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"i don't need your help!"

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getting shot didn’t hurt this bad last time. five was sure of it.

 

he was alone again. and, for a second, he wondered if he’d die this way.

 

wondering if he was going to die alone wasn’t a new thought for him. of course it wasn’t. he’d been stranded alone in the apocalypse, but everybody already knew that. and they didn’t care. for every second that he’d been back, they’d glossed over and discredited the time he’d spent there, in hell on earth. they didn’t seem to process just how long forty years was. he had been a child. a kid that made a mistake. he had grown old enough to be a grandfather. for years, he waited. just waited. no tv. no laptop. no phone, no water, no food. he went to bed with a an empty, growling stomach and a dry throat most nights. he remembered the feeling of roaches squirming in his mouth all too well. but that was then. this was now. and right now, he was bleeding out.

 

five couldn’t hold back the audible gasp he made at the sight of the slippery red wound. it was fucking ugly. he made a mental note to laugh at himself for thinking this, when he had the time. of course it was ugly. it was a bullet wound. blood pulsated out of him in time with the throbbing of his head and the pounding of his heart. he had to think fast, or he would die. he couldn’t let his siblings grieve him again.

 

wait, what had happened? his mind was going blank.

 

breathing became a chore. each drag of air his lungs took felt tight and fiery. he couldn’t think past the pain and the feeling of being lost in his own head. suddenly, he had space in his mind. he was able to feel raw emotion for once in a very long time. and he broke right down. tears washed away the blood on his face. silently, he begged for forgiveness.

 

he didn’t want to go to hell again.

 

distantly, he heard a scream. then a cry for help. number five tried to open his eyes, tried to do something, anything to make it stop because his head was still fucking pounding and he just needed it to be quiet right now. two minutes, that was all he needed. two minutes, and he’d be back to saving the world. he’d be back to being the active manager of the dipshits he called his family.

__

it had been klaus that screamed. what else was he supposed to do? he didn’t know how to help the (allegedly) oldest living member of their family. sure, he’d been a soldier, but in the end, had he really saved anyone? had he really been useful? his entire life, klaus’s only job was to be an alarm. it was the only job he’d ever had, and he did jack shit at it. but, in that moment just before anyone else got there, before five’s eyes closed, klaus felt excruciating fear. five, despite being told multiple times in multiple different ways (except words), didn’t know he was loved. he’d die bearing the world on his shoulders if klaus stood there and did nothing. so, he did what he did best:

he screamed.

 

diego and luther took a couple precious seconds to run down the hall klaus was pointing at. and what they saw was like stepping into a waking nightmare.

five’s lips were grey, splattered with red gore from when he coughed in a feeble attempt to get it out of his lungs. they were two strikingly different colors, one vibrant and horrifying, and the other subtle but shocking. none of them had ever seen five like this, like he was minutes away from his heart giving out and letting them lose him permanently.

 

vanya didn’t think she’d be able to bear looking for a casket that small. not after ben.

 

she’d dropped to her knees when she saw five with a hole in the side of his chest, heart barely beating, lungs barely breathing. “no. please. not him too.” she sobbed into klaus’s chest when he pulled her close. “he deserves more time.” pale, shaky hands gripped klaus’s shirt. “he deserves more time!” the desperate scream echoed through the concrete halls. vanya didn’t know who she was crying out to. but klaus did. he knew all too well. and he himself said a little prayer to the girl upstairs. “come on, five. don’t d-do this to… to me.” diego said to his fading brother in a soft voice. “keep breathing, okay? that’s your only m-mission right now. just stay with us a little… little longer, and then we’ll t-take care of the rest, okay?” tears beaded in his eyes, but he knew that feelings wouldn’t save five. so he pulled out his phone and called home.

 

the drive home was quiet. there weren’t overlapping voices shouting at one another, or rustling movements. just the sound of a speeding car, silenced sobs, and the rattle of death in five’s lungs. vanya whispered to him, gently brushing back cold, sweaty hair. “you are so, so loved, five. and i am so sorry that the world has been unkind to you.” she shook her head, more tears falling onto her brother’s cold face. klaus spoke up, speaking in gentle tones so that he would scare him (if he could even hear). “you didn’t deserve to hurt, fivey. you didn’t.” and then, by the grace of that angry little girl, five’s eyes opened just a hair. “don’t…” he wheezed in a breath, coughed it out with more blood. “don’t mourn me.” he rasped. “don’t l-linger on me.” his mouth hung open a small bit. he didn’t have the energy to close it between sentences anymore. “i’ve never been worth that much.” his face crumpled in the way faces do when someone is about to fall apart. “i-i’m so lucky…” his voice was a whisper now. “to drift off one last time in… in the company of my family.” each word was taxing, using energy he didn’t have. he didn’t have to tell them he loved them. they already knew.

 

diego was the first to notice that his heart stopped beating.

 

“he stopped breathing.” he said, mostly to himself. but it had been so quiet that everyone heard. he began chest compressions (was he doing this right? five had a child’s body), keeping five’s heart pumping and lungs inflating for him. he made a wordless promise to five that he would never know what it’s like to be alone again. not in the way he knew so intimately. “come on. come on!” he growled, pushing down harder on already crushed ribs. “diego, not so tough. you’re going to hurt him.” allison’s words hitched in time with her tearful hiccups. “he c-can’t do this.” diego sounded so small as the strength in his arms began to waver and disappear. “i don’t want to give up on him!”

luther picked up what was left of five delicately, as if he were as fragile as a newborn.

 

number one kept number five’s eyes open so that he could see the night sky one last time before they closed forever.

 

his eyes were watching God.