mean, the odds that it’s the girl we’re looking for have gotta be pretty slim, right?” Dave said. “And if he does know something, he wouldn’t send you straight to her.”
“But she could know something,” Diego pointed out. “Everyone seems to know everyone around here.”
“He could be giving her up to get himself out of trouble,” Klaus suggested, twisting in his seat to look at Diego. “We crackheads aren’t the most loyal of people.”
Dave frowned at that, mumbling quietly, “Don’t call yourself that.”
“I’m just saying,” Klaus continued, “He was guilty as hell and freaking out about it, and he could have just ran off without saying anything. But instead he gave us this ,” He held his hand up again, turning it to show off the smudging ink. “So it’s gotta be connected to something, right?”
Diego nodded. “We should call her.” He decided. “Give it a few hours though. If they’re working together, we don’t wanna give it away that we’re after them.”
Klaus let out a deep sigh and slumped back in his seat, turning to look at Dave. “It’s not fair that we got to do all the fun undercover interrogation stuff and you just had to sit here.”
“Oh, I accomplished things too,” Dave said proudly, holding up a folded newspaper. “I finished ninety percent of this crossword. I just need a nine letter word for ‘surprise attack’. Starts with an A and has an S in the middle.”
“Ambuscade,” Klaus said, just a few seconds later.
“How the hell do you know that?” Diego demanded and Klaus scoffed.
“As if I would know that, how much of a dork do you think I am?” He shook his head in apparent disbelief, looking over at the empty seat next to Diego and laughing to himself. “Come on, let’s go solve crime… and get snacks. Let’s get snacks and then solve crime.”
“We’re not getting snacks.”
“Fine. Then let’s immediately solve crime.”
I can only apologise for the lack of Patch content in this chapter but really I think we should be happy that she's finally getting a day off from Diego's bullshit. Some much needed respite.