Even sober, Klaus looked like one of his ghosts.
He always seemed too tall, too lanky, too skinny, despite being the same height as Diego, and too pale, always cold to the touch, always something offputting, something of the dead.
Maybe that was why Klaus always tried so hard to be friendly, Vanya thought. With the exception of Luther, who Klaus had avoided since the near-apocalypse especially, Klaus easily slotted in to be the brother of any member of the family, easy, chatty, enthusiastic, with an honest face and large, kind eyes. He was with Vanya now, helping her clean the apartment, when he found the flowers.
"You want me to burn these, don't you?" he said, looking at them with thinly veiled disgust.
"Uh, not inside," she rushed to say before he could fish a lighter out of his pocket. "But I wouldn't be mad about you using the garbage disposal," she added with a smile.
"I think the honor should be yours, Van. I mean, when I got dumped it was always pretty cathartic to wreck my boyfriend's shit." He handed the flowers off to her, and she indulged him, and couldn't help the laugh that leaked out as the grinding sound dominated the kitchenette.
The offending, and offensive, flowers gone, he opted to lay across the couch, as though he'd been doing anything else all day. "What did you even see in that guy? I thought you were better than that."
"You thought I was a lesbian since we were eleven, Klaus," she deadpanned, though guilt ate at her. Klaus never said it out of malice, really just out of concern, wanting to bond with someone who was the same kind of different. "He made me feel special."
"Oh, right," he chuckled. "Hallmark of a fucked up childhood, right? We latch onto the first person who gives us any kind of validation. Dad loved making us all feel like shit except Luther and Allison, so, we coped," his voice was sad, now.
"I know that's what my therapist said, but I never realized it until he came along. I don't even know if I actually even liked him, or I liked having a support system." She was quieter, now. "I don't think I did. He was just, a guy, and I thought I could at least do being normal right."
Klaus was watching her, now, intensely, not even playing with his clothes. "You know that not liking guys is normal, right, Van?"
"I mean, it's easy for you to say! The only reason you'd step in a closet is to get something out of it! You were never exactly subtle. And you got away with it... you had powers, you weren't disposable."
"I was extremely disposable, Vanya. Do you know how many fans I'd have rendezvous with that would be shipped off upstate with a sudden pile of money a week later? How often did I really need to be in the mausoleum?" He paused. "Uh, maybe you're right in not coming out," Klaus laughed a little.
"Well, how did you know?"
"It always just kind of felt right, you know? Say what you will about my 16-year-long streak of doing what felt good, but I never felt out of my comfort zone in a bad way. You were always so scared of what Dad would do to you, and honestly, I get it, but sometimes you need to be a little brave to do what feels right for you."
"Dave?" she asked quietly. It was a name he rarely brought up, only said he found himself in 1968 Vietnam when escaping from Hazel and Cha-Cha.
He slumped over, sadly, and then looked up into a space of open air. "Yeah, Dave," he said in a broken voice.
"Why don't you talk about him?"
"I kind of always felt that he was just, we were just, it was so special, and I couldn't really expect any of the rest of them to get it. They got the soldiering thing, we've been doing that since we could walk, but the rest couldn't understand it."
"What did you like about him?"
"I kind of have a type. Pretty, smart, vulnerable, strong... I always kind of liked the guy that I felt I was taking away from the wife and two kids, you know? Someone who could love me through being so... broken."
Vanya sat beside Klaus, and felt an unexpectedly cold spot, and realizing. "Shit. I just walked through him, didn't I?"
"Yeah," he laughed, a little choked up, dabbing at tears, and put his hand on his knee. "But, even if Allison and Luther and Diego and Five don't want anything to do with you, if they find out, you got me, yeah?"
Vanya felt her heart beat in her chest, the sound of blood rushing her ears becoming overwhelming, but had to internally talk herself down. Klaus wasn't trying to say he loved her to manipulate her. He was her brother. Her stupid, cold, bony, extremely well-meaning brother. "Yeah."
"I think we need to have a coming out party for you. I know this great gay bar-"
"Let's... walk before we run on this," she said. "How about a flag?"