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the violent tenderness

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Exhausted as he was, the talk with Diego had done him good. And yet again, having an objective to get to was better than wallowing. He ignored the fact that he needed food and sleep, if only because he wasn’t sure he could keep anything down and he definitely knew he couldn’t sleep without painful, painful nightmares dragging him down- but also because they were on a timer for the end of the world, and he couldn’t really justify a nap.

Thankfully, Dave was a soldier and that wasn’t a lifestyle easily shaken. He’d operated under more stress and worse conditions- he’d be fine for one last man hunt. But he had something to do before he left the house again.

He didn’t have much time to talk as he walked outside with freshly washed hands, gravel crunching underneath combat boots. 

“Hey. Hi.” He whispered, trying to limit how much he used his voice. But he had to tell Klaus. Just in case.

“Your memory is safe, darlin’.” He said quietly, kneeling in front of the monument to Ben. He had another smooth stone in his hand and pressed it to his lips before setting it down, quickly muttering his kaddish. 

Then he continued.

“Okay? They love you. I know they do. They’re probably gonna do some wacky time travel shit because they don’t want to let you go, that’s how much they love you.”

He’d seen some weird shit in the two- three? Days he’d been in the future, and to his surprise he was beginning to actually give that idea some tentative thought. Could they bring Klaus back? Diego was right. They had the briefcases and Dave saw firsthand that they worked. So.. why not?

Could they save Klaus after they saved the world? Could they bring back the dead, or better yet, stop Klaus from being dead in the first place?

It was a dangerous, dangerous path to go down. But.. “I’m not gonna let you go either, sweeheart.” Dave said regardless, reaching out a hand to brush along his collection of rocks affectionately.

Then he stood up, tilted his head side to side to crack his neck, and settled his mind into mission mode. He got his bearings and quickly strode through the house to the garage where Five had the car started and humming.

He opened the back door and slid into his seat, greeted with the sight of two Hargreeves brothers and that damned rifle that Five didn’t want him to let out of sight.

“We’ll talk about the fact that you were keeping vital information from me later.” Five said dismissively as he clicked his seatbelt into place. He didn’t seem to want to discuss the, er, Allison situation. Which was more than fine with Dave, frankly. The less said about his sobbing, unwilling, downright violating confessions, the better.

“Vital information?” Dave asked, confused. His voice was low and raspy, throat still tender from Vanya, uh, strangling him.

“Namely that you’re dating my brother.”

Dave went stiff despite himself, despite the assurance from earlier. But Diego reached over from the passenger’s seat and actually smacked Five, hard. Then, he said, “I get to shovel talk him first.”

“You wish .” Five sniffed, taking the car out of park.

“I call dibs.” Diego retorted.

Five scoffed, peeling the car out of the alleyway and into the street. It was still startling to see how well a supposed thirteen year old handled a car. “Oh, okay, I see. We’re calling dibs. Are we perhaps twelve again?”

“You can’t argue with dibs, man.” Dave said. Diego wordlessly pointed to Dave, acknowledging his agreement and rubbing it in Five’s face. “..I don’t know why I’m helping you guys argue over who gets to threaten me first.”

Mindless bickering continued in the front seats, probably to distract from the worry and the sensation that something was wrong . Five definitely pushed the speed limit, but soon enough they were parked in the street in front of Jenkins’ suburban home. Dave grabbed the rifle and readied it, slinging it over his shoulder after making sure the safety was on.

They all threw their car doors open and marched across the lawn, going straight for the front door.

It was unlocked and open. They all froze and gave each other wary looks. Diego cautiously reached out and nudged it with a boot to get a better look into the house, and Dave readied his rifle in case he needed to start pointing it.

“Do you guys smell that?” Dave asked quietly.

“Blood.” Diego and Five responded in sync. 

All three strode into the house, Dave automatically taking point and swinging the barrel of his rifle around to analyze any danger. He was too busy looking for an enemy to point at that he didn’t stop to look at the ground.

“Clear.” He reported, “I don’t know if we should split up, it might be best to take this on in a group formation and check the rooms one by-”

“Uh.” Diego interrupted, slowly lifting a hand to point a finger towards the floor in the dining room. They stepped closer. Dave slowly lowered the rifle, jaw falling open.

All three of them stared at the body in shock. 

Well, it was certainly Harold Jenkins.

“Holy shit.” Diego mumbled, crouching in front of the body. Harold was basically a pin cushion, still leaking fresh blood that drenched the house in the thick smell of copper. If Dave hadn’t spent most of the last year in an active warzone, he might’ve been a bit queasy. But honestly, he couldn’t decide whether or not he’d seen worse. Didn’t really matter.

Diego very gently prodded at a fork, one of dozens - among other things - that had impaled the man. “How the hell..” 

Putting his rifle back over his shoulder, Dave exchanged a loaded glance with Five and crossed his arms across his torso tightly. 

“I might.. Have a theory.” Five said begrudgingly, narrowing his eyes slightly at Dave before he sighed and shook his head.

“Is that what you call it.” Dave muttered, earning a scalding look from the kid.

Diego looked over his shoulder at the other two, suspicion written all over his face. “You aren’t telling me something.” He decided, “Spill.”

Dave looked to Five imploringly, desperately. 

A beat passed. “Vanya.” Five finally sighed, clenching his jaw.

“She’s not here.” Diego supplied, scrutinizing the body, “Shit, if someone did this to Jenkins and she was here --”

“Diego,” Five said, patient, reluctant, and irritated at the same time, “Vanya. I’m saying Vanya did this.”

Diego scoffed.

“I’m serious.” Five insisted, side-eyeing Dave. They exchanged a loaded glance, and Five gave him a subtle nod.

Dave worried his lip. “At.. at the cabin,” He started, “Vanya, um, Vanya told Allison and I that.. That she had powers. I saw them.” He swallowed roughly, a hand reaching up to run along the tender, bruised skin of his throat. “I felt them.”

Diego narrowed his eyes at the two of them, slowly standing up and turning his torso around without looking away. “What are you saying?” He asked carefully.

“We’re saying that Vanya’s had powers this entire time. Dad lied to us.” Five said flippantly, “Big shocker, the old man lying again. Turns out he had Allison rumor Vanya into thinking she didn’t have powers because.. Shit, I don’t know.” He scowled and looked away, “Father of the year award goes to Reggie once again.”

“You’re trying to tell me that Vanya killed this guy.” Diego said, eyes wide and full of disbelief, “ Vanya .”

“From what I saw- from what she did to us-” Dave looked around at the wrecked room. It looked like a tornado had swept through. He shuddered, remembering the howling winds from the cabin and the red, sticky blood.

He didn’t doubt for a second that it was her.

Wait .” Diego snapped, “Are you- are you saying Vanya hurt you two? Not Jenkins?”

“She was angry.” Dave replied quietly, looking away, “Allison tried to rumor her into calming down, but she wasn’t fast enough, and--” He absently rubbed at his throat, willing the vibrant memories away.

“Fuck. Vanya.” Diego hissed urgently, “ Fuck . So where is she now ?”

“I don’t know, but we need to find her as soon as possible. You two take the car and go back to the Academy.” Five ordered decisively, “See if she’s there. I’ll head to her apartment. If you find her, keep her calm . And for fucks sake, no powers. We don’t need another Allison incident.”

“On it.” Dave and Diego both turned to head to the door, but instead of teleporting, Five took a step towards the body. The other two looked over their shoulders to watch Five crouch down beside the corpse and pull out…

“Is that an eye ?” Dave asked, eyebrows shooting up. Instead of bothering with a response, Five peeled away a bandage from Jenkin’s face - surprise surprise, he was missing an eyeball - and shoved a glass eye into the empty socket.

"You didn't know he was carrying that thing around?" Diego scoffed, crossing his arms. Dave shook his head in bewilderment.

“It’s a perfect match.” Five mused quietly, staring at the body with an indiscernible look.

“So..” Diego tilted his head, and Dave looked over at him with a frown, “If that’s the eye.. is it over? Did Vanya accidentally stop the apocalypse?”

Five frowned, silent for a few moments before he looked up at Diego, a troubled crease in his brow. “I don’t know.” He admitted before taking the eye out(with a wet noise that had Dave grimacing), standing up, and vanishing in a flash of blue.

Diego and Dave exchanged a look.

“You guys are so fucking dramatic.” Dave pointed out.

Diego sighed reluctantly. “Can’t argue with that.” With that said, he jerked his head towards the door. “Let’s go find my sister.”

They quickly left the house and shoved themselves into the car, Dave settling the butt of his rifle by his feet as Diego threw the car into drive and stepped on it. 

“Tell me about what happened with Vanya.” He ordered, eyes darting around the road as he did several things that Dave assumed were less than legal. “I need to know what we’re walking into.”

Dave worried his lip between his teeth, hand gripping the barrel of his gun as a sort of safety net.

“Allison said.. that when you were really young, your dad had her tell Vanya she didn’t have powers and she was ordinary.” He said, voice gruff. His free hand raised to brush along the still-tender skin of his throat at the memory. “Didn’t say why. But it set her off. Vanya lost it, started yelling, said Allison ruined her life.”

“Well.. she wrote an entire book dishing out our family secrets because we were forced into being superheroes and she wasn’t.” Diego pointed out, drumming his fingers on the wheel impatiently. “So.”

“Meanwhile you guys resented her for not having powers and not having your dad’s attention.” Dave finished, sighing.

“..Klaus told you?” The other man clarified, mouth pressing into a thin line.

“Yeah.” Dave replied, “I didn’t know she wrote a book about it, though.” A pause. “ bad was it?”

Diego’s jaw set into a rigid line. “Let’s just say she didn’t pull any punches.” He shook his head lightly, mouth twisting into a frown, “But that doesn’t matter right now. If she’s got powers and nobody ever bothered to tell her..”

“She was livid .” Dave said quietly, “But I know she didn’t mean to hurt Allison. I know she didn’t. It was an accident.”

“I believe you, man.” Diego sighed, “Pissed as she is, she wouldn’t just do something like that. Tell me about what she did, though- what powers are we talking about here?”

“I..” Dave shook his head lightly, trying to put it into words. Cold dread crept up on him as he tried to recall the details. “The wind picked up as she got madder and madder. She was shattering glass. She- she cut Allison’s throat with her violin bow, but she was nowhere near her. One slash and...” He shook his head rapidly, swallowing and trying to ignore the sour feeling in his stomach.

“And you?” Diego asked, solemn.

“It was like she was using her violin as a shield. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe.” He continued, lifting a hand to gently run along his neck. He swallowed, his throat clicking. “It was like she had her hands around my throat but she was at least a yard away.”

The man was quiet for a few moments, considering this. “Well, fuck.” Is all Diego had to say about that.

They fell into a tense silence as Diego took turns and ignored the speed limit. Soon enough they pulled into the alleyway and both hopped out of the car, storming inside. 

“I’ll take the bedrooms and check the infirmary. You cover the ground floor.” Diego instructed. Dave gave him a terse nod. “Shout if you find her. Meet back in the entryway when you’re done.”

They both took off in separate directions. Dave kept his rifle slung over his back, not planning on using it, but also not planning on parting with what had become a bastardized security blanket over the past few days(thanks, Five). He charged through halls and stuck his head through doorways in the mansion, calling out a clear ‘Vanya?’ every few moments. 

Nothing. No sign of her, or anyone else for that matter.

He and Diego regrouped in the main entryway. He shook his head at the other man. Diego swore under his breath, twirling a knife in his fingers anxiously.

“No luck.” He muttered, “I guess we wait for Five.”

“Are you sure?” Dave asked, shifting from foot to foot, “There’s no other place we could try?”

Diego sighed, looking down and away with a troubled expression. “If she isn’t at her apartment.. Well.. one, she can apparently take care of herself, judging by how Jenkins is a pincushion.” He decided, voicing his thoughts slowly, “Two, if she needs help with her powers.. It makes sense that she’ll come back to the Academy. We’re the only ones who can understand her.”

“So we just wait.” Dave clarified, flat. He didn’t like that, didn’t like the idea of sitting around and waiting when there should be something he could do to help.

“It’s our best shot. And last time we split up..” Diego grimaced, “Just trust me. She’ll be back. She’ll come home. In the meantime..” He looked up at Dave, giving him a once-over. “You could use some rest, man. You look like shit.”

“Thanks.” Dave replied blankly.

“Go take a nap or something.” Diego instructed, scrubbing a hand down his face, “We’ll find you if something changes.”

Dave highly doubted he could sleep, but he did have a half pack of cigarettes in his vest pocket calling his name and a lot of things he had to think through. So instead of arguing, he gave a terse nod and watched as Diego turned and trudged up the stairs.

Once he was out of sight, Dave plucked the carton of darts from his pocket, swiftly putting one between his lips as he retraced familiar steps and walked out into the courtyard once again. Pulling out the gaudy, bright pink lighter from his other pocket, he effortlessly lit his cigarette and walked over to the memorial once again. 

“We couldn’t find her.” He sighed, kneeling down, “But if she’s anything like you.. hey, she’ll be fine, huh?” He took a long drag and slowly blew it out his nose. “We’ll save her. And then..”

Nodding slowly to himself, Dave finally allowed himself to say it. “And then I think we’ll save you, too.”

“So.. Jenkins: dead. Apocalypse: over with! Yay!” 

Klaus lifted ‘HELLO’ and ‘GOODBYE’ and did jazz hands at Ben, putting on a large grin for show. “And did you hear that? They’re gonna come scoop me up from the past before I die horribly. No need to practice any uncontrollable, nightmarish powers.” His hands clapped together rapidly, leaning back against what was left of Ben’s memorial. “Yippee!”

“Klaus.” Ben sighed, giving his brother a flat look, “You’re not off the hook that easy.”

Despite tailing after Dave for the afternoon, Ben had not let up for a single second on the ‘training’ thing. Every minute in the car was spent trying to wave a hand in front of someone’s face while focusing on different ‘feelings’, or shoving a hand through someone to try and get them to shiver, or any number of weird bullshit Ben came up with.

It seemed the only time Klaus’ powers wanted to be useful was when one of his siblings was in a literal life or death scenario. Which was rich, considering they were useless while Klaus himself was alive. Maybe he was meant to be a backwards-ass guardian angel this whole time, and that’s why he was stuck with the world’s shittiest powers.

“Sure I am!” Klaus replied cheerily, “We’ve tried everything. And short of another traumatic life event, guess we’re out of luck!”

Ben swore and rolled his eyes. If it had been a taxing few hours for Klaus, it had been undoubtedly much worse for Ben, who had to deal with the constant complaining and ghostly feet dragging.

“And since Vanya took care of the psychopath issue for us, we’re probably good, right? Great job everyone, high fives all around.” Klaus chattered aimlessly, reaching out a hand to futilely try and brush at one of the unruly curls on Dave’s head. He wasn’t regulation anymore. Klaus wished he could feel the scruff along his cheeks, smooth away the worried lines from his forehead.

Soon he would, maybe. He hoped.

“Want a high-five, Benny?” Klaus asked, noting his brother’s silence and his growing agitation. Ben was pacing and shaking his head.

“You’re giving up.” Ben said, angry.

“Sure am!” Klaus chirped, “No need to worry myself if my darling siblings have decided they love me enough to time travel and save my skinny ass.”

“Yeah?” Ben scoffed, “And what about me?”

Klaus faltered. It was like a sucker punch to the face, the way Ben spat the words at him. “Uh- well-”

“You’re giving up on me .”

“Hold on, hang on, wait a sec-” Klaus raised a hand and pushed himself off the memorial, taking a step forward. “That’s not what I said--”

“But that’s what’s gonna happen!” Ben reached forward and jabbed a finger into Klaus’ chest. “You’re gonna be alive again, and I’m going to be stuck as your shadow for the rest of your life while you- while you make out with Dave and get some happy ending you don’t even deserve!”

Klaus gaped at his brother like a fish out of water. Ben had a habit of being jaded, blunt, and even cruel - he still vividly remembered his moments in the closet of that motel with his brother telling him how he was pissing his life away. But this was..

“Ben.” Klaus whispered, hurt beyond belief. “I didn’t- I wouldn’t-”

“I’m going inside to haunt someone else.” Ben snapped, “Just- just fuck off, Klaus. You might as well get a head start.”

Ben took a few steps and vanished in an instant. Klaus flinched at the absence of his brother- Ben hadn’t left his side since he’d come back from Vietnam. And Klaus had welcomed his presence and his touch - because holy shit, he could touch his brother Ben again - with open arms, having missed him and his constant presence.

But it seemed he was missing something else the entire time.

“Well.” He said, mostly to himself, but Dave was there in the background, therefore he wasn’t completely nuts, “I… could’ve done that one a bit better, huh, Davey.”

Dave was quietly praying under his breath again. Klaus guessed it was something like meditation for him- he seemed calmer afterwards, at least.

“No wonder he was being so pushy about the powers.” He mused, sitting down and leaning back against the stone monument, right next to where Dave was kneeling. “I.. could’ve put that one together, probably, if there wasn’t the whole.. All encompassing grief of death and losing you thing.

“I just.. Never asked for this.” Klaus sighed, staring longingly at the new cigarette Dave was lighting. He seemed to be chain-smoking at the defacto rock memorial he’d made for Klaus. Exactly what Klaus would’ve wanted for him. Good for Dave. “I didn’t ask to be the only person who could see my dead brother, and we sure as hell know I never asked to be haunted from birth.”

He gently poked at one of the rocks as he mused. “You’d probably give me some motivational speech about loving and supporting my brother, though, huh. I heard what you were saying to him the other day.”

Dave, the big softie, the family man. Even in spite of his family’s nonstop dysfunction, he still did what was asked of him out of respect for Klaus, but also Ben, to an extent. Dave knew the history, knew that Ben was his only real support and friend for years, despite the constant fighting and bitching.

“You’d probably be a lot more patient than him but still bug me to try, cause I’m all Ben’s got.” Klaus mumbled, pulling up his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around them. “Even if I didn’t ask for it. Because Ben didn’t ask to die, either, but he’s stuck. Stuck with me.”


Well, he didn’t expect him to come crawling back so soon. His head snapped up and Ben appeared in his line of vision again, taking hurried steps towards him.

“Ben! Hey! I was just monologuing about you!” Klaus said nervously, “And, you know, um, I was thinking, well, I wasn’t finished thinking, but I was doing some positive thinking for once--”

“Klaus, shut up and listen to me.” Ben ordered, his eyes wide, “Vanya’s back.”

“Vanya’s back?” Klaus asked, sitting up and dropping his arms and knees, “Hey, that’s good, do we-”

“No, shut up, listen to me.” Ben hissed, “Vanya’s back, and Luther knows about her. And what’s worse..” He looked down and away, “He knows about you. Allison told him everything.”

Klaus swallowed, even though he didn’t strictly need to, considering his ghosthood. “I don’t like where this is going.”

“He knocked her out and he’s taking her somewhere, Klaus.” Ben said, voice low and grave, “Nobody else knows. Nobody saw.”

“Fuck.” Klaus whispered, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Ben nodded, shoving his hands in his pockets. “This is gonna get real ugly, real fast.”