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the war is over, we are beginning

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

“Is that- is that him?” A man whispered in the darkness of the jungle.

“Did you secure the perimeter?” The young boy asked. The body at his feet twitched again.

“Holy shit. Holy shit.” The man ignored the question and darted forward, falling to his knees beside the body. “Dave, Dave, Dave,” He repeated, hands shaking as they hovered over the body. They stopped at the gaping wound in his chest, and the man let out a dry sob.

“Klaus-” The boy looked annoyed for half a second, but his expression softened at the sight of his brother curled over Dave. “Fine, okay, fine. No time to waste.”

Five disappeared and reappeared with an electric lamp. He set it down on the ground next to Dave, switching the light on so they could see everything happening. Klaus flinched at the light - suddenly Dave was fully illuminated, pale and bloody and dead. Klaus’ face twisted with grief, tears starting to fall down his cheeks.

“Dave.” He whispered, reverent, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m here now--” Klaus’ hands trailed up to gently hold Dave’s face, and he shakily lowered his head against his partner’s. “I’m here, I’m here.”

“I have to disinfect that wound before it starts closing over. We only have a few minutes.” Five reminded, businesslike and detached because one of them had to be. He grabbed a large first aid kit and dropped to kneel on Dave’s other side. While he pulled out gloves and snapped them on, he couldn’t help but watch his brother sob over his lover.

“... Just keep him comfortable, alright Klaus? That’s all you have to do.” He said quietly, “He’s going to wake up- he’s going to wake up, and you’ll have to keep him calm. Alright?” 

Klaus lifted a hand to swipe at his face, trying to pull himself together despite the deeply haunted look in his eyes. “Okay- okay, yeah, okay.” He shifted around to where he could gently pull Dave’s head into his lap. His far too cold head. At least his eyes were closed. “I got it.” Klaus mumbled, hunching over Dave while a delicate hand ran through his bloodied, blond curls. 

The blood was still tacky, and Klaus’ breath hitched. More tears fell- some onto his lover’s face, which made tracks through the bloody hand prints Klaus put there five months prior. “I’m sorry .” He gasped quietly, shuddering. “I’m so sorry. It should’ve been me.”

Five’s blood ran cold at the comment. He busied himself with pulling things out of the kit, trying to keep everything as sterile as he could. Klaus and he had cleared out this tiny patch of forest during the day, nearly a mile from the front lines, and turned it into a small camp with the meager supplies they’d been able to bring with them. 

Wasting no time, Five pulled Dave’s shirt up as high as it would go and stared at the gaping chest wound. “Shit.” He murmured, reaching for the disinfectant. Bones had been shattered. He had his work cut out for him, and so did Dave. It’d take a lot of energy for his body to knit itself together again with Five’s serum.

Mouth set in a grim line, Five listened to his brother’s broken apologies and whispers as he started to work.

First order of business for Klaus? Getting Dave a bath. Walking up the stairs was a chore and Dave definitely wasn’t looking so good after defending Klaus’ honor or whatever. Pale as the ghost he was, however long it was. Trembling from blood loss and exhaustion and pain.

Klaus was definitely looking forward to washing the blood off of Dave’s… everything. His hands hadn’t stopped shaking since he’d curled close to Dave’s lifeless body in the jungle, since he put his palm over the bloody hand print he’d left on Dave’s cheek months prior. But there wasn’t exactly time for them to clean up while they were there. The goal was to get Dave alive and stable. Naturally, keeping everyone sanitary wasn’t Klaus’ biggest priority once Dave’s eyes shot open with a gasp.

Those same beautiful eyes followed him, hazy, while he moved around the bathroom and gathered things they’d need. Towels and soap and whatnot. The tub was slowly filling up while Dave sat on the toilet and tried not to tip over. Klaus was acutely aware of his boyfriend as he went back and forth, always looking back at him to reassure himself he was really there.

“Is he alright?” Klaus jerked away from the sudden voice at his side, and he hissed at the appearance of Ben. Dave’s eyebrows raised.

“He’s fine, I’m fine, we’re all fine.” Klaus stressed, shoving his ‘GOODBYE’ hand directly into Ben’s cold face. His ghostly brother stepped back with a grimace.

“You know I hate it when you do that!” Ben grumbled, “You two don’t look so hot, and I wanted to check in. ‘Sue me’.” 

“Oh, fuck off, now isn’t the time for an ‘I told you so’.” Klaus snapped, “You and the others can nag me about that later, just-” His shaking hands raised and pushed through his hair. He gave a manic, desperate look to Ben to try and get him to understand.

“Ben?” Dave asked quietly.

Ben blinked, stunned. “He knows about me?”

“What- of course!” Klaus groaned, debating whether or not he had the energy to manifest Ben just to push him out of the bathroom. “Get out of here. Please. We can talk later.”

“...Alright.” Ben nodded, giving Klaus ‘stern-but-worried look #7’. “Let me know if you need anything.”

“Yeah.” Klaus exhaled the word, closing his eyes and gripping his hair tightly. When he opened them again, Ben was gone and he was just staring at the corner of the small room. “Okay. Okay.” He mumbled, turning and walking back to stand in front of Dave.

“Guessing I’ll meet him later.” His beautiful, bloody soldier hummed, staring up at him. Klaus’ heart clenched for the hundredth time within the past hour, those warm eyes staring up at him. “Klaus.” One of Dave’s hands reached up to try and pull Klaus’ hands from his hair. And of course his arms fell to his sides immediately. Klaus would do whatever Dave asked of him. 


Dave’s own shaking hands reached and gently settled on Klaus’ hips. “We’ll figure it out, darlin’.”

Klaus laughed, a sharp brittle sound. “I’m not the one that needs the pep talk right now.” He said, willing his eyes to stop burning. “Let me take care of you.”

Dave sighed through his nose and closed his eyes, nodding heavily. Exhaustion weighed him down like a sack of bricks, and he could barely lift his arms up to help Klaus as he peeled his shirt off.

“Oh, Dave.” Klaus breathed, looking up and down his lovers pale, scarred up torso. 

It was the only clean part of Dave, considering all the effort Five went through to keep the wound sterile. Dave screaming as his skin knit itself back together would probably be featured in his nightmares for the rest of his life. Not to mention the muffled begging and sobbing while Klaus tried to silence him at Five’s instruction. They couldn’t risk anyone knowing they were there and the noise would draw attention from somewhere --

“Come here, come here.” Klaus said, hushed, pulling Dave to his feet. He crouched, letting Dave use his shoulders for balance while he pulled the sweaty, grimy fatigues away. He stood, putting an arm around him to ever so gently help his boyfriend into the bath. Dave sunk into the heat of the water with a loud groan. The bath was already turning a sour color.

It took nearly an hour for Klaus to gently, reverently go over every inch of skin with a cloth. Dave dozed the entire time, even when Klaus had him sit up so he could wash his hair properly. The water had to be changed two times before it stayed clear. Klaus’ arms and back ached with the effort, but he didn’t stop for a second until Dave was fresh and clean. No trace of the blood or the battle except for the massive, ugly scar in the middle of his chest.

“Hey.” He whispered, gently running a hand down Dave’s clean, handsome face. A face that grimaced when Klaus told him, “Let’s get you to bed.”

“Moving.” Dave grumbled. 

Klaus let out a laugh that only sounded slightly hysterical with stress. Thankfully, Dave was too far gone to notice. There was only more vague grumbling as Klaus pulled him to his feet and helped him step out of the draining bath. Klaus quickly toweled him off and then arranged the towel to hang off his hips.

Dave squinted at him as he opened the door to the bathroom, and it reminded Klaus of the first time they ever locked eyes, that first night, so long ago- Klaus inhaled sharply at the memory. Dave mumbled something that roughly approximated to ‘aren’t you going to have one too?’.

He only shook his head gently, wrapping an arm around Dave to start walking him down the hall. He’d only been in Vietnam for two days, he’d live without a bath for now. And while the familiar grime made his skin crawl, his priorities were solely based around Dave right now. And possibly for the next forever.

They hobbled until they reached Klaus’ doorway. He kicked the unlatched door open so he could maneuver Dave inside, and then kicked it closed behind himself. 

“Huh. You know, underneath the blood and dirt- not bad, Klaus.” Five said, apparently having been leaned against Klaus’ desk. Klaus startled, which made Dave startle and wake up more. Now he was squinting at Five. 

Fuck .” Klaus hissed, stumbling forward some more so he could lower Dave down onto his bed.  “Go away , Five.”

“I plan on it. I just have to make sure your boyfriend isn’t going to die in his sleep.” Five replied flippantly, then froze at the very real look of horror on Klaus’ face.

“What?” Dave mumbled.

What ?” Klaus all but shrieked.

“That was in poor taste.” Five had the decency to look awkward, raising his hands. “He’ll be fine, I’m sure- I just wanted to take his vitals and make sure everything is proceeding correctly.”

“I thought it was over , Five!”

“It is , mostly, but we’re in uncharted territory Klaus.” His little, ancient brother vanished and reappeared next to Dave, who startled again and then scowled uncharacteristically. “I’m just covering all our bases.”

“Does he have an off switch?” Dave asked Klaus as Five pulled a stethoscope from somewhere and stuck it on his chest.

“He survived through an apocalypse. You’re shit out of luck.” Klaus moved to sit on Dave’s other side and started maneuvering him so he could lie down on the bed. Five simply leaned over and followed with the motion, now looming over Dave’s chest.

“Fuck.” Dave sighed.

“Your pulse is a little high.” Five commented, “Klaus, try and keep him calm. I don’t want it getting too fast, could cause some complications.”

“He was about to go to sleep, does that count?” Klaus said waspishly while Five stuck a thermometer in his boyfriend’s mouth. Poor, sweet, patient Dave, who only stared at the ceiling in annoyance while Five performed his check-up. To be fair, Klaus wasn’t sure he was still lucid at this point, so maybe that explained his tolerance.

“He’s been through a lot, can’t you guys just let him rest ?”

“I will.” Five said, distracted, “Temp’s a little high, too. That may just be the bath, or his body working overtime to adjust to being alive again. I’ll be back in an hour to measure it again.”

Go away !” Klaus growled.

“Scream if he shows any signs of neurological damage.” Five ordered, then vanished in his typical flash of blue. 

Fuming, Klaus took a moment to just breathe in the silence. Eventually, a hand - Dave’s hand, oh, Dave - reached out to grab his arm, tugging for him to move closer. He went easily, laying down beside Dave and curling up against his side. He used his feet to awkwardly fish for the comforter crumpled up at the end of the bed, and then grabbed it so he could pull it up and over them.

“Dave.” He sighed, sinking into the warmth as his beautiful soldier wrapped an arm around him. He set his head on Dave’s shoulder, an arm curled around his chest to keep him there forever. 

Months of haunting grief, of being forced to face his demons, of forcing himself to get clean, and it all added up to this single moment where he could finally, finally be in Dave’s arms again. It was like he was a puppet cut loose from it’s strings. 

Sure, later there would be.. a lot to deal with. So much. He wasn’t sure how much of this ‘dying and being brought back to life’ thing was sinking in, not to mention the time travel. And dealing with his siblings and their well intentioned horseshit would be a nightmare. Also, Klaus was pretty sure he sold his soul to Five during this whole process, and that would be sticky to navigate. But for now…

“I’m here.” Dave mumbled, pulling him as close as he could.

For now, his boyfriend was alive and breathing beneath him. He rose and fell with Dave’s chest. He heard Dave’s heartbeat after months of remembering how he couldn’t find a pulse. Klaus got to watch as Dave’s eyes fluttered and closed, his breathing evening out as he succumbed to exhaustion. He got to study Dave’s jawline, the shape of his nose, the curl of his hair- all things he thought he’d never see again.

He was still awake and committing every single inch of skin to memory when he heard Five teleport into the room an hour later. Klaus’ back was turned, and he didn’t bother moving to greet his brother. Dave was all he cared about.

“You should get some sleep too, you know.” Five said quietly, slipping the thermometer back into Dave’s mouth.

Klaus only hummed, admiring Dave’s throat and his adams apple. 

“Klaus.” Five insisted, taking the thermometer and inspecting it, “I didn’t mean to scare you earlier. He’ll be fine while you sleep, I promise.”


“Fine. I’ll check back in three hours this time. Get some rest.” And then he was gone again.

But there was still the prickling feeling on the back of Klaus’ neck like he was being watched, and a familiar tug in his chest. “What do you want, Ben.” He sighed. Ben moved to stand at the foot of the bed, but Klaus barely spared him a second glance.

“Five’s right, you need to sleep.” The ghost said, gentle.

“I can’t.” Klaus replied, firm.

“What if I watched him?”

“What?” Klaus asked, furrowing his brow and lifting his head slightly to look at him. 

“I know you.” Ben reminded, “And I’m pretty sure you aren’t sleeping because you’re scared something will happen if you do.”

Mmm .” Was Klaus’ angry response.

 Ben sat down at the end of the bed, legs crossed and back up against the wall. “Let me sit here and keep an eye on him while you rest. You’re no good to him dead on your feet.” Klaus frowned, almost dismissing him even if his eyes were drooping. Ben sensed this and his voice dropped the gentle tone for something firmer. More honest. “Street rules. I’ll keep you safe, Klaus. Both of you.”

Now back when Klaus lived on the streets, there wasn’t a lot that Ben could do to actually keep him safe. He couldn’t physically assist his brother in any way. But during all the drug-filled hazes and panic attack-filled comedowns, Klaus knew one thing for sure: Ben was there to watch his six. Even while he made terrible life choices and berated Ben, even while he blatantly ignored any advice or nagging Ben gave to try and keep him safe, he was still there.

He was the only one who was there for so long. Some days it still felt like he was the only person who gave a shit about him.

“Promise you’ll wake me up if something changes.” Klaus whispered.

“I’ve got you, Klaus.” Ben replied.

Chapter Text

“I know it hurts, I know it hurts, okay? I know it’s horrible and I’m so sorry but it’s okay, I’m here this time, I’m here! Breathe, Dave, please-- I know, just hold on, I’ve got you, I won’t let you do this alone. I love you. I’m here.”

On and on, an endless string of words while Klaus tried to keep Dave calm and still. He was all but howling in pain when he woke up. Five had quickly motioned and hissed for Klaus to keep the noise down. At one point, Klaus had had to hold a hand over Dave’s mouth to muffle the screams, and he had sobbed alongside his boyfriend while he did it.

Dave was almost delirious with pain while the serum worked through his body and stitched him back together, but he instinctively grabbed for Klaus and gazed up at his partner. It hit Klaus like a train that the desperate, crying man still trusted him so much. After the sudden, pain-filled wakeup call, Dave had quieted somewhat and caught on to the urgency of things, but he still let out wet, gasping breaths in between begging for the pain to stop.

“Almost, almost,” Five kept repeating, keeping his gaze firmly on Dave’s chest wound. That way  he wouldn’t have to see just how broken his brother looked, hunched over the only person he ever cared about more than himself.

“Make it stop.” Dave choked out, his voice pleading and desperate and broken, “Klaus I can’t- I can’t - make it stop please -”

Distantly, Klaus realized he may have been lucky in a way, back when Dave died. The entire thing was a fucking nightmare, horrible, haunting, but Dave didn’t say anything. There was no broken pleading. No begging like Klaus was the only one that could fix it. No watching him choke out words through the blood in his throat. “Klaus, it hurts, fuck it hurts -” He doesn’t want to think about what it would have been like to hear that as the light left Dave’s eyes. 

Focus , Klaus- for God’s sake- Dave? Hi, I’m Five. Be still .” Five ordered.

Klaus let out a shudder, ignoring the way his hands cramped from how tightly he held Dave. It wasn’t important. Nothing was important except for saving Dave.

“I love you,” Klaus cried, breath hitching, “I’m here.”

“Five? Five .”

His eyes had drifted off into the distance at some point, expression pinched. But Five instinctively reacted to the sound and whirled around to stare at Diego. He stood in the doorway with Vanya. Just like that, Five was back in the infirmary at the Academy, nowhere near the damp, oppressive jungle they’d left only hours ago.

“Can I help you?” Five asked scaldingly, trying to hide how troubled he’d just been.

“You’re going to.” Diego replied, testy. He stepped into the room, looking Five up and down and scrutinizing all the details of the scene like the detective he wasn’t. “Didn’t get a chance to change?”

Ah, right. There was still blood staining his sleeves, the front of his shirt, and he knew he must be sweaty and dirty. Those things weren’t immediately important, though, as they didn’t hinder him and what he was doing at the moment. That being said, Five turned again and went back to the notebook laid out in front of him. The page was full of calculations, relevant thoughts and concerns, and anything else regarding the situation surrounding Dave.

Despite literally saving the man’s life, Five felt he owed Dave at least some sort of apology. At some point. Maybe then, Five’s mind would stop getting stuck on the mental image of his brother and the soldier, how they were bloody and crying together on the forest floor. 

“Great observation Diego, A-plus. Do you want a gold star on the way out?” He snapped, trying to get the two of them to scram so he could get back to work.

For now, his apology would simply have to be double and triple checking the formula and the timeline calculations he had made. He was confident in his work, but it didn’t hurt to try and ensure everything was as seamless as possible. Ensure that there was no margin for.. error.

“Five.” Vanya said, interrupting Diego from rising to the bait.

Five rolled his eyes and growled to himself because he had a harder time pushing her away compared to the others, and if anyone (other than Klaus) could corral him into a conversation right now, it would be her. Besides, even though she had gained a lot of control, they all still stuck to a single rule of thumb: The more confused and left out Vanya was, the worse off they all were.

“Can I help you.” Five repeated, this time his voice more of a sigh. He didn’t turn to look at them, but Vanya likely knew she had his attention.

“Oh, so he’ll listen to you ..”

Diego -” Vanya warned, quieting her brother’s grumbling. “Five, we just wanted to talk. There’s a lot going on-

Diego scoffed. “Oh, ‘a lot going on’? I’ll tell you what’s going on--”

“And,” Vanya quickly added, “we’re obviously not going to bother Klaus right now, so we thought you could fill in some.. gaps.”

Gaps? ” Diego demanded, and Five looked over his shoulder to see the outraged look on his face. “You two apparently fucked off to Vietnam on a secret op to save Klaus’ boyfriend from a war that he apparently served in -”

“Diego, the more noise you make, the more I want to use it to throw you out of the room.” Vanya finally snapped, in all of her her five-foot-one glory. Diego, wide eyed, didn’t look pleased-- but he’d seen the punching bag fly across the lawn during her training, and he looked like he was considering listening to her.

“Fine.” Five snapped his book shut and tucked it under his arm, turning to look at his siblings with disinterest. “Make your questions quick. I haven’t got all day.”

“I was hoping it could be more of a conversation than a game of 20 questions.” Vanya replied, crossing her arms, “This seems pretty.. big. And I think we’re all feeling kind of out of the loop, here.” She was sounding like a therapist again - as she often did, considering she went to therapy every week. But expecting Five to handle things like an emotionally stable adult right now was a bit much. He was still processing the past 48 hours, especially the glimpse he’d gotten into his brother’s deeply disturbing emotional trauma.

“Vanya, as much as I’d love to have a heart to heart, I’m barely involved in this.” Five said, still trying for some tact rather than the ‘fuck off’ vibes he wanted to imbue. “Unfortunately, a lot of this should be coming from Klaus himself. So I will answer what I can now, and you can pry the rest from Klaus’ cold, uncommunicative hands later.”

“We tried it your way, Vanya.” Diego said, and the two exchanged a series of frustrated facial expressions before Vanya threw her hands up and sighed, apparently giving up. Diego nodded, his eyes zeroing in on Five.

“How long have you known about this?” He asked, crossing his arms.

“And by ‘ this ’ you mean..” 

Everything , Five.” Diego retorted, “The time travel- the boyfriend- the army --”

“Wow, way to narrow it down.” Five scoffed, “‘The time travel’. Could you scrounge up another brain cell or two, please?”

“Hey, listen, asshole -”

Five .” Vanya growled, “Focus.”

“Anything for you, Vanya.” Five smiled sweetly, watching Diego bristle with no small amount of satisfaction. “If by time travel you mean Klaus’ initial round trip, I knew about that since the beginning. I was there when he first came back.”

“You were?” Vanya asked, coaxing the conversation along.

“I pieced it all together from his symptoms. Not to mention the sudden dog tags, army issued vest, and the tattoos - anyone could have figured it out.” Five replied dismissively, which only deepened Diego’s scowl. “Even his haircut was off- we’d seen him what, a day prior? And his mannerisms were completely wrong. It’s like none of you use your eyes.”

Okay, now he was starting to rile Vanya up too. He could see it in her eyes. It was time to move along. “He didn’t tell me exactly where he went, but he told me how long he’d been gone.” He explained, ”For the record, he’s been almost a year older than all of you for the past five months. I’m surprised he didn’t tell you all just to rub it in.”

“Alright, sure, but no- he’s still the youngest.” Diego stated.

“Klaus is the baby, yeah.” Vanya agreed quietly. 

Five shrugged. “I see no issue with this.” He leaned back against the desk he’d been working on, sighing. “Anyways, I was preoccupied at the time, so I didn’t really talk to him until we had settled things somewhat. In the meantime we’d come to certain.. understandings, on certain things-” Which is to say, Five and Klaus could see and understand each other’s PTSD like none of the others could. Since the apocalypse incident, they’d had a few encounters where one of them was struggling with the past and the other read them like a book.

While Five didn’t like admitting anything to anyone, he had to say.. Klaus was surprisingly good at snapping him out of some of his triggers, or helping him skirt around certain topics. Likewise, there were a few moments where Five had to remind Klaus of where and when he was, which he thought he did pretty decently.

As was customary with the Hargreeves, the two didn’t really talk about it for awhile.

“Then one day I found him drunk off his ass and asked him what the hell he was doing. He eventually came clean about where he went - which I’d successfully guessed, by the way, just based on the cut of that vest and the slang he’d picked up - and what had happened.” Five shrugged again, casual, “From there I started planning how to successfully retrieve his partner, which required a lot of specific information and details from Klaus to accurately calculate.” 

“It was practically child’s play after that commission agent botched things and we stole his briefcase. Almost disappointingly easy.” In a practical manner of speaking, of course. Mentally, emotionally- he and Klaus just ran a marathon together. But, trying to seem unaffected, he raised his hands and gestured to the room vaguely, “And now we’re here. Are you satisfied?”

“Hell no.” Diego replied, fists clenched.

“That’s fine, I wasn’t talking to you.”

Diego stormed forward towards Five. Vanya was too busy thinking and frowning to stop him. Five only rolled his eyes and used his power to jump to the other side of the room. “Vanya, your input?”

“That’s our little brother, Five, not a fucking science experiment --”

“I never said he was -”

“Guys.” Vanya sighed, closing her eyes. Her hands lifted to rub her temples. “Just- stop. Five, why didn’t you two tell any of us? We could’ve helped.”

“And how’d you save the soldier?” Diego added, jabbing a finger in Five’s direction, “Klaus said he was dead.”

“I guess Klaus didn’t want you all to know. I didn’t ask. But honestly, I assumed you of all people knew the truth, Diego.” Five replied, raising his eyebrows at his brother. Then it clicked- that was probably why Diego was so worked up. Diego had been taking his ‘big brother’ role with Klaus pretty seriously, but now he knew he’d missed out on something major and it was right under his nose the whole time.

“Okay, you little shit, I have had it .” Diego snarled, a hand poised over his belt to grab a knife. Some things never changed. Five readied for another jump.

Wait .” Vanya said loudly, not even looking at Diego’s thinly veiled threat, “That’s true- Five, how did you save him? It’s not like you brought a lot of equipment back with you, and that scar was- was big .”

Ah, Vanya. She had an uncanny knack for Five’s bullshit, and that included when he was deflecting from something major. He couldn’t help but shift from foot to foot, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his blazer. The book was safe, tucked under his arm.

“..I’m not sure you’re going to like the answer.” Five said mildly, and both Diego and Vanya’s eyebrows shot towards the ceiling.

“Five.. what did you do?” Diego asked, his mood flipping from enraged to cautious and vaguely worried. 

Yeah, they wouldn’t like this one. Five looked to the floor, then towards the desk again. He’d done a lot of his studying and testing in here, after all. “You’re all aware that dad had his secret projects.” He said mildly.

“No shit.” Vanya replied, and Five scoffed in amusement.

“Yeah, well, I stumbled across one.” Five shifted from foot to foot, uncertain about what he would say next. “Do you remember.. what Luther said. About how dad saved him?”

The room was silent except for the twin sounds of his siblings inhaling in alarm. “You didn’t.” Diego said, his voice going low like it did when he was very, very serious.

“Five..” Vanya sounded like she was giving him a warning, but what exactly was she warning him against at this point? It was far too late for that.

“I fixed dad’s serum.” Five stated, looking up and making eye contact with Vanya, “That’s how I saved Dave.”

“Oh no.” Diego shook his head, taking a step back. “ Ohh , no. This is bad.”

“You’re jumping to conclusions-” Five tried, but Vanya took a step forward and he froze.

“Five, he’s right. This is bad .” Vanya said, horror dawning on her features, “Is anyone with Klaus right now? He’s going to hate this, he hates when we bring dad’s experiments up--”

“Klaus practically was an experiment! And he’s going to hate it?” Diego asked, “How about Luther? What do you think Luther is going to do when he finds out, Five? You know how bad it is for him!”

“You’re both overreacting!” Five insisted, taking his hands out of his pockets to gesture, “I said I fixed it! Besides, Dave’s alive , and I think that’s what matters most to Klaus!”

“And when his fucking boyfriend turns into King Kong?” Diego demanded.

“He won’t , you idiot! Are you even listening to me?” Five shouted.

“What’s going on?”

Everyone in the room froze, turning their heads to look at Allison in the doorway. 

“Uh.” Vanya said.

“..Five is turning Klaus’ boyfriend into Luther 2.0.” Diego supplied helpfully. The fucking prick .

Allison’s expression turned into something downright murderous as she stared at Five, who raised his hands slowly in a gesture of ‘calm down’.

“Let me explain.” Five sighed.

Chapter Text

“He’s- he’s choking. Five, he’s choking, why is he choking?” Klaus babbled, eyes alight with fresh fear, “No, I just got him back, no no no-”

“Fuck.” Five hissed, “Help me turn him onto his side, he’s probably got some fluid in his lungs still.”

“I thought it was getting better!” Klaus replied desperately, carefully moving Dave’s head from  his lap as the poor man coughed, his arms raising to curl around his chest protectively. “I thought- you said it was--” He was getting hysterical, kneeling beside Dave while he helped gingerly turn his man onto his side. This was exactly how he’d died, fresh blood spilling out of his mouth as he coughed--

“It is better, but he’s probably got to get rid of what was left behind when his lungs stitched up.” Five watched the scene carefully, a sinking feeling in his chest, too. His emotions were starting to impact his thinking. Five wasn’t afraid of someone dying, but he was afraid of what Klaus would do if Five put him through this much suffering, only for Dave to die in his arms again.

Dave, hacking up fluid, had the presence of mind to plant his arm on the ground and prop himself up on his elbow so he had an easier time of it. It obviously still felt like hell, judging by how his body was in almost a permanent wince, but he was pushing through it. 

Good, Five thought. He won’t go back down without a fight.

Waking up, he was content. Slowly coming to, curled up around a warm body under a blanket. He always slept best when there was someone with him. 

Sharply inhaling, Klaus’ eyes shot open and he sat up. Panic and fear hit him like a train as everything rushed back to him. “ Dave .” He said out loud before his brain could process anything. 

His shoulders were tense as his eyes scanned the sight in front of him. Slowly, he began to relax his muscles, some of his panic melting away because there he was. Dave was really there with him, laying in his childhood bed. In 2019, no less. It was real. And if it wasn’t, Klaus didn’t really care. 

One hand bracing himself on the bed, he reached out to gently brush his fingers along the frame of Dave’s face. They trailed down his jawline to his throat and he pressed them into his neck just enough to feel his pulse. Living, breathing Dave.

“Oh.” Klaus said, blinking his eyes slowly as the adrenaline faded. “Did anything happen?”

“Not really. Five came back with his thermometer, frowned at the temperature, left.” Ben replied, just at the edge of his vision and sitting right where Klaus had left him. “He came back another three hours later, gave Dave’s temperature a mildly satisfied look, then left again.”

“How long ago was..” Klaus’ brow furrowed as he tried to come up with more words. Thankfully, Ben was used to finishing his half-baked thoughts.

“Maybe an hour. You’ve been asleep for awhile.” Ben noted, sounding pleased. “You only talked in your sleep and tensed up a few times.”

It was indeed a while- Klaus looked around at the rest of the room and noted that it was now dark outside, everything now lit up by the fairy lights he kept on. They’d gotten back to the present around.. noon, maybe? He sunk down into the bed beside Dave and went back to staring. He was looking better. Still pale, but there was color returning to his face and his chest rose and fell steadily.

He’d always slept better in Dave’s arms than anywhere else. It was a marvel that he could do that now. Fuck you, night terrors. “Huh. Guess that’s what happens when you have an anxiety attack for two days straight in a swamp.” He replied faintly.

“The more you know.” Ben shrugged a shoulder, then squinted. “Did you behave?”

“No, sorry Ben. I crushed up beetles and snorted them. Sobriety is dead and I killed it.” Klaus stated, eyes sliding over to watch his brother scoff. He accidentally made eye contact with the dead nanny in the corner behind his brother, though. Fuck. “Speaking of, I am a live fucking wire, but I’m also not leaving this bed or I’ll die. Be a dear?”

“If you’ve got the energy.” Ben looked over his shoulder and sighed, standing up. “Can’t believe you’re using your poor, dead brother as an errand boy to get you pot.”

“It’s only because he won’t get me anything stronger.” The corner of Klaus’ mouth lifted up in a small grin. He shimmied so he could sit up in the bed, a hand gently running fingers up and down Dave’s arm next to him. It was hard to focus right then, but he closed his eyes and made a face and pulled from that well deep in his chest, feeling his hands go cold. 

“I’m not going to serve you drug abuse on a silver platter.” Ben muttered, his footsteps now audible.

He was, surprisingly, one of the only siblings that thought his brother should still be able to smoke weed. But his opinion was considered the most important, especially as he told the others himself and not through Klaus’ word of mouth. They all recognized that Ben was the unofficial expert on Klaus and Klaus-related things, aka drugs.

Every time you quit cold turkey, you’re miserable for two weeks and then you lose it and go on a bender .’ Ben had said with a glare when - shocker - Klaus himself protested. He didn’t want anything getting in the way of his sobriety when he had it. But Ben.. did have a pretty good point. And God fucking bless his little brother for that, really. As long as someone went with him to pick it up, Klaus could have all the weed he wanted and it did wonders for his day-to-day sanity.

And after the nightmare he had just lived through, he felt pretty justified when his beautiful, darling brother handed him a joint.

The first drag felt like fucking heaven and he held it as long as he possibly could. There was something peaceful just in the familiar motion, the deep breathing. But by the time the blunt was half burnt, he felt the calm settling in. It was sort of like a window in between himself and the worst of his emotions. He could start to ignore that deep set anxiety he’d been wrestling with ever since he stepped foot in Vietnam again. Klaus slowly sunk down in the bed, twining his arm with Dave’s and lacing their fingers together. 

“He’s really here.” Ben said, interrupting the silence with the exact words Klaus had been thinking ever since he woke up. “...It looks like you actually have taste sometimes.” 

Klaus snorted, a grin coming to him easier now that he was more sedate. He reached over to the nightstand with his free hand, tapping the joint into an ashtray. “I’ve always had taste, Benny, I just.. had a generous palate, in the past.”

“That’s one word for it.” Ben replied, dry as a desert. He was there throughout the revolving door of lovers. Klaus was not picky during his heavily drugged days.

He took another drag and looked over at Dave - his Dave - fondly. He exhaled smoke through his nose, slow and gentle. “I told you he was stunning, didn’t I? Just gorgeous.”

“You also told me you were on speed and hash for most of those ten months. I figured I’d reserve my judgment--” Ben cut himself off when Dave’s sleeping face screwed up and he started to cough. Klaus made a noise of alarm and sat up like a spring, frantically snubbing out his joint into his ashtray.

“Oh, fuck, fuck, I didn’t think about his lungs-” Klaus babbled as a half-awake Dave propped himself up on a hand and to ease his coughing fit.

“Nice job.” Ben muttered, leaning against the wall.

“Shut up, Ben, fuck-”

“Spook.” Dave rasped, “Y’fucking stoner.”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Klaus whispered, hands flitting around Dave’s shoulders and the arm closest to him. Dave cleared his throat a few times, then swung his head around to squint at Klaus.

Klaus, who’s breath hitched when he saw how awfully Dave’s hair had dried. His bedhead was a curly mess, and the sight of him alive and rumpled with sleep in Klaus’ bed, lit up in a soft glow from the fairy lights in the room.. it was the most gorgeous thing he’d ever seen in his life.

“You’d better share that grass.” Dave mumbled, eyebrows knitted together. “Feels like I was hit with an anvil, like in the cartoons.”

“‘Like in the cartoons’. This is precious.” Ben said from his seat in the peanut gallery.

“Nnn,” Klaus bit his lip, looking at Dave with worry, “Your lungs are pretty, um, mad right now. Maybe- maybe later.”

Dave collapsed his arm and fell back into the bed, groaning. “Bummer.” He said, voice tight with pain. 

“Bummer.” Ben repeated.

“Bummer.” Klaus agreed, following Dave down so he could still feel the warmth of his skin. He wrapped both arms around his boyfriend’s left one, trapping it in a hug while his chin settled on his muscled shoulder. There was a pause. “How bad is it? Really?”

“It’s…” Dave closed his eyes tight for a minute while he thought and felt, “Crappy. But it’s better than before. I’ll live.” His head turned to the side so he could look at Klaus, expression softening somewhat. Still pinched, but like he was at least glad his boyfriend was there. 

Klaus practically melted, sighing. “I missed you.” He whispered. Dave’s eyes squinted just a hint more.

“Where’d I go?” He asked.

“Uh oh.” Ben, once again, reading Klaus’ mind. If he didn’t shut up, Klaus was going to throw something.

“Um. Ah,” Klaus worried his lip with his teeth, trying to think of how to start to explain.. anything, really. “How much- how much do you remember? Since- since the front lines?”

“Uh.” Dave’s expression fell and he looked off to the side, considering it. “We were.. in the thick of it. And I got hit. I know that much. You started hollering.”

Medic .

“Then it’s hazy. I… woke up in the jungle, then I started hollerin’-” His lips pressed into a thin line and he looked back to Klaus, “I.. died, and then you and the little guy.. and now I’m here.”

“Yup.” Klaus smacked his lips, looking away, “That’s… yup, you hit the main points.”

“How.. how long was I down?” Dave asked quietly.

“Um.” Klaus tried and failed to keep his voice from wavering, locking eyes with Ben. His brother looked almost as worried as he felt. He jerked his head towards the door and Klaus gave a slight nod. He blinked and his brother was gone.

“Depends on who you ask.” Klaus finally said, his voice soft as his eyes returned to his boyfriend.

“I’m asking you, Klaus.”

“Well, that’s where it gets complicated and- and fuzzy.” Klaus started, then cleared his throat. He could do this. He had to eventually, why not now? “For you, maybe an hour or two? Tops?” Dave swore under his breath, but Klaus pressed on because now he couldn’t stop. “For me it was closer to five months.”

What? ” Dave asked, his voice hushed. He gingerly rolled onto his side to face Klaus, wincing at the change in position. Klaus had to give up his hold on Dave’s arm, but he immediately grabbed one of Dave’s hands in his own. 

“Funny story, um, you’ll love this-- so the time travel, right? We established that?” Dave slowly nodded- he got it, sort of, maybe, so Klaus went on. “You- you got hit, and… it happened , so I went back to camp alone. And.. Dave.” Klaus pressed a gentle kiss to the hand he had captured, looking at Dave with big, sorry eyes, “I ran. I’m so sorry, but I ran. I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t handle it without you- I didn’t want to..”

“Oh. Klaus ...” Dave sighed, but it wasn’t the disappointment he was expecting. He mostly looked.. bemused? His free hand raised and gently settled on Klaus’ cheek. “Klaus.. you were the biggest fairy. Everything you said and did screamed ‘hippy dippy’. We all knew you didn’t want to be there.” He explained patiently, “You avoided the killing just as much as I did. I’m not going to hate you for deserting, especially since you had the get-out-of-jail-free card the whole time.”

Oh. “Why did we never play monopoly? Someone had to have had it.” Klaus said, mostly just to distract Dave while he processed.. that. Dave didn’t like killing, he knew, but he still answered the call of the draft with dignity. He had family members who had served before, he’d said, and it was important to him to honor that. 

He didn’t know how Dave might take him deserting and it was something he had considered often. After the dust settled, Klaus looked back and wondered whether or not Dave would have been disappointed in him for abandoning the unit. He couldn’t bear the idea of Dave thinking he was so shallow, so cowardly.

But.. he didn’t. He didn’t care at all. There was no judgment there, and suddenly Klaus was reminded of just how kind he could be. A small weight was off his chest. He stared at Dave in bizarre wonder.

Admittedly, it wasn’t a complete shock, the easy forgiveness. Klaus knew that the dream had been dying for him towards the end. The longer they spent in the merciless killing, watching their unit and family be picked off one by one in a country that wasn’t theirs, the more the shine wore off. What did honor have to do with terrorizing villages and cities, forcing innocent people to their knees? Killing teenagers that the other side passed off as soldiers? Sure, it had bothered Klaus too, he wasn’t heartless . But he grew up as a superhero being one of the so called ‘good guys’, all the while having to deal with the body count that his siblings acquired. He knew that it was fucked up. Vietnam felt similar.

But Dave wasn’t fucked up from the start like he was. Dave grew up in a nice house with a decent father and a real mother and a dog. He didn’t truly learn that the world wasn’t black and white until he was shipped off to an unfair war. Dave was a truly good and decent person that had strong morals and believed in right and wrong. Their actions weighed on his conscience, and it showed in some of their late night conversations. Sometimes in the dark he'd quietly admit that he didn’t feel like one of the good guys anymore. It hurt Klaus to hear, because he thought Dave was the best person he’d ever met.

“Sarge would’ve whooped our asses to play as the little dog.” Dave replied, oh so serious as he thumbed Klaus’ cheekbone gently, “And you’re a little dog kinda guy. It would’ve been a blood bath.”

Klaus laughed, sudden and unexpected. The way Dave riffed with him, joking so easily- It was jarring. Dave had only gone an hour without Klaus by his side, in the grand scheme of things, while Klaus had had five long months of grieving and longing and trying his damndest to get Dave to appear. 

They were.. they were at two completely separate points in their relationship. Fuck. He leaned his face into Dave’s hand, looking at him in confusion. Klaus didn’t know what he wanted to find there, starting to tear up from the realization. What was wrong with him?

“Klaus, hey.” His boyfriend murmured, hooking his fingers behind Klaus’ jaw and pulling him forward gently. Their foreheads brushed, and Klaus’ breath hitched. “We’ll play monopoly soon, it’ll be okay.”

“It’s not that, you flake .” He replied, his voice wobbling. “It’s- it’s-”

“I know.” Dave said, the corner of his mouth lifting, “I just wanted to see you smile again.” 

Alright, that was it. Klaus was closed for business now. He shut his eyes tight to try and keep his tears from escaping, a sob forcing its way from his throat. This is what he wanted. This is what he wanted . The teasing. The cheesy lines. The soft touches. He finally, finally had it all back. He had Dave back. And even better, Dave wasn’t mad at him, not at all. Why was he still so torn up? Why wasn’t everything just falling right back into place, now that he had Dave safe in his arms?

“Oh, sweetheart.” Dave sighed out, his hand leaving Klaus’ face to wrap around his shoulders and pull him close. Klaus’ breath stuttered- he couldn’t stop himself from crying now. He thought he’d gotten the worst of it out in Vietnam, but nope, round two. 

Fuck. He was supposed to be focused on Dave right now, not the other way around. It wasn’t helped - yes it was - by Dave gently pressing kisses over his face while he murmured small assurances. “It’s alright, doll. I’ve got you. I won’t go anywhere.”

“Dave.” Klaus whispered, his voice broken and hoarse. He curled up into his boyfriend as much as he could, seeking out the comfort he knew was there even if it was so damn selfish of him. “Dave.”

Dave knew what Klaus was after, and he shifted so he could use both arms to wrap Klaus up, tucking his face into where his neck met his shoulder. A hand ran up and down his back, and Klaus greedily clung to his boyfriend as he cried.

“Five months.” Dave mumbled, “Five months. I know.”

“But you’re back .” Klaus insisted, looking up at him with red rimmed eyes. Dave pressed his lips to Klaus’ forehead. “I’m happy. I’m happy , I shouldn’t-- in the end it’s like you didn’t even die!”

“It can still hurt.” Dave replied, gentle. A little choked up now, too. Klaus hated himself even more for making him cry about this shit too. “That’s alright, doll. We have time now.”

Klaus let out a sniff, staring at the tender expression on his boyfriend’s face a moment before nodding, numb. And then Dave leaned in with his head tilted, kissing him slowly. Klaus had to let out another shaky breath before letting himself melt into it. 

Five months. Five months without this. 

Surprisingly, Klaus didn’t throw himself into it like he thought he would at their second first kiss. Instead he just let it be what it was, getting to know the feeling of Dave’s lips on his once again. He tasted his own tears but didn’t dare stop, putting a hand on Dave’s shoulder to carefully coax him back down to the bed. He followed after with his lips, unwilling to part for even a second while he leaned over his boyfriend, braced on his elbows.

Which, he’d have to admit, was a pretty incriminating situation for Five to teleport into. 

“Geez, Klaus- already? Really? ” Five said, voice dripping with disdain. Klaus jerked back and stared down at Dave with wide eyes. “I don’t want to see this.”

“Then maybe you could knock next time.” Klaus snapped, ducking his head. He didn’t want Five to see him while his eyes were red and puffy.

“Oh, shoot- the kid in the suit was real, huh?” Dave asked, gently pulling Klaus down on top of him. He peered over his head with a frown at the interruption while Klaus grumbled something and tried to covertly wipe his eyes.

“I don’t think it was unreasonable to assume you wouldn’t immediately jump his bones, considering he was dead this morning.” Five replied, making eye contact with a bewildered Dave.

“I wasn’t jumping anything-- and don’t say sex stuff while you look like a teenager! You’re old and it’s weird !” Klaus protested.

“Copulating.” Five stated, “Having intercourse. Making love. Banging.”

“Fuck off, I’m supposed to be the obnoxious one.” Klaus complained. 

“You haven’t been feeling up to it lately, so someone has to be annoying and terrible in your absence.” Five easily countered, walking up to their bedside. “Dave, how are you feeling?”

“Better now that I’ve got this one with me.” Dave replied fondly, a hand combing through Klaus’ hair. It was touching, but Klaus winced because that kind of sappiness would get him eaten alive in this house. 

“Klaus usually has the opposite effect on people.” His brother retorted, “Regardless, I’m not interested in your feelings , I want to know how much pain and discomfort you’re in.”

“Cute kid.” Dave said, fond expression dropping into something much less impressed. “Everything aches and I’m working on a headache- my chest is the worst.”

“That’s what happens when bullets tear through your rib cage, I’m sorry to say.” Five informed, leaning over Klaus to stare at Dave’s face critically. Dave suppressed a flinch and stared back, steely eyed. Five frowned, though eventually nodded and straightened up. “Can you eat?” He asked, “I’ll administer pain medication afterwards. Unfortunately I can’t just leave it with you, considering present company.”

Hey ,” Dave started, trying to sit up, but Klaus pushed him back down with a mumbled ‘no no no, no’.

“That’s for the best, probably.” Klaus admitted, “Morphine and I are old friends, after all.”

“No kidding?” Dave asked, tilting his head so he could look at Klaus, a question in his eyes.

“Yeah, sobriety is lame like that.” He met the soldier’s gaze with a sheepish one of his own. “Clean except for the grass. I was trying pretty hard to find you.”

Dave cracked a grin. “No kidding.” He repeated, something like pride shining in his eyes. Dave didn’t approve of the constant substance abuse back in Vietnam, of course, but there was almost no chance of him stopping, even if Klaus did cut back some. Dave knew about the ghosts and how the drugs helped. And honestly, just about everyone was taking something to get through the days and nights. The army handed that shit out like candy, trying to keep its soldiers from shattering. There wasn’t room for a lot of judgment. 

“He really was.” Five affirmed, “And now it makes sense, why he couldn’t find you. There wasn’t a ghost to be summoned because we brought you back here- well before past-Klaus had a chance to try and find you.”

“Woo and hoo.” Klaus really didn’t want to dwell on how all that work was ultimately pointless. He rubbed his eyes and cleared his throat, changing topics. “Anyways, Five was saying something about food? I’ll take a steak, medium rare. David?”

“I never agreed to get you the food.” Five griped, “And I’m definitely not feeding you, Klaus. You have legs.”

“Dave has legs too, pretty sure. I checked.” Klaus gently kicked him underneath the covers just to be sure.

“Ow." Dave said, sighing, "I could eat."

Chapter Text

Dave laid on the ground, loose limbed and taking in big gulps of air. His lungs felt like they were on fire, but at the same time every single breath felt like the best thing in the world. His ribs hurt when they expanded, but it was a dull pain that he could sort of ignore, compared to all the other pain. There was a sheen of sweat across his skin from the pain and stress and the fucking humidity. His eyes were closed, tight.

“Huh?” He breathed out, brow furrowing as he tried to focus.

“You just died.” The little one, the number spoke, “I fixed that.”

“...Uh-huh?” Dave nodded, motioning with a floppy hand for him to go on.

“He seems more conscious now. That’s a good sign.” The boy said, to Klaus. Klaus? He was there only a moment ago, hovering in Dave’s periphery. He opened his eyes to look around for his boyfriend. For a moment he couldn’t find him, but then Klaus was there kneeled beside him with a bottle of water. An honest to God bottle of water, not a canteen.

“I still don’t understand why he was awake at all.” Klaus said, his voice creaky and hoarse. He’d been crying so, so much and it worried Dave. Klaus hated crying in front of other people. It took a while for Klaus not to get bent out of shape about doing it in front of Dave. Something his terrible father did had started it, Dave remembered that much, but.. not much else at the moment.

“I told you, it was easier to monitor his symptoms and his progress--”

“Davey, sit up for me, c’mon.” Klaus murmured, ignoring the rest of the kid’s rant. His hands on Dave’s shoulders, he tried to help lift his top half. And even though his arms felt like jello, Dave did his best to comply, gritting his teeth to get the job done. After a moment, he was propped up against his fella’s chest and he let his head fall back.

“Ugh.” Dave said, unhappy about how the movement felt on his everything. At least Klaus smelled nice. He wanted to ask why.

“Sounds about right.” The little boy said smoothly. Now that he was sort of vertical, he could get a better look at the kid. What the hell was a teen in a suit doing this close to the front? And why was he a medical.. doctor.. guy? Dave needed to see a degree.

“Drink.” Klaus urged, cracking open the water bottle and holding it to Dave’s mouth. He quickly realized how thirsty he was, and he reached up to clumsily try and hold the bottle himself. “And we’re sure the serum isn’t going to..” His boyfriend trailed off. Dave finished off the water in record time and gasped. 

“S’rum?” He tried to ask, but he started coughing mid-way through. Klaus helped him sit up a little more. This was torture.

“Yes, serum.” The fancy boy replied, sitting on the ground with his arms on his knees. “The one that restarted your heart and knit your body’s tissues back together.”

What the huh? This kid was way out there. But then again, so was Dave. Blood loss was a hell of a trip.

“From what I gathered with dad’s notes on Luther’s transformation, the.. side effects happened at the same time as the tissue repairing itself. Your.. Dave, is working through the last of the serum now, so I’m hopeful. We’ll wait until dawn so he has a chance to stabilize more, then we’ll see about heading home.”

“Good,” Klaus sighed, and Dave still wasn’t quite sure what they were talking about, but he was glad that Klaus was relieved. “Good. That’s good.”

Klaus and Five had a quiet argument that involved a lot of hissing, harsh gesturing towards the door, and some minor pointing at Dave. He was still hazy and couldn’t hear that well, but he caught words that included ‘ disgusting ’, ‘ Mom ’, ‘ just do it ’ and ‘ some fucking pants ’. Meanwhile, while Dave eavesdropped - was it eavesdropping if he was literally five feet away on the bed? - his eyes wandered around the room. Klaus’ room, he thought.

If he wasn’t laid up in the guy’s bed with his chest still burning and aching, Dave would’ve been blushing like a virgin to be in here. Especially considering he was pretty much entirely naked beneath the blankets. 

Man, Dave really hoped the ‘ some fucking pants ’ line was for him.

He’d have to try and look at all the scribbles on the walls later. Trying to make out Klaus’ chicken scratch was hard on anyone with a set of eyes, but the writing close to him was especially jagged and jerky and hurt his head to try and decipher. The random drawings here and there were easier to understand, and they varied from a large, haunting eye to a small doodle of a duck. Lights strung up just about everywhere complimented the room, especially the clothes thrown haphazardly on the ground and over furniture.

Weird, contradictory, oddly inviting. Dave thought the room was a pretty good representation of Klaus.

“Okay, fine .” Klaus finally huffed, throwing his arms up. “I’ll shower. Are you happy?”

“I’m satisfied.” Five replied.

“Yeah, but are you happy though?” 

Klaus .” There was a clear warning in the kid’s - but not a kid, but looks like a kid? - voice. 

“Some day you’ll let me in.” Klaus sighed wistfully, “Some day you’ll come to your favorite, wizened, devilishly handsome brother and you’ll say ‘Klaus, I’m drowning. I need you. I need help, brother.’”

“Hm.” There was a short pause. “I’ve considered your proposal and I’m afraid I have to decline,” Five stated, “considering that I’d rather eat glass.” Then in a flash of blue he vanished. Cool. Dave didn’t hallucinate that, either. There were a lot of wild, new things to catch up on, but he thought he was handling the superpowers pretty well.

Klaus scoffed, shaking his head with a small smirk. Then he turned to Dave and clasped his hands, straightening out his back and putting on a smile that almost seemed real. “Okay! Game plan. Five’s getting mom to make you oatmeal or soup or something.”

Dave quirked an eyebrow. “Real food? No more cold C-rations?”

Eugh , forgot about those. But yes! Exciting stuff.” Klaus nodded eagerly, striding over to perch on the bed next to Dave. “ Meanwhile , I’m going to go steal something from Diego that’ll fit you, aaaand then I have to take a quick shower to wash off the ‘Nam.”

“Diego’s the..”

“He’s the knifiest of brothers.” Klaus said, wise as ever, “And the closest to your size.”

“And we like him?” Dave asked wryly. Klaus snorted, ducking his head. Months ago - maybe a whole year for Klaus, yeowch - Klaus finally started opening up more about his home life. The details often came out in fragments, seemingly ‘throwaway’ thoughts that he knew Klaus had actually thought long and hard about before allowing Dave to have.

He clung to those little details, knowing they were precious, hidden away things that needed to finally be heard. But he had trouble keeping up with the siblings sometimes, considering Klaus often switched between their ‘numbers’ and their real names(which was horrific, using numbers as names. And also, what kind of backwards pageantry bullshit reason was there to have seven whole kids? Straight people, man.). So sometimes, he’d have to interrupt a story and ask, ‘Which one was that, again? Wasn’t he the one that did that one thing? Do we like her?’

Dave made sure Klaus had his full attention in those moments so he knew he wasn’t joking around or being flippant. In return, Klaus teased him about being an old geezer, forgetting things left and right. Do you need your cane, grandpa? Did you leave your teeth somewhere again? The little brat.

“Yeah. Yeah, we like him.” Klaus smiled, trying to angle it away from Dave. But he knew the crinkle of those eyes pretty well. “We.. actually like everyone, these days.”

“For real?” Dave asked, and he was smiling too now, soft. “Last I heard they were kind of a drag.”

“Oh, they’re all a bunch of drags still.” Klaus replied flippantly, “But we’re closer these days. They.. try, I guess. But I think Five is forever my favorite now. Since he brought you back.”

Dave reached out, settling a hand on Klaus’ shoulder and giving it a fond squeeze. “I’m kinda fond of him myself for that. Even if he’s a little..” He whistled, gesturing with his other hand to  indicate that he thought Klaus’ youngest/oldest brother was a friggin’ nutcase.

“Our little psycho.” Klaus sighed, voice impossibly fond. “Ah- speaking of favorite brothers, cover your ears.”

At this point, Dave didn’t really question things like that from his beau. Klaus had asked him to do weirder shit for the weirdest reasons. He obediently lifted his hands and covered his ears. Turns out it was a good idea, because Klaus took a deep breath and then screeched.

Beeeen ! Benny! ” Even with his ears covered, Dave couldn’t hide a wince. Klaus had a serious pair of pipes and still wasn’t afraid of using them. Old habits. “ Bennifer ! Benjamin !”

Klaus suddenly turned his head to look at thin air beside him. “Yeah, well, why bother spending the energy ‘summoning’ you when I can just call your name and you’ll be there?”

Sounded like Klaus was onto something with his screaming. Ben must’ve made his appearance. Were Dave’s hands sweaty? Damn it. He was glad the guy was a ghost and they wouldn’t be shaking hands. Ben was a character that Klaus mentioned more than anyone else. His best friend, for better or for worse. The person he missed most while he was overseas and backwards in time.

Dave always imagined meeting him under better circumstances, not while he was naked in his brother’s bed .

“Breaking my heart here, Benny-babe.” Klaus pouted, “But I need you to do me a favor and keep an eye on my boy toy for a bit.” A pause. Klaus’ face soured. “For your information, I am going to take a shower, thanks so much.”

“Klaus,” Dave spoke up, squeezing his guy’s shoulder again, “I don’t need a babysitter. You don’t have to make Ben-- watch me.” He winced at the thought. Wow, that would be awkward. Dave, naked as the day he was born, the ghost of his boyfriend’s brother watching him like a hawk. He was really on a roll with these first impressions. "Hi, Ben."

“Um. Um.” Klaus said, looking back at Dave. There was something off in his expression. “I know, but also, if something happens-- not saying anything will happen, but if it does, he can come and get me. So.”


“Sweetheart.” Dave said, expression softening, “I feel okay. Trust me.”

“No no, but- Ben wants to, actually? Soo.” Klaus trailed off, and Dave sighed before shrugging a shoulder. Now wasn’t the time to press on things, he figured. 

“Can you at least point to where he is? That way it’s a little less..” Creepy.

“Mm? Oh- wait!” Klaus shot up onto his feet and Dave let his hand slide off his shoulder. “I can do you one better, actually!” He shook his arms out and wiggled his fingers, then closed his eyes and clenched his fists. Dave’s eyebrows went up again, but he waited patiently. A little patience went a long way with an off-beat guy like Klaus.

His eyes widened a fraction when Klaus’ fists started to glow blue, not unlike the blue from Five’s teleporting. Woah . Dave had known about Klaus’ ghost problem since the early days, and he really truly believed Klaus did see things. But at the beginning, he just didn’t think those things were real . In hindsight, he wished he’d believed Klaus a whole lot sooner. Not a lot of people tended to believe in Klaus. Still, eventually there was undeniable proof, Klaus knowing things that only their dead comrades could.

And while only two or three folks believed it was real, honest to God ghosts, Klaus had a habit of knowing just the right thing at just the right time to save their unit a whole lot of trouble. And while they were all grateful as hell to Klaus, him being the main reason they didn’t walk straight into a minefield, it was unnerving. Thus, the nickname Spooky was born.

He didn’t think he had any doubts about the ghosts anymore, not really, but hell if it wasn’t a wake up call to blink and see a whole ‘nother person standing there, rimmed in the same blue as Klaus’ hands. 

The figure cracked a grin as his feet solidified on the ground. A young looking man just a few inches shorter than Klaus, wearing nothing but black. “Hey, Dave.” He said, removing a hand from a hoodie pocket to wave casually.

Dave sat up straight, and the motion had his chest burning intensely for a few moments. But more importantly, it had some of the blankets slipping down his hips- his hands flew to grab it and tuck it around his waist properly. “Ben.” He greeted, “Hey. Hi. Wow, you’re really- blue.”

Son of a bitch, fucking hell, David. Blue

“...Uh huh,” Ben nodded, his eyebrows slowly creeping up his forehead. Dave really wished he had pants on. Ben probably knew he didn’t. This was hell. Forget the dreams about going to school in your underwear, this was the real nightmare right here.

It was just-- Ben was so obviously the most important person in Klaus’ life. Klaus liked to think of Ben as his own personal Jiminy Cricket. Dave sometimes caught him asking himself ‘what would Ben do?’ in a situation that required morals or honesty. His opinion was important - even though Klaus admitted that he often didn’t listen to it.

The other siblings were... controversial, to put it lightly, even if they were cool now . He didn’t care so much, especially with the stories he’d heard. But Ben? Dave really wanted the guy to like him. 

Klaus grinned at Dave, distracting him by wiggling his fingers while they were that hazy blue color. And then, all Dave could think about was how Klaus had struggled so, so hard with the ghosts in the past. And now he was clean, something Dave had forced himself to give up on, and he was doing good . He had control. Dave had missed out on a lot.

“Klaus?” He said, making eye contact, “This is incredible. You’re incredible.”

Klaus blinked, surprised as he usually was when Dave gave him a sincere compliment. “Oh- uh. Huh.” He stuttered, a smile playing at his lips, “Well, I mean, we all know that. Obviously. Of course. But it’s- it’s nice to be recognized. Finally , someone around here to appreciate my many talents.”

“Wow.” Ben said, impressed, “That was kind of sad.”

Shut up .” Klaus hissed, smile immediately dropping as he flushed.

“You completely lost your cool-”

“I’m not going to keep you visible if you keep embarrassing me--!”

“I think you’re embarrassing yourself just fine, you don’t even need my help-”

“Um,” Dave interrupted, getting their attention again, “It’s no big deal.”

“It’s a very big deal.” Ben insisted, “Can you do that again?”

“No, no, no .” Klaus waved his hands and something about Ben seemed… lighter? For some reason? “That’s it, I’m taking away your ‘touching stuff’ privileges.”

“This is bullying. You’re bullying me.” Ben replied, face blank and voice unaffected.

“Sit here and think about what you’ve done.” Klaus sniffed, crossing his arms. “I’ll try and keep him visible for you, Davey. Feel free to bully him as much as you want.”

“I’ll do my best, Spook.” He sighed, shaking his head. Klaus walked to the door and opened it, took one more worried look at Dave, and left to go shower. Leaving Dave alone with Ben. Oh boy. Oh, geeze.

“You wouldn’t bully a dead guy, would you?” Ben asked, crossing his arms. 

“..I mean,” Dave gave the other man a hint of a smile, nervously fidgeting with his hands in his lap. “I was dead too, I guess. If anything, I’m on your side here.”

Ben let out a small laugh, and Dave felt some of the tension leave his shoulders. Which was good, because it meant Dave had more tension to spare for his aching chest. “You’re sort of in between I guess.” The ghost agreed- then gave him a weird, strained smile while he shifted his weight. “..sorry about that, by the way..?” 

“Uh. It’s… fine.” Dave wasn’t really sure how he felt, if he was being honest. There hadn’t exactly been a lot of time to dwell on.. Anything that had, to him, just happened. And then he needed to focus on Klaus when it came up, because months ? Alone? Grieving him and hurting so badly? 

Instead of his own mortality, Dave immediately focused in on how devastated he would be if their roles were reversed. If Dave had to live knowing he’d never catch another one of Klaus’ sharp laughs? Never see his delighted smile? The thought made him sick. 

“Sorry to bring it up.” Ben shrugged gently, “But hey, I went through it too, just… came back a different way. I get it.”

“I just don’t know what to do, really.” Dave admitted, eyes dropping to his lap. “I understand the words, but it still doesn’t feel real. Even though I remember it all.”

“To be fair,” Ben said, “It all happened pretty fast for you. It’ll probably settle in later.”

“Groovy. Can’t wait for that breakdown.” Dave laughed weakly. It was true- it had all happened so fast. And he felt… displaced. The whiplash between environments freaked him out. Just a few days ago, he’d woken up at the crack of dawn in A Shau. He’d leaned down to the next cot over and shook Klaus awake so he wouldn’t be late for role call. That day, Sarge told the unit that they’d be shipping up to the front lines.

They did what they were told. They left base camp and moved towards the constant, unending sounds of gunfire and shells dropping. Thank fuck it wasn’t monsoon season anymore and the jungle wasn't made entirely out of mud. He kept Klaus by his side the entire time, always taking shifts together and watching each others backs. 

They were so close to taking the front when Dave got shot.

There was pain, there was Klaus, there was darkness. He didn’t want to dwell on the darkness. Then there was light, more pain, more Klaus, but it all happened in a blur and now he was here. 

“Sorry.” Ben winced, noting the haunted look in Dave’s eyes. “I’m not really the comforting type.”

“You kiddin’?” Dave asked, blinking hard and looking back up at Ben. “Klaus told me you two were thick as thieves, that you were the only one who cared. You were plenty comforting.”

“Yeah, uh-” Ben raised a hand and rubbed at the back of his neck, “That wasn’t as selfless as it sounds. I didn’t have a lot of options and I also didn’t want the idiot to die, so.” He shrugged, dropping his arm back down to stuff both hands in his hoodie.

“I think you’re just being modest.” Dave smiled, a bit strained from the memories, but he meant well. “He’d talk about you a lot- things you did for him. And- thanks, by the way." He said, "Maybe that’s weird, but I, uh, I assume you were the one keeping him out of trouble while I was gone.” Dave shook his head, fond. The thought of Klaus having his favorite brother around to talk to again made his smile a lot more genuine when he made eye contact with the ghost. “So. Thank you, really.” 

“Oh.” Ben blinked, shoulders coming up slightly so his hoodie nearly bunched up at his ears. It was almost like he was trying to hide himself. His eyes darted away, and it reminded him of how Klaus was in the early days- he got skittish when Dave’d looked him in the eye and make him listen to a real, sincere compliment.

“..Don’t, um- don’t mention it.. bud...? ...alright no, that was pretty bad-” Ben tried, but he was cut off - and Dave noticed the sigh of relief.

“Knock knock.” A voice interrupted, and then a head with a mess of hair peeked in on the room. Klaus had forgotten to shut the door. So which sister was this?

“Oh. Hey, Allison.” Ben said, his shoulders falling now that the uncomfortable moment was over. He looked relieved to have the spotlight off himself. Allison’s eyes lit up when they spotted Ben, and she welcomed herself into the room with a tray of food. Dave’s body suddenly remembered he hadn’t eaten since the granola bars Five had insisted he have in the jungle.

“I didn’t know you’d be here, Ben.” She said, her voice low and quiet. She and Dave made eye contact, and she looked him up and down with an interested look. It almost felt like she was measuring him up, scrutinizing him.

Dave really wished he had a shirt on. And he still didn't have a pair of pants.

Chapter Text

Klaus was sitting, his back to a tree and Dave’s head in his lap. After Five pronounced Dave safe, they’d turned the light off so they wouldn’t be so obvious in the dark. Naturally, his..upsettingly bloody boyfriend had passed out as soon as he could. Klaus couldn’t rest though. Not here. His hand absently carded through Dave’s gross, sweaty hair while he listened to bombings in the distance. He stared off into nothing, spaced out and flinching slightly every so often.

Five was on high alert, sitting next to Klaus with his back to the same tree. He was handling everything a lot better, but then again, he hadn’t lived through this mess of a war for ten straight months. Empathy wasn’t his strong suit, but he felt the need to do… something . One look at the blank stare and he knew that Klaus was screwed up from being back here. Screwed up from seeing Dave in agony again.

He felt just slightly responsible.

“How’d you two...?” Five tried to start something quietly, tapping his fingers on the rifle sitting in his lap. Odd, knowing it’d probably be fairly deadly in Klaus’ hands. He hadn’t seen him in action, but they all went through the same basic training as kids, even when Klaus didn’t apply himself much. And you don’t get stuck with a group like the 173rd without knowing your shit. 

Five had no doubt Klaus had done some unpleasant things here in Vietnam. And if he had someone like Dave to try and protect, well, Five wondered just how far it went.

“Mm?” Klaus hummed, head slowly turning to look at his brother.

“You and Dave.” Five said, “How’d you- start, I guess? It must’ve been hard.”

“Um.. Uh.” Klaus blinked slowly, shaking his head a little to try and get his brain to remember. “Man. We’d been attached at the hip. Buddy system, since I didn’t know my ass from my teakettle when I dropped in.”

“Yeah?” Five urged. Usually Klaus would just ramble if someone gave him the space to do it. ..Usually he’d do it whether someone invited him to or not, actually. It didn’t take much.

“He was patient. Strong. Didn’t let me push him around or push him away.” Klaus mused, leaning his head back against the tree to stare up into the canopy. “One night at a bar, we were just… magnets. Couldn’t keep away. We'd been playing the same game, avoiding it for so long, I didn't think it'd anything different that night. I didn’t even let myself think he could be gay until he had me in a side room and we..” He swallowed, closing his eyes.

“You’re welcome to stop there. I don’t need the details.” Five said, flat. His attempts at being a decent brother would only stretch so far.

Klaus let out a tiny, manic little laugh. “Oh, oh no. He’s too good for- for seedy bar hanky panky.” He said, “I didn't know much about romance, but I knew that much. He deserved everything. Everything and more. ..Not- not some pointless death in a pointless war.”

“Yeah.” Five sighed, feeling his age deep in his bones. “They never do.”

“Yeah,” Klaus said, voice soft. “Yeah.”

So, Dave. 

Dave, Dave, Dave. He’d get back to him soon. He would. 

Once he had scrubbed himself down three times to feel like he was actually clean from the jungle, Klaus took a moment to look down at the dog tags around his neck while he stood in the shower’s spray. He picked them up and held them close to his face, frowning. This time he had a set of them. Two different chains hung down his neck, and he stared at the four metal plates for the longest time. His thumb trailed over the familiar Star of David on the first pair - it'd become a comforting habit ever since he deserted.

He’d taken his own tags off of Dave earlier that day during the bath, slipping them around his own neck and under his gross, stained tank top. Klaus would give them back, of course. Honestly, he wasn’t sure why he took them at the time. He didn’t need them. Now, though, watching them intensely, he was glad he did. He’d switched out their tags at the firefight in what was probably one of the most selfish moves he’d ever pulled in his life, wanting to take something to hold onto Dave with. Now, Klaus’ own dog tags catching the light next to Dave's were a reminder that he was here , really here, even if they weren’t in the same room.

Katz, David. Hargreeves, Klaus. United at last. It looked right, but he still couldn’t fully believe it yet.

“Hey, Klaus?” He was completely lost in thought when Ben stuck his head through the door into the steamy bathroom. Naturally, Klaus let out a shriek at the interruption, hiding his ‘modesty’ behind the shower curtain.

“I told you not to stick your head through doors!” Klaus yelled. This had been an ongoing conversation for years, and while he first brought it up somewhat jokingly, Klaus was getting pretty sick of it. He was convinced that Ben only did it to keep freaking him out, as he got pretty uncomfortable about moving through any other solid things like furniture, walls, etc.

At this point the social boundaries were too low between the two to consider this a breach of privacy - it was just the principle of the thing. Klaus didn’t care if anyone saw him naked, especially Ben - and while Ben didn’t enjoy seeing Klaus’ ass, he was used to it by now. 

They had depressingly low standards for each other.

“And I told you to stop doing heroin, but you sure took your sweet time with it.” Ben replied, blunt and infuriatingly chill. Klaus scoffed. “Anyways, so- Allison is with Dave and won’t leave. And Dave still doesn’t have any pants on,” He nodded his head accusingly towards the pile of Diego’s clothes that Klaus had set on the toilet seat, “so he might die again just from embarrassment.”

“Ugh. Noo . I don’t want to talk to the rest of them yet.” Klaus complained, leaning his head against the tiled wall, “It hasn't even been a day and they're already descending like vultures. And you just abandoned him, Ben? I gave you one job.”

“You’ve been losing your focus and I’ve been flickering too much to save him.” Bullshit. Maybe he was flickering, but he still could've given Allison some pretty choice words if he'd wanted to. “And I can only handle Allison’s well meaning, motherly interrogation skills for so long.”

“Oh, God.” Klaus reached over and turned the water off immediately, grabbing his towel, “He can’t be alone with Allison, he’ll crack under the pressure. He’s strong and brave and charming but surprisingly sensitive and vulnerable deep down. It’s too much.”

“You are so gay.” Ben replied.

“Hey, don’t act like you were complimenting my taste just to be nice . You’re no better.” Klaus said, furiously scrubbing his hair with the towel while he stepped out of the shower. Ben’s eyes immediately went up to the ceiling. Just because he could tolerate a naked Klaus didn’t mean he wanted an eyeful.

“Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t. ..Also, for the record, I think you should ‘accidentally’ leave his shirt in here.”

Klaus wrapped the towel around his hips and tucked it tightly so he could be hands free, and then he swatted at Ben’s head. Ben jerked back through the door and he gave Klaus a cold look when he turned the knob and pulled it open. “Stop lusting after my boyfriend, Benjamin .” Steam spilled out into the open air while he ducked down to grab the pile of clothes with flickering blue hands. 

“I need you to never say the word ‘lusting’ again.” Ben complained, following along as Klaus speed-walked down the hall towards his room. Klaus wasn't hearing any denial, though..

“Oh, lust? Lusting ?” Klaus sung out, just to be annoying. The shower had him feeling a bit more like himself, even if he preferred a long bath- which meant the antics were back on. Especially if he had to go into a room full of Allison's good will.

“Hey, make me corporeal for a second so I can trip you.” Ben said, irritated.

Ignoring him, Klaus approached his door and reached to push it open. However, he froze for a second. Then he looked down, grabbed the t-shirt he’d liberated from Diego, and chucked it behind his shoulder. Ben couldn’t stop from snorting out a laugh.

Allison , darling!” Klaus greeted, sweeping into the room with Ben on his heels, “How nice to see you in my room that you never ever visit!”

“Hey, Klaus.” Allison turned, giving him a smile. Her voice was low, almost like she was an old smoker(which, for the record, he knew she was!). She didn't believe Klaus when he told her he loved how it sounded that way. “I wanted to come say hi, and I figured I’d save mom the trip up the stairs.” She was so disarming, it was actually impressive to Klaus. The way she had curled up her knees on the bed next to Dave, comfy yet fashionable in a pale pink shrug. The creaking of her still-recovering voice was probably endearing the poor man, too, and how could one say no to a concerned big sister asking about her poor brother? She knew how to get what she wanted, rumors or not. Sometimes he thought it was cool. But when it involved Klaus' business, it was just plain invasive.

“I gotta say, Klaus- not too shabby.” She continued, looking at Klaus with a question in her eyes. One that wouldn’t be answered by him, not today missy. Ugh. He knew this would happen. If Vanya couldn’t be trusted to vet her own dates, how could poor, reckless Klaus handle it? Nope, he was busting Dave out of this interrogation.

“You’re all animals, ogling him while he’s at your mercy.” Klaus replied dramatically, looking over accusingly at Ben. “Leave this poor, taken man alone, take your lust elsewhere.”

“Did you really have to say that out loud?” Ben snapped, looking over to Dave and back. If ghosts could blush..

“Um, lust ? Ew, Klaus.” Allison made a face, rearing backwards. At the insinuation or just the word? Klaus wasn’t sure. 

Meanwhile, Dave was turning bright red and looked like he wanted to eject himself into space, propped against the pillows surrounding the headboard. Klaus loved him so much. Ignoring his siblings’ collective complaining, he walked forward and shooed Allison away so he could sit next to his boyfriend. She made a very annoyed face at being displaced and interrupted, but scooted herself down the bed to make room.

There was an empty oatmeal bowl sitting on the bedside table, Klaus noted with pleasure. He dropped the clothes in Dave’s lap, and watched his boyfriend visibly sag with relief. Poor guy.

“I think- that-” Dave anxiously looked back and forth between Klaus and Allison. One hand gripped the pants tightly, and the other reached for Klaus’ own before quickly jerking back and settling on his shoulder instead. “You may be confused. Allison and I were just talking. Swear.”

“Dave, you’ve done nothing wrong ever and I love you.” Klaus stated, leaning up against Dave’s side so he could enjoy the warmth of skin-on-skin, just because he could . His boyfriend’s hand carefully settled on his back, still seeming nervous.

“Um, how about that weekend back in August when Stevens and I- and the jeep?”

Klaus furrowed his brow, trying to recall exactly what Dave was referring to. Suddenly his expression dropped, and he gave a soft, reproachful, “David.” He’d forgotten that one. Ben and Allison exchanged confused glances as Klaus went on, disappointed. “Alright, you’ve done at least one thing wrong.”

Dave gave him a small, not quite sorry smile. “Yeah. And- hey, I think you maybe forgot the shirt.” He said, picking through the meager pile of clothes.

“Did he?” Ben muttered.

“Did I?” Klaus added, an eyebrow raising.

“Okay- Klaus? I’m not lusting after your boyfriend.” Allison interrupted, and Klaus watched as Dave’s expression flickered at the B word. He still smiled, albeit nervously, but he gave Klaus a concerned look out of the corner of his eye for a second. Then he looked back to Allison.

“Can we please add that to the banned words list.” Ben begged quietly.

“Oh.” Klaus said, mostly to Dave. To answer the question Dave was subtly asking, he leaned on him even more and got closer into his personal bubble, saying, “I mean, I doubt that, look at him, but okay. You aren’t trying to steal my darling boyfriend out from under me, sure- I’ll hold you to that, dear sister.”

Dave’s hand reached around to Klaus’ arm and gave it an affirming squeeze before he pulled him closer into his side. Nice. Maybe Klaus wouldn't be so rusty at this boyfriend stuff.

“Sure thing, Klaus.” She replied, dry and sarcastic.

“So what can we do for you on this lovely evening, dear Allison?” Klaus urged, “Dave’s tired and hurting, so..” He gestured for her to go on, impatient.

“Actually, Five had her bring painkillers up to me with the food. I took those as soon as I could,” Dave said, completely misinterpreting the situation. Also, Five was such a traitor, helping send her up here. “I’m starting to feel alright.”

“That’s great, Dave.” Allison replied charmingly, “I actually wanted to know more about your life in the states, if you don’t mind--”

“He’s not going to make me go on a bender, if that’s what you’re wondering.” Klaus rudely cut in. Ben lowered his face into his hand, and he felt Dave tense beneath him.

Klaus.” She hissed, “Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody thinks that.”

“Then why else would you be up here trying to freak him out?”

Um,” Allison said, giving him an affronted look, “For your information, I just wanted to get to know the long term boyfriend that my baby brother told me nothing about.”

“I’m ten months older than you guys.” Klaus huffed, “And I probably told you something, just- in a past tense.”

“Yeah, well, you’re still the baby.” Allison replied, unamused, “And that still doesn’t make up for hiding a massive part of your life. We're trying to be a family, and this is kind of important.”

“Finally, someone else is the baby.” Ben muttered, but Klaus made eye contact and slowly shook his head. Maybe the others gave him a pass because they got awkward about his death, but Ben died young, okay? He stopped aging. He was the eternal baby. Klaus would not let this go.

Anyways, the nerve of Allison coming in here and telling him what was and wasn't important. He knew this shit was important, okay? That's why he didn't exactly try to share with the all knowing, all judging class. Besides, it was so big to him, and the main focus was on Vanya and making her feel more welcome. His focus was on trying to get sober, on being less of a disaster so his siblings wouldn't hate him. It wasn't time for the Klaus Show, where they'd all stare at him like he was bullshitting until someone more credible like Five came along to let him know he wasn't a raving lunatic.

Ben knew how he felt about it all, but still tried to get him to open up to the others some. Klaus did not like that, considering how things went the last time he went with Ben's ideas. But hey, that's when he started really talking to Five about some things. So he kind of got there, right?

“Um,” Dave said intelligently, looking back and forth between all three siblings. Klaus didn’t blame him for his confusion. Being in a room with three or more Hargreeves was stressful.

“I just wanted to ask Dave a few questions.” Allison insisted to Klaus, her expression softening.

Dave cleared his throat. “I really don’t mind getting to know your sister a little, Spooky.”

Klaus made eye contact with Ben, who sighed. This was much less about getting to know Allison , and more about her prying into Klaus’ newfound social life. Dave just didn’t know how to navigate the Allison Hargreeves experience yet. And of course, it went without saying that both brothers loved their sister. But her mothering streak mixed with her subtle manipulations left something to be desired. And she was trying to be better, trying to be a good sister, of course, just- Klaus doubted she realized the tinier things she did. Giving herself the upper hand in the most subtle ways she could.

But, Klaus decided, she had to know what she was doing up here with Dave. He wouldn’t be surprised if the others knew she was up here, too.

“How many is a few, Allison?” Klaus asked innocently, watching his sister.

“Well, I don’t know Klaus. That’s up to Dave.” Allison replied, smooth, even though her voice was just slightly raspy.

“But is it really ?”

Allison opened her mouth to bite back, but Dave beat her to it. “Klaus.” He stressed, giving his arm a squeeze. It was the same ‘Klaus’ that Dave used when he was getting too mouthy in front of a superior, or even just another soldier that didn’t deserve to be fucked with. He always did his best to keep Klaus out of trouble, which he appreciated. Even though it usually didn’t work. Maybe he and Ben could start a club.

Klaus could tell Dave was uncomfortable all around, and maybe his bitchiness wasn’t helping, but Allison’s brand of concerned prying really didn’t sit well with him. It got under his skin fast, considering he didn’t like to open up to his siblings like this when he didn’t have to, and this same sister didn’t give a rat’s ass about him a year ago. Her assistant screened his calls , for God’s sake. 

He wasn’t mad about it enough to kick start an apocalypse, and he loved her and their makeover sessions to death, but it was still pretty annoying. Kind of depressing, too.

Whatever. At least if he was here to be a buffer the conversation wouldn’t get too bad. And maybe the faster this went, the faster she would leave.

“Fine, fine.” Klaus finally sighed, gesturing to her airily, “If you must.” Ben made a face at him, but Klaus waved him off for now. There were ways he could get rid of Allison if he really needed to.

“Well..” Allison curled her arms around her middle, leaning forward. “Now I kind of want to know about that cute nickname.” She decided, perhaps trying to find some middle ground to satisfy her brother.

“Spooky?” Dave asked, and she nodded. “I mean. Well. Klaus is a... a spooky dude.” He shrugged the shoulder Klaus wasn’t relying on.

There was an awkward silence. Dave cleared his throat. “...We weren’t really drafted for our creativity, ma’am.”

Klaus snorted, a hand darting up to cover his mouth. Ma’am? He forgot about Dave’s manners, especially when it came to women. Sure, he loved that he’d managed to find the only guy in Vietnam that wasn’t a sexist dirtbag, but Dave’s old fashioned, gentlemanly manners with women cracked him up. Even in bars where sex workers would try and pull him away, Dave could never turn down a polite invitation to dance just one more song, the poor sucker. 

And now he was just sitting here, uncomfortably naked, his pants and boxers literally on his lap. Giving Allison his full attention because he didn’t want to be rude to Klaus’ family. If it were any other girl, Klaus would be laughing his ass off. But with Allison, it could be used for evil. He’d probably have to keep these two far apart in the future.

“Oh, you don’t have to call me ma’am.” Allison said quickly, a smile playing at her lips, “It makes me sound old, and I’m not there yet.”

“We all just turned 30.” Ben reminded, leaning against the wall by the window, and Allison swatted her hand in his general direction.

“Just call me Allison, it’s fine.” She continued. Thank Christ Dave didn’t simply fall back into his 60’s lingo and call her ‘dollface’ or something. That counted as polite back then. Small mercies.

“She also goes by Al, Ally, Big A, and ‘meddling pest’.” Klaus chimed in, just to disrupt things.

Big A? ” She asked, pointedly ignoring the last name.

“Yes.” Klaus nodded, “Accompanied by Diego as Lil’ D.”

There was silence for a moment, before Ben spoke up. “...So I’m assuming Dave is Big-”

“Dave is obviously Big D, yes.”

Allison raised a hand to her face and covered her mouth with her knuckles, resting her chin on her palm. She slowly shook her head, no words. Ben pulled the hood of his hoodie up and turned away from Klaus - he knew they were both trying not to smile, the bastards.

“I don’t want that.” Dave said quietly, taking it seriously, “Can I get another nickname?”

“Nobody appreciates my genius.” Klaus sighed, going slack against Dave, “I thought you were on my side, Kitty Katz.”

“...I think that I shouldn’t have a nickname.” Dave decided, mouth pressed in a thin line. “We’re not taking any more applications.”

“Good call.” Allison nodded.

“And with that- how about we let these idiots get dressed, Big A? ” Ben looked back and nodded towards the door meaningfully, “Then you can bother them about their relationship all you want.”

“Was I really bothering--”

“That’s a great idea, Ben!” Klaus followed Ben’s lead by standing up and letting his towel drop to the floor. Both of his siblings started swearing. Dave let out a choked noise behind him, and he just knew the soldier was turning red again.

“Are you kidding me, Klaus?” Allison demanded, standing up and holding a hand towards him to try and block out as much as she possibly could. Ben tried to grab her by the shoulders to herd her out, but his hands just went through her. “You could’ve just asked !”

“Yeah, but my way works too!” Klaus said smugly as they both walked out the door. Allison all but slammed it behind herself.

“That was your sister.” Dave pointed out after a moment, voice strained with embarrassment. 

“They’re used to it.” Klaus waved a hand as he walked to his closet and started sorting through things. He definitely didn’t peek over his shoulder as Dave slowly, gingerly stood up to get dressed. Definitely not.

“Stop that.” Dave sighed, “Can you find me a shirt? This scar is..”

“Nope, we’re all out forever.” He interrupted, shimmying some boxers on. Klaus topped it off with a silky purple/black robe that was definitely considered lingerie at some point in its life. To satisfy the masses, though, he tied it up around his hips. The top half still hung open to show plenty of chest, which Klaus thought was very sexy of him. Fuck, he had to start thinking of stuff like that again. Excellent.

...Like Klaus ever really stopped .

When he turned around again, Dave was sat on the bed in sweatpants, his eyes closed and chest heaving with the effort of moving. Klaus drifted back over with a small frown, nudging Dave’s knees apart so he could stand in between them and drape his arms over his soldier’s shoulders. 

Clear blue eyes cracked open to look up at Klaus- and then down. And then up again. Dave’s hands moved to settle on Klaus’ hips while he seemed to notice him for the first time, appearance-wise.

“I see you changed some things.” Dave mumbled, staring up at his boyfriend’s hair in particular. Klaus had stopped cutting it a few months ago and now it was forming little soft ringlets that, admittedly, were looking kind of rough considering how he dried them in thirty seconds or less. It didn’t seem to matter to Dave, though, and his eyes started drifting down. They lingered on the dog tags, a soft smile tugging at his lips. Then he looked down further, swallowing as he took in Klaus’ attire. 

“And some things never changed at all, I guess.” Dave quipped, thumbing along the smooth fabric.

Aaand how do we feel about this?” Klaus asked teasingly. He swayed forward, arms tightening around his neck. Dave took the opportunity to gently kiss the patch of bare chest that he could reach, looking at Klaus through his lashes in adoration. Klaus was trying to flirt, but Dave was being genuine again and now he wanted to melt. Fuck.

“You’re a dream, doll.” Dave sighed, breath ghosting across his chest, “A dream. I never put much faith in luck, but thanks to you I know I just gotta be the luckiest guy on the planet.”

Fuck. Klaus felt his ears go hot.

Ben stuck his head through the door. “Hey, Klaus?”

“Fuck off , Ben!”

Chapter Text

Dave had been fading fast, slowly sinking back into the pillows on the bed while he tried to keep up with the conversation Allison insisted on having. Klaus was getting there too- his reserves were running low, keeping Ben around like this. His head was getting hazy, chest tight, his hands slowly losing their blue dim. He didn’t know how much longer he had in him. It had been around.. what, maybe an hour? Hour and a half? Which was a pretty good stretch of time, honestly. Eat your heart out, Reginald.

He was tucked into Dave’s side, helping out with some of the answers when he could. Thankfully, Allison somehow had gotten the hint that she shouldn’t pry too much. When he noticed her actively respecting that boundary, Klaus looked to Ben- who conveniently turned to look at something on the wall. Hm. Seemed she wasn’t his only sibling that could meddle.

“So I guess you know about all of us,” Allison said, having relaxed a bit since coming back into the room. She was sitting on the bed with her back to the wall now, legs crossed out in front of her.  Her voice was softer than before, less.. projected. Less like she was trying to fill some role. “Do you have any siblings?”

“Mhm.” Dave nodded, playing with a strand of Klaus’ hair. He’d been hesitant about being affectionate while anyone else in the room, but he was slowly settling in too. It helped that Klaus took the lead and was basically laying on him. “I’m in the middle. Big sister, little brother.” 

Klaus tensed slightly, wondering how Dave would take the news that he wouldn’t get to see his family again. 

He couldn’t think about that right now. Nope. He wanted to relish in almost-normalcy of the moment right now. His pesky sister playing 20 questions with his boyfriend, Ben chiming in like he always did. Klaus couldn’t handle much else.

“You and Klaus both, then.” The corner of her mouth lifted, and she gave Klaus a - dare he say it? - playful look.

“Laugh it up, Three .” Klaus replies, feigning annoyance. “You can’t possibly diagnose me with ‘middle child syndrome’ when you just said I’m the baby. I don’t care what buzzwords Vanya brings home from her therapist.”

“Middle child syndrome?” Dave asked quietly, looking to Ben. He’d already figured out that Ben was usually the most intelligent in the room. Good for him.

“When you don’t get attention of being one of the oldest or being one of the youngest and you’re stuck in the middle, and your parents probably ignore you.” His brother supplied. He was sitting cross legged on the ground next to the bed, because apparently ghosts got tired of standing.

“Huh.” Dave thought about it for a moment, “Hey, you and me both, Spook.”

“You’re not helping.” Klaus whined.

“I really don’t know which is the better option here, darlin’.” He replied, smiling as he looked down at Klaus. “You didn’t want to be the baby, either.”

“That’s true.” Klaus hmm’d , loud, before he decided. “You know what, I think I just need to be disowned entirely. That’ll fix it.”

“They’ve tried that already.” Ben reminded, his voice and expression dry.

We didn’t,” Allison jumped in, quick, “It was just dad.”

He and Ben exchanged a look. Now that was debatable. But they were busy being civil and stuff, and Klaus filed that flicker of resentment away. No use bringing it up now. Besides, Ben was usually the one holding their collective grudges. He didn’t have much else to do.

“So by ‘dad’ you mean Reginald, Luther, Pogo, mom..” Ben started counting off his fingers sarcastically, and Klaus snickered. 

“You never told me you were actually disowned,” Dave said far too casually for the subject, ruffling Klaus’ hair, “Are you sure we’re not the same person? Let me guess: next you’ll say you were Jewish the entire time too.”

“I believe the exact words were ‘you and your flagrant personal deficits will not be tolerated in this house any longer, Number Four. Leave at once and don’t come back.’” Ben recounted, frowning as he tried to remember the way it went.

“Yeah, Ben and I agreed the sentiment was there.” Klaus added, “And to be fair, only your sister disowned you.”

“It was still a real downer.” Dave replied, staring down at him with a raised brow. He wasn’t upset, just stating a fact. They often did this, the two of them talking about harder subjects so casually. You’d think it was mostly Klaus trying to brush off his issues, but Dave did it plenty too. 

Unless it was one of Klaus’ worse traumas. He would joke about something half heartedly, however it came up, and then Dave’s expression would turn serious, maybe horrified on Klaus’ behalf. For those fun situations, Dave and Klaus would sneak out to their usual spot after lights out and Dave would try and get the real story out of him. They’d often have a pretty brutal conversation about it, sometimes arguing unless Klaus flat-out refused to discuss it properly. 

(Dave punched a tree and broke two fingers when Klaus finally told him about the mausoleum. It was actually a very sweet moment, all things considered. Nobody had ever punched a tree on Klaus’ behalf before.)

“Hmm, I’ll give you that.” Klaus agreed. Yeah, he’d heard the story about the sister. It was indeed a downer, and the final nail in the coffin that led Dave to follow the draft. Something about proving himself. Klaus kind of hated her, even though they’d never met.

“And for the record,” Dave continued, “I think your flagrant personal deficits are neat.”

“You are the very definition of romance.” Klaus told him, deathly serious as he reached up to kiss his boyfriend’s cheek. Dave looked away, trying to smother a smile.

“This is cute.” Allison decided, sounding pleasantly surprised, “You two are cute.”

“Yeah.” Ben agreed, shocking Klaus. “It’s gonna get annoying pretty fast.” Ah, there it was. Ben did not simply say nice things without reminding Klaus that he was a jerk at the same time.

Klaus was about to reply, annoyed, but then all three siblings paused, listening. They could hear heavy footsteps coming down the hall. Oh dear.

Nooo .” Klaus hissed, thumping his forehead against Dave’s chest, “I am not dealing with that, I am not .” Dave looked down at him, concerned, and ran a hand up and down his back. “It hasn’t even been a day .”

Klaus was so busy trying to hide in his boyfriend’s arms that he didn’t catch the meaningful glances and gestures Ben and Allison exchanged. Dave did, though. He watched as Allison unfolded herself from the bed and stood. She flashed him a smile- then one corner of her mouth turned up slightly in a smirk. The sister quickly and quietly walked out of the room, gently closing the door behind herself. 

“Mm?” Klaus poked his head up, looking towards the door in confusion. Ben quickly hushed him, standing up, and they all listened intently to the conversation just outside the door. Allison’s voice was harder to make out, quieter, but Luther had no such issues.

“Hey, wanted to check in up here. ….. Asleep? …. Yeah, well, I know that..” Whatever Allison said worked, as the footsteps started going back down the hall. The three left in the room exchanged glances.

“Wasn’t that the guy that-” Dave started, being interrupted by Ben.

“That was Luther, yeah. Big guy.”

Dave had a pinched expression as he stared at the door, and Klaus really hoped he didn’t remember too much from his first time encountering Luther. Time to change the subject! “Dare I say it,” Klaus spoke up, “that was actually pretty nice of her.”

“I like her so far.” Dave replied, taking the bait and looking back to him. Without Allison in the room he felt more comfortable pulling Klaus close and sinking down into the mattress with a groan. Klaus doesn’t know why Ben is the exception- maybe Dave just heard so much about him that he knew it was safe.

“Ah, to be young and naive. Don’t worry, you’ll understand someday.” Klaus sighed wistfully, earning a confused look from Dave. 


“She was trying to mother me, making sure I didn’t bring home a convict with a manipulative streak. But hey, she’s getting better.”

“...Excuse me?”

“A story for another day.” Klaus wrapped both arms around Dave’s stomach, humming as he sighed again. “Hey, Benny, I’m kinda..” He trailed off, peering at Ben out of the corner of his eye.

“You can let me go for now.” Ben replied easily. “I’ve had my fair share of people for the next week.”

Klaus went slack on Dave, letting the tether he’d been keeping go. Ben vanished (to Dave).

“Woah.” Dave breathed, moving an arm so he could run his hand through Klaus’ curly hair. “Did I mention that’s rad?”

“He can’t keep saying sincere stuff like that. He’s going to kill us all, one by one.” Ben scolded.

“Jokes on you bitches, I’ll just come back.” Klaus mumbled, prompting a confused noise from the soldier underneath him. Dave stopped petting his hair, and Klaus made an annoyed noise and shoved his head up into his hand like a cat so he’d keep going. “Ben is being rude. Ben is leaving now.”

“Am I?”

“Seeya, Ben.” Dave said, looking over to where Ben stood last with a soft expression, “Thanks again for everything. Glad I got to finally meet you.”

Ben blinked. “I’m leaving now.”

“Ben says he was absolutely delighted to get to know you and he loves you so much-- stop trying to hit me.”

“Whatever. I’m gonna go see if Diego’s imploded with angst yet.” Ben huffed, disappearing in a blink.

“Finally, some peace .” Klaus sighed dramatically, lifting himself up only so he could fall back down on Dave’s chest with a full sprawl. In hindsight, not the best thing to do to someone who’s ribs were shattered a day or two ago. Dave let out a small wheeze and shoved at Klaus’ face in retribution for his sore chest. Klaus licked the hand and Dave huffed.

“You goofball.” Dave grumbled, wiping the hand on his sweatpants. “Be careful.”

“Sorry, old man.” Klaus wiggled so he was just on Dave’s shoulder again. His eyes landed on the scar that he’d tried very hard not to look at while the others were in the room. The sight of it now made his chest tighten, anxious feelings creeping up on him. “I forgot.”

“Funny how you’re the baby and I’m the old man.” Dave said, settling an arm around him, “I heard someone just turned 30.”

Klaus decided not to inform Dave that he was actually 31 because of the added ten months. He also just didn’t reply because he was staring at the scar that matched the hole that used to be in Dave’s abdomen. His hand hesitantly raised to brush along the edges of the bright, angry scar tissue. Eventually it might fade, but right now it looked dramatic. 

Dave’s mouth pressed into a thin line. “Hey.” He said, low and gentle. His free hand came up to wrap around Klaus’, giving it a squeeze. “Don’t worry about it, doll. Just another battle scar.”

“It wasn’t, though.” Klaus replied, quiet, “It really wasn’t.”

The soldier sighed gently, and he leaned his head against Klaus’. “Yeah.” He agreed, sounding incredibly tired. Klaus didn’t blame him. “But we don’t have to deal with that right now, do we?”

“No, no.” He nodded against Dave’s shoulder, settling into the warmth and the contact like he had done all those months ago. Still surreal. He knew now that touching Dave was a privilege and a gift - what he would’ve done for one last kiss or just a touch on the shoulder - and the fact that he could so freely do it now made it seem like a dream. He almost felt like he was being greedy, in a way. But nothing on this fucking planet could get him to move away now that he had an armful of Dave.

“You’re right. It can wait.”

They laid in silence for a little while, enjoying the moment for what it what. They didn’t have a lot of breathing room since coming back. Klaus got the feeling that Dave was dozing on and off. He was about to doze himself when Dave spoke up quietly.

“So what’s the future like?” He asked, his hand slowly moving through Klaus’ hair again. He seemed to like the added length.

“Mmm.” Klaus thought about it for a moment, sighing through his nose. “Pretty bad. No flying cars.”

“What’s the point of the future if there’s no flying cars?” Dave asked wearily.

“I love you.” Klaus replied, the corner of his mouth lifting up in a grin.

“I love you too- but the cars, man.” He sighed, “Anything else I should know?”

“Nixon was president.”

“Son of a bitch.” Dave swore, “I knew you ‘predicted’ that, but still.”

“And it just gets worse from there.” Klaus said, patting Dave’s chest gently. “People are mostly cool about gay people now, though.”

Dave turned his head to stare in sleepy confusion. “Are you messing with me?”

“Nope,” Klaus was happy to report as he smiled at Dave, who stared back in wonder and disbelief. “You and I could legally get married, adopt kids, have a mortgage-- do whatever.” 

It was so much different for him than for Dave, and he considered just how huge that statement was. Klaus had lived his whole life in a society that was slowly moving past those issues. And it was by no means perfect, and he still got called plenty of colorful names just for existing, but he’d never lived in the kind of fear that Dave did.

It was hard, really hard for Dave when they first started fooling around. He’d made a fragile sort of peace with the fact he was queer, but he just hid it away as best as he could. From what he understood, Dave himself was pretty free thinking, but his family was definitely on the other side of the debate. When he tried to talk to her about it, his older sister shamed him right back into the closet. And when he finally got shipped to Vietnam, he thought he wouldn’t have to think about it all that much.

And then came Klaus. Who, in all honesty, was just being himself. He didn’t understand the gravity of the situation right away, and he was labelled a ‘fairy’ as soon as everyone took one good look at him. It didn’t stop him, though. He carried along in spite of it and quickly became known for other things. Like how much of a crazy delight he was. Or how much of a scary, ominous dude he could be. Or how David Katz had taken a shine to him.

Nobody thought Dave Katz of all people could be gay, though. It was widely accepted that he helped the punk out because Klaus was a fucking mess and Dave was a goody two shoes. Pretty soon they were just a duo, close friends. You’d see that a lot, two soldiers buddying up and always eating together.

But in truth, apparently Dave was hooked. Klaus seemed free in a way that he craved. He thought that was all it was, at first, just wishing he could be like Klaus. But then, Dave said, he’d figured out pretty quick that he was after other things. But even after they’d kissed and started going steady, Dave was scared. Scared of being found out and dishonorably discharged, scared of who’s respect he’d lose, scared of his family finding out- 

“Wow, okay.” Dave breathed out, shaking Klaus out of his thoughts. “I’m gonna have to get a job to pay for the actual wedding, that’ll take time.” He said, expression thoughtful. “But we could just elope for now.”

What ?” Klaus asked, his voice an embarrassing croak.

“Is that okay to start with?” Dave went on, “I know you’ll want something nice and big, but I think we should just go ahead and get the license. We can bring your siblings to the courthouse if you want.” His expression scrunched up slightly at the thought. “I hope they don’t mind us shotgunning it.”

“What? Yes-- what ?” Klaus sat up, startled. His stared at his partner, eyes wide and mouth parted.

“What?” Dave asked this time, eyebrows knitting together in concern.

“We’re getting married?” Klaus demanded, baffled, “You want to marry me?”

Dave blinked, his brow raising. It was like- like he didn’t even think of another alternative. He’d just naturally assumed that they’d get married since it was legal. “..are we? I thought- wait.”

“Um- You just said-”

“Was that- was I not supposed to-” Dave sat up now too, staring at Klaus with no small amount of worry, “Oh, geeze, did I- nevermind.” He stopped himself completely, clenching his hands in the blanket. “Nevermind.”

Nevermind ?” Klaus replied, affronted, “You can’t just take it back! You proposed to me!”

“No, I didn’t.” Dave said quickly, “I jumped the gun and started planning ahead, for if it happens. That’s all.” He was a terrible liar and they both knew it. Dave’s cheeks started to turn pink and he stared up at the ceiling. “We can just forget this ever happened.”

“Excuse me? I don’t want to forget this!” Klaus leaned forward, covering one of Dave’s hands with his own, “I- yeah , we can elope, but I want a spring wedding when we actually get one-”

“No, no, no, I don’t want to force you into this.” Dave insisted, looking incredibly stressed. “Really, Klaus, it’s okay-”

“No take backsies!” Klaus retorted, “I’m marrying you, end of story.”

“But I don’t want to rush you,” His now fiancee blustered, moving both of his hands to hold the one Klaus had offered. “I mean- five months without me, and maybe we should take it slow, maybe you need time to see if you feel the same--”

Klaus got up onto his knees to command his attention. He stared down at Dave, looking him straight in the eye. “David J Katz,” He started, “I spent those five months miserable without you. And now that you're here, I am marrying the fuck out of you as soon as possible.”

“...for real?” Dave asked, staring up at him with fragile hope.

“For real.” Klaus stated, his voice leaving no room for argument. “And then we’re going to have a spring wedding. And- I’m going to wear a white dress but it's gonna be dramatic, I want some real Persephone vibes going. But it has to be a dress that I can dance in. And we’re going to get Five to be the flower girl - I have blackmail, don’t worry - and we’re gonna find a cute dog to carry the rings down the aisle.” He paused for a moment, “And then we’re going to adopt the dog.”

“I like dogs.” Dave said breathlessly.

“I like dogs too.” Klaus replied before leaning down to kiss him.

Chapter Text

At some point, during all the gentle touches and quiet planning, they had pulled the blanket back up and the two had fallen asleep again. Dave still needed to rest to heal, and Klaus just did a shit ton of mental work keeping Ben present. And also, he put a lot of effort not descending into anarchy with his sister. That deserved a good nap. 

And he did nap! In fact, there were only a few horrific visions from Vietnam before he was suddenly thrown from a dream, startled. His eyes snapped open with a loud gasp in the quiet of the room. He quickly threw an arm out so he could prop himself up, chest heaving in panic. 

His eyes quickly searched the room before they found what had woken him up. A figure by the door, dressed in all black. Klaus immediately scowled. “ Diego .” He groaned, rubbing away the sleep and a few tears from his eyes.

“You’re a light sleeper when you’re sober.” Diego commented quietly, stepping further into the room. He kicked a stray towel out of the way, looking around and acting like he wasn’t trying to catch a glimpse of Klaus’ boyfriend.

Taking a moment to catch his breath, Klaus looked over at his partner. Dave stirred a little but didn’t wake, dead to the world. Which was very uncomfortable for Klaus, so he put a hand down on Dave’s warm arm and looked around at the room. It was still dark outside, so Klaus figured it was late. Or early.

If he focused, he could make out other figures in the shadows of the room. The lights didn’t reach beyond his bed into the other half of the room so there were places for them to hide and whisper as they took shape. Klaus jerked his head away, not wanting to deal with that. At least the fully fledged ghost nanny haunting the corridor wasn’t here anymore.

“Seriously?” Klaus asked, voice hushed, “Why are you trying to watch us sleep? Is that a thing for you?”

“A thing ?” Diego looked bewildered before he caught up, then his face turned into a scowl. “No. Just. Nobody had seen you.. two, for hours, so I thought I might--”

“Loom over us? Creepily?” Klaus replied, trying to distract himself from his shaking palms. He should’ve expected some especially vibrant nightmares, but either way he didn’t like them. He looked back to Dave, furrowing his brow in concern. Even if Klaus’ ears were still ringing from the bombs, the screaming in his dreams- Dave was there. He was alive, it was fine. It was all fine. He had two sets of dog tags.

“I wasn’t being creepy.” Diego snapped quietly. 

Rolling his eyes, Klaus carefully squirmed out of the covers and stood, ignoring his brother while he grabbed his half-smoked joint and a lighter from his bedside table. He practically stalked over to the window across the room, ignoring the chill going up and down his spine from the eyes watching him. He unlatched and pushed the glass up, being met with warm air and night sounds from the city. 

He usually smoked out the window by his bed if he was going to bother opening a window at all, but he didn’t want to risk waking Dave up with a coughing fit again. Not to mention his brother probably wasn’t going to go anywhere soon.

Speaking of the brother, he made an annoyed noise when Klaus wouldn’t rise to the bickering. He stepped up next to him and leaned on his shoulder against the wall by the window, eyeing Klaus as he flicked open the lighter and lit the joint sticking out from his mouth.  

“Excuse me for trying to make sure my brother is still breathing.” Diego griped half-heartedly.

“Oh, well, if that’s all..” Klaus said airily, smoke curling out from his lips as he spoke. He glanced over his shoulder to check on his fiance(holy fuck ) again. “Dave is a little tired from dying and isn’t in the mood to strangle me right now. Check back in a few hours.”

Diego rolled his eyes, his arms crossed. “I don’t know what he’s capable of, considering you never told us anything.” He said, implying that this was somehow all Klaus’ fault. Classic Hargreeves family move right there, folks. At least he was keeping his voice down and letting Dave sleep.

“Well, let’s see: he’s excellent at thumb wrestling, rock paper scissors..” Klaus mused, mostly to distract himself from the spectres lurking behind him, “He does a truly terrible Elvis impersonation, and he’s got two left feet but tries his best to dance. And thinks he’s good at poker but he really isn’t- terrible poker face.”

“Klaus.” Diego said, annoyed.

“One time a waitress in Saigon told him to enjoy his meal, and he said ‘thanks, you too’. It still haunts him. He refused to go back, poor thing.” Klaus shook his head sadly, taking another slow drag.

“I’m trying to be serious here.”

You ? Serious?” Klaus asked, putting a hand on his chest, “I’m shocked, Diego. Truly.”

Klaus .” His brother stressed, “Whether you like it or not, this is a big deal .”

“I’m sorry, is it a big deal?” Klaus turned and gave Diego a bewildered look. “I had no clue. The person I love, who died in my arms, coming back to life ? Coming to the future? Is that a big deal? Weird, I thought it was just another regular Tuesday!” He retorted, shaking his head lightly before leaning his elbows on the window sill and looking out. This family, man.

“Okay, you know I didn’t mean it like that-”

“No, I didn’t!” Klaus huffed, “Because I don’t know what you want, Diego. He’s here and he isn’t going anywhere- it’s not like I need your fucking approval -”

“Listen, moron, I’m just trying to look out for you--”

“Oh, so you just wanted to come up here and snoop around because you don’t trust me, like you guys never do--”

“I trust you!” Diego retorted, reaching over and grabbing Klaus by the lapel of his robe so he’d look at him, “You know I do! That’s not the fucking point!”

“Then what is the point, Diego?” Klaus asked sharply, trying to swat him away unsuccessfully. “ Enlighten me on why you’re here! Because right now you sound like a real asshole --”

“I’m here because you didn’t tell us anything!” Diego hissed, shaking Klaus lightly in frustration, “One minute we’re having breakfast together, the next you’re coming back from fucking Vietnam covered in another guy’s blood, then you drop the bombshell that you served there for ten months- and I never knew a damn thing about it!”

“So?” Klaus replied, defensive.

So? ” His voice went up in outrage despite his volume staying the same, “Klaus, you were a soldier and none of us knew. You hid it for months . Don’t you think that’s something you should’ve t- told us? Is it that weird that I- that we want to make sure you’re okay?

Despite Diego’s best efforts, Klaus slowly caught on to what he wasn’t saying. This wasn’t a family matter at all, not right now. Other than Ben, Diego had been the closest with Klaus for the last few months. He definitely took the ‘baby brother’ idea to heart and did his best to look out for him now that they were all playing house again. But that didn’t mean they really talked much about the more serious topics, not really. Their relationship was close, but kept casual so Diego saved face.

Klaus bummed rides, demanded attention, tried to be less of a disappointment. Diego scowled, rolled his eyes, and acted like he was annoyed when he was obviously having a good time hanging out. He checked up on Klaus often, even if he always passed it off as something else. He just wanted to make sure Klaus didn’t trip and die or something. Just wanted to see whether or not Klaus had accidentally strung himself up with his yarn. Just wanted to drop a sandwich off because he didn’t want to deal with Klaus getting hangry later.

If he ever caught Klaus in a vulnerable moment, he’d gruffly try and fix whatever it was by sitting next to him and offering a shoulder for Klaus to lay on. Talked him through breathing if Klaus was in a panic attack or a flashback. Always brushed it off with a ‘don’t mention it’ so neither of them would feel awkward about the encounter.

But the sentiment was there.

“So wait, you’re just mad because I didn’t tell you about serving?” Klaus verified, furrowing his eyebrows as he tried to make sense of it. He tapped his joint out the window before moving to take another drag- but to his surprise, Diego let go of his robe and snatched it from his fingers. He was about to pitch a fit about it, but Diego shocked him again by taking a drag of his own instead of responding.

“What happened to mister ‘My Body Is A Temple’?” Klaus asked, eyes wide. Diego used to smoke with him every now and then, but that was when they were much, much younger and it was just teen rebellion. Nowadays, Diego was all about protein shakes and moderation and boring crap. 

“..If I’m gonna do this sincere honesty shit with you,” Diego started, leaning on the sill next to him and resolutely staring out at the city instead of Klaus, “I’m not going to stand here and be stone cold sober.”

“Well well well .” Klaus replied quietly. The heat of the argument dissipated as he turned smug, “Oh, how the turntables .”

“That’s not how the saying goes, idiot.” Diego grumbled, passing the joint back. Klaus figured he might have to roll another one in a minute if sharing was caring.

Well? ” He urged, waving a hand to prompt Diego along.

“I-” Diego stopped, his mouth pressing into a frustrated line as he tried to think of what he wanted to say. “Klaus.”

“That’s me, yes.”

“We’re all- no, I’m trying to..” He made a frustrated noise, his eyes flicking to Klaus for a moment. “You know I’m trying to look out for you. All of you.”

“Well, you have nothing better to do.” Klaus commented, just to be an asshole. It earned him a smack on the arm.

But ,” Diego snapped, “I can’t do that if you don’t tell me shit.”

Klaus took a deep drag, held it for a moment, then heaved it out with a sigh. “It’s not like you’re an open book either, bro.” 

“Yeah, but I wasn’t shipped off to war for ten months .” His brother replied, looking away after Klaus passed the joint again.

“Like I said earlier,” Klaus said, propping his hip on the sill. He looked back at Dave again, eyes tracing his figure. “We were focused on Vanya. There were bigger fish to fry.” 

“Bullshit, Klaus. You could’ve come to me.” 

“What good would that do?” He scoffed, “What would you have done, huh? How would you have fixed it?” Klaus turned back to the window and frowned at his brother. “Were you gonna go back in time and beat up the bad guys for me? Or just nag me for being reckless?”

“I- I would’ve listened , Klaus.” Diego insisted. His shoulders were tense and his jaw clenched and unclenched, even as he took another hit and passed it “And maybe it would’ve helped or something, I don’t know.” He sighed. “I could’ve taken you back to that vet bar, or- or helped you into therapy? They have groups for that shit. But I didn’t know , so you were just- alone.”

Klaus was silent, rolling the burning stub between his fingers while he eyed Diego. He could almost hear Ben’s ‘ I told you so ’. Unfortunately, the ghost wasn’t there to tell him how to handle this. Fixing a sad Diego was not in Klaus’ wheelhouse. But he seemed genuinely upset about this whole deal?

He took one last drag from the end of the joint before stamping it out on the sill and leaving it there. Breathing out, he reached over and slung an arm around Diego’s shoulders, making him tense more. But the longer Klaus leaned on him and dug his chin into his shoulder, the looser Diego became.

“I guess you would’ve done some mother henning, yeah.” Klaus mused, making Diego’s shoulders shake with a scoff. “I just didn’t.. know… how? To bring it up. And it- y’know. It hurt. Didn’t really want to think about it.”

He could sense Diego rolling his eyes, so he leaned on him even more. “Sorry I didn’t ...keep you in the loop? I don’t know what else you want me to say, so.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Diego grumbled, adjusting his stance to take the extra weight. “Just- next time. Okay? Next time, you can tell me shit. Got it?”

“Mm.” Aw. He considered this for a moment. “Sure thing, Lil D.”

“...What the fuck is that? ” Diego turned his head to try and look at Klaus, who grinned cheekily.

“Oh, didn’t you hear? That’s your new nickname.”


“Too late.”

No , Klaus.”

“It just has such a ring to it!” Klaus insisted, wrapping both arms around Diego now for ultimate brother embarrassment.

“If your boyfriend wasn’t right there I’d push you out this window.” Diego grumbled, planting a hand on Klaus’ face to try and push him away. Klaus only squirmed closer, but then he paused for a moment.

“Hey, Lil D?” He asked.

“What.” Diego replied flatly, preparing himself for something stupid as he kept trying to unpry Klaus.

“I think I have like, big news to tell you..” Klaus explained, casually trying to crush Diego’s ribcage with his arms. 

And hey, he wasn’t doing a hundred pushups a day or whatever, but he still kept up with some workouts so he had a sturdy grip on his brother. Turned out his body liked exercise or something and enjoyed the adrenaline rush. Ben thought it would help his sobriety to have a ‘healthy outlet’ like that. And it was a great way to exhaust himself into a hopefully dreamless coma, too.

“I have news, too: if you don’t get your hands off me, I’m gonna have to hurt you.” Diego stated, not-quite-gently elbowing Klaus in the stomach.

Klaus bit down on a pained sound, considering Dave was asleep not that far from this stupid wrestling match. Instead he tried to kick Diego’s leg in retribution. “But- my news is serious news, actually- stop that .” He whined, "You're bullying me."

Diego finally managed to shove Klaus away, huffing out a quiet laugh. Klaus fake-pouted, turning away to lean his elbows on the window sill again. “Alright. Okay, Klaus. What’s your ‘serious news’?” He asked, moving to do the same. This time their shoulders brushed. 

It was really kind of sweet and touching, that small gesture. And he was starting to be a little bit off-kilter from the weed, so Klaus turned his head to Diego and smiled. “Man, I haven’t even told Ben this. Wow. You’re the first. But, um- But Dave isn’t my boyfriend anymore.” Klaus said, a smile slowly breaking out on his face as he spoke, “He and I are actually- we’re getting married soon.”

There was a beat. Diego turned his head to stare back at Klaus, processing.

“... What?! ” Any and all volume control was lost as Diego barked out the word. He stood up so fast that he nearly grazed the top of his head with the window, staring at Klaus - who quickly stood up as well - with a horrified expression.

And then, triggered by the sudden shout, Dave shot out of bed and was on his feet in record time, his back straight and stiff as a board. And then he immediately sagged, wrapping an arm around his chest protectively. He let out a pathetic, pained wheeze. 

Ow .” He croaked, looking around blearily, “Who the fuck did that?”

“Morning, soldier .” Diego replied, a clear edge in his voice.

“What the hell , Diego?” Klaus complained, quickly heading to Dave’s side to carefully hold his shoulder.

“I think you mean ‘what the hell, Klaus ’.” Diego threw back, staring at the two accusingly. “You’re getting married? Just like that?”

“I thought your problem was with me not telling you shit, not with my love life .” Klaus snapped, helping his fiance carefully sit back down. 

“No, your love life is a whole separate issue. We didn’t even touch the Dave thing.” Diego stressed, stalking forward, “What do you mean, married ? He just- you two just --”

“What’s happening with Dave?” Dave mumbled.

“Shut it.” Diego told him.

You fucking shut it, schmuck.” The man grumbled while rubbing at his eyes with the heels of his palms. Then he blinked and stared up at Diego, who looked even more outraged. Dave went stiff. “Oh, hell.”

“What’d you just say to me, asshole?” Diego demanded, jabbing a finger at him.

“You’re completely overreacting!” Klaus said, positioning himself in front of Dave to try and spare him. “You didn’t even know I had a boyfriend, why does him being my fiance matter?”

“Oh, hell .” Dave repeated, looking quickly between the brothers while he tried to get back on his feet. “Listen, man-”

“You can’t just steal a man from the past and marry him, you moron!” Diego insisted, sounding almost hysteric. “And I don’t want to hear another word out of you, tough guy-”

“Don’t you fucking talk to him like that.” Dave snapped defensively, clapping a hand on Klaus’ shoulder. Klaus, who was starting to panic.

Luckily, Ben appeared. “What the fuck is--?” Klaus didn’t know if he was subconsciously summoned or just heard the commotion, but he was grateful. The slight high made his head foggy, but he reached into his chest and yanked as hard as he could on that familiar feeling to make Ben visible. 

Diego bristled. “Don’t you fucking--”

“Hold on, what’s happening .” Ben demanded quickly, moving close so he could also sort of shield Dave from Diego’s crap. Dave looked almost as mad as the other brother, locking eyes with him.

“He’s insulting Klaus because we-” Dave started, indignant, but Diego interrupted him.

“These two knuckleheads just told me they’re getting fucking married and he--!” 

“I think everyone needs to calm down a lot!” Klaus stated, nervous.

“Wait,” Ben turned to stare at the newly engaged couple, his eyes wide. “You what?

“For the love of- This is why I don’t tell you people anything!” Klaus threw his hands up in the air, exasperated. “You get so touchy!”

“You  got engaged?” Ben demanded, “I wasn’t gone that long! And you told Diego first?”

“What’s wrong with that?” Diego asked defensively.

“I don’t know, Ben, I got swept up in the moment!” Klaus cried.

“I can’t believe this.” Ben shook his head and crossed his arms, disappointed.

“You don’t see any other problem with this, Ben?” Diego jabbed his finger at Dave accusingly again.

“I’m gonna kick his ass- is that a problem, Ben?” Dave asked, and Diego took a step forward before Ben threw an arm in front of him to stop him.

“Holy shit. Okay. Um.” Ben shared a stressed look with Klaus. “Nobody is kicking anyone’s ass, Dave, sorry..?”

“He’s treating Klaus like shit.” Dave replied, shoulders squared. He was ready to punch someone, and if that person wasn’t Klaus’ brother, he’d be super into it.

“I’m his family, jackass.” Diego snapped.

“That doesn’t mean you can treat him like this!” Dave moved an arm around Klaus and tried to steer him out of the way so he could stare Diego down properly.

“Like what? Like I don’t want my brother marrying some- some kind of-”

“Say it. Go ahead.” Dave growled, and something clicked in Klaus’ brain. Dave was being way too overprotective for some harmless name calling. He didn’t often get this worked up unless there was a good reason. And- oh boy. Some signals definitely got mixed up here.

“Dave, wait, no, it’s not what you think.” Klaus said quickly, “Diego is fine, he’s-”

“Sorry, just what is super soldier over there thinking of me?” Diego’s hands clenched by his sides, and Klaus’ gut clenched at the sight.

“He thinks you’re a raging homophobe!” Klaus blurted, clutching Dave’s arm and staring wide eyed at his brother. Silence fell over the room instantly. Diego blinked, some of the fight leaving his stance.

“I think? ” Dave replied testily, trying to shrug off Klaus’ hands.

“Okay, hang on, no-” Diego started, holding up both hands to try and get him to calm down. “You’ve got the wrong idea.”

“You’re all idiots.” Ben sighed, dropping his arm and moving aside.

Klaus wrapped both arms around Dave, forehead pressed to his shoulder as the tension drained away. “I’m never telling you anything ever, Diego.” He warned.

“My issue isn’t with you being gay, alright?” Diego continued. 

Dave narrowed his eyes, standing there stiffly. “Then what’s the issue?” He asked, an edge to his voice.

“Wh- look at you two!” Diego gestured vaguely, “You can’t just get hitched! You were legally dead yesterday! And I’m not going to let some random guy marry my idiot brother without--”

“Oh, this is priceless.” Ben interrupted, putting a hand on the side of his face like he thought it was just adorable . “You need Diego’s blessing to get married.”

Dave’s face scrunched up at the notion, the fight in him disappearing. Klaus let out a startled little laugh, turning his head to look at a now-distressed Diego. “Is that it? You want us to get parental permission? But daaad , I love him!”

“That isn’t what I meant.” Diego lied, taking a step back and dropping his hands.

“You’re not my real dad.” Klaus mock-complained while Dave snuck his arm around his waist.

“Hands where I can see them, Dave .” Diego snapped, and then he froze, caught. All three of them stared back.

“Save room for Jesus, Dave.” Ben whispered, looking like this conversation was the best gift imaginable.

“I’m literally Jewish, though.” Dave replied quietly, frowning.

“Oh. Mazel Tov.” Ben shrugged, still looking delighted.

Chapter Text

“This is stupid.” Klaus decided, “This is so, so stupid.”

And with that, he had his hands on Diego’s chest and shoved him towards the door.

“Klaus, I don’t think you need my blessing !” Diego insisted now that he’d thought about it for more than a split second, “But you need to think about this, okay? You can’t accept a guy’s proposal when you haven’t seen him in months -”

“Too late, no take backsies.” Klaus dug his shoulder in, trying to make Diego move. Ben, while still corporeal, was not being helpful whatsoever and just stood next to a grim Dave as they both watched.

“That does not apply to marriage.” Diego snapped, digging his heels in. “You can definitely ‘ take backies ’ a marriage.”

“Cool!” Klaus replied, “Still not doing it!”

“And for that matter, he just got back from a war. I saw you when you got back and you were screwed up- don’t you think he needs some time to--”

“Nope.” Dave cut in, arms crossed. “I’m good.” He was hunched over slightly, but he’d refused to sit back down. 

Diego was tainting the vibes of his room. It was atrocious, and Klaus was not having it. “How many times do I have to say that he died in my arms ?” He demanded, resorting to hitting Diego’s chest tiredly to get him to budge. “He’s totally cool, though- right Dave?” After the first two, Diego grabbed his wrist and didn’t let him do it again. Klaus made a loud, frustrated noise.

“Groovy.” Dave said, his voice flat.

“Y’know, I’m getting really sick of the peanut gallery over there--” Diego started, staring at Dave accusingly, but Klaus broke his hold on his wrist so he could give his brother a hefty shove. “ Klaus .”

Ben spoke up, looking between Dave and Diego with interest. “I feel like the peanut gallery is getting pretty sick of you too.”

“Get out, go away .” Klaus complained, “You can throw a fit later , Diego! Again, he died and you all need to chill the fuck out!”

“Can we stop referencing my death, please.” Dave said quietly, and Ben gave him an almost sympathetic look.

“Only two siblings left.” Ben replied, as if that helped at all. Dave closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

“Are the other two like this?” He asked, opening them again to watch Klaus and Diego devolve into a sidebar argument. This one was hushed, low voiced and whispered, and Dave was being pointed at aggressively by both parties. 

“Vanya almost caused the end of times with her emotions, and Luther has a leadership complex and zero social skills from living on the moon.” Ben supplied.

“Living on the moon?” Dave blinked, staring at the ghost quite seriously, “In the future you can hang out on the moon ?”

“ reaction to the end of times?”

“Yeah, sure, but the moon though.” Dave insisted.

“You know,” Ben looked Dave up and down, “I wasn’t sure at first, but your relationship with Klaus makes so much sense.” 

Okay , that’s it!” Klaus announced, loud, “We’re not talking about this right now! Out!”

As if sensing the tension in the house, a bright flash of blue startled everyone and Five appeared, frowning down at a notebook. Klaus made a strangled noise of pure frustration at another person in the room, causing Five to look up and notice everything and everyone.

“Do I want to know?” Five asked, narrowing his eyes at them all. “It’s five in the morning. Dave, you should be resting. I said not to raise your heart rate.”

“Diego is raising everyone’s heart rate,” Klaus tattled, “And he won’t get out !”

“Okay, but I wasn’t the one that threatened to start a f--” Five turned and gave Diego a sour look, then grabbed his shoulder. and disappeared with him mid-sentence. The other three looked at each other in the sudden silence. Five reappeared without their meddlesome brother and looked at them all.

Thank you.” Klaus sighed, dragging his hands down his face. Dave immediately slouched over, discomfort showing on his face as he braced himself on Ben. The ghost looked startled, eyes wide and not sure what to do with the sudden touch.

“None of you idiots listen to me.” Five sighed, “Dave, bed . Klaus-” He paused, “Congratulations.”

“Huh?” He asked as he drifted over to Dave’s free side and helped him back towards the bed.

“Diego wasted five seconds of my time to try and explain that you were engaged.” Five replied, bored. “Dave, give me an update.”

“Spring wedding. We need a dog.” Dave supplied. “But yeah, I mean, I woke up to him flipping his lid on Klaus because we didn’t ask permission -” 

“Not on that,” Five gave Dave one of his signature ‘I don’t have time for this’ looks, pulling out a stethoscope from his blazer. “I don’t know why I even-- Symptoms , David.”

“Oh. Right.” Dave cleared his throat, settling back amongst the covers. Klaus was immediately sitting by his side, still huffy from Diego’s outburst. “I think- the painkillers are still working. But it’s harder to breathe. Everything’s stiff. And, um, the.. Everything that just happened didn’t help.”

“I’ll see if I can find muscle relaxers.” Five replied, sticking the stethoscope on his chest and listening. He nodded along and then put it back around his neck, pulling out his notebook and a pen next to jot down some notes. He looked up, stared at the scarring on Dave’s chest intensely, and then looked back down.

It was silent as he wrote, and Dave cleared his throat to try and cut some of the tension. “I don’t suppose I’ll have to get your ‘permission too?” He tried to joke, letting out a weak laugh. Klaus silently shook his head at the idea.

“No.” Five said, disinterested as he flipped a page to cross reference something. Then, apropos of nothing, “I already know where I’ll hide your body if you hurt Klaus.”

“Oh.” Dave replied, quiet. “Okay, then.”

“This family is a fucking nightmare.” The Klaus in question grumbled, “Also, why’d you even come up here if you thought we were asleep?”

Five scoffed. “I’ve been periodically checking in on Dave all night.”

“Cool, just another person watching us sleep, that’s cool.” 

Ben smirked, then he kicked at the leg that Klaus had left hanging off the bed. “Hey, I’m gonna go haunt Diego and knock his stuff over.” 

As complicated as their family was, Klaus enjoyed certain things immensely. Like how Ben was slowly revealing to everyone else that he was a petty little shithead. And no , it wasn’t entirely Klaus’ fault. 

Please .” Klaus sighed, pulling his now injured leg up onto the bed with a grumble. He curled up into Dave’s side, letting go of Ben as he vanished from the room. “Ugh. Ugh .”

“I’ll pass along the message - again - for everyone to mind their own business.” Five decided, “But we’re going to have to have a meeting about this later, otherwise they’ll just keep acting like animals.”

“I love you so much, Fivey.” Klaus said.

“Hm.” Five pressed his mouth into a thin line.

“Me too.” Dave chimed in, smiling at the not-kid.

“Did the Agent Orange kill off all your brain cells or something?” Five deflected, looking vaguely disgusted, “Go back to sleep.” With that, he disappeared again.

“Look at that. You’re kinda fitting in, babe.” Klaus mumbled, pleased. He craned his neck to gently kiss at Dave’s jawline. “I’m sorry they keep appearing though. Vultures, I tell you.”

“I mean.” Dave sighed, exhaustion weighing his features down. He turned his head and ducked down so he could press their foreheads together. “They obviously care about you, so that part’s nice.”

“They could care about me at a distance, though. They’re good at that.” 

“I dunno. I like knowing you have a family that wants to protect you.” The soldier replied, wrapping an arm around Klaus again. “..Even if they’re all friggin’ looney tunes.”

“Now you see where I get it from.” Klaus grinned, making it difficult for him to lean forward and press their lips together. Still, he gave it his best. Dave huffed out a laugh, the corner of his mouth turning up to match. They just ended up smiling against each other, but that was fine.

“Hey.” Dave murmured, nuzzling his nose into Klaus’ cheek affectionately.

“Hmm?” Klaus sighed happily, his eyes sliding closed. One hand came up to gently hold the back of his fiance’s neck, the other moving to pull them closer together.

“Was Ben pulling my leg about the moon?”

“What?” Klaus opened his eyes, leaning his head back slightly in confusion, “The moon?”

“He said your other brother was hanging out on the moon.” Dave insisted.

“Wh- you’re talking about Luther ?” God, Klaus hated the moon. The moon this, the moon that. Now his boyfriend wanted to talk about the moon. Awesome. “Yeah, he was on the moon, whatever -”

Dave’s face brightened up considerably, and Klaus rolled his eyes and pushed him away out of mock-exasperation. “Right on,” Dave said, still smiling while he twined his arms around Klaus’ waist, moving to lay them both down. “D’you think I could ask him about it?”

“Fuck.” Klaus sighed, resigning himself to his fate as he clung to his boyfriend, “He’d probably love that. But later . No more siblings.”

“You’ve got quite the collection.” Dave nodded along with the sentiment. “’ll settle down eventually..?”

“It better.” Klaus grumped, then he peered at Dave through half-lidded eyes. “But for the record, I appreciate you trying to punch Diego in my honor.”

“Anytime, baby doll.” He replied, quite serious as he brushed a strand of hair from Klaus’ face.

“Hahah- no. Don’t.” Klaus smiled indulgently, shaking his head, “He almost pulled out a knife. He likes to put them in people’s arteries.”

Dave didn’t look convinced. “I’m sure it’d be fine.”

“I adore you.” Klaus patted his fiance’s cheek, only somewhat patronizing. “But don’t fight my siblings. They all had a body count by the time we were ten. Now get some more sleep.”

“Right.” He still didn’t look sold, but he seemed to let it go for now as he settled back against the pillows. “Sure.”

“Since you decided to go look for yourself - What’d I tell you?” Five asked, appearing in the training room right next to the target Diego was throwing knives at. He didn’t seem particularly concerned about it, however. Just sipped from a cup of coffee. “No side effects whatsoever. I think we’re out of the woods.”

“I think that’s the least of our problems, now.” Diego huffed, stalking forward to pry his knives out of the target. He shoulder checked Five when they passed, and Five rolled his eyes.

“Really. I thought Dave possibly turning into another Luther was pretty high on your priority list, judging by the hell you all gave me earlier.” Five replied, unimpressed.

“Congratulations.” Diego said sarcastically, stalking to a different part of the room and turning away from the target as he readied a knife. “He isn’t a monkey. He’s a complete stranger, a couple decades out of time, and is going to get hitched to our brother - but at least he’s not a monkey.”

“I consider that a significant improvement, actually. Also, I believe it takes two to agree to a marriage, usually.” A knife slammed into the target by Five’s head. “Hm. You’re off by a few centimeters.”

“But it’s Klaus .” Diego stressed, flipping his next knife up and down in his hand, “You’re telling me you think this makes sense? What if this guy isn’t what he says he is?”

Five thought back to everything he’d seen and heard. From Klaus first telling him about Dave with a kind of reverence Five often gave to Delores, to seeing the pain and the love firsthand as the two clung to each other in the jungle. Klaus said, quite clearly, that he loved Dave more than he’d ever loved himself. And as much as Five avoided the sentimental.. It was glaringly obvious that the feeling was mutual.

“I wouldn’t say it makes sense,” Five decided, “But it’s real.” 

“Bullshit. How much does he really know about this guy? How much does this guy know about Klaus ?” His brother demanded, throwing another knife over his shoulder. “How do we know this isn’t another Harold situation?”

“Off again. A little to the left.” He said, “Did you spend even five minutes with Dave? I know first impressions are deceiving, but I think it’s safe to say that what you see is what you get, there.

“Oh, yeah? What’d you see?” 

“Another idiot to add to the collection, mostly.” Five leaned his back against the wall, watching Diego as he threw the next one. Off again. It was strange. “..loosen your stance a little, that could help.” He suggested, then paused to think. 

“..But, I guess I also saw someone who cares about our brother. Probably more than himself. I mean, he chewed Luther out despite having just gone through the worst pain of his life, tried to jump to Klaus’ defense when I said Klaus couldn’t be around drugs,” He explained, “And this is just a hunch, but it seemed like he probably had a good reason to try and fight you.”

“ maybe he thought I was a homophobe.” Diego muttered, not happy about adding to Five’s point. But he shook his shoulders and arms out, tried to keep his stance loose, and threw a knife again.

“Oh, good going. Really welcoming him to the family. By the way, you’re off again.” Five almost sounded impressed, eyeing Diego and then the board. Hm. 

“He’s not f- Wait, are you screwing with me?” Diego whirled around and stalked up to the target. “Are you moving them or something?”

“I’m not.” Five replied, “...I think someone is, though.”


“I think you’re being haunted.” Five said, almost conversationally. Just out of curiosity, he moved from his position against the wall to stand in front of the target. Then he slowly started walking away from it.

A chill went up his back about five feet away. He smirked.

Ben .” Diego growled, staring at the spot Five was in front of.

Anyways ,” Five continued, stepping aside in case he was in Ben’s way, “He’s not another Harold. And from the opinion of a professional, I assure you- Dave’s not a criminal mastermind.” The thought was laughable, frankly. 

Diego sighed angrily. “..But it’s Klaus .” He repeated.

“Yes. Our very sober brother, Klaus, and the sappy idiot boyfriend who’s so head over heels for him that he’d probably try and fistfight Luther to defend his honor. Regardless of the consequences.” Five stated, voice bored. He wasn't enjoying having to stick up for Dave like this, but it had to be done or Diego might skin him. “If anything, Dave might be the one at a disadvantage here. He was completely removed from his own society. But Klaus’ interference led to him coming back to life, so I doubt it matters.”

“I just..” Aware of Ben being a prick, Diego brought out a butterfly knife to start fidgeting with instead, looking anywhere but Five. “I’ve seen the kind of shithead boyfriends he used to have, alright? I put one or two in jail . Broke another’s face when I saw he did the same to Klaus. Real sleazebags.”

“In the past, sure, But think about it, Diego.” Five didn’t know why he was trying this hard- maybe it was him trying to be a decent family member, maybe it was because he didn’t want his efforts with reanimating Dave to be in vain. He didn’t have enough coffee in him to decide that just yet. “He’s harmless. And if he isn’t , then there’s six superpowered people in line to kick his ass.”

He seemed to consider this, staring off to the side as his fidgeting stopped. He took a deep breath, then slowly let it out. 

“...Klaus told me that he had a terrible poker face.” Diego eventually said, begrudging, “And that he was so embarrassed after saying the wrong thing to a waitress once that he still felt bad about it.”

“Alright, I take it back, he’s a monster.” Five replied, flat.

“So maybe I reacted a little too strongly.” He continued, ignoring Five’s snark. And then his shoulders went up as he shivered, taking in a sharp breath. “I get it, Ben, shit! Stop-- whatever it is you’re doing.”

“Maybe?” Five almost laughed- the stress painted all over Klaus’ face when he arrived earlier pointed to more than a ‘maybe’. He was well aware of Diego’s overprotective nature with Klaus. It was easy to see that the sudden idea of marriage when Klaus was single only days before probably had him spinning.

Still, unless it impacted his patient at the moment, Five figured they could sort that out by themselves. Hopefully. Otherwise he’d just have to clean up another mess, wouldn’t he?

“Have fun with your denial- and leave the idiots alone . Keep up the good work, Ben.” Five said. Then, as his point was thoroughly made, he took another sip of coffee and vanished once more.

Chapter Text

Dave fell asleep again quickly, his body needing as much rest as it could get. Klaus, however, had slept more consecutive hours with Dave than he’d slept in months. And recalling the nightmares he’d had before Diego showed up? He decided he was awake for the day.

After taking his sweet time cuddling his boyfriend, Klaus got up to roll himself another joint, smoked the entire damn thing, then did it again. After that he clumsily gathered up his latest knitting project. A giant fluffy scarf for Vanya. Except it was such fluffy yarn, he was having trouble keeping track of his stitches. And he’d dropped more than a few.

It was sort of a mess. Maybe he’d just dedicate it to Ben if Vanya didn’t want it.

He also grabbed his CD player and stuck the headphones on for an added layer of distraction. Finally ready, he settled down next to Dave again and got himself cozy.

The sun slowly crept up on him, but he barely noticed. He was lost in the stitches, the music, and his own thoughts. They floated in and out while he kept his hands busy. Naturally, they all involved Dave in some form or other. 

He didn’t have a lot of time to prepare when Five appeared in the bathroom a few days earlier - Klaus obviously in the bath - and told him he’d made his final calculations. They were going to go ahead with ‘the plan’. The same plan that hadn’t even seemed truly possible a week ago, but Five had it ready and wanted to leave in the next two days .

It wasn’t a lot of time to prepare himself for seeing his boyfriend again, dead or alive. Then again, he figured no amount of preparation would’ve made things any easier on him. Horrible things just kept happening and Klaus had had to go with it, stubbornly clinging to Dave the entire way. 

It was deeply jarring to go from fully grieving someone, to knowing he was right there beside you and not going anywhere. It was a calm moment for Klaus now, but there was still a subtle fear that dogged his every step. Some deeply rooted urge telling him to hold Dave now while he still had him, never let him go, don’t let him slip through the cracks again, he could lose him at any moment-

He was trying to tune that one out. Still, sometimes he’d quickly peek to make sure he could still see the steady rise and fall of his fiance’s chest. He’d sat with as much contact between them as possible just to have the small reminder that yes, his beautiful Dave was right there. Safe and sound.

Klaus would give anything for his brain to just go back to how it was when they were dating and there wasn’t a bunch of death, guilt, and grief in the way of it all. He.. sort of assumed that’s what would have happened if he reunited with Dave again. He definitely didn’t want to feel so stuck in the past when his future was right there with him. But every other glance at Dave had him recalling a terrifying, bloody moment and then Klaus had to force his mind to go blank. And if he teared up a bit when it happened, well, he’d just blame it on whatever melancholy song was playing at the moment.

Sometimes he’d stop in his knitting and just put a hand on the closest part of Dave he could reach. He wanted his warm skin to melt the ice cold dread that lurked around in the corners of Klaus’ brain.

Hours passed like that, focusing on his knitting but not really actually focusing, just drifting in his pot-fueled haze and occasionally reminding himself of his trauma. He was trying to count stitches, listening to an old ABBA CD when Dave finally moved for the first time in hours.

Klaus gave him a quick glance and then chalked it up to him shifting in his sleep before trying to get back to counting. Dave quickly had his attention again though as he gave a full body flinch. Klaus pushed his headphones down to sit on his neck, frowning as he noticed the pinched expression on his lover as well as his lips silently moving.

“Dave?” Klaus asked quietly, blinking hard a few times so his wandering mind would focus. 

Dave’s expression seemed to grow more fearful, and Klaus’ heart dropped in his chest. His neck and head twisted away as if he was trying to avoid something, so Klaus dropped his knitting needles and moved a hand to Dave’s shoulder. “Dave, hey.” He said, keeping his voice hushed, “None of that, it’s okay.”

Dave mumbled something, twisting away again while his breath hitched. A single tear ran down the side of his face, his brow scrunched up.

“Dave. Dave .” Klaus repeated, gently running a hand up and down Dave’s arm. He didn’t want to startle him out of whatever it was, maybe even soothe him into a better dream, but his body was becoming tense and he was starting to sweat. It reminded Klaus of how he’d often jerk awake in a cold sweat, mouth open in a silent scream. He really didn’t like that.

“Hey, no, Dave.” He was a little louder this time, a little more insistent as he gripped his shoulder and gave it a small shake. “Wake up, Katz.”

He shook him just a little bit harder, and then reared back when Dave all of a sudden started thrashing around in the sheet for a second or two. Then his eyes shot open and he took in a loud, gasping breath, both hands moving to clutch at the scar in the middle of his heaving chest. His eyes were red rimmed and bright with tears, and he tried to prop himself up on an elbow, his face broadcasting his fear and his worry. Klaus quickly leaned over him to catch his eye, setting his hands on his shoulders.

Hey , hey, hey.” Klaus said, panicking. Dave locked eyes with him and his breath hitched, reaching up to curl his hand and forearm around the back of Klaus’ head and pull him close.

“Klaus-” Dave gasped, more tears spilling, “ Klaus .”

“I’m right here, I’m right here, I didn’t go anywhere.” Klaus insisted, quiet and desperate as he pressed their foreheads together, “Just a dream, baby. Just a dream.”

Fuck .” Dave’s expression screwed up in pain, eyes closed tightly as he grabbed Klaus’ shoulder and dug his fingers in desperately. “I can’t- I can’t-”

“Breathe, Katz. Just breathe.” Klaus said, fighting back his own rush of fear while he tried to remember what Ben did for him when he got worked up. “You’re safe right now, I’m right here. I’ve got your six.”

Dave tried his best, forcing air into his lungs and shakily exhaling once, twice. “ Dark . So dark.” He uttered, his voice a croak.

“Open your eyes then.” If he wasn’t desperate for Dave to be okay right now, Klaus might’ve scoffed at the obvious solution. But he assumed Dave wasn’t just referring to his closed eyes. “It’s morning, okay? You’re here with me in my room.” Dave did as he asked, mutely nodding, and Klaus stared down into teary blue eyes that broke his heart in a special new way.

“Oh, Dave.” Klaus murmured sadly. His partner gave a few breathy sobs in response. They stayed like that for a few moments, as wrapped up as they could be while Dave just tried to breathe in and out.

Once he started calming down a little, Klaus slowly moved back to where he was sitting, pressed up against his fiance’s side. Dave’s hands followed him a moment but ultimately let go, carefully settling against his scar again while he stared up at the ceiling. 

Klaus reached out to pull the far side of Dave’s face towards him, turning his head so he could gently try and brush the tears from his eyes with a thumb. “Hey.” He whispered.

“Hi.” Dave croaked, moving one hand up so he could palm the worst of the tear tracks away while he sniffed. “How are you.”

Klaus laughed quietly, breathy. “I’m okay.” He said, grabbing the hand so they could lace their fingers together. “How are you?”

“Not a clue.” Dave mumbled, looking down and away. His eyes settled on Klaus’ abomination of a scarf.

“That seemed pretty bad.” Klaus commented quietly, letting him know he could talk if he wanted to.

“Y’know, when- when we talked about getting a dog,” Dave replied, deflecting, “I didn’t mean you’d have to make one yourself.”

“Okay,” Klaus nodded, “I see. Just for that, I’m not making you a sweater.”

“That’s alright. I would’ve cut the sleeves off,” The corner of his mouth lifted, giving away the joke even as he tried not to look at Klaus. “Make it into a sweater vest just to annoy you.”

“I can’t trust you with a single thing, David.” Klaus sighed, reaching out to run his fingers through Dave’s short curls. He was still tense. “Not one. Otherwise someone’s underwear ends up hanging from the flagpole and Sarge is making everyone do burpees until we puke.”

“You were trying to tell us how ‘boring’ the camp was and how we needed to spruce the place up.” Dave protested quietly

“I was probably on a lot of drugs at the time.” Klaus pointed out. Maybe if he distracted Dave enough it would help. “Even though I was right. We needed some contrast with all the brown and green. And the feng shui fucking sucked.”

“Yeah, I remember.”

“Why’d you even do it?” Klaus asked, tracing the edge of his face with his fingertips.

“It wasn’t just me.” Dave replied, looking up at Klaus with something tired but fond in his eyes. “I got some help. But, um.”

“Yes?” Klaus prompted.

“I got the idea in my head after you said something,” He said slowly, “and then I guess I kinda.. wanted to impress you.”

“No.” Klaus said, expression slowly brightening, “You did that for me?”

“Maybe.” Dave looked away quickly, a ghost of a smile on his lips.

“You’re a prince, Dave.” Klaus decided, “I think I would’ve fallen in love with you then and there if you’d just fessed up so we didn’t have to do the burpees.”

“You weren’t already madly in love with me?” The soldier asked, squeezing Klaus’ hand while he looked back up at him in disbelief.

Klaus hummed, moving his shoulders back to show a bit of confidence in his posture. “I was on the fence at the time, seeing what my options were.” 

That got Dave to laugh, but he got cut short and had to take both his hands back to clutch his chest. “ Ow . Who was, um, who was in the running?” He asked, and Klaus noted he wasn’t holding himself so tightly anymore.

“Hmm. I had my eye on one of the other FNG’s.. Chapman?” Klaus mused, “And don’t even get me started on what those army fatigues did for Andrews’ ass, my God .”

That set Dave off again, curling up as he laughed and made pained noises. Klaus almost felt bad, but this was way better than the panic and fear that was painted on Dave’s face a few minutes ago. 

“Oh, and Ike , how could I forget dear old Ike.”

Stop ,” Dave gasped, his frame shuddering with laughter he could barely let out, “The pilot ?”

Ike, they both knew, was an old crotchety son of a bitch in his fifties that probably should’ve been discharged years prior. But he was still good at getting people to and from places and he wanted to stay and help, so the army kept him around. He was notorious for bitching people out, and Klaus got way more than his fair share considering the everything about him.

“Ooh, yeah baby.” Klaus cackled, “Sagged in all the right places, if you know what I mean .”

Klaus! ” Dave wheezed, turning over onto his side and putting his face in his hands. “ O-ow , fuck-”

They both lost it some more, and Klaus rubbed Dave’s shoulder until he stopped wheeze-laughing and simply smiled up at Klaus with an amused twinkle in his eye. Nailed it.

“Well, I’m glad I managed to steal you away before you could sink your claws into Ike.” Dave said, shaking his head lightly, fondly. 

“There’s just something about older men, David, I couldn’t help but wonder.” Klaus jokingly fanned himself before he finally remembered that his knitting project was sprawled across his lap. 

“Don’t I know it.” Dave mumbled, picking up a piece of stray thread and tossing it into the vague pile of yarn Klaus was trying to gather. “Ya cougar.”

Klaus scoffed. “Four- ish years isn’t that bad a difference.”

“Five. You mean five. I don’t blame you for not remembering, though- your poor aging brain.”

“Okay, I officially don’t like this joke anymore.” Klaus huffed, sticking his needles into the mess of yarn before carefully reaching to put it down on the floor beside his bed. There wasn’t room on the nightstand, okay?

“Didn’t mean to offend your sensibilities, old timer.”

Klaus’ eyes widened and he looked at Dave in semi fake outrage. “You know, I was thinking I might go get you breakfast, but maybe you don’t deserve it.”

“S’all right.” Dave said, slowly sitting himself up. “I need a walk.”

“Wh- hang on, no,” Klaus waved his hands frantically, “You don’t need to be walking around right now.”

“Sweetheart, I know I’m hurt, but I’m not gonna drop if I walk downstairs.” Dave sighed patiently, “And there’s- there’s too much in my head right now to stay put.”

“But you need to rest.” Klaus insisted, frowning.

“Hey, a little exercise is good for healing.” Dave gently patted Klaus’ knee. Klaus’ eyebrows knitted together. That was the same bullshit that the camp medic always said to try and get soldiers out of their tent faster, damn it. “Klaus. I can walk. Promise.”

“I just..” He worried his lip between his teeth, looking between Dave and the door. “It’s longer than you’d think. And- and I don’t know who’s awake, and if something happens--”

“If something happens,” Dave interrupted, pulling the blankets off of both their legs, “you’ll be there to catch me. Right?”

He slowly tried to scoot himself towards the edge of the bed, and Klaus let out a worried little hum. If Dave was up to walking, wasn’t that a good thing? It might actually help, who knows. And they both need to eat. And Klaus needs to find someone to give Dave another dose of medicine. And he’d really like to keep an eye on his fiance while he did it.

“...Okay. Okay. Fine. But if you get tired I’m dragging you back up here.” Klaus decided, quickly removing the headphones from his neck and tossing them on the bed next to the CD player. He swung his legs over the side and stood, then reached down to help Dave slowly rise to his feet.

Dave’s expression was pinched for a moment. Once he was up he wobbled a little, steadying himself with the arm around Klaus’ shoulder. He took a few deep breaths, then nodded. “I’m good. Bit of vertigo. But can I maybe- no, please get a shirt or something?”

Klaus rolled his eyes and sighed begrudgingly. He carefully moved out from under Dave’s arm and made sure he could stand upright okay before he flitted to his closet and looked through his clothes. 

There was another robe in here- it was a fuzzy, bright orange thing and one of the most comfortable things Klaus owned. It was also three sizes too big which added to the comfort level. Perfect. He plucked it off the hanger and brought it back to Dave, who shook his head lightly with a smile. But he still reached out to grab it and carefully pulled it on.

“Better?” Klaus asked, wrapping an arm around Dave’s mid back while his bright orange beau pulled the sides to overlap and tied the sash, finally covering up his chest.

“Let’s jet.” He said.

It took around ten minutes and some awkward fumbling to get Dave down the stairs and into the kitchen. Grace was already in there, bustling around to get breakfast ready for the morning. She quickly turned at the sound of Klaus dragging out a chair, her skirt flaring out. 

“Oh! Hello boys, I didn’t expect to see you down here.” She said warmly.

Dave’s expression was a little strained while he lowered himself into the chair - Klaus thought he definitely needed painkillers - but he mustered up a real smile when Grace spoke to him. He looked up at her, and to his credit he didn’t even blink at the perfectly dressed 40’s housewife standing in front of him.

“You must be Klaus’ boyfriend.” She immediately walked over to Dave’s side and set one of her hands on his own, giving him her usual bright smile, “I’m Grace, Klaus’ mother. You’ve caused quite the stir around here, young man.”

“Oh- uh-” Dave cleared his throat, “Sorry, Miss Grace, ma’am. I really didn’t mean to intrude, but I got swept away with… with everything. I’m David Katz.”

“Oh, yes. I know who you are, silly.” Grace nodded, gripping his hand and squeezing it gently before she turned on her heels and walked to the fridge. She started pulling out various breakfast items, getting ready to start the first meal of the day. “Little Number Five already informed me of your current physical condition and the procedures I may need to perform if anything goes wrong.” 

The chipper way she said all that was kind of eerie, and so was her indulgent little sigh as cracked eggs into a pan and said, “That Five, always so smart but still such a rascal.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Dave replied, polite as ever.

Klaus watched them meet, a hand over his mouth as he observed. This was the most disgustingly normal interaction he’d seen in a long time and it was fascinating. Dave was full of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s, kept up polite small talk, and his mother was as delightful and perky as ever as she spoke with him and cooked. It was fascinating.

“Mom, would you be able to get Dave something for the pain after breakfast?” Klaus asked, his hand dropping to gently knead at Dave’s shoulder. 

“Give me two shakes of a lamb's tail and I’ll take care of it, bumble bee.” Grace replied fondly, her heels clicking on the floor as she moved to start putting bacon in a pan.

“Bumble bee?” Dave asked, looking up at Klaus with a genuine smile.

“Oh, he was always so energetic when he was young.” She shook her head gently, smiling as she moved to and fro in the kitchen. “Buzzing around doing this and that. Klaus certainly kept me on my toes with his mischief.”

“Mom.” Klaus whined, pulling out a seat and shoving it right up next to Dave’s before sitting.

“Mischief? Klaus? ” Dave asked, hints of teeth poking out of his smile now. He was going to milk this for all it was worth, Klaus knew, and it was terrible . “I can’t believe it.”

“I really don’t know how he kept finding new lighters.” Grace mused.

“I didn’t find new lighters.” Klaus grumbled, “Five taught me how to use light and a magnifying glass.”

Grace tutted, turning to look at Klaus and give him a knowing smile. “I confiscated quite a few matchbooks, too.” She reminded.

“A little childhood arson never hurt anyone.“ Dave ventured, reaching for one of Klaus’ hands so he could lace their fingers together under the table.

“Oh, it was actually very hurtful in Luther’s case.” Grace replied, still sounding chipper. Dave’s eyebrows went up at the insinuation. She went back to the food, pulling down plates and scraping up eggs for the two of them, as well as a helping of bacon. “I think we all learned a very valuable lesson that day. Didn’t we, Klaus?”

“Yes, mom.” Klaus sighed, setting his forehead down on the wood of the table so he could try and hide a smile. There was a little bit of silence for awhile, then he looked up again as Grace floated over and put the plates down in from of them both.

"Eat up, boys! You've both been through a lot, so don't be afraid to ask for seconds." Ah, the signature smiley eggs and bacon. His stomach growled, reminding Klaus he hadn't eaten in... let's just say awhile.

"Thank you, Miss Grace. This looks really good." Dave said genuinely, giving her a grateful nod. Though as soon as her back was turned again, he plucked the pieces of bacon off his plate and dropped them on Klaus'. He winked, then picked up a fork and a knife to move one of Klaus' eggs to his own plate. 

"Any time-- oh, you don't like bacon, dear?" The transfer was almost successful, but Grace turned to look over her shoulder at just the wrong moment. Dave paused, holding the egg in midair with his utensils. It fell onto his plate pathetically, ruining the yolk. Klaus snickered

"Well, I try and eat kosher when I can." Dave responded evenly, putting a smile back on for her despite his face having fallen momentarily. "He usually eats what I won't."

"I'll be sure to remember that." Grace said pleasantly, "Let me get you some toast to have with that, then. And don't ever be afraid to tell me if you don't want something. Poor Ben didn't want to tell me he was allergic to strawberries until he was a teenager.."

"Will do." Dave's smile widened in genuine appreciation, and Klaus glanced back and forth between his mother and his fiance. "Thank you, Miss Grace."

Ugh, Klaus loved him.

Chapter Text

“Klaus. Klaus .” Dave was kneeled down next to his cot, trying to coax the poor bastard out of yet another nightmare. Whatever had happened before Klaus had shown up in the tent a few weeks back, Dave didn’t envy him. Unless Klaus was well and truly high as a kite, his dreams were always restless from the things that so clearly haunted him.

It wasn’t weird that Dave noticed this kind of thing, despite the others paying it no mind. His cot was right next to Klaus’, and whenever it was lights out, Dave just happened to get a front row seat to the terrors plaguing the new guy in his sleep. Who wouldn’t want to try and help out, seeing complete and utter fear on his face like that? The guys liked to tease and say he was soft hearted, needed to toughen up, but look. A little kindness went a long way in a hellhole like this. 

And honestly, he was doing everyone a favor. Nine times out of ten if you left Klaus to his night terrors, he’d end up screaming bloody murder and wake up half the camp. It pissed off everyone and their mother, and then Klaus spent the next day trading barbs with the other soldiers because he was equally as pissy when someone brought up the nightmares.

So over the weeks, he’d found that trying to wake up Klaus before the nightmare hit its peak typically worked the best. He’d also found that Klaus might lose his shit and scream anyways if he touched him halfway through a nightmare, so he was left trying to talk him awake. And maybe he’d sometimes toss a balled up shirt at him if he was in real deep.

“Up and at em, Klaus.” Dave tried again, leaning closer so his voice would be louder to the sleeping man. “Andrews is gonna leave a dead snake in your kit if you scream the house down again.”

Klaus twitched, his breath hitching in fear. He started mumbling, a steady stream of ‘no no no no no’, and Dave had a sudden urge to hunt down and throttle whoever had left his friend(?) in this kinda shape.

Nobody actually knew where he’d come from. Rumor was that he was a POW that escaped, because that was the only fucking thing that made even a speck of sense. Whatever the truth was, it stayed between Klaus and Sarge. They’d reached an understanding after a conversation(interrogation) in his tent after they’d arrived at base camp, and that was that. Klaus was part of the 173rd, no other questions asked. And if Sarge himself - the notorious hardass - let it happen, well, they figured that it was alright by them.

“Klaus. Klaus, come on .” Dave stressed, and he grabbed the edge of Klaus’ cot to give it a short shake. That seemed to work. Mostly. Klaus bolted upright with a muffled shriek and then rolled off the other side of the cot in his panic.


“Whoops.” Dave said sheepishly, his voice just above a whisper, “You good, Hargreeves?”

Someone in the cot across the aisle hissed a request for them to stuff it. Dave rolled his eyes and held back a reply.

Klaus sat up, his hair a mess as he looked around in panic. His eyes landed on Dave, and he let out an angry little sigh.

Dave, anticipating this, dug a hand in his pocket and pulled out a blunt to show to Klaus. A peace offering. He stood up and gestured with his head to the entrance of the tent. “Wanna take a walk?” He asked quietly. 

“Yeah, whatever.” Klaus mumbled, dragging himself to his feet and running his hands down his face.

After some painkillers and a muscle relaxer, Dave was feeling.. pretty alright. A bit drowsy. Breakfast definitely helped, and he kept up a nice conversation with Grace while he shoveled food into his mouth. Something was… a little off with her, but then again, there was something off with every Hargreeves he’d met so far. And Dave figured being the wife of a scumbag like Klaus’ dad was enough to make anyone go a little nutty, so he shrugged it off as he ate.

He loved eating food that wasn't cold rations.

“I wonder where Five is.” His sweetheart mused, still picking at his now-cold bacon. Their legs were pressed together, ankles twined. “I thought he’d have appeared to scold us as soon as we stepped foot out of my room.”

“I found him curled up behind a shelf in the infirmary earlier.” Grace replied, as if that was a normal thing for her children. Dave guessed that she was used to her kids being oddballs. She was still at the stone, and she hummed gently as she went along. Now she seemed to be making pancakes for some reason. 

“Oh, that’s fine.” Klaus decided, “He definitely needed a small coma. His poor back, though.”

“Due to the odd positions he finds comfortable to sleep in, I am currently observing him for scoliosis as his bones continue to develop.” She informed them cheerily, stirring up batter.

Well alright then. “So you’re a nurse, Miss Grace?” Dave asked.

“Someone had to keep these kids patched up while they went out and saved the world.” Grace said, fond.

He still had a lot of questions about that whole side of things. When Klaus really, truly explained the superhero schtick, it sounded like something straight out of the comics he’d collected as a kid. He mowed so many lawns to save up his money for new issues, and his boyfriend was saying he was one of them?

That took some time to adjust to, especially considering some of the more.. Off the wall powers that Klaus’ siblings apparently had. But now that he was in Klaus’ world, the reality of it was everywhere. It was startlingly real , and it raised a lot of new questions. Did they really go out and save the world every week when they were just kids? And everyone was.. okay with that?

He’d set his hand on Klaus’ thigh, absently running it up and down the bare skin while he thought about those things. Klaus flashed him a tiny smirk that he knew all too well, but Dave snorted softly and shook his head at the insinuation. He definitely wasn’t going to do anything untoward with Klaus’ mother right there . Klaus knew that, so he simply set his hand on top of Dave’s and held it.

Klaus was a vision, truly. He didn’t know something was off in Vietnam, but seeing Klaus here, now, in that gorgeous silk robe and his hair falling into clumsy ringlets around his face.. It made sense. Like something finally clicking into place. And Dave really didn’t know where he’d fit into all this.. newness, but when Klaus gave him a wink and another smile just for him to see, Dave knew that he’d manage somehow. As long as Klaus wanted him here - and he did , he said yes - he’d find his place, just like a fresh-from-the-future Klaus found his place in ‘Nam.

“You ready to head back up?” Klaus asked quietly, nudging his plate aside, “You could nap again.”

“Mm.” Dave thought about it, looking around the kitchen. “..Actually, doll, I think I’m okay down here for now.”

That was the wrong answer, according to Klaus, who immediately made a face at him. “Uh, but down here has.. People. Siblings. Assholes.”

“Language.” His mother chided, interrupting her humming.

“Sorry mom.” Klaus said dutifully, rolling his eyes. “But Davey, if we stay down here, nothing is stopping them.”

“Is that such a bad thing?” Dave asked, squeezing Klaus’ hand with a gentle smile.

“Yes. A thousand times yes.” Klaus stressed, “A very bad thing. You saw what happened with Diego!”

Yeah, that. Dave really wished he hadn’t threatened to fight one of Klaus’ brothers. It left a bad taste in his mouth and he regretted it, especially since it was all a misunderstanding. But waking up so suddenly, everything about it led him to assume that Diego was chewing Klaus out for having a guy as a partner. And Dave had threatened to deck so many people on Klaus’ behalf - and followed through more than once - that it was second nature to step in and try and defend his fiance.

(Wow. He has one of those. Wow.)

It wasn’t that he thought Klaus couldn’t take care of himself, honestly. Klaus just had a tendency to let things slide, to let people say and do whatever they wanted in the name of getting them to leave him the fuck alone. And Dave took issue with.. most of those people. Besides, what kind of boyfriend was he if he didn’t rough someone up every now and then for his fella? If he’d have to do it for some girlfriend in a tight skirt back home, he was going to do the same for Klaus.

He didn’t even consider the fact that it was Klaus’ brother speaking, he just knew that it had to stop before it escalated. Which.. apparently escalated things even more, as he was threatening someone who had been trained to kill since they were a toddler. But everything hit a little too close to home with Dave, considering the things he’d had to hear from his own sister, so he reacted. He didn’t want Klaus to have to sit through any of the same things he did.

“I’ll have to meet them eventually.” Dave reminded his beau, “And why put off ‘till tomorrow what you can do today?”

He groaned. “You sound like a fucking hallmark card.” Klaus retorted, taking back his hand so he could bury his face in his arms.

Klaus .” His mother reminded, and Klaus groaned again. Dave grinned, laughing quietly at his misfortune, and in return he got his arm swatted at. The nerve of this punk.

“Miss Grace, d’you think hitting someone who just survived a serious physical injury is a good idea?”

Klaus’s head shot up and he gave Dave a mutinous glare until his mom turned around and gave him a scolding look. “Now Klaus, I know you boys like to rough-house but it’ll have to wait until David is feeling better. That wasn’t very nice.”

“Yes, mom.” Klaus said through gritted teeth. Dave only smiled pleasantly. As soon as her back was turned, Klaus flipped him off. Dave winked, then carefully started pushing his chair out so he could stand up.

Klaus’ expression lost all annoyance and now he looked just plain worried as Dave stacked their plates together and put their utensils on top. “Hey, you don’t have to do that-”

“I know.” Dave shrugged a shoulder. He stood up straight and took a deep breath just to test how his chest was feeling. Better. Loads better. He could wash some dishes. It was only polite to clean up after himself when Grace went through all the trouble of cooking for them.

Klaus quickly stood up next to him and hovered by his side, a gentle hand ghosting along his back while he walked to the sink. Oh well. Let him fuss a little. Dave would be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy it- after all, they never got a chance to be this casual and open back with the 173rd. The unit was a tight knit family, sure, but ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ ran deep. Certain people suspected, and Andrews definitely knew, but not for their lack of trying.

Meanwhile, apparently Klaus’ family was all.. used to it. Completely fine. When Grace greeted him the first time and willingly called him Klaus’ boyfriend, he was completely thrown. He never, ever would’ve gotten that kind of reaction from his parents. That was a hard realization to have. 

As if sensing his troubled thoughts, Klaus leaned over and kissed the corner of his mouth. Dave ducked his head, smiling at the floor while his fiance loosely wrapped his arms around his stomach and perched his chin on his shoulder. 

“Oh, David, you don’t have to do that.” Grace said, looking over from the pancakes she was flipping, “I’ll take care of all that later, you should rest.”

“See, Dave? You should rest .” Klaus urged.

Ignoring Klaus, Dave smiled at Grace. “I really don’t mind.” He replied, “I’ve been sleeping so long- figured I’d be useful while I can still stand. It’ll make me feel better.”

She blinked in surprise, tilting her head almost robotically. “..Okay then.” She decided, still looking mildly confused, “But only if you’re sure..”

“Yes, ma’am.” He nodded, turning back to the sink while Klaus sighed dramatically in his ear. “You know, you could help.” Dave murmured to him teasingly, setting the plates down and grabbing a sponge.

“This was your idea, not mine.” Klaus grumbled, nuzzling into his neck where the obnoxiously orange robe ended. Shivers went down his back as his cold nose brushed behind his ear. “We could be laying in bed making out, but no ..”

“..I don’t really want to do that until I know your brothers will stop appearing in the room.” He replied, as much as the idea appealed to him. “And don’t say stuff like that in front of your ma, geeze .”

“Oh, they don’t care.” Klaus dismissed, despite Dave feeling like his siblings really would care, “If they don’t knock, they get an eyeful. That’s a house rule by now.”

“I don’t- I don’t think I want them to ‘ get an eyeful ’.” Dave replied as he picked up and washed the plates, one by one. He stuck them in a drying rack nearby, and then took a moment to breathe and lean back against Klaus. “And I mean, what if they walk in on- you know .”

“You know, David, I don’t think I do.” Klaus replied cheekily, “Whatever could you mean, my sweet innocent flower?”

Klaus ,” He complained, looking over to Grace quickly to make sure she wasn’t hearing any of this. Thankfully, she was still humming along as her stack of pancakes grew. “..put a sock in it.”

“You’re adorable.” Klaus decided, kissing the side of his neck once, twice. Then he paused. “I missed you.” He said in an odd tone of voice. Dave looked over at him with a gentle expression. He kinda got it. He was gone for so long to Klaus, and now all of a sudden they were shoving things aside to try and make space for him.

“Yeah, well, lucky for you, I think just the once was enough.” He replied, “I’m planning on sticking around this time.”

“Good.” Klaus said, tilting his head. “That’s good.” Then, reaching forward, Klaus kissed him softly. And despite Grace being there, what could Dave do except kiss him back? He was helpless against his sweetheart and he knew it. He sighed through his nose as they kissed, running his thumb along one of Klaus’ hands around his waist. He wasn’t the one that had missed out on their relationship for months, but kissing Klaus still felt like coming home in all the best ways. 

Why .” They both startled, pulling apart to look at Diego by the entrance to the kitchen. Damn it, this was exactly what Dave was talking about. Klaus’ brother walked into the kitchen, eyeing them with annoyance as he went to say good morning to their Mom.

“Don’t be a prude , Go-go.” Klaus said haughtily, his arms tightening around Dave in defiance. Dave, on the other hand, looked up towards the ceiling with a sigh.

“I’m not a prude,” Diego snapped, “I just want to eat breakfast without watching you try and stick your hands down someone’s pants.”

Dave made a strangled noise in the back of his throat, his face flushing at the accusation. He quickly started shaking his head, but Klaus only scoffed. 

“Technically they’re your pants, Diego.” Klaus cheerfully informed him. 

Diego glowered. Dave was shriveling up and dying on the inside. He was used to Klaus mouthing off and being inappropriate, saying some really off the wall bullshit, but this was a whole new level of mayhem.

Distracted by Diego coming in, neither he nor Klaus noticed the other person in the room, who stood awkwardly by the doorway until he spoke up. “Um.” He said, awkward, “What’s going on?”

They both looked over. That must be Luther. Big guy, too- larger than life. Super strength required some super muscles, Dave guessed. This was the one that went to the moon - and he hazily remembered getting upset with him earlier, too.

“Diego wants me to stop sticking my hand in his pants.” Klaus supplied.

“Hands to yourself, Klaus dear.” Grace chimed in absently, “Good morning, boys!”

Luther looked between both brothers with an air of resignation. “...You know, I miss living alone more and more every day.” He said, walking further into the room, “Hi, mom.”

“That is not what anyone said.” Diego stated, staring accusingly at Klaus before he grabbed a plate and started piling on eggs and bacon. “I just think those two should quit making out in front of mom.”

“Sorry that you hate joy, Diego .” Klaus retorted as Luther walked up to the pair, making eye contact with Dave. 

It was a bit worrying, considering he was much bigger up close. Dave cleared his throat, looking up at him cautiously. Meanwhile Klaus stubbornly refused to uncling unwrap himself from Dave and just stared up defiantly. He really didn’t know what to expect with this brother, all things considered, but he didn’t seem especially upset…?

He definitely didn’t expect Luther to simply stick out a large hand. Dave blinked, then reached forward to give it a firm shake. 

“You must be Dave.” The brother said, “I’m Luther.”

“I’ve, uh, I’ve heard a lot about you.” Dave replied cautiously as Luther stepped back. Klaus hummed by his ear, sounding pleased. Dave was also pretty pleased, considering Luther didn’t look like he wanted to crush his bones or anything. “Nice to meet you.”

“Yeah. Wish I could say the same.” Luther gave him a grim smile, then looked to Klaus and sighed. With that, he turned and grabbed his own plate to start stacking with breakfast.

Dave didn’t really know how to respond to that.

“..Is that it?” Klaus asked, “I expected more fanfare from you, Luther- no offense.” He said quickly, “You just always have some.. Hm.. opinions on things.”

“I have opinions.” Luther agreed, looking back at them for a moment, “But Five told us to wait until the family meeting.”

“Huh. Is that it?” Klaus asked, and Dave really wished he would stop fishing for some kind of reaction, because this one? This one was fine. “Huh. Cause like, nobody else really got the memo , it seems.” Klaus turned his head to stare at Diego, who was sitting at the table and eating eggs. Diego scowled right back.

“He told us all at the same time.” Luther shrugged as he nonchalantly snitched on his siblings. “I didn’t think it was unreasonable to let Klaus’ friend recover for a day or two.”

Luther .” Diego stressed, “I don’t know how to make this any clearer for you- they’re boyfriends . As in dating . Except they seemed to skip that step--” Dave’s heart started beating faster in his chest as he froze, not knowing what to anticipate. Did Luther really not..?

“Woah, woah, woah.” Klaus unclamped a hand from Dave’s waist to flutter a hand. He didn’t sound upset or on guard, at least. “Luther, did you really not know?”

“Look, I- thought about it, okay?” Luther stuttered, sitting down and fidgeting with his fork as his cheeks started glowing, “But you never told me about your- preferences , and I didn’t want to- to presume.”

“What?” Klaus wondered, “How did you miss that? Even dad knew I was gay.”

“I didn’t want to presume!” Luther insisted, frustrated. “You didn’t tell me directly, so--!”

“That’s borderline sweet of you, Luther.” Klaus said, sounding shocked and impressed, “Thank you. But I’m very gay - pansexual, actually - and this is my.. Fiance.”

Luther sighed. “You’re wel- wait, what?”

Chapter Text

“Y’know, it’s gonna be a bitch to get that thing to heal right.”

Klaus glared grumpily at Dave, slumped over a chair while he tried to relax. “When I asked you to be here for moral support, this isn’t what I had in mind.” He huffed, clenching his hands on the cracking leather of the seat as the needle dug through his shoulder. What he actually had in mind was getting to hold Dave’s hand throughout the whole thing- but alas, a few of their other brothers in arms were loitering in the shop and he wasn’t going to test Dave’s masculinity by trying.

The last thing he wanted was for Dave to have to live through the same shit the others gave him. Whatever hints or vibes Klaus got, he wasn’t going to put Dave in the position to be called a nancy or a fairy or one of the other fun F-words assigned to him. The guy already caught flak just for hanging out with him so much, even if he said he never minded.

“I’m just saying.” Dave shrugged with a barely concealed smile, “We’re not staying in REMF hell for long. It’ll get infected out there.”

“What? You mean the rainwater and mosquitos aren’t going to cut it?” Klaus gasped in fake surprise, “Looks like I can’t roll around in the mud when we get back.”

“Someone’s gonna clap you on the back when we get back and you’re gonna scream like a girl.” Dave predicted, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. He had very nice forearms, Klaus noted. 

“Screaming like a girl isn’t a big deal. Girls are tough shit.” Klaus replied, “My sister punched through a glass window once and went on her merry way with glass shards in her hand for like, an hour.”

“She doesn’t count. Everything you tell me about your sister just makes me think she’s Superwoman.”

Klaus laughed, causing the tattoo artist to say something that he guessed was a ‘shut up, stay still’. He took a deep breath and tried to breathe through the pain, hissing as the artist started going over already inked skin. He wasn’t high enough for it to be a painless experience, and he still hadn’t hit the adrenaline rush he usually got from getting tattoos.

“You good, Spook?” Dave asked, his smug expression turning slightly worried. Ugh. Not for the first time, Klaus was reminded that Dave was far too good for him.

“Oh, me? Just dandy. What’s a little pain for a piece of art?” Klaus asked with a strained voice, shutting his eyes tightly as the needle went closer to bone. “You should try it sometime.”

He could hear Dave’s exasperated sigh. “How many times do I have to tell you I can’t?”

“Can’t, or won’t?” 

“Both?” He cracked his eyes open to see Dave roll his eyes and glance around the shop, “It’s important to me. You know that.”

Klaus never claimed to understand religion. They always seemed like a list of rules and regulations, and Dave’s was no different. Don’t get tattoos. Don’t eat certain things. Don’t do this or that. It went on at length, and Dave wasn’t even particularly devout. He was dating Klaus, after all. But while Klaus bristled at authority and rules and plans, his boyfriend seemed to find comfort in his small routines and traditions and conversations with something bigger than himself. And if it brought him even a tiny bit of peace in Viet-fucking-nam, Klaus couldn’t fault him for it.

“Alright, alright.” Klaus sighed, “I’ll stop trying to peer pressure you.”

“Like hell you will.” Dave chuckled, looking back at him with his eyes crinkled fondly, “I don’t think you’ll ever quit dragging me into trouble. But with this, yeah, I’d appreciate it.”

“Anything for you, Katz.” Klaus fluttered his eyes at his partner, causing him to snort and laugh. It was cute. He was cute.

“Is that Klaus fucking Hargreeves getting a tattoo without me?” A loud voice boomed as the door to the sketchy tattoo parlor swung open. Andrews sounded outraged, and more than a little drunk as he avoided other soldiers and made a beeline towards them. “Is Katz ponying up and gettin’ one too?”

“Katz remains too good for us all.” Klaus said regretfully, giving Dave a wink out of the eye Andrews couldn’t see, “He’s just here to hand me tissues if I cry.”

“We’ve had some close calls.” Dave added, effortlessly playing off of Klaus, “And he’s nowhere near done.”

“Wait, seriously?” Klaus whined, “I’m not?”

Andrews looked over at the tiger on his shoulder, letting out a low whistle at the size of it. “You really jumped in with both feet there, brother.” 

“I’ve gotten smaller tattoos before, I thought it’d be fine.” Klaus’ head thudded as it fell against the back of the chair. 

“He only just finished your linework, kid.” Andrews said, grabbing a stool and dropping down onto it. “No color yet. Buckle up.” 

“I don’t- I don’t believe this.” Luther was holding his head in his hands, elbows on the table as he tried to process this. “Klaus, are you- are you sure about this? Do you know what you’re doing?”

Klaus sighed, long and loud as he rolled his eyes dramatically. Dave’s mouth was pressed into a thin line, trying to brace for whatever nonsense was about to happen. He really had no idea, though. Dealing with Luther was very hit or miss for Klaus.

“Well, you see Luther, when a man and a hot, genderless piece of ass love each other very much ..”

“Klaus, be serious.” Luther ordered, sounding far too much like The Leader for Klaus to give a single shit about it.

“Let’s sit down.” Dave mumbled quietly, probably anticipating a long conversation ahead. He wasn’t wrong. Klaus walked alongside him as they went back to the table, helping lower Dave into his seat. He himself didn’t sit, however- just stood behind Dave’s chair with his hands on his shoulders.

“It’s really not a hard concept.” Klaus complained, fingers running along the fluffy fabric of Dave’s robe. “Dave and I want to get married, so we’re getting married. Everyone got it? Yes? Great, good conversation.”

“You’re impossible.” Diego he stabbed one of his eggs particularly hard, but at least he wasn’t actively glaring daggers at Dave. 

“Oh, bumble bee.” Grace, putting everything together, whirled around and walked over to Klaus with her arms open. He blinked but let her pull him into a warm hug. “That’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you both.” She said earnestly, reaching to put a hand on Dave’s shoulder as well. Why did Klaus feel his throat closing up? It was just mom , he didn’t need to cry about it.. “Congratulations.”

He was just about to try and thank her when the big man himself interrupted. “Klaus is not getting married, mom.” Luther objected, and Klaus cleared his throat as she stepped back and tilted her head in confusion. That was more like it. Good ol Luther. Diego started nodding his agreement. Oh, good, they finally found something to agree on and it was this.

“Don’t listen to them, Miss Grace.” Dave spoke now, looking up at Mom with a smile. Klaus thought she was becoming his favorite. “We both agreed- a real wedding and everything.”

“Look, Dave, I can’t say I know you all that well,” Luther stared at them disapprovingly, “But Klaus is- well, Klaus is..”

Dave turned to look at Luther, his expression turning serious. It might’ve been more intimidating if he wasn’t wearing a fluffy orange abomination, but his no-nonsense looks were still nothing to sneeze at. “Klaus is what, Luther?” He asked innocently.

Klaus immediately recalled the first time these two had spoken and grimaced. This wasn’t like it was with Diego at least- they just established that Luther was fine with Klaus’ queerness. No, this was Dave stepping up to bat for him again. Getting ready to defend Klaus’ honor or whatever despite being fully lucid this time, and knowing Luther could crush him like a grape if he wanted to. Klaus would be swooning if he wasn’t filled with dread, a pit in his chest. 

“He’s- well,” Luther started, trying to find a less insulting way to tell Dave that Klaus was an unreliable fuck up, a junkie- Klaus found himself holding Dave’s shoulders tighter now. “He’s very.. he’s a bit much .”

“A bit much.” Dave repeated, voice even.

“Careful, Luther.” Diego added quietly, his voice a warning. That was nice. Regardless of how he felt about their engagement, he was still in Klaus’ corner.

“He has a past- we all do,” Luther said quickly, fidgeting with his fork, “But, um. I don’t know how much he’s told you..”

Dave reached up to fearlessly grab one of Klaus’ hands and held it tightly. “Enough.” He said, “He’s told me enough for me to decide to spend the rest of my life with him.”

“I don’t think you really get it-”

“I don’t think you get it.” Dave said sharply, “Klaus is it . He’s everything to me. And why are you trying to make sure I’m okay with it, and not Klaus? What kind of brother--”

“Woah.” Ben said, perched on the counter. Klaus looked over at him helplessly. “Deja vu.”

Klaus was pretty sure he knew why Luther tried to talk Dave out of it rather than Klaus. He respected Dave more. Probably thought he was more reasonable.

“Dave, I think we should just drop it.” He tried, “Let’s go upstairs, alright?”

“No, I don’t want to avoid this.” Dave said, frustrated, “What’s it going to take for you people to be okay with this? Was I supposed to ask everyone’s permission?”

“Okay,” Diego raised a hand, “I never said I wanted your permission-”

Ben - unseen by everyone but Klaus - observed the back and forth like a game of tennis. “I like this for you. Dave doesn’t let you run away from hard shit.”

Klaus gave Ben an angry expression because he wasn’t helping . “Guys, it’s really not that important.” He laughed, nervously squeezing Dave’s hand.

“Not important?” Dave turned in his chair to stare up at him- not in disappointment, because he knew this was a big deal for Klaus too, but in indignation. “They’re your family , Klaus. They shouldn't be trying to talk us out of this.”

Poor, sweet summer child. This was generally how things went between the family. Despite his best efforts at making peace with him after the apocalypse, Luther still didn't approve of Klaus. Thinking back, Luther had never approved.  Nothing he did was good enough for Number One. The disappointment from Luther was endless. Klaus was always the look out, the junkie, the weakest link, and he could do nothing right. To his credit, Luther was trying to undo a lot of toxic thinking he'd inherited from their father, like labeling people as 'weak' and judging them by how useful they could be. But hints of it still shone through- like now. Luther didn't think he was capable of making this kind of decision. It was probably pointless to even try reasoning with him when it came to something like this. 

Klaus was starting to wish he hadn’t said anything to any of them, really. Ben would’ve been told eventually, and maybe Five, but they could’ve just gone to city hall without a word, without dragging everyone’s opinions into it.

Everyone’s opinions clearly being that Klaus’ opinion didn’t matter. It was easy to fall back into that line of thinking- hey, even Klaus himself did it from time to time. But he’d worked so fucking hard for this relationship and went to hell and back to bring Dave here. He wasn’t the idiot they all thought he was- why couldn’t they just trust him with this one thing? His personal life wasn’t even any of their business, but they’d been touchy about these things ever since Vanya dated a sociopath.

“They do this a lot, it’s fine.” Klaus tried to dismiss, and Ben’s eyebrows went up, indicating to him that he’d just said something stupid.

“This isn’t fine ,” Dave replied, furrowing his brow in frustration.

“Klaus, we’re just trying to look out for you.” Diego explained, and he knew that. Dave just wasn’t used to speaking Hargreeves yet. 

“I agree with Dave, actually.” Ben decided, “He’s right. They’re being assholes.”

“Children,” Grace spoke up firmly. She’d been watching the conversation with a frown the entire time, her red lips pressed together tightly. “I think you both owe your brother a congratulations. This is a very special announcement.”

Luther sputtered, trying to find something to say to regain control of the conversation, but Diego cut in before he could. “You know what, Mom?” He said, giving Luther a sharp look, “I think you’re right.”


You do? ” Both Klaus and Ben asked at the same time. 

Diego eyed Dave for a moment, then nodded as he looked up at Klaus. “..I do. We can talk about the details later, but for now we should just.. just. Congratulations, Klaus.” He stated resolutely. Woah. “I mean it. too, David.”

And since Klaus was an expert in speaking Hargreeves, he saw that for what it was- an attempt to meet him halfway. The closest thing Klaus would get to an apology for reacting so poorly. However, the words didn’t stop Diego from sounding mildly suspicious when he spoke to Dave. Still- progress?

“Aw.” Ben said quietly, “It worked.”

“Diego, I don’t think that that’s--” Luther protested, but Diego gently smacked him on the shoulder.

“Make nice and eat your pancakes, dumbass.” He instructed, “We’ll deal with this later.” Luther gave him a withering glare, clenching his jaw and looking like he wanted to smack Diego back.

“.... Fine .” Finally, Luther looked back at the two of them with a distinct frown. “Congrats.” He said, voice unimpressed and flat.

Dave stared Luther down, making eye contact and not flinching away for a second. “Fine.” He repeated. Both of their expressions indicated that they didn’t think the conversation was over. Klaus really hoped they weren’t going to make a habit of this. Luther would always be way too rude to Klaus in Dave's opinion and he didn't want this happening once a week.

Awkward silence followed the congratulations, and now it was Klaus’ time to shine. He was an excellent distraction. “ Thank you, thank you.” He said airily, trying to downplay things as much as possible while he shifted his weight back and forth, “I’ll forward you both the wedding registry- it’d be a real disaster if you both ended up buying us the same salad tosser.”

Dave gave a frustrated sigh beneath him, giving his hand another squeeze before letting it go. “Sounds like a nightmare.” He agreed, reluctantly playing along with Klaus’ distraction. They were definitely going to have words later, and Klaus wasn’t sure whether that was a good or a bad thing.

“Imagine the embarrassment.” Klaus added, shaking his head wistfully, “Maybe we should just take cash donations.”

Diego wordlessly pulled out his wallet, plucked out a few meager coins, then slid them on the table towards the duo. “There. Knock yourselves out.”

This was much better. Nobody was upset with anybody, they could ignore the elephant in the room with jokes- it was great. 

“Nineteen cents.” Klaus confirmed, “Soon we’ll be able to afford a single gumball. Thank you.”

“I think it could buy us a few, actually.” Dave mused.

“Oh, darling.” Klaus shook his head, gently starting to knead at Dave’s shoulders, “We have to have a long talk about inflation later. Ben, I’ll leave that to you.”

Dave leaned his head back onto Klaus’ chest, trying to peer up at him. “Ben? When did he get here?”

“Oh.” Klaus shrugged, “He’s been here awhile.”

“Morning, Ben.” Diego mumbled, and Luther echoed him. Klaus automatically looked back to Ben for his reaction so he could relay it to the rest of the room. But Ben, the absolute bastard, held up a hand with a middle finger.

“Wh- hey, they’re not gonna believe you actually wanted me to do that.” Klaus complained.

“I know.” Ben replied solemnly.

“What did Ben say?” They all looked over, and there was Vanya walking in, Allison yawning not far behind her. They both looked towards Klaus and Dave curiously. Great, now it was a party. 

Everyone acknowledged, they all looked back to Klaus to see what the fuss was about. Klaus sighed, then stared his ghost brother dead in the eye while he flipped off the whole room.  Klaus .”

Grace scolded. Ben started cackling.

Chapter Text

“You’re gonna be the death of me, baby.” Dave muttered.

Klaus hummed in agreement, taking his time kissing and gently biting at his boyfriend’s neck. Dave’s fingers dug into his hips, tightening whenever Klaus bit especially hard. They were pressed up flush against one another, but there wasn’t any urgency. Just a need to be as close to each other as they could. Klaus was taking his sweet time necking, enjoying Dave’s low, sweet voice in his ear.

They didn’t often get time to screw around like this. Their usual rendezvous were rushed, and only took place whenever they could find a spare moment in their day-to-day chaos. Tonight, though, half the unit was drunk off their asses from getting some good news from command and nobody needed them. Dave and Klaus slipped away one at a time after a drink or two to ease suspicions, and they had the night to themselves now. 

They’d found a couple of stacked crates, some covered up by tarp to keep the rain out and it was the perfect hiding spot. Klaus had brought out a customary joint for them to share beforehand, and now they were settled in the darkness and making out like a couple of teenagers.

“How’d I ever get this lucky, huh?” Dave asked, thumbing Klaus’ sharp hips gently and sighing. “If we weren’t stuck in hell I’d think I was dreaming you up.”

“Hmmm. You’re a sap, Private Katz.” Klaus decided, his breath ghosting over the sensitive skin he’d just been mouthing. Dave shivered.

“C’mere, you.” One of his hands reached up to capture the underside of Klaus’ jawline, bringing him up to eye level so Dave could properly kiss him. Klaus huffed out a little laugh, kissing back eagerly. 

His hand slid down Klaus’ face to his chest, and his boyfriend clasped it in his own while they lazily made out. Sometimes, a quick hand squeeze or two was all they could manage for days on end, so even just being able to hold hands without worrying was great. 

They separated for air, faces barely inches apart while they held hands. “You’re so much, Klaus.” Dave murmured affectionately, adoringly, “So much.”

Klaus brow furrowed as they stared at each other in the darkness. “Too much, I know.” He replied quietly.

“No, no.” Dave captured his lips in another kiss when Klaus tried to duck his head away, pulling him closer with an arm around his waist. Klaus went with it, moving to properly straddle his lap. “I want all of it. Everything you’ve got, doll. Everything.”

“Careful, Katz.” Klaus nipped at Dave’s bottom lip, “You keep saying stuff like that, I might just start falling for you.” He teased, trying to avoid the sincerity in Dave’s voice.

“I’ve been free falling since we met, baby.” Dave said, pressing their foreheads together and closing his eyes tightly. 

He didn’t catch Klaus’ uncertain expression, there and gone in a flash. But Dave definitely noticed it when Klaus pressed forward and began to kiss him breathless.

Well, this was just a treat. Grace had cleaned up the kitchen and was starting to move along to the living room. She soon left all the siblings, sans Five, sat at the table eating breakfast and not-so-subtly observing Klaus and Dave. Klaus had even pulled his old chair out for Ben and left Dave’s side for a second to get him a plate with pancakes smothered in syrup. 

Everyone was used to that sort of thing, especially now that they knew that Klaus was actually trying to be considerate of Ben when he placed food in front of an empty seat. Dave thought it was sweet, though, and quietly told him so. It would’ve been a nice moment if Ben hadn’t been sitting right there making fun of him.

Annoyed at having to be around so many of his siblings while he was in emotional distress , Klaus wrapped his arms around Dave’s shoulders, hunched over, and stubbornly buried his face in his short curls. Dave had cooled off slightly after the Luther Incident and simply leaned back against his fiancé while he focused on Klaus’ sisters.

Hopefully the ‘F’ word wouldn’t come up again with them. Klaus sure as hell wasn’t going to bring it up this time, having learned his lesson. He did not want to know how Allison felt about his impromptu engagement, thanks.

“I think you’re the last sibling?” Dave asked Vanya. 

“Um. You could say that.” His sister replied hesitantly, glancing up at Klaus with an unimpressed look. Oof. Way to hit the nail on the head.

“Oh, I just meant that I’ve met the other.. six of you guys?” Dave smiled kindly at her. “But hey, last but not least, right? I’d get up and shake your hand but..” He gestured to the arms wrapped around his shoulders, keeping him in place for the time being. 

Vanya gave him a ghost of a smile in return. “Don’t worry about it. I’m surprised to even see you down here.” She said, “Are you feeling any better?”

“Plenty. Otherwise this one wouldn’t have let me come down here.” Dave reached up to pat at Klaus’ arm. Klaus tightened his hold, peeking up at Vanya mulishly. “..little tight, there, Spooky.”

“Spooky?” Luther spoke up, because apparently he was contributing to the conversation again. Klaus did not appreciate that.

“The only spooky thing about Klaus is the fact that he somehow doesn’t have lung cancer by now.” Diego added moodily. Klaus glared at him and clenched his fists, tugging on the connection deep in his chest out of pure spite.

Ben flipped Diego off himself this time. “Haunted by a dead brother, asshole.” He reminded.

“O-kay, you’ve got me there.” Diego conceded, immediately backing down. The rest of them didn’t often argue with Ben, which kind of drove Klaus up the wall. He always argued with Ben. It was a finely honed skill.

“Oh, hey Ben.” Dave greeted.

“Been here the whole time, but hey.” Ben nodded at him, stuffing his hands in his pockets and leaning back in his seat.

“Sorry,” Klaus’ fiance fidgeted with the sleeve on his robe awkwardly. Klaus thought it was hilarious that the only person who made Dave truly nervous was Ben . “I don’t know much about this side of things yet. All I remember is the, um, getting rid of the ghosts part.”

“Ah, the good ‘ol days. Great times.” Klaus mused, only to be smacked by Ben. He lifted his head in offense. “ Hey !”

“Don’t joke about your sobriety like that.” Allison chided gently, if only because she couldn’t speak at full volume. This family was full of uptight busybodies and Klaus didn’t appreciate it one bit. 

“It’s my sobriety, not the family sobriety.” Klaus complained, propping his chin on Dave’s head so he could look at them all properly. “I can do what I want with it.”

Ben leaned his head back to stare at the ceiling, shaking his head. “That is wildly inaccurate.” He muttered.

“Fine, it’s Ben and I’s joint sobriety.” Which wasn’t far from the truth, honestly. Considering Ben’s interaction with the rest of the world depended on Klaus not being blitzed, and Ben had to deal with it when he was blitzed, he figured they could co-sign it. “Butt out, Big A .”

“..Big A?” Vanya asked curiously, looking between the two as she tried to tone down the situation.

“We’re not doing this again.” Dave sighed wearily, running his knuckles gently over Klaus’ arm, back and forth.

“Nope.” Allison agreed quickly, grabbing her cup of coffee to sip at so she wouldn’t be involved.

“Wait,” Diego interrupted from where he was cleaning his cuticles with a knife , sitting up, “so everyone else got stupid nicknames, too? Not just me?”

“Only you, Allison, and Dave.” Ben explained, dropping his head down so he could see everyone again. His hand reached to fidget with the fork Klaus gave him, and he prodded at the cold, soggy mountain of pancakes he couldn’t eat.

“..If she’s ‘Big A’, and I’m ‘Lil D’..” Diego started, looking back and forth between Ben and Klaus suspiciously.

“Oh, no.” Dave mumbled.

“Well, Diego, you see..” Klaus said slowly, eagerly. “Dave is ‘Big D’.”

Diego narrowed his eyes, defensive as he snapped back, “Why does he get to be Big D?”

Allison gently lowered her face into her hands, exasperated, and Vanya snorted next to her. Luther just looked confused. Klaus grinned like a wolf, Diego having given him the best gift possible, and Dave tried to shrink down in his chair. 

Diego quickly caught on, eyes widening in panic, but Klaus beat him to it. “It’s cause he’s got a big d-”

“Nope!” Dave announced, quickly sitting up and jarring Klaus’ hold on him. Ben started laughing next to them. “I never agreed to any of this. No nicknames, no nothing. No Big D.” 

“But you have tons of nicknames for me!” Klaus crouched so he could move his head to Dave’s shoulder and grin at him obnoxiously. “Why can’t I have a few?”

“It’s because they’re always awful, Klaus.” Dave replied flatly, turning his head slightly to try and frown at him.

“David!” Klaus cried out, “Insulting me in front of my own family ! My flesh and blood --”

“We’re adopted, Klaus.” Vanya reminded, “He’s right though.” She was smiling at their antics, her chin propped in her hand since she was done eating. At least she didn’t act like there was something prove with Dave or some deep dark secret to uncover. Dare he say it, she was being remarkably normal about the whole thing, and Klaus was grateful. Even if she was choosing the wrong side. “He should say it.”

“We’re not taking feedback at this time, Vanolin.” Klaus huffed, straightening up, “Please submit your complaints never.”

Vanolin ?” Allison repeated, quirking an eyebrow.

“I knew we shouldn’t come down here amongst the commoners, Dave. All this bullying.. .”

“I think you’ll be okay.” Dave replied solemnly, reaching to take one of his hands so they wouldn’t be apart. Klaus considered taking their hands and pressing a kiss to Dave’s, but something in him rebelled against being so tender and sensitive in front of his siblings. 

Despite them all trying to leave their old patterns behind, Klaus still felt like he couldn’t be terribly vulnerable with them- especially not with all of them in the same room. It was seen as weakness, and weakness was something to snuff out and destroy in this family.

His siblings meant well, obviously, but as Ben had told him more than once- Klaus couldn’t just get over years of being ignored, dismissed, and invalidated overnight. Even if he knew he deserved it. However, Ben also encouraged him to talk about it with his siblings, whereas Klaus was fine simply ignoring it. No need to dig all that crap up again. 

They were all moving on. He’d be fine eventually.

“My pride will never recover.” Klaus said to Dave, squeezing his hand gently instead.

“You have pride?” Ben asked lazily, causing various siblings around the room to grin and snort. Again, bullying . Ruining his good name in front of his fiancé..

Thankfully, the ‘Let’s make fun of Klaus’ party was abruptly cut short by Five zapping into the room, falling onto his feet unsteadily. Both Klaus and Dave flinched back, tensing up at the sudden light and noise. The not-14 year old’s hair was sticking up everywhere, and there was just a hint of crazy in his eyes as he scanned the room. His eyes soon landed on Dave, who looked put-off.

You .” He hissed.

“Looks like someone got a head start on his daily margarita.” Klaus muttered to Ben, who exchanged a quick glance with him before focusing back on Five.

“Five? Are you-” Dave cleared his throat, trying not to squirm under Five’s intense stare, “You cool, kiddo?”

Everyone else in the room winced, sans Five who began actively glaring at the nickname. “You weren’t in Klaus’ room.” He said accusingly, “What’s your resting heart rate? Are you  experiencing any neurological tics? Any change in body hair?”

They all watched Five uncertainly. Dave let out a small, nervous laugh. “Are you- is he tripping?” He asked, looking around at the rest of the siblings.

Klaus leaned forward to murmur a quiet warning in his ear. “Five can get a little.. upset when he wakes up.” He explained. 

To prove his point, Five jerked forward to start taking Dave’s vitals. Confused and concerned, Dave let him time his pulse and yank his head down to stare into his eyes. Probably for the neurological-whatever. Then, Five took one of Dave’s arms and yanked the robe away to stare at his.. arm hair?

“I’ll get him some coffee.” Vanya sighed, getting up from the table.

“You shouldn’t even be down here.” Five griped, briskly going through the rest of his check list before stepping back to adjust his rumpled blazer.

“I thought it’d be fine.” Dave replied sheepishly, holding Klaus’ hand tightly now.

“Well stop thinking. You,” Five pointed harshly, “are an investment , Dave Katz. If you just fall over and die after all the effort I put into this, I swear to God-”

“Hey, fuck you , old man--” Klaus tried, but he was quickly interrupted by a louder voice.

“I think that’s a little much, Five.” Luther braced both hands on the table, staring at his ‘little’ brother with a disapproving frown. It was ingrained in him to try and corral them during chaotic moments. However, Luther failed to account for the fact that Five didn’t listen to him, ever.

“A little much? ” Five demanded, whirling around to jab his finger at Luther now, “It was ‘ a little much ’ when you decided to get piss drunk and go to a rave in the middle of the apocalypse countdown -”

“Five,” Klaus laughed nervously. They were not discussing that one, no thanks. “We forgave and forgot that, remember ?”

“Not all of us.” Ben said ominously, casting a dark look in Luther’s direction. Klaus hissed at him.

“-so I think trying to make sure Klaus’ boyfriend doesn’t croak is the perfect amount of much .”

Klaus was scowling at his brother now, his free arm wrapped around his fiancé’s shoulders defensively. Dave was pressed back against his chair, his mouth pressed into a thin line as he looked up at Klaus. “I think I should go lay down.” He suggested quietly, trying to offer them both an out, but Five caught wind of it and jabbed a finger at him again.

“No, you’re down here now, we’re all here,” He stated as Vanya handed him a cup of coffee. It was probably hot, but Five still took a mouthful like a champ. “So we’re going to have a big family meeting so everyone can stop acting like children about the fact that Klaus had a secret Vietnam boyfriend. Then you people can stop bothering me and my patient every ten seconds.”

“Five,” Vanya sighed, “We barely spoke to you. Could you just..”

“Chill the fuck out?” Klaus suggested. Vanya gestured to him, nodding at the suggestion. This was overreaction city, and Dave looked vaguely disturbed at the way he was being spoken of. Klaus was disturbed, too, but at least he had some context for Five suddenly losing his marbles.

Five must’ve been asleep for awhile to be so paranoid and cranky. He rarely fell asleep intentionally. They were all used to finding him in odd spots, completely dead to the world. And, as Klaus knew well - both from always waking up in his own state of panic, and from trying to wake Five up from one of his coma naps - his little big brother sometimes had a hard time distinguishing where or when he was when he first woke up. It was like being hit by a train of disorienting anxiety.

“Chill the f-” Five took a deep, seething breath, staring daggers at Klaus as he clenched his coffee cup. But a disapproving look from Vanya had his expression souring. “Living room. Ten minutes. Family meeting.” He bit out, then teleported away.

“Alright, then.” Allison said after a moment of silence, standing up and grabbing her and Vanya’s dishes. “This is happening, I guess.”

“I am so sorry, just in advance.” Klaus said to Dave, “These things get a little..”

“Loud? Ridiculous?” Vanya asked sarcastically, and Klaus nodded eagerly at her explanation.

“I think I’m beginning to notice a theme here.” Dave replied, glancing at the other siblings. Luther was already on his way to the living room, and Allison wasn’t that far behind. Diego was giving Dave an indecipherable look, but one he noticed he was being watched he huffed and turned to leave as well.

“Yeah.” Vanya huffed out a small laugh. “I know how you feel.”

The side of Dave’s mouth lifted. Klaus had a moment of being intensely grateful for his little sister. She wasn’t one to make a big production out of things (unless.. well, you know.) and of course she wasn’t going to needlessly interrogate Dave’s existence. It was good that he didn’t have to worry about that from her, honestly. A real breath of fresh air.

Dave must’ve been feeling something similar. He slowly stood, Klaus immediately jumping to help support him, and then he stuck a hand out for Vanya. Vanya took it, and Dave gave her a handshake. 

“It’s nice to meet you, Vanya.” He said sincerely, “Klaus didn’t say much about you.” Both Klaus and Vanya winced quietly, but he effortlessly continued. “So I’m glad I’ll get the chance to get to know you.”

Klaus’ heart melted a little at how ready he was to know the sister who needed it most. Vanya looked like she didn’t know what to do with that kind of response, shifting her weight from foot to foot with a ghost of a smile. “...Me too, Dave.”

“Holy shit.” Ben uttered from his seat behind them, forgetting he wasn’t invisible to the room. “He just did it again. I’m serious, he’s going to break everyone.”

"What?" Dave turned in confusion, furrowing his brow.

"Nothing," Ben said quickly, "Nothing."

Chapter Text

“So.” Dave asked, “What are you doing after this?”

Klaus snorted into his drink, the two of them sequestered away in their favorite bar. This was where it all started a few months ago, the last time they got leave. “Um, I dunno,” He said, grinning lazily, “There’s this sexy guy, and I was hoping I could convince him to take me home.”

Dave laughed, bright and clear considering the amount of alcohol he’d had. “That isn’t- that isn’t what I meant.” He snorted, “I meant, um. After we get sent home.”

“Oh.” Klaus said, eyes wide. That was certainly a question, wasn’t it? He didn’t really know what kind of plans he could make in a time period where he didn’t legally exist. Maybe he’d check out Stonewall. Or go be gay with the hippies in San Fran. “Uh, hm. I’m on the fence. Lots of.. Lots of options.” He cleared his throat, changing the subject. “What are you doing?”

“..Uh.” Dave looked down at the floor, seeming sheepish. “Y’know. Go home. See the folks.” He chewed on his lip for a moment, then looked up at Klaus through his lashes. “Hey.” He said softly, “You’re gonna- Would you maybe--? Actually, this sounds nuts, nevermind.”

“No, no.” Klaus murmured, entranced by how vulnerable Dave looked in front of him. “I want to hear it.”

“..I was just wondering.” Dave paused to gather some courage, licked his lips, looked back up at Klaus. “I was wondering if you’d want to.. tag along.”

“Tag along?” Klaus echoed quietly, his heart starting to thrum in his chest.

“I know, totally crazy, but uh-” Dave ran a hand through his hair nervously, giving him a timid smile, “You don’t seem to like your folks back home that much. And mine are.. tough, too. But I figured.. Once we’re home, we could go anywhere, really.” 

“We.” Klaus repeated, his voice just above a whisper, “You- you want me? After all this?”

Dave sighed affectionately, reaching to brush his fingers along Klaus’ cheek almost reverently. “How could I not, Klaus?” He murmured, “How could I not?”

Klaus had helped settle Dave into the couch. It wasn’t a comfortable couch, sadly- it was expensive and luxurious and made to be seen, not used. Still, he made the best of a bad situation and curled up by Dave’s side. 

“You said your dad was rich but I- did not expect- any of this.” Dave stated, looking around the absurd room. It was pristine and put together as ever thanks to Grace’s constant maintenance, and still filled to the brim with grand, useless crap that Klaus knew he could only truly pawn to a weirdly specific collector. 

When he’d first arrived, Dave obviously didn’t pay much attention to the decor or the fact that it was a mansion. Different priorities back then. But now he was free to gaze about the room in wonder and mild concern.

“Oh, yes.” Klaus waved it off, pulling his knees up to his chest. “I don’t think we were even allowed to touch anything in this room growing up. I definitely wasn’t allowed. Playing in here was ‘strictly forbidden’.” He recalled a more than a few lectures on the subject. Shrugging it off, he gestured vaguely to the opposite side of the room where a portrait of the man himself hung. “Thank fuck that someone shot that prick’s cold, dead eyes out.” 

Alongside the bullet holes, there were three different knives sticking out of it. Dave stared, squinting as he tried to make out the figure of Reginald Hargreeves. This was his first time seeing the man, really. 

“Okay. And.. why the giant picture of..?” Dave slowly asked, turning his head back to the disturbing visage of Five hanging up on the wall. There was a single dart right in the middle of the portrait’s face, but other than that it was untouched. For the time being. They always debated what to do with the damn thing. Klaus, personally, wanted to burn it and roast marshmallows.

“Oh, that was daddy’s loving show of remembrance after Five disappeared.” Klaus sighed as if he was fond of the thing, “Not to mention an unsubtle warning about what would happen if we stepped out of line.”

His fiancé looked suitably disturbed. Leaning close, Dave nudged Klaus. “You know, I don’t think I like the sound of this guy.” He mumbled to him out of the corner of his mouth, as if this was his first time hearing about Klaus’ father.

The joke was that Dave fucking hated Reginald Hargreeves and he let him know it often . So Klaus barked out a loud, ugly laugh at the way he brought it up, and Dave couldn’t help but grin at making Klaus laugh, even if it made the rest of the siblings look their way. 

“Did Ben get a picture too?” Dave asked curiously, wrapping an arm around Klaus’ shoulders and tugging him close.

“Worse.” Ben supplied, settling himself down on the opposite end of the couch. “A statue.”

“It was a nice statue,” Luther argued, sitting on the couch facing them.

“It looked nothing like him!” Klaus replied incredulously, flinging a hand out towards Ben, “I’ve been telling you that for years! It was a direct translation!

”But we didn’t know it was him that thought so,” Luther leaned forward earnestly, hands on his knees,  “We just thought you were, uh-”

“Disrespecting our dead brother, yes, yes,” Klaus said impatiently, “Which I was doing, for the record. Someone had to.”

“It’s okay Luther.” Ben shrugged, “I disrespect you guys all the time.”

Luther didn’t seem to know what to say to that. 

Everyone was always at a weird impasse with Ben, because he died tragically, far too young, and they all grieved him appropriately for years. Now he’s back and he’s a real asshole, but they had all that weird guilt and regret going on so they couldn’t call him out on it. Even five months since the apocalypse, Ben still kept stunning the siblings with his harsh truths and bitter humor. And he held all the grudges, so they were all unknowingly walking on eggshells until Ben decided to call them out on something.

Unfortunately, almost all those grudges involved Klaus in some way, including some things he held against Klaus personally. But it often put Klaus in a hard place when Ben decided to drop a truth bomb on someone and gave them the talking-to of a lifetime. Frankly, Klaus was more than content to let things go as he’d always done. But now that Ben had a voice of his own, it was getting hard to brush things off like he used to.

“It’s true,” Klaus chimed in, “He bitches about everyone constantly.”

“Pot, kettle.” Dave mumbled quietly, still gazing around the room. Ben heard the comment and snickered. Klaus narrowed his eyes and pathetically tried to hit Dave’s shoulder with his head in retaliation, because they were not focusing on Klaus’ flaws right now, not while they didn’t have to. That was like blood in the water for his stupid family.

Unimpressed, Allison cleared her throat. “Speaking of which, does anyone know where the head of his statue went?” She asked pointedly, sitting on a chair by the fireplace with her legs crossed. She may or may not have been eyeing Klaus while she spoke (she totally was).

“Not a clue, sister dearest.” Klaus smiled politely, lying through his teeth. Dave snorted beside him, knowing him far too well by now to believe that. But to be fair, he wasn’t the one that took it. No, that was Ben himself. And he didn’t have a clue what Ben did with the damn thing after he took it, so it wasn’t a complete lie.

“Last time I saw it, it was sitting on top of the fridge for some reason.” Vanya said in confusion, situated on the other chair beside Allison. “But that was a few days ago.”

Ben was completely stone-faced when Diego added on, “Wait a second. I saw it in the bathroom under the sink awhile ago.”

Klaus and Dave exchanged a glance. Klaus slowly shook his head, denying it. Dave held a fist up to his mouth to stifle a laugh.

Shenanigans were sadly interrupted when Five appeared in the room with another full mug of coffee and a whiteboard under his arm. He glanced around at everyone with distaste as he made sure they were all present. 

“Cut the chit chat.” He ordered, “Let’s get this over with.”

“Oh, joy.” Klaus sighed, trying to sink deeper into Dave’s side. He had already set his expectations pretty low, as he did with most things, but Family Meetings had a tendency to go sideways fast, especially ones that involved him. Dave rubbed Klaus’ arm comfortingly.

Five set his mug down on the coffee table as well as the whiteboard. He pulled out a marker from his pocket and quickly started writing on it. “Standard meeting rules apply.” He said distractedly, “If we can’t be civilized, we bring out the talking stick.” 

All the siblings groaned. Even Vanya, who was the one that brought home the idea. Fuck the talking stick. It wasn’t even a stick, it was just a just a shitty, novelty blow-up sword that you had to inflate whenever you wanted to use the damn thing. And there was nothing worse than a quiet room full of anger and tension while Luther spent two solid minutes trying to fill the sword with air.

“Since we’re using the rules, that isn’t irish coffee , right Five?” Allison implored, arms crossed. Five shot her a dirty look, but Vanya interrupted his response.

“Question,” Vanya asked, sitting up and trying to peer at what Five was writing, “In regards to the rules, does Dave get his own vote, or is he just part of Klaus’?”

“What could we possibly be voting on right now?” Klaus demanded, “Literally none of this is up for debate.”

“Dave doesn’t get a vote.” Luther ignored him, shrugging apologetically at Dave. Klaus didn’t trust that whatsoever. If these assholes tried to vote on whether or not they could get married, he’d take Dave and just leave the house completely. He’d help hobble Dave to city hall and then elope on the spot.

“Why not?” Ben asked, running a hand over the fabric of the arm of the couch. Sometimes he did that with different textures. They were all used to it. “It’s not like he’s going anywhere. He’ll probably be living here now.”

“For the purposes of this meeting, I have to agree with Luther. Sorry, Ben.” Five decided, “We can discuss his future participation later, but right now it would just be inconvenient, considering we’d have an even number of people.”

Everyone else seemed fine with that, but Klaus made a frustrated noise, annoyed. Dave patted his shoulder. “Like you said, nothing is up for debate.” He said quietly, firmly, “I don’t need a vote.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure.” Diego grumbled, jabbing Luther in the side so he’d move over and make space on the couch. Once he scooted to one side, Diego dropped himself onto the cushions and ignored the death look Klaus shot at him. They weren’t going to vote on jack shit.

“Alright.” Five said sharply, grabbing the white board and moving over to the side of the coffee table so he could face everyone. He held the board up for everyone to see, tapping it with the marker. Up at the top in bold letters, he’d written TIMELINE. Thankfully the board wasn’t covered in math and random notes and diagrams. It was pretty straightforward, just a bullet point list of events and a few lines connecting different things.

“So. We’ll start with the known facts.” Five looked around the room at them, making sure they all paid attention. “The timeline on this chart starts in the original Apocalypse week. The night the Academy is attacked by Hazel and Cha-Cha, Klaus is kidnapped.”

“..What?” Vanya asked, concerned. 

“Wait, really?” Luther sat up, staring at Klaus in disbelief.

“... Klaus .” Five stressed, pinching the bridge of his nose in annoyance. He looked around at everyone impatiently. “Who in this room knew Klaus was kidnapped?”

Only Ben and Diego raised their hands, expressions grim.

“You guys didn’t notice? ” Dave asked the siblings sharply.

“Can we just move on?” Klaus laughed nervously, as even Dave was looking at him in worry and confusion.

All the siblings looked like they had something to say, but Five cut them all off. “I think that’s a good idea. We can all be disturbed by Klaus’ lack of communication skills afterwards.”

“Okay, don’t act like it was Klaus ’ fault that none of you bothered to check up on him.” Ben narrowed his eyes at the room, kicking his feet up onto the couch. “ You didn’t even notice, Five .”

“It was kind of a stressful week for me, Ben .” Five snapped back. Other than Klaus, he was the most comfortable speaking to Ben casually, considering he met all the adult siblings for the first time within that single week. 

“Moving on!” Klaus clapped his hands together, discomfort twisting in his gut. Ben turned and gave him an annoyed look, then shared one with Dave that Klaus couldn’t decipher. That made him even more uncomfortable, and he wondered whether or not he should pull the plug on Ben’s visibility. The thought added some guilt to his conscience. More than the usual amount of guilt he carried. “What’s next, Five-o?”

Five took a moment to stare up at the ceiling and shake his head lightly before he continued. “Okay. Klaus is kidnapped and tortured.” Half the room flinched at the mention of torture, looking to Klaus again in concern. “Then, by a stroke of genius or just sheer dumb luck, he manages to escape, taking Hazel and Cha-Cha’s time briefcase with him.”

“I mean.” Klaus coughed awkwardly, “I had some help.” His eyes flickered to Diego, then looked away quickly. That was a can of worms strictly labelled ‘DO NOT TOUCH’. Nope. Not happening.

“Whatever. Regardless of how he escaped, he takes their briefcase, opens it to see what’s inside, and then he time travels,” Five’s marker moved down the written timeline, now tapping at the part that said ‘A Shau Valley, Vietnam, 1968’. “Directly into the Vietnam war. There, he meets Dave and is inducted into the 173rd.”

Speaking of the guy, he had his arm wrapped around Klaus so tightly that he had to shift to sit in Dave’s lap slightly. His gentle, worried soothings didn’t stop as he paid attention to the meeting, and Klaus was infinitely grateful for it.

“Klaus stays and actively serves in the military for around ten months, until Dave takes a lethal hit to the chest.” Five went on, “With no reason left to stay, he takes the briefcase and opens it again, ending up back in our timeline barely a day later.”

“Wait, wait, wait.” Allison waved her hands, stopping Five. “He could’ve come back at any time ? But he stayed ? Just for Dave?”

“Well, I mean,” Klaus waves a hand around vaguely, looking to Dave so he didn’t have to face the disappointment of his siblings. Dave, however, looked startled and increasingly sad. “To be fair, I didn’t know how it worked and I didn’t want to end up somewhere worse , um-”

“You could’ve left at any time?” Dave asked carefully, sitting up, “And you stayed through all of that?"

“Um.” Klaus replied intelligently, “Well-”

“I can’t believe you, Klaus.” Luther sighed, expression pinched. “We needed you, and you just-- spent ten months with some boy instead? I mean-”

“Okay.” Ben snapped suddenly, “Luther, if you don’t stop talking I swear -” He sat up too, glaring daggers at their brother. “Just what were you doing that week? Oh, I remember, you finally realized daddy didn’t love you, just like the rest of us, and you went partying -”

Ouch. Low blow. Thankfully, Dave stopped him before he got into the details. “ Hey .” Dave said loudly, staring at Luther with flint in his eye, “It was a war . Don’t you fucking disrespect that. He didn’t just stay to have a good time , he fought . You can’t even begin to know the kind of sheer hell that he--”

“Alright, everyone shut up !” Vanya demanded, things in the room beginning to rattle ominously. To her credit, it worked incredibly well and they all fell silent in an instant. Klaus stared down at his lap, fidgeting with his hands so he didn’t have to look at anyone. Dave’s hand had stopped its slow, gentle comforting in his anger. 

“..Thank you, Vanya.” Five said, sounding grateful and alarmed at the same time. Vanya took a deep breath, closing her eyes tightly, and the room stopped shuddering. She was getting pretty good with those powers of hers.

Clearing his throat, Five moved the marker back over to their own timeline. “Well. Anyways. Klaus stays the ten months,” He explained, “then time travels to the present only a day after he accidentally jumped into the past. He then destroys the briefcase, which I still don’t appreciate, but under the circumstances..” Five sighed begrudgingly, “Whatever.”

“After that, the timeline proceeds accordingly. We fail to stop the apocalypse, travel back to change key elements, then come back two weeks before the supposed apocalypse and stop it. Everyone with me so far?”

Everyone in the room slowly nodded, sans Dave who just looked terribly confused, and Five nodded back approvingly. “Now fast forward a few months. Klaus and I begin discussing his time in Vietnam and Dave’s death comes up, as well as the fact that Klaus can’t summon him.  I devise a plan to use the briefcase we acquired from that Commission agent to go back in time to retrieve Dave.”

“Is someone going to tell me about the apocalypse, or?” Dave asked Klaus quietly, who shook his head and patted Dave’s knee. Not the time. 

“Unfortunately, to make sure the timeline wasn’t disrupted, Dave still had to die. We had to wait for past-Klaus to leave his body and use his own briefcase to go back to the first apocalypse, preserving the time loop.”

“And now Klaus is dating a zombie.” Diego supplied. Five threw the marker at his forehead.

“Incorrect. Stop speaking.” He ordered, “After the battlefield cleared, I retrieved Dave’s body, began the revival process, and brought it back to Klaus.”

Klaus barely suppressed a shiver at the vibrant memory of Dave’s cold body in his lap. He wasn’t prepared to stare into his dead, glassy eyes again. He definitely wasn’t prepared for the horror of Dave screaming and howling in pain and fear.

Very much alive and warm Dave moved so he could gently run his hand through Klaus’ hair. It was one of the more openly affectionate things he’d done in front of Klaus’ siblings, so he must’ve noticed Klaus was getting pretty upset. Blinking a few times, Klaus released the tension he didn’t notice he was holding and tilted his head into Dave’s hands.

“Wait, if he was dead..” Luther began uncertainly, causing all the other siblings to pause and stare at him. Five pressed his lips into a thin line, setting down the whiteboard. “How did..?”

“Alright.” Five sighed, losing some of his businesslike demeanor as he looked at his brother, “Okay. I don’t think you’ll appreciate it, but you deserve to know.”

“Know what?” Luther asked cautiously, leaning forward.

“..So, to save Dave, I may have very meticulously recreated dad’s serum, improving it with my own formulas.” Five stated, moving his hands to clasp behind his back. “The one he revived you with.” He paused, then looked to Diego and Vanya with a severe expression. “And I will also add that I tested it multiple times to be sure it would work properly.”

Luther’s face was blank as he processed this. “Oh.” He said quietly. He slowly looked over to stare at Dave, seemingly looking at him in a new light. Even if Dave didn’t understand the gravity of the situation, he stared right back. “Oh.”

Everyone else in the room was in the know and didn’t know what to say or do, simply sitting there awkwardly. Even Ben was quiet and solemn, a crease in his forehead giving away the fact that he was worried.

“You fixed it.” Luther summed up, clasping his hands in his lap as he turned his attention to the floor. “Okay.”

“Luther-” Five started.

“That’s good.” The biggest brother interrupted as he tried to make himself as small as he could. None of them could even begin to guess what was going through his head. “I’m glad.”

“..Luther.” Allison said softly, trying to catch his attention. Luther seemed to flinch, then he looked up at the rest of them.

“So is that all?” He asked, his voice carefully neutral. “It sounds like you covered the whole thing. Dave’s here now, so.”

“..I’m done with my explanation.” Five replied, eyebrows knitting together. “Do you..”

“Cool.” Luther stood up abruptly, forcing a smile on his face. “Now that I’m caught up, I’m gonna..” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder.

“Luther, man, hey-” Diego tried.

“You guys go on without me.” Luther decided, “Let me know if anything else important comes up.” He cleared his throat. “Thanks for, um, thanks for letting me know. Five. I appreciate it.”

With that, Luther walked out of the room and they all stared after him, watching him trudge up the stairs. Any drama or tension from earlier was completely forgotten as the siblings shared a moment of worry for their brother.

“I- uh-” Dave finally broke the silence, voice uncertain, “Hey if I.. did something, or--”

“No.” Five shook his head, tearing his eyes away from the staircase to look back at them all. “Whatever Luther’s feeling is my fault.”

“You were trying to do something good.” Allison reminded him softly, frowning. “It worked out.”

“I know.” Five replied, “I’ll give him time to cool off and then.. I suppose we’ll figure it out later.”

Dave turned to look at Klaus and Ben, not looking convinced. Ben mutely shook his head, sinking back into the couch with a sigh. Klaus reached up to mumble in his ear. “There’s a lot of baggage there. Don’t stress about it.”

“..Moving on.” Five looked around at the now-sad meeting. “I’ve explained my side of things, so.” He gestured to Klaus and Dave, then teleported himself to the bar at the back of the room. 

Allison stared after him with a sigh, but she didn’t mention the broken rule. Five usually got surly and snappish when he was drunk, but Klaus suspected that wouldn’t be an issue this time around with the somber mood.

When his remaining siblings turned to look at him, Klaus had a moment where he deeply wished he could join Five at the bar. Fucking sobriety. “Q and A time?” He asked reluctantly. Dave scraped dull nails against Klaus’ scalp comfortingly and he sighed. Damn this man.

“Are you doing okay, Dave?” Vanya asked, and both he and Klaus blinked. They expected an interrogation, not such a well-meant question.

“Oh, uh- painkillers are still going strong.” Dave said, trying to smile and just barely getting there. “I’ll be alright.”

“Oh.” Vanya nodded, “That’s good, but I was.. I meant, how are you doing with the transition?” 

“Transition?” Dave asked, his fingers stilling.

“That’s a good question.” Allison agreed. Even Diego looked interested, staring at Dave and waiting for a response. “You’ve only been in the future a day or two. It has to be a lot.” 

He didn’t respond right away, taking time to think- and probably worry. Trying to comfort him, Klaus carefully leaned his head against his fiancé’s chest and reached an arm around to hug him. “Oh, that.” Dave finally said, his thumb tracing the shell of Klaus’ ear. “It’s.. definitely a change of pace.”

Klaus remembered that feeling. One minute he was on the battlefield, the next he was back in the present. No pressing battles to fight, no sounds of bombs dropping in the distance, no gunfire- nothing. He imagined it was worse for Dave, considering he’d never seen 2019 before and suddenly he was stuck there.

They hadn’t really gone over any of that yet. Klaus supposed it was an important conversation to have at some point.

“I guess I haven’t seen enough of it to have an opinion.” Dave explained, looking down at Klaus. The side of his mouth quirked into a small smile. “I’ve been pretty distracted.”

Ugh, no . They also had to have a talk about being adorable and vulnerable in front of Klaus’ siblings. To drive the point home, Diego scoffed loudly at the sappiness of it, even if Vanya only smiled.

“So when are we addressing..” Diego gestured at Dave and Klaus, giving them a displeased look. Cool, Diego was still upset about that. “ Marriage .” He said distastefully.

“Marriage?” Allison spoke up, staring at them in open interest. Klaus’ expression soured. You give an inch, they go a mile. Blood in the water.

“I don’t think there’s anything to address.” Dave spoke up in a cheerful tone, smiling at Diego and silently daring him to do something about it. 

“Unless you want to discuss whether or not you’ll be on the guest list.” Klaus added smoothly, playing off Dave effortlessly. “I think it’s safe to say we’re still on the fence about that. Right, babe?”

“Yeah.” Dave agreed, “I don’t think we’ll have enough room. Maybe if someone else gets bumped off the list.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Diego snapped, “Laugh it up, assholes. You’re not getting out of this.” He turned to his sisters and jabbed a finger at the happy couple accusingly. “ These two are engaged.”

“Really?” Vanya asked quietly. Allison was not so reserved.

Really ?” She echoed, her eyebrows going up. “But you- you just got here.”

“Again, ten months together.” Klaus said impatiently, holding Dave tighter out of spite.

“Sure, but don’t you want to, I don’t know, adjust a little? Think about it more?” Allison asked in her best Well Meaning Big Sister Voice, “You shouldn’t rush these things. I know from experience.”

“Touche.” Klaus admitted bitterly. Allison was the only one of them with any marriage experience, and that one turned out to be a real pickle. But while she probably rumored her way into Patrick’s pants, Klaus and Dave put a lot of fucking effort into being together. “But we’re fine , Ally. It isn’t that out of the blue.”

“Allison,” Dave spoke up politely, ignoring Diego’s existence, “I promise you we’ve been thinking about this for longer than you’d think. ..I have, at least.”

Klaus made a small hum in the back of his throat, looking away quickly. He jerked his head up and down in a quick nod.

“Okay, I understand that.” She replied diplomatically, immediately holding up a hand when Diego tried to speak up. “..but could it really hurt if you guys waited, just a little while? Let things settle?”

Anger rankled in Klaus’ chest. The familiar feeling of not being taken seriously was a lot harder to deal with when it involved Dave. Thankfully, Vanya interjected.

“But what’s the harm in being engaged?” She asked Allison, glancing over at the two. Ben pointed at her wordlessly in agreement. “They’re not getting married tomorrow. They can still take time before it happens.” Vanya stared at their sister with well intentioned, big eyes. They seemed to have a silent conversation- some sister thing that Klaus wasn’t allowed in on, probably.

“..I’m just worried.” Allison finally admitted.

“I know. You don’t want another Leonard.” Vanya replied, smiling bitterly. Allison froze, called out, but the smaller sister just turned to look at Diego. “But we’ve gotta give him a chance. Don’t we ?”

“We can give them a chance while they date .” Diego argued, though he wasn’t quite so angry. “But engaged ?”

“Holy shit. Okay.” Klaus suddenly sat up, waving his hands around to get them to quit it. “I’m not going to stop being engaged to Dave just because you idiots tried to bully me into it, okay ?” He snapped, standing up for himself for once. Out of the corner of his vision, he noticed Ben looking rather impressed. “You literally don’t have a say Diego. You just don’t ! I’m not the stupid junkie brother you get to boss around anymore, okay? Shocking, I know, but I can make decisions by myself!”

Klaus pointed at Dave aggressively. He was staring up at Klaus with open adoration and pride as he lost his shit. “I love this stupid fucking GI Joe and I’m going to marry the shit out of him soon, regardless of what fucks you give. So either you deal with it, and us - or you fuck off .”

“Woah.” Five said from behind the couch, a scotch in hand, “Look at that, you actually made him angry.” He held his glass up to Diego sarcastically.

“..Woah.” Allison repeated, looking somewhat surprised at the outburst. She raised an eyebrow at Diego. “..Y’know, I think you’re right, Klaus. I do. We all just- need some time to adjust. But we will.” She said, “Isn’t that right, Diego ?”

Diego looked uncomfortable, being the only one on his side. “Diego.” Vanya implored, and he crossed his arms.

“I don’t like you.” He said, staring Dave directly in the eye.

“Shocker.” Ben muttered.

“I don’t need you to.” Dave replied, unnerved, “I just need Klaus to like me.”

Diego clenched his jaw, and there was silence for a moment. “.... fine .” He agreed begrudgingly, “I.. will back off. But if you take one step out of line with Klaus--”

“You’ll find a creative way to murder me.” Dave supplied, unimpressed. 

No , he won’t.” Klaus hissed.

Standing up, Diego looked bitter and reluctant. “We’ll see.” He grumbled, walking out of the room.

There was quiet in the room after that. The rest of them all seemed at a loss for what to do. Klaus still looked mad, but Dave put a hand on his shoulder again and gave him a small jostle to try and knock him out of it. Five sipped at his scotch. The sisters sighed, both standing up.

“Well… Congratulations, Klaus. And you too, Dave.” Allison spoke up finally. Vanya smiled next to her, giving them her own congratulations.

Five raised his glass again to the happily(?) engaged couple, expression pleasantly surprised. “ L’chaim .”

L’chaim .” Dave repeated, slowly grinning at Klaus.

Chapter Text

“We’re heading back to the front tomorrow.”

Klaus sighed, his fingers tracing absent patterns on Dave’s bare chest. It was raining outside as it often did in Vietnam. Between that and the warmth radiating from his boyfriend below him - and the feeling left over from those pills he took earlier - he was content. Really, truly content. So naturally, he didn’t want to think about tomorrow. He just wanted to live in this feeling forever. 

He didn’t experience this kind of peace a lot in his life. He was always in transition, moving from one thing to the next to try and outrun his powers, ignore his past, and chase a happiness that he knew he wasn’t allowed to have.

Even now, he felt like he was waiting for the other shoe to drop with Dave. But at the same time, laying in Dave’s arms in a shitty motel room, ghosts kept at bay- he’d never known such a simple moment could mean so much to him, be so kind to him.

It wasn’t the drugs or the location that did it, of course. It was Dave. Strong, wonderful Dave who stuck to his side like glue, even as Klaus showed off more and more of his craziness. Ridiculous, stupid Dave who still thought he could handle the sheer amount of baggage that came with Klaus. 

On some of his worse days he just wanted to throw everything in his boyfriend’s face and scream, knowing it’d be the final straw and he could finally stop waiting for the inevitable day when Dave got tired or bored of him. But he never did, never could, because he knew every single extra day he spent being loved by Dave was worth whatever pain was coming his way.

“Hey.” Dave murmured, and Klaus looked up at him, “Nickel for your thoughts?”

“Isn’t it supposed to be a penny?” Klaus asked.

“I don’t want to undercharge you.” Dave smiled at him, and it was so stupid and cheesy that Klaus felt himself fall in love just a bit more. “I have some change in my pockets, but my pants are…” He lifted his head and looked around before giving up and relaxing. “Not here.”

“Don’t you dare get up.” Klaus grumbled, nuzzling into Dave’s chest. 

“Well, just put the thought on my tab, then.” Dave was still obviously amused by this joke, and Klaus rolled his eyes fondly and snorted, dragging his fingertips up and down Dave’s ribs and staring at the contrast of their skin together. “What’s going on in there?”

“Just wishing we didn’t have to go back.” Klaus replied, “I like it here.”

“I wish the water pressure was better, but I guess it’s okay.”

Klaus hid a grin against Dave’s chest, pinching him on the side in retaliation for the comment. Dave squirmed, batting his hand away. “I meant I like it here , wise guy. With you.”

“You’re not so bad yourself.”

“Ugh. Dave.” Klaus groaned, “Why am I trying to be sincere, sappy one here? Stop stealing my defense mechanisms.”

“Okay, okay.” Dave heaved a sigh as if it was a burden he had to bare. “I like it here too.” A pause. “You’re worth all the shitty water pressure in the world, baby doll.”

Klaus laughed. “I hate you, Katz. You’re so lame.”

“And you’re the best damn thing that’s ever happened to me, Hargreeves.” Dave replied casually. Klaus curled up even tighter around him.

For once, he tried not to immediately brush the comment off. He tried to believe, just for a second, that Dave truly meant that. That it was real.

It was scary, but he found himself starting to think that Dave was being serious.

Eventually the sisters left - Vanya had started up lessons with young students again and she was excited, and Allison liked to tag along as she read through lines for her next part in a local theater troupe - leaving just the gay idiots, three-drinks-deep Five, and Ben himself.

He was no longer corporeal - though still visible - having kicked Klaus in the leg enough to get him to take the hint. One, he shouldn’t be wasting his energy like that even if he was getting better every day. Two, Ben could only handle the sensations, smells, and the fact he could taste his own mouth for so long.

Being corporeal was a very strange in-between where he just barely felt human again, and it quickly got overwhelming if he wasn’t careful. There was so much to suddenly experience, and as much as Ben missed being alive.. it was a lot. He didn’t even let his siblings touch him, most days. Klaus was the exception, needing it the most, but Ben felt comfortable telling him when it became too much and he could feel the skin he didn’t have crawl like phantom pain from a lost limb.

But it wasn’t all bad. He did enjoy being able to turn his own pages in books. He remembered, once, back when Klaus hadn’t left the house yet and Ben wasn’t as bitter, Klaus had taken a book and ripped out every single page for him. Then he strung them up around his room with tape, push pins, and yarn. It sort of worked, but then he fell asleep in a drugged out haze and never hung up the end of the damn thing. 

It still annoyed Ben to think about- that was the only copy of that book in the house, so it wasn’t like he could go back and finish it now .

“I think that went okay.” Dave spoke up hopefully.

All three brothers shifted to look at him.

“There was a surprising lack of bloodshed.” Five agreed, staring back down into his drink pensively.

“Yeah, well, Luther hasn’t had his say.” Klaus said quietly, sprawled out and basically laying on Dave at this point. Finally, someone else to take the brunt of Klaus’ touching and affection. He was a very tactile person. And Ben didn’t always mind it, but he could only handle so much- not to mention Klaus couldn’t keep him corporeal for more than an hour at a time. And none of the other siblings would put up with that kind of thing, Klaus had said, unwilling to budge on the subject. 

“He’ll deal with it.” Ben sighed, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at their illustrious Number One.

“I know, I know, he just has to do his ‘leader’ bullshit and pretend like he’s just a concerned older brother that only wants the best for me.” Klaus heaved out a dramatic sigh, lacing one of his hands with one of Dave’s. 

“I mean,” Dave cut in awkwardly, obviously unsure of himself, “why couldn’t he just be a concerned older brother? He’s obviously full of it, but I just assumed he meant well, like Diego.”

“Oh, Dave.” Klaus reached up with another hand to pat around and try and find the side of Dave’s face. Dave patiently waited for him to find it so Klaus could give him a few patronizing pats. “You’re sweet.”

“He tried to warn you off, Dave.” Ben reminded, annoyed, “Not Klaus. Think about that.”

“Yes, run away, poor innocent soul.” Klaus said dramatically, dragging the back of his hand down Dave’s face, “Before all the passive aggressive daddy issues get to you, too.”

“I can’t run away.” Dave said sweetly, reaching down to kiss the top of Klaus’ head, “I need at least another day or two to recover or I’ll just fall over.”

Five aggressively jabbed his glass at Dave, and some scotch sloshed over the edge. Alcohol bests the fourteen year old’s metabolism yet again, folks. “Don’t even think about it. You’re stuck here. I made you.”

“Five, what the fuck?” Klaus asked sincerely, squinting at his brother, “Do you ever think about all the serial-killer shit that comes out of your mouth?”

“That’s assuming anyone in this family thinks before they speak.” Ben replied, voice dry. 

“Yeesh, someone woke up on the wrong side of the coffin today.” Klaus commented, his fingers now absently running over Dave’s stubble. “That comment about daddy not loving Lulu earlier was pretty cranky, too.”

“I was cremated.” Ben rolled his eyes and gave Klaus a hard stare. “And don’t even start, Klaus.” 

Luther was a controversial topic between them. 

Klaus had a history of letting people treat him like shit. It’d been happening since the day he was born, and he never seemed to shake the habit after he left the Academy. It was more than easy for Klaus to ignore Luther’s actions and move right past them. Even if he still flinched away whenever Luther made a sudden movement nearby.

Ben though- he’d always had a hard time watching his brother let people walk all over him. That was.. normal. Luther wasn’t the only sibling that did it. They were all trying to forgive each other for a variety of things like that and Ben was trying too. Honestly, he was. But it was hard to move along and love someone when you personally watched them be complicit in not one, but two of their siblings’ murders. 

If he was being truly honest, he didn’t actually blame Luther for his own death. No, as bitter as he was, that one was mostly Reginald’s mind games and Ben being unwilling to speak up. Unwilling to disobey. But Klaus’ death? That was a completely different story. He didn’t care how many excuses Klaus came up with on Luther’s behalf. He had to stand there and stare at his vibrant, loudmouthed brother’s cold, lifeless body. All while Luther danced and partied just a few yards away.

Ben didn’t think he’d ever forgive him for that. He was still having trouble forgiving himself.

Luther had the gall to act confused at the way Ben spoke to him these days. But he’d just pull out the classic ‘kicked puppy’ look and not mention it, considering he still probably blamed himself for Ben dying or whatever. If Ben could talk to Luther alone for five minutes without wanting to hit him upside the head, maybe he’d clear that up. 

But for now- it was what it was. A dirty secret between Ben and Klaus. Klaus, who most definitely wasn’t the same after he cracked his head open on concrete, as much as he tried to hide it. Klaus, who wanted to lock the entire thing away and never speak of it again.

Fine , fine, fine.” Klaus eventually snapped back, knowing exactly where the discussion would go if he tried to push Ben on the subject. “At least everyone else finally gets to see what a cranky bastard you turned out to be in death.”

“Yippee.” Ben said, voice monotone. 

“I find it refreshing.” Five commented, examining his now empty glass in confusion. “Luther may have been an ass kisser growing up, but you couldn’t put your socks on without someone’s permission. This is an improvement.”

Ooh . Burn.” Klaus grinned, watching with interest. Dave, however, looked vaguely alarmed at the escalation. This poor guy really didn’t know what he was getting into with this family. “Finally someone else gets to roast you.”

“Shut up, Five.” The ghost replied half-heartedly, “You were such an obnoxious overachiever that you time traveled to the end of the world.”

“Uhh,” Now Klaus looked alarmed too- the whole ‘living in the apocalypse alone for decades’ thing was considered a sensitive topic, as it was something Five might lose his shit over. He propped himself up, deciding whether or not he needed to intervene.

Five stared at Ben for what seemed like the longest time before he, without warning, chucked his empty glass at where Ben was sitting. Klaus flinched away and shrieked, pulling his legs up to his chest. The glass simply bounced off the cushions and onto the rug. “You really are an asshole.” Five decided, though he didn’t seem particularly upset about it. If anything, he seemed kind of approving.

“Thank you.” Ben nodded, knowing they’d reached an understanding. It was a bit dicey there for a second.

“I’m so glad we’ve established that you’re both awful people.” Klaus grumbled, unclinging from a startled Dave’s side. “Congrats.”

The ghost lifted his head and stared at Klaus in disbelief. “You’re awful too, Klaus.” He reminded, matter-of-fact.

“Aw, thanks.” Klaus gave Ben a mean grin, while Dave spoke up to protest.

“Okay, hang on,” Dave tried to say, but Klaus turned around and put a hand on his arm.

“No, it’s true.” Klaus agreed, “It’s a requirement in the famed Umbrella Academy.”

Dave didn’t look convinced. “I don’t think you’re that awful.”

Ben and Five scoffed in amusement while Klaus looked confused, waving his hands back and forth. “...Woah, hey, hang on, I didn’t say you could say I was awful.” He whined to his fiancé. “You’re supposed to think I’m special and perfect. Why the fuck else would you marry me?” Yikes. Ben didn’t have time to unpack the underlying self loathing there, and it unfortunately skated by the other two. But for some reason, even if he didn’t recognize the signs, Ben noticed that Dave always seemed to know just what to say.

“I do think you’re special.” Dave said gently, taking one of Klaus’ hands in both of his own. “And you’re perfect to me .” They exchanged a small tender look, Five’s face wrinkling in disgust in the background before Dave added, “But I also know you have your fair share of flaws. And that’s okay.”

It was almost weird suspicious how well Dave seemed to read Klaus, but Ben knew he was being paranoid like the others. Objectively, from everything he’d seen the past two days and the things Klaus had told him about Dave in the past, he knew Dave was a solid boyfriend. Fiancé, even. 

Ben actually thought he’d be more overprotective once Dave finally showed up - as he obviously knew about the time travel plan happening. But then, the very first thing Dave did in 2019 was try to defend Klaus’ honor and go toe-to-toe with Luther. He was barely standing up, but he still wouldn’t let someone demean his boyfriend. 

The others didn’t understand how important that was, but Ben was impressed. And then getting to see how much and how deeply Klaus cared, and then how willing Dave was to take care of his stupid, idiot brother despite his injuries-

Being there through Klaus’ relationships, if you could even call them that, Ben watched as his partners always took and took and took until they didn’t think Klaus had anything left to offer. Which wasn’t to say Klaus wasn’t equally as thoughtless or as greedy when push came to shove- he was there to take what he could, too. 

But from what Ben could see, there was none of that in this new relationship. Dave was a giver, not a taker. Always offering Klaus what he could. And it seemed that he’d turned Klaus into one, too, because Klaus wasn’t taking advantage of it.

So... yeah. Ben was fine with the guy.

“Like what?” Klaus challenged, eyes hard, but Ben knew from his body language that he was worried about the answer.

“Well…” Dave bit his lip, looking to the side, “Sometimes.. you fall asleep with your eyes open.” He admitted softly, “It’s pretty bad.”


“And I know you think the Beatles are overrated, which was almost a deal breaker.” He continued carefully.

“Excuse me,” Klaus was aghast at the accusations, and Ben was having a hard time trying not to snicker. “It’s not like you’re innocent either!” He sputtered, “You think peanut butter is a condiment! You wear khakis!

“There’s nothing wrong with a respectable khaki, Klaus.” Dave sighed wearily, as if they’d discussed this many times before.

“You’re a monster.” Klaus accused.

“They’re suitable for so many occasions.” His partner argued passionately, squeezing Klaus’ hand. “You can wear them casually or you can dress them up.”

“What kind of upscale event can you wear khakis to?”

“Well, Klaus,” Dave looked up at Klaus with a small but earnest smile, “Since we’re already going off-book, I had some small ideas for our wedding-”

No! ” Klaus shouted, shoving at Dave, who was laughing too hard to do anything but hold his fragile chest. “David. Dave. Look at me.” He grabbed Dave’s face with both hands, trying to hold him still and make eye contact. “If you wear khakis to the wedding, I’ll marry you just so I can divorce you for it.”

“Come on, Klaus.” Ben said, the corner of his mouth grinning while he tried to stifle his own laughter. Five was apparently drunk enough to be losing his shit cackling over on the other couch, “Relationships need compromise, don’t they?”

“It’s- it’s- so important to me, Klaus,” Dave wheezed- he could barely speak while he laughed. It only got worse as Klaus’ expression looked more and more outraged. “ Family tradition .”

“Okay,” Klaus stressed, turning to point accusingly at Ben. “You two aren’t allowed to gang up on me. I won’t allow it.”

“You won’t allow it?” Ben asked, grin widening.

“I expressly forbid it. You can’t do this to me.”

“But Ben is so wise .” Dave insisted, still huffing out bits of laughter while he wrapped both arms around Klaus’ waist, pulling him back to his side affectionately, “He looks like a khaki kinda guy to me.”

“I’ve got it!” Five exclaimed, sitting up with drunk, manic glee, “The wedding party wears the khakis!”

“See? Compromise.” Ben stated, watching Klaus try and squirm out of Dave’s arms so he could go try to strangle Five.


Chapter Text

“Have you never done anything athletic in your miserable fucking life, Hargreeves?”

Klaus, who was currently face down in the mud, did not appreciate Sarge’s tone very much. There was no need for that kind of rudeness when they were just playing football. Or, the others were playing football, and Klaus was running around like an idiot trying to keep up.

He lifted his head up to stare at the muddy boots in front of his face, and then higher up to the man of the hour. Sarge was a surly son of a bitch that could scream in your face for hours on end and never run out of fun expletives. He was like a walking thesaurus that used his knowledge solely to curse like a sailor and make the FNG’s piss their pants.

Klaus actually found it a refreshing change of pace from what he was used to back home. Sarge was loud as fuck and probably contributed to most of Klaus’ hearing loss at this point considering how often they butted heads, but he said exactly what he meant, told you what he wanted from you and then how to get there. No passive aggression, no manipulation, no bullshit.

Some people grumbled and complained that Sarge sounded like their old man in stereo, but he sounded nothing like Klaus’ father and it was fantastic.

“It’s just a fucking game, man. Give me a break.” Klaus complained, spitting dirt out of the mouth. Sarge lifted one of the boots and knocked the side against Klaus’ head. Not enough to hurt, but enough to be a jackass. “Hey!”

“Don’t ‘man’ me, y’fucking hippy. I’ve got the Cong crawling out of my ass every which way and you can’t even walk a straight line without looking like a headless chicken trying to shit itself.” Sarge barked. Klaus was pretty sure that that was just the way he casually spoke, so he didn’t feel bad about bonelessly flopping over onto his back, mud continuing to seep into his shirt. 

“You should get that looked at, Sarge. I hear Cong up the ass is pretty serious.” He said, earning another knock to the head. That one was less kind. “Ow!”

“Swear to God on high, I’m gonna make the medic quit givin’ you goodies if you don’t shape the fuck up and get your shit together, boy.” Sarge replied angrily, “And if you ever mention my ass again, my boot is goin’ straight up yours. You hear me Hargreeves?”

“Sir, yes sir.” Klaus drawled. Pissed as ever, Sarge kicked an extra helping of mud at his face before turning on his heel to go ruin someone else’s day.

Sitting up, he sputtered and tried to wipe some of the mud off. He was probably making it much worse. Which sucked, because there Dave was walking up to his side, Andrews not far behind. He stared down at Klaus, the sides of his mouth twitching with the effort of not smiling or laughing.

“I think you missed a spot, Hargreeves.” Dave commented, eyes bright in amusement.

“Y’know, when you go for a tackle,” Andrews mused, “there’s typically someone in front of you you’re trying to take down. I’m just sayin’.

“I slipped!” Klaus complained, “I don’t even like sports. Why’d I agree to this? Who gives a shit about sports?”

“We know, Klaus.” Dave sighed, having heard the spiel many, many times. 

“If I wanted to chase balls I’d go to Saigon and find a gay bar.” Klaus grumbled. “Do they have those here? How does it work right now? Shit.” Dave pressed his lips together and looked up towards the sky as if he was silently asking for strength. Thankfully Andrews didn’t mind too much. It wasn’t uncommon knowledge that Klaus was the direct opposite of straight.

“You’re a freak, Spooky boy.” Andrews commented, though not unkindly. It was borderline fond, but his Straight Pride demanded that he immediately brush off the queer comment. Klaus understood.

“Somethin’ like that.” Dave sighed beside him.

Eventually the group had to disband. Five decided to go do something that was probably a bad idea considering how plastered he was, so Ben sighed and decided to go follow him. Five couldn’t see Ben anymore, but it didn’t stop him from chattering to his ghost brother about complex equations and ideas and whatever else came to mind.

Letting them be, Klaus and Dave were finally alone again. Which was good, because Dave seemed to be slowing down after their hectic morning. After he realized, Klaus gently bullied Dave into standing up and snuck an arm around his waist to support him. They took a different staircase up to Klaus’ room this time, which unfortunately led them past the very depressing wall of portraits. 

Dave slowed down at the first one where they were all young and shiny and bright. Klaus sighed through his nose but he didn’t try and hurry his fiancé along. Neither of them said anything as they walked, both eyeing the portraits that began losing his siblings one by one. He knew Dave would have something to say, though.

“Did your dad really look like that?” Dave finally asked, stopping at the last portrait to stare at the man. His eyes also lingered over Luther- how he used to be shorter, much less bulky, just another adult like the rest of them. 

“Like what?” Klaus asked, furrowing his brow as he stared at Reginald, too. Cold, dead eyes stared back and he suppressed a shiver. Reginald didn’t have shit on him anymore. Reginald was in his domain now, not the other way around, and he didn’t control him.

“Like… like the monopoly man, but worse.” Dave mused, “Like an evil oil baron.”

Klaus’ eyebrows slowly raised and he turned his head to look at Dave. He looked so serious about it, and that was what tipped Klaus over the edge into a laughing fit. He clutched at Dave while being mindful of his injuries, pressing his forehead to his shoulder as he shook and cackled. It echoed throughout the room and into the downstairs, a bright happy sound.

Dave grinned, thoroughly pleased with himself as he held Klaus. “I just-” He gestured back to the picture with one hand, “You see it, right?” He asked, huffing out a small laugh of his own. “It’s unreal.”

“He-” Klaus gasped, “He’s the monopoly man!” He exclaimed with delight, “All along I was just the little tin dog in his evil schemes!”

Without warning, a wobbly Five appeared in front of the two. “Loud.” He said, eyes narrowed as he unsteadily pointed a finger their way, “ Sssstop it .” And then he disappeared again.

It only added to the cacophony of laughter- now Dave was hunched over, an arm around his chest as he chuckled at the absurdity. Klaus tried desperately to help keep him upright, pressing his grin to Dave’s neck as he held him, shoulders shaking.

“Ow.” Dave wheezed pathetically, reaching up to wipe a stray tear away, “Your friggin’ family , Spook, I swear --”

“They’re gonna be your family too.” Klaus reminded, taking the opportunity of them standing there to hug him. Just because he could. They rocked back and forth slightly as they both calmed down some more. “Welcome to the Academy.”

“I can’t wait, baby.” Dave replied genuinely, a hand coming up to hold the back of Klaus’ head. “...But now this begs the question,” He continued slowly, “Which Monopoly pieces are the rest of your family?”

“I like the way you think, Katz.” Klaus pressed a kiss to his cheek before moving out of the hug, tugging Dave along. “Did I tell you there was a Special Edition Umbrella Academy Monopoly?”

“You’re shitting me.” Dave stated, staring at him while they started moving again. “No way.”

“I swear.” Klaus insisted, settling his hand on Dave’s hip, “Daddy was very into branding and marketing. Comics, games, whatever. His agent for that kind of stuff was a serious creep.” He hummed, recalling many a questionable moment with that man. “I have an action figure around here somewhere.”

“I want to play that Monopoly.” Dave said, gravely serious, “I need to play that monopoly. Are you guys the pieces? Can I play as you?”

“I don’t recall, actually.” He replied, taking them down another hallway, “All I remember is doing some stupid photoshoot of us playing it when we were, like, 15 and I was high out of my mind on ketamine.” He paused, trying to recall anything else useful. “Oh! Ben had to leave the photoshoot because his figure had the whole tentacle thing going on and he was going through a rough patch.”

“...Okay,” Dave said, nodding along, “Tentacle thing, sure, happens to the best of us.”

“I didn’t explain his power, did I?” Klaus mused, “He’s got eldritch monsters that can shoot out of his stomach.”

“...Happens to the best of us.” Dave repeated, for lack of anything better to say. “Sure.”

Klaus loved him so much. 

Soon they were stumbling into Klaus’ room again, and he made sure to shut the door. He’d lock it, but why would the Hargreeves have locks on their doors? Even the bathroom didn’t have locks. It’s not like they were allowed to have personal boundaries growing up. The ‘if you don’t knock, you get what you get’ rule was made pretty early on.

“Okay, you good?” Klaus asked as he helped Dave sit down on the bed. Dave grunted and nodded. He was breathing a little heavier than usual, but he was doing better. Maybe the serum was still working things out. Dave had plenty of color in his face, complemented by the delightful orange robe he worse.

“I want to unpeel you like a sexy orange.” Klaus said.

Dave shrugged. “Alright, I’m into it.” 

Klaus sighed wistfully. He was so good to him. “We’ll have to put that one on the back-burner until your chest gets its shit together.”

“Lame.” Dave shrugged again, carefully laying himself down. The sunlight from the bedside window spilled over him and Klaus stood there and simply observed. It made his hair look golden, his skin soft. It lessened the dark circles underneath Dave’s eyes that had been there ever since Klaus dropped into the war. He wanted to kiss them.

“D’you know how long it’s been since I’ve even had an orange?” Dave asked, staring up at the ceiling. Unable to resist, Klaus sat on the bed next to him and reached down to kiss his face. His fiancé let out a small, huffed laugh, but otherwise he let Klaus continue pressing kisses up the side of his face. “This is crazy, man. Fucking crazy.”

“Which part?” Klaus asked, lifting his head so he could peer down into Dave’s clear blue eyes. They gazed right back, and his heart skipped a beat.

“Well, everything, but- but the future, man. I’m here. No more war, no more endless storms, no more snakes. Friggin’ snakes.”

“Fuck snakes.” Klaus agreed. They were a big problem back in the jungle. “They don’t even have legs.”

“Stupid legless bastards.” Dave sighed while Klaus ducked his head back down to kiss the underside of his jaw. He hadn’t shaved in a few days and Klaus savored the feeling of stubble brushing his lips. “I just- can’t wrap my head around it. No more cots or cold rations. No more waking up at ass o’clock just to stand in line and sink in the mud.”

“It’s super freaky.” Klaus commented softly, nibbling at the edge of Dave’s jaw, causing Dave to raise a hand and bury it in Klaus’ curls. “I was gone in a flash too. Now every time I do something stupid I expect to hear Sarge behind me, giving me hell for it.” 

“Oh, man.” Dave shook his head lightly, “What are we gonna do without Sarge to bitch at us?”

“It’s easy. Ben is a great stand-in.” He replied, moving up to Dave’s ear. “He’ll make you feel horrible about all your life choices in like, two sentences. It’s a talent he has.”

“I thought he was nice enough.” Dave frowned, turning his head so he could look at Klaus again.

“He’s.. y’know.” Klaus shrugged, a small smile on his lips, “We don’t always get along. But when your dead brother decides to haunt you, what can you do? He was my only real friend for years.”

“I guess.” Dave agreed reluctantly, not quite getting it. As far as Klaus knew, he’d had the true American Dream childhood. It wasn’t always easy - how could it be for a gay, Jewish kid? Still, Klaus would’ve killed for that kind of thing back in the day. Now Dave would just have to get used to a family that was regularly at each other’s throats but still stuck together whether they liked it or not. Surviving an apocalypse threat by being present with your siblings sort of enforced the idea and they were reluctant to part.

Deciding they were done with that particular topic, Klaus leaned down and kissed Dave properly. Their lips moved together slowly, taking their time and getting used to the feeling again. Or, well, Klaus was. He could do this forever, pretty sure.

They broke apart for air, eyes meeting for a moment before they went back for more and Dave let out a low hum of pleasure, scraping his fingernails across Klaus’ scalp the way he knew he liked it. This kind of kissing must be nice for him, too, knowing he could do this without any pressure or dread. Klaus let out a long sigh through his nose when Dave’s tongue swiped against his bottom lip, his mouth falling open in response. He’d let Dave have whatever he wanted from him.

He didn’t know how long they kissed, but eventually Dave’s hand slid down to the side of his face and gently pulled Klaus away. Klaus only whined a little bit, to his credit.

“You’re too good at that.” Dave said softly, eyes full of adoration and fondness. The way he practically broadcast his feelings for Klaus across his face still made his breath hitch. “C’mere, baby. Let me see you.”

Klaus let Dave guide him so that he was laying down on his side facing him. Dave was still on his back, not wanting to test the limits with his ribs, but he turned his head and simply took in Klaus yet again. 

“Like what you see?” Klaus asked jokingly, raising his brow.

“Even in the dirt and the rain, you were the most gorgeous thing I’d ever seen. And now you still are, but you’re so.. you’re so you now, Klaus.” Dave responded softly, “You’re a dream. I’m still wondering how I got a gorgeous thing like you to go steady with me.”

Klaus bit his lip to hide a smile, his eyes moving off to the side. He was used to Dave’s more sappy comments back in the day, but this much love directed at him at once was just.. he could barely stand it. Some part of him still wanted to ask ‘who, me?’. 

To his complete embarrassment, he started tearing up at the compliment. Dave’s brow furrowed in concern and he put an arm around Klaus’ torso to tug him close. Klaus buried his face in the fluffy robe and sniffled, trying to will away the wave of emotion hitting him. This was a complete overreaction and he knew it.

“You okay, sweetheart?” He asked gently. Klaus nodded mutely.

“I just-” He swallowed, trying to get a handle on his shaking voice, “I missed you so much. I missed you so much .” His breath hitched with a sob, and then he couldn’t stop. He fisted Dave’s robe in his hands and started to cry quietly, his shoulders shaking. He hated crying, but Dave held him through it, running a hand up and down his back and murmuring small nothings.

“I missed you.” Klaus gasped and cried, trying to pull Dave as close as he could as he shook. “I missed you. I missed you. Oh, God, I missed you. I’m so sorry. I missed you.”

“Shh.” Dave whispered, his voice low and soothing in a way Klaus loved, “That’s alright, baby. That’s alright. I’m not going anywhere now. You’ve got me. I’m here. It’s okay now.”

“It wasn’t .” Klaus insisted, “It wasn’t okay, it wasn’t , you were gone and now you’re here and I’m still- still --”

“I know.” Dave said quietly, his own voice starting to sound hoarse and raspy. He wrapped his arm around Klaus as tightly as he could. “I know, baby. I know.”

Chapter Text

Dave ,” Klaus hissed, pressing a rag to Dave’s running nose. In the back of his mind he thought it was strange that he was doing this for someone else- usually it was the other way around. “Damn it, Dave, you idiot-”

“You heard what he was saying.” Dave defended, trying to reach up to take the rag himself but Klaus swatted his hand away. They were in a secluded corner of camp, Klaus having dragged his boyfriend off as soon as the fight was broken up and Sarge had written both Dave and Felix up for their behavior. And for being ‘stupid fucking goddamn idiots fighting each other when there’s a war going on, if you want blood you can go hunt down some VC and he won’t give a good goddamn, but if you idiots keep beating on each other every time someone so much as breathes he swears to God--’, etcetera. 

“Felix has been a dick to me since day one, Dave.” Klaus retorted, moving to tilt Dave’s head back slightly. “I’ve been ignoring him.”

“You serious?” Dave demanded, stepping back and away from Klaus’ worrying and care. “He’s been saying shit like that to you from the beginning?”

“Get back here and let me patch you up, you moron.” He ordered, taking a step forward to follow. He was insistent and grabbed Dave’s chin tightly as he pressed the rag back to his probably broken nose. “It doesn’t matter.”

“It matters!” Dave insisted, “It matters a whole hell of a lot! He can’t just get away with that kind of shit.”

“You know he can, Dave.” Klaus scoffed dismissively, turning Dave’s head to the side so he could get a better look at his shiner. “He and everybody else can call me a queer and a faggot and whatever else they want, and there’s no stopping them.”

“I’m not just gonna let this slide, Klaus."

“Why not ?” Klaus asked, exasperated. “They’re just words.”

“Words hurt.” Dave replied firmly, flint in his eye. "I know they hurt you."

“Yeah, but if I’m rubber and Felix is glue..” Klaus implored, hissing out a sigh and deciding to just focus on the bloody nose for now.

“Then whatever he says, I’m gonna shove it so far up his ass he’ll taste it.” Dave finished eloquently, sounding so sure of himself and his righteous indignation. It reminded Klaus of just how shiny and new to the world Dave still was compared to him. He'd had hundreds of people hurl insults at him, and the worst of it came from some of his family. As much as it sucked sometimes, it barely effected Klaus. 

"I can't just let him say that kind of trash about you." Dave stared him in the eye and dared him to say something about it, the chivalrous idiot. "We gotta do something ."

Klaus wished he could stay mad, but the longer Dave stood there and said endearing shit, the less heated and more exasperated he became. Dave wanted to defend him as much as he could from the big mean world, and Klaus didn't know how to feel about it. It wasn't something that happened often, someone trying to stick up for him. Definitely not in recently years. It almost reminded him of Diego when they were kids. Maybe Ben, a little, too.

Sighing again and making sure nobody was watching them, he moved to slide his free hand down the side of his boyfriends face and gently thumbed at his bruising cheekbone. Dave winced a little, but he still tilted his head to press it into his hand. Klaus rolled his eyes at the gentle affection so he wouldn't have to acknowledge his heart beating faster or his face heating up.

"What am I gonna do with you, Katz?" He wondered quietly.

After Klaus cried for who knows how long, they decided to move to lay on the pillows like normal people. There was a lot more kissing done, then- slow and sweet, then deeper and more insistent until Klaus of all people had to be the one to pull back and grin down at his partner sheepishly. 

“Making out should be fine.” Dave complained, smiling up at him and trailing his hands up and down his arms, moving underneath the robe that was barely even tied anymore. Once he noticed how the sides were hanging down so invitingly, Dave took full advantage and moved to place both hands on Klaus’ bare chest. He slowly ran them down along his sides, and Klaus shivered in response. They settled on his hips and his thumbs pressed into his sharp hip bones like the space was made for them.

Klaus sighed, giving in when Dave reached up to start kissing him again. But he soon remembered himself and pulled away, giving his Dave a stern look. “You’re not allowed to do stuff like that.” He huffed.

“Stuff like what?” Dave asked innocently, his hands sliding down further. Klaus gave a mocking gasp and held a hand up to fan himself.

“Mr Katz!” He scolded, “I thought you were a gentleman!”

“I can be whatever you want me to be, sweetheart.” Dave replied smoothly, reaching up again. Klaus snort-laughed and rolled over onto his back next to Dave, ruining his chances of kissing him again. Dave laughed too, sounding a bit breathless.

They curled up together as best as they could, Klaus draping blankets over them, and they talked some more. It could’ve been for minutes, it could’ve been for hours. He didn’t know, didn’t care. The only time Klaus bothered moving that afternoon was to get up, go to the bathroom, and light up again at the window away from the bed. Dave watched him with both envy and amusement as Klaus savored his joint and how it made the horrifying death screams from the courtyard a little easier to ignore.

He was not taking any chances with his stupid ghost posse ruining his time with Dave. He’d been slowly learning how to deal with them while sober on some level, but that was all at a screeching halt. The lost soldiers roaming the jungle in A Shau were enough to last him for another few months, thanks.

“Y’know, I enjoy every second of every minute with you,” Dave said when he returned, “But I.. I like this setup. You just being a grimy stoner, not on any of the harder stuff.”

“It has its perks.” Klaus agreed softly, his head comfortably hazy, “I mean, don’t get your hopes up, because I’m not always- good, at the sobriety thing. Um."

Dave wrapped an arm around his shoulders and pulled him in so he could rest on his chest. “That’s okay,” He replied, “if you slip, I’ll be there to help. But you’re so..”

“So…?” Klaus trailed off with him, settling his cheek on Dave’s pec. 

“You’re so authentic like this.” Dave decided, “You’re you, of course, you’re always you, but I see you so clearly right now and you’re just- vibrant as ever.”

“Did- did the secondhand smoke really travel all the way over here?” Klaus asked uncomfortably, swallowing the lump in his throat. He didn’t want to cry again. Dave seemed to get it though and just smiled at him, taking his free hand to play with Klaus’ curls.

“I don’t feel vibrant.” Klaus dared to admit after he sat with the thought for a minute. “I just feel.. tired, mostly.”

“That’s okay.” Dave murmured, “You’re always vibrant to me.”

Softer words were exchanged while Dave had more and more trouble keeping his eyes open. Pretty soon they weren’t, and he was just offering ‘mmhm’s and ‘uh-huh’s to whatever Klaus was saying. Klaus slowly trailed off, watching as his fiancé sunk deeper and deeper into a nap. 

Dave had fallen asleep with his face to Klaus, so he spent time was admiring every detail he could find. The tired bruises underneath his eyelashes. The shape of his nose. His tanned skin accented with all the small imperfections he’d gained fighting and just from life. 

He nuzzled into the shoulder he was pillowed on, appreciating Dave being solid beneath him. His arm was curled around Klaus’ waist, but it had slackened with sleep and now it was just a comfortable weight.

Tightening his own grip on where he’d been clinging to his beau, Klaus strongly considered never moving again. Who gave a shit about all the rest, really, when he finally had Dave in his arms again? His beautiful, wonderful Dave that he’d missed for months.

He spent the rest of the afternoon with Dave in his arms, watching and admiring, thinking and dozing on and off. It was only when it started getting dark outside that he started to pay more attention, consider his situation again. 

They’d spent the entire day up here. Dave probably needed something to eat since they’d skipped lunch entirely. And maybe he could do with another round of painkillers, if Klaus could find Five or mom. 

A teensy bit restless from being stationary all day, Klaus began to reluctantly untangle himself from Dave and the sense of calm he’d found. He moved slowly and carefully, doing his best not to jostle Dave’s arm as he moved it away and sat up. 

Looking back down at Dave - still asleep, though his brow furrowed from losing Klaus’ warm - he realized he still didn’t want to leave him alone. But he needed to stretch his legs and do important things for Dave, so he bit back a sigh and decided to do the next best thing.

Often he summoned Ben on instinct, but it was harder to do it, like, manually. Ugh. He centered himself, breathing deep and shutting his eyes. He tried to push all thoughts of Dave away for now.

Klaus pictured Ben in his mind’s eye, stupid gelled hair and jacket and everything, and imagined a tether between them. Sometimes when things were depressing, he pictured it as a chain between them. Other times it was rope, but today it was simply yarn. He pulled on the tether and felt ice in his chest that slowly spread outward until it nipped at his fingers. Clenching his fists, he yanked on the tether.

“Woah. Never gonna get used to that.” 

Klaus opened his eyes and Ben stood in front of him, looking weirded out at being summoned so suddenly. He’d told Klaus before that it was pretty jarring, but it was a useful trick to keep on the back burner. Especially when he needed Ben to back him up on something.

“Sorry, was I interrupting anything important?” Klaus asked quietly, “Any serious ghost business?"

“Just the usual ongoing existential crisis.” Ben replied, shoving his hands into his pockets, “What’s up?”

“Ah, that pesky old thing.” Klaus waved a hand dismissively before gesturing towards his sleeping fiancé. “Could you, um, could you maybe keep an eye on him again while he sleeps?”

“No, sorry.” Ben said blandly. “I’m under explicit instructions to stop ‘lusting’ after him.” 

He sighed. Could nothing be simple? “I’ll let you lust after him for a little bit,” Klaus decided, “I gotta run downstairs and grab us some dinner or something before a ‘helpful’ sibling comes to bother him again.”

Ben snorted softly, shaking his head. “Tell you what, I’ll do it without the lust.” He moved to go sit on the end of the bed, legs criss-crossed and back to the wall. “But only if you agree to ban that fucking word.”

“It is a fucking word, Ben! Very observant of you.” Klaus clapped the tips of his fingers together in congratulations. “I’ll only be a minute. If he wakes up or anything come get me?” He worried his lip a moment, looking from Ben to Dave. “I don’t want him to wake up alone.”

“I could say so many things,” Ben sighed wistfully, “But it’s hard to make fun of you when you’re deeply traumatized about it.”

“But you made fun of me throughout all the other various traumas.” Klaus argued softly, walking to the door. 

“Sorry, are you asking me to give you shit?”

“No, I’m just saying you’re a hypocrite.” Klaus said. “And kind of a bitch.”

“Noted.” Ben nodded, “I’ve got things covered here.”

Klaus gave Dave one last lingering look before he ducked out the door and quietly shut it behind himself. He’d be as fast as he could, but knew he might get held up figuring out what to grab. And he wanted to find something special, if he could. When Dave brought up the orange thing, Klaus’ immediate reaction was that he needed Dave to have good things. And not just normal things like oranges or other fresh fruit- Klaus needed Dave to have good things. He needed to be spoiled.

His first thought was Allison’s not-so-secret chocolate stash in the kitchen under the sink. However, she’d been asking some pointed questions about chocolate lately, so she might’ve moved it already. Hm. As he descended the stairs, Klaus tried to remember if he’d seen mom baking anything lately. He was still stuck on something chocolate, though. It was Dave’s favorite.

Wait a second. Chocolate. Special chocolate. Dave was going to lose his shit over weed chocolate. He thought he still had some stashed in his sock drawer for a bad day. Even more eager to get back, Klaus quickly walked/kinda ran down the hall to the kitchen to speed things along.

Unfortunately, he found out that the kitchen wasn’t empty. Which sucked, because that probably meant some kind of conversation. Especially because it was Luther.

He was hard to miss in the big empty kitchen. Luther was simply hunched over at the table as the sun was setting- Klaus couldn’t tell what he was doing. So he winced but stepped into the room anyways, not wanting to be away from Dave longer than he had to. On the surface he knew Dave would be fine alone for a couple minutes, but it didn’t register with his paranoid hindbrain that demanded he stayed glued to Dave’s side or risk losing him again.

One of the stupider things about being so painfully sober was that he had emotions. A lot of them, actually. And he had to actually feel them and process them. And while some were okay at the moment, he couldn’t shake the feeling of absolute dread that something was going to go wrong. He couldn’t just have Dave back. It couldn’t be that simple.

(It wasn’t simple by any means, but still.)

“Um.” Luther watched him as he started to move around the kitchen and inspect various things. What could Dave eat that didn’t have to be cooked? “Hey.. Klaus.” 

“Hey, Luther.” Klaus glanced over his shoulder and regretted it. Luther’s face and the way he held himself spoke of quiet devastation, and something in his chest twisted. It was a shame that Luther wore his heart on his sleeve all the time. Whenever he wasn’t conducting Leaderly Business and stopped being so full of himself, his face always betrayed how he was feeling.

Klaus guessed he got away with it growing up, considering Luther wasn’t traumatized the same way the rest of them were. His powers were pretty straightforward, he excelled at training, and he did what he was told. And sure, dad manipulated him and used him as a tool to keep the others in line and ultimately ruined Luther’s life, but he probably skated by on some of the harsher lessons Klaus had to learn just to survive in the house.

“How.. how are you holding up?” Klaus asked quietly, turning to face him. He fidgeted with his hands, uncomfortable. He wondered if Luther was mad at him or Dave for the serum’s success. 

Like, he could eat shit if that was the case, but Klaus would still understand if it was. Luther’s entire life was derailed and he was cast away because something in the serum went wrong , but now some new guy was walking around with no primate mutations to speak of.

Luther blinked, then pressed his lips together tightly in what could’ve been considered a smile. Or a grimace. “You know,” He replied, “I think I’ve had better days.”

“Yeah.” Klaus huffed out a quiet, nervous laugh. He shifted his weight from side to side. “Yeah. I hear that. Um.”

“How’s your b.. Your uh- how’s your.. Dave?” Luther asked uncertainly. Klaus noticed his hands were tightly wrapped around a mug of something. 

He didn’t really want to stand there and talk. However…look, Klaus and Luther weren’t known for their inspiring brotherly talks. But if Luther was staring his past trauma in the eye because of Klaus, he felt obligated to.. try, or something.

“Oh. He’s… he’s okay.” Klaus said, eyes darting around, “Sleeping again.”

“I remember that part of things.” Luther nodded, staring down into his tea. “Sleeping all the time. That’s- that’s good.” He paused, tapping a finger against the mug awkwardly. “I think I was in a coma the whole time. But, uh, I guess Dave’s thing was pretty straightforward and he didn’t need- that.”

“Oh.” Klaus didn’t know that. “Nothing about it was straight. Straightforward, I mean.” He nervously smiled at his own stupid joke, and Luther sighed. He thought maybe it was an amused sigh, though. Luther sighed at him a lot and he was starting to become fluent. 

“He had to, um, he had to be awake. Actually.” Klaus started rocking back and forth on his heels. “While it happened. So Five could monitor him or something. His bones were..” He inhaled, remembering the clinical way his brother described how many pieces Dave’s chest was in. He almost gagged. Why was he talking about this? “..pretty fucked.”

“Oh.” Now Luther sounded sad, his face drooping slightly, and how the fuck did Klaus already make things worse?

“Which- which isn’t to say yours wasn’t super fucked up,” Klaus blurted out, then immediately clapped a hand over his mouth. “Um. I didn’t mean that the way- you may think I meant. That sounded bad. Uh-”

“It’s fine.” Luther interrupted, bless him, cutting things off before Klaus dug himself into a hole, “I- I was thinking, actually, that- I could probably help Dave. With dealing with.. everything. Since I know some things.”

“Oh.” Klaus swallowed, hesitantly looking over his shoulder. That didn’t sound right. “Really. So you’re not.. you’re not mad?”

“I..” Luther sighed, holding out his hand and simply staring at it like it wasn’t quite right. He’d been getting used to being himself, being bigger around his siblings, but to Klaus it still looked like he was uncomfortable in his own skin. It always bummed him out to think about it too deeply. “I don’t know what I am. But I’m not upset over you two saving someone’s life.”

“Okay, good to know.” Klaus bit his lip and nodded. Something unwound itself in his chest, knowing he wasn’t currently the object of Luther’s ire. “...Sorry.” 

“For what?” Luther asked, confused. “I brought it up.”

“I dunno. It.. it’s gotta be weird for you, man.” Klaus replied, uncertain. 

“Oh. Yeah.” He cleared his throat, “Thanks. I guess.”

“Uh-huh.” Klaus didn’t know what else there was to say, really, and he decided to get back to his main quest. He was thinking the basics. Like, fruit and lunch meat or whatever. Maybe mom had cookies stashed away somewhere, too.

Trying to hide a grimace at how awkward the atmosphere felt, Klaus moved to go start ransacking the fridge. He knew Luther was watching him, and kinda really wished he wouldn’t, but. Whatever. Did they have any lunch meat that wasn’t ham? 

When Klaus grabbed everything he thought was important, he stuck his head out of the fridge and immediately saw Ben materialize in front of him. Woah, timing. “Klaus, hey, so Dave was starting to shift around a lot--” Ben paused, looking over at Luther. He made a strange face, his jaw clenched.

“Hey, yoohoo, Casper,” Klaus whistled, trying to grab Ben’s attention. He successfully grabbed Luther’s, at least.

“Is Ben here?” Luther asked, sitting up slightly. 

“He’d better not be drunk.” Ben said to Klaus, unexpectedly heated.

“Woah- cool your jets. Is Dave okay? And no, I don’t- I don’t think he’s..?” He looked over to Luther questioningly and his brother staring back in confusion. Was he drunk? It was hard to tell when he was already pretty sad earlier. Was this normal sad or drunk sad? “Have you perhaps hit the bar lately, dearest One?” Klaus implored.

“-Um.” Luther grew more confused. “I.. had a few glasses of whiskey. Dad kept some in his study and I was.. looking for some of his notes, so.. how’d you know?” Now he even looked mildly concerned, “Do I need to- are you craving? I can brush my teeth or something.”

“You’re leaving.” Ben stated.

“Wh- no, I’m not just- Luther, it’s fine.” To answer his question, yes he was craving. He was craving just about everything. He didn’t know when he didn’t have that constant itch in the backseat of his body. But if he could watch Five down scotch like his life depended on it, Klaus could handle some whiskey on Luther’s breath. 

Ben looked far from satisfied. “ Leave , Klaus,” He insisted coldly, “You’re not getting dragged into another one of his pity parties.”

“Would you just chill out?” Klaus stressed, his voice a quiet hiss, “Come on, it’s Luther!”

“The same Luther who choked you out when you wouldn’t talk to dad?” Ben asked with an edge clear in his voice.

“What’s wrong?” Luther asked, looking from Klaus to the air where he assumed Ben was. “Did something happen?”

“No, no, nothing happened-”

Ben quickly interrupted. “Of course he doesn’t even remember the last time he drank, what a piece of-”

“You’re being such a drama queen!” Klaus growled, dropping his foodstuffs on the counter and throwing his hands out to the sides, “Do you think I remember anything the last time I was drunk--?”

“Woah, hang on- Klaus, if you relapsed, I need to-”

“That is not the same thing.” Ben stated, “He wasn’t even high at that point and he still treated you like a ragdoll.”

“Everyone did, Ben!” Klaus’ voice went up in pitch as he reached up a hand to grab a fistful of his curls. “I’m- I was used to it! Who fucking cares now?”

“Klaus, can you please make Ben corporeal,” Luther insisted, standing up with his hands on the table, “He obviously has something important to say-”

“No, that’s a bad idea.”

At the same time, Ben said, “You know what? Do it, Klaus, we’re talking about this.”

“No! No talking, no nothing!” Klaus almost yelled at Ben, managing to catch his voice at the last minute lest it carried. “He’s had a shitty day already!”

Klaus .” Luther ordered, “Make him corporeal. This isn’t about me.”

“Oh, are you sure about that?” Ben retorted to a Luther who couldn’t hear him. 

“No, please, come on-” Klaus took a step back from his demanding brothers, shaking his head. “Can’t we just let this go?”

Luther didn’t appreciate being ignored. “Klaus, I’m not kidding. Do it now .”

“And now he’s bossing you around again? No, Klaus, I’m not letting him off the hook because he-”

“Don’t, Ben, just don’t.” Klaus made eye contact with his brother, shaking his head, “Don’t say it. You can’t keep bringing this up-

Ben looked even more outraged. “I should say it! You can’t just keep pretending like nothing happened, I saw it. Klaus -”

Klaus! ” 

Klaus went cold the minute Luther raised his voice, flinching away from the sound and feeling like a scared child all over again .“--you died! ” Ben finished, his glowing blue hand jabbing a finger at Klaus’ chest. He stumbled backwards with the force of it. Silence fell.

“What?” Luther asked, his voice hushed and horrified.

Ben looked down at his hand, and then over to Luther. He blinked. Apparently, that wasn’t how he was expecting that to come out, but at that point it didn’t matter. Klaus wrapped himself in a hug, backing away another step. He couldn’t focus, from the yelling and memories and the rawness of it all. He couldn’t fix it. All he could think about was ghosts and comrades calling his name but he knew his brothers were fighting and Ben couldn’t tell anyone -

“Ben- Ben, tell me what’s going on.” Luther insisted, “What do you mean he died?

“Do you really not know?” Ben asked, staring up at Luther with a challenge in his eyes. “You really didn’t see him?”

“What- of course not, Ben! Where would I have seen Klaus-- what happened?” Luther demanded, looking back and forth between the two of them in righteous concern. Klaus let out a manic little laugh.

“You let Klaus die.” Ben stated, fists clenched and eyes cold. “That’s what happened.”

“...What?” Luther’s head reared back at the accusation. Klaus kept shaking his head, a hand coming up so he could chew at his nails anxiously. He thought he might be getting sick to his stomach.

“The rave , Luther.” Ben bit out, “He died there. I saw it. And I saw you walk away.”

“..That’s ridiculous.” Luther started shaking his head, clenching his fists on the back of his chair, “That’s not- you can’t be serious. I would’ve-”

“He died there, alone ,” Ben rarely actually raised his voice, even in an argument, but he was nearly shouting now. “And you walked away to go get laid!”

“What the fuck? ” Everyone in the room turned to look at Dave propped up against the entryway to the kitchen, looking at each of them with wide, disbelieving eyes. His chest was heaving and he was bracing himself on the doorway just to stand. Klaus cursed and rushed to his side like he was a magnet. 

“Dave, hey,” Klaus uttered quietly, “You shouldn’t- why are you-”

“Ben, what did you just say?” Dave demanded, jerking his hand away from Klaus when he tried to grab it. His focus was solely on Ben, and Klaus hugged himself again while shrinking back. This was bad. This was very bad. He couldn’t handle this. He didn’t know what to do. He was starting to breathe faster as his eyes darted from person to person. 

“Dave.” Ben said, startled out of his anger for a second, “I- how long were you standing there?”

“Ben,” Dave said, his voice tense and his expression made of stone, “I need you to repeat what you just said.” He swallowed, “Now.”

“..No, no, hang on-” Ben looked over to Klaus as if to gauge his reaction, but Klaus wasn’t even looking his way anymore. Finally, finally he grew a fucking braincell and had the forethought to say, “I think this is between me and Luther, Dave, it’s really not- It’s a family thing?”

“If I just heard you say Luther let Klaus die,” Dave started, his voice low. He was slowly beginning to push himself off the wall, “then I think it involves me.”

“I- that isn’t even remotely what happened,” Luther spoke up now almost desperately, shaking his head again, “I don’t- I don’t remember enough to-”

Ben whipped around. “I saw it, and if you deny it one more time -” He threatened, and that was all it took for Dave to shove himself off the wall and start stomping towards Luther, expression stormy with anger while he balled his fists up. 

Klaus yelped and jerked forward. “No, no, Dave ,” He insisted, grabbing Dave around the waist and trying to hold him back, “Dave, it’s okay, it’s fine-”

“Like hell -” Dave snarled, nearly shaking Klaus off before Ben stepped in to quickly grab Dave’s other side to hold him back. “Like hell is it fine for you to- to fucking- what the fuck is your problem?!” He demanded, single-mindedly jerking forward to try and free himself. 

Luther actually took a step back, holding up his hands cautiously. “This is the first I’m hearing about it!” He replied defensively, “I don’t know what Ben’s talking about!”

“Stop, stop, stop .” Klaus all but begged, holding Dave even tighter. He was freaking out, but he couldn’t let Dave throw a punch at Luther. He couldn’t. Luther could crush his chest again with a single hit -

“Okay, this got really out of hand!” Ben admitted in his own panic, making frantic eye contact with Klaus, “Dave--”

“How can you just let him stand there?” Dave demanded, turning to stare at Ben with fury in his eyes. He tried to jerk his arm out of Ben’s grasp, but he was thankfully still weak from everything that had happened. “Did you even hear what you just said? That son of a bitch -”

“Five!” Klaus yelled, “ Five! Emergency!”

“You hold Dave, I can grab him.” Ben said earnestly, and Klaus barely had time to nod before Ben vanished. Klaus had to force himself in front of Dave to try and hold him back, grabbing at his shoulders.

“Klaus, I swear, I didn’t- I don’t know what happened, but I’d never- I don’t know what happened .” Luther stressed, and he even sounded a pitch desperate. Who wouldn’t be, when your other sibling told your brother that you killed him?

“It’s fine!” Klaus declared, trying to make eye contact with his idiot hero-complex boyfriend, “I’ve- I’ve forgotten all about it, no worries! Dave, calm down! You’re gonna hurt yourself!”

“So it did happen?” Luther asked, his voice full of horror. “I did that? I left you?”

Um -” Klaus laughed nervously. Dave looked at him now, urgently, as if he was expecting the answer too. “It’s- it’s complicated, seriously, hah -”

Klaus .” Dave’s mouth dropped open as his nonanswer confirmed it. Fuck. “ I’m gonna --”

Five appeared in the room, took half a second to survey the situation, and then he grabbed both Dave and Klaus and teleported them away. Klaus hated teleporting on a good day, but he was so emotionally frazzled right now that the feeling of being yanked and forced away was almost the last straw. They were back in Klaus’ room, and Five shoved Dave towards the bed angrily. The soldier fell back easily, not willing to stand any longer.

“What were you thinking?! ” He hissed, “Are you trying to make your heart explode? What the fuck do you not understand about staying calm?

“Luther,” Dave gasped, unsettled by the change in environment. He was still furious, but there was nowhere to point his anger at. “He let Klaus die , he let him-”

“Don’t- please don’t tell -” Klaus backed away from everything again, almost tripping over something left on his floor, “Fuck. Fuck .”

“...He what? ” Five asked, stupefied.

“Ben- Ben said it.” Dave’s body seemed to catch up with all the exercise he just got and he clutched at his chest and tried to breathe, “-saw it.”

“This had better be a fucking joke- Klaus?” Five had turned to verify the details, but he immediately stopped when he noticed how badly his brother was shaking, the unsteady breaths he was taking. He wanted to leave. He didn’t want any of them. He wanted Dave, but not this Dave, so he wanted to be alone.

“Klaus?” Dave asked, belatedly noticing the panic.

He darted out the door into the hall, down a corridor, and ducked into an out-of-date, dust filled room while he descended into panic.

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe you.” Dave said, thumbing the straps of his backpack. Klaus struggled to keep up with him as he marched alongside the others. They were all soaked in sweat and covered in mud as they filed through the jungle.

“It wasn’t that big a deal!” He complained, suddenly raising a hand to smack at his neck. Fucking mosquitoes. “I was only joking!”

“Right. A joke.” The other soldier retorted, “Because everything is a joke to you, isn’t it?”

“Keep your voices down, kids.” Andrews - who had dropped back to march with them at the first sign of their argument - warned. “Nobody else wants to hear your lovers quarrel.”

They were still working out just what they were. But Andrews didn’t know, and they were trying to keep it that way. 

“Kiss off, Andrews.” Dave sighed angrily, but his voice was lower now. “And don’t use that word.”

“I don’t think everything is a joke,” Klaus snipped back quietly, “But my mortality is definitely up for grabs.”

Dave turned and exchanged a glance with Andrews. “I can’t- I can’t deal with this. Get lost, Hargreeves.”

“Maybe some space, Spook.” Andrews agreed reluctantly.

“What? No.” Klaus scoffed, scrubbing his hand on his mud-covered pants. “Why are you so mad about this, Dave? Seriously.”

Maybe he was being annoying, but he knew this was the best way to get what he wanted. He didn’t know why Dave was so upset about this, and Klaus figured that if he annoyed him enough, he’d lose his cool and spill the beans. That was how he usually did things, and it was pretty effective. Besides, he was totally blitzed enough to be able to stomach whatever else came with it. He didn’t know just how mad Dave was, yet.

“Unbelievable.” Dave shook his head, resolutely staring forward at the terrain. “You’re unbelievable. Why am I mad ?” He asked incredulously, “I don’t want my-” Boyfriend. “my friend just talking about death like it’s right around the corner! Maybe that’s a little hard for me to hear!”

“I thought dark humor was a thing here!” Klaus retorted, his head fuzzy, “We’re knee deep in death, believe me- how else do we deal with it?”

“I don’t know how else to explain this.” Dave raised a hand to run down his sweaty face in exasperation. “Klaus. I don’t want to think about you dying. I actually put a lot of effort into trying to prevent you from dying.”

“Well…” Klaus’ face screwed up, “Ditto?”

“And so,” Dave said, turning and giving him look that screamed ‘are you kidding me’. Klaus was familiar with those kinds of expressions, “you shouldn’t joke about it.”

Oh. Is that all it was?

“....I’m beginning to catch on.” Klaus decided, “I mean- like, okay?”

“Unbelievable.” Dave muttered again, but their argument was postponed when word started moving from soldier to soldier from the front of the line. ‘Snake bite,’ They heard. ‘Simmons.’

All three of them winced. “Fucking snakes.” Klaus said.

“Piece of shit reptiles.” Andrews added.

“Stupid goddamn noodles.” Dave agreed.

Klaus had curled up in the corner of the room, hugging his knees to his chest. He always did that when he was panicked- made sure he could see the entire room so there were no surprises, and made sure he was a small as possible so he’d be less of a target.

It was an old school room, he recalled. Seven abandoned desks, a chalkboard, a projector. Incredibly eerie considering they hadn’t used it since they were about five or six, but Mom still kept the room free of dust and cobwebs.

Klaus didn’t know how long he shuddered and rocked himself back and forth, digging his fingers into his legs. He was still trying to force air into his chest when Ben finally showed up. Klaus looked at his brother immediately as he appeared in the room, inhaling sharply. He didn’t want to see him. He didn’t know what he wanted, really. He just had the overwhelming feeling of being fucked

Klaus looked away and kept using his heels to push himself back and forth. He didn’t care about Ben seeing him in all his weak, spineless glory- he’d seen worse. Ben didn’t say anything. Eventually goosebumps broke out on his arm as his brother sat down next to him. He shivered and minutely shook his head.

“In and out, Klaus.” Ben suggested in the quiet. “It’ll be better when you’re breathing right.”

“Fuck you.” Klaus hissed. As if he hadn’t already thought of that. Unfortunately, Ben’s cold form was grounding him in a way that he needed and he began to force more air into his lungs. He hated that Ben was right. Ben was the exact opposite of right , actually, even if he was kind of helping at that moment.

Eventually his breathing evened out a little better. Klaus still wouldn’t look at Ben, choosing instead to press his forehead into his knees and stare down into his lap. 

“I’m going to go ahead and say,” Ben started slowly, “that I messed that one up.”

Klaus scoffed.

“In my defense, I didn’t think Dave would try and murder him for you.”

Sighing, Klaus hunched himself over a little more. Dave. Poor Dave. Why was he hiding out in here like a scared child when earlier he’d been terrified to leave his side? What kind of a shitty, selfish fiance was he? 

“He just got back from war.” He muttered, his voice muffled. “He needed something to..” Klaus waved a hand vaguely, trailing off. He was tired. “And he does that sometimes.”

“..beat people up?”

“Well-” It made Dave sound kind of shitty when he put it like that. And yeah, it wasn’t Klaus’ favorite quality about him at that moment. But his intentions were good. They always were. “He protected me a lot. I guess.”

“..I’m noticing that, yeah.” If he wasn’t mistaken, Ben’s voice was a pinch softer than usual as he spoke. Klaus turned his head on its side to peer at his brother through narrowed eyes.

“He’s never hurt me.” Klaus added, frowning.

“Well, yeah. Then he’d have to beat himself up.” Ben nodded sagely.

Klaus didn’t laugh, closing his eyes tightly. “Ben,” He asked, taking in a deep, shuddering breath. “Why couldn’t you just leave it alone?”

There was silence. It meant Ben was really, truly considering the question, which Klaus guessed he appreciated. They hadn’t really- spoken about the rave thing at length. Klaus never let it get too far, not wanting to encourage Ben’s issues with Luther. But apparently that only made things worse.

“I had to stand there and watch you that night.” The ghost said eventually, his voice even. “And then when I turned around, I saw Luther leaving you there.”

“Yeah.” Klaus took in another slow breath and pushed it out, “Yeah. I know.”

“Klaus..” Ben stopped himself, deliberating again. “I told you to go after Luther.”


Ben sighed, too. “I told you he’d have your back. That he’d do the same for you.”

“I don’t think he doesn’t have my back,” Klaus ventured, cracking his eyes open. “I mean, I don’t think you were wrong..”

“Yeah, well.” Ben pulled his hood up to hide the impossibly tired expression on his face. “I wasn’t right, either.”

“Maybe.” Klaus didn’t know how to respond to that one. “But- but c’mon. You’ve seen me- y’know . Before.” Klaus’ heart had definitely stopped in weirder, more self destructive ways. They both knew it. How many OD’s did Ben watch, his hood up just like that? “And hey, it all worked out in the end.”

Klaus .” Ben stressed, stopping him. “Klaus, I tried so hard to stop you all those other times.”

“Yeah. Sorry.” Klaus shrugged a shoulder, his eyes trailing to the floor.

“No, it’s-” Ben turned to look at him, frustrated. None of them were particularly good at finding the words they needed when they needed them the most. “I’ve tried so hard to stop it from happening for years. And this time- I sent you to your death. It was me.” He stated, “And nobody was trying to help, and I didn’t know if you’d wake up.” 

“Oh.” Klaus breathed, looking back to his brother. Ben looked mad, which was something Klaus was well acquainted with, but this time it wasn’t directed at him. He was just mad at himself for once.

“Ben, hey, no.” He reached a hand over to try and put it on Ben’s shoulder. Despite knowing Ben wasn’t corporeal a moment ago, he was still solid underneath Klaus’ touch. “It’s fine, I don’t even care.”

“I know you don’t.” Ben said, looking even angrier, “You never have. I’ve always been the one that had to care. Me .”


“So I care ,” His brother snapped, “That I made you go into a rave full of drugs and alcohol while you were suffering and grieving. For a brother that only ever hurt you and brushed you off.” Ben turned his head slightly to glare at Klaus. “And then in the end somehow it was just me that hurt you. Me .”


Klaus stared at his brother, his mouth hanging open slightly as the pieces fit into place. It wasn’t just another grudge he’d been carrying around all those months. His eyes burned and were watering up but he couldn’t find it in himself to care when it was his best friend he was talking to. “ Ben ..” He whispered.

“If you try and tell me it’s alright again,” Ben bit out defensively, “I’m going to stab you with your knitting needles.”

“That seems really counterproductive.” Klaus said, sniffing.

“Your face is really counterproductive.” Ben replied, clenching his jaw.

Classic. Klaus snorted softly. His hand fell, but he leaned over to bump Ben with his shoulder. “So this whole time..” He surmised, “You weren’t mad at Luther, you were just mad at yourself?”

“Oh, no.” Ben said quickly, “I’m mad at Luther, too.”

Klaus huffed out a quiet laugh. “He didn’t see it, Ben.” He replied with a softer voice, “I know how it is. Do you know how much shit I would’ve missed being high off my ass if you weren’t around to point things out? He just- didn’t.”

“He should’ve .” Ben insisted, looking away to glare at something else. “He’s your brother. He should’ve been with you.”

“Maybe.” Klaus shrugged a shoulder, “He should’ve done a lot of things. We all should’ve done a lot of things.”

“Maybe.” Ben repeated, but he didn’t look satisfied. “But it happened, and now he knows about it.”

“Yes,” Klaus nodded, “Now he’s double traumatized.”

“You were never going to bring it up yourself.” His brother said defensively, crossing his arms over his chest as he leaned back against the wall.

“What good would it have done, Ben?” Klaus asked with a tired sigh, his shoulders sagging. “What good is it doing now? What’d you expect?”

“I…” Ben paused to think about it. There was a frustrated silence. “I just needed him to know what had happened. What he did to you.”

“What he didn’t do.” Klaus corrected.

“..yeah.” Ben nodded.

“Well...” Klaus perched his chin on his knees and stared off into the room, mirroring Ben. The atmosphere was better now, less oppressive. He wasn’t quite so frazzled or panicked- now he just felt exhausted from his anxiety going haywire. “Thanks for giving that little revelation to Luther on my behalf, even if I explicitly told you many times not to.”

“Anytime.” Ben replied with a scoff, “Sorry that Dave got roped in. I’m.. assuming you weren’t going to tell him, either.”

Klaus hummed. “Y’know, I was planning on focusing on his own death for awhile, yeah..” He trailed off, his eyes glancing over at his brother. He caught Ben’s eye from where he was peeking out from his hoodie. “I don’t think he wants to talk to me about it.”

“You were pretty messed up over it.” Ben said, “..And odds are, he’ll be pretty messed up over yours.”

“Oh.” ‘Were’. As if the past had simply disappeared once Dave was brought back to life. He wished it was that simple. And ‘messed up’ was a pretty light way to put it.

See, when Dave died, Klaus wasn’t actually familiar with how to grieve someone. Not the proper way, at least. After Five left when they were kids, Klaus took comfort in the fact that he couldn’t find him. And he really, really tried.  So some days it was harder to believe, but deep down Klaus knew Five didn’t just die. So it was a loss, yes, but he didn’t mourn his brother like the others did.

And Ben? Klaus never gave himself an actual chance to mourn him before he was back to haunt him through their 20’s.

Ben dying had, of course, broken something deep in Klaus and launched him into a tailspin, but there wasn’t time to grieve before the realization and the fear set in. He might see Ben. Ben might not move on. And he didn’t want to be haunted by his brother if he chose to stick around because he didn’t want to see Ben, his quiet baby brother Ben, become the very thing Klaus hated. 

He couldn’t stand the idea of Ben being the spectre always flickering in the corner of his vision, or becoming like the mindless ghouls that screamed and begged him for a peace he’d never be able to give. And- Klaus didn’t know what state Ben was in when he died. All he knew was that it was.. it was messy and bloody and he’d have to see him like that. Forever.

Naturally, Klaus went on one of the biggest benders of his life after Ben died. He was so hopped up on drugs he didn’t even remember Ben’s funeral. Apparently he blew it and had disappointed his entire family, as per usual. But Klaus was completely terrified of ever coming down long enough to see what his brother had become and wouldn’t even begin to think of slowing down.

He ODed two days after that funeral. 

And boy, everybody was angry about that. Because once he had sobered up enough to be scolded, Reginald summed up his behaviour as a vain and selfish way to gain attention after Ben had died. Vanya cried and cried and Allison told him she hated him. Diego was terrified at losing another brother and he dealt with it by being angry, so angry that he couldn’t stand in the infirmary without punching something. Luther called him a disappointment to the Academy, to the family, and to Ben.

“What’s wrong with them?” Ben had asked when Klaus was alone again.

So no, he didn’t exactly get a chance to grieve Ben. 

He figured it made dealing with Dave’s death much harder. Klaus had months to be sober and devastated over it. He overworked himself trying to hone his powers enough to find his beloved. He screamed and cried and cursed his way through sobriety and pain. If his siblings weren’t there, Klaus probably would’ve gone off the deep end and tried one of his darker strategies to see Dave again.

Klaus swallowed and shook his head quickly, putting the thoughts out of his mind. It didn’t matter anymore. He didn’t have to grieve his beloved any more. And he wouldn’t let Dave try and do the same for him.

“I need to.. I need to get back to him.” He decided. He’d spent long enough away and it felt like an itch beneath his skin, the knowledge that he should be at his fiance’s side.. Even if Klaus really didn’t want to face the music on this one. He didn’t want to feel Dave’s disappointment about him not saying anything. He didn’t want to know whether Five was mad at Luther and plotting his death, or if he was just mad at Klaus for dying in the first place.

And he’d left those two alone together.

Klaus pushed himself to his feet and grimaced at how sore his joints felt about his tense huddling. Ben went through the motions of getting up too, even though Klaus was pretty sure he could simply reappear as he wanted to. He often did little things like that- probably to preserve some appearance of life.

“I’ll come and uh,” Ben started awkwardly, “I’ll clear the air with Five. So he won’t avenge you or something stupid like that.”

“It’s the least you could do.” Klaus smiled, sort of, and opened the door to wander back down the hallways. His bedroom door was open, and his stomach sank at the idea of confronting the mess Ben had made. Still, he took a deep breath and mustered up what was left of his energy, then pushed his door open.

Dave was sitting more comfortably on the bed, deep in conversation with Five who sat next to him, leaning in slightly. Klaus didn’t like the look of that one bit.

“And just what are my two favorite guys gossiping about?” He waved his ‘HELLO’ hand at the pair, who immediately turned to look at him. Dave’s expression was full of concern, and Five’s was cold and calculating. 

“Klaus-” Dave tried to move forward to stand and meet him, but Five immediately held a hand out and blocked him from trying. “Klaus, baby, hey.”

Klaus worried his lip a moment before plastering on a smile and drifting towards Dave. He reached a hand out and Dave immediately grabbed it, gently trying to pull him down to sit. He was scanning Klaus up and down worriedly as he sunk down into Dave’s side. 

"Sorry about the break, doll.” Klaus mumbled to Dave quietly, relishing in the feeling of being with him. “Had to take a minute.”

Dave tugged him as close as he could, as if Klaus was the one whose boyfriend just came back to life. This wasn’t going to be easy, was it? “Sweetheart,” Dave breathed, “Sunshine. I’m so sorry. I didn’t notice how upset you were. I- I should’ve, but I just- heard everything and couldn’t--”

“It’s okay!” Klaus said quickly, “It’s okay, no big deal.”

“Seriously?” Ben asked. He wasn’t visible to the others, but Klaus still turned to hiss at him. 

“No, Klaus, no.” Dave shook his head, “It was a big deal. I never meant to make you-- I never want you to feel like you have to run from me. God, I’m so sorry.”

That made something in Klaus’ chest hurt, and he shook his head while he bit his lip. “I’m fine though. I’m here now.”

Klaus .” Dave insisted, almost sounding desperate. His beautiful blue eyes were filled with regret and worry.

Hey .” Five cut in, and everyone turned to look at him. “I know you guys have your.. Thing,” He said, ever so delicately, “But I think Dave and I need some answers.”

“Need?” Klaus wheedled, “Or want? And we can’t have everything we want, now can we?”

Need .” Five and Dave said at the same time, sharing a glance.

Chapter Text

“Hey.” Andrews caught up with Dave as he stalked away from the other soldiers. He clapped a hand down on Dave’s shoulder, yanking him a bit so he’d slow down. “ Hey . Slow down there, Katz.”

“What do you want?” Dave snapped, then regretted it. Andrews’ eyebrows were up on his forehead as he gave him a disbelieving look.

“Oh, that’s how it is, huh?” He asked sarcastically, “You gonna fight everyone now? Every motherfucker in the camp? Go ahead, Katz, lay it on me.”

Dave raised a hand to the back of his neck, looking down and then back up at Andrews. “Hey, man, c’mon-”

“No, no. We’re doin’ this, tough guy. You want a fight?” Andrews asked, shaking the shoulder he’d grabbed. “I’ll fight you. Better me than one of the guys who can actually wipe the floor with your ass.”

“Cool it.” Dave sighed, shrugging the hand off. He looked like a real asshole right now, and they both knew it- no need to rub it in. He guessed it was Andrews’ job, though, as his unofficial best friend. They hadn’t really talked about it, because what kind of pansy asked another man if they were best buddies? Andrews would’ve told him to go make a friendship bracelet or something. But other than Klaus, Dave spent all his time with Andrews, so.

“I’m the one that needs to cool it?” Andrews shoved at him, and Dave rolled his eyes. “Maybe you cool it, Katz. I’m getting pretty sick of having to drag you outta trouble just because of your freaky boytoy.”

“The hell, Andrews?” Dave quietly asked, but this time his anger was justifiable. “You can’t just go around saying that shit. You’re gonna get us discharged or shot.”

The darker man raised his hands in a display of peace. “My bad, my bad. But I’m pretty sure you’re more likely to get capped in the ass by friendly fire, at this rate.” He replied, an eyebrow still raised. “Chill out a little. Spooky’s telling you the damn same thing, so get him to share a joint with you or something.”

Dave took a deep breath and held it a moment before he blew it out, looking across at their bleak little camp for the next few days. “You’re right.” He admitted, “I know you’re right. I just- fucking hate this.”

“You’re gonna find ‘this’ everywhere, buddy.” Andrews shrugged gently.

“Not just that.” Dave said reluctantly, “...Everything. I’m sick of everything.”

Silence fell between them. They both knew what he meant, and they both felt it the longer they stayed in this glorified swamp. 

“You’d better not run off.” Andrews fished out a box of cigarettes and offered one to Dave to console him. There wasn’t much else to be done about the broken apathy they shared, so Dave took it gratefully, “Sarge actually likes you, and if you’re not around to kiss his ass, they’ll make me do it.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Dave held the cigarette between his lips and inhaled as Andrews reached over with the lighter. He nodded once it caught, and Andrew went to light his own. “Like I’d leave you to the mosquitos.”

“And the snakes. Don’t forget the snakes.”

“Fuck the snakes.” Dave agreed, and they stood by each other and smoked in silence.

Dave felt pretty bad. 

Mentally and physically. Taking all those stairs alone was a challenge, but one he didn’t want to back down from. Especially considering he’d woken up alone with nobody to act as a buffer between him and that dark, painless place he’d visited in his sleep. It felt like falling or sinking, and he’d woken up with a jerk and immediately tried to put it out of his head. He didn’t want to think about dying.

So he’d slowly gone downstairs, retracing his steps from earlier, only to listen in on the most heart-wrenching thing he’d ever heard in his fucking life. The fact that Klaus had been to that dark, empty, terrifying place too- and that it was Luther’s fault.

Dave wasn’t proud of what he did next. All he wanted to do in that moment was hurt and wound Luther to make up for the terror he felt, and he knew he could have a short temper but that was.. he wasn’t proud. Especially not after seeing the look on his sweetheart’s face. All because he couldn’t keep his shit in check.

He felt like absolute dirt as he replayed what happened over and over again in his mind’s eye. He’d made Klaus feel uncomfortable or angry a few times, for better or for worse, but he’d never pushed him over the edge like that. 

Five had refused to let him up to go and check up on Klaus, seething at Dave for straining himself. They went through the typical checkup while he was lectured. And then when the kid wasn’t ranting at him, he was ranting to him about the Luther thing. He was just as caught off guard, growling about how he was going to teleport Luther back to his precious moon and leave him there. It reminded Dave of a tiny, angry dog.

“None of us fucking knew.” Five growled as he inspected the raised, pink scar. Dave’s chest was still burning and aching like hell from all the bullshit he’d put it through. “Because Klaus is an idiot and a moron who can’t possibly fathom that some of us might actually care . How did he die and not tell anybody?”

“Hey.” Dave protested, “He’s a private guy. He likes his space.”

“Are you kidding me?” Five asked with a scoff, “He’s the opposite of private. He’s in your face and obnoxious whenever he has the opportunity and clings to whoever will let him. He doesn’t even have enough brain cells to comprehend the idea of personal space.”

“Well, sure.” He agreed, brow furrowed, “But that’s all… whatever. He’s deep, man.”

“Deep.” Five took in a breath through his nose, letting it out. “Klaus is ‘deep’.”

“When he’s comfortable.” Dave shrugged a shoulder, wincing as it tugged an unhappy muscle, “He doesn’t talk about the important shit when he’s all over the place, but he’ll open up every now and then if you listen.”

Five seemed to consider this, his expression calculating. His frown deepened. “..I suppose.” He finally admitted, begrudging, “But his own death?

Dave looked down and away, trying to ignore the deep wave of sadness that hit him. How was he supposed to talk about this? He knew everything with Klaus’ siblings was complicated, but he was only just now beginning to see how deep everything ran. 

Luther left him for dead.

Five sat down on the bed next to him, equally lost for words. As complicated as it all was, Dave was seeing little glimpses into how his siblings cared. And Five may be a crotchety old bastard, but Dave saw that he cared about Klaus so damn much that this was driving him bonkers.

“This will not happen again.” Five said, his voice low and generally threatening, “ Never again.”

“No.” Dave agreed quietly, “We’ll stop it.”

We? ” Five scoffed dismissively, “If you ever try and square up against Luther again, he’ll pop your skull like a grape.”

Okay ,” He replied testily, still having a lot of mixed feelings about Luther, “I just meant- I’m not leaving him behind.”

Five scoffed again as if the notion was ridiculous, but didn’t say anything else as he clenched his fists in the sheets of the bed and glared at nothing. It felt like he was sitting next to a live wire, but the kid didn’t move from his spot. Dave guessed he didn’t know what to do with this revelation, either.

“Even if he’s okay now,” Dave said quietly, offering Klaus’ brother a moment of honesty. “It kinda feels like I’ve been shot again. Knowing he was- fuck.”

“I already lived most of my life thinking Klaus was dead.” Five hissed, still not bothering to look at Dave. “I buried him with my own hands.”

“..Fuck.” Dave intoned softly. He’d only heard bits and pieces about Five’s story and why he was back, but knowing the apocalypse was involved gave him a few wild ideas. Still didn’t know the whole thing, but Five wasn’t sitting there lying to him either.

“I came back to fix that, and I failed almost immediately.” He continued bitterly, “How do you think that feels, Dave?”

He didn’t know what Five was aiming to hit with his anger, but he wasn’t going to start another fight. Not with Klaus’ brother. Besides, he thought that maybe Five was just.. angry at himself.  “Well..” Dave replied, slowly pulling the sides of his robe together so he could preserve some modesty again. “It sounds like hell. I’m sorry, Five.”

Five turned his head to stare at Dave, blinking like he was startled. His head reared back slightly as if he was repulsed, watching him in confusion. 

“And just what are my two favorite guys gossiping about?” Dave startled and turned, watching Klaus glide into the room like nothing had happened. He could see the weight of everything that had happened, though- he was pale but his eyes were puffy. He wasn’t quite so fluid.

“Klaus-” Dave’s immediate reaction was to stand and go to him, but Five shot an arm out to block his chest and keep him where he was sitting. In spite of that, he made desperate eye contact with his sweetheart. “Klaus, baby, hey.”

Klaus didn’t come to him immediately, faltering. Dave hoped his hurt didn’t show too much on his face while his partner walked over and held out his hand to him. He carefully grabbed it and tried to guide him into sitting next to him. Despite everything, Klaus still willingly sunk into his side like he was meant to be there.

“Sorry about the break, doll.” He mumbled, eyes peering up at Dave uncertainly as he settled in. “Had to take a minute.”

Dave wrapped an arm around him tightly and pulled him close. “Sweetheart,” He sighed, seeing the easy way Klaus spoke about it for what it was. He didn’t want to start another fight, wanted to brush it off. The guilt eating away at him almost let Klaus get away with it.

“Sunshine.” He stared down at his fiancé in concern. As far as he was concerned, Klaus was the only other person in the room. “I’m so sorry.” Dave said desperately, searching his face. “I didn’t notice how upset you were. I- I should’ve, but I just- heard everything and couldn’t-”

“It’s okay! It’s okay!” Klaus said breezily, expression soft as he tried to ease Dave’s worries. It did the opposite, really. Now he was more worried. How could he say that? “It’s no big deal.”

“Seriously?” Ben must’ve followed Klaus in, and he didn’t sound impressed. Still, Dave only had eyes for Klaus.

“No, Klaus.” Dave shook his head, trying to get him to please understand. “It was a big deal. I never meant to make you--” He swallowed, willing the mist in his eyes to go away.” I never want you to feel like you have to run from me. God, I’m so sorry.”

Klaus was the one shaking his head now, still unwilling to acknowledge any of it. “I’m fine though.” He said, putting on a pretty smile to try and keep Dave from digging. “I’m here now.”

Klaus .” Dave all but begged, trying to keep his voice steady.

Hey .” Five’s voice bit into the moment harshly, and Klaus took the excuse to break their eye contact. “I know you guys have your.. thing,” He said, as tactful as a brick through a window, “But I think Dave and I need some answers.”

“Need?” Klaus asked beside Dave, “Or want? And we can’t have everything we want , now can we?”

Need .” Both Dave and Five replied, locking eyes. 

Klaus hunched down at the response, clearly not pleased. But what was Dave supposed to do? Maybe if he was a better man he’d let it go and leave Klaus be, but he had to know. Was it selfish to want to know something like this?

A faint outline of Ben started sharing complex expressions and gestures with Klaus, and Five rolled his eyes at them. Klaus huffed out a loud sigh, and Ben’s form solidified more. 

“New plan.” Klaus decided reluctantly, “We’ll tell you guys,” He started, Ben nodding in the background, “But only if you don’t do anything to Luther.” A pause. “Or yell at me.”

“He will start crying again.” Ben agreed, shifting from foot to foot. His hands were stuffed in his pockets.

“You don’t know me,” Klaus said pettily, glaring at the brother, “You don’t know anything.”

“I know you’re an idiot.” Ben replied effortlessly, and Klaus growled.

Before they could delve into a fight, Dave ducked down and pressed a kiss to the side of Klaus’ head, still holding him tight with an arm. It must’ve been pretty effective, because his fiancé only sighed and slumped back down against his side. 

“I refuse to be responsible if he cries.” Five stated, staring at Klaus with steel in his eyes. Dave guessed he was still mad. Dave was, too, of course, but all that seemed much less important when he had Klaus by his side. 

Klaus looked away from his brother, but Ben actively stared Five down with a disappointed expression. His arms were crossed, and it was the very picture of judgement. Reminded Dave of his mother, especially considering how uncomfortable the kid got under his gaze. 

“...Just get on with it, Klaus.” Five sighed, angrily looking away as he stood up. 

Ben shrugged at Klaus, and Klaus mumbled a ‘fine, good enough’ before he gathered himself up and looked at each of them. “Well, I guess I can’t resist a little gossip.” He decided, obviously trying to act like the matter didn’t affect him. “Let’s see..”

Dave waited in anticipation, running a hand up and down Klaus’ arm while he made uncertain eye contact with Ben and hummed.

“Luther told us about you guys dying in the apocalypse, and Five had just come back from wherever he disappeared to.” His ghost brother prompted.

“Oh, yeah, yeah. Gave a very rousing speech to get the troops together.” Klaus agreed distantly, nodding. He slumped against Dave again, propping his head on his shoulder.

“Luther stayed behind to sort through dad’s research and stuff because, y’know, the moon.” He continued, acting like he was bored when really, he just looked uncomfortable. “Which- has anyone pointed out the irony there? Like, it was the moon in the end. Luther nailed it.”

Five gave him an unimpressed look. Dave kind of agreed with the sentiment. “Focus, Klaus.”

“Right, whatever. Fuck the moon, I know.” He sighed wearily, “So eventually Luther figured out he was sent up there by the old man for shits and giggles, and I find the guy absolutely shitfaced drunk, right?” Klaus let out a small laugh, trying to play everything off with the least amount of drama possible, “And then he, he tries to get me to summon dad for him, which I couldn’t do, and then suddenly he got depressed -”

Ben interrupted him with an angry noise, staring at him intensely. Klaus shrunk into Dave’s side more, looking away like a stubborn child. Five looked between the two of them with a discerning eye.

“What isn’t he telling us, Ben?” Five asked, deciding to overlook Klaus entirely.

“Hold on, hold on-” Klaus sat up, waving his hands back and forth rapidly. Dave sat up with him, watching in concern. “No, no, don’t do it, man. Come on .”

The ghost stared at Klaus with tired, frustrated eyes. “..I think it’s important, bro.” He said quietly, giving a small shrug.

“Is it, though?” Klaus tried, laughing nervously, “I mean, we’re all riled up already, let’s not get stuck on the details--”

“Klaus, please.” Dave’s hand moved to Klaus’ back as he captured his attention. When his eyes met his baby’s begging green ones, he wanted to cave then and there. Shove everyone out of the room and be done with it. But he still couldn’t. Dave didn’t want to presume he was entitled to anything, but this felt like a secret that deserved to see the light of day.

“I’d love to, baby, really,” Klaus replied, fidgeting with the hem of Dave’s robe. It sounded like the voice he used whenever he wanted Dave to lay off about how many pills he was taking. “But you’d- you’d break rule one, and maybe some fingers, and then Five might break rule two.”

That didn’t sound promising. Out of the corner of his eye, Dave watched Five twitch, his fingers curling up at his sides. “...I won’t get angry.” He said, forcing his voice into something patient and even despite his frustration. He wanted clear, simple facts, and nothing about this was clear or simple. “And if Dave moves so much as an inch, I’m going to tie him down to this bed myself.”

“Hot.” Klaus replied immediately, not missing a beat as his eyes darted to his brother. “I have something for that if you want to look in the closet.” He said easily. Ben sighed and threw his head back to stare at the ceiling. “And hey , I wouldn’t complain-”

“Thank you for that disturbing information.” Five’s lip curled in disgust. “I’ll be bleaching that from my brain shortly.”

“We can get to that later, Klaus.” Dave assured, and while he was maybe sort of serious, he still enjoyed how Five looked even more grossed out. “Please just tell me what happened.” He continued softly, taking Klaus’ hand in his own. “We won’t get mad, okay?”

“Oh, you’ll be mad.” Ben muttered. Klaus made a frustrated noise at him.

“Hey- hey. Look at me.” Dave murmured, his other hand moving to tilt Klaus’ chin up. “I want to help you, okay? I want what’s best for you. And if Luther did something..”

His sweetheart squirmed, ducking his head back down. “See,” He tried, “See, I know, but the thing is- your idea of help is just gonna be to try and punch Luther or- or hurt him? And I don’t think that’s gonna help me.”

A wave of guilt crashed into him. Did Klaus think he was just some angry meathead now? He guessed he wouldn’t blame him if he did. He never should’ve focused on Luther when Klaus was freaking out right next to him.

“I know I messed up, reacting like that.” Dave twined their fingers together, giving him an apologetic expression. He meant it. “..If I promise I won’t get upset, though? I won’t move. And Five, too?”

“Well, what are we defining as ‘hurt’?” Five asked, “Hurt merely in the physical sense? Or-”

“We’re doing this on his terms.” Dave looked over and locked eyes with the brother. He knew how to treat Klaus, and if they were really talking about this, they were doing this right. “So we’re not doing anything. Not without Klaus’ say-so.” He said firmly.

Five scowled at that, but then he looked at his brother trying to make himself small at Dave’s side and pressed his mouth into a thin line as he considered it. Very, very reluctantly, he nodded. Which was kind of wild, when he thought about it. Five didn’t seem like the kind of person you’d call ‘agreeable’. “..Fine. It’s Klaus’ call.”

Satisfied, he looked back to his beloved. “Is that better?” Dave asked Klaus gently, the hand on his face gently thumbing his cheek in a way he knew made Klaus feel loved. Safe. And he’d make sure he was.

Klaus took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh, searching Dave’s eyes for a moment. Then, reluctantly his turned his face to look at Ben, breaking their contact. Dave let his hand move down Klaus’ neck and settle onto his shoulder.

His brother nodded, trying to give Klaus a reassuring smile. It looked more like a grimace, but it seemed to be enough for him to make a decision. 

Okay . Okay.” Klaus sighed again, sounding stressed, “Fine! Fine. Ben…?”

Ben blinked, pointing to himself. Klaus rolled his eyes and nodded. “Oh. Okay. Um.” He shifted from foot to foot as all three of them stared, waiting for his explanation. “..Luther told Klaus to summon dad. And when Klaus told him he couldn’t..” Ben trailed off, like he was trying to consider how best to put it. Klaus was staring down at his lap like he was preparing for something. Dave tensed.

“Luther choked Klaus.” Ben finally said, deciding to be blunt. Dave inhaled sharply. “Against a pillar.”

He went completely still, and Klaus’ shoulders hunched up next to him. Luther did what?

“I remember the bruises the week after.” Five said slowly, giving Klaus a calculating look, “I thought it was something to do with the time travel.”

“He also threw Klaus across the room at one point. So.” Ben added quietly.

Dave would swear up and down the wall he felt his heart stop for a moment. He almost told Five about it, considering that would’ve been bad for his health. But it was all too easy to picture. Even when Klaus stopped being a pale, skinny twig and got some muscle and sun, Dave could still pick him up easily. And a giant of a man like Luther-- everything the siblings had said about Luther, the warnings he’d received, Dave applied them to Klaus. His Klaus. 

A hand shot up to cover his mouth as he tried not to gag. He was filled with ice cold terror. He’d heard some insane fucking stories about Klaus’ family and the things they did to others and each other, but this was so, so real. The imagine of Klaus’ brother pinning him down and choking him made Dave feel a very, very real desire to shoot him. He’d shot people for less, hadn’t he?

What .” Five hissed.

Klaus closed his eyes tightly and buried his face in Dave’s shoulder, waiting. It brought him back down to earth, somewhat. Klaus. Not focusing on anger. Just focusing on Klaus. His Klaus, who was here and real and needed him more than he needed his rage.

“...So.” Five said, and Dave watched as he seethed and radiated anger. Klaus was refusing to look at anyone. “Just to clarify. Luther, our brother, completely abused his strength and choked you out to try and bully you into summoning dad, then threw you across the room.” 

Ben looked grim and glanced away, not even bothering to nod.

“...Okay.” Dave said very, very quietly. His voice broke slightly.

Five took a deep breath, letting it out through his nose. “And we’re doing.. nothing about that.”

“I just want this thing to go away.” Klaus replied stubbornly, muffled by Dave’s robe.

Okay .” Five sighed again, irked, “Fine.”

“Okay.” Dave repeated, feeling numb as he denied the pain flooding through his veins. It wasn’t about him. This had no business being about him or how he felt. It was about Klaus. He was there for Klaus.

Shifting, he turned and sat so that he could face his fiancé, and he hated the way Klaus seemed to shrink away. But Dave said nothing at all to that, not willing to let himself say anything else. He only wrapped both arms around Klaus to gently pull him against his chest. He distantly realized it was the first real, true hug he’d given him since they’d served together. Everything else had been side hugs or Klaus simply laying on him. 

Klaus’ breath hitched as he pushed himself further into Dave’s arms, immediately melting into the security he found there. Neither cared that they had an audience. Klaus hugged him back gingerly, careful about the injury, and he buried his face where Dave’s shoulder met his neck. Dave gently ran a hand up and down his back and just tried to be there with him. Just tried to breathe with him. 

Beautiful, fragile, perfect Klaus let out a shaky sigh, and Dave knew he’d stay there as long as Klaus needed him. He wouldn’t drive him off again. 

“..Ben, if you wouldn’t mind continuing?” Five asked quietly, assuming that Klaus was done speaking for the time being. Dave nodded gently, moving a hand up to comb through the hair at the back of Klaus’ head. 

The ghost nodded reluctantly, watching Dave comfort his brother with a strange look in his eye. “...So after the choking, Klaus tried to cheer him up.” Ben explained, a crease in his brow. “And then Luther said that he wanted to be like Klaus. Party and do drugs.”

“Apparently-” Klaus said quietly, “I was always so happy and carefree!” He was obviously trying to sound light and cheery from where he was buried in fluffy orange fabric, but he couldn’t quite manage it. Dave squeezed him gently while Ben rolled his eyes. “Who wouldn’t want to be me?”

“If I had to pick a sibling, it wouldn’t be you.” Five said bluntly, hands clenched into fists. His knuckles were white, betraying his tension.

“Yeah, duh.” Klaus agreed easily. Ben nodded as well. Dave stayed silent, moving to gently prop the side of his face on Klaus’ head. It was nice, feeling snug like a puzzle piece fitting right into Dave’s arms.

“I think if I had to pick, I’d be Vanya.” Klaus mumbled, “I mean, her life sucked, but I would’ve killed to be left--”

Five snapped his fingers a few times. “ Focus , Klaus. What next?”

“You’re a killjoy.” He sighed, moving his head so he could peer at Five out of the corner of his eye. Dave pressed a kiss to his head where he could reach. “I tell Luther he doesn’t want to do that, but after I tell him no, he just decides to go do it by himself. And y’know, I tried to stop him but he… threw me,” Klaus trailed off. Dave closed his eyes tightly and kissed him again, pressing his forehead into the curly mess of Klaus’ hair.

“Joy.” Five bit out.

“Yeah.” Klaus returned his face to Dave’s robe, his voice muffled again. Dave rocked him back and forth for a moment, causing his fella to hum in some sort of contentment. Good. This was good. No need to get upset. “So then he left. We tracked him down to a rave. It was fine, I guess, but so tacky in retrospect-”

“...Seriously?” Ben interrupted, it was odd. He sounded kind of confused and unsure. “You’re not going to-”

“Just shut up.” Klaus mumbled childishly.

“What isn’t he saying?” Dave found himself asking, tensing again- and then he tightened his grip in Klaus’ hair and winced while he pulled him away, because the bastard bit his neck for asking. “Use your words.” He scolded, loosening his grip and smoothing out the hair he had mussed. Klaus gave him a sour look before thunking his head back down on his shoulder. If Dave wasn’t carefully filing his feelings away for future consideration, he’d find it funny. 

“I made him go.” Ben spoke up, though his voice was lower, more serious. And the way he held himself, he looked guilty. It was a weird look on the ghost he’d gotten to know so far. Dave furrowed his brow in confusion and Klaus heaved out a sigh. Ben looked away, but he still went on to explain. “I told him Luther would’ve gone after him if it was Klaus who needed the help. Which was apparently a lie. So. That’s on me.”

Oh. That’s what Klaus was trying to hide.

Five shrugged noncommittally. “Possibly.” He said. Dave kind of wanted to throw something at him, but his neutral answer seemed to calm something in Ben.

“For the record, Ben can’t make me do anything.” Klaus offered grumpily. 

“That’s what you think.” Ben shot back.

“He’s dead and he gets what he wants, Klaus.” Five said decisively, nipping the argument in the bud. Klaus made a loud noise of protest, turning his head around, but Five didn’t let him interrupt. “So you’re at the rave, you find Luther.”

“He was hard to miss.” Ben added wryly, making eye contact with Klaus. Klaus snorted, and Dave forced his muscles to unwind.

“Yeah. He offered me acid, pretty sure.” Klaus agreed, “And hey, it was nice of him to share.”

“Klaus.” Ben sighed.

“Fine!” He huffed, “So then I- I have a bit of a moment, being in a rave and all,” He peered at Ben, who gave him the tiniest of nods to continue. Dave knew there was something else left unsaid, but he trusted Ben’s judgement more than he expected. “And then I look over, and Luther’s hanging out with a furry, but her boyfriend is headed over with like, murder eyes.”

“A furry what?” Dave asked, brows knitting together in confusion. Five made such a pained, tired expression as he walked away to the other side of the room, shaking his head.

“No, just a furry.” Ben said, pained yet patient. Dave guessed it was a person? “Later. We’ll catch you up. Later”

“Yes, yes, yes.” Klaus nodded, “Furries later. And so, I try and yell at Luther, right, but he can’t hear me, so- so I jump on the boyfriend’s back.”

“I hate it when you do that.” Dave interrupted, recalling Klaus using that particular move a few times. He tried it when he wrestled with the other guys, and it rarely worked. But if he managed to hang on, he was a clingy bastard and near impossible to get rid of. “It’s brave and sexy but you’re not heavy enough to take someone down.”

“Yeah.” Klaus replied,” Yeah.” He cleared his throat. “You’re right, actually, cause he threw me off and then, y’know. Head. Concrete. Whoops.”

“Oh.” Dave felt himself go numb. He gently pulled Klaus away so he could stare at him. “That was..?”

Klaus looked down and away, nodding reluctantly. Dave swallowed, looking the love of his life up and down. He was here in one piece. He was here. He was alive. That was all that mattered. That was it.

“And so Luther didn’t see it.” Distantly, he noticed Five, looking terribly old in the way he walked and the troubled expression he had.

“No.” Ben said quietly, “No, he didn’t.”

“He was gone when I.. came to, so to speak.” Klaus added apologetically, looking back up at Dave through his long, dark lashes. “But Dave, c’mon. You’ve tripped acid before. It’s hard to notice everything happening!”

“Klaus,” Dave took a deep breath, closing his eyes and sighing it out. It was a lot. It was an awful lot. So much. His voice was near monotone as he forced an answer out. “I said I wouldn’t be mad.” He replied, “But I’m also really not in the mood to defend Luther.”

“Okay, okay.” Klaus mumbled reluctantly.

“So you really died.” Five stated. “We’re sure about this.”

“He was gone, Five.” Ben intoned, looking away with his eyes downcast, “That’s all you need to know.”

God. He’d died. He’d slipped away, too, except maybe it was more sudden. It sounded sudden- his head hitting the ground so hard- Dave took a shaky breath, and then another, and another as he held Klaus in his arms like he might slip away at any moment. He didn’t want to think about Klaus in that black, apathetic in-between. He was too vibrant to go anywhere near it. It didn’t make sense. Klaus may be arm-in-arm with death, but he was full of light and life and Dave just tried to breathe.

“That’s how I got an audience with our dear papa.” Klaus chimed in, trying to move things along. He didn’t want to dwell. He never did. Dave didn’t either, but he was caught in a moment of startled grief. How do you ignore something like that?

“..You met up with dad in the afterlife?” Five asked, disturbed, “You told us you’d summoned him.”

“Yeaaah,” Klaus said slowly, turning his head back to his brothers even as Dave held him tight. “That was a small lie, but I wasn’t gonna bring up my death over a family meeting, y’know?”

“I think that’d be a fairly appropriate way to address it, actually.” Ben sighed.

Klaus shrugged. “We had better things to do.”

Klaus .” Dave whispered, trying to keep his heart from breaking further.

“Fuck, Klaus. Fuck .” Five hissed to himself. “I’m.. I’ve gotta think.” He shook his head before stalking off and disappearing.

“Don’t touch Luther- fuck !” Klaus groaned. Dave wasn’t feeling too sympathetic.

“Do you want me to..?” Ben offered, and Klaus stared at him for a moment before nodding reluctantly. “You two can just.. chill.”

“If I keep you visible, can you get the little shit to bring us some food?” Klaus asked, turning back to Dave with his big beautiful eyes. Dave hoped his devastation didn’t show too much, but Klaus always said he had a terrible poker face.

“I’ll ask mom. Give me five minutes and let me go. Don’t waste the energy.” Ben agreed, then he started to walk off and disappeared too. Just them again.

He knew he wasn’t hiding his emotions well when Klaus unwrapped his arms from the hug and reached up to hold Dave’s face between his palms. His expression was tender and concerned and it wasn’t fucking fair, so Dave reached forward to hug him again, as tightly as he could bear it.

Chapter Text

Well, this was de-fucking-lightful. It was Vietnam, 1968, and Klaus was stone cold sober. He was still shaking off the last of the withdrawals, and there were ghosts literally everywhere. Klaus had seen some pretty horrific ghosts in his time, but now there was just… so much. So much blood and gore. People had been shot to shit, blown up, infected, poisoned- you name it. 

They hadn’t realized Klaus could see them yet, but he knew he was practically a beacon. Eyes followed him, making his skin crawl, and he couldn’t fucking standing it. He knew he should go back to that stupid fucking briefcase and figure it out, but what if he ended up in like, the middle ages? Klaus didn’t want the plague. He didn’t want to find out what plague victims looked like. Fuck. He was so fucking screwed.

He was hidden behind some crates stacked next to the tent he was staying in, curled up in a ball as thoughts rapidly came and went in his mind. Vietnam. Vietnam war. He was in the fucking Vietnam war, and they’d clapped him on the back and shoved a gun in his hands. He was screwed, so screwed.

“Hey there, rookie.” Klaus inhaled sharply, picking up his head to find.. Dave? Dave, right, that was his name. He’d been a great distraction on the bus. Klaus thought he’d be a greater distraction if he got to see him without his shirt again, but he was fairly certain that the 60’s weren’t the greatest time for his kind. And the U.S army definitely frowned upon that kind of thing, like they did most things. When would this torment end?

“Hey.” Klaus replied, sitting up a little and attempting to wipe some of the dirt off his face. He was pretty certain that he’d never be clean again. Everyone and everything was covered in grime, and while Klaus was used to going days or weeks without a shower, it was way grosser when he was sober enough to notice how disgusting he was.

Dave crossed his arms - he had amazing forearms - taking in the situation with a pitying smile. “Things not getting any better?” He asked.

“Worse.” Klaus huffed out a sarcastic laugh. “Much, much worse. What happened to ‘you’ll adjust’?”

“One way or another, you will.” Dave’s smile turned grim and he stepped forward, sinking to the ground next to Klaus. “But I’ll let you in on a little secret we use to cope. Looks like you could use it.”

“Dave, unless you’re gonna tell me you’ve been brewing moonshine in a tank engine or something..”

Dave’s face brightened with a grin, and his eyes crinkled at the corners. “Hey, you’re close.” Then he pulled out a blunt from one of his many standard-issue military pockets, and Klaus nearly kissed him then and there.

Five worked best when he had all the facts and a clear goal. From there he could begin to formulate a plan with the highest chance of success, and then he could move forward to achieve said goal.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t working out quite like that this time around. He had all the facts for this particular scenario, or the most prevalent ones anyways. But Five had no idea what to do fucking do about it. 

Despite all his threats, Five didn’t actually want to leave Luther on the moon, or even maim him. They were family, even if Luther had a history of acting like a troglodyte. And Five had seen how he was beginning to change, too. The efforts he was making to do better, even if he had a long way to go. He’d go so far as to say Luther was becoming a different person than he was during apocalypse week.

But with what Ben and Klaus told him, Five felt anger burning deep beneath his skin and he was having a hard time keeping it in check. He didn’t spend his entire life working his ass off to get home to his family just to come back and let them kill each other. He needed to do something on Klaus’ behalf, felt it deep in his core, but he didn’t know what . How was he supposed to fix this? Especially when Klaus didn’t want it fixed in the first place?

Admittedly, Five had something of a soft spot for Klaus in the months after the apocalypse that wasn’t. As a child he thought Klaus was simply weak and fragile, an impression they all had based on their father’s word. And initially seeing Klaus in adulthood made him think not much had changed, that the pressure was too much and he caved to his demons.

Now he understood better. Vanya’s book implied that Klaus seemed to enjoy the company of the ghosts, but it didn’t take him long with his younger brother to realize that she couldn’t have been further from the truth. Watching Klaus struggle through sobriety was, frankly, depressing. In the beginning he flinched constantly at things none of the rest of them could understand. Sometimes he’d lash out at the rest of them without warning, his hands clamped over his ears because it was so ‘fucking loud and overwhelming’. The way he walked through rooms seemed almost calculated, as if he was moving through a crowd and didn’t want to bump into anyone. 

He watched his siblings realize it, too. That Klaus was, in every sense of the word, haunted by the ghosts he was forced to live with. He barely slept, barely ate. Five gathered that not all ghosts were as docile as Ben, and that they liked to scream. A lot. And despite all that, he was still insistent on trying to hone the powers tormenting him. 

The subsequent relapses in the first month or two were quickly forgiven.

It wasn’t until the legendary Weed Argument Of July that Klaus finally found some sense of peace. Being a full time stoner made it easier for him to let things come and go, and from there he started exploring his powers more. For Ben’s sake, but Five knew Klaus had bigger plans. 

Five worked with him on occasion, offering practical solutions based off what Klaus was willing to explain about his powers. He did research for the little twerp, too, though he’d never say it out loud. It was those times that he got to see Klaus’ more vulnerable side.

Dave was right in his assessment of Klaus. Five’s brother hid the important things away and only rarely shared what was truly going on in his head. It took him noticing Five’s own struggles just to get him to open up about the horrors he experienced in Vietnam. He didn’t expect Klaus of all people to understand him the best, but as much shit as Klaus gave everyone and everything, he was surprisingly insightful. 

Growing closer to Klaus made this entire scenario harder. He was obviously biased in Klaus’ favor, considering Luther was a meathead, but both were his family.

He had decided not to blame Luther entirely for Klaus’ death, but his strength had to be addressed. Yes, that would be a start. And if he was constructive with Luther - as much as he could be, anyways - it wouldn’t technically violate any of Klaus’ boundaries.

That was as close as Five would get to a plan, he guessed, so he effortlessly popped in and out of the family’s common rooms until he found where Luther was hiding away. Dad’s office again, apparently. And surprise surprise, his biggest brother was latched onto a bottle of scotch. Five tried to shelve his anger as best as he could.

“Well this is quite the pity party.” Five announced, causing Luther to startle and look up from where he was slumped at Reginald’s desk. There was a box of tissues in his lap and his eyes were red rimmed. Five resisted the urge to slow clap.

“Five-” Luther sat up unsteadily, bleary eyes trying to focus in on him in the shadowy room, “How- how is he?” 

That gave him a moment of pause. Perhaps there was more character development there than he thought. “He’ll live.” Five replied, but he had to rub it in. Just a little. “..No thanks to you.”

“I screwed up.” Luther’s face scrunched up and he looked back down at the tissues. “I screwed it all up.”

“Correct.” Five nodded, reaching over to pry the bottle out of scotch out of his brother’s fingers. He took a swig of it without so much as blinking.

“You should be mad.” Luther said, leaning back with his head lolling on the back of the chair pathetically. “Did he tell you about it? Why did he never tell me ?”

“Luther, make no mistake.” Five made eye contact as best as he could with his wasted brother. “I am absolutely furious with you. If we weren’t related, you’d be at the bottom of a lake right now.”

Luther nodded, his eyes tearing up as he sniffed. For God’s sake, this was pathetic. How much alcohol did Luther have to ingest to get like this, anyways? What sort of metabolism did he have with his physiological changes? Maybe when Five felt a little less like strangling him with his shoelaces, he’d try and run some tests.

“I killed him.” Luther whispered, “I killed another brother. I killed two of my brothers, Five- what kind of leader am I? How’d this happen?”

Five suppressed a flinch at the bold statement. He blamed himself for Ben, then, too. Nobody wanted to really get into the details of how Ben died, and Five didn’t feel the need to pry. But from Vanya’s book and from what he’d seen, Luther was unfortunately involved. Still, he knew who the real bad guy was, there.

“Luther, you didn’t kill either of them.” Five sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. He could feel a migraine coming on, so he took another pull from the bottle. “You certainly gave it your best shot with Klaus, but you weren’t the one who killed him.

“I should’ve known.” Luther mumbled, “I should’ve known. I should’ve seen it. But I walked away.”

“You walked away.” Five agreed, leaning his hip against the heavy wooden desk. This was getting dangerously close to heart-to-heart territory. The things Five did for this fucking family. “But you didn’t know. There’s no point in beating yourself up for something you just didn’t know.”

“He died, Five.” Luther’s lip quivered. “He died and I was right there.” He was being uncomfortably open and honest with his emotions, and Five didn’t like it at all. Something in his chest squirmed uncomfortably. 

“And you and I both know that if you actually knew what was going on, you would’ve stopped it.” Five said sharply, “You should feel like a dumbass, sure, but I repeat: you didn’t kill Klaus.”

This conversation was grating on his nerves in a way he didn’t expect. But it made sense, in retrospect. He’d had to see Klaus’ corpse before, and even as a thirteen year old, there was something unnatural and horrifying about the stillness of his brother. The one who never stopped talking, never stopped moving. He would’ve given anything for Klaus to wake up and annoy him one last time. 

He didn’t want to keep talking about Klaus’ death.

“Let’s talk about what you did do, though.” Five continued, cutting off another one of Luther’s self-deprecating replies. “Do you remember what happened before the rave?”

“Huh?” Luther stared at Five in confusion.

“Before the rave, Luther. I know your research was useless.” Five ignored the flinch Luther gave, not in the mood to entertain any kind of tact. “And that you dealt with it like this.” To illustrate, he lifted the bottle to his mouth one last time before setting it down loudly on the desk. “What about after, Luther? Before the rave?”

“Um.” Luther blinked, then raised both hands to scrub at his face. “Klaus was- he was there, obviously. I don’t..”

“Yes. He was there.” Five nodded, deciding to get straight to the point. “Let me just go ahead and ask: do you remember picking Klaus up? Choking him?”

“What?” Luther croaked, his hands sliding away as his face scrunched up in confusion. “Hang on-”

“Or picking him up and throwing him like a ragdoll?” Five went on, voice even and businesslike as he watched Luther’s reaction like a hawk.

“What- what ?” Luther stared at him, uncomprehending. It was infuriating. “I didn’t- why would I do that?”

“Ben and Klaus were wondering the same thing at the time, I’m sure.” He replied, not so subtly implying that there was more than one witness to his bullshit. “I’m curious, too. Why would you do that?”

Luther slowly lowered his face back into his hands, and Five watched as his shoulders started to shake. “I don’t know.” He whispered, “I don’t know , why would I do that? Why would I--?”

This fucking family. Five was a saint for dealing with this crap. Misunderstandings all over the place and not a drop of emotional intelligence in sight. 

“You were angry and you took it out on Klaus.” Five ventured, shoving his hands into his blazer pockets. “ Klaus .”

The emphasis spoke volumes to Luther, and he flinched again. Even if they all thought he was a weak member of the team, there was still the unspoken rule surrounding both Klaus and Ben, and even Vanya if it came down to it. They were weak, yes, and therefore they needed to be kept safe. 

“I’m sorry.” Luther choked out, “I’m- I’m remembering and I- he’s scared of me, Five. He’s scared of me. But I was just so angry at dad -”

“I don’t blame him.” Five replied, narrowing his eyes at his brother. “Do you?”

“No.” Luther shook his head, squeezing his eyes shut. “He’s right to be scared. I- dad was right to send me away, I’m a monster. I’m a mess, I keep making mistakes and I don’t--”

“Shut the fuck up, Luther.” Five finally snapped, his hand leaving his pockets to smack down on the surface of the desk. His patience only extended so far, and he wasn’t going to listen to this self deprecating horseshit again. It stunned Luther, who looked up at him with big watery eyes.

“I’m not going to sit here and watch you wallow in self pity, alright?” He stated, staring Luther dead in the eye.  “You made a choice, and it was a shitty choice, but you’re not just gonna sit here and feel bad for yourself all day, asshole.” Five bit.

“This?” He gestured to Luther, the bottle, everything. “ This is useless. You’re useless like this. I didn’t save all your asses and the planet just so you could sit in dad’s office and cry.” Five’s voice was venom, but at least he wasn’t yelling. Klaus didn’t want yelling, right? “So here’s what happens next. You’re gonna fix it , you’re gonna learn from it , and you’re gonna do better .”

“How do I fix this? How, Five?” Luther asked, his voice shaking. God, Five wished he was sober. Maybe this was karma for that time he threw up on Luther’s shoes. “I fucked it all up. Ben, Klaus, Vanya- even you hate me-”

“Don’t put words in my mouth, asshole .” Five disappeared and reappeared right next to Luther behind the desk, and he grabbed the front of his brother’s shirt to yank him close. “I hate what you did, One, not you . And I can’t speak for our idiot siblings but my guess is that they feel the same.” He hissed, “We’re family, you fucker. Go grovel, apologize, and don’t do it again . It’s that simple.”

Five let Luther go, taking a step back and straightening out his blazer and his tie. Luther continued to sniffle, processing what he said. Five actually felt a little bit better after his mild outburst. It was cathartic to put Number One in his place. 

The unfortunate side effect of doing that, however, was that Luther started crying and sobbing again. Grief and devastation shook him, and Five knew he’d gotten the point across. Would it be weird if he just teleported out of the room? He’d said all he needed to say.

He was about to, but then Luther reached forward with an arm and grabbed the front of Five’s blazer. His immediate reaction was that Luther might be starting a fight, but no. That wasn’t it. It was just a sad, lonely man, reaching out for his brother to try and lessen the pain. Son of a bitch.

Well, this was uncomfortable. He wasn’t prepared to console his brother by any means, but he also couldn’t leave with Luther holding onto him like that. Sighing in annoyance, he rolled his eyes and lifted a hand to awkwardly pat the fist that was wrinkling his blazer. 

“You promise you don’t hate me?” Luther asked, desperate. 

Five grit his teeth together, trying to gingerly unpry the fingers from his front. It backfired when Luther simply took his hand instead. He was not about to be pulled into a drunk cuddle session. He might actually shed blood.

“No, Luther.” He replied testily, “I don’t hate you.” A pause. “I think you’re an idiot and a meathead, but I don’t hate you.”

“Okay.” Luther sniffled, blinking at him with something relieved in his eyes. What, did he really think they all secretly hated him? “Okay, Five. Thank you.”

He probably did, yes. Which was the only reason Five didn't yank away and vanish.

“Whatever.” Five grumbled, standing there mulishly while Luther clung to his hand. “Just don’t do it again.”

Chapter Text

“Hargreeves.” Sarge grunted out, “What is the meaning of this, you sorry sack of shit?”

‘This’ could mean a lot of things, frankly, but Klaus figured he was probably talking about why he was soaking wet and covered in mud during roll call. Or maybe Sarge was referring to the cigarette Klaus had lit - the only one he had that wasn’t totally soaked - while he was calling out the names of some of their recent cannon fodder FNG’s. Maybe he was just referring to Klaus’ existence.

As Sarge eyed him, Klaus decided it was probably his new swamp chic look that ticked him off. He was a little confused about that himself, to be fair. He’d passed out and the next thing he knew, someone was shaking him awake from his spot in a very unpleasant puddle. His chosen resting place had turned into a pond thanks to the on-and-off rain. He must’ve been pretty fucked up not to notice the water. But hey, it was warm out, so at least he didn’t have to worry about getting sick. Small blessings.

“Sir,” Dave tried to step in, somewhere nearby, but Sarge raised a hand and cut him off.

“Katz, every single time you try and kiss my ass to save his, I hate you just a little bit more.” Sarge barked. “Hargreeves, I’m feeling fucking generous, so you can either explain yourself or you can go get a head start on digging a new latrine since you like playing in the mud so much.”

“I’m just as confused as you are, dude.” Klaus drawled, smoke lazily rising from the cigarette. Sarge smacked it out of his hand and Klaus widened his eyes.

“Hargreeves,” Sarge growled, leaning in, “The next word out of your mouth is going to be ‘sir’. Every single fucking thing you say to me from now on will include ‘sir’. Otherwise I’m going to have you on solo digging duty for the rest of your miserable life. When you aren’t shooting Cong, you’re gonna be in charge of where every bastard in this camp shits until the day I mail your scrawny corpse home with a stamp and a shovel next to you in the coffin.” He spat, “Are we clear?”

Klaus eyed Sarge, and Sarge stared back in seething anger. The entire morning call was frozen as everyone stopped to see whether or not Sarge was going to finally kick his ass for mouthing off. He’d already been punished for it time and time again, as it was in Klaus’ nature to push and bend the rules. Problem was, the military didn’t like pushback and didn’t bend well. 

“Sir,” Klaus said, “Will the shovel be engraved, sir? I want my family to know what I did for my country, sir.” 

Sarge cuffed him in the head, getting Klaus to yelp in surprise, and he moved on down the line so he wouldn’t find a reason to hit the soldier again. Klaus glowered and fished out his box of cigs from a muddy, soaked pocket, hoping that maybe there was another one in there that wasn’t totally ruined.

When he was in Dave’s arms, everything was so much easier to deal with. 

It wasn’t the first time he’d had this thought, but it still rang true. Back in ‘Nam, the war raging on outside didn’t matter as much when he was tucked into Dave’s arms in a shitty motel. The constant threats to their lives seemed far away, and all Klaus wanted was to stay there forever. He couldn’t bring himself to give a shit about anything but the man that wanted him and had offered himself in return, time and time again.

Dave was holding him close and tight. Tight to the point where Klaus was kind of worried he’d strain himself, but his fiancé seemed to have no intention of letting go. And who was Klaus to let him? When Dave had given him a real, proper hug earlier, he’d almost started crying again . It was exactly what he needed at the moment, and he immediately latched on. Now there was no reason to let go. Nobody threatening their safety, no apocalypse lurking around a corner, nothing. 

Everything would be perfect if he could just get Dave to stop apologizing.

“Sweetheart.” He murmured, “Baby. I’m sorry.”

“I told you.” Klaus smiled, shaking his head, “It’s all in the past, months ago! I’m fine.”

“Okay. I know.” Dave nodded, one of his hands in dragging through Klaus’ hair gently. “But you know, if you weren’t fine.. that’d be okay. It’d make sense.”

“I’m alive, Dave.” Klaus’ smile turned slightly bitter, “No point getting hung up on it. Not everybody gets to be so lucky after they die.” Something Ben made sure he never, ever forgot. It was one of the many reasons he never really about the incident in question.

“..No. That’s true. You’re lucky.” His fiancé decided, looking impossibly sad. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t.. you’re allowed to hurt over this, Klaus. Just like I’m hurting over my own.. thing.”

It was the first time Dave had willingly brought up his own death. 

“Do you.. want to talk about it?” Klaus asked quietly, more than ready to listen. Dave was the kind of guy that liked to talk things through to process them. It was probably one of the things that made their relationship work. Dave’s honesty and vulnerability kept them from spiraling, especially once Klaus begrudgingly started practicing those things himself. 

“Do you?” Dave immediately replied, pulling on his torso with his other arm so Klaus was basically sitting in his lap. Exactly where he belonged.

“..I think we just talked about my thing way too much.” Klaus said, tentative, “And I really want to drop it…?”

Dave sighed through his nose, nuzzling the side of Klaus’ head while he considered it. “..Okay.” He decided, kissing the crest of Klaus’ ear. “I don’t really want to talk about my thing, either.”

“Okay.” Klaus agreed easily. It would need to happen eventually, but he was getting really tired of all the grown up, adult conversations. 

Dave pressed his face into Klaus’ neck, and Klaus’ lips curled into a gentle smile. “I’m just glad you’re still here.” He breathed out quietly, the words muffled. 

“Sap.” Klaus said, dismissive. The sheer relief in Dave’s voice had him dangerously close to the warm fuzzies. 

“Only for you, baby doll.” Dave mumbled, moving so he could press a kiss to Klaus’ jawline. “Everything for you.”

Reaching down, Klaus kissed Dave in response. It was like he didn’t have a choice - how could he let Dave say those things and not kiss him breathless? Klaus himself talked a lot, but he wasn’t a poet and he never had the words to describe just how the things Dave said made him feel. So he always poured those feelings into touch, hoping he might understand. Hoping it was enough, when Dave was sitting there giving himself to Klaus like it was an honor and a pleasure. 

They kissed until Dave couldn’t breathe. And while he took in long, deep breaths, Klaus considered his words carefully. Then, reaching to the chains around his neck, Klaus found his own dog tags and slipped them over his head. He put them over Dave’s instead, back where they belonged. He was Dave’s, just like Dave was Klaus’.

“I love you.” Dave sighed, staring up at Klaus with so much raw affection that he almost couldn’t stand it. Instinct told him to bolt, experience told him to hold tight and never let go.

Back in the earlier days, Dave scared him off sometimes. Klaus wasn’t ready to see Dave so vulnerable, so in love, so real. He didn’t know what to do with it, so he ran and made excuses. But like most things, Klaus got used to it over time. Got used to sappy declarations of love, got used to pet names, got used to the sweetest touches, and got used to a man that wanted to give Klaus the world and expected nothing in return.

He didn’t understand it at first. In his family, that kind of thing always came at a cost. So once he started seeing people, that transactional kind of love was all he really knew. He’d usually be the one giving and giving and giving himself away, hoping for a scrap of affection in return, until he learned the hard way that he had to be the one to take until there was nothing left.

But it just wasn’t like that with Dave.

In fact, it was the opposite for awhile. He didn’t want to show Dave his hand and kept so much to himself, forced himself not to go overboard. Klaus didn’t want to fuck it up, didn’t want to scare Dave off with all of his.. everything. Klaus couldn’t give himself up as much as Dave had because he was scared. And despite putting his life in Dave’s hands regularly, being so close to the front, it was a scary thing to let himself be known so wholly.

But then Dave had kissed him under a tarp and said he was so much, but he said it like it was a thing of wonder. Nothing like the crappy boyfriends and girlfriends and datemates Klaus had hung around with, who said he was just too much. Who said it with disdain, who tried to force him into a box or a role and couldn’t understand why he never stayed put.

Dave never tried to limit him. He saw Klaus for everything he was, everything he wasn’t, and said he wanted all of it. Everything he had, but nothing he didn’t want to share. And by then, how could Klaus say no?

Maybe he was becoming the sap.

Dave. ” Klaus sighed out reverently, resting their foreheads together with his arms wrapped around his neck. Dave reached up with a hand to gently cup the side of his face, and Klaus pressed into it as they stared into each other’s eyes unflinchingly. Everything they did fit. Maybe it was just rose colored glasses, but in moments like these, Klaus could almost believe that he was made just to be with Dave. 

According to some people, he was made to stop the apocalypse (that he technically helped cause), but he liked the Dave idea way better. 

“You’re so much.” Klaus whispered, Dave’s breath ghosting on his lips. “So much.”

“Too much?” Dave mumbled back with a small, shy grin, stealing Klaus’ line from months ago. He angled his head so he could give Klaus a gentle peck on the lips.

“I want it all.” He replied. “Everything you’ve got.”

“Careful, Hargreeves.” Dave’s arm tightened around his waist, pulling him flush against his chest while he said, “Keep sayin’ stuff like that, I might just fall for you.”

“Been free falling since we met, baby.” Klaus completed, eyes half lidded, and Dave punctuated his words with a hungry kiss. The hand on his face moved back to anchor Klaus’ head in place while they eagerly made out, being mindful of Dave’s injury but throwing themselves into it nonetheless.

Klaus definitely had his tongue down Dave’s throat when there was a polite knock on the door. But to be fair, Dave was grabbing his ass at the time, too, so they were equally to blame.

The soldier beneath him jerked back instinctively with a gasp, his hands flying to Klaus’ hips so he could force him to roll off his lap. Klaus went with it, confused, but it was a small bed. Naturally, his head smacked the wall.

Fuck! ” Klaus shouted, a hand reaching up to feel his forehead. 

Grace opened the door and walked into the room with a tray of food and water, shaking her head and clicking her tongue. “Language, Klaus.” She reminded, then seemed to take in the situation a little better. “Oh, sweetheart, did you bump your head?”

“I’m fine.” Klaus grit out, waving off a concerned Dave who had covered himself up with a blanket, pressing himself back against the headboard. Klaus quickly recalled the story of how his sister had suddenly walked in on Dave and another guy.

“I’m so sorry.” His darling Dave said, eyes wide in panic, “I didn’t even think--” 

He was forgiven in a heartbeat, and Klaus reached out a reassuring hand that Dave grabbed to give a quick squeeze.

“What did I say about roughhousing, you two?” Grace asked with a patient smile, walking further into the room. The tension melted from Dave’s shoulder and his grip slackened. She seemed to be looking for a place to put the tray down, but all of Klaus’ furniture was covered in clutter. 

Satisfied that Dave wasn’t traumatized yet again, Klaus took in the whole situation and did a poor job at covering up a giggle. Oh, they were roughhousing alright. There was a truly impressive blush on Dave’s face at her words, and Klaus shot him a wink just to make it even worse. His fiancé’s hands flew up to cover his face with his hands, peering out between his fingers. He gave Klaus a glare that screamed ‘I’m dying inside’.

“Davey can take that from you, mom.” Klaus said sweetly, gesturing to the soldier. Dave paused then nodded, still hiding behind his hands, so Grace walked over to the bedside with her heels clicking on the floor. 

He always loved that sound growing up. Klaus had learned the different footsteps in the house early on, especially when they were walking down the hallway to his room. Dad and Pogo’s always filled him with dread, but something about the sound of heels always appealed to him. He’d been recreating that when the whole ‘tripped/pushed down the staircase’ thing happened.

Grace very carefully helped Dave balance the tray on his lap, taking a pitcher of water off of it to set on the bedside table next to Klaus’ knotted up headphones. Klaus scooted over to Dave’s side so he could see what else she brought. Ah, yes, more oatmeal. Food of champions. She’d brought two bowls of it, and a variety of berries and other toppings to go with it.

“Now, David,” Grace instructed, pouring some brown sugar into one of the bowls. Then she started spooning in every kind of berry one by one. “You’ll have to tell me what kinds of things you like to eat and what you don’t.” She stuck the spoon in the bowl handed it off to Klaus, then reached to smooth a hand over his mussed up hair fondly before standing straight up.

“Thanks, mom.” Klaus said, picking up the spoon so he could mix everything together into a cohesive sludge. Ben accused him of being a heathen for stuff like that, the dork.

“Thank you so much, Miss Grace.” Dave repeated, also reaching over to tuck a stray ringlet behind Klaus’ ear. He looked sheepish - he was the one who messed it up in the first place and he knew it. “I’ll have to think about that. Been awhile since I’ve had to.”

“You just let me know and I’ll find the recipes.” Grace replied, smiling serenely as she picked up a glass and filled it with water from the pitcher. She handed the cup off to Dave, and then from a pocket in her apron she retrieved a few different pills. 

Klaus’ fingers twitched at the sight, drawing Grace’s attention while she handed off the pills to his fiancé. Her head tilted to the side and she made knowing eye contact with Klaus, her smile growing softer in understanding.

He wasn’t sure, but he thought she was doing that kind of thing more and more lately. It was less like she was repeating and acting out lines from a script, and her expressions seemed more.. real? Personable? He wasn’t sure. He knew Diego insisted mom was evolving past her code, but Klaus didn’t buy it just yet. 

It was hard to wrap his head around because while growing up, Klaus knew that Grace was just a tool. One that could be used by Reginald at any time. And don’t even get him started on Pogo . So as nice as her attention was, he stopped believing it was anything genuine, let alone love a very long time ago. Because she knew all about the horrors he went through and didn’t do shit about it. She helped Reginald soundproof his room, though Klaus destroyed the proofing in his teen years because he didn’t fucking care anymore. And after mausoleum trips, she was the one cleaning and bandaging his bleeding fingertips and cracked nails. 

He’d begged her to make it stop like any hurting child might ask of their mother, and she’d said it was for the best. Grace defended and praised Hargreeves ‘till his dying breath and then some. And she always said all of it with that same plastic smile. He didn’t know a lot about love back then, but he knew enough to call bullshit. 

It was a reality he’d accepted a long time ago. So after fixing the apocalypse, Klaus treated her the same way he had as a kid even if Reginald wasn’t in the picture. He appreciated whatever bits of attention she sent his way when she wasn’t monopolized by Diego, thanked her when she did something nice, and didn’t think that much about it. 

Seeing her with Dave put some things in a new light, at least. Her easy acceptance of Dave and his wishes was nice, refreshing- and he knew Reginald wouldn’t be tolerating anything of the sort if he were alive. So maybe Grace was growing. Maybe.

“I’m proud of you, Bumblebee.” Grace reminded him, helping distract him from her pocket pharmacy. It was a fascinating concept.

Moi? ” Klaus asked, pressing a hand to his chest dramatically. He was trying really, really hard to ignore the itching beneath his skin. It was one thing if the drugs were just a concept, but seeing them right in front of his eyes was much different. It felt like his entire body was begging for them now. It was impossible to stop eyeing the handful of pills, even as Dave threw them back and swallowed. Fucking fuck.

It was done now. Didn’t matter. Klaus’ focus went back to his oatmeal as he tried to get his thoughts back under control. He had Dave, didn’t need the drugs. Even though the entire reason he’d stopped was because he needed his powers to see Dave.

Oh, this was a dangerous rabbit hole. 

“How could I not be?” Grace asked, her voice fond and possibly sincere. 

Klaus raised his brow. Now that was a loaded question, all things considered. “We don’t have time to get into that.” He said, deeply hoping Grace didn’t know about some of his seedier exploits over the years. But even if she did, did she have a choice with how she felt? Was she allowed to not be proud of him, or was that built into her? Could she be honest?

“I’m proud of you too.” Dave chimed in, and Klaus looked up at him. He immediately knew it wasn’t a lie and that his partner was just speaking from the heart, as per usual. There was nothing complicated about it, no traps or strings attached to think about. It was just a fact. Klaus tried to smother a smile by burying half his face in Dave’s shoulder. The orange robe was still going strong and he was incredibly comfy.

Grace blinked at the two of them and smiled again. “I have to go arrange the training room and have a word with Diego, so I’ll leave you two be.” She instructed, putting a hand on Dave’s other shoulder for a moment in what might be described as affection. “Let me know if you need anything.

Dave gave her a pleased smile in return. “Thank you again, ma’am.”

“Anytime.” Grace replied happily, then wagged a finger at Klaus. “And no more roughhousing, you two.”

“No promises.” Klaus propped his chin on Dave’s shoulder so he could smile cheekily at her, and she shook her head fondly before she turned around, sighing about ‘boys will be boys’ as she closed the door behind herself. Maybe someday he’d explain to her that he wasn’t actually a boy. Did her programming understand people who bypassed gender entirely?

Dave hummed once they were alone again, turning so he could press a kiss to Klaus’ temple “..For the record, you started it.” He mumbled, setting his glass down so he could start putting toppings on his oatmeal and tuck in.

You kissed me that time.” Klaus replied haughtily, shovelling a spoonful of food into his mouth.

“You were being sweet.” Dave shrugged while he ate, smiling to himself, “And besides, taking advantage of a wounded soldier in his moment of weakness? For shame , Klaus.”

“Nobody forced you to put your hand on my ass, soldier .” Klaus huffed, trying not to smile.

“You started biting. I think I should get a pass.” His fiancé retorted, then his expression fell into something worried. His spoon fell back into his bowl sadly. “Is your head okay, though? Baby, I’m really sorry-”

“I’m fine .” Klaus whined, then paused. “I mean, actually, now that you mention it, it hurts a lot .” He tilted his head and batted his eyes up at Dave, pouting a bit. “Maybe someone should kiss it better.”

Dave shook his head, eyes darting off to the side as he tried to hide a smile. “Pretty sure kissing is what got us into this mess.”

“You threw me into the wall, David.” Klaus reminded, “I deserve this.”

Dave leaned over and kissed his forehead, face full of amusement. “Alright. There you go. Now shut up and eat your oatmeal, private.” 

Oh, is that how it was? Klaus’ voice dipped down as low and as sultry as he could make it. “Sir, yes sir .” He flirted, giving Dave a patented smoulder through fluttering eyelashes.

Dave snorted. He started laughing so loud and so hard that he pressed a hand to his chest, wincing slightly. But nothing could stop him from losing it at Klaus’ attempts at wooing him. He tried to look offended in response, but it was hard not to grin at Dave’s joy.

“Shut up.” He complained half heartedly, shoving Dave gently. 

“I just-” Dave gasped, “I can’t not think of- of Sarge- you only ever called him sir-”

“No!” Klaus all but shouted, clutching Dave’s arm desperately as he started off in a new fit of giggles. “No, no, no! Not sexy at all!”

I know! ” Dave threw his head back, his entire body shaking with laughter. He was delighted , and now Klaus was the one dying inside. There was nothing even remotely sexy about Sarge. Just the idea made Klaus want to gag a little bit.

His sweetheart took in a few gasping breaths, still clutching at his chest. The pain must’ve been worth it. What an asshole. “Ah, man.” Dave didn’t stop grinning as he calmed himself down some, “I’ll never be able to look him in the eye again, huh.”

“Oh. Um.” Klaus paused, cold, hard reality slamming into him. “No. Probably not, no.”

“Andrews is going to lose his shit over this, you know he-” Dave paused too, making eye contact with Klaus. They stared at each other, and Klaus watched the questions start bubble up to the surface.

“I need another smoke.” Klaus blurted out, putting his bowl of oatmeal on the tray again and clambering down and off the bed. 

Dave was quiet for a moment, and Klaus felt his eyes (among others) follow him around the room as he grabbed what he needed to roll another joint. “Okay.” Dave agreed hesitantly. He heard the clinking of his spoon as he continued to eat. “You’d better share though.” He mumbled through a mouthful of food.

“But I can’t be taking advantage of my poor, wounded soldier in his weakened state.” Klaus sighed, shaking his head dramatically. “And your chest still sucks.”

“But maybe some deep breathing exercises would be good for me.” Dave replied, “Besides, it’s my chest.”

“It’s Five’s, actually.” Klaus mused as he worked, “So, I think I accidentally signed your life away to him at some point during the whole.. process, sorry about that. I didn’t have a lot of time to read the terms and conditions.”

“Well, fuck.” Dave stated, setting his spoon in his now empty bowl. Must’ve been hungry from all his efforts earlier. He grabbed the tray and put his dishes on it before setting it down by his side. “I guess I’m his superhero sidekick or something.”

“I think you’d look great in a catsuit.” Klaus turned and wiggled the joint in his hand enticingly. He figured it wouldn’t hurt to let Dave try once or twice, just to see. “Leather. Or spandex, I’m not picky. Skin tight. Diego can probably hook you up.”

“Cape?” His fiance asked innocently.

“No capes.” Klaus stated, walking over to the bed and grabbing his lighter on the nightstand. “They’re fun for the drama but they get caught in doors and stuff.” He crawled over the bed and unlatched his window, shoving it open. The shitty thing only went up halfway, but it was better than secondhand-smoking Dave again.

“Well, there goes that idea.” Dave sighed, sounding disappointed before he reached a hand out, palm up. He wiggled his fingers. “Let me start that so you can eat something, Spook. Don’t think I haven’t noticed you’re thinner.”

Klaus rolled his eyes and passed the joint and the lighter so he could grab his oatmeal from the tray. He didn’t want to talk about how little he used to eat in withdrawal, and how he’d actually gotten back up to eating at least two meals a day now. Instead he ate quickly, eyes not leaving his sweetheart.

It was quite the sight, Dave in his fuzzy orange monstrosity, dog tags hanging from his neck as he flicked open the lighter, effortlessly lighting the joint perched in his mouth. He made everything he did look gorgeous, of course, but Klaus was especially endeared to him when there was pot involved.

He took a short puff, brow furrowed as he pushed smoke from his lungs. He cleared his throat but otherwise didn’t react much. “I think I’ll live.” He decided, tossing the lighter back to Klaus who completely failed to catch it. Eh, he’d fish it out of the sheets later.

Ugh .” Klaus replied through another mouthful. He swallowed, then reached out for the joint again. “I guess I’ll be sharing, then.”

“Always so generous.” Dave affirmed, “Even though you owe Andrews at least three packs of darts.”

“He was the sucker that kept letting me borrow from him.” Klaus grumbled, taking a long pull to ease the tension in his chest.

“Was?” Dave asked, his voice quieter. Klaus closed his eyes and leaned his shoulder against the wall by the window, holding the smoke in as long as he could before slowly blowing it out. Honestly, what was he supposed to say?

Chapter Text


“So.” Dave repeated, fidgeting with a still-burning dart. He took a long drag to try and ease his nerves as he shifted from foot to foot, trying to meet Andrews’ gaze. That was how his tate taught him to do things. Make eye contact, give a firm handshake that means business, and don’t back down.

In this case, the handshake wasn’t applicable, but the advice was still ringing in his head while he stared down the person he considered one of his best friends in this stupid fucking war. And wasn’t that a joke- having a best friend when every single day their lives were on the line for some reason or other. 

Some soldiers kept to themselves just for that reason. Either they’d already lost someone and couldn’t bear to do it again, or they were sparing themselves the future pain. But Dave could never do that, not really. He wasn’t quite a social butterfly, but he liked people and liked being around them. Even in the Viet-fucking-nam war, he was making friends. His tate always thought he trusted people too much, but his ma thought it was a blessing that he got along with just about everyone.

Hopefully that’d come in handy for what Dave was aiming to do.

“What you saw--” Dave said, faltering slightly.

“I didn’t see anything, Katz.” Andrews replied quickly, a bit too sharp. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

“..Is that how you want to do this?” Dave asked, his voice sounding tired. At least that meant that Andrews probably didn’t plan on telling anyone. There was some assurance in that.

“Do what?” Andrews crossed his arms and leaned against a tree, tapping his fingers against his arm pensively.

Dave let out a sigh through his nose. He could let it go, now. He could leave it be and Andrews would never acknowledge it again. Don’t ask, don’t tell- it ran deep, and they’d have no trouble just ignoring the whole thing entirely and moving on. But Andrews wasn’t just some squadmate, and something frustrated and stubborn spurred Dave on.

“The Klaus.. thing.” He reminded, reluctantly. “Is that how you want to handle this?”

“Wait, Klaus?” Andrews scoffed. “Katz, everyone with two eyes knows about Hargreeves. But what about you ?”

“What about me?” Dave asked, confused and regretting it as soon as the words came out of his mouth.

“This kind of shit doesn’t just- what if you can’t sweep it under the rug, man? What if it follows you?” Andrews asked, obviously frustrated. At least it wasn’t the outright disgust Dave had had to deal with back stateside. 

“This isn’t like you, Katz, this is so- it’s so stupid, fooling around like this. You could get your ass kicked back stateside and branded for this if someone doesn’t decide to frag you in the field first.” Andrews pressed his mouth together, the picture of a concerned and conflicted friend. “You can’t mess around with this shit. It’s not like you. Let off some steam like the rest of us and don’t let Hargreeves.. get to you.”

“This isn’t like me? This?” Dave repeated, hands clenching into fists. Andrews had it all wrong. “Hargreeves had nothing to do with… ‘this’.” He gestured to himself wildly, staring his friend in the eye. “I’ve been this way. My entire damn life, I’ve been this way.” He stated, tossing his cigarette to the ground and grinding it into the mud with his heel. “I’ve prayed and begged and done every fucking thing I could think to not be like this, Andrews, but this is me. Klaus didn’t turn me queer, for fuck’s sake.”

Now that he was turned on, the frustrated words couldn’t keep from spilling over. Now that he knew Andrews wasn’t going to snitch, wasn’t going to react with.. complete disgust, all the worried thought that had been going around and around in his mind couldn’t be held back.  “There’s not some- some pretty dame waiting for me back home, there’s not gonna be Katz’ old secret war ‘buddy’ that he fooled around with and then swept away with a happy marriage, there’s just gonna-” 

He took a deep breath and shook his head at himself, realizing he was getting ahead of himself. “At the end of this war, it’s just gonna be me. And maybe even- maybe even Klaus, if he wants.” Lord knows Dave wouldn’t say no to that, but.. “But he didn’t fucking convert me, Andrews. God. It’s not something you catch.”

“I know that, but I just-” Andrews faltered- he wasn’t expecting Dave to respond so strongly and now he seemed much less sure of himself. “ For real?”

“Me.” Dave stated, his voice firm. “I’m not ‘letting off steam’, I’m not turning queer, I’m not fucking around- this is me.”

“Oh.” Andrews replied, looking Dave up and down in a new light. What sort of light it was, Dave wasn’t sure. But despite that uncertainty, he noticed that he felt.. right. Saying all those things felt right. He’d been hiding that part of himself away for so long, terrified of the consequences, but here he was, David Katz: queer and - for the moment, at least - unafraid.

“Oh.” Dave repeated, having no trouble staring Andrews in the eye now.

"Just the guy I was looking for! ...and the other guy!" The tension broke somewhat and they both turned to see Klaus speed walking into their small, secluded clearing. Dave could read him pretty well and knew he was nervous, especially considering the manic, worried grin he shot Dave's way. "Hope I'm not interrupting anything, I just wanted to- um- pick Andrews' brain on something--"

All three of them knew what Klaus wasn't saying, why he was tracking Andrews. Klaus just didn't know that Dave had beaten him to the punch. 

Andrews' mouth pressed together and he looked back and forth between Dave and Klaus, at the way that Klaus seemed to gravitate to Dave's side even though they didn't dare touch or act too friendly in that moment. Dave's heart hammered in his throat, and he nearly took a protective step in front of Klaus. It was different when it was just Dave- he didn't want Klaus to get any more shit than he already did for being a well known queer.

"It's all good, spook." Andrews finally said, looking at Dave while he spoke. "Nothing left to talk about."

"Yeah, sure, but I wanted to sort of clear the air-" Klaus shifted from foot to foot and wrung his hands together. He was probably strung out on something, making him more paranoid than he usually was. "What you saw, me and Dave, um, I was just messing around, you know--"

"It's fine, Hargreeves." Andrews said firmly, turning to look at Dave's boyfriend. "Just be more careful, for God's sake. Imagine if Sarge walked in on you two necking in a jeep."

Even as he winced at the mental imagine, Dave's shoulders sagged slightly at what Andrews wasn't saying. The corner of his mouth lifted, and Andrews rolled his eyes and pushed himself off the tree. He strode by the two, clapping Dave on the shoulder as he went by. Everything was fine, then. "I don't want to see that shit again either, for the record!" He called over his shoulder as he walked off.

"Oh." Klaus said lightly, staring after him with a vacant expression. "That was easy."

Dave snorted. "Something like that, sweetcheeks."

"I thought I'd have to fight him for your honor or something." Klaus mumbled. Dave noted how dilated his pupils were. "I stocked up on pain killers for the occasion."

Dave swore under his breath and sighed, then hooked an arm around an unsteady Klaus' back. "My knight in shining armor." He stated blandly.

One of the less fun parts of stealing your boyfriend from Vietnam, 1968, was that it was a really long time ago. And while Klaus had a vague, loose grasp on the concept of time travel, he could tell it still baffled Dave. Something straight out of a comic book that he was living through. 

Klaus suspected he thought it was sort of cool, at times. But right now was not one of those times. No, now seemed to be the time to discuss one of the worse parts of time travel. It impacted Klaus much less, considering he’d had a round trip back home. But there was no going back to the 1960’s, not really. Dave’s ticket was one way and it was starting to dawn on him.

“Is Andrews alive?” Dave asked, staring him in the eye unflinchingly. He meant business now.

“Well…” Klaus said, a mouthful of smoke billowing out as he avoiding looking at Dave. It didn’t stop his fiancé from reaching to grab one of his hands, though. Klaus was about to deliver some of the most painful news he could think to give, and Dave was still comforting him and looking out for him. 

Fuck. So. Explaining to your fiancé that he’s probably never going to see his old friends again. And with that came the realization he didn’t have his family anymore. Or Jim Morrison. And Dave missed out on Queen, too, damn it.

Klaus sort of wished he had Ben with him to help, because Ben always knew how to word things way better. He could even be kind and tactful if he tried, though he usually didn’t. Why be understanding and polite when you were dead? At least Ben was civilized, unlike other ghosts. 

But he definitely couldn’t bring his brother in on this one. This was far too intimate and Dave deserved the conversation from Klaus himself. Even if Klaus had zero clue how to handle it.

“We’re fifty years in the future, Dave.” He stated, tapping his joint out the window, “And, um-”

“So he’s in his seventies.” Dave replied, his voice stiff. It reminded Klaus of the many soldiers he’d seen that had to sit there while a commanding officer informed them that their best friend didn’t make it. Fuck. If he hadn’t had Dave die in his arms, he might’ve reacted the same way to the news.  “Andrews. He’s an old bastard, then.”

Klaus sighed, wordlessly passing the joint again. “I don’t know.” He said, voice sorry and dull. “Dave, I don’t know who made it out.”

Dave took another hit, holding this one slightly longer as he watched Klaus, brow furrowed. “You didn’t check? ” He asked, squeezing Klaus’ hand slightly. There was implication in his voice and it made Klaus’ hackles raise.

“You died , Dave.” Klaus stressed, “ You . And I didn’t want to go digging up- digging up old memories just to figure out who else I had to mourn, okay?”

“I know it was hard, Klaus, but those are our friends .” Dave insisted quietly, trying to meet his eyes, “Family. Brothers. We disappeared on them, we have to let them know--”

Dead friends .” Klaus reminded bitterly.

“You don’t know that.” His better half snapped, taking his hand back and running it through his hair in frustration. “You just said you don’t know, and we owe it to them to figure it out. If they’re out there,” Dave gestured, vague but harsh, “Then they’ve been mourning you for fifty years. Us .”

Fucking Dave and his moral compass and sense of right and wrong. It was so simple when he put it like that, so black and white, but something in Klaus’ chest still twisted up at the notion. It was never that simple for Klaus. But he couldn’t just flat out say he didn’t want to know who had died. Didn’t want to have to deal with the ghosts of his friends, and whatever state they’d be in after fifty years . Klaus made a sour expression at the thought and looked away, crossing his arms defensively. 

It hurt him too, okay? Knowing that all those people he’d called brothers and family were lost to the brutality in Vietnam. But he was more intimate with death than Dave would ever be. And when Dave himself was the one that was dead.. well, call him selfish, but to Klaus everything else paled in comparison. So, yeah, he wasn’t planning on digging around for more fucking corpses after Dave had died.

His silence must have given something away, because Dave sighed, passed the joint, then moved to sit next to Klaus, shoulder to shoulder. “Baby.” He said earnestly, “I don’t want to start a fight.”

“Then drop it.” Klaus muttered childishly, knowing that argument was never going to fly. “Let’s just stay in our happy, traumatized little bubble.” He didn’t want to talk about this hard shit. Dave huffed.

“No, no, no. Give it to me straight, Klaus.” He replied, cutting right past the bullshit. Klaus had forgotten that there was a part of being known so completely and wholly that wasn’t so touching- Dave knew how and when to call him on his bullshit. He was kinder about it than Ben ever was or could be, but he knew how to get down to business. And not just in a sexy way.

If he was in a better mood, he’d make the obvious joke about not being straight. But as it was, he only made a loud, aggravated noise. “Fucking- fine . Okay? Fine, whatever, we’ll go find the 173rd.” He curled up his legs beneath himself, making himself smaller. “ And the body count.” Klaus muttered and leaned against his partner, taking a puff and missing the way a frown pulled Dave’s face down. 

“Hey. I don’t understand why this is a bad thing, Spook.” Dave said, frustrated but patient. “I know it’s going to hurt, knowing who didn’t make it. Lord knows it’ll hurt. But it’s still the decent thing to do. Isn’t it?”

“I don’t know.” Klaus mumbled against his shoulder, eyeing the joint and rolling what was left of it beneath his fingers. Who was he to say what was and wasn’t decent? He usually trusted Dave’s moral compass much more than his own, and he knew Dave was right about this one, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. 

This would be much easier if Dave were the type to scream and shout and argue like Klaus was used to. But no , they had to talk things out. It kept their relationship pretty well functioning, but that didn’t stop it from being annoying. Vulnerability and honest were not Klaus’ strong suits. 

“Klaus.” Dave insisted, then took a deep breath in and out. It was how Klaus knew he was choosing his next words carefully. “I need to know. I have to know, even if you’ve stopped caring-”

“I haven’t stopped caring!” Klaus retorted, sitting up to give Dave a truly offended look. “They were my brothers too, I’m not heartless -”

“I wasn’t- that’s not what I-” Dave made a frustrated noise, reaching to take the joint. “Okay. Okay. No fighting.”

“I care .” Klaus bit out defensively.

“I know you do. I know you do.” Reaching over, Dave put out the joint on the window sill and left it there, then wrapped his arm around Klaus. “Shouldn’t have said that, and I’m sorry.” He sighed, rubbing Klaus’ shoulder gently. Despite his frustration, Klaus still sunk into his side like always. 

“I still have to come with you, right?” Klaus grumbled.

“..We need to.” Dave replied gently, still insistent.

It wasn’t that he disagreed, really. Like.. sure, it made sense. But what Dave didn’t take into account was that Klaus was a coward. He knew it, his family certainly knew it. And if they went digging around and their old buddies started to haunt him.. he didn’t think he could take that. Sarge screaming at Klaus was one thing when he was alive, but having to hear that as howling fury of just another haunted soul that dogged his every step..

“Yeah. I guess.” He said quietly. What else could he do? Say no , he didn’t want to pay respects to their old war buddies? Say no, he didn’t want to help Dave find closure? There was no good reason he could give to get out of it, and he felt like dirt for even wanting to. Besides, coward or not, in the end he’d do anything Dave wanted him to. 

“It’ll be alright, doll.” Dave assured gently, reaching to press a kiss to the top of Klaus’ cheekbone. He really truly believed that, so Klaus tried to believe it too. Or at the very least he tried to ignore it.

"Okay." Klaus mumbled, smushing his face into the softness of Dave's robe. Past Klaus was a genius for making his partner this comfortable.

"Can I just ask.." Dave's voice drifted off, and he leaned his head over on top of Klaus' curls. "My, um- my family, too?"

Ah. Yeah. His family, too. "Fifty years." He reminded, and that's all he could really say. Klaus didn't know how Dave would react, what he was thinking- anything about that, really. Klaus made it a point to never speak about his own family back in Vietnam, and Dave never strayed too far into that territory either. Aside from a few stories, all Klaus knew was that it was strained. Full of love, but strained. How Dave would want to handle that one.. "What do you want to do?" He asked quietly.

Dave was quiet. The hand that was wrapped around Klaus' shoulder reached up to tug through his dark hair, and Klaus didn't dare break the silence while his fiance considered the matter. If it was his family... well, Klaus had already been playing on staying in the past with Dave, even though he loved his family and all their apocalypse-causing fuck-ups. He knew he'd miss Ben, but being sober in the past with Dave was leagues better than being homeless, drug/ghost addled, and inevitably cast away again by his family.

But Dave didn't have ten thousand and one reasons to resent each member of his family. He was just a normal guy with siblings and parents and a dog that wanted to go home to them at the end of the war.

"Could we just look?" Dave requested quietly, something resigned but equally fragile in his voice. His hand stilled. "I don't know how I'd explain if we- but I- can we please look?"

"Yeah." Klaus agreed immediately, even if he didn't know the first place to start. They'd figure it out, though- Five, Ben, maybe even Pogo.. someone could help them figure out where Dave's family was and what they were doing those days.

"Okay." Dave cleared his throat, pressing his cheek harder into Klaus' hair. "Okay. Thank you. I just need to- I just need to know, you know? I don't know what I'll do, but I have to know."

Klaus nodded, noticing his lightheadedness when he did so. Ah, weed. "We'll figure it out, okay?" He mumbled, "Whatever you want."

"Yeah." His partner whispered, and Klaus had the sneaking suspicion he was getting choked up. Now that just wouldn't do.

“Later though. Later.” Klaus decided, “All this emotional vulnerability is giving me a headache. I’ve taken ill.”

"Later." Dave agreed, and then hummed sympathetically. “Do you want me to get Five and his stethoscope?”

“Alas,” Klaus sighed dramatically. The tightness in his chest that he didn't know he had eased somewhat as Dave went along with the joke. Conversation dropped, then. Nobody had to cry again! Excellent. “Five already diagnosed me with dumb bitch disease months ago.”

His partner huffed out a laugh, and the corner of Klaus’ mouth turned up. “Is there anything we can do?” Dave asked, watching him fondly. “Sounds pretty serious.”

“If he could’ve cured me, he would.” Klaus said, very seriously.

“Tragic.” Dave said, his voice low and mournful, “But I guess I’m here for health and sickness, so I’ll just have to take care of you.”

With the mood more at ease now, Klaus felt butterflies at the nonchalant reminder. “You haven’t put a ring on it yet.” He felt the need to point out, jokingly- but the joke fell flat with the self deprecation lurking behind it. “There’s still time to run.”

“Hmm.” Dave made a sound of deep contemplation, staring at Klaus. “Nah.”

“Nah?” Klaus repeated.

“Nah.” Dave confirmed, “I already made up my mind. You’re stuck with me.”

He had to fight against the grin that was threatening to break out across his face. Weren’t they just arguing a moment ago? But even if they disagreed or argued or fought, Dave always seemed to find his way back to Klaus’ side. He even defied death to do it. “Promise?” Klaus asked, looking up at Dave through dark lashes as he rested against the neon orange of his partner’s robe.

David, his beloved, his pride and joy, reached out a hand and grabbed one of Klaus’ pinkies with his own, twining them together. “Promise.”

Chapter Text

Klaus never knew what the stars really looked like until Vietnam.

Sure, he had stars back home, but light pollution or global warming or whatever - some smart explanation Ben would've had - made them seem like fool’s gold compared to the night sky in the A Shau Valley.

“Just you wait, Spook.” Dave said around a cigarette perched between his lips. He leaned forward and lit Klaus’ first, like he always did, and Klaus sucked in air while the dart caught. Dave finally did the same to his and it was silent until he blew out a long stream of smoke. “‘Nam’s air is full of crap from Rolling Thunder and Agent Orange. But back in the states we’ll find someplace nice, hours away from the cities. Then I’ll show you some real stars.”

Klaus pulled his cig from his mouth between two fingers, quirking his mouth in amusement. If he wasn’t reasonably certain the moon landing hadn’t happened yet, he’d have already blown Dave’s mind telling him about Luther.

They were settled in a small clearing while the rest of camp slept. Klaus had paid off guard duty for the night shift with some clean, dry socks, so they had complete and total peace except for the ever present rumble of shelling in the distance. He watched as Dave stared out into the universe, finding himself a little lost for air as he noticed the stars reflecting in his better half’s eyes.

He started coughing, because apparently the burning in his lungs wasn’t just from staring at Dave. The other soldier looked over at the noise, and the corner of his mouth lifted in a grin while he reached over to give Klaus a solid smack on the back.

“ Ow .” Klaus wheezed, eyes watering as he choked on smoke.

“I’m helping.” Dave said, not helping whatsoever and delighting in it.

“I think you just popped my back .” He cleared his throat a few times once his lungs started calming down, then shot Dave a look. His boyfriend was the picture of innocence, except for the grin still tugging at his lips. “Don’t do it that hard, asshole.”

“Never thought I’d hear you say that.” Dave said, eyebrows raised, and then he seemed to realize what he said. Despite it being dark out, Klaus could swear he saw a blush on his cheeks. ”..Sorry, doll.” 

Klaus, understandably, cracked up and laughed so hard he started coughing again. This time, Dave snorted and snuck an arm around Klaus’ waist to support him through his laughing fit. Once he calmed down some, he used the closeness to tuck his head into the crook of Dave’s neck, forgetting his cigarette for the time being.

“Careful.” Dave murmured, and Klaus knew from his tone that he was scanning their surroundings again despite it being dead silent (for Dave). Klaus nuzzled closer out of spite and stubbornness, heaving a sigh against his partner. The arm wrapped around him tightened.

No. No, no, no, no. Where was Tucker? Where was Andersmith? 

Oh, God. Andersmith. Anders. He was blown up, that’s right. How could Klaus forget? It only happened moments ago. The sight drifted through his mind and he gagged at that and the stench of napalm, but he couldn’t stop running. He couldn’t slow down. They were retreating and meeting up at the rendezvous. Weren’t they? That’s what Dave said.

Dave. No, Dave , not Dave. God, no, why Dave ? Klaus tripped over a root, and he felt as though he should stop running, because he sprained his ankle, didn’t he? But he didn’t slow down for the pain. If anything he sped up trying to get away from the memories. Dave, left at the front lines, bleeding out. His body cold, his eyes colder. 

Why would this fucking war take Dave and not him? Klaus had been taunting fate and had had one foot in the grave ever since he was old enough to realize his imaginary friends weren’t so imaginary, that his other siblings didn’t play with figments with their guts hanging out and their limbs mangled-- like Anders. Oh, God, not Anders. He was just a kid, drafted in away from his family. And Bitters was barely 20 before a stray piece of fucking shrapnel destroyed his artery, and that was it , it went by so fast , and Dave--

“Dave!” He called as he tore through the trees and the undergrowth and the dead soldiers, because he was getting close to the rendezvous and surely he’d find Dave there, safe and sound- wait-- “ Dave --!” 

Something was thrown onto his face, and Klaus gasped and lurched up, because he must have fallen, and what hit him? He scrabbled and clawed at his face to get rid of it, because he was as good as dead if he didn’t get upright and running again, the Cong was right on his tail, and Dave was sitting there next to him so they had to go . He reached over and grabbed Dave’s arm in a death grip.

“Klaus. Sweetheart.” Dave said, eyes bright in the darkness while Klaus clawed at the netting or something he was caught in with his free hand, yanking at Dave with another.

“We have to go, it’s not safe,” Klaus said urgently, his voice quiet so nobody picked up on them, “Get up, get up, get up--”

“Klaus, no, wait, we’re not- Honey-”

“Are you hurt? Dave, aren’t you hurt?” Something was wrong. Klaus looked him up and down frantically, but there wasn’t any blood. He must be paranoid. Or did Dave break something? Why wasn’t Dave hurt? “We have to keep moving, we have to meet up with the others! We can't miss the chopper!”

“Klaus.” Another voice said, and he immediately ignored it because he was not dealing with the fucking ghosts right now, they could wait their turn until Dave was safe and sound. Speaking of, when did Dave get his hands on Klaus’ shoulders? Why was he holding him so tightly? Didn’t he know they had to run?

“Klaus. We aren’t in Vietnam anymore.”

“What? What the fuck?” Klaus asked hysterically, reaching his hands up to grab Dave’s biceps. He didn’t understand. Maybe Dave hit his head? Shit, they had to go, they had to go --

“Klaus, we’re in the Academy, alright? We’re home, Klaus.” Ben said, and since when was Ben with him in Vietnam? What was happening? Why was Klaus shaking?

“Sweetheart, look- you’re in bed, you’re in your room, we’re at your family’s house, we’re safe.” Dave insisted, his expression looking impossibly sad. And that explained why Ben was there, and suddenly Klaus knew he was on his bed, his surroundings shifting and changing while he gasped for air he didn’t have. But it still didn’t make sense. Why would Dave be in his room? What happened?

“Just breathe, Klaus.” Ben urged from his place over Dave’s shoulder.

“Breathe for me, okay sweetheart? Just breathe. All you have to do is breathe.” Dave said, and Klaus’ eyes flickered between the two frantically as he took in gulps of air.

“You’re not there, Klaus.” Ben explained, “Look around. Feel the bed, feel Dave- you’re not there. You’re home.”

Home. The Academy. His bedroom.

“Oh, God.” Klaus gasped quietly.

“You with me, Klaus?” Dave asked, “Where are we?”

“A-Academy.” He replied, his voice shaky.

“Good, good.” Dave’s shoulders sagged somewhat in relief, and he gently ran his hands up to cradle Klaus’ face. He instinctively turned his head to the side to press his cheek into the warmth, his own hands coming up to clutch at Dave’s wrists. “You with me?” He asked again.

“Yeah.” Klaus said, hoarse, “Yeah, I’m with you.”

Ben seemed to relax somewhat too, and he moved to perch on the edge of the bed. Klaus couldn’t stand to look into Dave’s eyes right now, so he looked over and met his brother’s. 

“That.. was.. a bad one.” He said slowly, trying to gauge Klaus’ reaction. He sighed in response, not wanting to see the concern on Ben’s face either. He closed his eyes and pushed himself closer into Dave’s hold instead.

“Is Ben here?” Dave asked gently, moving an arm to pull him close. Klaus nodded. “Good, I’m glad.”

Well, that was nice. Dave was taking the ‘being haunted’ part of the family pretty well. Small blessings, Klaus thought with a semi-hysterical giggle.

“I haven’t seen you that messed up since… probably since you got home the first time.” Ben said, soft and contemplative. And as Klaus ran through everything that just happened, the horror gladly playing on in his mind, he realized Ben was right. He hadn’t had that bad a nightmare since they first started averting the apocalypse. He was drenched in cold sweat and shaking like a leaf, his breathing coming in shuddery gasps.

“Dave was here so I- I thought-” His voice sounded embarrassingly broken, so he stopped trying to speak past the growing lump in his throat. Everything from the dream was so vivid and real despite the story changing every second. He genuinely didn’t know he was home. Shit.

“Sweetheart.” Dave sighed softly, pulling him even closer and pressing their foreheads together despite how cold and clammy Klaus was. It reminded him of all the soft touches and reassurances Dave gave him during occasional withdrawals when he was doused in sweat and barely lucid. If he were more of a sap, he’d be swooning. But right now he was just vaguely traumatized.

“Not your fault.” Klaus mumbled.

“It makes sense how it got confusing, though.” Ben offered, probably trying to reassure Klaus. But it wasn’t reassuring. The more he thought about it, the more he realized he was just plain frustrated.

“I was-” He swallowed, ducking his head to press his face into Dave’s collarbone, “I was doing better .”

Why could none of this be simple? It’d been months since he was in active military combat. Months since he had comrades dying in his arms. And he knew he had Dave here with him now, safe and sound. He knew

“Well..” Ben trailed off, thinking, “You went back. It makes sense that everything is- um- fresh. And- well.” There was a heavy pause. “Maybe Dave is triggering you.”

“What?” Klaus demanded sharply, rearing back so he could stare down his brother. That was the worst thing Ben had ever said to him.

“What’s wrong?” Dave asked gently, eyes searching his face.

“I’m just saying,” Ben’s brow furrowed as he tried to explain, “Watching him die was traumatic. So I think having him back is triggering, even if he’s fine.”

“Fuck right off, Ben.” He said viciously. He didn’t like that. He didn’t want that. His fiancé couldn’t be summed up as some buzzword thrown around in group therapy. “Leave. Go away.”

“Klaus, I know it’s hard, but I’m just saying -”

“Get out! Leave !” Klaus shouted suddenly, clutching onto Dave as his voice rang out through the quiet, dim room.

“Klaus.” Dave reprimanded softly, a hand moving to tug through his hair in a way he knew Klaus liked. It didn’t matter, though. Ben had already disappeared. Usually he made a show of getting up and walking away, but this time he was simply there one moment and gone the next.


“He was being an asshole .” Klaus bit out.

“You sure he wasn’t just trying to help?”

“Fuck you too.” Klaus immediately replied, then immediately regretted it.

Fuck. What the fuck was wrong with him? He felt horrible and mixed up and angry and now he was being a bitch to Dave, too. 

“No, fuck you.” Dave said, his voice completely neutral.

“Fuck you.” Klaus repeated grumpily.

“Fuck you.”

“Fuck you twice.”

“Fuck you.. thrice.”

“Four. Fuck you times four.”

“Damn, now I’m hurt.” Dave decided, voice unchanging. Klaus heaved an irritated sigh, and supposed he should be grateful that Dave still understood him well enough to not take his lashing out that seriously.

“Your face is hurt.” Klaus muttered in the name of being petty.

“Now you’re just being mean.” His fiancé commented, running a hand up and down his back. Klaus was reminded how damp and disgusting he felt. It reminded him of the jungle. It made his skin crawl. “Can you tell me what Ben said?”

“I need a bath first.” Klaus replied instead, avoiding his eyes.

“Driving a hard bargain, I see.” Still, Dave was already starting to tug the covers away from both of them, and Klaus shivered as they carefully helped each other out of bed. He considered telling Dave that he didn’t have to come, that he could go back to sleep, but they both knew the soldier wouldn’t leave his side. It felt like too much energy to even bother with the nicety.

Despite the strain he showed while getting up, Dave still wrapped an arm around Klaus’ shoulders and helped guide him out into the hallway, then into the bathroom. 

The harsh light had them both squinting and blinking. Dave went ahead and took the initiative to start filling up the tub, while Klaus looked for the bubble bath he’d made Diego buy and ignored how his nerves felt like they were on fire. Once he found the bright pink bottle, he dumped in a generous portion. Dave huffed softly, amused, and helped him un-stick his shirt from his torso so he could toss it to the floor.

His pants were off and he was stepping into the tub when Five threw the door open, his eyes narrowed. “Are you fucking kidding me, Klaus?” He swore, throwing his head back and his eyes to the ceiling, “There are some things I don’t need to see, and yet it just keeps happening .”

“Knock first.” Was all Klaus bothered to say before stepping into the tub and slumping down into the warm water.

“Did we wake you up?” Dave asked, looking between the siblings before sighing and giving up, probably chalking up the casualness of the two brothers in the bathroom as more Hargreeves weirdness. And he was probably right, to be fair. It wasn’t like Klaus knew how normal siblings interacted.

“No. I just heard the yelling .” Five stressed, “But you seem fine. Is he?”

Dave made a vague hand gesture, lowering himself to the floor by the tub so he could still be on level with Klaus. “Nightmare.”

“Hm.” Five replied, “Bad?”

“Bad.” Klaus confirmed, feeling his muscles finally start to unclench now that he wasn’t shaking so much. He reached a wet hand out of the tub and gave it to Dave, who gladly accepted and started running his thumb up and down the back of it. The rest of Klaus sunk down low into the warm water and the absurd amount of suds, glaring at nothing. 

“How bad?” Five dared to ask.

There was silence while he considered what to say. “..Ben said that Dave was triggering me.” He muttered quietly. Dave’s face immediately fell, while Five’s took on a more considerate expression.

“Well,” Five decided, “of course he is.” His littlest oldest brother crossed his arms and leaned against the bathroom wall. “You watched him die and then watch him not die, and both were horrible experiences for you.”

“Hey.” Klaus said, a clear edge to his voice as he scowled from behind a mound of bubbles.

“Look, Klaus, I can’t even look at Dave without remembering how dead he looked and felt.” Five said, his voice flat. “And while I don’t particularly have any attachment or care, of course he’s triggering you .”

“Shit.” Dave added, worrying his lip with his teeth. And that wasn’t good at all, because Klaus knew how hard he tried to break the habit of biting his lips when he was nervous. Everything was terrible.

“But that isn’t- that’s not-” Klaus made a noise of pure frustration, raising his fists and slamming them back down into the water. The mini-tantrum only succeeded in splashing everyone. “That isn’t fair! ” He exclaimed. And fuck if it wasn’t true. 

Five gave him a sharp, semi-disappointed look at the sentiment, because they both knew nothing about this was fair. And Klaus of all people knew life wasn’t fair, okay? He was the walking, talking poster-child of how unfair and brutal life could be. But he finally, finally got his way just this once and had his beautiful, precious Dave back with him-- and now Dave was a trigger?

Dave, the poor dear, wiped a hand down his face to get rid of the water and then reached to grab Klaus’ hand again. “It makes sense, babe.” He offered, sounding regretful.

“It isn’t your fault .” Klaus sighed, his eyes softening at the sight of his fiancé on the floor looking deeply hurt at the very idea.

“No, I know.” Dave mumbled, bringing Klaus’ hand up to brush his lips across his knuckles. “I know.” And how could Klaus stay upset now? He all but wilted, his shoulders sagging as he looked away.

“You just have to get used to having him around again.” Five said, matter-of-factly, “It’ll take time, but you’ll live.”

Klaus wanted to say something snarky or mean, because nothing about this felt as simple as Five just described it. Instead, he sunk further into the bubbles and scowled at him.

“Charming.” Five said.

“What time is it?” Dave asked, peering up at the tiny window. They’d fallen asleep last night in each other's arms, and usually that was enough to keep the worst of Klaus’ nightmares at bay, but now nothing was sacred and it wasn’t enough. 

“A little after five.” His brother replied, tapping a socked foot against the ground. “Since we’re all here sulking in the bathroom like assholes together- how are you feeling, Dave?”

Dave hummed, looking back to Klaus. There were lines on his face that were usually unnoticeable, but stress and sadness deepened them. The purple bruises beneath his eyes were starting to lighten up with all the rest he was getting, at least. They probably looked worse against the gaudy orange robe.

“I can take a full breath and hold it now.” He replied, exchanging a knowing glance with Klaus, “S’just stiff and achey.” 

“Hm.” Five’s fingers twitched like he wanted to write something down. “Try gentle breathing exercises for the day. And I want mom to give you a full body checkup after breakfast. Capiche?”

“Ca-what?” Dave asked tiredly.

“See you at breakfast.” Both Klaus and Dave shut their eyes tightly at the burst of blue that signaled Five’s disappeared. Klaus huffed through his nose and then sunk down into the water, taking his hand back from Dave to fully submerge himself. 

It was a bit easier to soak in the bath with someone else nearby, he decided. Someone alive. Speaking of triggers, that was one he had fought hard to shake. Long, luxurious bubble baths were one of the few things in this world Klaus truly cherished, and Hazel and Cha-Cha did their best to ruin them. Bastards. 

A knock on the side of the tub had Klaus sit up and gasp for air, wiping water and suds from his face so he could squint at his fiance. 

“Can I-” Dave paused, looking oddly sheepish. “Could I wash your hair?”

Klaus sighed, his shoulders sagging. “Please.”

Chapter Text

“Family breakfast!”

Klaus flinched at the bellowing from his biggest brother, making eye contact with Dave. He was still in the bath, Dave on the floor and leaning against the wall next to him while they spoke quietly. Judging by the sound of the footsteps, Luther was thundering down the hall trying to wake everyone up at once.

“That sounds important.” Dave said softly. Klaus made a small noise of complaint, sinking back down into the cooling bath water. 

“But I’m traumatized .” Klaus sighed dramatically, because why address his actual trauma with anything other than a whiny joke? “I should get a pass.”

“Sweetheart.” His darling replied, “I think you’d get a pass every day of your damn life if that was what it took.” Klaus cracked a smile at the dark humor and Dave snorted softly, pleased to see him brighten up. “Come on, Spooky. Up and at ‘em. Time with your family will take your mind off things.”

Ah, still a family man even though he had more than enough evidence that the Hargreeves were a nightmare. Heaving another sigh, Klaus sat up and reached for the plug. Once it started to drain, Dave braced himself on the edge of the tub and gingerly pulled himself to his feet. Then he offered a hand to Klaus.

“Nuh-uh.” Klaus said, standing up by himself, “Just because I’m fucked up doesn’t mean you stopped being fucked up.”

“I can still help.” Dave protested, putting a hand on his arm while he stepped over the lip of the tub. 

They both flinched at the loud knocking on the door. “Family breakfast.” Luther insisted loudly, probably having heard the tub draining. At the very least he didn’t open the door and barge in like some other siblings Klaus could mention.

“Yeah, yeah,” He sighed, “Calm your hairy tits and give us a minute.”

There was an awkward pause as Luther realized just who he was interrupting. “I.. um, about- earlier-”

“Luther?” Klaus called, “Shut up.”

“..Yeah. Yeah. Okay, Klaus.” The two in the bathroom shared a look as the footsteps walked back down the hall.

 He wasn’t expecting that to work. “Huh.” Klaus said.

“Huh.” Dave replied, his voice a tad bit darker. Someone still wasn’t impressed with Luther.

Klaus clapped a wet hand on Dave’s fluffy shoulder. “One day at a time, babe.”

After he’d been dried off, Dave took the liberty of tucking his towel around his waist and they went back down the hall to get some clothes. Klaus decided to put on real clothes and settled for something simple - a bright hawaiian print shirt that he didn’t bother buttoning, and bright pink skinny jeans that he’d definitely stolen from Allison as a teenager.

“Lookin’ good.” His fiance said with a hint of a grin. “Mind grabbing me something while you’re at it?” He was leaned up against the wall, trying to act like his chest wasn’t bothering him. But Klaus knew that slight wrinkle on his forehead, saw that he was a shade paler. 

“Are you still trying to get me to find you a shirt?” Klaus complained nonetheless, “Sexy orange, remember?”

“Klaus.” Dave said, a teasing edge to his voice. 

He rolled his eyes and sighed dramatically before he started digging through his closet again, throwing clothes this way and that until he found something big enough. A nice long sleeved sweater - argyle and boring but comfy and most definitely stolen from Luther - that swallowed Klaus whole when he wore it.

He personally helped Dave shuck the fluffy robe he was in, his eyes lingering on the bright pink scar dead center on his chest before the glint of his dog tags caught his eye. It was covered up by the ugly fabric when he pulled it over his head.

Dave smiled at him once his head was through the neck. Klaus hummed, adjusted the turtle neck on the sweater, paused, then reached down inside so he could pull his dog tags out and display them around the collar. 

“Better?” Klaus asked.

“Much.” And then like the kind, lovable nerd his partner was, he reached out and offered Klaus the crook of his arm. He rolled his eyes, having to bite his lip to keep a smile at bay.

“Wait!” Klaus’ brain froze with a single thought. “One sec.” He darted away, moving towards his window sill to try and find a joint. Nope, past-Klaus didn’t have the sense to pre-roll anything. Damn. He could really quickly do another- but. But.

“Wait!” He exclaimed again, rushing towards his bedside table and yanking open a drawer. “Yes!”

He held up his prize with a pleased grin- special chocolate. Dave snorted as he bit off a large chunk. Then he broke off a smaller piece before Dave before he tossed the chocolate carelessly onto his bed. He’d find it later, maybe before sitting on it.

Loudly crunching, he finally tucked his arm through Dave’s. And if he took a moment to press his head to Dave’s broad shoulder affectionately, well- breakfast could wait another thirty seconds. He offered up the smaller piece of chocolate with his free hand, and Dave opened his mouth for him to pop it in.

“Thanks, dollface.” He said, voice full of amusement.

“Gotta make sure we’re on our best behavior, hm?” And not constantly tormented by memories and dreams and ghosties. He briefly considered going back for his cigarettes, but the allure of sticking to Dave’s side was too strong.

“I’ll behave if you do.” Dave agreed, his teeth showing through a crooked grin before he ducked down to press a kiss to Klaus’ head. 

They walked downstairs like that, arm in arm and as close as they could be without tripping each other up. It helped keep the memory of his dreams at bay when he was all but cuddled up to his partner’s side. 

They stepped into the foyer, about to head to the kitchen, but the living room caught his attention. Klaus blinked at the sight. There was a breakfast spread set up in the living room, trays of different foods on the coffee table.

“This is weird.” He announced, tugging his beau along.

Dave seemed to be getting more comfortable being openly affectionate with Klaus, because he didn’t bother trying to pull away when they walked in. Luther was sitting in the middle of one couch- he made eye contact with Klaus and then immediately looked away, fidgeting. Allison and Diego were on the other couch and taking up more space than they strictly needed as they spoke and ate, so Klaus shrugged and tugged Dave over to an armchair. 

Once Dave sat down, it was easy enough to fit himself in the tiny space left in the chair and curl up around his fiance. Dave tucked an arm around his shoulders to keep him close and gently fidgeted with the collar of his shirt.

Klaus made eye contact with Ben once he was situated. He had blinked into existence perched on the edge of the couch, instinctively seeking out Klaus’ gaze. Klaus tried to smile at him, but it may have looked more like a grimace. Ben’s hood was up, and between that and the neutral indifference on his face, it was a clear sign his brother wasn’t in the mood for antics. Ah, shit. He had some apologizing to do.

“Morning, boys.” Allison said, her voice quiet but fond. The gentle clinking of her fork as she ate pancakes was as loud as she was.

“Not a boy.” Klaus said, looking away from Ben to better inspect the food.

“Right, my bad.” She replied easily, “Good morning boy and genderless babe.” He shot her a pleased grin for her troubles. It was dashed when she added, “Don’t think I don’t notice who’s pants those are.”

Diego, on the other hand, took one look at the two of them entwined on the chair and heaved a sigh, but to his credit he didn’t say anything except for a muttered, “Morning, dumbasses.”

“I’ll take it.” Klaus chirped. Dave huffed out a small laugh.

“Has-” Luther spoke up, and he sounded so uncertain that it immediately threw Klaus for a loop-de-loop. “Has anyone seen Five..?”

“Um.” Klaus replied, “We saw him like… a few minutes ago?”

“An hour and a half ago.” Dave corrected.

“No way. How do you know that? You don’t have a watch.” He argued, trying not to think too hard about the fact that his morning so far had only felt like minutes, not hours.

“Kept track of when he left the bedroom and how the sun rose.” His partner replied, reaching up his hand to ruffle Klaus’ hair. It was drying into tidier ringlets than last time, and now Dave went and messed them up. The bastard.

“Nerd.” Klaus said, considering the stack of waffles very seriously, “But yeah, he should be around somewhere. Why so eager to gather the troops, Luther dear?”

“Uh.” Luther’s shoulders hunched up towards his ears. It used to be a subtle thing, but he couldn’t hide his tells so easily in his larger body. “I just- thought. It’d be. A nice treat. If we were all here.” He cleared his throat, focusing on grabbing himself another plate of sausage and pancakes. “..For you and Dave.”

Klaus was sort of with him for the first part, but then his brain came to a screeching halt. “Wait. This is for us? You did this for us?”

“..Yeah.” Luther admitted, “A little. To welcome him to the family.”

There was silence. Diego looked shocked, Allison looked pleasantly surprised, Ben looked up and raised his eyebrows, and Dave looked.. torn. 

“Oh.” Klaus said, just to try and break the stiffness. Luther wasn’t looking at any of them, but the tips of his ears were pink.

“Well. This is incredibly awkward.” Five announced from where he’d been leaning against the entryway to the room. Vanya was stood beside him, grimacing at the way he chose to announce their presence. Klaus flinched at the sudden interruption, not having noticed them. 

Sparing him what might pass as a concerned glance in select countries, their littlest brother strode forward to grab a mug and pour himself a cup of coffee. He raised it to Klaus in a mock-cheer and stepped aside, teleporting as he did so. He reappeared leaning against a pillar, watching the discussion with mild interest.

“..Thank you, Luther.” Dave finally said, his voice still leaning more towards ‘hardened soldier’ than ‘laid back 60’s hippy’ while addressing him. But Klaus knew he appreciated the gesture on some level. Family was important to Dave, and Luther was trying to help welcome him in instead of be a roadblock. It was probably his version of an apology. He’d seemed pretty wrecked, last time Klaus saw him.

..Maybe he deserved to know, and maybe Luther should feel a little bad after all’s said and done, sure. But it didn’t make Klaus feel any better. There wasn’t any vindication or comfort in watching his confident brother become small and hurt and sorry. He hoped Ben was happy with himself.

“Do you-” Luther cleared his throat, “I can get you both your plates, if you’d like?”

“That won’t be necessary.” Dave said firmly, sitting up. “What’re you thinking, Spook?”

Klaus tapped his fingers against his chin in a rhythm. “I want like, a fourth of a pancake - chocolate chip - and three quarters of a waffle. But arranged like a whole piece.”

“So you want an abomination.” Diego supplied snarkily, stabbing a piece of sausage.

“I don’t say shit about what you eat, Di.” Klaus complained, curling up in the chair as Dave leaned forward to slowly stand.

“He’s got what he likes to call ‘discerning taste’.” Dave added, taking a moment to raise his arms in a slight stretch before kneeling slightly in front of the coffee table to start arranging Klaus’ bizarre wishes.

“Bullshit, you don’t.” Diego stated. “And right. Klaus, our brother, real discerning.”

“He picked me out, didn’t he?” Dave asked calmly, but Klaus heard a note in his voice that he recognized. Challenging. Sometimes it was a thrilling thing to hear, but right now he was just exasperated at the way his brother and his fiance met eyes and silently butted heads.

“Syrup!” Klaus announced, reaching a foot forward to gently poke Dave in the back. “I need syrup. Is the whipped cream out here?”

“Diego, you have no room to talk.” Vanya interrupted, and Klaus was ever so grateful for his sister’s tricky empathy. She was settling on the couch next to Allison with a bagel and a cup of coffee, “You’re awful with food.”

“What?” The brother in question sat up and demanded.

“They’re right.” Allison added, “If I ever have to watch you crack a raw egg into your mouth again--”

“Why are you ganging up on me?” Diego complained, throwing his palms up in frustration.

Luther lowered his face into his hands. “Can you guys fight at family breakfast a little quieter ?”

Klaus frowned, looking to see what the strained note in his brothers’ voice was from. He caught Ben’s eye from behind his hoodie, and Ben mimed picking up a glass and taking a sip of something.

Ah. So Luther was hungover and sad. Ben wasn’t talking to anyone. Dave still didn’t like his brothers. And Klaus still felt like his hackles were raised from his nightmare and he couldn’t fully relax. They were all in great form. Spectacular. 

Klaus wished this family had a single healthy coping mechanism to spare between them. Vanya maybe had a few, but she could keep hers. She needed those.

At Luther’s scolding, Diego rolled his eyes and scoffed, but he let it go. Dave carefully handed Klaus the plate of waffle/pancake/ungodly amounts of syrup and settled back into the chair by his side with a bagel. Klaus propped his narrow legs up on Dave’s lap and started to pick at the food with a fork. All things considered, he wasn’t even hungry- he mostly just needed something funny to cut the tension. For appearance’s sake he took a few small bites, then handed the plate to Dave and curled up further, settling his chin on his shoulder. 

“All right?” Dave asked in his ear, voice a rumble. He nodded as best he could. Honestly, he just wanted to spend the day curled up somewhere warm and talk to Dave for hours, preferably alone, to ward off the nightmares behind his eyes. The trigger suggestion still sat in his mind like a weight, and he wanted to prove it wrong out of spite. He also just felt like garbage and wanted to be held.

Stupid Luther, trying to be nice and considerate with a family meal. 

Speaking of. “You didn’t make all this yourself, right big guy?” Klaus asked, a yawn punctuating his words.

“I helped mom make it.” Luther replied.

“Wait, you helped?” Klaus asked, peering at his brother, “Since when can you cook?”

“I had a lot of free time alone with mom before the, uh,” Luther put a massive hand on the back of his neck, looking away. “Moon thing.”

“Oh! Sweet.” He replied, “And the gardening, too?”

“..What gardening?” Luther asked, his demeanor changing to something more guarded.

“You’ve been spending free time in the greenhouse sprucing it up, no?” He tilted his head in confusion, looking around the room. Nobody else seemed to understand what he was talking about. Luther looked put out.

“Oh. Cool. That was a secret.” God, Klaus just wanted to be hiding away in his room with Dave. Interacting with people was terrible. “Uh, my bad-”

“It’s fine.” Luther muttered, “It’s not a secret, just- didn’t come up.”

“With any of us.” Allison replied, flat. Then she softened. “I think that’s a good idea, Luther.”

“Plants can be pretty healing.” Vanya added.

Out of nowhere, Dave snorted. And then he started chuckling quietly. Luther furrowed his brow.

“Somethin’ funny about that to you, soldier?” Diego asked, raising an eyebrow defensively. 

Dave shook his head and lowered it into his hands, shoulders shaking. “ Healing plants .” He explained then froze- before he turned to tuck his face into Klaus’ neck. “Baby.” He said through peals of laughter. He had to stop and take a moment to calm down long enough to say, “This is so fucking strong, what the fuck.”

“Huh?” Klaus asked, tilting his head to the side, “Is it? I had way more than you.”

“Shit.” Vanya said, putting two and two together, “You got him high, Klaus? It’s barely 8:30.”

“Wow. He’s high as a goddamn kite.” Diego stated to the room. “Fucking incredible.”

“I gave him a single piece!” He argued, “Or two.”

Klaus .” Allison sighed, trying to sound motherly but not quite hiding her grin in time. Luther had a hand on his forehead, probably just as done with his family as Klaus was.

“How many joints do you smoke a day, stoner?” Diego pointed out, “Your tolerance is higher. And you ate it on an empty stomach.”

“I thought Dave was maybe a bit more responsible.” Allison added mischievously. 

“Are you serious?” Five asked, gesturing vaguely at them. “No. He’s an idiot too. They’re both numbskulls.”

Klaus huffed, hating the way his family was staring at his social life. He prepared to defend himself and Dave for his totally reasonable actions, despite maybe not having thought this out all the way. But he was interrupted by a startled, honest to God shriek from his boyfriend, accompanied by him dropping his plate of cold food on the floor. “Holy motherfucking shit!” Dave shouted.

Everyone in the room tensed and immediately looked to see what he was screaming at. Klaus didn’t get it- all he saw was the others, and the addition of Pogo.

Oh, right. Pogo.

A startled Pogo that didn’t appreciate being screamed at by a stranger, apparently. While he smoothed down the front of his suit, he shot Klaus a disapproving look as if this was entirely his fault. 

“Dave,” Klaus said, his fingers snapping, “I knew there was something I forgot to tell you.” 

“Oh, my God.” Luther stood up, shaking his head,  “I love you all, but I’m leaving.”

Chapter Text

“I see that Master Dave is settling in well.” Pogo finally said, looking resigned to the ridiculousness. 

Dave clutched at Klaus’ arm. “I don’t know what’s happening.” He whispered, stressed. 

“David, darling,” Klaus said, sitting up and taking both of Dave’s hands in his own. “This is Pogo! He’s.. a family friend.”

Despite appearances, Pogo wasn’t really a butler. He was more like a morally ambiguous sidekick for Reginald’s experiments than anything else.

“He helped raise us.” Diego said, watching Luther get up and walk out with an amused expression. Klaus had to bite back a scoff. Pogo didn’t raise him.

Despite having apparently screwed everything up when he threw the journal out, Klaus never found it in himself to regret lying to Pogo. He rarely felt guilt when it came to the ape, despite him being something of an uncle to the family. There were only so many times Klaus could hear, ‘I’m sorry, my dear boy’ and ‘Your father only wants what’s best for you’ before he realized Pogo was nothing but an extension of Reginald.

The opinion was only solidified during apocalypse week, when Pogo hid their father’s suicide from them at the man’s fucked up, crooked request. Luther was right. There was always a choice. And while the Hargreeves collectively made a lot of bad choices - Klaus probably in the higher numbers, there - this was one he couldn’t forget.

Ben was kinder towards Pogo because Pogo was always kinder to him, but he understood Klaus’ frustrations. Ben didn’t quite hold a grudge like he did with most of their siblings, but he didn’t have to. He wasn’t a dick to the old ape, but Klaus knew who to have his guard up with and when, and he never gave Pogo a goddamn inch of vulnerability if he could help it. 

Even in Reginald’s absence, when he saw Pogo.. all Klaus could see was an extension of his shithead father. At least Grace lost her stubborn loyalty after the man died. Pogo still viewed Reginald as a cherished friend, despite knowing every little bitter detail about the way he treated his children.

That’s Pogo?” Dave asked, probably thinking he was a lot quieter about it than he actually was. Klaus had mentioned the name a few times, obviously- hard to tell an Umbrella Academy Training Story without daddy’s partner in crime.

Allison had a hand delicately placed on her forehead. Vanya was tactfully looking away from Pogo- still some bad feelings there too, it seemed. 

“Ah. So Master Klaus has told you about me.” Pogo said wryly.

“Um.” Dave said, “Uh.”

“And left out some important details in the process.”

“Sorry.” Dave replied, probably not knowing how else to respond.

“Pogo,” Klaus interrupted with a challenging smile, “I’d like you to officially meet my fiance, Dave Katz.”

If Pogo said shit about his engagement, Klaus was going to have some feelings about it.

“Mm.” Pogo hummed, blinking slowly. He didn’t seem surprised- word spread fast in this house, despite it being big enough for Klaus to get lost in. “Congratulations are in order then, boys.” He said, his voice warm, “I’m happy to see this family growing, and I’m happy to see you growing alongside it, Master Klaus.”

Well, how was he supposed to be pissed at that? He made eye contact with Ben, who pressed his mouth together and shrugged. 

“Can he officiate?” Dave asked, “Can that happen?”

“No, darling.” Klaus squeezed his hands, “He has to be added to the guest list like everyone else. And I’m counting on you to be on your best behavior, Pogo!” He chided jokingly so he wouldn’t have to think too hard about the bitter feelings he often buried. “Maybe I’ll finally get my inheritance as a wedding present, hm?”

Yeah, Klaus had a few reasons to be bitter.

“We’ll see.” Pogo sighed, giving Klaus a tight smile, “Regardless- I wanted to stop by and say hello while you children were all together.”

“Hello.” Vanya interrupted, “Anything else?”

Pogo’s brow furrowed. 

They’d explained the bare basics to Pogo about the apocalypse situation- they had to, really, considering they showed up at the start of that fateful week with an unmedicated, angry Vanya and a pact to be the best damn family they could. They didn’t mention Vanya violently murdering Pogo, but the tension was there and still palpable. Klaus didn’t blame her.

Well, the murder was overkill, in his opinion, but nobody really asked for his opinion all that much. Not about apocalypse week, especially. And the bastards wondered why he never mentioned Vietnam.

“Mm.” Pogo sighed, giving them all a weary smile. “No, I believe that was all. I’ll leave you to it. Again, it’s very nice to meet you, David.”

“Yeaaah.” Dave said, “Th..aaanks.”

Shaking his head lightly, Pogo sighed again and slowly turned, his cane tapping on the marble as he slowly walked away. They all watched for a moment.

“Klaus, pick your fucking breakfast up off the carpet.” Diego directed.

“Dave dropped it.” He whined in response.

Dave is going to fall over if he stands up.” Five said with a small little snort that he immediately covered up by sipping his coffee. Klaus heard it though, and mentally proclaimed it adorable. He grinned at Five, and Five sent him a dark look that promised chaos.

“Do we like him? Pogo?” Dave asked quietly, his voice full of confusion. “Isn’t he family?”

Klaus shrugged and waved a hand airily before he reached to the floor and started retrieving his cold, sticky breakfast from the carpet. “Depends on the day.”

“Depends on the year.” Vanya uttered darkly.

“To be fair, he raised us more than Dad ever did.” Allison added, her voice neutral and calm as she watched her sister carefully. She was obviously touchy about it, and Klaus was surprised they weren’t just letting it go in an effort to avoid a fight. If only Luther was still here to see how much bonding was happening at his breakfast.

“He also lied to us constantly.” Five mused. 

“And helped daddy lock us up in places children probably don’t belong.” Klaus replied vaguely, letting out a paranoid little giggle while he put cold waffle on his plate. He set it back down on the coffee table, wiping his hands off on his pants before he settled back next to Dave, who hunched to settle his chin on Klaus’ shoulder. It was adorable.

“Fuck that guy, then.” Dave said stubbornly, knowing exactly what Klaus was talking about and not liking it one bit. He wrapped an arm around Klaus’ waist and turned his head to press his face into his neck, sighing warm breath against Klaus’ chilled skin. He shivered, picking up a hand to start running through Dave’s hair.

“Can I ask one more question?” He asked, his voice muffled against Klaus’ skin.

“Hm?” Klaus asked, propping his chin on Dave’s head. Diego made an annoyed noise, probably at the overt display of affection. 

“Why’s he a monkey, though?” Dave asked, his voice full of desperation and confusion as he moved away just enough to look at Klaus.

“Um.” Klaus said, “That’s.. A question.”

“Sure is.” Diego agreed. “Good luck answering that one, Klaus.”

The discussion was lengthy and Dave barely followed it, seeming more confused than he was when he first saw Pogo. He was especially concerned when one of them offhandedly mentioned that Pogo had a doctorate.

“Monkey school?” He asked.

Eventually the conversation died out and they all started leaving one by one. Klaus and Dave stayed snuggled up for awhile, Dave affectionate as he seemed to try and cheer Klaus up after the morning’s events.

They agreed, after a warning from Five, that Dave needed that check-up from Grace. It was slow going and Dave stumbled along, leaning heavily on Klaus as he laughed about something or other. 

“You’re amazing.” He grinned as they stepped into the room. Klaus.. really did overdo it with the chocolate, probably. 

Grace was in the room sterilizing things, and she turned on a time, her skirt twirling as she beamed at the two of them. “Good morning, boys. Was breakfast okay?”

“It was rad.” Dave said.

“Okay, sweetheart, let’s sit you down.” Klaus said patiently, pulling him along so he could carefully hop up onto the examination table.

“How are you doing today, David?” Grace asked, picking up a stethoscope and walking to stand beside him, her heels clicking on the floor.

“I’m good! How are you?” He replied. Klaus tilted his head. They didn’t often ask mom that question, considering she was a robot. She paused, blinking.

“I’m doing well, thank you.” She decided, “Before breakfast I got a head start on dusting the east wing, which I’ve been meaning to do for awhile.”

“Cool.” Dave said pleasantly. His expression turned troubled when she pressed the cold stethoscope against his back and he shivered. “The future didn’t fix this one, huh?”

Grace let out an indulgent laugh. “I’m afraid not. Take a deep breath and slowly let it out.” He did as she asked, and she moved the stethoscope. “And again.”

Vanya, of all people, inched into the infirmary while Dave went through his checkup. Klaus wiggled his fingers and offered her a wink when her eyes lingered too long on Dave’s chest. Nope, they totally weren’t going to address the giant scar.

“As soon as Dave takes his shirt off, I swear, you all swarm like toddlers to candy.” Klaus sighed dramatically. Dave cleared his throat and flushed red, causing Grace to tut and remind him to breathe. “I know he’s beautiful, but he isn’t the family eye candy. He’s my eye candy.”

Vanya made a face, looking Dave up and down before looking back to Klaus. Her face lacked all interest. Meanwhile, Klaus recalled that even Five had made an offhand comment. Hmm. “I’m not here to stare at your fiance, Klaus.” She said wryly.

“But he’s pretty. Right? Isn’t he pretty?” Klaus asked.

Klaus .” Dave stressed.

“He’s fine, I guess?” Vanya said with a small laugh.

“Oh, that’ll do wonders for his self-esteem, Van.”

“Klaus, stop fishing for compliments for me.” Dave directed, his brow furrowing, “..Hi, Vanya.”

“Hey, Dave.” She replied, smiling at him.

“Someone has to do it.” Klaus decided.

Dave sighed. “Can’t you just give me the compliments?”

“You’re gorgeous. Your arms make me swoon. You’re an excellent listener. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough-”

“Klaus, stop.” Dave laughed. Grace shot Klaus a fond yet scolding look.

“Let him get through his check-up, dear.” She reminded.

“Okay, mom.” He shrugged, grinning at Dave before looking back to Vanya. “What’s up, Apocalypse Ann?”

Her expression turned blank, unimpressed. His grin turned nervous. “Too soon? Too soon. I’m saying a lot of things today.” He always babbled more after a bad night. It didn’t help that a lack of sleep made his filter worse.

“I noticed.” She said, huffing out a small, self deprecating laugh. “I just wanted to, um, see if- can I talk to you a second?”

“Yeah!” He nodded, “Davey, are you good with mom?”

“Totally.” He shot Klaus a thumbs up. Vanya covered her mouth with a hand to smother a grin as they stepped out into the hall together.

“He’s so stoned.” She giggled.

“I didn’t know .” Klaus sighed, “Is that what you’re here for? He’s my fiance and I have full rights to get him super duper stoned. He’s used to it, scouts honor.”

“You weren’t a scout. Stop saying that to people.” Vanya reminded, amusement dancing in her eyes. It was nice to see her so animated in the smallest of ways. “I just.. I wanted to ask if Dave.. knew?”

“Knew?” Klaus asked. It clicked a moment later. “Oh. A-Week?”

“Yeah. That.” She pressed her mouth together, stuffing her hands into her pockets.

“He knows… a bit.” Klaus admitted, “Not a lot. I mentioned that, um, I think I mentioned you had something to do with it, though. I’m sorry..?”

“No, no, it’s fine. He’s your partner.” She said quietly, “I guess I just wanted to know what he knew, in case I- I scared him, or something. I don’t know.”

“Vanya,” Klaus reached forward and grabbed her shoulders with both hands. “You are the most chill, well adjusted sibling and he already loves you for it.”

“Hah.” Vanya looked away, “Guess he hasn’t seen us at family game night.”

“Flipping the board with your mind when Diego is cheating is a power move , Van, and I stand by you on that.” Klaus retorted.

“He’s the worst.” Vanya complained, crossing her arms as she ducked her head and smiled at Klaus’ antics. Her voice lowered in an imitation of their knife-lover brother. “‘ It’s called adapting, Vanya ’. Give me a break.”

Klaus laughed, delighted. “He sucks at losing.” He squeezed her shoulders as he calmed down, still smiling to try and keep her at ease. “But yeah. Dave isn’t worried about you, and he won’t be. He’s cool, and if I tell him you’re cool, we’ll all be cool.”

“..thanks, Klaus.” She said quietly, peering up at him. She looked like she was about to say something else, her eyebrows pinching together, but she was interrupted.

“Klaus, dear?” Grace called from in the infirmary, “Would you care to explain the THC content in my patient’s bloodwork?”