Five was glad his time travelling energy had ran dry at night, at least this way he didn’t have to immediately have dad say he told him so. Using the very last dregs of his power, Five did a tiny spacial jump through the door. He didn’t want to have to alert dad to his arrival. Bizarrely, a spattering of lights were left on - like some kind of trail. He tentatively followed the light, worried incase it was some kind of trap set up by dad to belittle him. Being lead to the kitchen, Five became even more confused. He could hear someone gently pottering around.
“Five?!” Vanya whispered, dropping the peanut butter to the ground in her sheer shock. They both cringed at the noise it made. Hopefully no one else heard the clatter. She couldn’t believe her brother had finally returned, Vanya had been slowly becoming convinced he was dead. Maybe this was a strange dream, it was unlikely for her to only just lose one brother and then for the other to remarkably come back.
Why was she making a sandwich at this time of night? “How old are you?” he whispered back, noticing she looked slightly different. His sister was still tiny though, which Five didn’t mind. It would’ve been disorienting otherwise.
“17.” she quietly replied, crouching to pick the peanut butter back up. Five’s mouth fell slightly open, dreading the lecture he was definitely going to receive from their father in the morning. Vanya screwed the cap back on the spread, and then handed the plate to Five. He looked down at it with puzzlement, but accepted anyway. He could do with a sandwich. “It’s your favorite.” Vanya gently explained with a small smile. Five paused just before he took a bite, realising she’d been making it for him to begin with.
Although he was touched and grateful, five struggled to understand why and how Vanya would’ve thought it remotely logical to make him his sandwich at this hour, rather than during the daytime. It turns out she was right though, so Five resolved this must be one of the extremely rare occasions he was wrong. “Thanks.”
Vanya politely nodded in response, the relief feeling overwhelming. If only Ben could just return too... “Are the morons awake?” Five arrogantly asked between bites. Vanya looked down to the floor anxiously, not wanting to be the one to break it to him.
“Mostly.” she murmured reticently, clenching her hands tightly together.
“Excellent, I can’t wait for their stupid questions.” Five sarcastically uttered, sounding irritated before he’d even received said questions. Her brother swiftly turned on his heel, carrying the sandwich away with him.
“Five, there’s something you should know...” He stopped and swivelled to face her with a quirked eyebrow.
“Which one?” Five wearily wondered, perfectly aware that their father was leading them towards the path of at least one of them being killed. That had been at thirteen, who knows how things had progressed at this point in time. Four years was a long time with a hell of a lot of missions.
Luther groaned as someone knocked on his door, not wanting to deal with any of his siblings right now. He was extremely tired, both physically and mentally. Reluctantly pulling open his door, Luther almost jumped when he found Five. He reached a hand out to prod his brother’s shoulder, just to check he was definitely real. Five looked unbelievably annoyed by this move, narrowing his eyes threateningly. “What a touching welcome home.” he mockingly replied to Luther’s poke. Clearly he hadn’t changed, wherever he’d been. “I’m gathering the others in here.” Five pointed over Luther’s shoulder to inside his room, not having the decency to actually ask permission to do so.
“Five, Ben...” Luther mumbled awkwardly, but his brother nodded his head to imply he already knew. Had he actually been to the future like he insisted he could do?
Luther, Diego, Allison, and Vanya sat in incredibly tense silence as they waited for everyone to join them. Things were even more heated than usual since Ben’s death was still so raw. Luther and Diego physically couldn’t get any more space between them in this room. Luther and Allison sat beside each other coyly, Allison looking quite tearful. Vanya sat isolated in the corner, but that was typical on any given day.
“Not dead.” Five bluntly stated as Klaus opened his door, anticipating the obvious reaction.
“Oh. In that case I’ll go back to sleep.” Klaus yawned dramatically, beginning to close the door on Five’s face as if he hadn’t been missing for four years.
“Imbecile.” Five hissed, yanking him out of his room. It was infuriating that they were all so much larger than him now, Five felt kind of silly bossing them around at this size. He was still going to do it anyway.
Ben followed Five and Klaus, completely bewildered by this. “Ask him where he’s been!” he worriedly demanded, wishing he could ask Five himself. Ben wanted to hug his brother after so long without him. He wanted to hug them all, now that he no longer could.
“I liked you better before you died.” Klaus groaned sleepily, which caused Five to scowl up at him in confusion.
Entering Luther’s room to join the others, Five felt kind of weirded out by seeing his siblings all together. He’d only just seen them, except they were all thirteen. It seemed puberty wasn’t going to get any more fun from this point on. The absence of Ben was incredibly depressing. “Conjure Ben.” Five curtly instructed Klaus as he slumped down beside Allison on the bed.
“He’s already here, and I’d forgotten how mean you are.” Klaus whined, evidently no different than the version of him Five had left in 2003.
“He’s not here.” Diego corrected Klaus snidely, causing agreeing nods from the others. Five knitted his brow, glaring at all of them.
“Have you all had a collective brain injury?” he hissed, staggered by their stupidity actually increasing since he left. Their brother had a literal hotline to the dead.
“Thank you!” Klaus exclaimed, throwing a hand up to Five triumphantly.
The others shook their heads or looked to the ground dismissively, trying to avoid entering into this heated argument again. “You missed some things.” Luther mumbled reproachfully, which Five chose to completely ignore. He’d address whatever that meant at a later date.
“Just tell Ben I say... sorry.” Five shrugged, not knowing how else to express his condolences. It wasn’t like you could usually offer your apologies to the actual deceased person.
“You do know he can hear you?” Klaus giggled teasingly, receiving a slight shove from Luther in return. Five rolled his eyes, embarrassed he’d forgotten something so obvious.
“So it was a mission?” Five relayed Vanya’s story back to them, wanting to get all the fine details. He could go back and make sure Ben never attended. Five was still trying desperately not to cry, it would be mortifying. The others nodded glumly, which was terribly unhelpful. “Can you elaborate on that?” Five snarled, spinning his hand for them to continue.
“Maybe you would know if you’d actually been there.” Diego spat, furious Five skipped out on them and then proceeded to act pissed to not know things.
“It wasn’t by choice, Diego.” Five retorted, as though that were the most obvious thing in the world.
“No, you chose to leave. You chose to be a cocky asshole and run out of the academy.” Diego remarked coldly, still highly strung due to the loss of Ben. He was never great at holding back his fury to begin with. Five looked like he was going to jump over to him angrily, but got stuck in place. Diego snickered, enjoying his shortcoming.
“Leave it, Diego.” Allison insisted, which was enough to make him stop. Diego knew she’d just rumor him if he didn’t shut up.
Allison glanced back over to Five, pouting at how young he looked. “Maybe we can talk about Ben in the morning? It’s really late.” she suggested, needing time to adjust to Five’s abrupt return. Allison also knew they all needed time to brace themselves to talk about Ben again, it only ever ended in tears when he came up - especially to have to talk about things in great detail. She was going to rumor Five anyway if he said no, Allison was only asking as a formality.
“Fine.” Five sighed dispiritedly, looking down to his shoes. His feet now looked tiny compared to theirs, besides Vanya. The tension in the room slightly cooled, them all relieved to escape this discussion for now. ”Nobody can tell dad I’m back.” Five looked to Luther, since realistically he was the only one who would tattle.
“I can’t keep this from him.” Number One seemed incensed by this order.
“Do you want me to save Ben or not?” All five of his remaining siblings furrowed their brows, obviously not following what he was implying. “I need time to work on my equations. If dad knows I’m back, he’ll send me on stupid missions and get in the way of that.” Five explained with annoyance that they couldn’t work that out themselves. They all nodded in response, though Luther’s was much less enthusiastic than the rest.
“How long will that take?” Vanya shyly questioned from the corner. All of her siblings suddenly turned to look at her as though they’d forgotten she was there to begin with. She looked down to her pajama pants bashfully.
“It shouldn’t take too long, I didn’t travel too far in the grand scheme of things.” Five sounded like he was completely guessing in that opinion.
“Days? Weeks? Months?” Allison asked with a frown, concerned with how they were going to keep this a secret. Five’s face stayed neutral, clearly utterly uncertain.
“How will you eat, and piss and stuff in secret?” Klaus mumbled through a yawn.
“I can spacial jump, moron.” Five spoke down to him, pretty much just proving Klaus’ earlier point about him being mean.
“Screw you, you probably don’t even have pubes!” Luther blocked an arm in front of Klaus before Five could pettily lunge on him.
“I hate to admit it, but he’s kinda right...” Diego drawled, drawing their attention away from an impending fight. “Won’t one of the grownups notice?” he continued, receiving agreeable sounds in return.
It was infuriating to get outsmarted by Klaus and Diego. Five supposed they were four years older than him now, that had to be the most rational explanation. It was still surprising, nonetheless. “If any of them get suspicious, he can just distract them.” Five pointed to Klaus decisively, which obviously none of the others objected to.
“Why me?!” Klaus whined in a volume far too loud for a secret meeting in the middle of the night.
“That is exactly why.” Five sniggered, gathering he hadn’t stopped being such a drama queen. He was ideal for stealing the adults’ attention. “Do we have a deal?” Five condescendingly addressed all of his siblings. They all offered various verbal agreements. “Try not to let any more of you get killed. No offence Ben.” Five gestured towards where he assumed his brother was stood, based on where Klaus had been looking.
“How the hell could I not take offence to that?” Ben looked to his other siblings for some backup, forgetting they couldn’t see him. Ouch. That was a painful reminder he was six feet under.
Five sauntered from the room without saying goodnight, precisely as he’d been before he’d left nearly four years ago. “Is it bad that I kind of want him to go missing again?”
After five whole months of gruelling mathematics and sneaking around, Five finally landed back into the academy in another time period. He had forgotten quite how awful the side effects of time travel felt. Hopefully he was somewhat close to 2003, he couldn’t bare doing this all over again. He promptly raced up to the hallway that housed all his siblings, not wanting to get lectured by their dad. The sound of Vanya’s violin was soothing, even if he’d heard it every day for the past several months. “What year is it?” Five asked nervously, making Vanya nearly knock her eye out with her violin bow in shock. He gathered from her expression that it wasn’t 2003 anymore. Why the hell couldn’t he get time travel right? Five didn’t just get things wrong. This must be the exception to the rule.
”Holy shit!” Diego exclaimed from down the hall, his voice sounding lower than when they were thirteen. Five spun to face him and found the doors of his other siblings opening too.
“I told you he wasn’t dead!” Klaus yelled proudly, looking to the others as though he should be congratulated.
“Where’ve you been?” Luther stoically questioned, looking at him with slight suspicion.
“Where’s Ben?!” Five anxiously snapped before Allison could spit out whatever she was beginning to utter. Where the hell was Ben?!
“I think he’s reading.” Klaus casually shrugged, pointing down to Ben’s room. Five almost passed out with relief, he had to steady himself against the wall to prevent buckling over.
“Are you okay?!” Allison rushed to his side, comfortingly placing a hand to his back.
“Year?” Five bluntly repeated, infuriated that he had to say it twice.
“It’s 2005.” Allison gently told him, rubbing on his back supportively.
“Just... just everyone gather in Luther’s room. We need to talk.” Five felt a sickening sense of dejavú to be saying those words.
Grinning to finally see his brother again, Ben immediately went in to squish him in a hug. Surprisingly, Five hugged him back with much the same enthusiasm - he ordinarily was quite aloof. “Is everything okay?” Ben whispered, worried about what had happened in the time Five had been gone. He looked pretty much the same though. Ben assumed the others had already had their reintroductions.
“You need to sit down, I need to tell you all something.” Five ominously requested, pulling away from the hug to pace to the centre of the room. Ben shuffled over to sit beside Vanya, growing concerned about whatever bombshell Five was going to drop.
”No stupid interruptions.” Five curtly demanded, looking to all of them besides Vanya since she was usually too timid to speak.
“I’d forgotten h-“ Five groaned at his command already being ignored.
“You’d forgotten how mean I am, yes I know.” he made an impolite shushing gesture towards Klaus. “I went to the future when I ran out of dinner.” Five held up a hand to silence the others when they began to open their mouths. It was astounding how insolent they all were. “Further in the future than now. You were 17.” They made numerous noises of wonder. “There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to come right out with it.” Five faced Ben, cringing preemptively. “You died. It was ba-“
All of them began to yell over one another. Five spacial jumped slightly further into the room, purely to startle them into silence since they’d presumably grown used to not experiencing that. It worked. They all instantly began to shout again once they’d gotten over their initial shock. Clearly they weren’t going to stay quiet. “One question at a time.” Five hollered, pointing to Luther since he was One.
“Did Ben die when we were seventeen, or before then?” Luther checked it wasn’t imminent.
“You were seventeen, but only just.” Five next pointed to Diego, not even giving them time to mull that over. That was only another year away.
”What caused it?” Diego tried desperately not to stutter.
“It was the eldritch monsters, on a mission.” Five pointed to Allison, rudely silencing Diego’s follow up question with his other hand.
“Asshole.” Diego muttered, having grown used to Five’s absence. Was he always this obnoxious?
”Was it... painful?” Allison wiped a tear from her eye, feeling guilty to discuss this right in front of Ben. Five nodded wordlessly, looking queasy just thinking about it. He reluctantly pointed at Klaus, narrowing his eyes menacingly.
”If he died I’d definitely conjure him. Did they believe that I could conjure him? Because none of these bitches would believe that you were ali-“ Five pointed to Ben before Klaus could finish his sentence, already irritated by it. “Screw you, you probably d-“ Five sighed with exasperation, not enjoying this aspect of time travelling.
“I have them. Now will you shut up?!” Five spat, fiercely scowling at Klaus. He nodded sheepishly, clearly caught off guard by Five knowing what he was going to say. The others looked mightily confused, but too distressed by the subject matter to ask questions.
”Shouldn’t I have gone first?” Ben uttered with aggravation, staggered that no one really thought to consider that. It was him who died!
Five tilted his head to the side in thought. “Yes, maybe that was an oversight on my part.” he admitted apologetically. Ben rolled his eyes, not even knowing what he had to ask about his own supposed grizzly death.
“Did dad care?” was all Ben could truly wonder. Five looked to the ground in a way that left no reason for him to even answer. “Just go to her.” Ben sighed glumly, pointing to Vanya.
Vanya blushed at all the eyes being on her, feeling like she wanted to disappear into the wallpaper. “Can we stop it from happening?” she timorously murmured, longing for the answer to be yes. Five audibly gulped, which would’ve been funny if this all weren’t so awful. The silence in the room was overwhelming.
“We can stop him dying on that mission, yes.” Five pulled out a notebook, as if that could offer any further clarification. He seemed disgruntled that they were confused. “You told me all the details of the mission, I have it all written down.” Five gestured to Numbers One to Four. “But I can’t promise Ben won’t be killed by the monsters on another date.”
They all spoke over each other again, except this time they were depressive murmurs, not shouts. They were all saying the same thing in various different wordings. “We can’t just let him die.”
”It’s okay guys.” Ben interrupted them, making calming hand movements. “I always knew they’d kill me. It’s not rational to think they won’t, there’s nothing we can do... I’m just glad we’ll have a while longer together now.” Ben smiled tearfully, truly meaning what he was saying. A collective aw was released.
“Well if it makes any difference, he was definitely a ghost. I interrogated 2007 Klaus.” Five confidently assured them, making Klaus particularly smug.
“At least you guys can talk to me still when I’m dead?” Ben felt somewhat comforted by that fact.
“You all passionately hated each other though, so we’ll have to work on that.” Five dryly stated, flipping through his notebook with a stressed frown. “We have a lot to work on...”