Running his large hands over the soft, warm curves of Allison's sides, Luther listened with a small smile as his partner talked animatedly about the latest updates she had about Claire. They were sat up in Luther's bed, the morning light still streaming in and highlighting all their exposed skin from the night before, an old Bob Dylan record playing on the turntable.
"I have to go back next weekend for court again, but there's a good chance I can start having visitation!" Allison concluded with the brightest smile Luther had seen on her face in ages despite the difficult subject. He squeezed her that little bit closer as he shared her happiness.
"I knew they were going to see all your hard work," Luther said, kissing her for a long moment and rocking them gently back and forth. He partially wondered why she waited until this morning to tell him, she had to have gotten the news the night before at the latest.
"It will probably be supervised," Allison added with soft sigh and a frown after they pulled apart, and Luther understood instantly. "Part of me is still pissed about that, but I'm so desperate to hug her again and touch her-" Her words choked on the sudden, painful hitch in her breath. She closed her eyes to ground herself, practicing a breathing technique she had learned in therapy.
"-that anything is better than this?" Luther seemed to read her thoughts, and Allison gave his words a firm nod of confirmation. Her head pressed into his steady shoulder. “As much as I love talking to her on the phone and being the messenger," Luther spoke with a fond tenderness that matched his fingers brushing over her wet cheek, "I want this for you, so much. You should be the one who can call her every day."
His words were met with another sweet, lingering kiss that he could never get tired of, not after years of waiting. Luther held it as long as Allison would allow, secretly savoring every second. When she pulled back, she ran her hands over his cheeks, her smile all teeth with sleep-filled, tear-stained, squinted eyes.
"Thank you for all your patience and support. You're such a supportive, sweet, gentle man."
"Of course. Anything for you,” Luther said with the weight of their history behind it like it was second nature before adding, “I'm just glad you think so." Luther's emphasis on the 'you' was meant to be subtle (as subtle as awkward, straight-forward Luther could be, that is), but Allison was the most apt of anyone to catch it.
“I’ve always thought so, but it's not as easy for some to see it that way,” She pointed out. Luther’s lack of response a beat later prompted her to add “...he will though.”
“Doesn’t matter to me,” Luther shrugged, his eyes not meeting hers now. He didn’t want it to be known, even by Allison, just how much he had thought about this new shift in his relationship with Diego over the past couple of weeks. If he were being open and honest, Diego's new level of animosity towards him was as confusing as the leveled and understanding moments they had shared here and there during the impending days of the apocalypse.
“It doesn’t. He can think and do what he wants.” Luther was unsure when the split occurred between 'number two' and 'Diego' in his head; he wasn't a fan of the whiplash.
“He’s probably being even more of a jerk lately, because he cares," Allison tried to explain. "Diego's weird like that."
"Or he's just being himself." Luther tried to give a type of sardonic grin that could overtake Diego's features with ease, but on him it came out more like an annoyed grimace. As if on cue, a small growl from his stomach made itself known, and he carefully moved Allison off of him and stood up from the bed. "I need some coffee, probably something to eat. You want me to bring you some, too?"
"Yeah, sounds great." Allison gave a sad grin back though Luther busied himself with quickly pulling on a pair of lounge shorts and a white under tank. Before he could walk around the bed and out the door, both of Allison's smaller hands caught one of his with a gentle "Luther?"
The tall man stopped and looked back down at her, concern already coming over his face. He didn't like it when her voice did that careful, wistful, quiet tone. The irrational side of him seemed to come alive under it and try to convince him it was all too good to be true, that Allison would eventually leave him again for bigger and better things.
"It's alright with me..." She surprised him yet again with comfort rather than heartbreak. When his brows furrowed, she gave his hand a small squeeze with her next words "...if you and Diego-"
"Yeah, well, there's nothing anyway," Luther cut her off, his voice slightly higher and spilling out too quickly.
"Sure, Honey, sure. Keep telling yourself that." Allison finally let go of his hands with a nod and a smirk dancing across her face that pulled heat up the back of Luther's neck. He turned and hurried out of the room before she could say or ask anything else, heading for the corridor that led to the back staircase for the communal kitchen.
Allison huffed a laugh and relaxed back, shaking her head and gently singing along to herself with the music in the wake of Luther’s tension, "for he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled, the battle outside ragin', will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, for the times they are a-changin’.”
“Sooo....” Klaus began, drawing out the ‘o’ in such a way that suggested he was going to bring it up. Again. “How did you and Luther-”
“Shut up,” Diego interrupted, though Klaus would not be dissuaded from this necessary and entertaining conversation he had been trying to have with his boyfriend for the last couple of weeks.
“-end up naked-”
“We weren’t naked,” Diego insisted, purposefully matter-of-fact, and not looking up from where his hands scrubbed at dirty dishes he hadn’t let Grace touch after she had made them breakfast.
“-in a bed-”
“-together-with-you-all-tied-up?” Klaus finally finished, the last part as rushed as his movements to scramble away from the soapy sponge that Diego curved at him. He laughed when he was struck lightly in the chest while Diego was absolutely not blushing or sneaking glances to see if anyone else had wandered into the space or had possibly caught any part of their conversation.
“I hope you know how lucky you are that I love you and can’t lob dishes at the wall next to your head anymore.”
“I do. Now, I’m lucky enough to get away with so much more, Mi Amor,” Klaus flitted back over to Diego and handed him said sponge which he took with a little bit more force than necessary.
Klaus, taking no offense to Diego’s ire in the slightest, was silent for a moment while he took in the way Diego’s back, neck, and arms were riddled with tension. It was visible even through his thick, long sleeved sweater that he still wore around the house apart from when they were alone in either one’s room. Klaus wasn’t exactly sure if it was Diego’s aversion to seeing the umbrella tattoo they were all marked with (aside from Vanya) still etched in his skin, or Diego’s matched aversion to touch and intimacy from any skin other than Klaus’. Even still, there were times that Diego (though they were becoming less and less frequent) would flinch away from the sensory overload, especially if he didn't see it coming.
Taking a chance, Klaus gave a soft 'tsking' verbal cue before he confidently took the last step closer and kissed the back of Diego’s neck with the softest, slowest finesse. His toned arms came around number two’s middle with firm, grounding pressure, and the scrubbing halted. Klaus didn’t have to wait longer than half a second to feel the other’s muscles release their hold, and the almost silent sigh that Diego let out while he let himself sag weightlessly back into his chest. Klaus nudged kissed-skin with his nose, then leaned in further to press an identical kiss to the side of the other’s neck.
Diego didn’t have a chance to get angry again or fight the affection with Klaus just knowing how to help him relax with the simplest gifts. He didn’t know how the other had figured out some of the hidden skeleton keys, he had never explained them in depth or explicitly, but rather over time and through little signs and comments. Then again, Klaus had almost always been able to read him like an instruction book since they were young, often without ever realizing how, and it was one of the reasons why giving in was easy here. Diego's internalized, drill sergeant commentary of self-preservation was just a whisper he could ignore if he chose, and he confirmed his choice by giving Klaus another quiet sound of comfort in his throat.
“You know, its okay, right?” Klaus whispered through soft kisses to his rough, stubbled cheek next. Those familiar hands snuck under dark cloth to continue to ground him, pressing into the muscles of his chest. “I know its complicated beyond all ridiculously fucked up belief with him, but I think this is a good thing.”
Diego scoffed in response, but Klaus didn’t let him get away with it.
“No, just hear me out, Big Guy,” Klaus spoke warm next to his ear, and Diego had completely forgotten about the mostly finished dishes at this point. “I’m not saying it’s the same as us. But if it is-” Diego's body clenched in acute anxiety at the thought and Klaus squeezed just a little tighter while he continued “-or if its a completely unique manly violent bonding...thing, or anything, its okay with me, I promise.”
“You’re the only one for me,” Diego answered with all the conviction he felt retaliating in his head against the very thought. Klaus was momentarily grateful Diego couldn’t see the small eyeroll and the fond smile he bit back.
"Your valor, as always dear, is as romantic as you are stubborn." Klaus mimicked a haughty British accent, and it finally worked in getting Diego to smirk in amusement instead of scowling so hard the lines in his forehead might start illustrating their own pictures. Sliding his hands to Diego's back, Klaus gently started to massage out the knots and stress stored there, earning the small satisfaction of feeling Diego's muscles let go under his hands.
Just as Diego had started to let himself succumb to Klaus' expert hands and calming company, he heard familiar, heavy, thudding steps echo down the red stairs. Given the sizes of Five and Vanya, Klaus standing behind him, Ben being, you know, dead, and Allison's step having a much different cadence, Diego tensed again before Luther even stepped into view.
"Dee?" Klaus tried in a whisper, also deducing the impending confrontation. Diego just stood up straight, taking the nearby dish towel to casually dry his hands with his eyes fixated where the tall, muscular figure of number one finally appeared.
Luther halted his steps at the bottom of the stairs upon seeing Diego and Klaus stood so close together. Latent hostility filled the room, especially under the intense gaze of expressive dark eyes. He could see Diego studying him in inch by inch, picking him apart in preparation for the possible assault that wasn't even going to happen, at least if Luther had any say about it.
Diego took notice of the casual attire: bare feet; exposed, shapely calves; the loose basketball shorts; the fairly recent return of Luther's muscular, defined human torso barely concealed by the under tank; and his scowling face. Number two was still so used to Luther hiding himself away under large, olive green coats that the sudden exposure was jolting to say the least.
"O Captain my Captain!" Klaus broke the tension with a friendly inside joke without even taking his hands out from under Diego's shirt. Something about it seemed amusing to Diego in the way one side of his mouth pulled up, though Luther knew better than to let his own guard down while Diego was actively in this state.
"Hey…what are you two doing down here?" Number one asked in his blunt and overt way that Klaus couldn't resist to answer and that number two couldn't stand.
"Oh you know, sneaking around like old times sake, breaking into the liquor cabinet-"
"Eating breakfast. That okay with you, number one?" Diego cut Klaus' silliness off, his voice overly calm, eyes narrowing just the slightest. Luther rolled his eyes at the first challenge, a rejection of the posed first 'question' of the childhood abuse instilled language spoken between them from another time, another era, in the same place.
"I don't care. Just about to do the same." Luther denying Diego's bait made the shorter man take his own pause as the taller moved over to the french press to prepare two more cups of coffee.
"For Allison, I see?" Klaus asked, trying to ignore the whole asinine masculinity contest between the two. Luther gave a small nod to Klaus' question, though he was distracted by Diego's demanding voice once more.
"Just don't make a mess for Mom to clean. She does enough, and you're a grown ass man. And I just cleaned all of these myself." He warned, his hand pointing at the other and then gesturing to the clean dishes drying next to the sink. Luther rejected the second challenge by choosing to ignore the words while he moved over to start preparing some simple breakfast foods from what was still left out.
Diego hadn't taken his eyes off of him once since he entered the room, and they hardened in slight confusion and a growing sense of disgruntledness (or urgent need). If it was one thing Diego absolutely couldn't stand, it was being ignored. Why wasn't Luther meeting his challenges? Why wasn't he at least speaking back? The gnawing feeling left in his gut was making Mom's pancakes not sit so well with him.
Klaus, who was already trying to coax the fixated number two out of the room, didn't have to do much else once Diego had decided he couldn't sit with this any longer. Still clutching the sponge in one hand to throw it out, he tangled his free hand in Klaus' and finally broke his stare as they headed for the stairs.
"Make sure you're not late to training this afternoon," Number one added, making number two stop on the first step. Diego knew it was Luther speaking, but he heard Reginald. He snapped his head back as if to really make sure, his heartbeat picking up, static in his limbs, and a mysterious sense of pain welled up to the surface. He saw the defined topography of back muscles covered partially by white cloth instead of the white hair and damn monocle, and he felt that anger simmer and stew. Luther had won again, and he had cheated.
Diego knew he deserved the dirty sponge he whipped at the back of Luther's head, no matter how childish. Luther's lack of retaliation seemed to show he knew it too.
In one of the large training rooms on the once long dormant side of the house, all seven of the Hargreeves gathered for another harrowing training session with Vanya. Grace was also present to administer aid and to cut training short, if necessary. The tiny, mouse-like woman stood in the middle of the room, feet away from a series of objects lined up on a table in order from weakest to strongest, her shaking hands barely visible in her long sleeves. Unsure eyes looked around the room, and Five’s intent, calm gaze was the one she held to the longest.
“You’ve been a pro at this for weeks now, Vanya. This is like a warm-up for you,” Five encouraged her, his eyes as curious as they always were when he got to witness and take in her powers without the end of the world flurrying around them.
“Yeah, Sis, you got this. Show us the magic,” Diego also encouraged, rubbing his gloved hands together with a small grin of anticipation as he moved to brace himself. It felt nice, accompanied by an old sting, when Vanya would look at him with that momentary look of surprise any time he showed the smallest encouragement these days. He had hoped his willingness to go without his knives ('a safety measure' Luther had argued) would have been enough to make her trust him at least a tiny amount. A trip down memory lane, in the most literal sense, had proved to both serve as a catalyst for a change in heart and as a reminder of a once important connection.
Vanya took in a deep breath (along with the rest of the family), and turned to face the table. Her eyes focused in on the objects, and the soft music Allison had playing on another turntable set up in the corner began to bend to her will. Flinching somewhat while her hair started to cradle the waves of energy, she concentrated heavily on tearing apart the papers, pencils, the varying thicknesses of wooden boards, and bending the different types of metals down the line until the heaviest steel dropped to the ground with a reverberating thud. Allison lifted the needle off the record, the invisible energy swirling around her ceased, and Vanya’s body visibly relaxed while her chest heaved with each breath.
Smiles followed around the room with some light claps, and Vanya’s cheeks flushed as they usually did with this newfound, and still foreign, positive attention. Luther was less outward about his feelings, still appearing cautious with only the tiniest upturn of the corners of his mouth and a nod in her direction to indicate his very real sense of pride in her.
The training went on for about half an hour like this, Luther seeming to relax a little, and the others clapping more and offering more supportive words. Vanya was learning how to control both her feelings and her powers at the same time, and how the two often intertwined in a way that was only mirrored in Klaus’ powers. They (Luther especially) wanted to ensure that it was a drastically different environment than when Reginald used to train them until they couldn’t stand up any longer or hold their eyes open (and on particularly bad days, train them into the night if their names were ‘One’ and ‘Two’).
It was when the idea of Ben and Five aiding Vanya in getting used to using her powers on moving objects was introduced that the classic Hargreeves shift from ‘okay’ to ‘fucked’ threatened to ensue. Both had volunteered, Ben because he was, well, dead, and Five because he was the one who could side step any danger the easiest (not to mention his endless trust in her).
“Guys, I don’t think... I can do this. It’s starting to slip-” Vanya strained, the fear returning to her voice as the energy surged acutely, the lights of the room flickering with it with an electrical hum.
“Focus, channel your fear, Vanya,” Luther instructed over the noise, his voice carrying loud.
Diego was instantly struck with a match of anger at Luther’s response, calling out to him, “No, let her stop if she needs to-!” Luther ignored him yet again while he tried to help Vanya stay in control, and Diego’s concern shifted to a glare of defiance. “Vanya!” he yelled to her, taking a few steps forward, “you can stop, regroup, breathe-”
“Don’t stop! You’ve almost got it,” Luther indicated the practice targets carried by Five and Ben that Vanya had already destroyed, and the few left still intact.
The conflict between the two predefined leaders in the family only served to increase her anxiety and sense of being out of control. Her powers lashed out at the siblings, even with Vanya crying out at them to stop and babbling apologies. The energy sent them all flying backwards, landing in various heaps of bodies and limbs.
“Now, Grace!” Luther ordered, and a surge of irrational panic thrummed through Diego’s body at the signal. It perpetuated him back to his feet, impulsively running towards both of the women.
“No, M-mom! Don’t! Vanya-” He tried to get out as he saw Grace pull out the syringe of sedative and approach a crying Vanya from behind. He instantly dropped to all fours both from the resistance of another surge of Vanya’s energy and the way the needle made his vision tunnel and everything around him spin. He choked on his own breath, imagining water catching in his throat. He felt the pull of his feet tied down to the bottom of Reginald’s water tank in one of his labs. He saw the needles used to subdue him over and over again in pursuit of the limit of number two’s newfound inhuman ability to hold his breath. Naturally, Diego was blinded to how Vanya didn’t lash back at the matriarch, but seemed to give in or even welcome the inevitability of the chemical restraint.
It was only through his sheer will and terror that Diego didn’t submit to the impending syncope in the same way Vanya’s small body collapsed where she stood. She was caught before she could hit the floor by Five jumping to her in the knick of time.
The chaos in the room came to a dead stop. The hollow silence that followed only served as a backdrop for the smallest whimpers caught on the tail ends of Diego’s gasping breaths. All eyes turned to him on the floor, the concern palpable regarding the strong reaction to the whole event from the tough, spitfire of the family. Over the course of the last few months, of all the siblings, Diego seemed to (outwardly) take these training sessions the hardest, and they all had yet to figure out why.
“Diego, hey, Baby, it’s okay,” Klaus consoled as he scrambled over with outstretched, tremoring hands still fading from blue back to normal. The charged touch of soothing hands on his neck and face amplified the sensations in Diego's already loud head, and he clamored away from Klaus on unsteady feet to rush out of the room. The worry that struck Klaus was deep and cutting, and Allison gently holding him back and reminding him of Diego’s need for space served as the only reason he didn’t follow.
To both of their surprise, it was Luther’s hulking figure that disappeared through the same door.
After spending so much time as a child and teen on this side of the formidable house, Diego foolishly believed he would be able to find his way back to the living half, or maybe even up to the roof for fresh air. He would have even taken the option of stumbling into the courtyard he had refused to step foot in after their Father’s funeral over this purportedly perpetual maze of training rooms, all tied together in dark memory blurs as he fled passed them. Even through all of the irrational, ruminating thoughts, and dramatic, anxious actions, a tiny part of his usual Self pressed and faded into the back corner to watch the whole display, powerless and ashamed.
Furiously wiping at the silent tears attempting to stream down his face, he eventually stopped when he opened a door at the end of the long hall and came upon the bottom of the stairs that spiraled upwards in a perceptual paradox. Diego leaned his weight onto the railing, remembering the blow of Vanya's whistle signaling the start of the repeated races against the others he would never win. He realized he ended up on the far side of the house’s training wing, the exact opposite of what he’d wanted. He cursed to himself and kicked the solid, cement wall, immediately regretting it holding his throbbing foot and growling a few more strings of curses at his own stupidity.
“Are you alright?” Luther asked, breath slightly labored from the doorway, making Diego jump with a startle at the other’s unexpected presence.
“Get away from me, Number One!” Diego’s words were reactionary, a reflex that didn’t hold as much weight as he wanted it to, not when Luther uttering those unwieldy words to him made that thick, familiar lump rise in his throat. It didn't help that he also felt practically naked without his knives and their harness.
“No, Diego, you’re clearly not okay,” Luther insisted, pointedly. He made a conscious effort to refuse to use Diego’s number in reference to him anymore, especially as he was coming to learn the level of destruction it left in its wake. With his focus solely on Diego, he saw the shorter man smirk, the bitter mask pulling over protective.
“Oh, now you care all of a sudden?” Luther’s lips parted to respond to the passionate question, but Diego quickly continued, “you still walk around like the favorite son pulling your weight and barking orders like he’s still alive, or are you just hoping to take his place without anyone noticing?”
The look on Luther’s face darkened with the scathing insinuation and his body visibly tensed, perturbed. Diego demonstrated his hubris at finally getting a reaction out of Luther for the first time all day in the smile he threw back (with his rational side looking on and cringing). The taller’s own anger switch instantly flipped and burned alongside a parallel path of gunpowder mirroring the cool, blackened streak of ash once ignited by Luther’s realization that all of his loyalty and time had been used and wasted by a parent he had truly believed had loved him like a son.
“You must be really, really stupid if you can’t see how much I care!” Luther snapped back, all patience gone. They were both so caught up in the moment that neither of them were consciously aware of which question they had come to now in their ritual, or how their step-wise actions had turned into a full on sprint.
“Of course you care, you care about satisfying your own ego and your control over me!”
“All the times I put my ass on the line for you, the lines I fed Dad to keep you out of trouble, the times I stopped you from stupidly hurting yourself, the bullets I’ve taken for you, that’s all just for Dad?!” Luther bellowed, taking unnaturally slow steps toward the smaller. Diego, unable to unpack the totality of the implications in the heated moment, chose to verbally side step with a bitter laugh.
“This is rich.”
The frustration started to boil over in Luther. “You’re still bitter and jealous, aren’t you?” Luther poked a finger mockingly into the smaller chest before him, and Diego slapped his hand away with a loud smack. “Over things that aren’t my fault!”
“Jesus Chirst, I’m not jealous! Learned a long time ago to stop comparing myself to you!” Diego moved to shove past Luther, and the other grabbed for his arms which Diego tried to jerk away.
“Then what the hell is your problem? Especially lately?" Luther's vice like grip refused to let go.
"I'm not doing this now." Diego’s voice was steady and turned to ice, a warning in and of itself.
"Fine, go ahead and run away from this too." Luther's hands released him with stark apathy, returning a message of his own.
"I'm not the one who ran away!" Diego snapped, ignoring all of it by giving Luther's chest a forceful shove. "You're the one who wasn't there."
"You literally left-" Luther shoved him back; Diego’s jaw squared.
"You started leaving long before I ever did!"
Leather covered hands started throwing themselves erratic and sloppy against Luther's torso wherever he could reach. The bigger man's hands tried to catch all of the hits, and threw back a few of his own with a fraction of the force his anger urged him to. They ricocheted into the various walls of the tiny space like bumpers in a pinball machine at the mercy of the motion as opposed to either side leading the direction.
Rather than their innate, calculated dance, Diego and Luther were a grief-stricken riot all nails and teeth without the lethal force behind it.
"Éleos1," was grunted lowly at the peak of the fury, by Luther no less. The safe word deeply drilled into them both sobered and halted Diego's movements with mechanical, lightning precision.
There was a brief silence that came over the men, both of them huffing, sweaty, fuming and boring their eyes into the other. Diego, of course, was the first to act. He pressed up on his tiptoes to posture inches from Luther's face, his eyes darting restless between angry blue eyes and line pressed light pink lips. Diego lingered for a moment as those eyes slowly softened, which turned into two as the stress lines of the taller's face smoothed over, which turned into three as Luther's breathing evened out.
Diego's weight shifted forward...then turned away.
Luther grasped for his arm again with much less aggression than before, which Diego dodged as he stormed out of the stairwell door with the echo of the door slamming behind him.
Luther let out a breath he didn't know he was holding, rubbing his head at the throbbing headache that was forming there. Things with Diego were hardly ever easy, but given how easy their ‘special moment’ locked away in the forgotten bedrooms of the large house had felt, he had foolishly hoped maybe things were really going to change.
"You know, you're such a brick wall sometimes when people talk to you." Diego shook his head with his words as he suddenly came back through the door to yell at him some more. Luther's eyes widened in surprise, not expecting Diego to return less than ten seconds after he had gotten the coveted final word. "Completely flat, emotionless, nothing."
"See? Prime example number one." Diego held his arms out towards Luther in a grand gesture, and Luther blinked a bit confused and frazzled when the door swung shut behind the other man once more.
Ten seconds passed before Diego reentered the second time.
"How are you so damn calm?! Even when you're stressed you don't even break a sweat! Mom gives off more emotion than you ever do, unless it involves Allison."
"Mom's...an empathy robot?"
"Not the point!" Diego berated, leaving the room once more. The little sane part in Diego’s head kept piping up about how asinine his sudden hyperfixation on Luther felt, yet he kept having things he needed to say.
"...I'm starting to think we all need to see a shrink," Luther mumbled quietly to himself, trying to shake the erratic onslaughts. He heard Diego's forceful steps coming back again, and he rolled his eyes before the other even reentered the room for a third time.
“I mean, how the hell are you so calm about dad? Why aren't you angry? You sh-should be, you should be the most angry of all of us!” Diego yelled with his arms once again, and disappeared as quickly as he had returned.
Luther gave up on waiting by now and decided to play this new game Diego had initiated by calling back out to him, “why? So I can be bitter and resentful like you?”
Diego shot back in the room before the door even closed like whiplash with, “no, you Idiot! Because dad used you like a pawn the most. He s-sent you to the moon for-for f-four years for god sake, for no reason!” He barely made it out of sight before yet another answer was being lobbed back.
“Yeah, and now I hate him for that! Are you happy now? That I hate him too?!” Luther's voice boomed in the echoing stairwell.
"No, because it’s even more messed up than that!" Diego's words jumped in volume as he returned further into the space, into Luther's space, his finger stabbing harder and harder into that strong chest than even before. "Because he knew you loved the m-moo-, moon, and he dressed up a prison cell to, to look like a dream come true!”
Luther suddenly went quiet, and everything hurt when Diego stayed.
“He took everything away from you and you let him do it. Every year you ch-changed and went away more and more! And I-I hated you-” Diego paused to swallow and force the rest of the words out. “I hated you for leaving after you p-p, you p-promised-" Diego cut himself off suddenly feeling very exposed, realizing only in this very moment just how much of himself he gave away.
Luther was frozen in place, the memory punching him square in the mouth. They had to have been no older than 8 (Luther would never admit just how difficult the concept of time could be for him when it came to his childhood memories). Diego's small, rounded face was crying (as it often was at this age) and pressed into his own younger self's shoulder after Dad had been particularly cruel. He had reprimanded Diego for being ‘an insolent brat’ with his 'unhinged emotions', declaring he'll never be good enough to be a leader without 'a level, logical head'. Luther had rubbed his back, trying to console the heartbroken child with soft words. 'Don't worry about what Dad says, you'll always be a good leader with me. I need my Number Two so we can save the world, together.'
Luther swallowed his own painful knot, and Diego couldn't tolerate the way the taller was looking at him. He escaped out the door for the millionth time, but this time, Luther followed.
"Leave me alone, Luther," Diego heard the movements behind him without having to look.
"Seriously, go aw-"
"No!" Luther's fingers caught Diego's wrist again with his large strides closing the gap, and Diego was spun around with force.
"Luther, fuck off-!" Diego's words were stifled by Luther's large, powerful frame crowding in and pushing them both into the wall with his hands cupping Diego's face and his lips seeking and pressing desperate into Diego's in the same motion. It was hot and overwhelming and anchoring and as soft a fall as Diego had imagined in the tiny, quiet moments. Clawing his own gloves off, Diego clutched handfuls of Luther’s shirt while they crash landed together in soft groans and keens. The shorter man tilted his head to deepen the kiss further, and Luther obliged like they had done this countless times before and weren't sharing their first kiss in their early thirties.
Long thumbs stroking so gentle over Diego's cheekbones and eyelashes while longer fingers lightly gripped into his neck and cheeks had him shivering as much as the easy dance of tongues tasting unfamiliar, long-curious mouths. Luther would have been surprised at the rushed way Diego's hands pressed their shirts up most of the way before pulling their exposed skin together had he not been distracted by the desperate satiation.
The wind down of the storm slowly brought their kiss to a halt, and Luther's hands shifted to grasp at Diego's bare sides in silent anticipation of the other's urge to run and hide at the first hint of vulnerability. They had just obliterated it to a comical, bloody pulp, after all.
Diego's head finally calmed and soothed over, their skin still pulled together proving to be incredibly comforting. He chanced a glance up at Luther, whose eyes were as wet and whose face looked as red as Diego's burning face felt. He loved the sight of it.
"We uh…really suck in the whole communication department," Luther stated the obvious with a sniffle, nerves crawling back as the awkwardness settled in between the empty spaces and questions left unasked. The press of clothing-covered hard-ons into each other's hips, at the very least, gave some hints to some answers and added more questions to others.
"Yeah. We should...maybe try to work on that…" Diego replied, his eyes no longer able to hold the contact and missing the sight of the gentle smile he had pulled out of Luther. He felt it pressed into his cheek instead.
"Allison and Klaus are going to be so insufferable."
“Oh my god, oh my god,” Klaus stage whispered from the other end of the long hallway where he and Allison where peering around the corner, his hands switching between excitedly touching at her back and arms and pointing at the evoking display. Allison, already clearly watching the heated kiss taking place between the two men with him, just stifled her laughter into Klaus’ shoulder.
“I know, I know,” She mimicked his enthusiasm, though she felt it just as acutely in her own way.
“By god, it’s finally happened, the apocalypse will surely ensue now!” Klaus wasn’t even phased by the way Allison lightly pinched his side at his joke, too delighted in seeing his partner’s feelings for Luther come to fruition at last.
“Stop, you’re so-...oh, okay. Uh...should we-?” Allison’s head tilted to the side when the clothes looked like they were going to come off, suddenly feeling like maybe they were overstepping a line.
“Are you kidding? It’s getting to the good part.”
“Klaus, come on.” Allison tried to pull him away, but his hands tapped at hers to let go and he pointed again.
“No no, wait, look!”
She took a step forward to look again, and the sight of Diego and Luther talking quiet, awkward, and intimate made both of them take in a breath of anticipation. Things always became dicey when moments were left too quiet for too long and left space for hurt to crawl in.
Instead, Luther pressed his face to Diego’s, Diego smiled like the sun, and both Allison and Klaus sunk into the displayed affection with loud and touched ‘Aww’s’.
Both heads of the men turned in their direction, and Klaus and Allison both jolted out of sight with laughter filling the hall.