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Adorable Arrogance

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Just before Five did yet another haphazard jump into the future, his attention was caught by his sister’s name in big block letters on a movie poster. He decided to pause on his jump for now, instead sauntering over to peer up at the advertisement. “Woah...” Allison was a grown up. Five glanced down to the movie’s release date to check what year he’d landed in. 2013... they’d be 22 and a half. Maybe Five could hold off on further time travelling for the moment, his curiosity had been piqued. What were the others doing now? He couldn’t resist finding out.

The academy was only a block away, but Five knew dad would just be a lecturing asshole if he went back there. Looking around him, Five wandered into a nearby convenience store. He faked a piteous pout, glumly ambling over to the register. “Excuse me, ma’am.” The cashier looked up from her magazine to meet Five’s eye. “Do you have a phone book? I need to call my mom but...” Five sighed with pretend sadness “...I can’t remember the number.”

The cashier frowned maternally, immediately placing her magazine down. “Of course, sweetie.” she cooed, crouching to rummage under the counter. As soon as she looked away, Five scowled at being called sweetie. There was nothing sweet about him.

Tracing the list of names with his finger, Five was frustrated by how many Hargreaves and Hargreeves there were in the city. Apparently Allison no longer lived here, but that wasn’t a shock. Five assumed she’d gone to live in Hollywood, like she always confidently told them she would do. One of the others could give him her number. “Andrew, Artie, Barbara, Bill-“ Five tightly furrowed his brow, looking back up the list just to make sure he hadn’t missed Ben. There was no Ben on the list. Five triple checked, confused by his absence. Didn’t he live here anymore either? That was definitely unexpected, why would Ben move? Maybe he was studying somewhere, that sounded pretty in character for his brother. He was probably becoming a literature professor, or something similar. Five hoped they hadn’t all left the city, that would be sorely disappointing.

Flicking across to the next page, Five crossed his fingers that Diego would be on the list. “Danielle, Dennis, Diego!” Five grinned with enthusiasm, looking forward to riling up a 22 year old Diego. He was the most easily angered, this would be undoubtedly fun.

Awkwardly parking up to collect his brother who was apparently still thirteen, Diego rolled his eyes when Five neglected to enter the car like a normal human being. He instead just spatial jumped into the front seat. Diego hadn’t missed that. “You need a bumper seat.” Diego purposefully pissed his arrogant brother off, looking to his tiny stature.

“You look like something from a horror movie...” Five squinted at the various scars on Diego’s face, especially the one running over his scalp. Little twerp.

“Well you look like you’re still in pull-ups, so I think I’m the one winning here.” Diego smugly replied, immediately regressing into being mentally thirteen again due to Five’s presence. “I’m serious though, get in the back.” Diego pointed over to the backseats, determined not to get Five killed in a car crash after nearly a decade of being presumed dead.

Reluctantly spacial jumping into the backseat, Five was unimpressed with being treated like a kid. “Take me to visit the others.” Five demanded, as though he were the authority figure here. Diego had been a moron at thirteen, Five doubted things would be any different now. His brother quite evidently purposefully looked away from Five’s direction. That was incredibly foreboding. “Is there something you need to tell me, Diego?” Five patronisingly asked, jumping back into the front seat so he was unavoidable. Diego groaned and tensely rubbed at his eyes. “Tell me!”

How the hell could Diego break it to Five that Ben had been dead for almost as long as Five had been missing? Why did it have to be Diego?! “Ben...” Diego murmured flatly, hoping Five could infer that Ben was gone. His power had always been terrifying and deadly, surely Five could put two and two together, math being his area of expertise and everything.

“Oh.” Five jumped back into the backseat to hide his clear distress. They sat for a few moments in uncomfortable silence as Five digested that discovery. “When?” he eventually shakily questioned.

“2006.” Diego grunted, feeling unbelievably out of his comfort zone.

2006... that was only around the corner. Or at least it was around the corner from the time Five was actually from. It didn’t matter anyway, Five supposed. He could just prevent Ben’s death when he went back in time to 2003. The whole timeline could be changed. This entire experience would be wiped as though it had never even happened. “Did Luther ever leave the academy?” Five figured the answer was definitely going to be a big fat no.

“What do you think?” Diego smirked at him through the rear view mirror.

“What do you do now?” Five had the distinct feeling it would involve knives.

“I still stop bad guys.” Diego stated as though he were batman. Five rolled his eyes at Diego honestly believing he was cool and badass.

“Is Allison in Hollywood?” It was a shame Five couldn’t spacial jump across the country, Allison’s lavish lifestyle would probably be more entertaining to visit than Diego.

“Yup. And her heads still up her ass, incase you were wondering.” Five snorted, seeing Diego hadn’t grown out of pettiness. He’d call Allison before he went home to 2003, he wanted to know what she was like as a grown up. Five would have to call Luther too, since he certainly wasn’t going to step foot in the academy. Hopefully Luther wouldn’t tattle on him to dad...

“Klaus?” Five couldn’t actually predict what that brother would be doing as an adult. Hopefully he’d stopped setting fire to things. Klaus was annoying, but at least Ben could be conjured too.

There was no way in hell Diego was reintroducing Five to Klaus. “Klaus is still Klaus.” Diego wasn’t going to elaborate more on what his brother was up to these days, deciding it wasn’t child appropriate. Five chuckled in a way that sounded adorably childish, which was disorientating. Five had certainly never seemed remotely adorable when Diego was also thirteen.

“Well then take me to him, I want to belittle his life choices.” Evidently Diego’s memories of Five being a little shit hadn’t been subjective.

Come to think of it, Diego would relish seeing Klaus get roasted by a bratty thirteen year old. “Fine, we’ll try to find Klaus. We probably won’t be able to though.” Hopefully Five wasn’t going to ask about Vanya next, Diego hadn’t seen her in quite a long time. It would just be awkward.

Complacent that an adult had obeyed his instruction, Five thought next about Vanya. She’d always been his favorite sibling. “Take me to Vanya’s afterwards.” Five ordered with absolutely no manners. Diego sighed petulantly.

“I don’t even know if she still lives in the same apartment.” Diego grumbled, sulkily throwing his head back into the headrest like he too was thirteen.

“Well then let’s find out.” Five hissed with irritation, gesturing for Diego to immediately set off. His brother huffed and started to drive.

“Just... don’t get your hopes up about Ben. Klaus can’t conjure him.”

Five scowled at the stupidity of that statement. “But-“ Diego loudly turned the radio up before Five could ask questions. That had to be bullshit. It didn’t matter that much anyway. He’d only seen Ben an hour ago, and this reality was all temporary. Five still wanted to send his condolences though, and to apologise for not being there. This Ben would be written over when he went back, but he was still a version of Ben. He still had to suffer through death.

Apparently Diego hadn’t been exaggerating when he said they likely wouldn’t find their brother. Five felt strongly inclined to give up and see Vanya, but he really wanted to be rude to Klaus. “Can you turn that thing off?!” Five was getting a headache from the music of 2013, it was even worse than 2003’s pop music. Diego honked the horn, which confused Five immensely. How could he mix up the horn and the radio?

“Klaus!” Diego yelled out the window, which made Five realise the coincidental timing. That was a relief, he’d thought Diego was losing his already feeble mind. Looking out of his window, Five’s confusion was brought straight back by the outfit his brother was wearing. What even was that? Diego pulled over to the closest spot. Klaus dawdled over and obnoxiously leaned through the passenger window. He suddenly stilled when he saw Five in the backseat.

“Is he real?” Klaus mumbled to Diego, not taking his eyes from Five. Precisely how strange was Klaus these days that he felt the need to ask?

“Unfortunately.” Diego pettily replied, which was wholly unnecessary in Five’s opinion. Klaus all of a sudden lunged even further through the window to patronisingly ruffle Five’s hair.

“Get off-“ Five hit Klaus away with a grimace “-me, you weirdo!” Doing so just made Klaus’ tousling of his hair more vigorous. Diego separated them like they were in a schoolyard and he was their teacher.

“You’re adorable, you look like a cabbage patch doll!” Klaus teased, shuffling back out of the window.

“Well you look dead, which is fitting.” Five commented with contempt. He truly wouldn’t look too out of place in a casket.

“Sass me when your balls drop.” Klaus bit back with a chuckle. Diego began to laugh too but pretended to clear his throat instead.

“Take me to Vanya’s, I’m done with him.” Five pushily addressed Diego, turning his back on Klaus.

“Are you kidding me?! I just drove you around for an hour to find him!” Diego exasperatedly snapped, clearly still as bad at controlling his temper.

“Aaaawwwww, that’s so touching. Fivie, you’re a real sweetheart.“ Five briefly glanced at Klaus to give him the finger, then looked back to Diego.

“No, screw you!” Diego stubbornly replied, pulling the keys from the ignition to further his point.

“But he’s annoying!” Five gestured over to Klaus, who was gratingly giggling at his irritation.

“He’s always been annoying, but you still made me find him!” That was a fair point, but Five had underestimated how insufferable Klaus would’ve remained.

“Why can’t you just conjure Ben?” Five was still disgruntled that he supposedly wasn’t able to.

Klaus abruptly stopped giggling, giving Diego a filthy look. “He’s just unavailable for calls right now, but feel free to leave a message.” Klaus drawled, sharing suspicious eye contact with Diego.

“Stop coddling me, why the hell can’t you conjure him?!” Five growled, hating being treated like a child. He was born on the same day as these people, they should treat him as an equal. Diego made a shushing gesture to Klaus threateningly, which wasn’t remotely subtle.

Five jumped back into the front seat to harshly tug at Klaus’ ear, needing to force the answer out of him. “Fine! I’m on drugs! I can’t do it when I’m high. Happy now?!” Klaus admitted through gritted teeth, clawing away Five’s tight grip of his ear.

That admission was very inconvenient for Five. He wanted to talk to Ben right this second, not to wait around. He was going to stay for a few days anyway whilst he recharged his power, Klaus could maybe conjure Ben tomorrow for him.“Will you do it when you’re not high anymore?” Five jumped back into the backseat, knowing Diego wouldn’t ditch Klaus with him unsecured in the front.

“Sure thing, little fella.” Klaus said as if he had any intention to ever sober up, gazing to Ben literally sitting beside Five.

“Don’t tell him I’m here, not in front of Diego.” Ben didn’t want there to be a huge argument about him not being a ghost. They’d had enough of them. It was incredibly comforting to sit with Five, even if he didn’t know Ben was there. They could let Five know Ben was a ghost in private, hopefully he’d be ingenuous and untainted enough to actually believe Klaus.

“Like he’s really gonna leave me alone with the kid!” Klaus snidely whispered, like Diego and Five weren’t right there too.

“Well he’s definitely not gonna now!” Ben threw a hand up with frustration, seeing the looks on his other two brothers’ faces.

“Anyway...” Diego awkwardly uttered, wanting to quickly change the subject from whatever the hell that was. “Maybe you’re right, I think we’re done with him.” Diego shoved the keys back in the ignition, hastily cranking the window higher up before Klaus could force his way into the car.

“I haven’t seen him in ten years, are you shitting me?!” Klaus cried out in disbelief, yanking on the handle that was luckily locked.

“And you have plenty of time to see him again, now move before I run your foot over.” Klaus ignored him and looked to Five for some empathy.

“It was my idea to leave to begin with, you imbecile.” Five rudely responded to his pleading eyes.

“Bye Klaus.” Diego revved the engine to make Klaus move, having no intention to actually disable his brother. Klaus whacked Five’s window childishly and backed away from the car. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Diego smugly remarked to Five as they drove away.

“My name is Five, Diego. Not my age.” Five was incensed by Diego insisting on escorting him to Vanya’s door. They were literally trained killers, Diego couldn’t have forgotten that.

“Less of the backtalk, unless you wanna be grounded.” Diego mockingly threatened, knocking on what must be Vanya’s door. Hopefully she hadn’t moved like Diego had been worried about, it would be a shame not to meet adult Vanya. Five was still disappointed not to meet Ben, Allison, or Luther. Especially Ben.

“How the hell could you ground me? I can spacial jump, idiot.” Apparently neither of the brothers Five had actually been able to see had mentally matured beyond thirteen.

As the door was opened, Five was relieved to be a similar height to one of his siblings again. “Five?!” Vanya whispered, staring at him like he was some kind of mirage.

“Vanya.” Five jumped inside the apartment without waiting for an invitation to enter.

“I’ll wait out here.” Diego awkwardly mumbled from the hallway. Five instantly wandered to Vanya’s windows, interested in whether they had locks. Even if Vanya was several years older than him now, Five still wanted to make sure she was safe.

“I thought you were...” Vanya shut the door, ambling over to behind him.

“Like Ben?” Five bluntly guessed her thoughts, turning to face her. She nodded timidly, looking slightly ashen. “Was it bad?” He wanted the answer to be an unwavering no, but he assumed that wouldn’t be accurate. She glumly nodded again. “Is that coffee?” Five pointed over to the pot on her kitchen counter. He’d always wanted to try it, but dad never allowed caffeine in the house.

“Yeah?...” Vanya seemed tickled by his keen interest in it. He eagerly stepped over to try some. Five didn’t want to jump too much, he knew his power would run dry soon. He needed to preserve his energy to time travel in a few days.

“You’re still thirteen, right?” Vanya quickly walked over to take the coffee pot from her brother’s hands, wanting to be a responsible adult. This might be the best day of Vanya’s life, having Five return unharmed like some kind of miracle.

“In body, yes.” Five cockily replied, gesturing for her to give the coffee pot back. She kept it firmly in her hands.

“Then you’re thirteen in all senses.” Vanya chuckled gently, comforted that he was just as arrogant as she remembered. It was very welcome after so long without him.

“Vanya, come on!” Five whined childishly, which was an odd thing for her to witness. He’d always seemed kind of like an old man in a child’s body when they were kids. She smirked and fetched a mug, pouring a little bit of coffee into it. A tiny bit couldn’t do too much harm. He was pretty adorable, it was hard to decline. She’d forgotten quite how awful those uniforms were. Vanya would have to take him clothes shopping. It would be nice to allow him to actually choose his own outfits for the first time in his entire existence.

It was infuriating to get a child’s portion, but Five accepted it anyway. He tried as hard as possible to hold back an embarrassing grimace at the taste. Why was it so bitter? Why did people drink this so much? “You get used to it.” Vanya assured him with amusement. She seemed unable to wipe the content smile from her face.

“I’ll take your word for it.” Five sauntered over to Vanya’s violin, by the windows that thankfully had locks. “Can I stay here until I go back? I don’t want to spend more time with Diego.” he unabashedly confessed, wanting to ditch him like they’d ditched Klaus. He would probably be an even worse guardian than dad.

“Go back?” Vanya repeated incredulously, frowning at him like he’d said something unthinkably awful. The smile had definitely been wiped from her face now.

“Well yeah, I have to go back, Vanya.” What did she expect him to do, just stay here forever?

“Five...” Vanya shuffled nearer to her brother, hoping he wasn’t going to just jump away. “You know you can’t do that, right?” Although Vanya was no scientific genius, she knew there was just no way that could safely be done. Even travelling forward in time was nearly impossible, but to go back... terrible things could happen to him. It was probably one of the few things dad was right about.

“I can do anything.” Five naively stated with complete confidence.

“It’s not safe, I can’t lose you again.” He was just a child, he couldn’t put himself at such a large risk. She couldn’t let him do this.

“You’re not going to lose me again, this version of you won’t have even existed. It’ll be a clean slate.” Five sipped from his coffee again, clearly biting back a face of disgust.

“And you know that for certain?” Vanya asked, knowing that he definitely didn’t. Five pursed his lips and looked away bashfully. “Did you mean to come to 2013, or was it just a fluke?” Vanya also figured the answer would be no. God knows where he could end up if he tried again.

“I...” Five trailed off, his hesitance answering for him. He couldn’t just stay here forever, he had to go back to 2003. Five had never had the intention to actually stay in the future, he just wanted to see what it was like. To prove dad wrong. There was no way Five could just accept Ben’s death and not even attempt to change things. “I guess I’ll just ask Ben if he wants me to save his life or not then.” Five proudly shrugged, positive that statement would make Vanya realise she was being foolish. Vanya sighed wearily and looked to the ground.

“I don’t know how to tell you this... but Klaus can’t do that anymore.” she murmured apologetically.

“He told me he’d do it when he wasn’t high. Duh.” Five chose to give up with the coffee, deciding to attempt it again in a year or so. Vanya shook her head, looking rather angry, though not with Five.

Why would Klaus get his hopes up like that? “He’s always high, Five.” Her brother snorted as response, clearly not taking her claim seriously. “No, I mean it. Always, ask Diego.” she pointed to the door that their brother was lingering outside.

“But he said...” Five frowned with disappointment. Vanya would’ve hugged him, but she knew he was never one for displays of affection.

“Look, I’m sorry.” she apprehensively placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“Well he’ll stop to let me talk to Ben.” Five innocently replied, having the luck to not understand addiction.

Vanya shook her head, aware Klaus wouldn’t prioritise that over drugs. “He won’t do that, I promise.” she rubbed his little arm sympathetically.

“In that case I have to go back! I can’t just lose Ben!” Five furiously stormed over to the front door, reminiscent of the last time Vanya had seen him.

“Please don’t do this again!” she begged anxiously, not having it within her to lose him twice. This time he would without a doubt be gone forever. “Please!”

Pausing just before he turned the doorknob, Five closed his eyes and sighed. He knew that she was unfortunately right. The risk was too great, and the odds weren’t in his favor. Ten years was a long time, Five wasn’t even sure where to begin on the equations that would be able to return him to 2003. Vanya had tried to warn him the first time and he hadn’t listened, he couldn’t make the same mistake. Five couldn’t just leave her all alone again. Not Vanya. Not his favorite sibling. She’d already lost Ben. Now he had too.

Vanya intensely panicked when Five opened the door, dreading him running away like last time. “I’m staying at Vanya’s.” Five curtly informed Diego before impolitely slamming the door on his face. Vanya scoffed at the brashness, but felt unbelievably happy with that result. Maybe her life wasn’t going to turn out quite as depressing as she’d originally thought. She’d never actually given Five permission to live here, but his bossiness had been correct. He was going nowhere.