Holy shit. So what, the Commission has just been collecting the other kids like us, turning them into murderers?
Logically, Five knows the disgust in Diego’s voice is not directed at him, but in practice, it is difficult to separate the two. To really convince himself that’s the case.
“How many?” Diego prompts again when his first question is ignored.
“I don’t know. To my knowledge it was just the eight of us but it’s possible there were others kept separate from us. It’s possible they tried again after we failed or will try again.”
Luther’s brows furrow in thought. “Are our past selves in danger? Could they come after us?”
“I can’t say for sure, but it’s unlikely. Hargreeves may have been the world’s worst father, but he did keep you safe from them and for that I was always grateful.”
“Kept us safe? How did dad ever keep us fucking safe?” Diego snarls.
It was a simple enough concept for his fifteen-year-old self to grasp, but Five graciously decides not to mention that.
“The Commission’s job first and foremost is the preservation of the timeline, which means they can only take people who won’t be missed. You were the Umbrella Academy. Dad made you famous and that made you important. Removing any of you would’ve been noticeable. It would’ve altered the timeline. And Vanya, as far as anyone knew, was just ordinary so there was no reason to take her.”
“You were missed,” Vanya argues softly, the first to break the silence after his explanation. His siblings parrot their agreement all around him.
Something warm and strange flutters in his chest.
“I meant in the grand scheme of things but… thank you.”
“You were part of the Umbrella Academy though,” Luther reminds. “They still took you.”
“That was my own mistake. The folly of an arrogant child. When I time traveled and got stuck, I erased myself from this timeline. In doing so, I handed myself to them on a silver platter. I dug my own grave.”
And all of yours his mind supplies darkly.
“The Inquisitor.” Ben’s eyes are sharp. He’d known that something wasn’t adding up and now that he’s zeroed in on it, he’s not about to let it go, despite this other information. “What was his power?”
Five tries to think of a way around it. Even considers lying for a brief moment, but he’s supposed to be better. The spirit of more open communication and all that.
Doesn’t mean he has to be completely sober for it though.
Five waves them into the living room with the promise of answers and they reluctantly follow, settling into their seats as he heads behind the bar.
He rummages for the highest proof whiskey he can find and pours himself a liberal helping. “If we’re going to talk about this I get a drink.”
“One drink Allison,” he promises when it looks like she’s going to argue.
Five’s not foolish enough to get blackout drunk before another sibling talk with how disastrous the last one went anyways.
She purses her lips but says nothing.
Drink in hand, he jumps into the closest arm chair.
Glancing up at Ben reveals the same determination as before.
He takes a deep swig, relishing in the burn as it slides down his throat.
“Pain. His power causes pain with skin to skin contact.”
As if invoked by the mere mention of it, goose bumps rise along his arms. He distances himself from the memory forcefully, focusing on a clinical description of the ability.
“It affects the pain receptors in the body. Normally an external stimulus causes them to activate, like a cut or a burn, causing the sensation of pain. The Inquisitor’s power acts as that stimulus, activating all the pain receptors in the body at once.”
“It wasn’t really an interrogation was it?” Ben swallows, looking vaguely sick.
“No,” Five admits in a whisper to his drink. “It… it’s agony. The pain is so intense, it’s enough to kill you. It can send you into circulatory shock, which causes fatal damage to the brain and organs.”
He doesn't mention the aftereffects. The way the very air against his skin burned once it was over, even that stimuli too much for his frayed nerves.
His hands are shaking so he takes another sip.
“The Inquisitor usually kills his… subjects within a few minutes, but I guess,” he laughs, a dark humorless thing, “whatever we are, it’s not all human because it’s not enough to kill us.”
He forgets himself for a moment. Sightless eyes staring into a dark room that isn’t really there.
“But you wish it was.”
Diego lets loose a string of colorful curses.
Allison’s eyes are wide and pained. “How could someone do something like that?”
“He was under orders but he was mad, unhinged. Even the Handler was wary of him. I think in the end, his own powers drove him crazy. To be touch deprived your entire life, denied any sort of physical contact, despite seeing it all around you.”
It’s tragic in a way and Five might’ve felt more pity had he himself not be subjected to it. Seen firsthand the sheer enjoyment the Inquisitor derived from causing pain.
Once, it may have been the simple relief of being allowed human contact, warped and twisted into sadism after years in the Commission.
His siblings are statues around him, ranging from horrified to nauseous from his words alone. From a watered down, sugarcoated version.
A part of him is morbidly curious to know what would’ve happened had they grabbed a different tape that first day. Would his screams have echoed loud enough to hear from any part of the house?
“The Handler can stop time,” he says to shake the intrusive thoughts and break the suffocating tension. “The Trainer manipulated gravity.”
“The Collector?” Klaus grips the change in topic like a lifeline.
“It’s hard to explain. She could make you see things. Like hallucinations or visions. Even nightmares.”
“So," Luther coughs to clear his throat, "did you ever find out what happened to Chase?”
Five downs the rest of his drink.
“Yes. The Commission found him.”
Five isn’t given any time to adjust after being pulled out of the Apocalypse.
He’s dragged to the Handler’s office and dropped beside the corpse of his best friend.
Chase is older. Managed to evade the Commission for several years at least.
It’s enough for Five to hope he was able to make something of his own in that time. That he found happiness in his freedom, however brief.
Laughter lines mark his face. Despite the pallor of death, Five can imagine the once healthy glow to his tanned skin. A trail of sunspots flecked across his nose corroborating time spent basking in the sun.
There’s a bullet hole in his head and blood still dripping sluggishly on the floor.
The stench of sulfur and ash cling to his clothes.
“He had a daughter you know.” The Handler’s tone is light and conversational as she speaks the first words he’s heard in years. “She would have turned three years old in a few weeks.”
Five doesn’t cry. Too dehydrated and numb to manage it.
On the other side of the room, Dolores sobs.
Staring at his empty glass, Five really considers breaking his promise.
“His daughter.” Of course it’s Allison who asks. “Was she, I mean, did they—”
“She was killed with her mother,” he cuts through her shaky rambling, keeping his own voice level. “A gas explosion in their home.”
His siblings are silent but it’s only a matter of time.
The inevitable question is coming. The one that’s haunted him. That trickles into his mind every so often. Even now, all these years later.
“Dolores… did she—?”
It’s a small blessing Klaus doesn’t finish the thought out loud.
While the words have always been there, he’s never tasted them on his tongue. Never seen them spoken. Made a real, concrete thing.
“I don’t know,” he confesses. “I was too afraid to ask. She was all I had left and I… I was too afraid I wouldn’t be able to live with the answer.”
Careful to avoid eye contact with any of his siblings, he releases his white knuckled grip on the whiskey tumbler, standing and placing it on the bar behind him.
“I’m going to bed.”