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No One Gets Left Behind (Or Forgotten)

Chapter Text

              January 1968

 

                  Whispers reached the dead long before the echoing sounds of the bombs and gunfire. James, Bradley, and the half a dozen others that made up the dead of the 173rd stood tense and at the ready, knowing their living counterparts were in for a rude awakening.

                 Gliding through the terrain, Clark came to a stop in the middle of the camp-looking at his fellow soldiers before giving a single shake of his head. The dead shifted uneasily, knowing that it meant at least a few of the camp would be joining them shortly.

                It was as they were preparing that a shout from the tent caught their attention. As one they made to see what had startled the soldier, they had stationed there. Before they could call out to Bradley, a bullet echoed, closer then before, hitting a tree just beyond the tent. The camp sprung to action.

                Men swarmed out of the tents, guns raised and eyes tired. The dead spread out, following the soldiers into the trees.

                “Uh… James?” one voice questioned, as the form of Clark moved closer to his Sargent, “There’s an extra guy?”

                “What?” he hissed between clenched teeth.

                “That’s what I was sayin!”

                “Wait! You talking about the twig guy? Super skinny?” Bradley asked, moving from his position besides Chaz to join the conversation.

                “That,” Clark paused, scanning the group until his gaze landed on the curly haired guy that was ducked next to Dave, “one?”

                “Yeah, I was standing guard, and-” he took a deep breathe, “There was crackling like lightning and a flash. This guys just popped out, sitting on the ground in nothing but a towel and blood.”

                “You think he could be a commie?” Clark asked.

                “If he is, they probably shouldn’t have tortured him before sending him here.” Bradley answered back dryly, “Kid looked like he had no idea what was going on and I’ve seen lesser wounds take down a soldier.”

                His gaze moved to Kevin’s back, some five yards away. While Kevin had survived the bomb with nothing but scratches… the infection worked quickly to making him join the ranks of the dead.

                James’ eyes were sharp, watching as the unknown man sank deeper into the foxhole with nothing but confused panic painting his features.

              “Watch him for now.” He told them men sharply, before “Get back to your stations.”

                They rotated like they did for everything. A habit half from soldiering and part from their need to know how their brother in arms were doing. If the members of the 173rd were anything, they were loyal.

                The 173rd Airborne stuck together. Even if at first it was done unintentionally. But after an ambush that left Sargent James dead, well, he couldn’t leave until he made sure his troop made it back to safety. After all it was in a war none of them asked for. He had been replaced quickly, but this was war and while his brother’s sneered, they watched the newbie’s back. Other’s joined him in death, some moved on straight away, but most stayed even after death, in this hell hole they called war, watching. They watched as they were replaced with able bodies, till their entire unit was dead, sent home, or became the next rotation of the 173rd. They took turned, watching the troops, both in and out of war, families of those that had fallen, and generally just sticking around.

                So, the continued on, watching the mysterious man with suspicion until…

               It was Clark who told them, he didn’t have army tags or clothes. Kevin who floated by commenting how Chaz, Joe, and Dave had been training him- that he was an ace shot when it came to the targets. Jack came by to tell them when the guy stole from the med tent- never a lot and only what was needed the least- which didn’t mean much because everything was needed. Paul found the strange briefcase that was apparently empty. John noted that the man seemed to light up at any praise… from well anyone, which left a lot of the men with bitter taste in their mouths. John would gather any spirit close by whenever the man would begin to tell stories. It was Sammy who told them with a smile when he got his dog tags. It was Paul that came in, nearly a month after the guy showed up, “His name is Klaus.” It was James, unseen by most of the 173rd, that nodded and told the dead, “He is one of us now.”

               Another brother to add to the tally. Another brother to pray stayed alive. Another brother they could lose to the war. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

March 1994

Number Four was sitting crossed legged in his room. In the early hours of the morning, before lunch they were permitted a half hour to themselves before lessons were taught. So, he sat in his bedroom, door closed giggling softly at the little blond girl that was pointing at objects and carefully saying the words.

“Stuhl,” She insisted.

“Stuhl- chair,” the young boy’s head bobbed, soft curls bouncing as he repeated the word.

The girl smiled, her skin pulling at the hole that sat at the back of her head, before pointing towards the desk.

“Schrei-“She paused, her gaze caught on something behind him.

Tilting his head back, until he fell onto his back with a soft thump he was meet with the sight of a man in green. He had a helmet that made Number Four think of the picture of a turtle that was in his book, and large dark boots that were covered in mud. He giggled lightly at the man being upside down.

“Oh!” blinking up at the tall man from his spot on the floor, waving his right hand rapidly to greet the man, “Hello!”

“Ah shit, Spook?” the man muttered, running his hand through his hair before squatting down.

“Hey there,” he greeted after a moment, “I’m Chaz.”

“I’m Number Four!”

Something flashes in the man’s blue eyes, gone before Number Four even could see, a strained smile curled on his lips.

“How bout I call you Spook instead?”

His head dragged across the hard wood floor as he cocked it to the side, green eyes wide.

“Why?”

“Uhhh, it’s like a nickname. Friends give each other nicknames.” The man stumbled.

Number Fours mouth fell open into a little O of shock, “I’ve nev’r had a friend before.” He mumbled back, suddenly sitting up and looking both shy and like he was trying not to jump around.

Turning quick, Spook gave a blinding smile. “Ok! Can I call you… uhhh.” He fell silent, face turning red in thought.

“How bout you call me Spaz. That’s what all my friends call me.”

The bell chimed down the hall and without much thought Number Four waves with a small goodbye and darted out the door. For a long time, Chaz was in the room staring at the bare walls and empty room, no toy or game in sight for a small child. A chair and a desk, both plain browns sat neatly next to a small bookshelf with three shelves, all school books, the lone closet was filled with tidy pressed clothes and the bottom lined with freshly shined shoes. Shaking himself from the sad image, Chaz turned on his heel and made his way out, wondering how fast he could get a message to James and Brian about an emergency meeting.

The answer turned out to be, it took an hour to find Brian and tell him to start the process of telling the others about an emergency meeting. It took a half hour for Clark to show up to tell him about the emergency meeting and a half hour after that to find James. James was sitting in front of the Vietnam memorial, his gave locked onto familiar names.

“Anderson,” His voice came out level as his gaze darted to Clark’s face.

“Everyone is gathering for a meeting.” He reported, hand flying up to salute even though it had been nearly thirty years.

A spark of interest shined through, as James stepped back to move to the park close by- the dubbed meeting area as of the end of 82’.

Gregory arrived first, with a fond hello. Paulie falling in line after him with a bemused smile. Sammy saluted before turning to start chatting away.

Bradley coming a few minutes later, “I was watching, Katz’ sister, her son just graduated.” He told them.

Soon the park held the dead members of the 173rd, not that anyone could see them.

“What’s the meeting for? Last meeting, we had was when Thomas joined us.” Gregory asked loudly, gaining the attention of the rest.

Grunting softly, Thomas held up his hand and shooed at the men, still bitter about the car accident that took his life the year before.

“Thought we weren’t due for another four months.” Thomas questioned, trying in vain to pull his appearance together like the other’s taught him to.

“I found one of our missing.” Chaz blurted out.

The troops went silent. Being dead allowed for them to travel around the world, talk to other dead, and generally be nosy. They had found all the spirits or bodies of anyone MIA and those sent home. They knew where every one of the 173rd ended up… except.

“Spook or Dave?”

No body or soul was found of two of their finest, gone from the battlefield. Paulie had moved from his station of watching the pair (Really just Klaus) to comfort a newly dead Chaz. Only when he turned back both men where gone, both dead and living had spread out to search but nothing ever came of it. Bodies gone into the jungle or captures by the enemy, the living whispered, MIA. But the dead searched the jungle twice over and knew something wasn’t right.

“Spook.” Chaz spoke soft, knowing how much it meant to the 173rd to find one of their missing.

“You-“Taking a deep shaking breathe he restarted, “Remember the stories he’d tell? Of the future? The old billionaire that bought seven babies?”
A general mumble of consensus went around the camp as well as amused smiles at the memories.

“I don’t think he was making it up.”

Chapter Text

February  1968

                Humming to himself, he leaned back slightly as he cleaned his rifle, laughing when Charlie walked by and elbowed his back. He was getting use to war- or rather he was used to fighting and taking orders. Unlike his childhood though, he liked it here. And that thought jarred him, freezing in his motions he stopped and contemplated that thought, that warm feeling in his chest. In 1968-some twenty years before he’s actually born. In 1968 where being his usual flamboyant-ness will defiantly get him killed. In Vietnam, a war he didn’t agree with and really had no reason to fight.

                But… When Chaz pulled him down so a bullet wouldn’t hit him, and Gregory hooted at his jokes. Alex would curl up with wide eyes and aw at his stories, Charlie and Mitchell would call him over to play cards. Joe would curse Reginald to high hell when Klaus woke the tent with his nightmare, begging his daddy to just let him out. And Dave… Dave would smile, and he didn’t push, his soft words of encouragement, telling him he was more than a junkie.

                It was very hard not to like 1968. It was very hard to want to go home. Home to an indifferent family that hadn’t cared for him in years, to a life of nothing and no one. It’s not like they would notice he was gone. He had told those guys the truth, they grabbed the wrong guy. He wasn’t important… at least not in 2019. They cared… so much more then any of his siblings ever seemed too. (other then Ben)

 

                It was the night before they could go to Saigon and the 173rd where gathered around- both dead and alive. Klaus had taken to telling the troop stories of the Umbrella Academy, mostly the good stuff, weaving in whimsical things from the comic and magazine articles. After getting a hit off of Chaz’s stash, he couldn’t help but reminisces about the training he had with his brothers- his other brothers.

                “So, Diego was training right- He’s the one with the knives- I told you about him. But Dad, dad comes up with this training exercise. Not sure for who, exactly? But you know- Might have just been for laughs- his laughs mind you.” He paused, collecting his thoughts for a moment before continuing, “So, Diego is throwing his knives and Five, Ben, and I are running around trying to not get hit but were not allowed to stop like Dad has us just sprinting around in circles. Diego has to go through us to hit the target. So, like half hour in, and even Five is cut up pretty bad. Diego is tired to- apparently throwing knives is a lot of work? And like Ben goes down, just straight up face plants, but Diego’s knife is already flying. So- I” He wiggled his fingers and gestured with a shrug, “Jump in front and try and push him. But I’ve always been a thin shit, so that did nothing, and that my boys, is how I ended up with this!” He said with a flourish, moving the green army vest to show off the scar next to his collar bone.

                The camp is silent, for a beat and then another. Amused faces turned ashy as they looked at the scare that came with the story. Klaus’ eyes turn nervous as he takes in the faces of his friends, all pale and angry. His high just enough to mute the hollering of the dead around him- unknowingly the hollering that was calling for his father’s blood and not just help.

                “Jesus, Hargreeves!” Chaz exclaimed jumping up from his spot to peer closer at the scar.

                “I thought the stories weren’t true!” Alex half wailed.

                “Jesus fucking crackers, are you saying your dad really locked you up?”

                Klaus peered up at the angry men, his face screwed up in shocked confusion. His green eyes flashed, glancing at the men angry on his behalf before his gaze settled on Dave. Dave was sitting across from him, with clenched fist that dripped with blood and a hard gaze looking over Klaus’ shoulder, unwilling to look him in the eyes.

                “Uh…”

                “Is- is that why you make the shit up, about the future and superheroes? Because your dad pitted you against your siblings?” Richard asked, “Raised you to be soldiers too?”

                Klaus jolted straight up at those words. Face pale and hands starting to shake, he turned and bolted away from the men. His long strides taking him to the edge of the camp in seconds.

The remaining men look at each other uncomfortably- while getting hit on the head or spanking was normal the idea of locking a kid up or throwing knives at them, left them with a bad taste in their mouth.

                “No wonder he’s a druggie, didn’t he say his daddy,” Richard spat, “locked him in the dark for three days? He was what nine?”

                “Probably started to pretend to be superheroes to deal with that shit.” Joe muttered sadly.

                “Do you- do you think that’s why he looks at some of us like that?” Brian asked quietly, “When were nice to him, he seems so-so dazed and confused.”

                “When we get out of this hell hole, he ant going back there.” Chaz announced loudly to the group, “I’ll drag him home to my ma’ myself.”

                The men grumbled angrily to each other and themselves, pretending not to notice when Dave slipped by and headed in the direction Klaus disappear too.

                “I liked those stories.” Alex muttered face down turned.

                “Let him have his superhero stories,” Mitchell told them, the oldest and only one with a kid of his own, “I think it’s good for him, and if he wants to tell us…” he trailed off for a moment, eyes glazed just thinking about his own son going through some of the shit Klaus had told them about.  “Just, don’t forget that some of it’s real.”

                And if Dave came back a few hours later with an arm wrapped around Klaus, both red eyed and tear stained cheeks, well anyone who commented was shushed or pushed away.

                Curling back into Dave’s side, with Alex coming over to sit close by- sitting knee to knee to Klaus- and the other men of the 173rd circled around before Mitchell started reading out his latest letter from his wife and kid.

Chapter Text

End of May 1999

                “Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay- but what if-“

                “No, Spook.” Bradley mumbled; his hand raised to pinch between his eyes. “Your shoulder is still healing.”

                “But-“

                “No, I will call James here.” He told the boy, knowing that he listened to the Sargent, half from respect and half out of some form of parental relationship that everyone was not talking about.

                “Awww man,” he muttered, kicking at the wall. “Alex would let me do it.”

                “Well Alex is stuck at 19 and is a little shit like you.” Bradley answered back dryly. “And he wouldn’t- not till your shoulder was better.”

                “You know,” Klaus said after a moment, “You can’t touch me, so you can’t really stop me.” He looked up at Bradley’s own green eyes, a wide familiar impish smile stretching across his lips.

                Narrowing his eyes, Bradley stepped forward, dearly wishing he light slap the back of the ten-year old’s head.

                “Number Four, Report for Training at once.” A stern voice echoed through the halls.

                Turning his head towards the door, Bradley scowled heavily, no one in the 173rd liked Reginald. But was even more worrying was that training time was usually conducted in the early afternoon, never this late into the evening.

                Pouting up at the ghostly figure, Klaus salutes like Gregory had taught him and hurriedly ran down the stairs. Plans to ask Alex, the next time he was around to help his slid down the banister. Bradley followed at a sedated pace, knowing he had to be there for Klaus even if he couldn’t stop Reginald from doing anything.  The scar that had clued the troop in to how true some of his stories were had been received just the other day. Brian had come screaming to them when it happened, so angry that he couldn’t just punch Reginald at least once.

                So, Bradley followed with a tired sigh, wondering what the monster was going to do now. He followed some feet behind them, watching confused as Reginald dragged Klaus from the house. Klaus waved when he noticed him, his smile still on his cheeks that were already losing their baby fat. His green eyes stayed on Bradley as he made faces and played- generally being a kid or rather just Klaus. But Bradley’s amused gaze darted up and he felt himself grow cold- like the dead that had lost their humanity- the dead that had turned into animals- the dead the 173rd had been keeping away from Klaus.

                A mausoleum. With vines growing on it’s walls and rusty gates. Bradley could feel the air around it turns to ice as the sleeping dead were awoken by the gate being force open. Klaus face dropped and eyes widen in confusion, lips parting to ask his brown-haired companion questions.

                Bradley had seen Klaus through a lot of shit. He had seen Klaus going through withdrawal, getting stitched up -both at thirty and 9-he had seen him morning as he cried over Alex’s body, through nightmare, panic attacks, and through war.

                He had never seen Klaus pale as much as he did, his skin going nearly transparent and eyes bugging out in horror as he was forced deeper into the mausoleum.

                The gate creaked and slammed shut. Bradley could do nothing as the dead swarmed the thin boy like moths to a single flame. Their screams echoing off the walls as Klaus fell and scramble backwards, bewildered at these new spirits.

                “Please-“ He begged, “Please stop.”

                But his pleads make them shriek louder, unhuman sounds, of wailing that if he was alive would make his ears bleed. The spirits surged back and forth like waves crashing on the beach, some begging him for help, while other trying in vain to get the boy out of their resting place.

                “Hey, Hey, Spook, look at me, Spook it’s okay.” Bradley cooed, pushing his way to the front, crouching over the trembling boy as much as he could.

                Green eyes darted around, his face palling as the ghost got closer and closer to him. Innocent eyes stopping to stare morbidly at an open chest, a head half caved in, and blood drip-drip-dripping onto a stone floor.

                Slowly tiny fist formed claws as he brought them up to his ears, pressing down to try and block out the noise as he clawed at the skin around them. Confused eyes darted from the shrieking forms to the familiar army man that was before him, begging him to do anything to make these monsters go away.

But in their burial place they had the upper hand. He could push them back one by one, but they would not- could not- leave the mausoleum and thus would just continue to move forward. For a long moment Bradley thought about leaving, finding help among the 173rd, to rally the troops in defense of their youngest. But that meant leaving him in the dark. That meant leaving him alone with the screaming…

Bradley sat down scooting closer to the trembling boy until their legs would have been touching if Bradley was corporeal.

 Opening his mouth, he told Klaus stories and tried to talk over the noise of the screaming dead.

                When dawn broke over the horizon and light slowly filtered into the room, the screaming began to die out as the spirit flickered in the sunlight.

                Peering tiredly through messy hair, Klaus looked up at the solider with a heart-breaking expression.

                “It’s okay Spook.” He whispered, as the gate creaked open and the silhouette of Reginald stood bathed in sunlight, expression sever and notebook in hand.

 

 

Chapter Text

End of January 1968

                Sitting in his cot, he faced towards the back of the tent, his back stiff and straight as he stared. The type of stare where he’s not really focusing on what he is looking at because it’s such a familiar picture.

Klaus was mostly sober. Not 100%, withdrawal in the middle of a war would be hell, more so then war already was. Not that anyone blamed him for taking shit, more than half the guys in their troop took shit. But-well-

                His eyes trailed across the tent, stopping for a moment on a familiar silhouette in an army green vest- what was unfamiliar was the blood that dripped from a missing arm- but the brown hair and cow lick, hazel green eyes and sharp jaw line… one of the men that had raised him more the mom, Pogo, and dad.

                When he had actually taken a moment to look at the people around him, he had stopped marching. (Almost falling when the man behind him stumbled into his stilled form) Stopping in the mud with a dumfounded expression when he saw people he knew, people that had raised him. Seeing, Alex, Greg, Chaz, Jake, Chris, and Brian marching along side of him completely corporeal, red cheeks, and beating hearts.

                And well, his eyes darted back to the shadow, of course the others would be here- though still significantly dead.

                Bradley was watched the inhabitants of the tent with a stiff back and sad expression. The same Bradley that would sit with him through training and offer as much comfort and advise he could. Earlier Klaus had sworn he saw Clark and Sammy the blond-haired twins that would tell him stories of growing up in Texas, hovering over Dave’s tense form offering unheard words of comfort. These were the men he hadn’t- that was a thought for another time, he told himself. What he had done was for not now, not 1968.

                He shouldn’t be surprised, he told himself over and over. Not when Alex, his big brother frozen at nineteen (Died to young, like Ben, his mind whispered tauntingly) was in the cot next to him, alive and breathing, soldiering on like he wouldn’t die any time now. (They never told him how they died, just that it was Vietnam) He shouldn’t be surprised when he knew so many of the faces that walked besides him. Not when he had asked Chaz about James after a week here, only to get confused looks because that Sargent had died some weeks before he arrived. (He had cried silently about it later- much later- he had always wanted to know what a hug from the man he really thought of as father would feel like.)

                He knew (will know? had known?) that the soldiers from his childhood were from Vietnam.

                His family from his childhood. His ghost. His most trusted allies against life. His family.

Chaz, Jake, Alex, Greg, Dicky, Brian, Chris, Mike, Bruce, and Tom all alive and kicking. So, of course the spirits of Bradley, James, Paul, and the others would be here. (James voice was hard and demanding like steel when he told him “The 173rd sticks together.” He had never thought himself worthy of the 173rs though…) But It made sense. Family sticks together and the 173rd was a family, they had drilled that into his head since he was a child. (Since they came, all together and huddled around his child’s self)

                “Oh…”

                Blinking owlishly at the ghost before letting his gaze drift down to Alex’s sleeping form, his black hair nearly brown because of the mud and the letter from his mom still clutched in his hand.

                “That’s why… they found me cause I’m here.” He whispered to himself.

                For a moment he stared and stared- memorizing Alex as alive with the childishness of a nineteen-year-old instead of the nineteen-year-old that had been dead for thirty years. A smile slowly stretched across his face as he curled into himself tighter.

                “They came back for me, they stayed for me.”

                A warmth, like after a hot coco on a cold day, seeped into his chest and made his skin tingle. He basks in the feeling, in the knowledge that from the beginning the 173rd was his.

                His gaze drifted back to Alex, wondering…

                Dicky, Tom, Bruce, and Mike had looked older as ghost and tried to remember if they had mentioned when they died. Surely- yes, Tom hadn’t started showing up until he was 14 and Bruce showed up when he was around nine. Bradley, James, and the others had died before he came to 1968, maybe he could…

                Maybe he could save Alex and Chaz, Jake, Chris, and Greg.

                He couldn’t be high for this, not for the men that had stayed for him, not when they needed him.

                Sitting up fully on his cot, he slipped out of the tent on quick feet, waving at the night watch before meandering his way towards the only man he would ever see as his father.

                “Sargent James,” he called trying to keep his gaze from the multiple gunshot wounds the bleed sluggishly against the man’s chest he wasn’t used to seeing, “Can I have a word?”

Chapter Text

2000

Klaus tried to stay focused on Clark and Sammy as they told him about how they tried to tip their families cow when they were his age and really it wasn’t that fun because Bella the cow hated them for years afterwards.

He was leaning against the door frame, trying to drown out the gun shots, and new ghost by focusing on his brothers. After all, all the hostages were escorted out by him and really that was his only job. So, as Two flung knives with deadly precision and Five would take the used knives before teleporting onto someone’s shoulder and stabbing them in the neck. (No one ever knew who’s kills were Two or Fives, no one but Klaus who would watch the victims of his brothers’ assaults join the crowds of dead behind them.) Three rumored a good two men to do her bidding and stood back to watch the show with a small amused smile. One had left the hall to make sure the rest of the building was clear nearly ten minutes ago.

Klaus’ gaze wondered before he caught sight of his favorite (living) brother. Six was crouched down trying to remain unseen by their siblings as he held his stomach. Glancing up to see Clark’s worried blue eyes staring at him, Klaus shrugged before making his way (around the blood) to Six.

Swaying to the right he bumped his leg against his brother, before nodding towards the door.

“Wanna help be look out?” he asked softly, watching as Six’s eyes looked so relieved to be getting out of the there.

Reaching down Klaus laced their fingers together before tugging him out of the room.

“So, Clark and Sammy were telling me what it was like growing up on a farm,” he told his quieter brother softly, “about fields so long it feels like you’ll never reach the end.”

“That sounds nice.” Six mumbled, raising his free hand to tug at the opening of his shirt.

“Right? They rolled down hills and splashed in mud. There was this one time-“

“Spook.”

Looking up, Klaus clamped his mouth shut before pushing Six towards the wall. Sammy was down the hall, looking both ways and waving towards Clark. Clark watched his brother before telling the boy quickly.

“Two, both with guns.”

“Four?” Six questioned, peering around his shoulder.

“Shhh, apparently one missed some stragglers.”

All at once Six looked like he was going to sob, letting go of Klaus’ hand he reached to prepare himself for the horror that was in his stomach.

Klaus glanced between the soldiers before staring at Six’s face, nodding to himself, he shushed Six and carefully moved himself forward.

Right as he reached the corner, he clenched his fist. He had only really done this with Alex and James, but…

Sammy was quietly counting down their approach when Clark figured out what he was planning. Grabbing his twin, they lowered themselves slightly and got ready to charge.

Pulling from that feeling in his chest, the feeling of need, want, and panic. He could feel his heart start to beat faster and all the hairs on his legs and arms stand right up. His spine shivered making him tremble violently. Clenching his fist, he concentrated. With a low hum, his fist began to brighten as blue rain up his veins from his hands, reaching and reaching until it hit his heart and all his veins in-between lit up like Christmas lights.

Two pair of feet hit the ground with a soft thump before they took off, charging the men with recklessness only the dead had. Bullets flew through their form, but they solidified completely once they hit the men, tackling them to the ground.

 

Six inched forward slowly, watching as Four paled and skin became nearly transparent. Peering around the wall he made out two blond haired men in army green clothes beating the shit out of armed men. It was as an arm flew forward to hit one of the men that their forms began to flicker. Once- another punch was landed- twice- a knee was brought up and into a stomach- and then the blonds were gone. The armed men fell forward and groaned, unmoving.

Turning his head to ask Four what just happened, he was met with the sight of his brother sliding down the wall and shaking. His skin while not as transparent was significantly paler then it had been when they entered the building.

“Four?”

“Mmm’kay.” He waves off, failing to push himself off the floor.

                Looking between the down men and his brother he ran forward, slamming the enemy’s heads to the floor to make sure they were out if not concussed before joining his brother against the wall. For several long moments the only sound is Four’s labored breathing and trembling teeth.

                “Thank you.” Six finally utters, staring at Four’s dazed green eyes.

                He smiled back weakly, “T’s what’s brothers’ are for.”

Chapter Text

1968 March

                “Do not, and I mean it, do not check in on Katz or Hargreeves. Just don’t do it.” Paulie announced, joining the group with a flourish, stopping only to turn back to pick up the part of his skull he left behind.

                Glancing up, the dead watched as he glided into the tent. Attention only half on their living counterparts. Mitchell, Charlie, Chaz, and Joe had dragged Alex into playing poker nearly an hour ago betting cigarettes and random coins.

                “…should we ask?” Kevin asked from his place hovering over Alex, looking up from Alex’s poker hand, (Kid is gonna lose with that hand and that shitty poker face)

                “There not far from the camp but well-“ He shrugged for a moment looking rather distressed, “There necking like some high schoolers.”

                For a moment all the men are quiet.

                “I called it; everyone owes me some money.” Bradley finally tells them dryly.

                Kevin’s face twisted as his brown eyes darkened in disgust.

                “That’s-“

                “None of our business.” James said loudly.

                “But Sarg-“

                “We are dead. Why should it matter to us if they’r fucking?” Bradley defended.

                “It’s not natural!” Kevin finally shouted.

                “Neither is this war boy,” James sneered, “But I watched Katz pull the unit through the jungle without anyone joining us and Hargreeves pulls anyone close to him down and takes the dangerous shit so that kid-“ he pointe towards Alex falling face as Chaz cleaned him out, “Doesn’t get pulled to the front. Those two are some good men and you know it.”

                “Hargreeves sits with us for hours writing our finial letters home.” Paulie put in, having done that just a few hours ago.

                Since Klaus had taken to talking to them, ‘Mysterious’ unfound letter has been showing up- usually planted by Klaus in their old equipment so he wouldn’t be the only one finding them.

                “Ever since Hargreeves told Katz we were here he talks to us to, listens when we go through him even if he only gets a chill.”

                “Katz and Hargreeves have saved more soldiers live than anyone else in the 173rd.” James stepped forward, the shadows crossing his face and highlighting the blood that still decorated his uniform, “The 173rd are brothers in arms, I don’t care whose fucking who, brothers stand together.”

                With his head bowed Kevin muttered weakly, “Yes Sarge.”

                “So! What’s happening in here!” a familiar voice called.

                Hargreeves swayed into the tent, his gaze going over the poker game before looking up at the spirits.

                Kevin ducking away from James’ glowering form, his body nearly halfway through Alex. Paulie looking away from Klaus’ form and the Sargent. Bradley was still lounging in his spot over Chaz’s shoulder, but his eyes were alert as they darted between his commanding officer and everyone else in the room.

                “Chaz is bullying me!” Alex declared loudly, unknowing pushing his chair and himself fully through Kevin.

                “Nah, Kid you just suck at poker.” He snorted.

                “It’s his baby face,” Klaus declared after a beat, his green eyes sliding over to focus on the living, twirling around the spirits he reached forward and squeezed Alex’s cheeks, “Just look at it! It’s an open book.”

                “Hey,” He batted at him weekly, trying not to smile.

                “It’s okay, let big brother Klausy teach you how to use your baby face to win.” Nodding his head, he pushed Alex’s chair in and stood over his shoulder.

                “Another round, I’ll spot the kid.” He declared.

                “You mean I’ll spot him,” Katz snorted as he walked into the tent, pace lazy, “You still bum more than half yours off me.”  

                “It’s cause your to nice!” Mitchell told him, “Be a stone cold bitch and-“

                “Spook will somehow still end up with half your stash.” Chaz scowled.

                “I’m pretty sure everyone gives Klaus at least some of theirs.” Joe admitted.

                “You can’t win, especially when Spook’s your best friend! Think of it, if Davy-boy didn’t give Spook most of his, Spook would be getting them from us.” Charlie declared, before placing his hand over his heart, “Your doing this country and this troop a great service.”

                Snorting Dave shook his head before taking his place next to Klaus and on the other side of Alex, placing two cigarettes on the table.

                “Hey now, the kid needs more then that!” Klaus hackled, “That’s not enough to win.”

                “If I give him more there won’t be enough to serve my country.” Davy said with a wink as he handed Klaus over another.

                 The night was spent with living laugh, Klaus shooting James and the other’s confused looks as Kevin fled the tent and did not return. Shrugging he turned back towards the poker game, weaving a tail about winning a small gambling tournament when he was 18 and just leaving his parents place.

Chapter Text

2003

 

                “So, you are getting to be around those ages, tell me now have you had any crushes?” the talk show hostess leaned in, sitting on the edge of her love seat. Her red painted lips were curled into a small smile as she looked expectantly at them.

                It was early, they had gotten up before the sun to be dressed in their uniforms and herded out the door. They sat side by side on the couches given to them, Luther, Allison, and Diego on the one closer to the hostess, while Ben and Klaus sat side by side on the other.

                Luther was blushing, turning his head away from the camera which was only a little better than Diego’s horrified face at the question. Ben stared at his lap thoughtfully.

“Justin Timb-“Allison’s voice gushed happy to answer the question and have some ‘girly’ talk.

Klaus wasn’t facing the camera, Kevin was standing next to the camera man and making faces making Klaus laugh. Today had been a good day, none of the older ghost where crowding or the people his siblings had killed. Other then Kevin the only other spirit he could see was a frail old lady that was smiling amusingly at their hostess- a Jeanette something,

Even with most of his attention on the older man he heard the question, his floated through his ear and without much thought he replied to his sisters gushing.

“I think JC’s cuter out of the two, he dances better.” He told her, only turning his head for a second before making a face at Kevin.

He only really noticed something was wrong because Kevin’s face dropped, the older man looked worriedly between the camera and Klaus’ form. Reaching forward he placed his arm on the camera, something Klaus knew all his soldiers tried not to do as touching electronics tended to drain the electricity from them- even if it allowed Klaus to hug them or them to touch anything briefly.

Jeannette was looking at him with wide eyes and Klaus could see the camera man beginning to sneer.

Ben’s hand wrapped around his wrist and in a second, he was off the couch and being led towards the back.

“Ben?”

But his brother didn’t answer, his grip going tighter around his thin wrist.

“What’s wrong?”

He tried again.

“Ben you’re hurting me!” He finally snapped after a minute, yanking his hand back and curling it defensively towards his chest.

Ben turned his eyes dark.

“Hey,” Klaus whispered, hurt forgotten at his brother’s troubled expression, “What’s wrong?” he asked reaching out to cup his face.

Ben flinched away from his hand and eyes darted around the hallway they had ended up in.

“What’s wrong?! What’s wrong is you just outed your self on live Television!” Ben’s voice hissed.

Klaus frowned looking at his brother before looking around the room in confusion, landing on Kevin’s shadowed form. Kevin’s brown eyes were down casted unwilling to meet his gaze.

“Outed? “He tried the word out on his tongue, it felt heavy and weighted like when Reginald made them run with twenty-pound sandbags, “I don’t? What does that mean?”

Ben’s mouth opened and closed looking shocked and for a moment scared, “You’re the one that sneaks out the most are you telling me you didn’t know?”

“Didn’t know what?” he asked innocently, his focus trailing back towards Ben’s form when Kevin’s shoulders steadily rose up higher to shield himself.

“You’re queer or something? Not liking girls is- a lot of people think that’s wrong Klaus.”

“But why?” He asked bewildered thinking about all their history lessons, “Why does it matter who I like?”

“Because- Jesus Klaus it just does okay?” taking a deep breath Ben continued “You’re still my brother and I don’t care, neither will the others.” He back tracked, pausing for a moment, “But it’s not normal.”

“But you like guys-“

“No, I don’t!”

“…okay then.” He mumbled.

“Just Klaus, don’t talk about it. Dad and our manger will know what to do. Just don’t tell anyone else okay?”

Nodding his consent, Klaus watched Ben walk away. Only looking away when the feeling of all the tiny hairs on his body standing up from his eye’s brows down to his legs. The sound of tiny zaps and crackles echoed in his ears as his hair began to rise like someone rubbed a balloon on his head. A heavy hand landed on his shoulder and without looking he knew who it was.

“Hey kid,” Kevin spoke softly, curling his arm around Klaus head when the teen turned to burry it into his chest, “Your brother is just trying to protect you, he didn’t mean for it to hurt.”

“Is it?”

“What Spook?”

“Is it not normal?”

For a long moment Kevin goes silent, looking at the top of Klaus’ head as his hair goes from his painstakingly straightened form back to it’s naturally curly as the static ate through it.

“I used to think it wasn’t,” He finally said, “But I know now that isn’t true.”

The heaviness around his shoulders started to fade as the static died down.

“But even if it wasn’t, you of all people don’t need to be normal. We love you anyway. You know why?”

Smiling up at the man Klaus repeated in time.

“The 173rd is family. Family sticks together.”

Chapter Text

1968 April

It happened by complete accident. They had been marching forward for two days and he was barely keeping his eyes open and feet moving let alone being able to focus on Bradley, James, or any of the others.

He hadn’t slept for longer, he knew that, he remembers a haze of a four-day rave. But this was different. The blisters on his feet had blisters, his sweat rolled down his skin like a second layer making his already damp clothes damper, muscle aches and begged for rest in a way he hadn’t even felt under Reginald.

He was starring at Chaz’s back, willing anyone to let them have a break, just five minutes. He was so intent at focusing on the lose thread of Chaz’s jacket that he didn’t notice until it was to late. It was Paulie standing up front next to Alex, Jake, and Robbie. He was shaking his head, lose black curls bouncing as he shouted for Klaus’ attention- but all the dead were shouting for Klaus, the dead Viet Cong came and went, civilians from raided villages, the jungle was teaming with the dead.

He couldn’t hear Paulie, he could barely hear his commanding officer or Dave.

He couldn’t hear Paulie.

He didn’t even hear the explosion at first, his ears just started ringing. He felt Bruce grab him from behind and push him down into the mud. He felt the mud, dirt, and even roots shift under his feet as the ground gave way and tremored.

His ears were still ringing when Bruce dragged him up by his armpit and into the nearby bushes.

Blinking back spots and dirt Klaus looked on to try and catch sight of Dave. He didn’t find Dave.

There was a hole in the ground, there was a hole in the ground where Alex use to be. The dirt was soaked with blood and as he raised a shaky hand up, he realized there was some blood on his face to. Robbie was screaming, or at least Klaus thoughts so, his ears were still ringing, but Robbie’s tan skin was pale, and his mouth was open wide. Klaus’ eyes trailed down dazedly, stopping at the red that painted Robbie’s hand- or rather wrist.

He inched closer, peering over the leaves to try and see what happened.

There was a hole in the ground where Alex use to be covered in blood with Paulie hovering over it gazing down sadly.

Alex was crumpled and bloody. His eyes were looking straight up through the canopy and his mouth was still set into a boyish grin. Blood was splattered on his check. Klaus wanted to wipe it off.

Alex had always done that calling him messy and using his hand to try and clean him off. for years his hand would slide straight through his head and he’d get such a sad look that Klaus would get up to find something to wipe it off himself.

He focused on Alex’s face, to scared to look at his body. There wasn’t much worse than this he thought when his gaze slide back towards Robbie.

 

Klaus marched towards the front the rest of the way; eyes glued to Bradley’s ghost form. Paulie had stayed with Alex’s body, grim faced and waiting to welcome the newly deceased. Klaus could feel his heart beating even hours afterwards, his hands shaking and eyes darting like he was high. God, he wished he was high, just a second of being numb. He led them forward and into the new camp and he continued for a while, pacing the camp, circling the outer perimeter like a caged big cat. He stopped once, when Paulie’s form wondered in, following the covered stretcher in his vigilance. Klaus did not sleep.

It was in the early hours of the morning that Dave finally pulled him aside.

“I was supposed to save him.” He told Dave, in the semi-safety of one of the army tents.

Trying to ignore the crack of his voice and the way Dave was carefully taking a rag and wiping his face- Alex’s blood was still on his face. His heart stalled as he focused on the rag as it was pulled away. Rusted red, chipped like paint instead of the blood it was, sat innocently on it, like it didn’t use to belong to someone. Like it wasn’t Alex’s or Robbie’s.

“Hey, no, Spook, no one could have known there was a mine there.” He consoled; his voice soft as he brought Klaus forward into a hug, “I know you’re lucky, but you’re not a superhero. You can’t notice them.”

But Klaus was gazing over his shoulder, green eyes locked on Paulie’s.

But I was a superhero. I could have known.

He wants to say. Beg Dave to understand that he messed up, that he was a failure, a monster. He failed the first rule of the 173rd. He hadn’t watched their backs. He hadn’t saved Alex.  But his lips are sealed shut and the taste of stomach acid stays in his throat. As his arms tighten around Dave and he rest his chin on his shoulder he knows Alex will appear before the night is over. For now, he will take the warmth and comfort he provided but later- once Dave was asleep, he would go to the dead.

Chapter Text

2001

 

Klaus looked up at Chaz shyly before his green eyes darted back down. He was holding a pair of Grace’s heels in his hands, the red ones that glittered in the sunlight that would come in through the window.

Biting his bottom lip, he felt a shiver go down his spine when he finally opened his mouth to talk.

“I just,” his vision blurred as he tried to hold back tears, he could feel the dull throb at his temple, “I don’t feel like a boy all the time?”

Chaz was leaning against the wall, trying to act soothing instead of the panic that was thrumming in his chest. Nodding his head, Chaz waited for Klaus to finish, wishing he had picked any other time then when Chaz was watching him, to confess.

Another smaller part very much wanted to call a meeting and rub it in their faces that Klaus told him first!

“Sometimes… sometimes I feel like a girl and other times I don’t feel like anything.” His voice grew smaller, as he hunched his shoulders forward.

Klaus’s eyes darted to the corner of the room, seven of the spirits from the mausoleum had followed him from his last session- that had lasted two days (Five bottles of water and one box of protein bars)- and had taken to screaming at him. Chaz and the others had gotten them to a few feet away but couldn’t manhandle the others into leaving Klaus alone permanently.  

“Hey,” Chaz called to the twelve year old soft, pushing himself to his feet before squatting to be a little less then eye level- fuck Klaus had been six feet when Chaz had first met him and he was already so tall- “Hey, Spook,” he called again, waiting for Klaus’ green eye to focus on him, “Don’t pay attention to those asshats.”

Nodding his head, Klaus stared at Chaz with wide eyes, hands still clutching onto the heels.

“It’s okay. Guy, girl, whatever, you are still one of us okay?”

A large smile stretched across his face, all white teeth and childishness.

“Should I talk to the others about the whole brother’s thing? Siblings stick together.” Chaz continued, mentally cheering and making a note to tell the unit he had gotten Klaus to smile.

Victory! Chaz was batting at 100% today! Klaus hadn’t smiled in months!

The last thought made Chaz pause and shoot a glare at the wailing seven. Klaus hadn’t slept more then a couple hours since Reginald had started taking him to the mausoleum more frequently. Klaus spent more time there or at a cemetery then he did his own room.

“Maybe? Don’t tell them yet okay! You gotta promise, I’ll tell them myself.”

Nodding at his earnest expression, Chaz gestured towards the heels.

“Do you want to try and learn how to walk in them? I don’t know how much help I’ll be but, I’ll be here.” He told the twelve-year-old.

Swiftly Klaus slipped his own shoes off and toed on the heels, hand flying out on either side of him to keep balance. Looking up he met Chaz’s grin with a shaky smile, before trying to shuffle forward. The shoes were to big on him, but he made do, shuffling forward once down the hall before taking small steps.

“You’re doing pretty great, better than my sister did.” Chaz told him as Klaus twirled and widened his stride.

Each step was less wobblily then the last and had him straightening his back and hold his head high with a smile.

“What did she do?” He questioned as he passed the spirit.

“Fell right onto our mom, the very first step.”

Snorting softly, Klaus turned the corner and started another lap through the hall. Chaz floated by his side, watching his steps.

“Number Four what is the meaning of this!”

Reginald voice echoed down the hall, loud and stern as he made his way up the stairs, his face set in disapproval as his cold dead eyes stared at Klaus.

“Da-Dad-“ Klaus squeaked trying to take a step away from the older man, but his foot twisted in the to big shoe and he stumbled back.

Sneering, Reginald’s eyes shot down to the heels, “Return those to your mother at once.”

Nodding Klaus took a jerking movement forward and towards the stairs, all of mom’s clothes held in a closet on the first floor. Slipping off the heel Klaus picked them up and took the first step onto the stairs.

“KLAUS LOOK OUT!” Chaz’s voice screeched, as a force shot forward and pushed on his back.

Klaus turned his head just in time to see his father lowering his cane. For a second, he was weightless and the rush of panic as he realized he was falling hit him.

 

 

When he came to some hours later, he couldn’t speak.

                His father had weaved his tail with a disappointed sneer.

                                                He couldn’t find Chaz or any of the others either.

                                                                                There was no one there but the living.

                                                                                                Klaus had never been alone before.

Chapter Text

May 1968

 

                They’re on leave in Saigon and Klaus is looking at Chris. He is drunk, dizzy, and leaning heavily into Dave, but he couldn’t help but stare at Chris and Alex who were watching the unit with small smiles.

                Like Alex didn’t still have blood on his cheek and missing a leg and a part of his pelvis. Like Chris hadn’t been shipped back to America last week only to die from an infection.

                He hadn’t been able to save any of them. Not Alex, or Chris, or even Jake. For a moment his eyes caught on Brian and Chaz, wondering when and how’d they would die.

                “Hey, Hey Spook what you’ve been singing?” Chaz slurred, slightly pushing the girl he’d been dancing with to sling an arm around Klaus.

                But Klaus was still leaning against Dave, so in the process Chaz punched Dave’s chin and made Klaus lose his already unsteady footing. For a second Klaus leaned to far forward and almost went headfirst into the bar counter.

                “I got you,” Dave’s voice whispered in his ear as he wrapped his arms around Klaus’ middle and propping him back up.

                “Wha- I’m not singing.” He denied.

                “Nah, Spook,” Dave shook his head, an amused smile playing at his lips, “You’ve been going off for a while, something about heaven and shit ton of numbers?”

                A dawning realization sent shivers down his back before he absentminded started singing the song he had made up when he was high off his ass when he was eighteen- the last time he had been in the mausoleum and the day before he finally left the Academy. He had been changing the words and playing with it at the funeral…

                “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

                None of Daddies soldiers are going to heaven

                One got big and got sent away

                Two turned cold and lost his faith

                Three joined the stars far away

                Four lost it all in a rave

                1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

                None of Daddies soldiers are going to heaven

Five Got lost in the blue, blue light

Six, damn him, lost the fight

Seven, dear seven, never stood a chance,

Song and melody all she had.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

                None of Daddies soldiers are going to heaven.”

                Klaus recited, smiling in spite of the morbid words.

                “Where did you ever ‘ear that?”

                “Mmmhhh, made it up. Made it up all by myself.” He preened, flashing a toothy smile before his gaze slide back to the blood pooling on the ground beside Alex and Chris. From the corner of his eye he could still make out the form of James and the others gliding through the bar, adding to the bloody dance floor.

                Blindly he slid his hand around the bar until he found another drink.

                “Hey, hey.” Dave mutter, reaching forward to grab the drink after Klaus took a sip. Whining under his breath, Klaus made grabbing motions towards the glass, “Noooo, mine.”

                Shaking his head Dave shooed the others away before asking worriedly, “What’s got you so worked up? Are-“ his vice lowered, “Do you see Vietcong?”

                “Nooooooo,” Klaus wobbled, looking up at him teary eyed, “It’s- Alex and Chris and James and and Bruce- there’s so much blood Davy, their covered and were just wadding through it all.”

                Worriedly, Dave’s eyes darted around the club, trailing down to look at the dance floor, trying to see what Klaus sees.

                “Do they- uh- they look like their injured?”

                “Their dead Davy,” his eyes darted towards his shoulder, grimacing he moved closer to Dave, ducking his head into his neck, “Jack’s still carrying around leg and Chris and I can see inside of Alex’- it’s just hanging there dripping.”

                He inhaled sharply taking comfort when Dave’s arms tightened.

                “I know they’re our friends and they help, but Davy there’s so much blood.”

                With darting eyes Dave dropped a kiss on his head, before pulling him up. Nodding towards Brian, Dave dragged Klaus out the door, before swinging him up and carrying him towards their hotel.

 

                James watched them go with a stern expression, before calling his troops to order. Eyeing each men and their injuries- Paul and his wide open chest, Bruce still holding his leg, John who was missing half his head- absently he brought his hand up to splay across his chest paying attention to his multiple gunshot wounds that littered his form, something he had mostly ignored after he died.

                “We got work to do.”

Chapter Text

 

 

2005

 

It’s James and Chaz and Sammy that Ben open’s his eyes to- not that he knew that. James is looking at him stern faced but eyes sad, as Chaz leans down to offer a hand.

“You’re a hero, Son.” He tells him, clapping a and on his back.

Ben isn’t sure what was happening. He remembers being on a mission and Klaus screaming for him. But everything was wrong. It was like a film had settle over his skin, making even Chaz’s clap on the back feel like a brush of a feather instead of the firm hand it was. It felt like static danced across his skin like a current, making it tingle and his teeth ache. The world was tilted, everything off like he was wearing crooked glasses- the frames just bent off.

“Who-?” Ben mumbled, stretching his jaw and bringing a hand to rest on his cheek, it felt numb and just as off as the world was.

His eyes rolled around, pausing at each of the men curiously as he tried to remember where he was and what had happened. It looked like they were standing in an alleyway, trash littering the ground.

“Sargent James O’Connell,” the taller man said stiffly, nodding his head in greeting, his army uniform seeming to gleam in the light.

“Private Charles Bernard, everyone calls me Chaz.” He greeted with an easy smile, “This here is Private Sammy Bacon.”

Ben stared silently for a moment, trying to remember why those names sounded fam- “Ah! You’re Klaus’ ghosts!” he half gushed, feeling the bubble of excitement push through his stomach and out of his mouth, “I helped Klaus do research to find your families and graves and just information! He said you’d hep him, that you were family.” Ben nodded along, “You helped a lot of us growing up, having Klaus relay information and messages and stuff. You helped us on mission and taught Klaus all those fun games!”

Chaz grinned wildly as he threw an arm around Sammy’s shoulder, “We watched.”

But the words he spoke seem to sink in and Ben’s excitement died just as quickly as it came. His eyes roaming over army green vest and helmets with stickers, boots caked in mud and long pants just as dirty.

“But… but your dead?”

Chaz grimaced, as Sammy face broke from his small smile, eyes darting to meet James’. Ben crumpled.

“Hey, now.” James muttered, stepping forward and crouching.

“I- I Don’t remember?!” Ben gasped breathlessly, bringing his hands up to grasp at his chest only to pull them back in horror- hands now coated in spilling blood. Glancing down he finally seemed to notice the pool at his feet and the gaping hole that was his chest.

“Waha!” He screamed, falling to his knees, Ben cried.

James sighed heavily, cupping Ben’s face to pull it up and meet his gaze.

“There is no nice way to say this, or gentle.” He stated, “You were young- you are young.”

Ben sniffled.

“You are dead.” Flinching back at those words, James held Ben in place, “You died a hero, protecting a brother and saving lives- this does not make death better- but it might bring you solace. You are not alone, the 173rd always stand by their brothers.”

Ben nodded slowly.

For a moment they sat like that, huddled close together as Ben tried to stop his crying.

“Oh!” He whispered guilty, “Klaus, I have to- I promised him I wouldn’t leave him.” He shakily stood up, ready to turn and run to his brother.

“Before you see him,” Sammy spoke up, “Let’s clean you up.”

Ben glanced down at his blood soaked front and nodded, reaching out to take Sam’s hand and follow him away. Once out of sight Chaz glanced away, peering down the alley where Klaus was still huddled in a corner, eyes vacant as he stared at the brick wall ahead of him, a long syringe lay on the ground.

“Do you think he will remember?”

James’ face spasmed as his frown grew deeper, remembering Klaus walking away from his look out post with certainty, eyes hard as he ignored the 173rd that screamed at him to stop.

His green eyes had been jaded and dark as he solider marched himself through the doors, back stiff as he ignored Luther’s cries to get out- that he couldn’t fight as he tackled a gunman. Allison long gone as she led hostages away, even as Diego was ripping his knives out of downed bodies. He had turned his head away from the screaming army men that had raised him, ignoring their cries and futile attempts to grab him, push him, stop him from his choice. But Klaus had found a gunman, a middle aged man in a ski mask, hands shaking as he held up his gun. Klaus had seen him and smiled, spreading his arms out in a mockery of a greeting, walking forward with measured steps.

James, Chaz, and Sammy hadn't realized it had gotten this bad. That his father's words and abuse and training had finally chipped away enough of Spook that he had turned completely to drugs- unable to see the 173rd and being consumed by guilt for not being stronger. That his addiction to the silence and haze had consumed him so terrible much and his devotion to them had torn him up even as he took more and more pills. That the dead the 173rd had tried to keep away had finally broken through. Living nothing but a walking corpse behind. 

Ben had screamed for his brother, jumping forward and taking the shot to the chest from just a few feet away. Klaus' face had crumpled and he fell besides his brother- screaming and screaming. 

All Chaz could think was with Ben gone, no one was alive to stop him the next time.

James face was dark, eyes dropping to Klaus' huddled form, having ordered a three to four person watch team around the teen after the incident. It was only luck that Ben had appeared so close to Klaus. It was only luck that Klaus had just shot up and didn't see his brother's blood chest and innocent confusion. Klaus was shaking, hands gripping and pulling at his dark curls as he whimpered and cried out for a dead brother.

"He will." James declared certainty, "For Klaus or for himself."

Chapter Text

1968

 

                It was nearing dusk and for once it was relatively silent at their basecamp. Relatively because while no bombs were going off and the gunfire couldn’t be heard, the camp still had the moaning of the wounded and the hushed conversations between friends. Klaus wasn’t paying attention to any of that though.

                He knows in the back of his mind he is freaking Sammy out, just as much as he freaked Chaz out until he left the tent to play cards with Dave or Joe or anyone else willing to play. Instead of Klaus who was to busy staring intently at Sammy who stood by the back of the tent, but Chaz didn’t know he was staring at Sammy, Chaz probably thought he was having a break down of something. He wasn’t- didn’t think he was- no defiantly wasn’t.

                He was staring at Sammy- new? New to 1968- non-bloody form contemplating one single fact.

                Sammy shifted nervously, eyes flying over to Chaz’s retreating back. Klaus had been silently staring at him for the past two and a half hours, not answering Sammy’s confused calls or Chaz when he tried to get his attention, just staring with a blank look, the only movement being his eyes as he tracked Sammy’s movements through the tent. He dearly wished that James or Jack or anyone else was on Klaus duty. He had never minded watching over Klaus, giving him heads up, and guarding him from dead Vietcong. But. It was getting close to three hours and Klaus HADN’T STOPPED STARING AT HIM.

                Klaus blinked, head tilting to the side as he exhaled. Sammy nearly cried with relief.

                “Hey, hey did I name myself?”

                Sammy squinted at him, trying to remember if Klaus had gotten into anything before the weirdness had started.

                “Because like, mom didn’t name me cause I already had  name, you guys always called me Spook, lucky, or Klaus so when everyone got named I told her my name but like, you knew my name because of here, so did I name myself?”

                Sammy watched as Klaus lips twisted into a frown as he spoke, looking deeply confused.

                “Like,” he squinted turning his face away from Sammy, “I told you my name was Klaus but only because you told me my name was Klaus in like 26 years. So, was my name ever actually Klaus?”

                Sammy watched as he continued to go in circles.

                “Did I name myself?”

                Dave walked into the tent; eyes soft with concern as he walked up to Klaus. “Hey Spook, Chaz sent me.”

                Klaus hummed, eyes meeting Dave’s before he glanced back at Sammy. “Dave,” he announced seriously, “I think I named myself.”

                Dave, like Sammy, did not know what to do with that. He shifted from one worn boot to the other before sitting on the cot, scooting closer to throw an arm around Klaus, his blue eyes darting towards the tent’s opening even as he drew Klaus closer.

                “Dave, this is serious, do you know what Klaus means? I could have been named something cool, like—I don’t know but something cooler. Wait, wait if they knew me from now, like they totally knew I was Pan before I did, those assholes.” He hissed, eyes darting to glare at Sammy.

                Dave nodded, still looking confused but agreeing to Klaus’ weird statements as he babbled.

 

                Later that night as he curled into himself Klaus followed the train of thought from before. Feeling his heart clench and the bubble of acid in the back of his throat as he realized, if he was in a perfect time loop, if he was supposed to be in 1968 then that meant he couldn’t save anyone. Chaz would die. The others, his eyes trailed across occupied cots. He couldn’t save any of them.

                And he felt himself burn with guilt. Guilt that the hope bloomed in his chest and made his eyes burn with hopefully tears as he realized he had never seen Dave before coming back. Dave would live. Dave would live.

                And he hated himself a little bit more for holding onto that, to feel the relief and joy that he did that he knew, he’d watch so many of his family die, but Dave wouldn’t.

He turned away from Chaz, suddenly consumed with the knowledge that no matter what happened he’d never get to go home to his fiancé.

But Dave would live.

Chapter Text

                1968

                Klaus didn’t think. The second he saw the blood on Dave’s chest his mind went blank, went silent, his whirl wind thoughts and odd not-fear for the war gone. everything stopped. He knew- supposedly he never asked- many people thought your life flashed before your eyes as you died and while he hadn’t been hit it didn’t matter. His mind went from nothing to everything in a second. Meeting the 173rd when he was a child, the men standing by his side- raising him- through mission and training and death.

                Dave was in none of those memories.

                His descent into drugs and the disappointment from James, the sad smile of acceptance from Chaz, the broken promises and half apologizes he’d whisper to them even as they blurred out of view.

                Dave hadn’t appeared once.

                When he couldn’t see them but could never block Ben, the games of telephone and warning they’d still pass on to him. Not to stay with certain people or when the police were coming, safe places to eat and who to trust, always trickling back to him.

                He wasn’t even in the background.

                Ben’s whispered words of “173rd,” he’d whisper when an elderly man would spot him, offering him a safe place to sleep and warm food, “I don’t know how, but James’ says he knows you.” Ben would say, and they would mark the safe house- their brothers houses for the winter.

                No whisper of him in any memory.

                Surely Dave wouldn’t have left him? Dave who cradled his face so softly and whispered like anything louder would break him. Surely.

                Dave couldn’t die.

                Dave wouldn’t have left him.

                Dave

                Dave

                Dave

                Klaus refused, turning he ran back for the briefcase.

Chapter Text

2019

 

The family was all gathered in the living room, each sporting bandages and wounds in different states of healing. Luther was hunched forward glancing between the lanky form of their brother and the others in mild confusion, gaze woeful as he finally got the courage to ask.

“Is… is that necessary?” watching Klaus stride through the length of the living room for the third time.

At the question Klaus rolled his head back, letting out a satisfying pop before letting his shoulder fall back as he stretched out his arms, flexing the muscles experimentally.

“BwaBwrahaha” he hummed, shaking his limbs out, letting his fingers- painted a nice lavender- wiggle as his toes curled against the hard wood floor.

A beat passed before he began his hurried stride around the room. His pace only slowing at the bar, where Diego rigorously shook the shaker, the martini glass already sporting three olives. Diego’s eyes narrowed at Klaus’s slowed form, but all he did was reach over and grab the olives before he continued making a fourth lap in seconds.

Five’s face was a mask of annoyance even as his brow turned down and lips tugged into a familiar frown, “I don’t remember him ever doing this.” He admitted, reaching over to grab the offered martini from Diego.

“That wasn’t-“ Diego scowled, turning back towards the bar to make another martini for the third time, “if you wanted one why didn’t you just ask!” he grumbled.

Vanya shakily raised her own martini- the first one Diego had made- “Sorry,” she answered meekly, even as she relaxed her head back onto Allison’s shoulder, eyes still tracking Klaus.

Klaus paused again, twisting both sides before lifting his legs up in a mockery of a march.

“BwaBwrahaha” he hummed again, shaking his limbs out, letting his fingers wiggle as his toes – painted black with lavender tips- curled against the hard wood floor.

Ben smiled bemusedly at Klaus’ nervous, keeping a step ahead of him as he walked backwards.

“You gotta just do it.” he encouraged, “We all know you can.”

Klaus looked at Ben for a moment “Okay, okay, I got this.” he told himself, slapping his cheeks lightly as he bounced on the balls of his feet, “I got this.”

Taking a deep breath, he paused in his pacing and like magic the room froze, each sibling turning to watch him with bated breath as the tension in the room grew. He braced himself, feet slightly apart and knees bent as he brought clenched fist forwards. His fists sparked a brilliant blue as Ben’s form flickered into view before a beat passed and he faded.

“I don’t got this.” He declared, as the tension faded, nodding to himself before he paced another lap around the room.

Dave stood from his spot on the couch, using Luther’s offered arm to help heave himself upwards even as his left arm curled up across his chest. He couldn’t stop the wince from pain even as his fingers sank into the newly changed bandages.

Waving away the martini Diego had been trying to make him for the past half hour, he made his way around the siblings and coffee table, waiting twenty seconds before taking a step directly into the path Klaus had been pacing into the floor.

Diego scowled heavily, eyes narrowed as he seethed “I just spent a half hour trying to make you-“ he inhaled sharply, “fuck you.” He told Dave’s back before downing the martini before angrily chomping the olives, letting himself fall into the couch ungracefully elbowing Luther and making Allison and Vanya shift to make room.

Reaching out Dave pulled Klaus into a hug, letting his lips rest on his forehead.

“Babe,” he whispered low enough that none of the siblings could hear, “I know you’re scared. I know you got it into your head that you disappointed them, but you didn’t.” he assured, “You never could.”

“The drugs- everything-“

“They knew.” Dave said simply, “They knew when they first found little you. They met 29-year-old Klaus and saw little number Four and they knew; they knew this was their brother and he needed help. You said it yourself these men raised you. They knew who you were the second they came. They knew Klaus of the mountain of the crouching beast, the tiger of the 173rd. They knew Klaus who told stories and let us think of life outside of the war, or the man that smiled through horror stories. They knew the Klaus who lead us through minefields and looked out for the younger boys. And you know what Klaus?”

Dave pulled away, cupping Klaus’ face in his hands and staring into the familiar green eyes, “They found you at four years old and remembered what great of a man you would be, how amazing you are, and a brother they thought was lost. The 173rd stand together. They will come when you call, even,” he glanced at Five’s dark gave over Klaus shoulder, to the twin rifles Diego had given them, “even if it means into another war zone.”

Kissing him lightly on the lips he pulled back, “You can do this. You have always been more powerful than you think.”

A

Beat

Passed

 

And the room lit up blue.

Turning on his heel, Klaus peered at his siblings gaze passing over Allison and Vanya, to Diego wedged next to Luther and Five sitting on the coffee table, to Ben hovering by the armrest face lit up in a smug smile even as his form turned blue.

His gaze slides up, meeting the men in warn army vests and graffitied helmets.

“It’s about time Spook,” Chaz chided, a familiar smile sliding into place, as he leaned forward to rest his palms on the back of the couch, ignoring Luther’s yelp and scramble to lean forward.

“We’ve waited you know?” Sammy told him.

Snorting Jack grinned wickedly, eyes darting between Dave and Klaus, “Should have known you’d bring Dave to the future.”

“Now…” James said, eyes sharp, “What’s this about the apocalypse?”