His siblings are arguing downstairs, the sounds of their screaming filling his ears. Grace is making breakfast, the sizzle of the bacon is just a little too loud that it burns into his skull. Someone is taking a shower, the water runs a little too close. Pogo is walking around the house, his steps a little too hard on the wooden floors.
There was a voice screaming in his head, telling him to get out, go away.
Too loud, toO LOUD, TOO LOUD.
He desperately covered his ears, trying to block out all the noise, and failing.
The arguing comes to a halt and suddenly he’s in the middle of the kitchen, surrounded by the shocked looks of his siblings. He covers his ears as hard as he can but he can still hear.
“You okay there, buddy?” Klaus asks, and suddenly Five is angry. He’s filled with this uncontrollable burning rage,
“Don’t call me that.”
The stupid pet names were back, there to taunt him and make him feel small. Five spent forty-five years away from them all in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, desperately trying to find a way home, and they still treated him like he was thirteen. It was like nothing he did mattered, he was always the same little boy who ran away all those seventeen years ago. Had his experiences meant nothing to them? Was he still just a little boy that they could coddle? If his entire life had been spent in the apocalypse, did he ever really grow up? Their bodies flashed across his mind, he remembers burying them all, one by one, his hands burning from the pressure and the smoke in his lungs an-
“Hey Five, calm down. It’s okay, you’re safe, we’re all here. You’re at home, you’re safe.” He heard a voice say, only making out bits and pieces.
But that’s the thing, he wasn’t safe. Never really was. The commission would always be after him, they would always find him. As long as Five was alive, they would hurt his family. For a moment he considers getting rid of himself. Then his family would be safe, and they wouldn’t have to wake up to Five’s screaming and nervous lashing out. They wouldn’t get hurt because of him. He remembers their bodies and he remembers burying them all. Remembers the smell of smoke and the taste of ashes in his lungs.
He feels heavy, a dangerous amount of pressure tied in a knot in his chest. He pushes back at whatever is keeping hold on him, slapping his hands on anything that tries to get in the way. He hears a few quick shouts but he doesn’t have time to dwell on it; he has to get out.
There’s a strong pair of arms locking around his body, lifting him off the ground. Luther . He wanted to scream, Luther was the last person Five wanted to see right now. He only realizes that he is screaming when he kicks Luther, and falls to the floor to breathe. His breathing comes up in gasps and chokes, but he kicks around him, making sure nobody will touch him unless they want to get hurt. He wants- needs - to break something, alive or otherwise. He needs something to ground him and as much as he wants to break all of his fingers, Five knows he needs those and that he’ll regret it later. Hurting something alive helped make him feel real, made him think that he wasn’t going crazy, he was just that fucked up.
He sticks to cracking his knuckles instead, repeatedly going over them, making sure to get to each one and then repeating. He loses his order after that, cracking whichever ones feel wrong, which ones don’t feel quite like his own. Five see’s his siblings inch towards him and he kicks as hard as he can. He hears a snap, and instantly backs up when he realizes he’s hurt Vanya, little Vanya who played the violin and cried when they stepped on ants. He wants to reach out and apologize but instead his eyes go wide and he backs himself into a corner. He doesn’t want to hurt them, he wants to protect them. A small voice in the back of his mind says, ‘You’ve always been a killer, even before the Commission. Do you really think that it would stop now?’ but then there’s another voice telling him, ‘It’s okay to want to be happy, none of this is your fault!’ And suddenly even his own head feels too full for him to focus. He wants to bang it against the wall, take all those thoughts out and get rid of the little itch in his bones saying to hurt something, because if he hurts himself then his siblings don’t need to deal with the consequences. He wants to jump away, to escape, but the voices follow him everywhere and he feels sort of like Klaus, feeling bad about his treatment towards the ex-cult leader.
“Five I need you to breathe for me, can you do that?” He hears Vanya say, he can tell she wants to reach out to him, but there’s a large bruise forming on her arm where he kicked her. She notices him looking and tries to cover it up, but the damage is already done. He leans into the wall, Five wants to jump, to get away, but using his powers when he’s having an ‘episode’ isn’t really a good idea, and he doesn’t wanna end up 5 years into the future, or halfway across the world. He thinks back to Vanya’s request earlier, looking back to face her. He can see her lips moving but suddenly his vision is foggy, and he can’t hear anything besides a few words here and there.
“Five… Breathe… Mom… Hospital…”
He doesn’t want to go to the hospital, and he doesn’t want to see Mom either. He doesn’t want to hurt anybody, this is his own problem to deal with. His eyes go wide and his movements become more frantic, trying to grab onto anything he can hold. The world feels like it’s spinning and he can’t keep his hold on anything, and everything is blurry. He feels the hand on his thigh and he knows it’s not the same but his mind goes back to The Commission, to The Handler. The way she tried to touch him. He sees his siblings' reactions before he notices that he’s screaming, and the hand goes away. They look scared, he caused that. They’re afraid of him. It’s his fault.
“Can I hold your hands?” Klaus whispers, holding his hands out for Five to grab. He does his best to muster up a nod, trying not to latch onto his brother like his life depends on it. Klaus holds them gently, rubbing circles into the back of his hands, being as gentle as he can with his touch. “I’m sorry we hurt you, can you take a deep breath for me?” He asks, flipping Five’s hands over to rub circles into his palms. Five takes a shaky breathe in, holds it for a few seconds, and lets it back out. Klaus smiles. “That’s it, good job. Can you do it again? Just like before?” He repeats the process a few more times, letting himself sink into his brother’s hold.
“Thank you,” Five mumbles, voice oddly small. Klaus smiles at him, continuing to rub his palms, “We’re here to help you, Five, you shouldn’t be afraid of that.” And he wants to agree, but his Father’s voice always burns into his head, ‘Leave Number Two alone, Number Five. You can do things on your own.’ Except his Father isn’t here anymore, and they’re working on mending the broken relationships he’d caused, so asking for help is the least he could do.
They sit there together for a few moments, Klaus rubbing circles into his brother’s hands, flipping them over ever so often to keep his focus. Five leans into the touch, practically begs for it, and Klaus is happy to oblige. “Can you tell me what’s wrong? You don’t have to, but it might help us avoid it in the future.” He mumbles, holding his hands up to kiss Five’s knuckles.
He shook his head a little, “I just,” Five starts, “nightmares, mostly. This house is too loud, and I get sensory overload easily, I guess. And usually it's just… bad thoughts, but today it was just.. too much.” Klaus frowns.
“Can you.. not touch my legs? It’s-” Five struggles to find the right wording without them pitying him, “it reminds me of Her, and it- I”
“Of course, whatever you need. Should we change your outfit too? Shake off the memories?” Klaus says, catching the hint immediately. Probably too quickly actually, Five would have to ask him about that.
Five doesn’t want to change, this outfit is the last thing he had from before he ran away, from before the apocalypse. Yet at the same time, there were too many bad memories that he thought of when he put on the academy uniform. How she said he looked cute in those shorts. It would be for the best.
He’d deny it later, that please. He’d claim it to be a figment of his brother’s imagination. He never missed the smile Klaus had when he let Klaus help him, though. He’d also deny the smile that showed up on his own face, one for just Klaus.
Maybe things weren’t too bad after all.