Dinner is, at best, awkward and, at worst, absolutely excruciating. The food is good, at least, but it’s hard to focus on the steak in front of him when he keeps hearing Diego’s scorn replaying in his head over and over. Diego and Five are quiet, exchanging glances every few minutes, and that just leaves Ben and Klaus making very awkward conversation. If it was just Ben and Klaus, it would be nice; Ben could happily listen to Klaus talk about his paintings for 12 hours straight. But the presence of Klaus’s husband and Klaus’s brother, both silent and awkward, is making Ben very, very uncomfortable.
“What exactly do you do?” Klaus asks, smiling at Ben across the dinner table. The others both turn to look at Ben too and he shifts nervously in his chair. “You said you’re a writer, yeah? But what do you write?”
Ben blushes, looking away from the three sets of eyes on him as he pokes his fork at one of the noodles on his plate. “I’m a novelist.”
“That’s vague,” Five replies, speaking up for the first time since they all sat down. Ben looks up and meets Five’s shrewd gaze.
“Don’t be a dick,” Diego scolds, and Five just scoffs.
“He’s being evasive,” Five persists. Ben wants the ground below him to open up and swallow him whole, he wants to just drop dead so he doesn’t have to answer this, but Klaus is looking at him curiously, and Ben doesn’t want to lie.
“Romance novels,” Ben admits with a tired sigh, and Klaus grins, which makes Ben much less annoyed when he hears Five’s derisive snort. He’s still blushing, face hot enough to fry an egg.
“I love romance novels,” Klaus says, leaning his arm on the table and almost knocking over the bowl of pasta salad that Five had complained endlessly about making. “What are yours like? Real sweet and simple bodice rippers? Or some nasty ki--”
“Klaus!” Diego and Five both exclaim at the same time.
“I really don’t want to know,” Five says, rolling his eyes, and Klaus just keeps smiling.
“I want to know,” Klaus persists.
“Don’t interrogate Ben over dinner,” Diego says before Klaus can add anything else. Diego shoots Ben a sympathetic look, and in Ben’s head, he hears the words, he’s nosy, don’t get sloppy just because he’s cute. He looks away from Diego sharply, back down at his plate, and he tries in vain not to wonder what sort of secrets Klaus and Diego have that they don’t want Ben to know. And then he just feels even more guilty, because they know exactly how nosy he is and they’d be angry if they knew he’d been eavesdropping.
Klaus sighs dramatically, but he lets the subject drop, and Ben is at least grateful for that.
“Anyway,” Klaus drawls, giving Diego a pointed look. “How was work today, darling?”
Diego pauses in cutting his steak, setting down his fork and knife as he makes an exasperated sound. “You would not believe what Tiffany did at rehearsal.”
“Rehearsal?” Ben asks, and Five laughs.
“He told you he works at the gym, right?” Five asks, and Ben nods. “Yeah, Diego loves to leave out the fact that he teaches the dance classes.”
Ben should probably say something polite, but all he can think about is Diego dancing. Is it something like zumba? Is it ballroom dancing? Is it modern? It doesn’t matter, the thought of Diego moving his body to the rhythm of a thumping bass is the hottest thing Ben’s imagined all day-- and that’s saying a lot, for Ben and his very dirty mind.
“I also own the gym,” Diego adds, petulant, and Ben laughs. Diego looks like he’s about to smile, but then he bites his lip, glancing sideways at Klaus. “Anyway, yeah, Tiffany is Barbara’s daughter-- you know Barbara from down the street, yeah? She probably brought you some bougie ass bakery cookies when you moved in, right?” He doesn’t wait for Ben to say anything before he continues, “Tiffany has two left feet, but if I try to critique her form at all, I get angry calls from Barbara. It’s driving me insane.”
“Should I talk to Barb about it?” Klaus asks, lips twitching in amusement. “We do yoga together on Sundays.”
Five sighs dramatically. “When did you two get so boring?”
“Since we moved to the suburbs,” Diego replies, shrugging. “It’s made us soft.”
Five opens his mouth like he’s going to say something, but then he closes it and glares at Klaus instead. Ben’s really not sure that he understands this weird family dynamic.
“So, how far apart in age are you?” Ben asks politely, unwilling to let the silence just sit. “It’s nice that you’re close, despite the big gap.”
“It’s not that big of a gap,” Five replies obstinately.
“Yes, it is,” Diego counters with a laugh. “You’re the youngest brother, don’t pretend otherwise.”
“Dad still liked me better than you, old man,” Five retorts.
Ben frowns. Wait, what?
“Ben!” Klaus yells suddenly, drawing his attention away from the tension between Diego and Five. “How’s your food?”
“It’s… fine,” Ben says, brow furrowed.
“Dad was a little bitch and he hated both of us,” Diego says, completely ignoring Ben and Klaus altogether. Ben glances nervously at Five, expecting an outburst-- but instead, he sees the teenager smile for the first time.
“Fuck Dad,” Five says, his grin so wide it’s almost manic.
“Guys,” Klaus sighs, and Diego and Five both turn to look at him.
“I thought Five was Klaus’s brother,” Ben cuts in, frowning. “I’m pretty sure I didn’t mishear him.”
Klaus facepalms, while Diego turns his glare to his husband, and Five’s face slides back into a scowl.
“You told me that we were saying I’m Diego’s brother,” Five says, voice low and angry. Ben is confused, intrigued, and really, really uncomfortable. God, he wants to leave. Would they notice if he just left?
“You told me that too,” Diego agrees, crossing his arms.
“Okay, I may have fucked up just a little,” Klaus concedes, holding up both hands in a placating gesture. “It’s fine, it’s all fine, you’re both such drama queens.”
“Klaus?” Ben prompts quietly. “What’s going on?”
“I need a drink,” Five declares, then stands abruptly and heads into the kitchen. Neither Klaus nor Diego seem concerned about this.
“We’re brothers,” Klaus says, as if that explains anything.
“Klaus,” Diego says sharply, but Klaus doesn’t look away from Ben. There’s something frantic in his green eyes, something nervous, and Ben feels guilty for any part he may have played in making Klaus feel this way.
“You and Five?” Ben asks, frowning.
“Yes,” Klaus replies, offering up a smile that’s only a little strained at the edges. “And Diego.”
“Jesus Christ,” Diego mutters, and then he stands too, following Five into the kitchen.
It’s quiet between Ben and Klaus for a long moment.
Klaus sighs heavily, drawing his knees up on his chair and wrapping his arms around them. “We’re all adopted brothers. The three of us. Diego and I didn’t meet when I was working as a bartender, that’s just… it’s a cover story. So we don’t freak out the nice suburban straight people. But, look at me go, totally freaking you out anyway.”
Ben’s frown deepens, which he hadn’t known was possible.
He should probably say something about how he’ll keep their secret and he doesn’t care that they’re adopted brothers, but when he opens his mouth, what comes out instead is, “I’m not straight, though.”
“Well, at least there’s that,” Klaus says, huffing out a sharp laugh. “You’re a fucking enigma, Ben. Diego swore he saw you check out Allison during game night.”
Ben laughs, a little nervous, a blush coloring his cheeks as he shrugs. “Last I checked, I’m pretty gay.”
Klaus smiles again, more natural this time, and he’s so pretty.
“You’re gay,” Klaus agrees, inclining his head in a respectful nod. “Amen to that. And you-- you’re cool with all this?”
Ben shrugs, unable to resist smiling when Klaus is looking at him like that.
“You guys are married,” he replies. “It doesn’t matter to me that you were raised together. And I’m not gonna tell anybody.”
“Wonderful,” Klaus enthuses, unfolding his long legs and standing up. “God, what a horrible dinner party. Can you host next time?”
Ben laughs and stands too, almost tripping over the cat that weaves between his legs.
“Sure,” Ben agrees, though he probably shouldn’t. “Maybe just you and me next time.”
Klaus reaches over, picking a piece of lint off Ben’s shoulder, and his fingers linger for just a second longer than they need to. Ben’s heart starts beating in double time.
“Just you and me,” Klaus echoes, then abruptly pulls Ben into a hug. Ben freezes for a second before he hugs back, but then he melts into it, wrapping his arms around Klaus and tucking his face into Klaus’s neck and breathing in deep. Klaus is warm and Klaus smells amazing and Ben is going to cherish this moment for the rest of his fucking life, despite how awkward the evening was and how he’s still sort of thinking about the things Diego said earlier. Klaus pulls back, brushing his lips against Ben’s cheek in a polite kiss that has Ben’s pulse racing.
“And Diego, of course,” Klaus adds, pulling away from the hug. Ben glances behind Klaus, and there Diego is, standing in the doorway to the kitchen-- he expects to see a glare, but that’s not what he finds. Diego looks… sort of fond. Ben doesn’t know what to make of that.
“Right,” Ben says, still carefully holding onto his smile, as he looks away from Diego and back to Klaus. “And Diego.”