Five lounges back against the bar, fruity drink with a swizzle straw in hand. The birds outside the window are unusually loud this morning.
Unfortunately, his siblings put the kibosh on his drinking alcohol, citing his thirteen year old body as the reason. Something-something about growing boys and puberty and the effects of alcohol on a growing body, but Five honestly had tuned them out after three seconds.
He still likes the aesthetic of the giant cup and curling straw. There’s a certain lushness to it that he wants in all aspects of his life. There were no swizzle straws in the apocalypse. No cooing pigeons, either.
Five takes another sip of his drink through his straw, eyes tracking as Vanya walks into the living room. When she finally spots him, she freezes in place like a deer.
They stare each other down. Neither says a word. Five gently sets his drink down on the bar.
All at once, there’s movement.
Vanya tucks in her wrists by her chest and curls her hands into claws. Five does the same and they both bend at the knees, roaring like tyrannosaurus rexes, and batting at each other with their hands tucked into their bodies.
After about thirty seconds, they stop.
Five quietly returns to his drink. Vanya heads to the stairs.
Five wonders if they have more pineapple juice.
This mocktail could only be improved by the application of more pineapple juice.
The pigeons trill sadly outside the window.
Diego finds Klaus in the courtyard. He sits behind a low wall in the garden, hands gripping the top of it, and his chin neatly perched on the backs of his knuckles. His combat boots sink into the mud ever-so-slightly, and he’s gathered the ends of his dark blue skirt between his knees.
Diego doesn’t think he’s ever seen Klaus so still or quiet. Something is definitely up.
“What are you doing?”
Klaus honest to God hisses at him, elbows him in the knee, and drags Diego down next to him behind the wall. “Shut the fuck up.”
He points with one spindly finger out into the courtyard and says, “Look.”
Diego rubs his knee - Klaus has pointy elbows, goddamn - and looks out into the courtyard. He doesn’t see anything. There’s the big tree in the corner, but that’s been there for years. There are the flowers Mom planted earlier in the week, but she does that every spring, so that’s not out of the ordinary.
“What am I supposed to be looking at here?” Diego asks. “Is this a ghost thing? Because I don’t know what to tell you, but you’re the only-"
Klaus narrows his eyes at Diego and then points again. “Look at those fucking birds,” he snarls.
Now armed with the knowledge of exactly what he’s supposed to be looking for, Diego looks back out on the courtyard. There’s a group of pigeons hanging out in the oak tree, doing bird things, he guesses. A few feet away sit two pigeons, who coo rather urgently at one another.
“They’re planning a coup,” Klaus says, slightly manic. “A coo coup!”
“You’re cuckoo,” Diego deadpans. “How long have you been bird watching anyway?”
Klaus shrugs both his shoulders up around his ears and says, “I don’t know. What?”
The two birds’ noise increases to an almost frantic pace.
Diego touches Klaus’ cheek with the back of his hand. Klaus swoons slightly into the warm hand on his cheek.
“Okay, up you go,” Diego says in reaction to the shock of cold he feels. “Time to go inside.”
He pulls Klaus up by his upper arm, but Klaus resists, softly crooning, “Nooo, I gotta see the fall of the pigeon oligarchy.”
“There is something wrong with you,” Diego says instead.
Klaus attempts to resist by dropping all his weight to the ground in protest.
“You’re going to get your skirt dirty,” Diego says with a slight vindictiveness that comes from a sibling relationship.
Klaus is up before Diego can finish the sentence. Diego uses his grip on his arm to drag his brother inside out of the chilly morning air.
If he makes sure to get a mug of tea into Klaus - well, none of his other siblings are around, so it probably didn’t even happen.
Ben takes a while to adjust to everyone being able to see him again. He’s spent fourteen years with his only company being Klaus and other ghosts, who as it turns out aren’t great conversationalists.
He spends a lot of time hunched over Klaus’ shoulder, whispering witty one-liners into his ear and only expecting Klaus to relay them correctly one out of five times, when he realizes that - oh, yeah - everyone can hear him now.
It’s a lot, honestly. Sometimes he has to go have a lie down and think about how he got to this point. Klaus calls him dramatic, which is rich coming from the king of dramatic gestures.
Of course, Klaus also has to come to terms with the fact that he can’t just say that Ben agrees with him to win an argument anymore. It’s a lot harder when the man in question can say, “No, I don’t,” and everyone else can hear him too.
The whole situation becomes an inside joke, because of course it does. They may be maladjusted people, but they’re still siblings .
Luther starts it.
Ben leans close to Klaus, almost draped over his shoulder, and asks quietly when they get to go eat lunch.
Ben doesn’t remember forgetting how good it was to eat something, but it’s a sensory experience that he’s leaned into with gusto since being alive again.
Look, if Mom wants to give him a plate full of cookies and kiss him on the forehead, who is he to say no?
They’re all in the living room. Allison and Vanya are connected at the hip on the couch, Klaus is sitting in an armchair - Ben draped over one of the wings - and Diego paces behind the couch. Five sits at the bar, because everything he does is designed to make them think he’s older than his thirteen year old body would suggest.
Luther stands up, walks over to Klaus, and says in his other ear, “Ask Ben what he wants for lunch.”
Klaus, because he is still flighty as fuck even without the drugs and because he also hasn’t caught up with Ben’s change of status as well as he’d hoped, says, “Ben wants burgers.”
“Ben does not want burgers,” Ben protests, offended.
“I bet,” Allison says, smirk on her face, “Ben wants breakfast.”
“Noooo,” Ben croons softly. He wishes he could disappear. Everything has turned terrible.
Five gets in on it too, because he’s a shit. He blinks from the bar to beside Luther and whispers into Klaus’ ear, “I think it’s clear that Ben wants pizza.”
“I hate you all,” Ben says, slipping behind the armchair to hide. “You are all the worst.”
He slips his hood onto his head. Diego, who is in turns probably his worst sibling and the best, crouches in front of him and pulls the drawstrings to Ben’s hood tight. Then he pops them in Ben’s hidden face.
“Come on,” he says, grabbing both of Ben’s hands in his. It’s a feeling Ben is never going to get used to, he promises himself. “Let’s go to that weird restaurant with the fancy tater tots.”
Ben lets himself be pulled up and shoots his siblings a dirty look. Vanya laughs from the couch.
“Diego is my favorite,” he says, which is a blatant lie because they’re all his favorite.
Klaus scoffs and clambers up the back of his chair to peer at Ben. “Rude,” he says.
Ben rolls his eyes and smacks a kiss into the air. “Said with love.”
“It’s a coup,” Klaus says sadly, draping himself dramatically over the back of the chair.
“A coo coup,” Diego says inexplicably.
“You’re a cuckoo,” Klaus shoots back.
Ben wonders when his siblings got so weird. He thinks the answer might be always.