Everyone on the battlefield followed the loud command to retreat. Fire from the enemy lines had slowed but wasn’t completely finished. There was still shouting in both languages, still rapid bursts of gunfire, still devastated screaming from both sides, but the front line was quickly being abandoned by American soldiers.
The sun was setting and evening was beginning to cast shadows on everything. Soon there was nobody left behind but the bodies and the blood. There was nobody left to notice that, accompanied by a flash of blue, there was a small young man in a snappy blazer crouched low to inspect one of the corpses left behind. More specifically, his dog tags.
“Klaus Hargreeves, huh?” The boy read, then reared an arm back to jab a needle directly into the man’s cold, still chest. “You’d better be worth the trouble.” He continued, observing to make sure the needle had caused the anticipated reaction. After precious moments ticked by, there was the smallest twitch of the corpses fingers.
Satisfied, the boy and the body vanished in another flash of blue.
Luther, Vanya, and Allison were gathered in the thankfully-not-destroyed mansion, settling into the living room while they waited on a family meeting. Allison and Vanya automatically sat together on a couch, so Luther had done his best to fit in an armchair. It had been a few months since their whole redo where they didn’t cause the apocalypse thanks to family bonding. They were getting along better, slowly but surely. Still, things were slightly awkward between the three.
So far there was some small talk while they waited, and Luther listened to Vanya explaining something music related. They’d found that music was a common interest and tried to build their new relationship around it. Luther was considering picking up an instrument. So far so good.
Diego strolled in, flipping a knife up and down casually. “Looks like I made it in time.” He said, looking around the room with a neutral expression. “No Five?”
“Not yet.” Allison replied quietly. Her vocal cords were still on the mend, but with vocal therapy she could speak in small amounts. “No Klaus, either.”
“Klaus was here earlier at breakfast.” Luther offered, unsure, “He’s.. probably around somewhere.”
That was one of their newer developments- it took a screaming match to establish, but they were all - mostly Luther - trying to place more trust in Klaus. They had a habit of jumping to conclusions with him, even though he’d been basically sober for months in a row. There were some heart wrenching relapses back when they started the whole ‘trying to be there for each other’ thing, but these days he was doing good. Cold turkey from booze and drugs- only weed and cigarettes.
“I’ll go find him if he doesn’t show.” Diego sighed, moving to lean on one of the pillars near the couch. “He might’ve fallen asleep in the tub again.”
“Maybe you should make sure he’s breathing sooner rather than later.” Vanya wryly suggested, and Diego scoffed in amusement.
He had a response ready, but he was cut short by his mind going into panic, fight mode when Klaus and Five arrived in a flash of light. All the remaining siblings tensed as they stared, eyes wide.
There was a loud groan from the floor. “ Woof . Hey guys.” Klaus croaked out from where he had face planted into the carpet. Another figure - a stranger - stumbled beside him, but Five offered him the hand that wasn’t holding a briefcase to try and steady him.
“ Hell ,” The man gasped, forgoing the hand and putting an arm around Five’s shoulders to keep himself upright. Five had a pinched expression, but otherwise stood still and tolerated it. “That’s a hell of a thing. Good Lord.”
Everyone that didn’t just time travel were stunned into silence. All of the Hargreeves siblings were there, dead and alive, as Five had told them to be. He was the one that called the meeting earlier in the day, though he refused to explain what it was about. Only now were they starting to put the pieces together.
All three of the time travellers were covered in no small amount of grime, and a decent amount of blood. The stranger especially- his shirt had a massive hole in it and the entire front was soaked with dried blood. There were dried, bloody handprints on his face that went up into his curly hairline.
He was also looking particularly.. green, his face matching his army fatigues. “Kid- kid, I’m gonna-” He croaked, an arm clamped around his stomach. Five rolled his eyes, immediately dropped his suitcase, and vanished with the stranger.
“ Hey !” Klaus shouted, forcing himself up on his hands and knees despite looking queasy himself, “Get back here! You can’t just steal my boyfriend!”
“Boyfriend?” Diego asked, voice sounding strangled.
A distant voice coming from the direction of the kitchen shouted back. “ He’s puking his guts out , Klaus! Shut up! ”
“ You shut up! I have a headache!” Klaus called back, then groaned loudly. He slowly forced himself to his feet, wobbling unsteadily for a moment. He blinked, getting used to his new surroundings. It took him a beat to realize all his siblings were staring at him.
“Hey.” He waved his ‘HELLO’ hand, smiling sheepishly.
“Klaus, what the fuck?” Vanya demanded. She did things like that nowadays. Demands, arguments. No more quiet, mousy Vanya.
“Where did you go?” Luther asked, his voice sounding accusing. Nobody tried to stop him, though. There wasn’t exactly a family memo that there was a time travel expedition happening and they all wanted answers. “And you brought home a friend? You guys can’t just- bring strays home!” He continued, waving his hands incredulously. “We agreed to only use the briefcase for emergencies!”
“Luther, I think you missed--” Allison tried to say, her voice almost a whisper. Diego, standing at the back of the couch, leaned in and cut her off.
“No, don’t tell him, I want to see how that plays out.” He said to her quietly. Surprisingly, Allison sighed and gave up. If Luther somehow didn’t know Klaus was gay, well.. At this point it was his own fault.
“Oh, you know!” Klaus said airily, still rocking back and forth on his feet slightly. Diego stepped around the couch to reach out and steady him, and Klaus immediately took advantage of that by leaning his weight on his brother. “We went on a short trip to ‘Nam, no big deal.” He explained, sounding absent. His focus was on the doorway, back towards the kitchen where Five and his ‘friend’ were.
He cracked a grin and his gaze turned to the side for a moment. Ben, probably. They were beginning to pick up on those subtle tells that their ghostly brother was around and talking to Klaus. “ Yeah ,” He laughed out the word, shifting his eyes back to his siblings. “I brought back a hell of a souvenir.”
“So you just- stole a soldier from Vietnam?” Luther asked, his eyes wide and confused and a little bit angry. He always got kind of angry when he was so obviously missing important details. He was working on it.
“Well it’s not like they needed him,” Klaus said defensively, “He’s KIA- or maybe MIA, I don’t know what he’s listed as. Fuck. I don’t want to think about it right now.”
“Are you telling us he faked his death? Did you two help fake a Vietnam soldier’s death?” Diego asked, looking justifiably baffled.
“What- no! He died all by himself! Getting shot in the chest does that!” Klaus snapped back, glaring at his brother.
That had them all speaking up with a barrage of questions, but someone cleared their throat and they turned to the noise. It was Five, now standing by the entrance to the living room. The pale-as-death soldier stood there too, hand clamped on Five’s shoulder. Klaus instantly jerked away from Diego and stumbled over, putting his hands on the man’s cheeks, his neck, his chest, his shoulders, fluttering about nervously.
“Don’t disappear on me.” Klaus said insistently, wrapping an arm around the vet’s waist.
“I think I’m done teleporting.” The man replied, grim.
The siblings all started their questions up again - ‘how is he alive?’ ‘why is he here?’ ‘what did you do?’ - but Five scoffed at the commotion.
“I kicked Klaus’ depression into the gutter.” He announced, arrogant as ever. “Ever since we acquired the new briefcase from those idiot commission agents, I’ve been calculating how and when to go back and extract Dave from Vietnam without disrupting the timeline. Now, Klaus will stop moping.”
“I don’t think that’s how depression works--” Something clicked on Diego’s face. “Oh, holy shit- is this the person you lost, bro?” The other three siblings looked to Diego, then back to Klaus who weakly nodded before he buried his face into Dave’s shoulder. “ Vietnam? ”
“When did Klaus lose a soldier from Vietnam?!” Luther was getting more high pitched and confused by the minute.
“Five,” Allison stressed, as loud as her voice would allow, “Explain. From the beginning.”
“Well, ever since Klaus time travelled to Vietnam during the apocalypse scare--”
“He what ?!” Allison hissed.
“Klaus.” Five looked at the brother in question with a face that screamed ‘are you fucking kidding me’, “Did you not tell anyone else you went to Vietnam?”
“Well--!” Klaus huffed, turning his head so his cheek was on Dave’s shoulder and he could look at them. Dave, poor Dave just stood there with a furrowed brow, his mouth pressed into a thin line. “I mean, Diego kinda knew!”
“ What ? I didn’t fucking know you went to Vietnam!” Diego accused. “All I knew was that someone you cared about died! You didn’t say anything else!”
“Well who had the time back then?” Klaus dismissed. Dave turned to set his chin down on Klaus’ head, closing his eyes tightly at all the noise.
“And what about the five months since then?” Five asked.
“By then we were- we were past it, no need to bring it up, yeah?” He replied, “Old news!”
“Typical.” Five rolled his eyes and disappeared, reappearing behind the bar to fix himself a drink.
“You didn’t tell anyone, doll?” Dave murmured quietly, “Nobody?”
“I mean, Ben sort of had to know, I kept having-- Um.” He stopped himself abruptly. Klaus seemed to be trying to curl his whole body around Dave, uncomfortable with the spotlight when he just wanted to be alone with his newly living boyfriend. “We’ve been on this whole self-improvement kick, trying to be nicer to each other, be better siblings. I didn’t want to bring the mood down. Sue me.”
“That’s not- Klaus, we’re trying to heal from trauma, the solution isn’t to bury your trauma deeper. We would’ve listened.” Vanya said as she leaned forward to set her elbows on her knees. She looked earnest to help but deeply sad at the same time. Klaus tried not to squirm.
“Okay, that sort of explains some things,” Luther spoke up again, trying to corral the conversation in his usual leaderly way, “But bringing back a- a dead soldier? Were you there during the war somehow?” A good observation- what do a dead soldier and Vietnam have in common?
“Oh, he was there alright.” Five replied snarkily. “1968.”
“Are you guys serious?” Dave asked, his voice raspy. He looked up at them all, weary and confused, “He served for ten months.”
“You’re joking.” Diego said, bewildered, “The.. the veterans bar was.. And the tattoos were really..?”
“Klaus wasn’t in the military.” Luther stated, “That’s not possible. It takes a certain kind of person to serve and we’d- well, we’d know if.. no.”
Klaus slowly started positioning himself behind Dave, while Dave only looked more and more confused and frustrated. “What’s that supposed to mean?” He challenged, giving Luther a hard stare.
“I don’t know what he told you, but he’s not a soldier.” The larger man replied, crossing his arms and slowly shaking his head as if he was disappointed at the thought. “I know we’re being supportive but let’s face it- Klaus was high for most of our training. He couldn’t handle that.”
“Davey, babe, let’s just leave this one-” Klaus tried to gently tug Dave backwards, but the vet only stood there.
“No, hold on, I’m not going to let someone stand there and disrespect you when you risked your life for your country -” He glared up at Luther, which wasn’t terribly intimidating considering it looked like a strong wind could blow him over. That wasn’t about to stop him, though. “Klaus was a good fucking soldier. He’s a crazy son of a bitch, but he saved people’s lives. He was right there alongside me and the unit shooting Charlies like every other bastard that had the misfortune of being drafted.”
“That’s- that’s impossible. You’re confused.” Luther replied, though he began looking more and more unsure of himself.
"The hell I am-" Dave bit back, bristling, "I'm confused about a lot of things right now, but not about Klaus."
Luther was getting defensive, hands clenching into fists. Diego took that as his cue to walk over and put a hand on his shoulder, gritting his teeth.
“Leave ‘em alone, Luther. He’s telling the truth.” Diego said, his voice low and even. Luther opened his mouth to argue, but Diego quickly shook his head and it made his brother pause. “It all adds up. His tattoos, his jacket, dog tags, how he’s been acting- Klaus was there.”
They were working on their communication these days, and it spoke measures that Luther truly considered Diego’s words. Besides, Diego was definitely the closest to Klaus these days sans Ben. He would know. And if there was a literal Vietnam vet standing there confirming it..
“Ten months.” Vanya echoed quietly, staring at Klaus and Dave, “How did we not know?”
“Why so long ?” Allison croaked, hugging herself as she stared at her brother.
“Oh, well, I figured ten was a nice, even number to shoot for.” Klaus joked, trying to regain control of the conversation about himself. He was peeking from behind Dave’s shoulder, his fingers curled into the ruined t-shirt his boyfriend wore. “And the time just flew by, what a rush--”
“ Don’t .” Diego snapped, turning around to glare at Klaus, “Don’t make this into a joke. You’ve been having nightmares a-and flashbacks for m-m-months and you always-- Damn it, I sh-should’ve-”
“ Hey , Di, no!” Klaus poked his head out a little more, expression twisted and pained, “None of that, I didn’t tell anyone ‘cause it was my problem. My bad, you know?” He tried. Dave sighed beneath him, and it only added to Klaus’ nervousness. “Besides! We had to focus on Vanya, and I’ve always had nightmares and flashbacks, no big deal!” He laughed awkwardly.
Nobody else laughed. Klaus’ eyes flew to the side as he listened to something Ben said. Whatever it was, it made Klaus start trying to shrink behind Dave again.
“This- this is my fault? How- I didn’t know, Klaus-” Vanya stared at him with big, worried eyes and a few glasses by the bar started to tremble. That was when Five decided to make his presence known again, loudly setting his empty liquor glass down on the wood and teleporting to Dave and Klaus’ side again. They both flinched away from the sudden appearance.
“Breathe, Vanya. This isn’t your fault- it’s.. Probably everyone’s fault. Except for mine, obviously, as I’ve solved the problem. We’ll figure it out.” He instructed, “This is apparently a lot , for everyone, so we’re going to pause and let the war vets - yes he’s a soldier, are you all blind? - go upstairs and rest.”
Klaus sagged into Dave with relief. Dave, however, didn’t seem satisfied. His eyes went back and forth between the siblings, frustrated, but finally he looked to Five and nodded. This time when Klaus started tugging him away, Dave stiffly started walking with him.
“Wait, hang on a second,” Luther blustered, “We’re not done, there’s still things we haven’t discussed!”
Klaus and Dave had arms wrapped around each other as they slowly headed towards the stairs, but Klaus’ head turned to look back at Luther briefly. “Yeah, um, sounds like a riot, but he just died, and then didn’t , and then time travel..” He said, waving his free hand dismissively, “So we’re gonna take a time out. Ta ta.”
“Nice meeting you, Dave.” Five called, though his back was turned to the pair as he smiled at the remaining siblings, smug.