Chapter 1: A Different Shoe Size To Fill
Klaus can’t breathe.
Not with the dusty stench of ice filling up his lungs like ocean water. Damp and dark and cold. His lungs burn, ready to burst inside his chest, yet every inhale of air slides down into his lungs like chunky blocks of ice dissolving into a puddle of acid. His temperature drops fast, until what little color remains in his face goes down the drain, and his blood slows into a sluggish state of goo rather than the rush of boiling heat in his ears.
Klaus can’t hear.
Gone are the screams, the terrified shrieks of children and women echoing along concrete walls. Their wails and demands drowning in the pleas for mercy spilling past their dry cracked lips like the static noise of an old radio running on an endless source of energy. Never ending and far too loud in his bleeding ears to ever ignore.
The air is silent and noiseless around him. As silent as the inside of the glass coffin must be.
Vanya’s lips move. Fast but mute. Despite the lack of her voice, her words are louder than any scream could be. Louder than her book or the faint nails dragging down on the chalkboard that is his conscience. He doesn’t hear her beyond the metal door keeping her away—unmovable and unrelenting. Final.
Klaus doesn’t need to see.
How the glass turns bloody beneath her fingers. Her cheeks glistering wet from tears. Eyes bloodshot and swollen red—wide open in the fear of blinking and finding herself left alone to the horrors of her walls. The paperwhite skin her face is painted in—like she’s put on the face-paint Japanese hostess wear to impress—and how her lips would match the lipstick such beauties adorn from biting the tender skin raw into a bloody parody of a clown’s smile. Jaw unhinging to howl—
(“—let me out. Please, let me out—")
Isolation and overstimulation are two sides of the same coin. Both a punishment resulting in each other. Robbing someone of all their senses will push them into an overwhelming sensitivity. Dialing the senses up will numb them to a point of detachment. A vicious circle lacking balance. Control.
Something none of them ever had. Not under Reginald Hargreeves’ watch.
But he was dead. Gone. A pile of ash rotting away in the courtyard.
Klaus knows. He checked. To make sure. He knows the Bastard isn’t coming back, couldn’t hurt any of them from beyond the grave aside from him, or at least, tear open old wounds that never quite stopped aching over time.
Even so, his shadow stuck. In the scene playing out in front of him, worn like an old memory, tainting the image of little kids with his own. Poisoning them far more than Klaus ever did to himself willingly.
For a fleeting moment, he wonders, if that’s what his siblings thought of upon catching him red-handed with the drugs and alcohol. The shriveling terror choking them at the sight of watching him drug himself to the brink of death, unable to help him sober up.
No wonder they deemed him a lost cause after the third try. Probably ran out of air.
Even Diego, with his ability, could only cling on for so long before suffocation caught up to him.
A hand brushing against the bare skin of his upper arm shakes him out of his stupor. Hot in a way only the living could be, Klaus flinches away from the touch, tearing his gaze away from Vanya to glance up.
Diego inclines his head towards the door, the stairs, the message clear in his eyes.
(Dad’s gone—has left him here in the freezing chill of the dead for another three hours. Left him to rot away like the mangled corpses dripping blood over the floor. Their torn flesh crumbling away to dust as they reach for him with claws in the shapes of hands—)
Klaus can’t breathe. Because the dead have long stolen the air out of his lungs.
His choked little laugh turns halfway into a hysterical shout of incredulity. He grips onto his arms, nails digging into his skin to ground himself.
“—we can’t. We can’t just turn around and walk away and pretend this isn’t happening! What the hell, man? What happened to helping her?”
Diego’s jaw clenches. “There’s nothing we can do.”
“Bullshit,” Klaus can’t believe what he’s hearing. “You’re just giving up. On—on Vanya. The sister who cried when we stepped on ants.”
He twists away from the hand reaching for him, watching it hover in the air before curling into a fist and dropping back to Diego’s side. Useless and motionless. Unwilling to be of use in a show of strength.
Diego says and stops. He doesn’t elaborate or put his thoughts into words. His name lingers in the air with an unspoken expectation, to follow without making a scene, to listen when nobody ever extends the same courtesy to him, and there’s a hint of a warning in the way Diego grits his teeth. Eyes narrowing in an attempt to soften him into agreeing to leave.
Turning around and walking away would be easy. Especially with the shameless excuse of Diego’s insistence to hide behind and to push the blame onto. He could let his feet carry him upstairs towards the bar and drown himself in a bottle of whiskey to forget about reliving his nightmare in a different perspective.
There’s nothing he can do. Klaus is weak, the lookout, useless. In spite of his powers, he’s powerless against steel, nobody would blame him for taking the easy way and walk out without sparing a glance back.
Nobody but himself.
His feet don’t move. Shaky but unmoving. Diego’s brows furrow and Klaus turns away in a desperate attempt to gain an ally. His gaze flickers across the room, a glimpse of Ben’s angry look of disbelief turns into Allison’s furious tears.
Luther won’t let her open the door.
Just like Dad wouldn’t have let him out.
“We can try again later,” Diego’s whisper cuts through the thick fog inside his mind, low and angry, “But now’s not the time. C’mon, see reason here, bro. When even Allison cannot convince him, we don’t stand a chance.”
Later. Another three hours. Every minute counts and yet—
Diego’s right. Allison without her voice is no better than them. Luther won’t let Vanya out.
Luther, who promised them to look after them as their Number One. Eager to please Dad, to be perfect. His brother that never got to cry, but when he did, would fold into himself like a card house in the wind, leaning into touches of affection like a freezing man towards fire. Their big brother apologizing for hurting them with his strength and swearing to be better. To prevent another Ben incident from happening ever again.
Where did that boy wander off to? The moon?
That kid got buried underneath Reginald’s shadow like rubble.
“She’s our sister,” Klaus repeats, hoping it’ll stick. They don’t seem to understand. He waits for the act to drop, for Luther to come to his sense.
Luther just stares, eyes cold and hard. Chin held tall. “She’s dangerous.”
Allison punches him in the arm, shaking her head vigorously. She’s trembling in her fury, quivering lips pulled back into a tooth-bared snarl to express her distaste. A volcano ready to implode. She hits him with her notepad, stomping her feet and cries.
Tears are nothing but a waste of time and effort.
Klaus’ sobs didn’t convince Reginald to open the doors.
Neither would Luther.
The thought cuts him to the bone. Familiar and tangible with the taste of blood in his mouth. Bitter to swallow.
(“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” He cries, rocking back and forth in the dark. “I’m sorry I can’t help you!” He wants to, desperately so, if only to get them to leave him alone, but he’s useless, nothing more than a terrified mess of a child, afraid of never seeing the land of the living again—)
He’s weak. What little muscles he possesses would tear sooner than they’d move the wheel to open the door. Even Diego would have trouble forcing his way into getting Vanya out.
Rapid heartbeat slowing, the tips of his fingers grow numb in cold sweat.
If he had Luther’s strength, he could get his sister out. Could get tiny Vanya out of the prison he never wished on anyone else. Luther with his sheer size in muscles might not even break out a sweat.
For a moment, he craves such strength harder than his drugs, wishes with every fiber of his soul he could switch powers, exchange places if only for a moment—to fix this mess before it’d ruined them like their powers ruined their lives. Klaus never wanted to be someone else before—a normal, healthier, useful version of himself, yes—but not once in all the years, did he yearn to trade places with anyone.
Christ knows he would never wish for any of his siblings to be put into his shoes.
Luther’s gaze turns away from Allison and her betrayed anguish, darting across the room.
Their eyes met.
Klaus’ mind sharpens, jostling him into focus. Like a camera going off in a flash, in the next heartbeat he slips through a waterfall into a warm shower. It’s sickening to slide from ice into a mold of lava, to ease into a gentle pressure like into a new pair of shoes that are too tight and don’t fit right just yet, but he lets himself fall forward—
—Just in time to see his body crumble to the ground in a heap.
“What the fuck.”
Diego catches his body before his head cracks open against the floor, lowering him in one graceless movement to the ground.
“Klaus? Klaus! Don’t do this shit, not now.” Diego tries to slap a little color onto his face, peering down onto his face with wide-eyes.
Allison hurries over, dropping her notepad to kneel and put his head into her lap.
“He’s not breathing—” Diego checks his pulse. “—he’s…there’s…there’s no pulse!”
Klaus watches Diego press a trembling finger onto the pale line of his throat.
“Shut the fuck up, Luther,” Diego glares at him from across the room, next to his body— “Are you happy now? Is that what you wanted? Allison—”
What the hell?
Wait, did Diego just say Luther?
Risking a glance at Vanya in the hopes of catching sight of his reflection, he inches closer towards the door. His sister stopped hammering on the door, instead staring in open mouthed horror at where Diego is hovering over his body. She’s nearly pressed against the glass, not cowering back when he approaches and sees—
“—wait, I think I felt something.” Diego tightens his grip in what would surely leave bruises around his wrist, frantic eyes pinned onto his closed ones. “There! Fuck, he’s got a pulse. It’s weak as hell. Allison, g-go get M-Mom.”
—Luther’s face staring back at him.
Klaus stumbles back, head beginning to ache.
“Fuck,” He mumbles, squeezing his eyes shut only to be greeted by Luther’s face when he blinks them back open. “Holy shit.” His voice pitches higher—Luther’s voice pitches higher and he winces at the sound.
What the hell?
He’s inside of Luther’s body—which is gross—more than a little disoriented and motion sick.
His—Luther’ skin crawls and Klaus wants to scrub the skin off until there’s nothing left.
“What? You’re just gonna stand there, asshole?” Diego says, “Fuck you. It’s your fault, stressing him out when he’s trying so goddamn hard to be sober.”
Klaus shakes his head. Diego’s got a point.
Freaking out could happen later.
He walks over to the door; fingers wrapping around the metal and pulls—
Only for his lungs to squeeze and his grip to grow stiff.
Anger. Luther’s frowning face flashes across his mind. Confusion.
Something tugs at his conscience, harsh and unrelenting and it takes a moment for Klaus to realize it’s Luther trying to wrestle back control like they’re playing a childish game of tug war.
Allison’s slit throat. Klaus grimaces at the mental picture. Worry. Grief.
“No, no,” He mumbles, trying to shake of his breathlessness. “This isn’t the solution, big guy.”
Blood. Over Luther’s hands and Allison’s clothes. Klaus swallows down bile. Luther hugging Vanya. The house started shaking. Fear.
“She’s our sister!”
“What was that?”
Diego’s head jerks up to glower at him, lips twisted into a scowl. He glances between where Klaus is frozen in prying the door open to Vanya, who looks seconds away from another breakdown behind the glass.
Right. If verbal communication didn’t work then—
A dark little cell. Ghosts screaming until he’s deaf. Their grotesque half-rotten faces leering at him. Trembling and cold, waiting for Dad to come back for hours on end—
Klaus tries to picture the memory, feeling the vice grip around his lungs loosen up.
—Dad calling him a disappointment and leaving him. His pleas for home ignored. Crying and choking on the smell of rotten flesh and bitter blood. Dust on his skin and ice in his veins.
He pulls at the wheel, hearing metal creak in respond and shift underneath his palms. Little by little it moves.
Vanya crying behind the door. Begging like thirteen-year-old Klaus was. All alone. Staring in longing at the door—flashes of Diego’s exasperated frown, Allison’s lovely and mischievous grin, Ben’s fondly rolled eyes and Five’s cocky smirk appearing.
His stomach sinks, clenching. The moon. Beautiful in the sunrise, glistering white stone. Beautiful but silent. Lonely.
Klaus nods, squeezing his eyes shut. Vanya’s tearful face. Standing behind the door of her cage. Vanya’s eyes bright with unshed tears during the last family meeting. Vanya standing in her room, age twelve, visible through the tiny crack in her door, staring down at her violin with a sad little frown.
His chest twinges like someone pulled at his heartstring. …Allison’s slit throat.
Klaus wanted to groan in frustration. Luther…Luther picking him up by the neck. Throwing him across the room. Luther running off without looking back— A wave of nausea hits him, making him pause and then push on twice as insistent. Going after Luther! Throwing up in a trashcan but not stopping his search. Going after Luther at Ben’s insistence. Finding Luther in the club and jumping onto the man’s back—
He stops. Breathes in. And out. Turns the wheel with a bit more force as he pushes down the stinging in his eyes and the growing static noise in his ears. Ignores the flashes of blurry pictures in front of his vision, shoving them aside with a firm push.
Metal creaks, loud and final. Dark spots appear in his vision when Vanya squeezes herself through the gap in the door, rushing over to Diego, trembling from head to toe and cups his face in her hands.
Klaus clings on, burning the scene into his memory before something ties his stomach into knots and violently tears himself out of the suffocating heat of another’s body. The connection cuts off, the sights and colors blending together until the light goes out and he’s shoved underwater.
The darkness swallows him whole.
Chapter 2: Well, That Escalated Quickly
Klaus wakes up to Vanya. Between Vanya's fragile state of mind and temper, Ben's habit of sneaking off to give his siblings a bit of privacy and Klaus' lacking brain to mouth filter, an argument is inevitable.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Awareness creeps up onto him slowly. Similar to waking up after taking a shitload of drugs. Instead of bolting upright from a nightmare, he’s sluggish. Brain a puddle of lukewarm water. His hands begin to tingle, dragging him away from the dark towards the light.
Eyes fluttering open, he winces at the glaring lights.
A shadow falls over him, blocking the far too bright artificial lamp and something ends up tickling his cheeks. Soft like feathers, it brushes across his skin like the hand smoothing his curls away from his forehead to feel his temperature.
He leans into the touch, craving the warmth heating his clammy skin.
His eyes snap open. “Vanya?”
“How are you feeling?”
“About as good as you’re looking right now.”
He squirms up his pillows, taking note he’s inside his bedroom instead of the infirmary. It’s a good sign to be away from that place full of drugs. Means whatever the fuck happened didn’t end up with him having to explain why he fell over out of nowhere.
Judging from the sharp look Ben sends his way from his place on the desk chair, he’ll have to do that anyway. Which isn’t so bad. Ben listens to what he says, sarcastic commentary aside, and privacy isn’t a thing that existed between them since Ben first learned how to phase through walls and caught him taking a shower. The horrified yelp nearly made him slip from doubling over laughing.
Good old days.
Vanya cracks a small smile, mussed hair and bloodshot, swollen eyes complimenting the picture of her puffy, ashen face in the worst way possible.
“I can go get you a glass of water?” She offers, voice hoarse, looking reluctant to get up from the bed. She’s clinging to his hand, her grip sweaty and tight and wonderfully warm.
“No!” She flinches and he can feel his cheeks grow warm. “No, no, you don’t need to leave. I’d rather have you here. Keeping me company and stuff than to find you locked away into a box again.”
Ben puts his face into his hands and groans, “Klaus.”
“Sorry,” He tightens his grip on Vanya’s hand, praying she won’t leave as his fairy lights flicker dangerously, “That was a shit thing to say.”
Vanya glances down at their hands then to his face again. She lets out a soft sigh, shoulders relaxing and squeezes his hand.
“You’ve got a pass,” She mumbles quietly, the lights staying on. “You got me out of there, so thank you for that.”
Klaus looks over her shoulder at Ben to see him shrug, one leg propped up on his other knee, arms crossed and chair half-turned to the door. Vanya follows his gaze, lingering on the spot until Klaus makes a frustrated noise at Ben’s stubborn silence and wiggles up into a more comfortable position.
“I didn’t get you out. Have you seen that door? There’s no way I could have forced it open—Diego couldn’t have pried it open with that temple body of his—so I stood no chance. Not that I didn’t want to get you out, because I did. Trust me, I was this–” He holds up his free hand, showing her a teeny tiny gap between his fingers, “–close to jumping on Luther’s back, all feral dog with rabies style. And—”
“Why are you lying to me?”
Mouth snapping shut with a clack; he lets his hand fall back into his lap. “What?”
“You’re lying to me,” Vanya tries to sound accusing, but her eyes begin to water and her lips quiver. All he sees on her face is heartbreak. “Why?”
“I’m not...” He stammers, horrified. “…I’m not lying! Not about this. I get it, okay? I’m an irresponsible junkie, who’d do anything to get his next fix and that includes lying, but you’re my sister. Your powers don’t change that.”
Her breath hitches in her throat, but she shakes her head. “It’s not about that.”
She takes a deep breath, steeling herself and shifts a bit closer on the bed. Face set in stone, she pulls their joined hands into her lap, brushing her fingers across his knuckles.
Klaus heart sinks.
Freaky, how none of them are truly related by blood and yet Vanya’s got the same face as Ben when he’s about to break bad news to him.
“It’s been over a day. Since you… fell over.”
Klaus tries for a smile. “Oh well, drugs can do that to you.”
“But you’re clean,” Vanya says, daring him to lie to her face and disagree. “Mom checked you over after and she couldn’t find any fresh drugs in your system.”
“Withdrawal then,” He says flippantly, avoiding her eyes, “Withdrawal is always a bitch.”
Her hand tightens on his own with enough strength to catch his attention. When he tries to meet Ben’s eyes, his brother is gone, probably to eavesdrop like the meddlesome gossip lady he truly is. Then again, it’s the only hobby he has aside from babysitting him, so maybe he’s judging him a bit too harshly for abandoning him to Vanya’s interrogation.
“I’ll listen, Klaus, you can tell me. I promise, I won’t call you a liar again. Just…just tell me the truth, please.”
“Look at you, taking care of little old me after I fainted like a Victorian damsel in destress. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
Vanya puts her hand on his shoulder when he attempts to get off the bed. “Klaus, please.”
He hates that word, most of all coming from Vanya’s lips. She shouldn’t ever have to beg him or anyone else for anything, lest of all for love and safety. To be let out of a cell. He never wants to hear it from his sister again. Not when his ears are bleeding raw already from the shouts and wails of the ghosts.
“I dunno what happened,”
He begins slowly, trying to recall to flashes of white and red in his memory. It’s fuzzy like he got wasted hours ago. Lacking memories isn’t new to him, he’s far too used to the gaps from his years of addiction. His head starts aching, a shudder washing through his body. He pulls the blanket pooling around his waist tighter around himself, trying to chase away the chill.
“And this is gonna sound crazy, like Five telling us about the apocalypse batshit crazy, but I think I might have a new power.”
He waits for the scoff, the mean laugh or the roll of eyes—for the dismissal about trying to get attention, but all Vanya does is nod.
“Okay, and what do you think this new power is?”
Immortality, is the first thing shooting through his mind. Dropping that bomb on her would blow up in his face. He doesn’t want Vanya to leave just yet. Not with her terror-filled face behind that glass door fresh in his mind.
He shrugs, leaning against the headboard. “That’s the million-dollar question.”
Vanya narrows her eyes. “No, that’s just bullshit.” She doesn’t give him a chance to protest, steamrolling over his shock with a ferocity unlike her, “I think you just don’t want to tell me what’s going on.”
“How can I tell you what’s going on when I don’t know what’s going on?”
He tugs his hand away from her, throwing them in the air.
“Nobody tells me shit! In fact, I only just woke up and the first thing I get is an interrogation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy you’re no longer downstairs behind lock and key in the creepy basement, but this is all very confusing for my newly sober self and I’m about to lose my shit if a certain someone doesn’t tell me what the fuck is going on.”
He raises his voice halfway through his little rant, all but yelling for Ben to get his ass back in here—what the hell is taking him so long on eavesdropping? He had hours to get information! —and deflates as soon as the heat winds down.
He huffs, pulling up his legs when Ben doesn’t fly up through his floor or his door and pretends, he isn’t sulking. That he isn’t cranky—if anyone on the team is the cranky one it’s Five, the old man with the toddler body—but the sheer wrongness clinging to his skin frustrates him.
Like he’s standing on a rocky boat without a railing to keep hold of, he sways gently, a bit motion sick even though he isn’t moving at all.
“You’re right,” Vanya says quietly, almost meekly and he hates himself for pushing her back into her little shell. She’s fragile, she needs care and warmth and all he’s doing is making this about himself. “I haven’t been very forthcoming and I’m sorry.”
“No, no, no. That isn’t—don’t apologize for Christ’s sake! You’re the one who got traumatized, locked up into the box, you don’t get to say sorry. There’s nothing for you to be sorry about.”
“But I wasn’t the only one.” Her hands take hold of her sweater, going knuckle white. “Was I?”
Klaus swallows, the memory of blood staining the rapidly paling face of his sister making bile rise up his throat.
“That was an accident. Allison was ready to fight Luther for you, she won’t hold your lack of control against you. She’ll forgive you.”
“She has already. After you let me out and we got Mom to check you over, we spoke. She’s not angry. She…she loves me.”
Vanya’s lips quirk up, eyes going glassy with a look of wonder on her face like she can’t believe what they known to be a fact of life. Of course, Allison loves her, they all do.
“But that’s not what I was talking about.”
Deciding he can try to do some damage control, since it’s technically not a lie, he tries to soothe the fear he sees on her face with a reassurance of not getting locked up again.
“Luther let you out.”
“No, he didn’t.” She snaps, lips pursed into a snarl, fear overtaken by anger. The lights start flickering, a few of his bulbs shattering and raining glass onto the floor. “He put me in there, but it sure as hell wasn’t him that let me out. Don’t defend him. How could you?”
“I’m not!” Klaus says loudly, “I’m not saying what he did was okay in any way—it was a fucked-up thing to do, a thing Dad would have done—but he didn’t do it out of cruelty. He was scared of you, for Allison and us, even for you and he’s an idiot, but that’s what four years in isolation will do to you. He’s got no grip on how to handle anything and having Dad as his teacher fucked him up six ways from Sunday.”
“That makes it okay?” She demands hotly, bristling and rising from the bed. “I thought you’d understand—that’s the reason, isn’t it? Why you’re not telling me a thing about that new power. You’re scared he’ll lock you away just like he did to me. How can you of all people still defend him?”
Ignoring that she hit the nail on the head, he rises to his feet on the other side of his bed, blanket forgotten in the haste to put distance between them. His bare feet crunch on the glass shards, stinging like a bitch.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
The door slams open to his room, just as Vanya’s face twists into a sneer and she says, “Are you going to defend Dad too, for locking you up?”
Klaus recoils like she punched him in the gut.
“Vanya!” Diego barks out, low and angry as her face crumbles into open-mouthed horror. She cups her hands over her mouth.
“I’m sorry,” She starts, shrinking into herself with unshed tears in her eyes. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it like that—”
Diego scoffs, pushing into the room with Five and Allison at his heels, Luther lingering in the doorway. “How else could you possibly mean that?” His hands are clenched by his sides, eyes dark and furious as his gaze darts from Vanya to the glass shards.
“I’m sorry I worded it wrong. That was too harsh and I stepped out of line—”
Klaus cuts through their argument, his breathless whisper silencing the room. The dimming of the room has nothing to do with the destroyed fairy lights and everything with the feeling of a ghost reaching into his chest and closing their icy hand around his heart to squeeze viciously.
His breath catches around the lump forming in his throat and he nearly chokes.
“You knew about the mausoleum.”
No wonder nobody questioned him about what his special training was when they were kids. They knew. About the nights and days where he would be gone, thrown into a hoard of angry ghosts ready to tear him apart in the dark, hungry and terrified out of his mind.
He’d wondered for years.
Did they know? No, of course not. They couldn’t have known. Ben hadn’t known.
Never having the courage to ask, afraid of what the answer would be.
Ben is many things, but not observant. Vanya used to trail after them, obsession about their training in her eyes because she never got some of her own. She could have noticed, read about it somewhere in Dad’s creepy notes she used to carry around. Five’s smart and ambitious and persistent to the point where he has to know something in order to sleep. The signs were all there—the sudden fear of the dark, the flinches and his silence—he must have some sort of theory of what special training involved, always quick to scowl in displeasure at being denied training he craves while Klaus, who hated it got it for free. Allison could have easily rumored it out of their Dad after noticing his increase in drugs and the need to steal her clothes days after being locked away. Needing her floral and familiar parfum in his nose to chase away the dust and rotten flesh. The softness of her clothes and skirts less constricting on his skin. Comfortable and warm.
He’d wondered. Uncertain. Partly relieved when they didn’t come for him during his kidnapping. Hopeful and reassured that they didn’t come for him because they hadn’t known him to be missing in the first place. They didn’t leave him to rot, they just didn’t notice.
Ben was so sure, full of faith they’d care. That if they knew, they would have put a stop to it and if he told them, they’d be there for him.
(“There’s nothing we can do.”)
Except Klaus has always been good at lying, especially to himself and Ben for all his goodness, was full of naivety and childish hope not even death could rob him off.
Diego had given in far too easily for his stubbornness and willingness to fight Luther for every minor thing, he should have gone ballistic. Luther’s awfully quick decision on locking Vanya away. They shouldn’t have let Vanya out of their sight after such an experience, yet he woke up to her alone in his room.
For them the only difference was the sibling who got locked up.
He wasted hours thinking about them in the dark, fantasizing about telling them about Dad and him and the horrors of the mausoleum, hesitating in fear of them not believing him.
And they knew all this time and had the audacity to call him out on his drugs, to call it a weakness.
Klaus sees red.
“Fuck you.” His voice cracks, rising from a whisper steadily into a shout. “Seriously, fuck you!”
Vanya stumbles back, eyes wide with hurt. “Klaus—”
“A Mausoleum?” Diego’s jaw clenches and he’s staring at Klaus with pained eyes. “He locked you away in that?”
“Like you didn’t know.”
Klaus balls his hands into fists. As if it makes a difference that they didn’t know where exactly he was locked up in. Mausoleum or graveyard, there was no difference in the places Dad thought up of tossing him inside and throwing away the key.
“Well,” Five says, his lips flattened into a thin, bloodless line and hands shoved into his pockets, “Now we do.”
He throws a pointed glance from the rest of their siblings to Klaus as if to say “See?” and nods.
“I didn’t know that!” Diego swears loudly, hands coming to hover over his knives as he shakes his head and takes a step forward. “What the fuck? That’s where Dad took you? For special training?”
Vanya, next to Allison, who’s furiously writing across her notebook, whimpers. “You were gone for hours.” She says scandalized.
Ben stumbles through the wall, wide-eyed and frantic. “What’s going on? Klaus?”
“Glorious hours of bliss, right?” He laughs, a tiny bit hysterical and bares his teeth in a smile. “To have me out of the house. Not around to be annoying. Must have been vacation for you, whenever dear old Daddy tried the exposure therapy timeout with me!”
Diego flinches back, making a pained noise. “Wh—what? No! Wh-what are y-you saying?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Five looks angry, downright murderous with rage. “He thinks we knew.”
Hot blood courses through his veins, building a pressure in his head. Eyes brimming with burning tears, he doesn’t notice the books and pictures start shaking.
“I’m the idiot here, remember? So, don’t play fucking dumb with me!”
Five’s gaze jerks away from the wall and pictures to pin him with a glare. Eyes cold and flinty, there’s a vein pulsing along his neck.
“You are an idiot for believing such a thing. Throwing around accusations when only knowing half the facts. Typical. There’s no point in talking to you before you calm down.”
Like he’s a child having a temper tantrum over dinner. As if Five has ever given any of them all the facts to make a choice with, the little Bastard stands there, chin raised and observing him with hard eyes and lips curled into disgust. You’re embarrassing yourself, is written over his face and Klaus’s chest burns at the similarities to Hargreeves he sees.
Allison hold up her notepad, cheeks wet with tears and he doesn’t want to see whatever she’s written across the paper. He doesn’t want to see any of them either.
It flies out of her hands as he turns his head away. “Get out!”
He doesn’t hear them shuffle out of his room. “Klaus—”
The scream wrings itself out his throat and the pressure in his head pops. His hands feel like they’re dipped into icy water while the tears spill over his cheeks. He staggers backwards, sliding on the wall to put his head in between his knees, balled fists on the side of his temples.
“Leave me alone!”
“You heard him—”
Ben’s sharp hiss could cut through steel. He hears hitched intakes of breathes, loud gasps as his thoughts spiral down into the dark of the mausoleum.
“—get the fuck out of his room.”
There’s static noise filling his ears, the sounds of his siblings calling out a name clogged like he’s swimming underwater and the final noise of a door slamming shut. Loud knocks beat against his closed door—shut not open, the thought makes his mouth run dry, stuffed full of dust—and Ben answers.
“You’re not coming in, not after that shitshow! You’ll wait for him to come out or so help me—"
The knocking stops. The growling noise grows fainter until Ben lets out a sigh and it disappears altogether.
“Hey, you good?”
“No,” Klaus’ laugh turns halfway into a choking sob, eyes squeezed shut. “No. They…they knew Ben, about the mausoleum and they didn’t do anything to stop him—you lied, you said they would, but they didn’t. Just left me there—”
“Woah, hey, hey, hang on for a hot minute.”
“—with the ghosts for hours. They didn’t want me around, so they let him shove me in there and I’m so stupid for believing you. Fuck you for getting my hopes up.”
He raises his head, to see Ben crouching next to him, a pained frown on his face. There’s honest regret on his face, beneath the tight lines of anger around his eyes and mouth.
“Fuck, this shit isn’t worth sobriety,” He sniffles, overcome with an aching need to get his hands on his last patch of drugs hidden in his stuffed teddy bear, shoved into the corner of his closet. “The little asshole wants me to calm down? Fine, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll fucking show him how calm I am as high as a kite.”
“Don’t—” Ben reaches out towards him, wrapping his hands around Klaus’s wrists and squeezes, “—Don’t throw it all away, Klaus, please.”
Klaus stares, dumbstruck. “You’re touching me.”
„Yeah, I’ll punch you too, if you dare to put drugs anywhere near your mouth. Don’t test me.”
“Ben,” Klaus says slowly, blinking and staring at his fists still in Ben’s icy grip. “My hands are glowing blue.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed, slowpoke.”
“Don’t call me slow when you took forever to find your way back here.”
Klaus lunges forward, careful not to unclench his fists and throws his arms over Ben’s shoulders. Ben’s hands come to rest on his upper back, pulling him close until their chests are flushed together, Klaus’s head resting on his shoulder. The hug should be uncomfortable, because Ben clings on too tight like Klaus is his lifeline and he’s cold—a literal block of ice. Embracing the dead used to terrify him and all Klaus feels now, as he melts into Ben’s arms, is relief.
“Where were you? Got stuck in the in-between or some shit? Forgot you could literally walk through walls to fly back here? Was there ghost traffic in the hall?”
“I was with Five when he suddenly vanished. Sorry it took me so long to come back.”
Klaus attempts an unsuccessful shrug, the angle all wrong. “Whatever, you’re here now.”
“I’m here,” Ben rubs his back. “You’re not getting rid of me so easily.”
“Parasite,” Klaus mumbles into his jacket, not having to look to know Ben’s rolling his eyes in response.
“I can hit you now.”
“You like hugging me too much to pull away now.” Klaus snorts, a bit out of breath and snuggles into Ben’s neck, feeling him shiver, “This is addicting. You hug like an octopus.”
Ben huffs out a quiet chuckle. “Better than the drugs?”
“You wish. Don’t get ahead of yourself.”
Ben doesn’t get the chance to call him out as Klaus falls forward, right through him and crashes head first into the wooden floor. He winces, holding onto his head and curls up on the floor.
“Fuck,” He groans, blinking the dark spots out of his vision. “What a shit way to break the moment we were having.”
“You’ll live,” Ben says, relocating himself so his legs aren’t in Klaus’s torso anymore. “you pessimist. Try to focus on the good stuff for once.”
“What good stuff?” Klaus bemoans into the floor, wiping at his eyes before clasping the dog tags around his neck. “That I cried myself out on your shoulder? Guess what, I’m not all too happy with the apparent proof that I can turn my ghosties into poltergeists. With my lack of control, they’ll tear me apart like a goddamn chew toy.”
“They can try and see what happens.”
Ben says, but it’s not Ben. Not fully anyway. His voice drops into a low hiss, too deep for a human-voice to reach and the syllables drawl out slightly longer than they normally would. There’s a promise wrapped in those words, tussled up in a warning and a threat for blood to be paid should the line drawn into the sand be crossed, that speaks of the bloodthirsty and possessive tentacle creature in Ben’s stomach, which only ever shows itself when Ben’s passive-aggressiveness bleeds into sheer cold-hearted fury born out of the need to protect his family.
The shifting underneath Ben’s clothing should be a sight for concern. Klaus tries to reach out to give the belly a pat, maybe a rub like one would a dog, but his hands go through Ben’s stomach and he calls it quits with a dramatic whine.
“Down boy,” Klaus picks himself up of the floor to flop back on his bed, “No need to get all hissy on me.” He throws an arm over his eyes when Ben sits down next to him, grumbling underneath his breath.
“Klaus,” He moans at the sound of his name, curling onto his side. “what happened?”
“Can we not do this?”
“I need to know.”
“Our siblings are assholes.” Klaus says spitefully, too exhausted to work himself up into another fit of temper, but too bitter to bite his tongue.
Ben hums, “Already knew that. Could you give me the long version?”
“They’re the biggest assholes you’ll meet in life, now that the champion has passed on into the afterlife. Happy now?”
“Are you done yet?” Ben comments mildly, not disapproving of dragging their siblings through the mud. “Because I’d like to hear the full story and by all means, call them names if it makes you feel better, but at least give me the full picture.”
“You’re gonna tell me I overreacted afterwards too?” Klaus rolls over to face Ben taking the pillow with him to hug to his chest. “You’re supposed to be on my side on principle.”
“I’m always on your side. Except when you’re on the side that will get yourself into trouble.”
“Whatever you say.”
Ben’s dry stare of disapproval brings an automatic stab of guilt into his heart. “Who do you think threw them out of your room?”
“They saw you?” Klaus jolts upright.
“Yeah,” Ben says flatly and because he’s spent too much time around Klaus, adds on, “They looked like they’d seen a ghost. Rude much? It’s not like I’m bleeding all over the floor like the others.”
“They saw you,” Klaus repeats, electing to ignore the second half of Ben’s reply. “In person, like me and you—you what? Shut the door right into their faces and they didn’t kick it open to talk with you?”
“Apparently, they respect the wishes of the dead,” Ben says mid-shrug. “And I’m not too happy with them at the moment, so they’ll have to wait until I feel like talking to them again.”
Klaus stares at his brother, jaw slightly ajar. “You just wasted the chance to talk with the rest of them for what? Staying here with me and making sure I’m not drugging myself into my next overdose?”
“Got a problem with the fact I wanted to check on you first?” Ben narrows his eyes, “If they don’t listen to a word you say, then they don’t deserve to hear me. Let them see how it feels like, I find it hard to sympathize after all the shit they pulled.”
“You’re not sick of me?” Klaus jokes, grimacing when Ben’s face twists into a glower.
“Nothing!” Klaus waves him off, hiding partly behind his pillow. “Forget I said anything. You wanted me to tell you the most horrible bedtime story? I’ll do that after I went to the bathroom, kay? Sleeping for over a day isn’t as refreshing as it sounds and I think I’ll take a bath while I’m at it. Milk my stay here for all it’s worth before I leave.”
Ben rises to his feet, poking his head through the door to check if their siblings try to eavesdrop like they’re twelve again and waves him over. Judging from Ben’s pensive glance burning holes into his head while he pulls out fresh clothes to wear after his bath—a new habit obtained after being kidnapped with nothing but a towel on—they’ll talk about Klaus’s abandonment issues later.
For now, Klaus settles on explaining and relaxing.
Five, sweetie, that's not how you defuse an argument. Your "I'm too old to deal with this shit" attitude is showing. Ben takes no shit when it comes to his favorite brother and he's left to do some damage control.
I don't know why, but I cannot help but explore the mausoleum reveal trope in every fic I attempt to write.
Anyway, thank you all for the support! It's appreciated, since this is my first multi-chap story in this fandom <3
Chapter 3: A Little Clarity For Damage Control
Some more Ben and Klaus interaction!
Next up: The most awkward breakfast.
Ben, bless his soul, doesn’t interrupt him nor does he make a big deal over another show of tears. He sits, perched on the edge of the bathtub and listens with rapid attention, facing the door like the world’s biggest guard dog in case someone decides to barrage in and get an eyeful.
“So yeah, end of the story, I’m gonna get the hell outta here before it’s my time in the creepy basement. The apocalypse is over now, so there’s no need to hang around.”
Klaus sinks into the water, blowing bubbles and waits for Ben to speak.
“Jesus, this family is shit at communicating.” Ben rubs at his forehead to ward off a headache he couldn’t get—one of the perks of being dead to the world. “Okay, I admit, this is partly my fault for not speaking up as soon as you woke up and leaving you alone with Vanya. To be fair, seeing you fall over a second time in a week seemingly dead isn’t good for my health.”
Klaus lifts his chin out of the water to speak. “Hate to break it to you, Benji, but you’re dead. At this point your health can’t be worse.”
“No shit. Thanks for the reminder, though.”
Blowing his brother a kiss, Klaus sinks back into the lukewarm water.
“Right. So, to get the biggest problem off the table, I’m going to be blunt.” Ben warns, gaze stuck onto the door. Klaus barely has time to brace himself before he says, “They didn’t actually know about your special training until today.”
Klaus chokes, ending up with a mouthful of water.
Using his spluttering and thus is inability to talk to his advantage Ben talks on.
“Luther brought it up after the whole chaos with Vanya died down. Said something about seeing flashes of your memories or visions and admitted to not wanting to open the door but doing it anyway.”
Klaus coughs, clinging to the edge of the tub like a drowning man would to a floating piece of wood. “What?”
“Five’s best guess was about you possessing him. Made up some crazy theory of two consciences sharing one body would mess up the brain and he looked pretty freaked out over the fact you wouldn’t wake up to explain. Diego nearly put a knife in his hand when he tried slapping you awake.”
“I—what—you’re not making any sense,” Klaus snaps, water splashing over the edge of the tub. “Possessing people? Like in the movies? What sort of bullshit explanation is that? This better not just be a bad trip, because if I’m gonna wake up in a hospital anytime soon I’ll be pissed.”
Ben glances down at him, eyebrow raised. “So, what? Seeing dead people is perfectly logical, meeting God and coming back to life is and you’re drawing the line at astral projecting into another body?”
“Fine, I’ll bite,” Klaus gestures for Ben to go on, sullenly, “Let’s say I can possess people like some freaky third-rate horror movie demon, why’d they leave Vanya alone with someone like me then?”
“She insisted upon staying actually. After her talk with Allison, when Five came back, he forced them to explain the situation to him and Luther, well, he didn’t take the credit. You know how he is when an idea’s stuck in his head and seeing whatever glimpses of memories you got trigged to show, spooked him badly enough into apologizing to Vanya and he went to confront Pogo about what he saw.”
Ben grimaces painfully. “He’s currently resting in the infirmary.”
Klaus’ eyes nearly bulged out of his head. “Say what now!?”
“Pogo wasn’t very forthcoming.” Ben says, “About your training and Vanya kind of lost it when he admitted to knowing about her powers for so long. It seems like you weren’t the first one Hargreeves locked away as a child. The difference with Vanya was, it started young with a soundproof room and ended soon after.”
“So, I wasn’t Daddy’s first choice. Boo fucking hoo.” Klaus leans back into the tub, craning his head back to stare at the ceiling. Boring white paint greets him as cheerful as in the hospital and he resists the urge to set the house on fire. No need to punish Mom. “How did Vanya having a temper tantrum end up with Pogo in the infirmary?”
Vanya, for all her apparent old but new discovered powers, was still Vanya. His little sister who cried rivers of tears while Luther and Diego stomped on ants as kids. Trying to picture her as a violent hurricane ripping a person apart was hard to imagine.
“Gee, I dunno Klaus. How’d you think Allison got her throat cut?”
He flinches at the reminder, watching Ben’s face fall with shame.
“Okay, so Pogo didn’t tell them. No surprise there. Never said a thing about anything Dad did to us.”
He pauses, mulling over the last hour with a thoughtful frown. Ben doesn’t interrupt his process, simply letting him stew in silence and the water that’s rapidly cooling down after the half an hour he’s spent soaking in it and backtracks the conversation he’d rather like to forget.
(“Now we know.”)
“Vanya,” He begins slowly, pulling his legs up to his chest to glare at Ben’s reflection in the water, “spent too much time with Five as a child. He’s bad influence.”
“Like you?” Ben looks amused, shooting him a small smile. “To be fair, you had no way of knowing that and they handled it with as much fineness and care as stepping on a landmine would have been.”
“Excuse you?” Klaus exclaims in mock outrage. “I’m the best thing to ever happen to you in death.”
“Says the medium. You should get out soon, you’ll catch a cold.”
“Or my death,” He grins, rising to his feet and pulling the plug and seeing Ben not bat an eye at seeing him naked. He merely scoots over to let Klaus step out of the bathtub; eyes firmly stuck onto his face.
Klaus dries himself off, pulling on a fresh set of clothes. Another crop top and yoga pants. He rummages through the cupboard underneath the sink for bandages, wrapping up his feet. Pulling out the shards before his bath with Allison’s eyebrow tweezer left them sore and tender. At least, he didn’t need stiches. Small mercies. He reapplies his eyeliner before sneaking back to his room to get under the covers of his bed. Flipping off the screeching woman in the corner of his room with the handprints around her neck, he shoves his face under his pillow.
Sleep doesn’t come easily that night.
Klaus doesn’t look up from his knitting needles, carefully winding up the string of yawn around the needle and his finger. “What?”
“Come on, you’ll miss breakfast.”
“I’m aware.” He gestures to the note Allison slipped through under his door.
Ben stops pacing to march up to the bed, crossing his arm and towering over him. “Go get up and eat some food.”
“Hard pass.” He hisses when his previous row becomes undone at a too harsh tug of his hands. “I’m trying to keep my figure, y’know.”
“What figure. I only see a skeleton.”
Instead of answering, Klaus sticks out his tongue.
Ben clicks his tongue, refusing to budge on the subject. Becoming corporal one time has given him a new confidence that’s growing to be annoying.
“Klaus, get up.”
“I’m not asking again.”
“Since when do you ask?” Klaus pitches his voice lower, “It’s always, Klaus don’t eat that! No, Klaus, you can’t sleep in that alleyway think about the weather! Don’t do that or this, but I’ve never heard a please.”
Ben looks up towards the ceiling like he’s praying for patience. “Klaus, please get up and get some breakfast.”
“Okay, sure,” He sets his knitting needles aside, not that he got far in the first place since he woke up two hours after falling asleep and throws his legs over the edge of his bed, “Anything for you, brother of mine.” He stands, stretches, winking at Ben’s relieved face before he turns to pull his desk drawer open and takes out a half-eaten chocolate bar.
He takes a large bite out of it, stomach rolling at the horrible taste, but Ben’s outraged face is totally worth it.
The swat that connects to the back of his head while he chews is not. He ends up choking, thumping his chest while Ben's ghost form tries to do a Heimlich maneuver, except his hands go right through Klaus' stomach, causing him to gag violently at the coldness and spit his half eaten chocolate gob back out. Wheezing for breath, he sends Ben's hovering form a watery glare.
Ben rolls his shoulders, whistling and runs for the door.
Giving into the childish urge, he hated to be ignored after all, Klaus gives chase.
Chapter 4: Drier Than Toast
They should have kept the "No talking at Breakfast rule".
It gets worse before it gets better. Poor Ben. He's trying so hard to mend these broken bridges while the rest of them tries to set them on fire. Too bad Klaus threw that thing into the worm hole during the first episode.
Breakfast is awkward to say the least. Everyone is present and stuck between glancing at him every few seconds or to the chair he’s purposefully pulled out for Ben before flopping down onto his own.
They seem to wait for him to break the awful silence, anticipation clear on their faces as they shift in their seats after Mom put down the food. Understandable, since Klaus got the talent of blabbering on about pointless things and making chatter look effortless without sounding forced.
Tough luck. He’s not saying a word. Let them stew in their blissful silence. They get what they want, a free pass from hearing his annoying voice.
“Jesus, this hurts to watch.” Ben closes his eyes, elbow probed onto the table, chin resting on his hand. “Who does Five think he’s fooling with that newspaper? That’s nearly as bad as Luther’s overcoat. He can’t think you’re obvious to the staring.”
“Their faith in me is at an all-time low.” Klaus swallows a mouthful of toast, pretending he doesn’t see Five nearly knock over his cup of coffee on accident or the way all heads jerks up and whirl into his direction, “Told you, this was a bad idea, but what do I know? Clearly, nothing. You can leave if you want, God knows I would, if it weren’t for your bitching.”
He stabs into one of his sunny side-up eggs with more force than necessary.
Five folds the newspaper, staring at the empty chair with wide eyes.
“Quelle surprise,” Klaus mumbles, shoving a forkful of egg into his mouth.
Vanya throws him a hopeful and excited glance. “Are you talking to Ben?”
Taking his time in chewing and swallowing, taking a sip of his water to be obnoxious, he glances at Ben sitting rigid in his seat.
“No,” He smiles, pretty and fake, like the lines of her book, “I’m talking to myself.”
A fork clatters onto a plate.
“I get it. You’re pissed at us, but don’t drag Ben into this.”
Klaus doesn’t look up from his plate when he corrects Diego. “Ben isn’t exactly a ray of sunshine at the moment. You managed to hurt the only thing a ghost can feel pain from, namely his feelings. And for the record, no, I have no idea how to make him visible and it’s not because I’m high. Turns out Benjamin can hold grudges for as long as Luther’s been on the moon. Better watch out for some poltergeist trouble heading your way, he’s pretty pissed with you guys.”
Ben doesn’t protest. The faces around the table crumble into various states of barely concealed misery, staring at their plates with shame on their faces.
Klaus tries, he really does, to take some joy out of their apparent distress. Or at least a bit of satisfaction from jolting them from their high horses.
He doesn’t. Not even a teeny tiny bit.
“But,” He says loudly to catch their attention, scowling at the half destroyed smiling face on his plate with distain. “He loves you.”
“You’re such a sap.”
“Oh, shut your piehole, Ben,” Klaus squints at Ben’s smiling face, deflating at the mere sight of Ben’s soft eyes. Lethal little things they were. Sucker punching him in the chest with feelings of affection. “They’re making the food taste bad. Do you want me eating or not?”
“Mom’s cooking is flawless.”
“My appetite isn’t.” He waves around his fork, “How’s Pogo doing?”
Five is the one to answer, not looking the least bit surprised about the question. His gaze flickers between Klaus and the chair where Ben’s sitting in.
“He’s alive and will make a full recovery.”
“Tell him get well soon from me. Maybe throw in a banana.”
“And why can’t you tell him that yourself?” Five asks coolly, tightening his grip around his folded newspaper and making the paper crinkle.
Klaus’ lips curve into a leering grin. “Got places to be, castles to build. Can’t sit around here all day or I’ll become predictable. Can you imagine that? Me, staying in a place for longer than a few weeks? Boooring! Where’s the fun in hanging around the house like a ghost? It’s got enough of them, don’t need to add myself to their secret club.”
“You can’t just leave.” Luther says, “What about Ben?”
That was entirely the wrong thing to say. Even Allison winces.
“As kinky as you think me to be, I don’t actually have my brother on a leash. Ben,” Klaus drawls out the name in a hiss, “is a big boy and can do whatever the fuck he likes. Whether that’s hanging around here or passing on into the afterlife. From the looks of it, he doesn’t like you using him as an excuse either.”
“No, I don’t.”
Five’s face turns smug. “Where’d you even go?”
“It’s cute that you think a possible lack of direction could stop me.” Klaus snorts, pushing his plate away. “But if you must know, Ben’s been pestering me about the beach and he deserves a little treat for putting up with all my weird-ass shit.”
Allison knocks onto the table, holding up her new notepad. Family road trip?
“Really? You think stuffing us all into a car for hours is gonna work without a fight breaking out?”
“Exactly,” He twists to face the chair to his right. “What’d ya say, ghost-boy? Wanna take the extra baggage along for the ride?”
Five pulls a face. “You’re not driving a car. The ice cream truck incident was bad enough.”
“Maybe later.” Ben doesn’t look too excited or pleased after finally getting what he wanted for years. Namely Klaus listening to him. “First, we should sort this out. Talk to each other for once, because your inability to communicate caused this mess.”
“We talk all the time,” Klaus rolls his eyes. “Or I do at least. Not my fault most of them are fans of the beat each other up first and talk never philosophy. Or literally vanish into thin air whenever feelings get involved.”
“Quantity doesn’t make up for lack of quality.”
“Care to share with the rest of the class what you’re arguing about?” Diego cuts him off, saving him from putting his foot into his mouth and saying something he might regret. Turning away from Ben with a glower, he sees the rest of the table unabashedly watching him.
“Eavesdropping on us now? Have you no shame?”
“You’re literally sitting in front of us—”
“You’re telling me Ben’s not doing that and reporting back to you?” Five raises an eyebrow, unamused. “Clearly, he wants you to hang around, not go back to your room to sulk. Judging from your reaction he wants to call a family meeting.”
Not willing to give Five the satisfaction of being right, Klaus scowls. “I think I liked it better when we still had the no talking rule during meals.”
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
“You can take that as a go fuck yourself—”
Vanya interrupts him before he can finish his sentence, clearing her throat. “I’m sorry. About yesterday.”
She looks earnest, shrinking into her seat, fiddling with her fork at the end of the table. Suddenly, she twelve again, big-eyed and sad, sneakily trying to push an energy bar into his hand when dear old Dad wasn’t looking.
“I shouldn’t have said that,” She continues when he doesn’t speak up, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth. “No matter how angry I got. I’m sorry for shouting at you after you woke up. What Dad did to you—”
She flinches at the hard tone his voice took. “What?”
“Look, I walked right into that one, yeah? So, I can’t be mad at you for that.” She relaxes a bit. “But we’re not talking about my special training.”
“Klaus—” Diego begins, voice cautious and Klaus isn’t having it.
“No,” He says firmly, ignoring Ben’s thin-lipped frown. “I already stuck it to Daddy and got the receipt. Whatever you heard from Luther; I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to talk about it, alright? It’s none of your business anyway.”
Five pulls a disgruntled face. “If it affects you that makes it my business, dumbass.”
“Eighteen years too late to make a big deal out of that one, don’t you think?” Klaus snorts. “What are you gonna do? Rifle through my room to get my old Ouija board and give the Bastard a call? Sorry to burst your bubble, but that line is deader than the geezer himself.”
Not to mention he’s broken the board and set it on fire the morning he ran away all those years ago. A parting gift for dear old Reggie to keep him warm and give him a taste of the flames waiting for him in hell.
Pulling out the skeletons out of his closet to prod and poke at them would do him no good. Except sent him running for drugs to numb the inevitable nightmares and he wanted to avoid that for as long as he could.
He wanted to see Dave after all.
Lost in his thoughts, he nearly misses Luther’s quiet apology. “I’m sorry too.”
Forget world changing revelations about Vanya having powers. That bombshell just got demoted to third place on the list of most shocking surprises in the Hargreeves household.
“I already apologized to Vanya,” Luther’s eyes dart towards their sister, shame burning in his glassy eyes. She nods reluctantly, refusing to look at him. “But you deserve an apology too.”
Mind reeling, Klaus can’t help the incredulity seeping into his tone. “I do?”
Apologies never came easy for any of them aside from Vanya. He’s not above saying sorry when he needs to, though since his words don’t any worth or weight– “You’re such a liar, Klaus, can’t you take anything serious?”–he’s not about to waste his breath.
To hear Luther of all people giving him an apology, him, carefree and useless Number Four, is hard to process.
Until it clicks.
“What did you see?”
Luther wavers, visibly startled at the edge to his voice.
Klaus’ heart sinks in his chest, dropping into his stomach.
“Enough,” Luther says, shamefaced, “to know I’ve been a lousy leader and an even lousier brother.” He sucks in a deep breath, glancing around the silent table and visibly steels himself. “I’m sorry for not listening and…and about everything that happened that night.” His face crumbles into a grimace of disgust at himself, the pitiful sight tugging at Klaus’ heartstrings, playing him like a fiddle.
“Hang on,” Diego cuts in, brows furrowing in suspicion. “What night? What did you do?” He turns to glare at Luther, who cringes.
Klaus is perfectly happy with a half-assed apology, considering Luther’s honest misery and sincerity makes up for the lack in detail—details that he wasn’t keen on sharing with anyone, other than Ben, at the table.
Fuck Diego and his bullshit radar.
“The night Luther and me went out to party.” Klaus cuts in good-naturedly, gesturing for Luther to continue.
His brother offers a tentative nod, hesitation about correcting him lingering in the air. “Right. Sorry about forcing you to come after me to make sure I was okay after I got drunk.”
“Oh please, that was on Ben, not you,” Biting his tongue when Ben winces, the memory of his brother, shaking and close to crying at finding him unmoving on the floor too fresh to joke about, he waves his hand. “And on me too, I guess, since Ben can’t make me do anything I don’t want to do.”
“Liar.” Ben mumbles, lacking bite. Klaus shushes him gently.
Instead of easing Luther’s conscience, his words only seem to make it worse.
Five like the blood smelling hound he is, homes in on the shift of his behavior and his face darkens.
“Spit it out.” An order, not a request. “You’re dancing around the elephant in the room. Whatever dirty laundry you’re trying to hide, you’ll air it out. We barely avoided the apocalypse this time. Pride doesn’t mean anything if you’re dead.”
Klaus shares a glance with Ben as Luther blurts out, “I was drunk.”
“Hey, I thought I was gonna get my first real apology out of the big guy! Don’t ruin this moment for me with your creepy interrogation, kay?”
Five reaches for his cup of coffee, an attempt to reign in his temper. “If he’s going to apologize, then he should tell you exactly what he’s sorry for.”
Klaus disagrees, “He’s apologizing to me, not you, so I get the say on whether I find his apology half-assed or not.” He turns back to Luther, blatantly dismissing Five. “You’re doing good enough for me, go on.”
Ben shifts on his chair, displeased. “That’s because your standards are so low.”
“I don’t remember much from that evening,” Luther admits, “But when you…possessed me or whatever you want to call it, you showed me flashes of that night. I’m not sure how much of that was intentional, not that it matters. Just…I’m sorry for everything and thank you for checking up on me.”
“Color me impressed.” Klaus grins, not missing Allison’s proud smile. “Not bad for your first apology.”
Vanya huffs quietly, scowling down at her plate.
Luther eyes him with something akin to relief in his face.
“So, you didn’t see me and Dad having a heart to heart?”
“No,” Luther says, “After you…got thrown off that guy everything went black.”
Good. That meant nobody except for Ben knew he died. Having them run tests on that ability wouldn’t be his idea of a good time. Bad enough Ben got all weird about his quick trip to the afterlife.
“What?” Diego sits up straighter, hand tightening around his butter knife. “What guy? You got caught up in a fight?”
“Wasn’t much of a fight.” Klaus perks up, clasping his hands under his chin. “Guess who won.”
“Considering you got thrown off, it wasn’t you.” Diego grits his teeth, shooting Luther a dirty look. “And where were you when our little brother got his ass handed to him?”
Klaus gasps, “I’m ten months older than you, asshole! Who are you calling little?”
“No, Diego’s got a point.” Five narrows his eyes. “What were you doing, Luther? The next morning both of you were home, though you were hungover.”
Luther flushes, either out of shame or from reminiscing his first time. “I was, uh—” His gaze lingers on Allison and he falls quiet.
“Tell me you didn’t leave without him.” Diego grits his teeth, hand flinging out when Luther stays silent and turns his face away. The knife sails through the air, slicing into Luther’s shoulder as Diego jumps up from his seat, chair scooting back, close to falling over from the force. “I can’t believe you, asshole—”
“He was fine!”
Ben’s mouth drops open in outrage, slamming a hand onto the table. “He died; you colossal idiot!”
“No thanks to you.” Diego scoffs, shaking his head to ward off his anger. “Anything else you want to confess? Aside from leaving your brother to get beaten into a pulp?”
Luther, Klaus learns, isn’t a good liar. His reactions or lack thereof give him away. Refusing to disagree while looking downright guilty—the poster child of a kid caught with their hand in their cookie jar—as he squirms in his seat doesn’t scream truthful or innocent. Speaking up now in his defense after the delay wouldn’t dissuade anyone from calling him out on the obvious lie. Figures Number One is a pathetic liar, he’d never had to lie before—not with Daddy breathing down his neck, ready to punish him for not being a good, honest, little soldier.
Reeling at the embarrassing revelation and the act of Luther trying to swallow his tongue, Klaus is too late to smooth over the rising tension.
“Now, let’s not get hasty, yeah? Our big guy was having the time of his life and waaaay too drunk to remember his name, lest of all notice me picking a fight, so why don’t we cool it—"
Five doesn’t look away from staring down Luther. “Shut up, Klaus.”
The adults are talking his tone implies, which is rude. The disrespect is expected but not welcome. This time instead of snapping his mouth shut and leaning back to watch the fallout of a brawl between his siblings, he gapes in offense, rising from his seat and turns to walk away and back to his room.
“Where are you going?” Vanya calls after him, cutting through Diego’s attempts to pry out the ugly details of a night out Klaus would rather forget than to discuss and remember.
“To my room.” He waves, not bothering to glance back. Ben will come to him later when he’s done watching the drama play out. He’s not about to cut his brother’s entertainment short. “Since I’m not part of this discussing I see no reason to hang around. So, cheerio!”
He hears Five ask Vanya to leave, telling Allison to get her out of the house for a while, maybe to take a wall to get some fresh air while promising to fill her in later. Probably to avoid bringing down the house via shocking news after he tortures that night out of Luther.
Klaus doesn’t bother to turn around to see if Allison would invite him to come along.
Chapter 5: It's Not Kidnapping If You Don't Leave The House
Klaus finally catches a break! Yay.
Furniture breaks and glass shatters half an hour later. The sound of fighting isn’t unfamiliar in their house. Neither is the enraged shouting he hears through the floor.
Klaus ignores them, changing the bandages around his feet. The cuts sting every time he puts weight on his feet, getting out of bed after Vanya made it rain glass shards wasn’t the smartest idea he’s had. Not the worst, but he could have avoided cut up feet and mourns that he can’t soak them in the bath for a while. Making a mental note to remind her she owes him new fairy lights; he glances up when he sees Ben walk in through the door.
Ben huffs from his place leaning against the wall, hands shoved into his pocket and slouching. “Not Luther, that’s for sure.”
Klaus hums a little in his throat, tying the loose ends of the bandage around his right foot. “I’m betting all my money on Diego.”
“What money? You don’t have any.”
“I have you. Want me to bet you instead?”
His reply is met with silent staring. He finishes up his left foot, wrapping the bandage around firmly but not too tight to cut off the blood flow and ties it up, careful to secure the knot.
Just when he’s about to ask what got Ben’s panties in a twist, his brother’s answers.
“You’d lose,” Ben says, “And who’d keep your ass out of trouble then?”
“Woah, hold on, what’d you mean I’d lose?” Klaus blinks, wrapping his arms around his knees and resting his chin on them. “If Luther’s losing and Diego’s not winning then…are you telling me Five’s joined the fray?”
That’d explain why in the middle of their short conversation, the yelling had gone deadly silent after an ominous thud of a body hitting the ground. Hard. Tiny as Five might be, he’s vicious in fights, especially if he’s upset.
“Should I call Mom?” On second thought there are other things Klaus should worry about. “He’s not going to come after me next, is he?” He eyes the door warily.
Five hates information being withheld. Regardless of whenever it’s his business or not. He’ll make it his business and there’s not a thing anyone could do about the force of nature other than to hide and pray Five’s temper cooled down before they’re found.
Klaus’s pretty good at hide and seek. With a head start he might make it until their next birthday.
“Luther came clean.” Ben doesn’t soothe his frayed nerves. Instead opting to give an explanation to the unspoken question in the room. “Five wasn’t very…pleased.”
A major underestimate judging from the sounds he heard earlier. Close to a homicidal rampage fit better.
“And Diego?” Klaus asks, not sure he wants to know. Not dead should be good enough. Mom would take care of the rest.
Ben tilts his head and shrugs. “Got into the crossfire.”
“Of course, he did,” Klaus snorts, “Have our sisters found the way back to the house yet?”
Allison wouldn’t take well to seeing Luther and Diego on the floor, unconscious with a little puddle of blood soaking through the carpet. They’d just gotten it replaced.
Ben shakes his head, bemused. Waving him off, Klaus uncurls himself, hands itching for his hidden cigarette pack. Stretching a bit before he opens his bottom drawer, his bones pop. He groans in satisfaction, getting out his old lighter and his pack of cigs. He lights up a cigarette loosely sticking out of his mouth before disposing of the lighter and slamming the drawer back shut. Sucking in the smoke greedily, he blows it out, watching the wisps disappear by rising up to his ceiling.
He repeats the process until his lungs burn and half of his cigarette is ash on the floor.
Perched on the edge of his bed, one foot up, he chokes around a lungful of smoke when a blue light flares to life in front of his eyes.
“Christ, don’t you know how to knock?”
Five glares, hair mussed and fingers clenched at his sides, faint blue and yellow dusting his knuckles.
Rubbing his chest, he flickers ash anew onto his floor, making no move to get to his feet. “Why?”
“Because I said so!” Five snaps, closing the distance with quick strides. “Don’t waste my time and do as I say. This is important. We need to talk.”
“We can do that here.” Klaus pats the space next to him, taking a drag of his cigarette. “I’m not going to walk anywhere useless I have to.”
Five’s eyes sharpen as he opens his mouth only to close it when his gaze falls onto bandaged feet. Shoulders deflating the tiniest bit, he frowns.
“Fine.” His hand snatches the cigarette out of Klaus’ mouth, putting it out on his desk. Before Klaus can do so much as protest and squawk at the loss, Five’s hand takes hold of his wrist, hands glowing blue and with a tug in his gut, he finds himself sitting on a different bed, Ben gone.
“There.” Five let’s go off him, walking over to pull his desk chair over to sit down. “Happy now?”
“Are you kidding me?” Klaus rises to his feet, ignoring the flare of pain from his feet. “You can’t just barrage into my room without knocking to kidnap me!”
“Sit down before you hurt yourself,” Five scolds.
“No. First, you tell me to shut up and now what? You suddenly want to talk to me? Nope, not buying that bullshit.”
Crossing his arms over his chest, Klaus grumbles, “No thanks.”
“Klaus.” Five points at the bed, voice hard like steel. “Sit. Down.”
Klaus sits down. Best not to antagonize the assassin seconds away from committing fratricide. Taking the time Five uses to gather patience or whatever, he inspects the room, startled to find all the different books on the supernatural and spiritualism piled up in various corners and on the desk.
Swallowing past the forming lump in his throat, he turns his attention back on Five.
Drumming fingers on the arm of his chair, a habit speaking of restlessness, he wonders why Five won’t give into the urge to pace a hole into his floor when he clearly wants to. For some reason, his brother remains seated, settling for glowering at nothing.
Does he look like that whenever the ghosts won’t back off? If so, it looks pretty unsettling, sitting there angry at something others cannot see. Though, maybe Five’s just angry at the world. He’s not about to ask and risk directing all of that rage at himself. He’s not that self-destructive, no matter how Ben insists otherwise.
Silence drags on, the lingering bloodlust in the air not dissipating.
Sparing a thought to Ben’s whereabouts—another poor attempt of giving them privacy for whatever serious issues Five’s about to bring up, though it feels like he’s sitting in front of old Reggie’s office, awaiting to be called in for punishment because Luther snitched on him again—he nearly misses when his brother finally decides to break the silent treatment.
“Luther told us.” Five doesn’t elaborate on the details.
Clearing his throat, Klaus pulls his legs up into a cross-legged position, playing with the hem of his pants.
“I heard. Hard not to, with the way you were making a ruckus downstairs.”
The drumming stops. “What I want to know is why you didn’t tell us.”
“Tell you?” Klaus echoes, bewildered. “What was there to tell you about?”
“I don’t know, Klaus—” Five’s voice turns scathing as he grips the arms of his chair to stop himself from lunging forward. Every muscle coiled to attack. “—how about the fact Luther threw you around like a ragdoll. You didn’t find that worth mentioning?”
“He was drunk!”
“So, what?” Five leans forward and despite his smaller statue, Klaus shrinks away from the fierce glint in those shrew eyes. “That gives him the right to get violent? To use his strength?”
“I’m not saying that makes it right.” Klaus throws his hands into the air. “But it’s not like he was in control of himself—drugs make you do stupid things you normally wouldn’t. Trust me, I know. Remember the chocolate pudding thing?”
The grimace on Five’s face shatters the furious mask for a split second before it settles back into place, twice as vivid.
“He could have killed you. A bit too much force and your neck could’ve snapped. Thrown a little too hard and your skull would’ve broken open. Does your tiny brain not understand the severity of the situation or are you being difficult on purpose?”
Oh, the irony. For a moment, Klaus considers telling him—about paying Reginald a house call, about the club and coming back to life to find himself alone—just to see the look on his face, the horror and denial. Figuratively Luther had killed him, not that Klaus blamed him. Ben is mad enough about that incident for both of them and it’s not like anybody forced him to jump onto his murderers back. That had been the child in Klaus, whose body moved faster than his mind upon seeing his big brother in trouble. And he paid the price.
But as much satisfaction as it would bring to take Five down a peg, Luther doesn’t deserve another beating for something he didn’t do. Not intentionally.
“I don’t know, nothing’s ever been easy for me,” Klaus says, scowling. “You’re not making it any easier either. What do you want from me, Five? To tell you I’m sorry about not bringing up an accident Luther couldn’t even remember, when you were too busy with your apocalypse to listen to what anyone else has to say?”
Five flinches, leaning back into his chair as if to get away from him. “Well, I’m listening now, aren’t I? The apocalypse is off the table now.” He meets his gaze with unwavering focus, relaxing into his seat.
“Fine,” Klaus groans, running a hand through his hair. What he wouldn’t do for another cigarette. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. There, I said it. Can I go now?”
A single eyebrow raises on Five’s forehead. “No.”
“Why not?” Klaus whines, shoulders slumping in disappointment. “I already said sorry. What more do you want? A handwritten apology letter? Me groveling and begging for forgiveness on my knees? A coffee?”
“Your coffee is disgusting.” Five exhales sharply through his nose. “But that’s not what I want. I told you we need to talk and we’re not done yet.”
That coming from someone who hated to engage in small talk brought a smile onto Klaus’ face. Squirming into a more comfortable position on the bed with his back to the headboard and legs outstretched, he inclines his head.
“Then talk. Stage is all yours.”
Five glances up at the ceiling, visibly wringing for patience as he closes his eyes. Letting out a sigh that halfway turns into a hiss, he lets go off the arms of his chair to brace them on his knees, eyes cracking open.
“Listen,” Five stresses the word and Klaus sits up straighter unconsciously. “I know the last few days I’ve been… compromised in regards to you guys. The apocalypse was my main focus and to be frank, your personal problems were unimportant in the grand scheme of things. My priority was to keep you alive and for that, the end of the world needed to be dealt with.”
“Compromised is a nice way to put flying off your handle at the merest inconvenience.” Klaus muses teasingly, “Or perhaps going through your second puberty would fit better?”
“And you never outgrew your own,” Five retorts sharply, “You’ve no room to talk.”
Klaus grins, shooting him a pointed glance. “Good thing I’m not the one talking, right?”
“Right.” Five frowns down at his shoes. His brows furrow, lips pursing in disdain at the thoughts that must be running through his mind and Klaus watches patiently, letting him stew over whatever’s deep frying his brain.
The sour “I just bit into a bad twinkie” pout on his face is cute. Reminds him a bit of a younger Five, rather than a serial killer. That might just be him and his messed-up perception of the world, which can’t be trusted according to Ben, since ghosts were bad influence. When one grew up with guts and inwards spilling across the floor at every corner it was hard to find anything remotely scary or dangerous. Especially about a grade schooler that used to check under his bed for wayward ghosts, telling them to fuck off.
Five’s eyes flicker up towards him. Klaus doesn’t falter under the heavy stare as Five rolls his shoulders and lets out a deep sigh.
“I came back to save you guys from the apocalypse.”
“Yeah…” Klaus says, because Five seems to wait for a reply. “That was really nice of you.” He internally winces. He didn’t do awkward. Going for a wide smile, he winks. “Didn’t know you care so much, old man.”
Instead of rising to the bait, to defend himself with a snide remark, Five expression goes blank save for the tightness around his mouth. A sign of touching a nerve—a landmine, he shouldn’t have approached with a ten-meter stick, Klaus braces himself for the explosion to blow up in his face.
“I do.” Five wrinkles his nose, cursing lowly under his breath. “Care about you guys, I mean.”
The words don’t sound forced even with the way Five seems to struggle with the confession. Klaus blinks rapidly, stunned into speechlessness while Five examines him thoughtfully, fists clenching in his laps until the blue across his knuckles turns white.
“You know that, right?”
When one grew up in the household under the regime of Reginald Hargreeves, where emotions were a weakness that would be exploited to punish them, showing love was hard. Declarations were a risk and there was no room between the emotionally stunted and the need to appear strong for love.
Five wasn’t one for tenderness, preferring the coldness of logic to fuel his actions. Practical and efficient. He’d left so early and was gone for most of their lives, a book without the main story arc made reading into his actions and motivations and feelings harder.
Because Klaus had known his brother wasn’t dead for all these years, but not that he wanted to come back. For them.
He’d remember Five with a flair for dramatics during arguments, the way his thumbs would stick out of his pockets, how tight-lipped his smile would be and the way he let himself be roped into pulling a prank on Luther or Diego and occasionally even Allison when she’d turn mean as children were prone to be. How they’d huddle together, planning out the details or how Five’s eyes shone when he pickpocketed a book Dad forbid him from reading once. The game of sneaking up on each other for a jump scare. Five with his teleporting, who’d been convinced Klaus learned to be stealthy from the ghosts, insisting he wouldn’t hear any footsteps whenever he paddled around the house on his bare feet—like a ghost! He’d say, grumpy over spilling his coffee that he shouldn’t have onto his shirt.
Only to be greeted with a version of Five with bite to his words, that wouldn’t give any of them the time of his day, like they were worthless, wearing the same face they’d longed to see again with barely any of the hidden kindness they came to associate with his memory.
Five looks like his memory in the dim-light shining through the window leading to his fire-escape. Young and eager for knowledge. Looking for…affirmation? and waiting for an answer with measurably patience and full attention.
Mouth dry, Klaus hurries to answer. “Yeah, of course, I do. I know.”
It’s not a lie. He knew Five cared, he just didn’t know he’d cared enough to come back.
Five doesn’t relax, staring him down wordlessly. Klaus resists the urge to fidget, forcing himself to stay still, head slightly bowed. He startles when Five rises from his chair, head jerking up to see him move over to the bed.
He pulls his legs up to his chest, arms wrapping around them on instinct while Five sits down, angling his body towards him.
“You’re an idiot.”
Klaus’ mouth drops open. “Hey—”
“Must be a family trait.” Five smooths down wrinkles on his sheets.
Klaus cocks his head, using his toes to prod at Five’s leg. “You’re aware that you’re including yourself with that statement?”
“See?” Five sighs, lips faintly tugging upwards into a wearisome smirk. “An idiot.”
“Just like you,” Klaus says snidely.
“Just like me,” Five repeats agreeably lacking any bite. He doesn’t swat at Klaus’ bandaged foot poking him in the knee, only wrapping a hand around his ankle to stop him. The grip is firm, slightly sweaty—a side effect of his hands heating up when teleporting—but not constricting.
Five doesn’t let go. Klaus doesn’t pull away.
“If that’s your way of weaseling another favor out of me, you’re out of luck.”
“All I’d need to do is to ask.” Five lets him rest his foot in his lap, not shoving him away. “You’d help me out either way. With payment or without.”
“Not like I have a choice. You can’t afford me.”
“You could just say no.”
He really couldn’t. For all he’s wearing the title of disappointment, he’s never worn it with pride.
“Nah.” Klaus waves him off. “You’ve got the family discount. Can’t chase off my patrons, can I?”
“Not much of a business you’ve got going, if you don’t get any rewards for your help,” Five objects, “Take the advice from someone who’s filled the top spot in the assassin industry for years.”
“It’s not about business.” Klaus reaches up to clasp his dog tag. “It’s about my conscience.”
“Must be a pain to have one of those.”
Klaus clicks his tongue. “That’s your brother you’re insulting.”
“Ben deserves so much better from you for his job,” Klaus says, “Now that I’m thinking about it, he’s working full-time and doesn’t get paid either, the poor worrywart.”
Five pauses, eyes flickering across the room. Wiggling his toes to get Five’s attention back, he shakes his head.
“He’s not here, probably spying on the others or checking up on the other two you left downstairs.” Klaus smiles, showing his teeth. “I’m his voice mail, so if you wanna leave a message go ahead. Right after the peeping noise, kay?” He makes an obnoxious peeping noise, smile widening into a shit-eating grin when Five’s eye twitches.
“Later,” Five dismisses, pinching the thin skin on his ankle. Klaus yelps like a wounded puppy. “Ben’s not going anywhere, correct?” He lets go, rubbing over the stinging spot with his thumb.
“Hasn’t left me alone for the past seventeen years, so I say we’re good.” The possibility of Ben wandering off into the afterlife was laughable. Talk about being haunted. On second thought better not. The last time any of his siblings mentioned the ghosts they were speaking of haunting him to pull pranks.
That might’ve been ten-year-old Diego trying to make him feel better after a nightmare and accidently setting off a new wave of waterworks with a poor joke. He’d screamed for Mom, afraid of the tears, hoping she could offer the comfort he obviously failed to give.
The sentiment was nice. Never being alone. To be fair, Diego wouldn’t know what a good joke was unless it hit him in the balls.
“I’m not leaving either.” Five squeezes his ankle. “Can’t leave you idiots unsupervised for too long.”
Finally, he gets it, a voice sounding far too much like Ben’s remarks inside his mind. He almost turns around to look, to see if his brother joined the party before catching himself.
“Like you would get far,” Klaus scoffs, “Where’d you even go? Back to the job you quit?”
“I dunno,” Five deadpans, straight-faced. “Maybe the beach?”
Klaus laughs. Bright and unbridled, a bellowing sound of joy. He tries to smother the sound in his propped-up leg, letting go of his dog tag in favor of swatting Five on the shoulder.
“Don’t go and steal my ideas.”
“It’s a good one. I don’t see why not.”
“Exactly.” Klaus waggles his finger. “Haven’t got too many of those and I called first dibs!”
Five pats his leg, the resemblance close enough to petting a dog and giving Klaus an inkling, he’s being mocked. “It’s not about reservations,” He says amused. “It’s about who gets there first.”
What a condescending, cheating, little shit.
“How about a deal?”
Five perks up, another addiction that would need to be dealt with. Gaming addictions were no joke. Throw in the obsessive need to be right and the kick he’d get about holding his victory over their heads and Five’s ability to calculate the cards in the casinos—
Scratch that. He’ll bring that wonderful idea up later.
“You bring Vanya and I’ll bring Ben and we don’t tell the others where we’ll go. You can drive and Vanya can sit in the front choosing the music while my favorite brother and me get the back. Sounds fair?”
“No Diego or Allison?”
“They don’t fulfil the requirements,” Klaus says solemnly, “Only Numbers higher than three are allowed to join.”
Five doesn’t call him out on his childish excuse. Diego would hover, protective and moody while Allison would swing between walking on eggshell around Vanya’s fragile temper and mothering the both of them. Luther…would do good with a timeout to rethink his choices without having to fear Vanya trying to bury him under the house or Five’s sharp tongue and attempts to trip him three times a day.
Shut up, Ben, he grumbles, recalling their conversation in the early morning as he got ready to eat breakfast, I’m not afraid of Luther.
(“Keep telling that yourself if it helps you sleep at night.”)
“I’ll talk to Vanya about it.” That’s practically a promise coming from Five.
Klaus beams. “It’s a date then.”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself.” Five rolls his eyes—albeit fondly. “And Klaus?”
“You can tell me anything,” Five says firmly, catching his gaze, “Don’t think about the consequences. When somebody hurts you—whether it’s family or not is unimportant—you come straight to me and give me the full story, got it?”
“What’s this?” Klaus clutches his heart, pretending to swoon. “Trying to play the role of big brother now, old man? I’m sure Allison has some acting tips for you, if you ask her nicely.”
“I’m serious.” Five’s thumb presses into his bone, causing Klaus to wince. “What Luther did was inexcusable, drunk or not. You don’t have to cover for anyone.” The pressure eases.
Klaus scoffs. “You want me to be a tattle-tale?”
“I want you to stop being a scapegoat,” Five bares his teeth in a snarl. “It’s one thing if he picks a fight with Diego, who can defend himself. Going after you and resorting to violence? He might as well have kicked a puppy like a damned soccer ball.”
“All right, you win.” Klaus spreads out his arms. “I’ll come to cry on your shoulder if someone bullies me again, satisfied?”
“Good enough, I suppose.” Five’s hands flare up blue and Klaus finds himself back in his room. His leg is gently set down as Five stands, smoothing out the none-existent wrinkles in his jacket and brushing off imaginary dust. “I’ll leave you to your shenanigans.”
“Aww, leaving already?”
Five stuffs his hands into his pockets, stopping in the doorway. “Don’t skip dinner or I’ll hunt you down.” He vanishes, leaving the door wide open.
As if summoned by Five leaving, Ben reappears. The timing is too perfect to be coincidence.
“You were eavesdropping outside of Five’s room the whole time, right?”
Ben’s sheepish smile as he rubs the back of his neck answers his question.
Chapter 6: A Slightly Less Awkward Dinner
Diego might eat raw eggs, but he draws the line on pineapple on pizza. Someone, please teach Klaus better metaphors to explain his thoughts.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The first thing Diego does upon walking into the living room is to flop down next to Klaus on the couch, cheek bruised an ugly purple yellow, and to reach for a piece of the pizza resting in the box Klaus is balancing on his lap, glaring at Luther as if daring him to approach.
He doesn’t even complain about the pineapple. Five might actually have knocked his taste buds off.
Neither does Luther reprimand Klaus for having his feet propped up on the table, falling silent at the bandages. He’s sporting a black eye, a split lip and a cut on his cheek.
Vanya and Allison share the opposite couch, quietly munching on their shared pizza—extra cheese with black olives and mushrooms, leaving Luther and Five to each take an arm chair.
“Ben’s here.” Klaus throws into the room and pretends he doesn’t see Diego choke on a mouthful of what he calls a culinary abomination. “Says he’s glad he doesn’t need to eat anymore, if all we do is stuff ourselves with greasy junk food that will give us food poisoning sooner or later.” He squints at the empty seat to his right.
“Hi Ben,” Vanya says, jostling upright in her seat to give the ghost her full attention. “I miss—missed you and I’m so happy you’re here. Thank you for staying and I’m sorry our…reunion ended on a bad note. I love you.”
“No hard feelings.” Ben doesn’t ask for him to translate, knowing he’d do it without prompting. “I love you too. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you when you were locked away, I swear I would have. Of course, I’d stay and I miss you too, all of you, even if you act like idiots. I can’t believe we got the chance to see each other again even if only for a brief moment.”
Klaus relays the message word for word, watching their eyes go glassy, eyeing Ben’s seat with longing.
“Who’s to say that was a one-time thing?” Five, who had forgone the pizza in favor of a coffee, gives the seat a contemplative glance.
“Care to explain?” Diego grouches between bites.
“I was getting there.” Five puts down his cup on the table. “So, shut up, dumbass.”
Diego opens his mouth to retort, but ends up wheezing when Klaus jabs his elbow into his ribs. He doubles over, cursing.
“Fucking pointy toothpicks—”
“Shush, Diego.” Klaus nudges him in the side. “If Fives got an idea on how to make Ben visible, I wanna hear it.”
“Me too,” Vanya mumbles and Allison nods.
Diego grumbles, slouching back into the couch and flickering pineapple from his fresh slice. “Fine.”
“Right,” Five says, “Shockingly, the answer is obvious. Think about it. Ben’s a ghost. Until now we thought Klaus was only capable of seeing them. Who’s to say he cannot make them corporal with a little more training? If it happened once, he can do it again.”
No, no, no.
Eager faces turn towards him, except for Ben, who tenses up and is careful to let his expression remain neutral.
“Don’t jump to conclusion just yet,” Klaus warns, leaning into the cushion behind his back to get away from the hope glowing across their faces. “I mean, I don’t have control over my powers. At all. And I haven’t really used my powers in years, mind you, there’s no guarantee for this to work out.”
He’s not sure he wants it to work out. Panic bubbles up in his chest and he drops his slice, appetite ruined. The tomato sauce looks too close to blood for him to stomach.
“You don’t know that until you try.” Vanya’s words cause his skin to crawl. “Think of Ben.”
Guilt clogs up his veins, thicker and dirtier than any street drug.
“I’m not saying I’m not willing to try,” Klaus says defensively, “Of course, I want Ben to have the chance to talk to you face to face.” He glances to his right, catching Ben’s small smile. “But what I want and what I can do are two different things. Like waffles and pancakes, alright? They’re made from the same ingredients, but they don’t taste the same. I’ve always been a waffle guy and maybe my pancakes will turn out horribly disfigured and burnt to a crisp.”
“Are you high?” Diego takes the pizza box aside to inspect his eyes, torn between concern and incredulity.
Klaus gapes, offended and boxes Diego in the shoulder. “I’m not high, asshole!”
“You’re speaking nonsense.”
Swatting away Diego’s greasy fingers from cupping his face, he grabs onto his wrists. “Keep your dirty hands off.”
“I’m not going to be mad.” Diego attempts to soothe, trying to pull his hands away without hurting him. “Just tell me what drug you took and how much. I can go get Mom if you don’t feel well—you’re awfully pale. Want a glass of water?”
“What I want is for you to back off.” Klaus lets go off his right wrist to push his face away, seeing Diego grimace in disgust at the grease. “Cigarettes and a little bit of weed aren’t drugs, idiot.”
Diego freezes. “That’s all you took?”
“Push a little more and you’ll have to restock the bar.”
The threat works. Whether it’s because Diego believes his fragile state of sobriety would crumble like a sand castle under too much stress or he finds the answer satisfiable, he doesn’t know.
He’s not about to ask.
Luther speaks up for the first time they’ve sat down for dinner.
“What?” Klaus forces out a laugh. A tinny and off-pitch sound that’s fake to his own ears. Ben shifts besides him, uncrossing his arms to throw one over the back of the couch. Klaus leans into the phantom touch. “I’m not afraid of Diego,” He scoffs, pinching Diego’s unbruised cheek. “His big bad vigilante schtick doesn’t fool me.”
Luther frowns, “I meant the ghosts.”
I know what you meant! Klaus wants to snap, biting his tongue hard enough to taste copper. Trust Luther to ignore personal boundaries for the greater good.
“What else is new?” He lets go off Diego’s cheek, who rubs at the pink spot absent-mindedly. “That’s old news. Everybody knows I got the heebie-jeebies for the ghosties.”
Luther puts his half-eaten pizza slice down, face gone pale.
“I think I get it now.” As if. “I saw—”
Fuck. The mausoleum.
“What didn’t you see would be a good question.” Klaus spits out. “Here I was, considering apologizing to you for invading your privacy without your consent and yet I’m the one who got fucked over by my own ability. Again. Fucking figures.”
“It’s not like I wanted to see—”
“Maybe don’t bring it up then, Number One.”
Luther’s muscles shift under his coat. “I just want to help you—"
He hates feeling so exposed. Luther’s pity is unwanted, worthless. It fuels the rawness in his bones into a wildfire that needs an outlet.
He knows what Luther calls helps.
He’d rather be helpless.
“Like you helped Vanya?” It’s a cruel thing to say, to think, cruel just like how Vanya described him in her book and that’s another thing he hates about himself on top of the shit long list of flaws their Dad must have written down somewhere. “No thanks.”
The fear the dead carved into his soul made him one of them.
And the dead were ruthless in their pursuit of revenge.
His answer serves as a bucket of ice water, dosing the flames of Luther’s temper, leaving him shivering in the chill of the room.
Silence falls over the room, heavy like layers of snow.
Luther looks down at his feet. “Then let Five help you out. Or Diego.”
Diego does a double take. That has to be the first time Luther willingly admitted to handing over the reins of a leader to someone else.
“I’d help out too,” Vanya says quietly, accepting the handkerchief Allison hands her to dry off her fingers. “If you want me to, that is.”
“Don’t worry your pretty little head about me.” Klaus rubs his forehead. “You’ve got powers of your own now, yeah? Have fun learning the manual book. I’ll figure something out with my ghost sidekick.”
“I’ll certainly kick your ass if you don’t throw away the leftover drugs you’ve got stashed away in your room,” Ben mumbles, narrowing his eyes, “I know about Misses Hugglesworth, so don’t even try.”
“But I love her, Ben!” He whines, ignoring the weird startled looks he gets at switching tunes so fast. “You can’t tell me to get rid of her—not you, Vanya dear!”
“I meant the drugs, Klaus.”
Ben doesn’t give him the time to protest, narrowing his eyes. “Don’t,” he warns, “You’re better than that.”
Mouth snapping shut, Klaus backs down. It’s no fun riling his brother up if he turns all sentimental.
“I’m not sure I trust you with yourself,” Diego says, “At least not without supervision.”
Indignation swells up in Klaus’ chest for his brother. “What about Ben? He’s not just hot air.”
“He might as well be, considering he can’t do anything if something goes wrong.”
“We’re working on that!”
“What Diego means is—” Five breaks up the argument with a sharp look. “—that the thought of leaving you alone to deal with powers that can blow up in your face and Ben, who’d sooner enable you than stop you, gives him an aneurysm.”
“First off, rude.” Klaus slaps Diego’s knee, glowering. “I’m not about to throw myself into creating a ghost army, ready to tear us all apart. Give me a little credit here. I’m not that much of an idiot.”
Diego crosses his arms, mumbling under his breath, “Could’ve fooled me.”
Allison claps her hands to get their attention, holding up her notepad. You two don’t need to do that alone. She holds up a hand, pen moving across paper before holding it up again. We can do this as a family. She nudges Vanya with her elbow, who smiles and nods.
“Five already spoke to me about a training schedule,” Vanya explains, “Since I haven’t gotten a good grip on my…powers and this is all new to me, he suggested we could try every other day to give me a little breathing room so as to not overwhelm myself.” She gives him a shy smile, hesitant but warm. “We’ll get out of the house, somewhere quiet without a lot of noise to distract me. I wouldn’t mind if you wanted to come along.”
“Are you sure?” Klaus blinks in surprise. “Because my only talent is being a distraction and I never know when to shut up.”
“I’m sure.” She nods. “Spending a little time with family sounds nice. And you’re not bad company.”
That’s not much of a compliment when the alternatives to her are Luther—the brother who locked her away in a cell—and Diego—who’s spent most of his time being a dick to her. Still, Klaus’ chest throbs with affection, warm and fierce, much like she’d given him a hug. Which is odd. Vanya and him never hugged outside of dire circumstances.
“I think it’s a good idea.” Ben grins, sitting up straighter, intrigued to make his opinion known. “Think about it. Outside means less ghosts and with Five around you’ve got your own emergency exist should things go wrong.”
There’s a hope shining in Ben’s eyes that had been damped by the years of death. To snuff out that gentle light, he’d have to be a monster.
Klaus groans, “All right. Guess, I’ll give it a try. Five’s not allowed to get mean if I don’t make any process, though, that’s a rule. Otherwise I’m outta there.”
“I’m not mean. I’m honest.” Five takes another sip of his coffee, glaring over the rim of his cup. “Learn to take constructive criticism. Speaking of rules, I’ll set some ground ones.”
Klaus quietly mutters, “Oh joy.” hearing Ben snort next to him.
“First rule: no secrecy.” Five’s voice leaves no room for his so-called criticism if the critic isn’t afraid to lose his tongue. “Second rule: We don’t use our powers to hurt each other. Exception to that rule is for the use of self-defense. Third rule: Nobody gets to be left out. All decisions must be voted on. We’re a democracy not a tyranny.”
Five sends Luther a glance, who relents with a quick nod.
“Rules can be added later on, should one of you think of one.” Five puts his cup back down, crossing his ankles. “For now, that’ll have to do. Diego, I’ll let you know when you have to clear your schedule to help out, but I think Ben’s corporal form is a priority we need to work on first.”
“Help out with what?” Diego asks warily before realization sends him into a fit. “You can’t just use me as a Guinea pig without asking first!”
“Consider this as me asking you then.”
“Oh, fuck off,” Diego snaps, “Why don’t you volunteer to be the puppet?”
Five merely raises an eyebrow like the answer should be obvious. “I’d like to think my intellect would prove to be more of a mental barrier than your pea-sized brain.” He makes a steeple of his fingers, leaning back into his chair. “I’m also the only one who hasn’t seen Luther get possessed. I’d like to collect a bit more information first-hand rather than to listen to your retellings.”
“Don’t I get a say in this?” Klaus raises a hand. “You know, since it’s my power, not yours?”
Allison waves a hand, gesturing towards him as if to agree.
“If it were up to you, you’d write it off as a freak accident and leave it at that.” Five rolls his eyes. “That’d be a shame, since it’s a useful power to explore. It could be used for infiltration missions, help you out of kidnappings. You’re stuck in a bank robbery? Possess one of the robbers and shot his accomplices. You’d never get stuck in another Hazel and Cha Cha incident.”
Five gives him a once over, scrutinizing him with a glint in his eyes that set off alarm bells in his head. A professor seconds away from dissecting a frog.
“We’d need to test the limits and triggers of such a power to prevent you from getting stuck or in the worst-case scenario to hurt yourself. How long you can keep control over the body? Does it work on none-living things like Mom or even animals?”
“Don’t forget it worked on Luther.” Diego’s lips curve into a smirk.
“Good point,” Five agrees, “We’ll have to do a second test with Pogo to be sure. Mom wouldn’t mind helping out, but we ought to be careful on the repercussion on testing such a hypothesis.”
Klaus squints at him, wary about the sudden interest. “You’re awfully invested in this.”
“Someone has to be,” Five says defensively, bristling like a cat sprayed with water at the implications of caring about them more than he has to in front of witnesses. “You could get lost in a one-way street because you saw something shiny and now you have the ability to change bodies at will. Can you see how that might be a problem for us?”
“That sounds more like my problem than yours.”
And Ben’s by association. But Ben worries about everything from the lacking layers of clothing he wears to braining his head on the floor of a sticky club.
“Everything you guys do that inconveniences me, is my problem.” Five shrugs, reaching for his cup only to scowl at finding it empty. “And I fix my problems. Either way, this power of yours could come in handy in said fixing and you’re not going to weasel your way out of learning how to control it.”
Five disappears with his mug, reappearing with a glass of wine. He settles back into his chair, crossing one leg over the other, swirling the glass in his hands, looking bored.
“This is your chance to help out. If Vanya losses herself to her powers, you could take over and get her to calm down. Do whatever you did with Luther, show her happier times of us together or something. Picture of kittens or whatever you’ve got stored away in that thing you call a brain. Don’t you think it’s worth a shot to try and figure it out?”
“Have you ever thought…” Klaus begins, tapping a finger to his chin, “…maybe…and hear me out,” He holds up a palm. “Have you ever thought people don’t like to share their body and headspace? Just because you don’t know what privacy is, doesn’t mean other people don’t.”
Vanya certainly doesn’t look overjoyed at the prospect of losing control over her body. He shoots her what he hopes is a reassuring smile before turning back to throwing Five dirty looks of disbelief.
“As I said,” Five forces out through clenched teeth, “Those are just options. Control is necessary. How you go about using those powers is your decision.”
Klaus’ voice takes on a faux tone, light but fake. “And if I never wanna use them again after that?”
Five lets out a long sigh. “Then that’s the end of it.”
“Huh,” Klaus says, dumb struck. Getting off the hook that easily sounds like a hoax and yet Five’s face is genuine. “That’s—weirdly nice of you.”
“Don’t get used to it,” Five says, scowling. “I’m not about to waste my time trying to force you of all people into doing anything you don’t like to do. I’d have a better time herding the Commission than to convince you out of your stubbornness.”
There’s an embarrassing sting in his eyes that Klaus hastily blinks away. Having a choice over his powers shouldn’t bring forth such a tidal wave of gratitude, but it’s the first time someone offered for him to choose rather than him having to force his way through drugs.
Instead of putting his emotional turmoil into words, Klaus says, “Saying no now would make me sound like an asshole when you’re going out of your way to be nice to me.”
“You are an asshole,” Five reminds him, quirking an eyebrow in amusement. “Training starts on Wednesday afternoon. Make sure to listen to Ben when he tells you off for getting cold feet.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Klaus says dryly while Ben laughs.
It’s a nice sound, one he doesn’t hear too often now that he thinks about it. Ben should laugh more and if he has to force himself to endure Five’s hellish training and witty commentary and jabs against his person to make that happen, he will.
If he works hard enough, he might just manage to tickle the sound out of Ben again.
The thought makes training much more appealing.
I might turn this into a series. I dunno.
Anyway, I'm so freaking excited for season 2!!