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the violent tenderness

Chapter Text

It seemed too big and too pristine, clashing with the mud on his worn soles and the animal clawing and begging to be let out in his chest. The Umbrella Academy.

As soon as Dave’s mind made sense of the how and the why and the when - time travel, briefcase, 2019 - he only knew one thing for certain. He had to make his way to the Academy. It was the only right and just and fair thing he could think to do, after falling apart and accidentally going MIA with Klaus’ briefcase.

Oh, God. Klaus.

David Katz tried to steel himself on the front steps of the beloved Umbrella Academy. Once he’d started asking, there were a few kind strangers that gave him the directions to this place. Popular. Renowned. More like a museum these days than an Academy, she said. 

He went through crowded streets, glanced over the new kinds of cars, the new technology, the new people. Several asked if he was alright along the way. He ignored them, lost in his self-imposed quest with a single-minded intensity. If he was really in the future, there was only one thing in the fucking world he knew for certain, and that was that he had to let Klaus’ family know what had happened. That was his next and only objective.

After that, he didn’t know.

Maybe they’d fix the suitcase and send him home. Maybe right back to Vietnam to keep on killing and spilling blood. Or maybe he’d stay in the future that Klaus had known and semi-hated. He didn’t know which sounded worse. It’d just be a bastardization of what they had planned out together. And Klaus had always insisted on making sure that Dave meant together . He worried a lot for such a firecracker of a personality. He didn’t say much about it, but Dave saw it. He didn’t want to be abandoned. Didn’t want to truly go all in until he knew he’d have a safe place to land.

But God, eventually the half-joked planning for a cabin in the woods somewhere or a piece of land- they started sounding more and more real. Klaus wanted big windows, thought a rocking chair and a big porch sounded nice, and needed their future home to be ‘as far as fucking possible from a major city, because they’re major haunted’.

He had been thinking about dog names, last Dave heard. He wanted a pet so badly.

Past tense. Now everything in front of him seemed empty and wrong because he knew he wouldn’t have Klaus by his side for any of it. 

He shook his head and clenched his jaw, deliberating for one more awful second before reaching forward to loudly knock on the door.

Nothing happened.

He knocked again, louder. Nothing, nobody. He didn’t think about what might happen if nobody was home. Maybe everyone left town again after the funeral. Maybe it wasn’t even their house anymore.

Frustrated tears brimmed in his eyes and he launched forward to slam a fist on the door with his free hand. He did that a few times before giving up and pacing back and forth. He looked crazy, he knew. He’d draw attention if he kept acting out like that. Fuck. 

His eyes lowered and he sent up a silent prayer. He tried the doorknob. The lock was messed up, and the door swung open. He didn’t have the energy to feel stupid, only to take slow, numb steps inside.

He heard an unmistakable click and threw himself to the ground beside a pile of debris. A chandelier, he thought distantly. “Don’t shoot!” He shouted, his voice ringing throughout the large foyer. “ Đừng Bắn ! Đừng Bắn ! “ Nothing happened for a long moment and Dave peeked his head out from under his arms, blinking in confusion.

He knew a lot of people had a hard time returning to civilian life, sometimes saw or did things strange after coming home, but he could’ve sworn he heard-

“Sorry about that.” A slightly nasally voice said, “You aren’t exactly who I was expecting.”

Dave snapped his attention to the sound and found a young teenager in a schoolboy outfit, holding a hunting rifle that, a moment ago, he knew was pointed at him. The child scrutinized him, and Dave slowly, shakily rose to his feet with his hands inching up, trying not to provoke anything violent. If only his hands weren’t still covered in grime and drying blood. Should he have cleaned up somehow before coming here?

“Nice briefcase, soldier.” He was told mildly, as if the child were commenting on the weather. 

Dave worked his jaw while he eyed the patch and insignia on his blazer. “You mind dropping the rifle, kid?”

The kid shot him a toothy grin that promised trouble. “Well usually I just shoot trespassers, but you seem like you’ve come a pretty long way- and I don’t need a gun to kill you if I have to.” The child’s eyes stared almost greedily at the briefcase before he reached over and set the rifle down on a shelf. “What are your orders?”

“Orders?” Dave asked, furrowing his brow, “I’m- I’m in the U.S., aren’t I? I don’t have orders now.” He swallowed past the pit in his throat. “AWOL. MIA, even.”

“You’ve peaked my interest.” The kid decided. “Need a drink?”

“What-” He squinted, tilting his head to the side, “ What ? Aren’t you like, 12? Are you a member of the Academy?”

“First things first, hand me that briefcase. You obviously don’t know what you’re doing with it.” Ignoring him, the kid strode over and reached for the handle. Dave’s hand clenched around it and he backed away before the kid could reach.

No .” He said, the word sounding punched out of him. “No, it doesn’t belong to you.”

“So we’re doing things the hard way, then.” The child asked as if to clarify. Dave took another step back.

“Kid, I don’t know what you’re talking about or what you want,” Dave stressed, “I just need to find the Hargreeves and then I’ll go. Please.”

“You and everyone else.” The dangerous glint in his eye was not ignored. Dave knew children could be deadly. He’d seen kids not much older than this one holding guns still too big for them to properly handle, all aiming to kill him. He listened close when the kid said, “What do you want with my family?”

“I have.. some bad news. That I need to deliver to them personally.” He said, his voice growing quieter. “Please, kid, I just need to see his siblings.”

“‘His’?” The kid asked. Before he could question further, someone dressed entirely black strode into the room on his way to the front door. He slowed at the confrontation happening near the door. 

“Woah, woah. Who’s this?” He demanded, a knife appearing in his hand with barely any effort. 

“I have to talk to the Hargreeves.” Dave insisted, eyeing the knife with caution and the sense he was forgetting something.

“Another time traveler, by the looks of it.” Kid commented, “And he’s got something I need.” 

The knife twisted between black gloved fingers more clearly now. He dredged up a hazy memory, a story or two from when Klaus was open and willing.

“Diego?” Dave asked, staring him in the eye.

“..who’s asking?” He replied, flint in his eyes.

“I’m a friend of- of Klaus’.” He explained.

They stared each other town for a few more beats before Diego raised his head to look at the ceiling in.. exasperation? “..okay, look, I don’t know what he did to you or what you want from him,” Diego sighed, his demeanor sagging as he seemed to realize Dave wasn’t particularly a threat. “But you gotta go. And if you’re here for money -”

“Diego, wait, something’s wrong.” The child stated suddenly, his voice sounding uncertain for the very first time. “Did you hear me when I said time traveller? What does Klaus have to do-”

“He’s not a time traveler, Five,” Diego scoffed, “He’s some junkie friend or dealer.” His face turned dark. “Or a boyfriend.”

Dave felt like he might vomit, but he was a fucking soldier and he had the discipline to try and keep the situation under control despite his brain screaming about how all of this was wrong . “A friend. I’m a friend.” He repeated. “And I’m not those- those other things, either, we served together.”

“Prison?” Diego asked, flipping his knife as his eyebrows raised. “Who’s blood is that, GI Joe?”

“What? No, what?” He raised a hand to the side of his head where he felt flaking residue down the side of his face. One last caress. He shivered, staring down at his hand numbly.

“What year are you from?” Kid was suddenly standing much closer, looking Dave up and down and muttering to himself about the type of clothes and the mud and dates.

He took in a deep breath, pushed it out. “1968.”

“Vietnam.” Kid stated. “You were serving in the Vietnam War.”

“What’s any of that got to do with Klaus?” Diego demanded, “Where is that shithead, anyways?”

Dave stared at them both with tired, hollow eyes. These were his brothers. Diego he definitely knew about, probably the most aside from the obvious. Five was a little more elusive, but Klaus had still painted a decent picture. Younger yet older brother. Dave didn’t understand at the time, but he was beginning to put two and two together.

He took a shaky breath, watched as Five slowly started to shake his head. Standing up straight, Dave forced himself to meet his eye.

“Don’t.” Five said.

“My name is Private First Class David Katz. I’m- I was- I am a member of the 173rd Sky Soldiers.”

“Don’t you dare .” Five said, his voice darkening despite the panic in his eyes.

“I served alongside your brother, Klaus Hargreeves, in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam in 1968 until 1969.”

Five walked forward, yanking him by the vest down to eye level. He looked furious and terrified and feral . Maybe that’s how Dave first looked when the news first set in. That Klaus, beyond a shadow of a doubt, didn’t make it. Never made it.

He forced his voice not to shake when he said, “Three nights ago on the front line, Klaus was hit by enemy fire.” It was a speech he’d memorized in his head, the details going over and over in his mind. That was the only way he managed to croak out a small,  “He didn’t make it.”

Five slapped him as hard as he possibly could, which was.. surprisingly hard. It sent Dave reeling backwards, and Diego shouted in alarm. Five got his fists full of Dave’s military issued vest and grabbed viciously for the twin set of dog tags he now wore around his chest like perverted medals.

“Hey, hey, hey, Five- calm the fuck down, what is he talking about? W-What is this?” Diego demanded, a hand on Five’s shoulder trying to drag him back. “C-C’mon, this guy is- is- h-h-he can’t-”

“Diego.” Five said, looking his age for the first time in the entire conversation. His grip on Dave weakened to nothing, and he looked up at his brother and said, “Diego, I think Klaus is dead.”

“No.” Diego hissed, “ No . We don’t know if this guy is legit. What if this is those two psychos, huh? With the masks? It c-can’t be- no, no way.” He was vibrating with anger as he looked to Dave. “You’re a sick freak, coming in here, doing sh-shit l-like this after- after-”

“After Klaus being kidnapped?” Dave replied woodenly, taking multiple steps back as he clenched at his four dog tags. Five had found Klaus’.

“Klaus was kidnapped ?” Diego demanded.

“He was right.” Dave said, mostly to himself. But it seemed relevant. “You didn’t notice he was gone.” And after so much time trying to convince him that he was sure his family knew Klaus was missing and that of course they were worried. “Did anyone? Did he have- anyone?”

“He had me , asshole!” Diego’s voice was sharp and flooded with emotions. “He had me, I would’ve noticed if he was gone-”

“When was the last time you remember seeing Klaus?” Five asked, staring at the floor.

“I gave him a ride earlier, the day those psycho’s in masks came and--”


Diego’s words took a moment to come back to him. The gears were working in his mind.

“And,” He said indignantly, “I thought- I thought he ran when they attacked and haven’t.. seen him..” Something dawned on his face. “...They left that note. ‘We have your brother’. They took him.” He said, hushed, horrified.

“It’s a good tactic.” Five said, sounding as numb and as lost as Dave felt. “Standard for a botched infiltration job. That,” Five pointed at the briefcase, “Is a standard issue time travel device from my former employer. The ones trying to find me. All Klaus would’ve had to do was find a way to open it, and he could’ve been.. Anywhere.” He swallowed, “But he picked Vietnam. And he- paid for it.”

“He didn’t choose .” Dave said, his voice starting to crack. He cleared his throat. “He didn’t know. Don’t put this on him.”

“F-Five?” Diego asked, his voice close to broken.

“It… it all adds up. We can find physical evidence, maybe, but confirming this is-” Five’s eyes sharpened with one last desperate attempt. “What are some things only Klaus do? Describe the person in question. The one you served with.”

“Klaus- Klaus was- colorful unless he wasn’t.” Dave said, looking away and clenching his jaw so he could stop the tears from brewing in his eyes. More like colorful until he couldn’t . His eyes stung, but Dave couldn’t cry right now. It wasn’t manly. “He made the world brighter, joked around. All of us needed someone like that. But then he’d turn around and do or say something more morbid than a funeral.” Dave sniffed, “He was a chatterbox. Always mouthing off to superiors. Always hiding from his ghosts.”

“You know about the ghosts.” Five nodded slowly, gaze dropping to the floor. “I need a drink.” Before Dave could process it, The kid started walking and a wash of blue enveloped him. He was gone.

He blinked in confusion, jaw dropping open, but Diego only walked forward like his feet were made of lead. Dave followed him to a lavish, tacky room that had seating and a bar. A living room, but it didn’t look like much living was done in here.

A greedy little part of him was trying to suck all of the information he could about Klaus’ home. Anything he could possibly keep with him and remember and cherish.

The kid had reappeared at a barstool, pouring himself a generous glass of whiskey. “How did you get his belongings?” He asked without looking up, hearing them both walk into the room.

“We were close.” Dave forced himself to say, “He didn’t have any family on the books at the time. A friend made sure I got what was left of his.”

“You don’t seem confused about the time travel aspect of this.” Five stated. “You knew what it would do if you opened it, didn’t you.”

“I knew some.” Is all Dave could bring himself to say. “I wanted- I wanted to personally tell you all. Your- your brother was-” He shook his head, tears brimming in his eyes again. He wanted to shout and scream and throw things, but he shoved it back down inside. “He was an incredible person. He was brave and unique and just--” He was laying it on too much. He couldn’t talk about that. He decided to settle on something he knew they’d want to hear. “He was a damn good soldier ‘til the very end.”

“Klaus? A good soldier?” Five snapped, “Maybe time travel does mess with the mind. He got himself killed .”

“Shut the fuck up, Five.” Diego said, voice thick while he paced back and forth.

“No, no- I.. don’t..” He knew Klaus’ siblings weren’t exactly the most straightforward people, but he’d never described them as cruel. No, that was just his dad. God rest the spineless, evil bastard. “Can I ask- where are the rest of you?”

“Out.” Five replied sharply.

“Five. What are we going to do about this.” Diego asked, his voice low and dark. “This is s-serious- our little brother is- is--”

“Dead as a doornail in wartime, Vietnam, yes , Diego.” Five snapped, glaring at him, “I’m thinking . I can- I have to do so many equations, this variable is completely unprecedented-”

“We have to go save Klaus, Five!” Diego shouted, “We have to take that fucking briefcase and go get our baby brother so he isn’t dead !”

“It’s not that simple!” Five argued, standing up and planting a hand on the bar. “We can’t! There are so many tiny ways to be tracked through time, and the slightest change could be catastrophic. Messing with time is- is- I need time.” He decided, nodding resolutely, “I need more time, but we need that briefcase.”

Dave closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. He didn’t know what they were talking about. But he knew, deep in his core, that Klaus was dead . Common sense told him he’d stay there. If he held onto hope for even a second.. “It’s all he really had.”

“And we’re his family , so we’ll be taking it.” Five said darkly, appearing in front of him in a blue flash. He yanked the suitcase out of Dave’s hands and vanished, reappearing a safe distance away. 

“No, please, hang on-” They were right. He knew they were right. He was lucky they even understood the utter nonsense going on. He just- That suitcase was Klaus’. He was fiercely protective over it and almost broke someone’s wrist for trying to break into it once. It felt wrong just giving it up.

Dave’s now-free hand went to the dog tags around his throat, worrying them like it was his damn job. The kid downed an entire glass of scotch, slammed his glass onto the countertop and then announced, “I need to think.” He was gone in a flash.

“I..” Dave started, voice weak. Primary objective. Right. “I need to.. Need to tell the others, if you could point me-”

No .” Diego turned on his heel and stared at Dave with a kind of fury he only saw on desperate, demanding bastards that refused to calm down after they were told their buddy didn’t make it. It broke something deep inside them and they lost all traces of civility and good graces.

Dave would know, after all. He hoped Andrews’ jaw was alright.

“Y-you- You don’t t-tell them a-a-a-” Diego clenched his fists and shut his eyes tightly, forcing a deep breath through his noise. “Anything. Don’t tell them anything .”

“But-” Dave tried.

“No. No, we’re- I’m his f-fucking family, I decide how this happens.” Now that he’d regained his words, Diego spoke with venom , jabbing a finger to emphasize his point. “Don’t you fucking say a word to the others until we’re sure beyond a goddamn shadow of a doubt that you aren’t a ch-cheating, lying b-bastard trying to stir up trouble.”

Ever the man of action Klaus described him as, Diego stalked forward and knocked shoulders with Dave as he passed, back on his way out the front door. “ Don’t go far.” He ordered as he walked away.

Dave let out a slow, measured, shaky breath, eyes wandering around the now truly empty mansion.

“What… the… hell.”

Klaus heard his brother, but he was still pretty good at ignoring him, apparently. He was too busy hyperfocusing on Dave. Stupid, brave Dave that had opened the fucking briefcase, knowing exactly what would happen. Klaus is lucky he managed to come along with it.

His boyfriend was crouched on the sidewalk, covered in blood and dirt and grime, clutching the briefcase to his chest like a lifeline as his unfocused, hollow eyes tried to make sense of the trip he just took.

Dave wasn’t doing very well, to put it lightly.

“Klaus?” His brother asked, but he busy was crouched by Dave’s side trying to put an arm around him, whispering assurances, tell him how stupid he was for doing something like this, and what the hell do you think you’re doing? It all fell through, though. Nothing happened.

After all, Klaus was dead.


He looked up, because he hadn’t heard Ben sound so broken in a very long time. He tried to smile at his brother, but it was more of a grimace. There was a giant sucking hole through the middle of Klaus’ chest, oozing blood, and Ben stared at it carefully before looking up at his brother’s face.

Klaus lifted his ‘hello’ hand. Ben tackled him.

Ben tackled him. Oh, finally, one whole benefit to being dead as doornails. 

“What the fuck? What the fuck, Klaus?” Ben demanded, fisting his hands in the vest Klaus had died in. “Where did you go? What happened? How did this happen? Who did this?”

“Isn’t it obviously, Benny?” Klaus carefully reached up and placed a hand on his brother’s cheek. It was weird. He couldn’t quite feel things- or, well, he could, but it was complicated. More like a distant echo than a real feeling. But he met Ben’s ghostly skin and didn’t phase through him, and he was elated for the first time since he bit the dust. “Oh, God. Ben.”

Instead of finishing his explanation, Klaus launched forward and wrapped his arms around his brother. Ben, stunned, took a moment before gripping him back just as tightly. 

“Klaus,” Ben whispered, “No.” Typical, the one time he gets out from Ben’s ghostly, nagging thumb, and he actually does die. After all the bullshit he lived through, it took a vacation to Vietnam to seal the deal.

He was glad to be back, at least. But he’d been planning on haunting Dave throughout the rest of his service and then the rest of his life, waiting for his soldier to come home to him. What the hell was Katz trying to pull with this briefcase stunt?

“How? I don’t understand, I saw you an hour ago- how?” Ben asked.

“Time travel.” Klaus shrugged a shoulder, adjusting his hold on his brother so he could check on Dave. “The briefcase.” He was slowly rising to his feet, looking around. He looked like a fish out of water in his army fatigues and dirt alongside all the civvies.

“Where?” Ben asked, twisting his head so he could stare at Dave too. “Who?”

“That’s Dave.” Klaus said softly, “I met him in Vietnam.”

“Vietnam.” Ben repeated.

“Yeah.” He laughed a little at the absurdity. “Yeah. I fell in love with him during the war. I love him more than I ever loved myself.” He paused, “Enough to die for him.”

Chapter Text

Dave didn’t know what he was supposed to do. He had to respect Diego’s wishes, didn’t he? It stung, being accused of being a liar when God damn it, he was right there and had his hands pressed to Klaus’ chest so hard his arms shook with the strain.

But family was important. If Diego wanted to handle this his own way.. it wasn’t like he knew where the others were, anyways. 

He found himself slowly walking along throughout the house, lacking anything better to do and not particularly caring about the consequences. This was where Klaus grew up, and he wanted to memorize every detail he could. 

It really was more like a museum than a home. Taxidermy animals everywhere, antiques and relics- he couldn’t picture Klaus growing up there. But he did, and apparently he hated every second of it. 

Dave felt completely empty as he walked along and stared at memorabilia on the second floor. Framed comic books, figurines, old magazines, newspaper clippings. The stories they seemed to tell were insane, but this was the future where random kids were born with horrifying powers and bought by sick bastards that tormented them for the ‘greater good’.

His eyes lingered over a magazine cover that had a gathering of smiling children in it. He looked closely at each face. It wasn’t hard to tell which was Klaus. The bright grin, the shape of his nose. He reached forward and gently ran a finger along the glass.

If this was Dave’s house, there’d be a giant worn photobook with embarrassing pictures. He would’ve liked to go through it with Klaus, even if Klaus would’ve undoubtedly poked fun at him the entire time. 

This wasn’t quite the same, but there was still something important about it.

He let out a shaky breath, looking away and continuing his slow walk. He didn’t know where he was going or what he was looking for, but he hadn’t been kicked out and he didn’t have anywhere else to go. And he knew that if he stopped, he’d be forced to think about all the horrific things he was trying to keep at bay. All the blood and the choked gasps and his own screams for a medic ringing in his ears.

More magazines and memorabilia gave him small glimpses into the shinier side of Klaus’ past. And then he came across a series of portraits of the Academy that, one by one, started losing members. First, the kid from earlier. Next, in their teens, another disappeared. Ben, his brain provided.

After that, it all fell apart. The portraits shrunk dramatically as soon as they hit their late teens. Klaus didn’t have many good things to say about his childhood, and Dave surmised this was part of why.

Klaus needed people. He needed people so badly, even if he refused to admit it. He revelled in attention, good and bad. Losing siblings one by one must have been hard.

“And just who are you, dear boy?” A soft, gravelly voice interrupted him. “Are you lost?” Dave looked to his left and froze. There was a monkey, in a suit. He was standing next to a woman who must’ve been asleep or something in a chair next to him, for how still she was.

“-uh. I don’t..” He said, blinking his eyes furiously. “I knew one of the Hargreeves.”

“Mm. I assumed you must be one of the children’s friends.” The monkey nodded in a way Dave could’ve considered wise. “Allow me to introduce myself, since you clearly.. missed the memo, as it were.” He cleared his throat, resting his weight on the cane he held in front of him. “My name is Dr. Pogo. I am.. was, a close friend of Reginald Hargreeves and his family.”

This explained exactly nothing and everything to Dave. He knew the name Pogo. It came up in a lot of the stories Klaus had involving the elder Hargreeves, usually a bystander. And the monkey thing.. Well, that part didn’t come up. But Reginald was eccentric. His kids were eccentric. Their entire lives were eccentric. Dave still wasn’t entirely sure he wasn’t hallucinating, but he was too tired to wrestle with his sanity.

“Now, you are?” The monkey prompted, nodding his head.

“Priv- Dave. David Katz. I’m a friend of Klaus’.” He said quietly.

Something shifted in the monkey’s expression. “Ah. Master Klaus.” He clicked his tongue. “I had been curious as to his whereabouts.” The monkey hummed in consideration, glancing up and down at him. “..are you well, young man?”

“No, I’m- I’m just-” He shook his head, taking a step back. “I’m just looking for Klaus’ room, sir.”

“Hm.” The monkey turned away, eyes on the woman next to him. “Down the next hall, take the staircase.” He paused. “And Mr. Katz, however you came to know Master Klaus.. Know we don’t encourage certain habits of his in this house.”

“What?” Dave asked.

“All I ask is that you respect the rules of this household while you’re here, even if Master Klaus slacks on them.” The monkey said primly, reaching forward to put a hand on the woman’s forearm. Something was odd about her, but Dave’s brain stuck like glue to the way Pogo spoke about his partner. His throat dried up.

“Thank you.” He replied, not knowing what else to say. Would he have to tell Pogo, too? Would he regret the way he seemed to brush Klaus off? “I’ll- I’ll be sure to do that.”

“Very good.” Pogo replied, and Dave felt like he was being dismissed as much as Klaus was. He blinked one last time at the monkey before turning his eyes front and heading down the hall.

He continued walking through the mansion in a daze after that, brushing his hand against the wall as he went. He didn’t feel right. Didn’t want to pass out or something. Eventually he found himself in a hallway with posters at his knees for things like gouging eyes out: kid edition, and wondered just how much more of this he could take. He eyed the staircase Pogo must’ve been talking about.

At the top, Dave found himself in yet another hallway and stared. Most of the doors were left open and he slowly moved along and peeked in each. Children's or teenagers bedrooms. His heart was in his throat, and he looked to a cracked door at the end of the hall that looked like it had seen better days. He didn’t know how, but he knew that was it. 

He pushed open the door and stared at the sight in front of him. The room was full of clutter. There was scribbling and drawings on the walls, clothes strewn about. The room was lined in christmas lights and it smelled like stale weed.

A dry sob forced its way out of Dave’s throat. 

He stumbled into the room, staring at everything with wide eyes. It was Klaus. It was all Klaus. The rest of the mansion was cold and devoid of personality, but this- this was full of life and personality. The personality of the man he loved.

“Klaus.” He whispered, tears filling his eyes. He didn’t bother willing them away anymore. This was the only place in the entire future he’d find himself safe enough to break down. And staring at his late boyfriend’s childhood bedroom was just too.. “ Klaus .”

He only made it a few feet before his knees gave out. His hands shook as they feebly grabbed at the edge of the bed and he dug his fingers into the sheets. Making a noise like a dying man, Dave pressed his forehead to the side of the mattress and started to sob.

“Klaus.” He gasped, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Tears streamed down his face and he pressed his face harder into the mattress to muffle the wails that came out of him like a wounded animal. Part of him didn’t want Pogo to hear and investigate. Part of him didn’t care, because nothing fucking mattered anymore and why shouldn’t the world hear exactly how broken it made David Katz?

His hand didn’t go to the dog tags, but instead clutched the star of David around his neck so hard that the points bit into his hand. He didn’t wear it often, but after Klaus. “Why? Why him?” He found himself demanding, his voice raising. “ Why ?” Dave shouted, furious, “Did I have to be punished? Did he ?” 

His ranting and raving at the heavens didn’t last long as he dissolved into pathetic keening and sobbing and begging. He couldn’t find it in himself to care. He lost his best friend. He lost his beautiful ray of sunshine. He lost his heart.

“Klaus.” He whispered, voice utterly broken. There was a hole in his chest and he’d never fill it again. “ Klaus .”

“I know you’re trying to deal with- with him, but Klaus, we have to talk .” Ben insisted, trailing along after his brother who was following Dave throughout the house with an impossibly sad look. 

Dave looked devastated. Everything about his posture and his expression and his soul screamed grief and loss. “We have all the time in the world to talk, Ben.” Klaus snapped, “Just let me- just let us- please. He’s lost and he needs me and- and-”

“You can’t do anything, Klaus.” Ben replied, frustrated.

“I know.” Klaus said miserably. “I know. But- but- He needs me, Ben, he really-”

“I know.” Ben said, looking down away. “I get it. I know.” He said, seeming to give up. “I can’t believe Five slapped him.”

“If he wasn’t so incredibly haunted already..” Klaus grumbled, staying on Dave’s heels. “It’s fucking crowded when he’s around, ever notice that?”

“He had the highest kill count in the academy, next to me.”

“Aw, poor Benny, threw too many guys into a wall.” An unexpected result of them being able to interact with each other meant that Ben was more than capable of smacking the shit out of him. “Ow!”

“Don’t be a bitch, Klaus.” 

“I’m dead, asshole! If there was ever a time to be the most dramatic bitch possible..!” He threw his hands out to the side, shooting Ben a nasty look. “At least I died without a shirt on, honestly. Very sexy of me.”

“We have to get rid of that hole in your chest.” Ben pointed out. “If I had a stomach, I’d puke.”

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever.” Klaus waved a hand, frowning as Dave stumbled down the hallway towards their rooms. “How’d you stop looking like roadkill?” He asked absently.

“Death really made you into the worst kind of person.”

“Hey, you and me, we’re on the same level now. No more of those guilt trips about ‘being a better person’.” 

“If you think I’m ever going to stop, you’re out of your mind.”

“Fuck you, Benjamin.” Klaus declared, but his voice trailed off when Dave pushed the door to his room open. Ben had the decency to stay quiet as well. 

Dave started saying his name.

“Oh, Dave, no.” Klaus whispered, “Hey, I’m here, I’m right here.”

Ben sighed behind him. Klaus fell onto his knees just as Dave did. “No, no, no, baby. You have nothing to be sorry for, okay? Nothing.”

Dave pressed his face into the mattress and wailed . Both brothers flinched at the sound. Klaus looked brokenhearted.

Chapter Text

“Private First Class Katz. A bonafide Sky Soldier. Not bad.” A voice commented blithely, “How long did you serve?”

Dave flinched, childishly pushing his face further into the mattress. He didn’t want to be bothered. He needed to mourn. But this wasn’t his house, so..

“David. Get up.” Five ordered. “You’re helping me.”

His mind was hazy, like he’d had one too many drinks or took too many hits off of Klaus’ weirdly strong blunts. Dave considered the words slowly. “With what?” He asked quietly, his voice creaking. He didn’t turn around. His hands were twisting in a pastel scarf that smelled like old cigarettes. 

“Are you a decent shot? I don’t know if dear old dad kept any semi-automatics around, but he had plenty of rifles.” Five replied.

“I don’t want to kill anyone else.” Dave said, voice low and devoid of hope.

“Not even for the greater good? For Klaus?” Five took a step forward into the room. His voice was a brand of menacing that Dave didn’t agree with. He reached up for his Star of David again, running his thumb along the symbol. Something deep inside him felt sheepish and small at his earlier outburst. He probably needed to find a synagogue. 

“It won’t bring him back.” He sighed. “And-” He scrubbed his free hand down his face. “And Klaus didn’t even believe in a greater good.”

“Fair.” A pause. “I think you do, though.” Five observed, speaking in an odd tone he couldn’t quite place, “I think you’re a good person, David Katz. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.”

“I don’t know about that.” He replied sadly, “But I know that killing people isn’t a great place to start trying.”

“What if I told you we were going to stop the end of the world together?”

Dave blinked, then turned to look over his shoulder at the kid. His face probably looked awful and puffy from all the crying he’d been doing. It wasn’t dignified. He was past the point of caring.

“The world is in danger.” Five explained, his hands in his blazer’s pockets while he scrutinized Dave. “Ending in a few days. Klaus would want you to try to stop it.”

“Don’t use his name like that.” Dave scoffed, looking away again. “Besides. He was a great guy, but he didn’t give a damn about the world .” He knew Klaus’ opinions on the world. It chewed him up and spat him out onto the streets where he roamed for years. It was a cruel, unforgiving place in a way Dave knew he’d never really understand- even though he felt like he was getting closer to the truth the longer his partner was gone from his side. 

“The only thing Klaus cared about was people.” He finished miserably.

“Hm.” Five nodded, eyebrows raising at the assessment. “Well, there you go. Help save Klaus’ people, then. His family . It’s probably the least you could do for him.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” He replied, cold. Dave’s anger started burning beneath his skin, an itch he couldn’t scratch. But he didn’t want to take it out on Klaus’ little brother. “Do you even- do you even care?”

A flash of blue, and Five was kneeled beside him, his hands fisted in Dave’s shirt again. He couldn’t flinch away in time. “Of course I care .” Venom soaked through every single word, and Five glared at him like he was something repulsive. Maybe he was. Dave wondered if Five would hit him again. He decided he’d probably let him. “Just because I’m not laying around all pathetic like you doesn’t mean I don’t care .

I’m busy getting things done so that we might have even the slightest possibility of seeing Klaus again.” He hissed, “But I can’t help bring Klaus back home if there isn’t a home to come back to.” He let go of Dave, shoving him backwards slightly in the process.

“You can-” Dave swallowed, “You really think you can do something about it.”

“I’m not just letting Klaus go.” Five said, his voice grave. He stood up, brushed off his blazer. “But certain things have to happen before it’s safe to try.” Straightening his tie, he huffed. “And even if I can’t, you’re still more useful to this family helping me than sitting in Klaus’ room screaming and crying. Get up.”

He considered it. He did. He didn’t want to get his hopes up, but this- this was the future and they did have time travel. Was this something that could be fixed? His eyes wandered around the room and he could envision that younger Klaus sitting at his desk, rolling a joint. Sneaking out the window and down the fire escape. Putting together an outfit in front of his closet like an anxious bird getting ready for a date.

Dave swallowed.

“I still don’t want to kill anyone.” He repeated. Five rolled his eyes.

Fine . Just hold a gun and act like you know how to use it. Humor me.” He retorted, but he seemed more satisfied than he did moments before. “Meet me downstairs in forty. Get yourself cleaned up in the meantime- there’s a bathroom down the hall. And the third door on the right is Diego’s room. Grab some clothes.” Five gave him a short nod as if he was being dismissed, then vanished in a flash of blue.

That was that, then.

He took a deep breath, and then another, trying to clear his mind. If Klaus’ brother needed him.. As much as it hurt to hear, he was right. This was the least he could do, being the one who lived. Who held their brother in his arms as the light faded from his eyes.

And the possibility of Klaus coming back..

He took a sharp breath through his nose. He couldn’t count on that. He just couldn’t. 

At the very least he had another job to do. Orders to follow. 

Bracing himself on the bed, Dave slowly forced himself to his feet. He was stiff all over from the kneeling and the hunching. Giving one last look around the room, he sighed and tried to will away the hopeless feeling he felt as he walked back into the hall.

Following Five’s directions, he went a few doors down and peeked inside. There wasn’t much to go by, but he walked to the wardrobe and started picking through it regardless. After finding a pair of pants and a t-shirt he thought would suffice, he left and went into the bathroom.

Dave paused at the mirror. The bags under his eyes were darker than ever, and there were tear tracks mixed in with the dried blood and dirt on his face. He looked like absolute shit. There was a weird sort of solace that came with the realization- his outside matched his insides. But he couldn’t stay covered in mud and his lover’s blood.

Dropping the clothes, he walked over to the bathtub and turned on the faucet, putting a stopper in the drain. At least some things didn’t change with the future.

He was as fast as he could be, scrubbing himself down with vigor and refusing to think too hard about it. Instead he focused on Five’s words. He didn’t know how much of his explanation was true, per se - hard to believe the world was ending - but he’d do what he was asked. If helping Klaus’ family meant stopping the apocalypse or just entertaining his violent little brother, he’d do it.

In true military fashion, he was ready to go in fifteen rather than forty. It had a lot to do with the fact that the water was turning a faint rust color and he couldn’t stand the sight of it. As well as being used to showering in five minutes or less.

On his way out, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror again. He looked better without the blood and dirt. He hasn’t seen himself so clean since the last trip they took to Saigon, honestly. If it were a perfect world, he’d have the tools with him to shave, but he’d live without being regulation for a little while longer. 

Besides. Klaus always liked when he grew out some stubble.

He shrugged his vest back on, ignoring the dark stains, and left. Retracing his steps from earlier as best as his shoddy memory would allow, he was back in the living room and sitting on the couch, bouncing his leg up and down when Five arrived again. Dave had been taking the time to take a closer look around, despite the paintings in the room feeling like they had eyes on him .

“Well, at least you’re punctual.” Is all Five said before handing him an old looking rifle in pristine condition. As well as multiple clips of ammo.

“Isn’t this overkill?” Dave asked as he instinctively went over the gun and investigated the ins and outs, quickly assessing how to reload it. Even if he was never going to. It was a work of art as far as guns went, though. Well taken care of, maybe more of a trophy than a weapon. Meant more for shooting down big game as opposed to people.

Regardless, it was lethal because, one, it was a gun. And two, Dave knew exactly how to use it to get what he wanted, if he wanted.

He made sure the safety was on and the chamber was empty.

The gun wasn’t the only thing Five brought with him, apparently. “Not with what we’re going for.” Five hiked up the identical suitcases onto the coffee table. 

“Which is..”

“We’re going to bluff our asses off so I can get a meeting with my old employer.”

“How old are you again?” Dave asked.

“Fifty-eight.” Five replied, scrutinizing the cases carefully.

“Ah.” He said through a sigh, “Alright. Why not.” He paused. “Any chance I can get a pack of darts before we go?”

The kid gave him a scrutinizing look before he vanished into thin air with one of the briefcases. Dave blinked, looking around the room with no luck. Five showed up again a moment later in a flash of blue and threw a half-pack of cigarettes to him along with a worn lighter, the suitcase gone. Dave guessed that the one he took was the real thing and was now hidden away somewhere.

“Klaus’.” Dave realized, running a thumb across the neon pink lighter.

“I don’t think he’d mind.” Five shrugged, “Besides, if this is all the payment you need to save the world, our trust funds will gladly pay for your nicotine addiction.”

“You were going to pay me?” He asked, to which Five scoffed before walking off. Wasting zero time, Dave immediately pulled out a stick, placed it between his lips and lit it. He inhaled deeply as he followed Five, relishing in the small relief of smoke filling his lungs.

“He’s taking this surprisingly well.” Ben commented as they followed the two out to the car. Klaus reached for the backseat handle and then made a frustrated noise when he couldn’t open it. Instead of doing the normal, alive person thing, he followed Ben’s lead and phased himself into the car.

“I explained a lot of it, when I could.” Klaus sighed, leaning forward in the middle seat so he could get a better look at his partner. “I miss cigarettes.”

“And he believed you?” His brother asked, ignoring the comment about the cancer sticks.

“Once he realized I wasn’t bullshitting about the ghosts..” He trailed off, “He’s always been patient. So patient.”

Ben sighed, settling back. “I’m glad you had someone that listened to you.”

“Yeah,” Klaus murmured sadly, “Yeah. He was good like that. Is good like that.”

“Considering he’s going on this suicide mission with Five just to honor your memory or- whatever it is, yeah. I’d believe it.” 

“I don’t like this.” Klaus stated, wishing he could run his fingers across Dave’s tall cheekbone. He would’ve taken his time with his affection the last time he had a spare moment alone with Dave, if only he’d known. “Five’s taking advantage of him.”

“Are you surprised?” Ben asked, “It’s Five. He’s been home less than a week and he’s disrespected every single one of you at least a dozen times since.”

“I wish I could’ve gotten to know him better.” He replied softly, “I didn’t have a lot of time with him. It would’ve been cool to hang out after he stopped the apocalypse or whatever.”

“Yeah.” Ben said, “I know how you feel.”

Chapter Text

Dave and Five leaned against the car, their hair blowing in the wind on the desolate highway. Five had driven here, against all of Dave’s better judgement, but the kid(?) had a habit of leaving zero room for arguments. It reminded him of the few times he got to take his little brother out to teach him how to drive, except Five accepted zero criticism. Yet also drove much better than his fifteen year old brother.

“You’re sure they’ll show?” Dave asked, eyes wandering the scenery. He dropped the butt of his third dart onto the ground and ground it beneath a heel.

“Well, without their briefcase, they’re completely screwed.” Five explained, watching the road like a hawk. The fake briefcase was held almost nonchalantly, but Dave could feel the tension. Or maybe that was just him. “They’re stuck here without it. They have no choice but to try and get it back.”

His eyes drifted across the empty fields. He had a truck back home that he’d take out on roads like this when he was a stupid teenager, pushing the speed limit as much as he could. “What happens when they realize it’s fake?”

“I have a plan.” Five replied simply, “Just point your gun and follow along.”

That wasn’t encouraging. “Okay.”

There was silence. The rifle was slung across his back with a strap, and he found himself wishing he hadn’t left his helmet behind. It was too exposed out here. Not enough trees. Not enough cover. They’d have to hide behind the jeep if a shootout started.

Car. It was a car, not a jeep.

“How’d he really do?” Five asked, his voice sounding softer. But not in a tender way- in a weary, worn way that spoke more to his true age than any of his bitching or blustering. “In Vietnam. You said he was a good soldier.”

Dave worried his lip as he thought about it. It hurt. But Five was hurting too, even if he had far different priorities. Any comfort he could offer would be a blessing.

“He didn’t know his ass from his teakettle at first.” He admitted, “Always had a different reason for why he didn’t remember anything from basic. I showed him the ropes. Soon as I taught him how to shoot, he was a natural- as long as he was in his right mind, anyways.” He took a deep breath, letting it out in a slow, measured sigh. “It was weird, how well he did in the field. Most FNG’s take weeks to adjust. Eventually he explained he was no stranger to, um, to violence.”

“Well,” Five hummed, “I guess that’s what happens when you’re raised as an experimental child soldier from the time you’re four.”

“Four?” Dave asked softly, hurt in his voice.

“Depended on when our powers showed.” Five responded nonchalantly, “Dad realized Klaus’ imaginary friends weren’t so imaginary when he was four.” The knowledge settled in Dave’s gut like a cold stone. But he didn’t have time to process, not with the way he saw Five’s eyes sharpening. A car was coming down the road towards them. “Get ready.”

He tensed, ready to pull his gun as he focused on the blue car speeding toward them. Five set the briefcase on the car hood next to Dave.

“Protect the briefcase. And play. Along.” Five hissed, “For Klaus.”

Dave pressed his mouth into a thin line, his chest panging at the reminder. The car parked a ways away from them, and two figures in suits and masks stepped out. Five strode over fearlessly and the two approached the kid in the same businesslike manner.

He watched the situation on high alert, tense and ready to pull his gun despite himself. He didn’t like this. Those two tortured his Klaus. Something burned underneath his skin as he remembered the bruises and wounds on Klaus from those first few days. Vividly. He was the one that hauled Klaus to the medic after the bus ride to base camp.

The two assassins peeled off their eerie helmets, and Dave narrowed his eyes as he memorized their faces. One was a woman, which he wasn’t expecting. They spoke for a moment before the woman reached behind her blazer.

Dave’s gun was focused on her forehead, putting her in his sights immediately. Her gaze shifted to him, eyes narrowing, then she looked back to Five. She said something, bitter, and he shrugged.

They spoke for another few moments before the woman lowered her gun. Five waved a hand vaguely to Dave, and he forced himself to slowly lower the barell of his rifle despite the fight of his fight or flight response screaming bloody murder.

These were two assassins, ones that had personally tortured the love of his life. It’d be satisfying to make sure they couldn’t hurt anyone else. And just how many innocent people had they killed?

..but then again, just how many did he ?

He was a soldier, through and through, and when the other side didn’t hesitate to shoot, neither did he. Didn’t matter who you were shooting at in the heat of the moment, but he knew, deep down, it was probably just some other sorry bastard shoved into the same situation he was in. 

The point was, Dave had killed people, and he had killed people for more, and he’d killed them for less. Much, much less. He’d committed his fair share of atrocities under the guise of following orders, things he knew were wrong.

He didn’t want to kill them. He wouldn’t do it. Couldn’t.

The two assassins backed up, the woman going to the payphone. Five turned around and strode back to Dave, making eye contact. 

“That easy?” He asked, his voice low. “Now what?”

“Just wait.” Five replied.

And wait they did. For a few seconds anyway, before Dave and Five made confused eye contact at the music approaching in the distance. 

They stared in absolute confusion as the ice cream truck passed them by. Dave could’ve sworn he saw Diego in the passenger seat beside the hulking figure driving.

Dave looked back to the assassins in time to grab hold of Five’s arm and throw them both behind the car, just as the gunshots started. “ Take cover !” He shouted, clutching his rifle and pressing his back to the metal.

He turned and braced the rifle on top of the hood of the car, aiming. The safety was already off- he’d switched it off as soon as the other two pulled out their guns out of instinct. Thankfully the two were distracted by the ice cream truck trying to ram into them at full force. He winced at the sound of metal on metal as the truck took out the other car.

“You hit, kid?” He asked while they had a moment. No response, and his chest seized up at the lack of response. It was foolish, but he took his eyes off his targets to check on Five. “Five?”

Five was gone. Nowhere in sight.

“Don’t fucking move!” Dave ordered, loud and clear as he focused his sights on the bigger assassin. He didn’t comply. Dave made a split second decision. He wouldn’t kill anyone, but he wouldn’t be the reason another Hargreeves died.

As the man dove for the field, he hollered as a well-aimed bullet tore through his thigh. It threw him to the ground, but he continued to army crawl away as Dave reloaded on autopilot. The woman had fire in her eyes as she looked around for her gun. When did she lose her gun? It didn’t matter.

“Dave?!” Diego demanded, eyes landing on him.

“Who’s Dave?” The giant of a man beside him demanded as he stumbled out of the ice cream truck.

“Get over here while they’re distracted!” Dave called, his scope zeroing in on the woman’s forehead. “Don’t you fucking move, lady!”

She froze, ice cold fury in her eyes as she stared him down. There was no choice for her but to stand still as Diego and company tore across the pavement to the car.

“Get in the car, we have to go.” Diego snapped, yanking a door open. The other, bigger man all but shoved him in.

“Five’s missing! I’m not leaving a man behind!” Dave replied fiercely, wishing that he had Andrews and Hargreeves watching his back while he frantically tried to come up with a plan, “ Where is he ?”

“He teleported!” The large man snapped, clasping a giant hand on his shoulder to try and get him to get in the car next to Diego. “He can take care of himself, we have to go .”

“He’s a kid!” Dave replied, desperate, “He’s just a kid, he’s Klaus’ brother -”

“Dave, get your ass in the car!” Diego demanded, “He’ll be fine, just move it !”

He knew when to retreat. These two didn’t have his back and didn’t want to continue the fight, and he still had one target unaccounted for. He’d have to trust Diego’s word and hope Five survived despite the ice cold dread in his gut.

For good measure he dropped the barrel of the gun and shot at the woman’s feet before ducking into the car and slamming the door. The giant forced himself into the driver’s seat like the normal, person sized vehicle was a clown car, turned the key, and stepped on it .

Dave twisted around in his seat, clutching his gun still as they started driving off. The male assassin had gotten hold of a pistol and pointed, shooting. Dave reached for Diego and ducked his head while pulling him down as well, but didn’t hear the sound of gunfire. What the fuck?

“Wh- get your hands off me, soldier .” Diego bit, smacking his hand away. Dave took a deep, shuddery breath, looking back out the window. Something black and clunky was bouncing down the road as they drove away- the briefcase.

As they got smaller and smaller in the distance, he watched the woman reach the briefcase and throw open the locks. Realizing it was all junk, she looked up at the retreating car and Dave could swear she locked eyes with him despite the distance. She screamed at the retreating car.

He sat back down in his seat, clutching the rifle so his hands would stop shaking. He had the afterthought to turn the safety back on.

“Is Five actually going to be okay?” He asked, his voice haunted and low.

“He’s survived worse.” The man up front said grimly. They made eye contact in the rearview mirror. “Now, who the hell are you?”

Klaus was crammed into the front seat, and Ben was lounging across the dashboard. It would’ve been funny if everything weren’t incredibly stressful. 

This was a car ride from hell. Diego seemed just as upset with Dave and sent him a threatening look every five minutes. Luther immediately dismissed Dave’s existence as soon as Klaus was brought up. He could tell the response bothered his partner, but there wasn’t anything to be done if he couldn’t bring up why he was there instead of Klaus.

It was extra annoying to Klaus, only because Dave had just been a complete badass against his will and probably saved their asses with cover fire. Luther couldn’t deny Dave wasn’t useful or important after that- or could he?

He could. Side effects of someone knowing and loving Klaus, apparently.

Dave stuck to his word and didn’t kill anyone, but he did get a good shot in on Hazel. Klaus would be lying if he didn’t cheer a little when it happened. And the absolute fury in Cha-Cha’s eyes was something he’d cherish forever, even if it sent a shiver down his metaphorical spine to know that she knew who Dave was now. 

“If they ever do end up going back in time and saving you, I’m gonna need you to pass along a message to Luther.” Ben said, breaking him from his troubled thoughts. He knew Klaus was worrying. Of course he knew.

“Oh, yeah?” He asked.

“Yeah.” His brother nodded, eyes sliding over to their biggest, burliest brother. “I need you to call him a bitch for me.”

“Done and done.” Klaus agreed.

The ride back was tense and awkward. Diego’s jaw was clenched, either in pain from whatever had happened to put his arm in a sling or just anger at the situation. It seemed like he couldn’t bare to look at Dave, except for when he was sending him threatening looks that screamed ‘ do not tell him ’.

“I’m an old friend of Klaus’.” Is what Dave had settled on. Luther, as this was apparently the illustrious Number One, had scoffed and shaken his head. 

“Great.” He’d said, voice flat. “Just great.”

There was a mild interrogation about what he was doing out there with Five, but Diego eventually interrupted and told Luther to ‘just fucking drive’ until they could have a ‘damn family meeting’ about it.

It seemed Dave was going to be meeting the rest of Klaus’ siblings. He still wouldn't be able to tell them, would he? The thought filled him with dread. 

The rest of the car ride was relatively silent. It was late when they got back. 

“I’ve gotta..” Diego shifted from foot to foot in the foyer, grabbing both Dave and Luther’s attention. “I’ve gotta go sleep this bullet wound off.” When did he get shot? Was that what the sling was for?

“Wh- hold on, we need to have a meeting.” Luther protested.

“We should wait until Five comes back.” Dave muttered, earning a look from Luther.

“It can wait until tomorrow.” Diego said, sticking his free hand in his pocket before walking towards the stairs. “I gotta- I gotta go think.”

“I don’t..” Dave wasn’t sure what to do. Luther was eyeing him suspiciously, but Diego turned and looked over his shoulder at Dave with a tired look.

“You can use Klaus’ room for the night.” He stated gruffly. Luther opened his mouth to protest, but Diego shot him a cold glare. “He kept us and Five from getting shot at, Luther. Least we can do is give the jackass a bed.”

With that, he trudged up the stairs and disappeared. Luther still didn’t look impressed.

“Fine.” He said, narrowing his eyes in suspicion. “There’s security footage in the house.” He warned, “Don’t steal anything. We’ll meet in the morning.” And then he walked off too. Dave had a few replies circling in his head for that one, namely that he wasn’t a thief and he definitely didn’t take orders from Luther, but he didn’t see the point in bringing it up as the hulking man left. Better to leave it alone.

Something was nagging him in the back of his mind. He couldn’t go to bed yet. He had unfinished business for the day- yet again, the least he could do for Klaus. The least he could do for himself, as well. He needed to go outside.

A brief walk took him to a door that led into a courtyard. It was just barely light enough outside to see, but he could make out some basic details. A large tree in the middle. Various plants. A stone monument. Oh.

He walked up to it, his boots crunching on grass and leaves. There was a statue on the ground behind it. He had to squint to make out the inscription on the bronzed plate attached to the stone.

Ben Hargreeves. May the darkness within you find peace in the light.


He shut his eyes tightly, taking a deep breath and sighing it out through his nose.

“Hey, Ben.” Dave said, his voice hoarse. He could already feel the tears coming on, but standing at his best friend’s brothers’ grave.. He’d forgive himself for crying, just the once. It was hard not to, now that there wasn't a handy distraction. Hard to ignore the loss and the pain that he felt with every fiber of his being.

“Hope you’re doing well. I don’t-” He swallowed, looking down and away and feeling foolish. Still.. “I don’t know how this ghost stuff works. But, um, I think since you were so close to Klaus, you deserve it if I- if I bend the rules and tell you the truth. If you're even here.”

He lowered himself to the ground in front of the overturned statue, gently pulling his rifle’s strap over his head so he could set it aside and place it out of the way.

“Klaus said you weren’t with him in Vietnam, but that you were always around here, so..” He swallowed, “Maybe you’ve already heard the news, but. I was- I was a friend of your brothers. A good friend.” He closed his eyes tightly, sniffling, “A close friend. He and I served together in Vietnam.

“I-” Dave’s face crumpled and he lowered his head, his chin to his chest. “I fucked up. I fucked it up. I got Klaus killed, Ben. It was me.”

He took a gasp of air, exhaling it in a sob. “I didn’t have his back that day, and I’m so- I’m so-” Dave shook his head, tears rolling down his cheeks. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I didn’t protect him.” His voice was weak, cracking, and it was getting hard to do much more than cry past the hot lump in his throat. But Ben deserved this more than anyone else, if he was even listening.

“He talked about you more than anyone else. You would’ve been so proud. He was one of the best.” He forced himself to say, a palm raising to scrub at one of his eyes. “We loved him so much. I- I loved him so much.” A wave of fresh tears came over him as he finally admitted it. He couldn’t stop himself from turning into a sobbing, pathetic mess after that, curling his knees and hugging them to his chest.

Apologies kept falling from his lips whenever he had the breath, and he really, truly hoped Ben could see and understand. And even if he wasn’t there..

“Take care of him. Take care of him, please.” Dave begged, “He hates the ghosts, you’ve gotta take care of him. Please . Just help him rest , Ben, please .”

Some people took comfort knowing their loved ones were finally at rest. In a better place, hopefully- one Dave still believed in wholeheartedly. But thanks to his glimpse into Klaus’ powers, he knew it wasn’t so simple. Things lingered. Ghosts were horrible creatures that never let his beautiful Klaus have a moment of peace, and the thought that he’d spend eternity with nothing but his worst nightmares..

Dave reached for his Star of David and started muttering under his breath, tears still streaming down his face. “ Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba. B’alma di v’ra chirutei, v’yamlich malchutei, b’chayeichon uv’yomeichon.” He croaked and sniffed, blinking tears away so he could look around for something. He spotted what he was after and crawled through the dirt to grab it- a smooth, round rock. 

He took a deep breath and moved back to Ben’s memorial, setting the rock down gently. If there was a place Klaus wanted to be remembered, it would probably be with his brother. “uv’chayei d’chol beit Yisrael, baagala uviz’man kariv, v’im’ru: Amen.

It didn’t matter that his voice trembled as he recited the Kaddish. He wasn’t the most devout, but it had to be done. This was how he knew to mourn and he’d say it as many times as he had to.

Klaus was almost catatonic at Dave’s side. His hands hovered over him, demanding to touch and hold and comfort, but no matter how hard he tried it was useless. All he could do was sit next to him and feel empty and incomplete as Dave muttered his Kaddish. 

He’d heard the same quiet prayer dozens of times as they neared the end of their time in Vietnam. They had a lot of fallen comrades and Dave had a lot of mourning to do.

Ben had the good sense to stay quiet during the whole thing, his hood pulled up as he watched with dull eyes. It was the closest thing they’d get to a funeral for a while, if at all, probably.

Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya, v’chayim aleinu v’al kol Yisrael, v’imru: Amen.” Dave said, bringing up Klaus’ dog tags to gently press a kiss to the cold metal. Oseh shalom bimromav, Hu yaaseh shalom aleinu, v’al kol Yisrael, v’imru: Amen.

Dave closed his eyes tightly as he finished. “Please, please let him find peace.”

“Thank you.” Klaus whispered, voice hoarse. He didn’t know what all the words translated to, even though Dave had said them in English once or twice just for him, but the meaning was there and it went deep. “I love you. Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Dave was more exhausted than he thought. He didn’t think he’d be able to sleep, but the familiar scent of Klaus and the knowledge that at least in that room, he was semi safe.. He curled up on the bed, grasping at Klaus’ blankets, and he immediately fell asleep.

His rest was plagued with vague memories mixed with nightmares and the rare tender moment he’d shared with Klaus before the dream would morph into something empty and horrible again. He eventually woke up with a sharp gasp, the sun just barely beginning to creep into the room. His heart beat like a rabbits and he had tears running down his face as he furiously scrubbed his hands on the sheets to get rid of the phantom feeling of slick, hot blood pulsing out from beneath his fingers.

He forced himself to take deep breaths and assess the situation as well as he could. 0600 hours, if he had to guess. He was in a bed, which was bizarre. It felt wrong. His back was used to uncomfortable cots and thin pillows, not a springy mattress.

Klaus’ mattress. Klaus’ room.

Dave threw the blankets aside and stood fast, stumbling a moment as the blood rushed to his head. He couldn’t stay in there. It felt like he was suffocating.

He yanked the door open and hurried down the hall to the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet before he puked. Dave’s head was pounding with the onslaught of memories and he dry heaved a few times before settling back onto his haunches, miserable. Was it always going to be like this? 

Maybe it was what he deserved.

He needed to go back outside.

Dave drifted through the mansion, not a soul in sight as he walked down the stairs on autopilot and went outside. It was a cold morning, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care. His feet took him right back to Ben’s memorial. In the early morning light he could actually make out the statue laying behind the stone slab. 

He fell to his knees yet again. “Hey.” He murmured, reaching forward and running his fingers over the words on the plating. “Give me a second.”

It was easier to find a rock in the light. Slightly smaller, but it would work. He set it right next to the first one and ducked his head.

Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba.” He started yet again, the words flowing from his mouth easily. He’d said this Kiddish too many times to count. The familiarity was the only thing that offered him comfort in the face of his confusion and Klaus’ death. “B’alma di v’ra chirutei, v’yamlich malchutei, b’chayeichon uv’yomeichon.”

“Uv’chayei d’chol beit Yisrael, baagala uviz’man kariv, v’im’ru.” He repeated, his hand raising to brush along Klaus’ tags. “Amen.”

He’d recited the whole Kiddish, and then a few others things for his own comfort. He was so focused that he didn’t hear the footsteps until the person was right behind him.

“Are you- ..are you praying ?” Diego asked, startling Dave.

“I was.” He replied quietly, unwilling to divulge what or why.

“Right. Um.” Diego cleared his throat, “Family meeting. When you’re done. You’re invited, since you.. Know things.” A pause, “About Five and the assassins.”

So he still wasn’t allowed to tell the other siblings.

“Okay.” He said, his voice sounding empty even to his own ears. He brushed his fingers along the newly placed rock before he stood, his knees protesting the effort after sitting on the cold hard ground so long. How long had he been out there? Since when was he shivering?

If Diego noticed, he didn’t say anything. He leveled Dave with an unreadable look and then turned and walked back towards the door. Dave followed behind stiffly, his arms wrapped around his torso.

They ran into Luther in the foyer. He frowned at Dave, noticing he was still there.

“I’m going to go call around the house for Klaus. Allison just got back. Go wait in the living room.”

Both Diego and Dave stood there awkwardly. Dave’s gaze was directed to the ground, and he decided it was a good time to put one foot in front of the other to go sit on the couch. His boots crunched in the glass from the chandelier. He didn’t care for Luther’s tone. But without Five’s bizarre mission keeping him occupied, Dave was aimless and hollow again. And if they wanted him at this ‘family meeting’..

(He wouldn’t dare to presume he was part of this family. Most members had expressed the exact opposite. And he could never tell them the real, real truth about him and Klaus. He’d never betray Klaus’ memory like that.)

Diego was in the room with him, perched by the bar. He didn’t say anything, didn’t even look at Dave. Instead, he pulled out a knife and started fiddling with it effortlessly in one hand. Dave wondered what he ended up finding out yesterday.

The tension was broken as loud footsteps came from the foyer, along with the clicking of heels. Luther walked into the room, a dark skinned woman following him. Allison, then.

“Who’s this?” She asked, eyes landing on Dave. She had a cardboard tray of coffee cups in her hand as she watched him curiously. She handed one to Luther, then walked further into the room to hand another to Diego.

“That’s a good question.” Luther said, eyes hardening as he stared at Dave. “I think that’s a good place to start the meeting.”

“Is this everyone you could find?” Allison asked, frowning, “Where’s Five? Klaus and Vanya?”

“Five disappeared and left this guy behind. Vanya.. Doesn’t need to be involved. And Klaus isn’t here.” Luther rolled his eyes.

“He’s busy.” Diego interrupted, eyeing Dave.

Luther rolled his eyes. “Right. Of course he is. But we don’t exactly have time to go drag him out of whatever alleyway he’s shooting up in though-”

“Fuck you.” Dave said on sheer impulse. Everyone froze and turned to look at him.

“Excuse me?” Luther said, his voice lowering.

“Fuck. You.” Dave bit out, anger rolling beneath his skin. A vicious part deep inside of him hoped Luther felt like a real piece of shit after he learned the damn truth. He almost regretted the thought. Any peace he’d given himself from his praying was shattered.

Luther stood up, eyes narrowed. Diego shot up at the exact same time and pressed a hand back against his brother’s chest.

“Don’t be a dick, Luther.” Diego snapped, watching Dave at the same time with flint in his eye. "That was uncalled for."

“We all know that’s what Klaus being ‘busy’ means,” Luther protested, “I don’t see what--”

“Can we please just get on with this meeting?” Allison asked suddenly, tapping her manicured nails against her coffee cup. “We’ll fill Klaus in later.”

Dave set his jaw, staring Luther dead in the eye. Luther didn’t seem intimidated though, only scoffing and looking up towards the ceiling. “Right. Okay. If he can even understand it-”

“Let’s start this over.” Allison said diplomatically. She walked over to Dave and handed him the last cup of coffee. “I grabbed this for Klaus, but you can have it if you can handle the sugar rush.”

Dave blinked and took the cup. He held it between both palms and relished in the warmth. “Thanks.”

“I’m Allison, if you didn’t already pick that up.” She said, smiling at him. Something was off about the expression in a way he couldn’t place.

“Dave. Dave Katz.” He reached out a hand for her. She shook it and then lowered herself onto the couch next to him, crossing her legs.

“So, Dave,” Luther started, “Let’s cut to the chase. How do you know Five? And Klaus?”

He looked away, worrying his lip a moment before he caught himself and stopped. “I’m-” He made eye contact with Diego, who narrowed his eyes slightly in warning. “I’m a war vet. Klaus’ friend.” Dave swallowed, looking down at the cup in his hands. “Five wanted my help since I have combat experience.”

“So you know about his coworkers.” Luther clarified.

The assassins. “I guess.” He replied, “A little.”

“Right.” Luther nodded, seeming satisfied with that for now. “So. As I already told some of you..” He stared down at his coffee cup, “I spoke to Five the other night. And according to him..” He looked up at all of them with an odd look. “The world ends in three days.”

Both Diego and Allison immediately raised their eyebrows, staring at Luther in shock. Dave wasn’t particularly surprised. Five had mentioned the end of the world as leverage to try and get what he wanted, but the info didn’t seem important or.. well, real

“Yeah,” Dave sighed, “He mentioned that.”

“Shit.” Diego groaned.

“Three days?” Allison asked, voice shocked and low. 

“That’s what he told me.” Luther said.

“But are you sure we can trust him? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Five is a little…” Allison made a hand gesture. 

Dave watched the conversation almost absently, raising his cup to take a sip of the coffee. He immediately winced at how sicky-sweet it was. Of course Klaus’ coffee order was an abomination of caffeine, chocolate, and whipped cream. It made the hollow place in his chest ache even more.

“He was pretty convincing.” Luther replied firmly, “It explains why those lunatics were chasing him.”

“That’s why they were after him?” Diego asked, then a dangerous pause followed. Dave felt his eyes on him and looked down at his cup. “This is Five’s fault?”

“What did Five even see?” Allison interrupted.

“Apparently.. We all fought together against whoever was responsible.” Everyone waited for him to continue, and even Dave looked up to see where he was going with it. Luther clicked his tongue and stood up. “So, here’s the plan-”

Both Allison and Diego immediately exploded into a cacophony of questions. Dave narrowed his eyes and frowned as Luther struggled to explain. In the silence, he looked at them all one by one with a blank expression.

“We died.” Luther said, taking a sip of his coffee. Dave blinked.

“What was that?” Allison asked, jutting her chin forward as if she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“I said, uh- we died.” Luther repeated. “Or, well. You two, me, and, um- Klaus.” Then both Diego and Allison started throwing questions every which way, crowding around Luther near the bar. Dave lowered his face into a hand and massaged the bridge of his nose as they tried to puzzle it out amongst themselves. 

“Hey.” A soft voice interrupted and the conversation halted as they all looked over to see a man and a woman stood in the middle of the room. “What’s going on?” She asked. Small, quiet, kind of mousy. The man next to her smiled eagerly and reminded Dave of a weasel. The two made eye contact. He tilted his head ever so slightly to the side and squinted at Dave, still smiling.

Allison broke the silence. “It’s a.. Family matter.” She said delicately.

“And you couldn’t be bothered to invite me?” The woman demanded, her soft demeanor shifting.

“Um,” The man beside her said, “Vanya, I know I don’t know that much about your family but.. Who’s this guy?” He gestured to Dave. The woman looked at Dave and scoffed. 

So this was Vanya. Last of the siblings. Klaus didn’t talk much about her except to mention, bitter, that she was never the focus of their father’s ire. She didn’t have powers so Reginald never had any training to give her, and Klaus considered her wildly lucky on both accounts. He mentioned she was an author, too, but Dave was never told what she wrote. It was a touchy subject. Something about the academy, he had to presume- maybe she helped write the comic books he saw?

“He’s one of Klaus’ friends.” Allison said quickly, “He stayed the night- he was helping Five yesterday--”

“So it’s not a family meeting.” Vanya spat, “It’s just a meeting for the heroes, is that it? Only the people you think are useful?”

“I’m sure they didn’t mean it like that, Van..” The man next to her murmured comfortingly, putting an arm around her shoulder.

“No, don’t defend them- I’m so sick of this crap !” Vanya raged, shaking him off, “It’s been like this since we were kids - And now some drug friend of Klaus is allowed in and I’m not ?”

“Vanya, that’s not fair-”

“There’s nothing fair about being your sister.” Vanya bit, “I have been left out of everything as long as I could remember.” She turned and gave the rest of the room an icy glare. “And I used to think it was dad’s fault, but he’s dead. So it turns out you’re the assholes.”

“Cry me a fucking river, Vanya.” Diego snapped suddenly, “You weren’t tormented like the rest of us. Boo fucking hoo.”

It was harsh, too harsh from a brother to a sister, but Dave quietly agreed with the sentiment, knowing what he knew about how Klaus grew up.

“You know what, Diego?” She hissed, “Screw you. Screw all of you. I’m done with this.”

“Vanya!” Allison called, frustrated as Vanya stormed out of the room. She took an aborted step towards her before she snapped her gaze to the man who was still standing in the middle of the room awkwardly. “Leonard..” She sighed, irritated. He cleared his throat.

“Nice, um, nice meeting you all.” Leonard(apparently) said, pressing his lips together in an attempt at a smile. He followed Vanya out quickly, all but scurrying away.

“Who the hell was that guy?” Luther asked.

“Vanya’s new boyfriend.” Allison replied bitterly.

“Good riddance.” Diego muttered, mostly to himself, but Dave caught his eye. Diego stared at him a moment then looked away in frustration.

The message between them was clear, he thought. If Dave had just lost a sibling, he’d be keeping the other one at the hip. Diego intentionally drove Vanya away, though, when Dave knew from his guilty scowl that on some level, Diego knew the truth. 

“Don’t be a dick, Diego.” Allison snapped. “I need to go find her and explain-”

“Wait, no.” Luther interrupted, “There’s no time. We need to figure out what causes the apocalypse.” Allison sighed, slowly turning back to the group as Luther continued. “Now, there are loads of possibilities- nuclear war, asteroids..” He paused, “But I think this is about the moon. Right?”

The moon ’, Dave mouthed to himself, leaning back against the couch and closing his eyes tightly.

“Dad must have sent me up there for a reason. And I was giving him daily updates on the conditions, I sent field samples-”

“You went to the moon ?” Dave interrupted, sitting up. 

“Um.” Luther cleared his throat, “Yeah. It’s not a secret.”

“How? Why ?” He asked, stunned. Finally, something from the future that truly phased him. “You stayed there?”

“It was in the news.” Allison shrugged.

“Whatever- look. The first thing we need to do is find that research and his conclusions.” Luther instructed.

“Seriously?” Diego sighed, “Hold on, okay- if we all died last time around, what’s stopping it from happening again? What’s different? What gives us a win?”

Luther opened his mouth to answer, but they were all interrupted by a mass of flashing light and static electricity. Dave instinctively threw himself off the couch and onto the ground, covering his head. The rest of the siblings stumbled back and they all watched as Number Five fell onto the bar in a flash of blue.

Dave squinted up at him, then felt a rush of sheer relief as he realized it wasn’t some messed up illusion from the back of his broken mind. Everyone else was staring at the kid too. Five was here, he was safe. And he seemed to have another briefcase. The kid slowly pushed himself up and looked around the room in bewilderment.

“Five! Where have you been?” Luther asked, jerking forward to help him down off the counter.

“Are you alright?” Allison demanded, “Who did this?”

“Irrelevant.” Five stole Allison’s cup of coffee and stumbled away from the group. His eyes found Dave, who was slowly pushing himself up off the floor and willing his hammering heart to calm down. “Hm. Sorry about the scare, Katz.” He said before tilting his head back and chugging the caffeine.

“Good- good to see you again.” He replied shakily. 

Five wiped his mouth and sighed, looking around at his siblings. “So.” He said, “The apocalypse is in three days. The only possibility we have to save the world is- well,” He gestured, “Us.”

“The Umbrella Academy.” Luther uttered.

“Something like that.” Five said darkly, looking over his shoulder at Dave. Diego averted his eyes. “With me this time, obviously. Dave too.”

Five gave a small motivational speech to his siblings that Dave mostly tuned out. This wasn’t The Umbrella Academy, not without Klaus, and he knew it. He started paying attention again when Five pulled out a piece of paper, mentioning a lead.

“I know who’s responsible for the apocalypse.” He said ominously, handing the paper over to Allison. “This is who we have to stop.”

Five quickly explained where he’d been, explained how his employer had control over time and space, explained the impending apocalypse. The rest of his siblings all erupted in a cacophony of questions and accusations

“Do you have any idea how insane this sounds?” Allison demanded harshly.

“You know what else is insane?” Five snapped, “I look like a 13 year old boy. Klaus spoke to the dead, you manipulate reality, Dave is from active wartime Viet-fucking-nam, and Luther thinks he’s fooling everyone with that overcoat.”

Dave noticed Luther and Allison shooting him confused looks, but Five was on a tirade and didn’t seem willing to stop. “Everything about us is insane. It always has been. We didn’t choose this, but we’re living it.” Five scoffed, throwing his coffee cup aside carelessly. “For the next three days, at least.”

“But last time we tried to stop it, we died .” Allison stressed. “Why isn’t this any different? Why shouldn’t I go home to my daughter?”

“Because,” Five said, “This time I’m here, we have a soldier from one of the most highly specialized infantry groups from the Vietnam war, and we have the name of the man responsible.”

“What?” Allison said, squinting.

“Look, guys, we have the chance to save billions of lives.” Five insisted, then focused in on Allison. “Including Claire.”

The room fell silent for a moment. “You know her name?” Allison asked skeptically. Dave didn’t know Klaus had a niece.

“I do.” Five replied grimly, “And I’d like to live long enough to meet her.”

It was written all over her face. That was that, then. “Let’s get this bastard.” Allison decided.

“I’ve already lost enough people this week.” Diego added darkly, “I’m not losing anyone else.”

“And Luther?” Five asked.

“You guys go. I’m going to stay behind and look through dad’s files.” Luther explained, causing Diego and Five to both roll their eyes. “I still think this has something to do with why he sent me to the moon.”

“Seriously?” Diego retorted, “Now you want to make the end of the world about you and dad?”

Luther’s face shifted. “‘Watch for threats’. That’s what he told me. You think that’s a coincidence?” He asked, like Diego was an idiot, “It all has to be connected somehow.”

“Wait, we should all stick together.” Allison interjected, face knitting together in concern. 

“We don’t have time for this.” Five snapped.

“Let’s do this thing.” Diego decided, rolling his neck decisively and shrugging his shoulders as if he was psyching himself up. “I know where we can find this asshole. Five, Allison-” He paused, “Dave, you in?”

He blinked. How long had he been sitting there? He turned his eyes to Diego with a frown. “Do I have a choice?”

“Not a chance, Sky Soldier.” Five snapped, “Everyone get your shit together. Dave, get the gun- and no, I don’t want to hear it. I’ll be in the car.” With that, he vanished. 

“I’m gonna..” Luther threw a thumb over his shoulder and started to leave.

“Allison,” Diego said suddenly, “Maybe you should go try and convince him to tag along. We know the moon stuff is bullshit.”

“..seriously?” She turned and gave him an incredulous look, “ You want me to go get Luther?”

“I have to hang back and talk to soldier boy here, anyways.” He said dismissively, looking away from her. She pursed her lips, looking between Diego and Dave for a moment curiously before shaking her head and trailing after Luther.

It was quiet in the room.


Dave turned to look at Diego warily. Diego cleared his throat, a peculiar look in his eye. He strode forward and dug around in a tight leather pocket with his good hand. Looking away, he offered Dave a folded up photograph.

Dave felt like the world bottomed out for the umpteenth time. It was the 173rd.

“That’s you two, isn’t it.” Diego said, his voice low.

Up in the right corner they stood side by side in the grainy picture. Dave’s throat closed up and he nodded stiffly, blinking fast.

“My brother,” Diego said slowly, “My brother was in Vietnam, fighting a war.”

He ducked his head, holding the picture tightly.

“I couldn’t find records of him there at first. I thought you were lying.” Diego admitted, hand clenching into a fist. His eyes were hard and cold.  “I needed you to be lying.”

“Yeah.” Dave replied, his voice faint and hoarse.

“You’re not lying, are you.”

Dave didn’t trust himself to say anything else. Instead he reached up with one hand and found the stolen dog tags. He didn’t let go of the chain, because he’d die before he parted with Klaus’ tags, but it was easy enough for Diego to take the two tags and examine them.

Diego flicked out a knife from his belt with a sudden cold fury, and it landed directly in the center of Five’s massive portrait above the fireplace. His footsteps were loud as he stormed out of the room.

Dave absently wondered where he threw his coffee cup as he thumbed over the photograph, tender and lost and brokenhearted all over again.

“At least Diego didn’t stab Dave.” Ben said.

“Small blessings, Ben, yes.” Klaus dragged his hands down his ethereal face, groaning. “I don’t like this. I don’t like this. I don’t like this!” He threw his hands out, frustrated. “I’m right here!”

Ben gave him a look that was quickly becoming his least favorite. A sad, unimpressed number that screamed ‘now you know how I felt while I watched you throw your entire life away’.

“Shut up, Ben.” Klaus snapped.

Ben huffed. “I literally didn’t say anything.” 

“They don’t even- they don’t care. They know I’m missing and they don’t care, Ben. I know I- I knew they were like this, but it’s--” He dug his fingers into his hair and pulled, shutting his eyes tightly.

“It’s different when you see it for yourself.” Ben finished solemnly. “I never really understood how bad things were with any of us until I was a fly on the wall. You especially.”

“And they think they can just treat Dave like shit just because he knows me?” Klaus asked, “What the fuck is their problem?”

“You’re all assholes.” Ben replied.

“You’re an asshole too, asshole.” Klaus grumbled.

“Death does that to you.”

“Great. Just great.” Klaus threw his head back and sighed. They were watching as Allison walked back into the room and collected Dave. Dave looked worse for wear after his conversation with Diego, and she gave him a concerned frown. “Death is just going to be you and me bitching at each other constantly, isn’t it.”

“I really don’t see how that’s any different from when you were alive, except now you can’t shoot up in an alleyway just to annoy me.” Ben said.

“Don’t flatter yourself.” Klaus sniffed, “I never shot up for you .”

Chapter Text

Diego and Five had been having a harsh, whispered conversation when Allison and Dave finally joined them in the car. Dave could guess it had something to do with him and leaned back, staring out the window as he fidgeted with the dog tags. He didn’t particularly enjoy the idea that anyone else touched them, but he dismissed the thought. 

They drove to a police station. The siblings all bickered, Diego made some comment about ‘making calls’ and ‘being a leader’, and then left the other three alone in the car while he went to grab the file on Harold Jenkins.

“So. Are we going to talk about the elephant in the room?” Allison asked, raising an eyebrow over at Dave. His glazed eyes slid over to her and he blinked quickly, trying to stay present.

“Which one?” Five asked.

“The Vietnam War soldier?” Allison nodded towards Dave, eyebrows raised. “Could’ve sworn Diego said he was just Klaus’ friend.”

Dave looked back out the window, letting the metal edges of the tags dig into his skin.

Five was silent, irritation palpable as he tried to come up with an excuse. “He had a briefcase and travelled here. We did some work together. He’s a valuable asset.”

“Where’d he get a briefcase? Weren’t those made by your time travel terrorists?” She asked skeptically, “Dave?”

“Funny story. A friend of his left it behind.” Five explained before he could, an edge to his voice, “He didn’t even know what he was doing with it.”

“No clue.” Dave confirmed quietly. Looked like Five was on board with the ‘do not explain your brother is dead’ plan.

“It doesn’t even matter, Allison.” Five let out a loud sigh. Dave clenched his hand around the metal even harder. “We’ll figure out what to do with him after all this is over.” He said, sounding almost pained as he forced his voice into something more patient. “But right now, he’s a valuable asset.”

“Is that why you’re helping?” Allison asked, “Five won’t let you go home until you help us stop this thing?”

“I wouldn’t call the Vietnam War my home, ma’am.” He replied quietly.

“Sure. Let’s go with that.” Five said with a sneer, “I’m holding him hostage in the future. Why not.”

“Hm.” Allison said sadly, looking away. “I.. is that a payphone?” She sat up. “I think I need to make a call. Diego’s taking too long, anyways.” 

Shrugging, Five didn’t protest her getting out of the car. Once she left, the kid spoke up. “Diego talked to me.” Five said quietly, his voice serious. He sighed, sounding weary. “We still can’t tell them. Not yet.”

“They’re family.” Dave replied even quieter, not trusting his voice to stay even. “This isn’t right. They need to know.”

“It’s..” Five ran his hand through his hair and then sat up, twisting around in his seat to look at Dave. “I know it sucks. Alright? I feel like dog shit for keeping it from them. But it’s.. It’s too distracting. Diego is already losing his grip, and need I remind you, the world is at stake.”

Dave stared at him, slowly shaking his head before looking back out the window. Five made a face in the corner of his vision but seemed to be satisfied with Dave’s silence on the matter. 

“I’m glad you’re safe.” Dave said, right before doors opened and Diego and Allison slid back into the car. Allison was already holding and looking through the file hungrily.

“Holy shit.” She mumbled to herself. 

“What?” Diego asked, craning his neck to try and see over the edge of the driver’s seat. She flipped the file around and showed them all a black and white photo.

“Harold Jenkins is Leonard Peabody.” She stated.

“I recognize that putz . Is that..?” Dave asked quietly, digging in his memory. It was barely an hour later, but he was having trouble.

“Vanya’s fucking boyfriend.” Diego groaned, “Is there an address? We need to step on it. We’re not leaving her alone with that creep.”

“Priceless, coming from someone who can’t be in the same room as Vanya without belittling her.” Allison retorted.

“She’s my little sister.” Diego snapped, “I’m not losing her too. Give me the address.”

Allison gave him a weird look, but didn’t press as Diego put the car into drive and stepped on it. Dave and Five made eye contact through the rearview mirror, and Dave thought he was beginning to see Five’s point about his brother losing it.

The car was tense and quiet as Diego sped through the streets to Harold Jenkins’ house. They all practically threw themselves out of the car.

“Be careful.” Allison instructed, “We don’t know what Peabody is capable of.”

“Yeah, he didn’t seem that dangerous when I saw him.” Diego said dismissively. “Looked kind of scrawny.”

“So are most serial killers and mass murderers.” Allison replied, then nodded towards Five. “Just look at him.”

“Thanks.” Five replied casually before pausing, looking over his shoulder. “Aren’t you forgetting something, Katz?” He asked innocently once he stepped onto the lawn. Dave pressed his mouth together and sighed through his nose before moving back to the car, opening the trunk and pulling out his rifle. He checked that the safety was still on before slinging it over his shoulder and trudging after the other three to the front door.

He’d be lying if he said the familiar weight didn’t help him feel a little better. It made the situation all the more serious and cleared his mind- you don’t fuck around with a gun strapped to your back, not if you want to stay hole-free.

“What does this freak want with Vanya, anyways?” Diego asked as they walked onto the porch.

“I don’t know.” Five seemed to think on it, “Why don’t we ask him after we kill him?”

“I’m not killing anyone.” Dave reminded Five, watching as Allison left the group and walked to the side of the house.

“Right, you can just cap him in the knees so he can’t run away.” Five replied, something.. Approving in his voice. Oh, geez. He knew about his shot on the assassin?

“Alright, cool it.” Diego held up a hand to stop them all as they approached the door. “Look, I’m gonna bust through-”

Five looked around, probably wondering where Allison had gotten to. Diego caught on to her disappearance and sighed. “You know, it would be nice if people just-” Was all he got in before Five warped away in a flash of light. Diego gave the space where Five was standing a blank look before looking back at Dave.

He threw himself through the glass door a moment later.

“Subtle.” Allison called out from inside. Dave approached and reached for the doorknob, giving it an experimental turn. The door opened, swinging into the mess of glass and wood Diego had just made.

“Door was unlocked.” He helpfully informed the man on the floor as he stepped inside. He offered Diego a hand out of instinct. “How’s your arm after that, man?”

“My way worked fine- it’s fine .” Diego growled, forcing himself up and smacking Dave’s hand away. “Spread out.” He started walking off, trying to downplay the pronounced limp. “Yell if you see something.”

“Inspiring leadership.” Five commented.

“One of the greats.” Allison added.

“Are you guys always this intense?” Dave asked. The more time he spent with this family, the more well-rounded his picture of Klaus became. If these were the people he grew up with.. his fondness for dramatics made sense, to put it lightly.

“You get used to it.” Five said before striding away. With that, they all spread out and started creeping around the house. 

Dave sighed and pulled his rifle, slowly creeping down a hall on the lower floor while Allison went up. He swung his gun into each doorway and followed it, scanning the room quickly before muttering ‘clear’ to himself out of habit.

He’d just finished his patrol of the rooms when he heard Allison’s voice in the distance. “ Guys, you need to see this .” She called.

Dave moved quickly and filed in behind her brothers as they went up the stairs. Five led the way up a ladder into the attic of the house. 

It was completely fucked up.

“This is completely fucked up.” Dave said, his voice low as he scanned the room. He’d put the rifle away in the small space, but his fingers itched to hold it again because this room screamed danger

Umbrella Academy memorabilia everywhere. Old posters and newspaper clippings plastered on every wooden wall and beam on the side of the tiny room. Lunch boxes, games, toys, everything covered by six kids in masks. But every single picture with them in it had them mutilated in some way. The eyes were scribbled over or scratched off. Action figures were destroyed. Toys snapped in half. 

“All our faces are burnt off.” Allison said quietly.

“Well that’s not creepy..” Diego muttered sarcastically, peering at a picture of himself and his brothers on a cover of a magazine. They didn’t have their masks on, and every eye was scribbled out so hard the page was ripped. “This guy’s got serious issues.”

“Does this happen a lot with you guys?” Dave asked quietly, frowning at a picture of a young Klaus with his face carved up like someone had gone rabid on the damn thing. He was ignored by the other Hargreeves, though. Go figure.

“Shit.” Five mumbled.

“This was never about Vanya.” Allison uttered, her fingers trailing across a photo. “This was about us.”

Five shifted from foot to foot and glanced down at his torso, catching Dave’s eye. He was standing behind the kid when his knees gave out from under him, so he easily caught him. He barely weighed anything. “Shit!” He exclaimed. The two siblings rushed to Five’s side.

Five groaned through gritted teeth. They all spotted the blood painting the hand that just came out of his blazer, and Dave held the kid up as best he could while the other two parted the sides of his jacket and revealed a giant red patch of blood. Dave’s breath caught in his throat. They peeled his dress shirt up and all swore softly at the wound on his abdomen.

“Jesus, Five.” Diego whispered, “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“You an’- an’ Dave would’ve cried wolf and overreacted if I even sneezed .” Five muttered weakly, his brow furrowed in pain. He was beginning to sweat. “You have to keep going.” His voice was faint and whispery. “So.. close.” 

Allison frantically said her brother’s name, shaking him lightly. “No-” Dave choked out, “No, no, no- Diego, he needs pressure, he needs- you’ve gotta-”

“I’m fine, Dave.” Five said, then his eyes slipped closed. “Quit whinin’.” No, no, no, not again.

“Hold on, hold on-” Diego snapped, ducking so he could see it better. He felt underneath Five’s back. “No exit wound, just shrapnel. No arteries hit. We gotta get him home though. Now.”

“Medic,” Dave gasped, grabbing at Five’s shoulders desperately, “Medic, we need a medic, I-I need a- I can’t- Oh God, oh God-”

“Dave,” Diego snapped, “ Katz .” He reached forward as if to smack Dave’s face but he jerked back, all but cradling Five in his arms as he went. “We’ll take care of this.” He said firmly, “Allison, help pick him up, keep Dave calm- I’m gonna run and start the car.”

Diego darted down the stairs, leaving Allison to pick up Five’s feet. Dave shakily got to his feet and with her help they awkwardly shuffled down the attic ladder and the stairs with Five in their arms. Diego had the passenger door open for them, and Dave went in first so Five’s head was cradled in his lap. His hand immediately went to press down on the wound, causing Five’s eyes to fling open as he spewed curses. 

He was so, so tired of hurting the Hargreeves. “Step on it.” Dave begged as Five writhed underneath him. “ Please .”

Time seemed to bleed together. All he could feel was Five’s pulse underneath his skin, and then the car was being parked. Diego opened the doors for them as Dave and Allison carried Five through the house.

“We should’ve taken him to a hospital.” Allison hissed.

“She’s right.” Dave said quickly.

“Kid with a shrapnel wound might raise some questions.” Five mumbled, “Katz, stop hyperventilating on me.”

He was trying. And failing, considering he couldn’t breathe well enough to respond. 

“Yeah, well, so does the murder shrine in Harold Jenkins’ attic.” Allison snapped at no one in particular. Diego directed them into the living room and they quickly set Five down on a couch. “He’s still losing blood, what do we do?” She asked, taking her jacket off and throwing it aside.

“Take the shrapnel out and compress the wound to stem the flow, we need to sterilize the site and find a- a needle-” Dave recited anxiously. Diego was nodding along but something caught his attention and in an uncharacteristic display of carelessness, he seemed to.. Wander off, rather than run for medical supplies.

“What the hell?” Dave asked.

“Diego, where are you going?” Allison demanded.

“Mom?” Diego said. Dave and Allison made eye contact with each other in confusion. 

He heard a cheerful woman’s voice echoing in through the foyer. Allison’s eyes widened in shock, but she seemed to want to stay by Five’s side just as much as Dave did. 

After a short conversation, heels clicked and Diego’s boots sounded on the floor as the two joined them back in the living room. Dave looked up at their mother, bug eyed and covered in her son’s blood. Not for the first time, either , his mind betrayed.

“Mom?” Allison gasped, “ Mom .”

“Oh, no.” The woman frowned, quickly moving to Five’s side. “Subdermal shrapnel wound. Losing blood at a steady rate.” Dave’s head was spinning. Something was weird about this. This was the woman from earlier, who was.. Napping? Something about that didn’t sit right with his gut, but it didn’t matter. “Be dears and help carry him upstairs for me. His bed should be fine, but he doesn’t need to be moving for the next several hours. I’ll go grab what I need from the infirmary.”

Allison and Dave nodded at each other and each picked up an end of the preteen again. Diego helped direct them up the stairs and into the hallway filled with bedrooms. He opened a door and flicked on a light switch.

The room was simple and quaint, childish even, but the walls were absolutely littered with numbers that made Dave’s head spin. They’d propped Five up so Diego could peel away his blazer and his bloody white shirt. His hands shook and Dave slowly backed away, staring at the scene while their mother came bustling back in with her arms full of plastic, sterile containers. 

“I’ll take it from here, kids.” She said firmly but cheerily, “How about you all get cleaned up?”

“Yeah.. Dave?” Allison asked gently, “You want to go wash off?”

He could only nod numbly.

“Okay, do you know where the bathroom is?” Another nod. “Alright. You do that, I’ll go grab you a clean shirt. Sound good?”

She put a hand on his shoulder and carefully directed him out of the room. How much would she hate him when he finally told the truth? Would these careful, concerned touches turn violent like Five had in the beginning?

She patted him on the back when he was stood in front of the bathroom and wandered down the hall. He took a fews numb steps and found himself standing in front of the sink again. Dark circles, days of stubble, curly hair and the random scars from where he’d been nicked in combat- blood on his hands.

The new and improved Dave Katz. He gave a full body shudder and quickly turned on the tap. 

He didn’t know how long he ended up scrubbing his hands. The water had turned clear but he didn’t feel clean. He wasn’t sure he’d ever feel clean. Who’s blood would be next? Allison eventually knocked on the doorframe and held up a gray t-shirt for him. 

“Luther’s old shirt.” She said, “Figured it would work. I’m gonna try and call Vanya again.”

He took it with trembling hands that she was kind enough not to comment on. He shucked his vest and his old shirt, then pulled the new one on and replaced the vest. He still felt dirty. So, so dirty.

Time passed. He found himself back in the doorway of Five’s room. The kid was out cold and more peaceful than Dave had ever seen him. The mom was carefully cleaning the wound with alcohol. Eventually Diego was at his shoulder, and then Allison too. They all watched the woman carefully put a bandage over Five’s wound.

“No answer at Vanya’s place.” Allison informed them quietly, crossing her arms and propping herself against the other side of the doorway. “ And , the receptionist at her music school said she was a no-show for her lessons today.”

Diego nodded, his face blank. He turned around and Allison followed. Dave stayed put, though, eyes lingering on Five’s form and just how small he seemed. 58, but in his sleep he looked every bit like a troubled, hurt 13 year old. How did Dave not notice Five bleeding? If one of his squad mates did something like that, hiding a shrapnel wound without even bothering to clean the damn thing, he’d wring their neck out of worry.

“Hey, you okay?” Allison asked Diego. They spoke too quietly for Dave to anything else but the occasional word.

“I don’t know, Diego.” She said after a moment, slightly louder. “Five is laying there, unconscious. We need him.”

“We can do this ourselves.” Diego insisted.

“We did that already, remember?” She replied, “We all ended up dead. I just- I think I should go see Claire, before..”

“You can’t run away from this, Allison. That’s what started this whole mess in the first place.” Diego said, voice rough and soft. Dave looked over his shoulder at the two. Diego looked right back at him, not openly hostile for once.

“Luther was right.” Diego said. Allison slowly turned her head back to stare.

“I didn’t think I would ever hear you say those words.” She scoffed, amused.

“Yeah, well.” Diego sighed, “We’ve gotta stick together.”

Allison went silent, looking back at Dave. She shrugged and crossed her arms, looking back to Diego expectantly. 

There was another relative of Harold’s. A grandmother with a secluded cabin.

“You think he took her there?” Allison asked.

“It’s a good enough place to start.” Diego eyed Dave again and jerked his head towards the stairs. “C’mon, man. You’re with us.”

He was exhausted and shaky and still wanted to scrub the skin on his hands raw. But Diego looked at him more openly than he’d ever done before, like he expected and trusted him to be there, and Dave didn’t think he’d ever be able to truly say no to the Hargreeves. Besides- He didn’t want Klaus’ little sister hurt by this creep, either. That shrine was fucked.

“Alright.” Dave agreed through a sigh, following them down the stairs as he scratched at his hands.

Well, the murder shrine sure was a fun touch.

“Vanya..” Ben sighed worriedly, “What’d you get yourself into?”

“Secret cult?” Klaus suggested. Ben kicked him in the leg. “Ow.” He said, just for the principle of the thing.

“One of us should go try and find her.” Ben recommended, frowning at one of his action figures. It had the tentacles shooting out from under his sweater vest, but all six of them had the ends chopped off. Klaus could’ve sworn his brother shuddered.

“And do what, exactly? I’m staying with Dave.” Klaus replied, looking over to try and gauge his boyfriend’s reaction. His eyes kept trailing to Five, though. Nothing looked wrong, per se, but Klaus had a strange feeling about him. “Hey, does Five seem kind of… wavy to you?”

“Wavy.” Ben repeated, face blank. “I just feel like someone should have eyes on her.”

“Unsteady.” Klaus added, ignoring the other half of his statement, “Weird.”

“He looks normal to me, considering he’s staring down evidence of our favorite stalker.” Ben shrugged, “Actually, I’m surprised he’s not more excited about all the evidence.”

“See,” Klaus snapped his fingers, intently studying his boyfriend’s face as he scoped the room out. “Maybe that’s it. He isn’t as bloodthirsty as he should be.”

“Um.” Ben sounded strange, and Klaus looked up in time to see Five fall over, directly into Dave.

“Shit.” Klaus swore, taking a step back as part of Dave phased through his arm. Then, he widened his eyes. “See? I told you something was weird!”

“Congratulations, Klaus. Five is bleeding out.” Ben replied sarcastically, watching with worry as the living tended to their brother. “Gold star.”

“It’s even worse now.” He said, confused, “He’s like.. Fading in and out?”

Ben looked away from Five and squinted at Klaus. “What are you talking about?”

“Well, like, it’s not him fading in and out.” Klaus crossed his arms and watched on, trying to think. “I just see him and I have… a feeling. Kinda reminds me of the tide.”

“That’s.. weird.” Ben stated.

“Right?” Klaus exclaimed, but he was quickly distracted from his revelation by the look on Dave’s face. “Oh, no.” He looked broken again and looked like he was having trouble breathing, the whites of his eyes showing as they fixated on Five.

“You really did a number on this guy.” Ben said softly, contemplatively. Klaus let out a small whine, tilting his head as his expression crumpled. 

Chapter Text

They were down to two. 

Allison’s nails tapped on the steering wheel, anxious as they pulled out onto a dark highway. It was just her and Dave because Diego was falsely arrested for murder as they’d left the academy, leaving them to follow the lead alone. 

“God, I hate cops.” Dave sighed, sliding down in his seat. They were probably going to be in this car for hours. 

“Aren’t you military?” Allison asked, squinting into the road as she tried to see better. It was starting to rain. 

“I was drafted.” He said absently, “Couldn’t get conscientious objector status because I had some bad records in high school so I decided to serve my country. Doesn’t mean I’m a bootlicker.”

“You would like Klaus.” The corner of Allison’s mouth turned up in a smile while his stomach dropped. “I know that was your cover for being here or- whatever. I don’t know if you really met. But he’d probably be right there with you.”

“I’ve run into him a few times actually.” He said, his voice sounding hoarse, “It wasn’t a complete lie. He- uh. He helped me out a bit with the future stuff.”

“Yeah?” She asked, “Was he alright? I know he can come on a bit strong, but he’s mostly harmless. To other people, anyways.”

“U-um.” He croaked.

She sighed. “Probably a good thing he ended up skipping out when he did, the other day. He never really did the superheroing stuff that well. Even if he should be here.”

“I’m- I’m sure he was fantastic.” Dave stuttered.

Allison snorted. “If by fantastic you mean an irresponsible mess ..” Her eyes flicked over to Dave, and she dropped her expression. “Sorry. That was uncalled for. He was just, well- he always had poor timing. When it came to his bad habits.”

“Oh.” Dave said numbly. He couldn’t really agree or disagree. If Klaus was too high in the field it’d be a nightmare and Dave would stress himself out. But if he was sober, it was even worse. Klaus eventually figured out some sort of sweet spot to where he could operate normally and not mistake ghosts for real people.

It must’ve been worse when they were kids.

“It was dangerous.” She said, “And then once dad pulled him from missions, he.. Just wasn’t there when we needed him.” Allison shook her head lightly, her eyes hardening as he watched her in the dim of passing street lights. “But that was its own running theme.”

“He was doing his best.” Dave found himself saying quietly. “It’s- It’s hard.”

“Oh. I didn’t know you were..” She gave him a flash of a sympathetic look and then reached over to squeeze one of his hands. “I think you’re doing great.” She informed him, because apparently now Klaus’ sister thought he was a drug addict. And while he dabbled - how could he not, dating Klaus - he barely touched anything beside weeds and cigarettes. Speaking of, God, did he want some nicotine.

“Thanks.” He sighed, for lack of anything more concrete to say.

“One day at a time.” She said, taking her hand back, “And hey, I know we’re not.. The easiest family to deal with, but we appreciate the help. I do, at least. Diego, too, even if he’ll never admit it.”

“Is that another ‘running theme’?” Dave asked.

Allison cracked a grin like any sibling would at a joke at her brother’s expense. “He’s not all bad, he just has to act tough. Can’t have people know he thinks for more than five seconds or feels things.”

“That’d be too unrealistic.” Dave agreed, “Hey, d’you mind if I smoke in here?”

“I’ll only mind if you don’t share.” Allison replied, reaching for a button on the driver’s side that cracked both their windows open. Dave fished his( Klaus ’) pack of cigarettes out and offered her one, lighting it before he lit his own. This was a little better, he thought.

“Nice lighter.” She said wryly. He didn’t respond.

They smoked in silence and he stared out the window absently, unsure of what else to say. Allison broke it a few moments later, her glowing cigarette perched between her fingers as she replaced both hands on the wheel. “I don’t know why I told you all that, honestly. I think it’s just nice to talk to someone who doesn’t.. Know , you know?” She asked.

Dave obviously didn’t know, so she continued. “Look. I barely ever meet someone who doesn’t immediately start to ask about movies I’ve done or signing autographs or telling me I was their favorite member of the Academy.” Allison explained, “But you’re from the sixties. You didn’t grow up watching us..” She waved a hand absently, “Throwing criminals off buildings or foiling evil plans.”

“Wait, you’re a movie star?” Dave asked, and Allison laughed at the irony. Even he smiled a little at the humor in it.

“Exactly.” She stated, “I don’t think you know a thing about me, it’s so genuine- and I know it’s gotta sound weird, but that’s so.. Nice . Especially considering the stalker murder shrine we just found.”

The murder shrine was a good point. Dave didn’t have time to consider the ramifications of being child superheroes, not really. But they had enemies still, and random people that simply recognized them on the streets. He figured it must suck.

“Well.. I’m glad me not knowing jack makes you happy.” They pulled up to a red light, so Dave reached over the center seat with his free hand outstretched. “I’m Dave Katz. Nice to meet you, stranger.”

Allison laughed, a bright, startled, genuine thing that reminded him achingly of Klaus. He’d do the exact same thing whenever Dave did something unexpectedly cheesy or charming. She reached and shook his hand, shaking her head and biting her lip at the same time. “I’m Allison Hargreeves. It’s nice to meet you too, Dave.”

“Allison Hargreeves?” He said, taking his hand back, “Who the hell is that? Doesn’t ring a bell.”

She laughed again, taking her foot off the break as the light turned green. “You know,” She said, “my bar for men is prett- y high these days. Again, murder shrine. But you’re alright, Dave.”

Dave smiled and hoped his guilt didn’t leak through his expression or the way his fingers clung to the tags around his neck. “I- um- I appreciate that. I try, I guess. ‘Specially if we’re going to be in the car together for another…” He squinted at the map spread out in his lap and tried to guess. “Five hours.”

“Ugh.” Allison made a face. “You know what we need? Some music.”

“I couldn’t agree more.” He said honestly, earnest. 

He wouldn’t lie- he liked Allison. He liked talking to her, even if he knew much more about her worse traits than he led on. But every second he had a conversation with a sibling who didn’t know Dave let Klaus die on his watch, his guilt increased tenfold. So he punched the volume button to turn the stereo on, turned and looked out his passenger window, and started mouthing prayers to himself underneath the static-y music he didn’t recognize.

He hoped he wouldn’t be out too long so he could say his Kaddish in the morning. Maybe he’d find a nice rock out at the cabin, though. Something colorful and interesting that Klaus would like.

His cigarette was soon out and he tossed the butt out the window, earning a mildly scolding look from Allison. After that.. Somewhere between the sound of rain on the car, the rumble of the engine, and the music he couldn’t identify, Dave dozed off in the passenger seat. 

The sun was beginning to rise when he jerked, thrown out of what could barely be considered sleep by Klaus’ dull, empty eyes staring at him in his hindbrain. He took in a sharp breath through his nose, sitting up and scrubbing off the phantom feeling of blood on his borrowed jeans. 

“Hey.” Allison greeted quietly. A peek at the clock said it was nearing 0600. The rain had stopped. Dave blinked hard a few times, reaching up for his dog tags. “Everything okay?”

“Uh.” He whispered, squinting out the window. The trees didn’t look right. Nothing looked right until he blinked a few times, gripped the metal in his hand so tight it was biting at him with pain. The tropical canopy he was used to turned back into sprawling forests of pine and oak. “Um. Fell asleep. Sorry.”

“No, hey,” She replied, “It’s no big deal. I managed not to get us lost.”

“Yeah.” Dave swallowed, his throat clicking. “Hey, I could drive now since I’ve got some shuteye.”

“We’re almost there.” Allison shrugged a shoulder. One of her hands wasn’t on the wheel- instead, long fingernails brushed against her mouth considerately. She was much less emotive than she was earlier, eyes focused solely on the road, and he got the sense that he wasn’t the only one with a lot on his mind. “Maybe on the way back while Vanya and I talk?”

“Sounds like a plan, darlin’.” Dave agreed, “ holding up okay?”

It was like watching someone put on a costume. She seemed to shake her blues off in record time and turn to look at him with a kind smile for a brief moment before looking back to the road. “I’m fine, just worried about Vanya.”

“Me too.” He sighed, leaning back in his seat and attempting to stretch.

“I figure once we find her, we could stop for coffee? Something to eat?” Allison went on, gesturing vaguely with her free hand, “We just have to get her away from Jenkins and we can explain everything over breakfast while we head back. It’ll be fine.”

Dave considered it. He really wasn’t sure when the last time he ate was. There was coffee yesterday morning courtesy of Allison, but did he actually eat? Probably not. “I could eat.” He decided. Now that he noticed it, he’d have to put effort into ignoring the hollow gnawing in his stomach. He’d compartmentalize it, right along with the empty gaping feeling in his chest. Perfect.

“Wait,” He sat up and looked at her, “Are we or aren’t we killing him? Or are we going for an in-between? ‘Cause I don’t know if your sister is gonna talk much with her boyfriend either dead or shoved in the trunk.”

Allison pressed her lips together. “I…” She trailed off and sighed, shaking her head, “I don’t know, Dave. He ends the world, but I really just- I think we need to get Vanya back and safe, first and foremost.”

“I’m right there with you, doll.” He sighed, running a hand through his hair. Allison’s face did something out of the corner of his vision that he didn’t quite catch. “..however this ends, I’ve got the feeling Five’s gonna be pissed no matter what we do.”

“Now speaking of running themes.” Allison snapped her fingers together at the mention of her brother, causing Dave to snort. “Also, um-” Both hands went back to the wheel. “Not that I’m not flattered, Dave, but you should know that I’m not.. Looking , right now.”

“Looking?” Dave asked, furrowing his brow. 

“I’m.. hah, something else you don’t know- I’m going through a pretty shitty divorce right now. And I have a daughter and it’s.. A whole thing.” Her voice wasn’t as friendly or calm as it was before. There was a matter of fact edge to it that made Dave want to melt into his seat. “So I’m just trying to cut this off before it goes anywhere-”

What ?” Dave squawked in a pitch that could rival one of Klaus’ more impressive shrieks. “Hell in a handbasket , Allison, do you- what makes you think I’m friggin’ flirting with you?” 

A story Klaus once told about bailing out of a car going 70 down a freeway came to mind almost hysterically, but he decided he wasn’t looking to become roadkill. No, he’d just have the horrific conversation where the love of his life’s sister presumed he was flirting with her instead. 

“Wh- you’re being super nice , you just called me doll - you aren’t flirting with me?” Allison demanded, almost outraged. He let out a shocked laugh at how much she sounded like her brother just then. The upset on her face melted away into sheepishness. “Oh, my God. I completely misread this. Oh my God.”

“I call my girl friends- no, no, my friends that are girls - I just call women ‘ doll ’! It’s a thing!” Dave protested, feeling just as uncomfortable as she looked. His face was bright red and he was clutching his seat belt protectively.

“Not in this century, Dave!” Allison retorted, shaking her head and the mane of hair that went with it. “I can’t believe I- Oh my God. I am so sorry.” She reached over with a hand and awkwardly patted the air until she reached his shoulder with her hand, a smile breaking out across her face as she started laughing . He flushed even harder, clenching his jaw.

“I guess that’s just another thing I’m used to, I don’t know!” She threw her hand back up in the air as she exclaimed, still laughing. “God, that sounds vain, but I’m a movie star and people flirt , okay?” He guessed this was better than her being defensive or mad about flirting- but really ? She really thought he was--

A startled laugh left Dave and he threw his head back against the headrest with a thump. She could not be more wrong if she tried. “ I’m sorry. I wasn’t flirting, honest. You’re just..” He shook his head, “You’re Klaus’ family, and you’re cool, so of course I was being nice. But I’m- I’m definitely not looking right now, either. All things considered.”

“Makes sense.” Allison nodded, forcing a solemn expression on her face before she couldn’t hold it longer and snorted at the situation again. “Neither of us are looking. Just..”

“Two pals on a road trip.” Dave stated boldly.

“Just two pals on a road trip, that’s right .” She nodded more firmly, the mirth still in her eyes. “Two pals on a road trip, trying to find my little sister.”

“Aren’t you all the same age?” It was less mortifying now, but Dave was eager to change the subject in case it started going down a road he wasn’t comfortable with. Which was most of them, when it came to romance.

“I guess, but our numbers..” She winced, “Uh, do you know about the numbers?”

Dave hummed. Four was his lucky number for a reason. “You didn’t have real names.”

“Yeup.” She grimaced, “We all sort of used our numbers as age, I guess.”

“This makes the Five thing way worse.” He decided, drumming his fingers on his knee.

“Five is..” Allison blew air out from her lips and shook her head, deciding not to comment. That was answer enough- and he couldn’t help but agree. “Hey, look on the map and remind me what my next turn is. We’re getting pretty close.”

He picked up the map from where it’d fallen into the floor and shook it out to even out the worst of the wrinkles. “Roger that, pal.” 

“ALLISON IS TRYING TO GET IT ON WITH MY MAN.” Klaus announced loudly in the small space. Ben winced away from the noise and scowled at him from the next seat over. They'd been sitting in the car listening to the two talk, and now that Dave was finally nodding off, Klaus had had it. “Ben, that settles it, we’re haunting her too.”

“That’s the exact opposite of the conversation they just had, moron.”

“If he was bi or pan, she’d definitely be stealing him from me right now.” Klaus complained.

“Hey. Klaus?” Ben asked softly, staring at Klaus with a look of consideration. “I think they’d be cute together.” The absolute bastard.

“I cannot fucking believe this family.” Klaus threw ‘HELLO’ and ‘GOODBYE’ both out to his sides in disbelief. One hand phased through the car door, the other smacked Ben in the face.

He sputtered, smacking Klaus’ hand away and starting a mild slap fight. “I hate that you can touch me now!” Ben complained, lying through his teeth, so Klaus tried to smack him in the mouth next. “Go back to being alive and stop fucking hitting me! Ow!”

“You can’t even feel pain, suck it up.” Klaus bitched. “Y’know what pain is? Pain is watching Allison act like Dave is pulling the moves on her when anyone with a hint of a gaydar knows he’s the gayest man raised south of the Mississippi.”

“How many times have you flirted with straight men?” Ben retorted.

“I’d like it stated, for the ghostly record, that I usually left those encounters with them severely questioning that fact.”

Ben sighed and nodded. “Great. You’re a homewrecker. Sure, I’ll give you that.” Klaus did a silent fist pump. “But she probably just doesn’t know what to do with someone like Dave. None of you emotionally stunted halfwits do.”

“‘Someone like Dave’?” Klaus repeated.

Ben rolled his eyes. “I don’t know. Someone nice?”

“Ugh.” Klaus stared at his boyfriend, pouting, “He is nice, isn’t he. He’s got, like, a moral compass and a jawline and everything.”

“I know, right?” Ben said, “How’d you convince him to date you ?”

Klaus grinned like a wolf. “You want to hear about how I seduced Dave?” He all but sang out, getting into his brother’s personal space. Ben planted a hand on his face and pushed him away in disgust.

Ben sent him a dark look. “No, I want to know how someone so genuinely good fell head over heels in love with you and how you managed to keep him there.”

“Christ, Ben.” Klaus pressed a hand on his bloody chest, actually feeling.. a little bit wounded. “Tell me how you really feel.”

“I’m.. okay, I’m not trying to be an asshole. But that’s the thing- I am an asshole. And you’re an asshole, too. We’re all assholes.” Ben gestured to Klaus’ better half. “But he isn’t. How’d you convince him to stick around?”

“I just..” Klaus scowled and looked away, crossing his arms childishly. “I just went along with it. And then it started rubbing off on me, I guess, and I wanted to stop sucking so much because Dave deserved to be with someone who wasn’t a huge piece of shit. And then I started thinking about him before I thought about me and what I wanted, and--”

“Wow.” Ben said, “That’s really gay, Klaus.”

Klaus smacked him again.

Chapter Text

Dave let out a low whistle. “Nice out here.” He commented as he grabbed the rifle from the trunk and closed it.

“Yeah, the guy who kidnapped my little sister has some great real estate.” Allison rolled her eyes and started walking up the driveway towards the cabin. He wondered how she was going to deal with the forest in heels, but she seemed to be managing fine so far. “Come on.”

Neither of them spoke- there was a wooden staircase leading up to the cabin, but Allison gestured for Dave to follow her beneath the porch where lumber was stored. Part of him wanted to object and take front, considering he had the gun, but he had the feeling she wouldn’t appreciate him muscling in. So he figured he’d just stay vigilant and follow her lead. They snuck up alongside the house and Dave stood watch as she started peeking in through windows. 

She turned back to him just as a bird lit up and flew between the duo. Dave’s breath hitched and his gun immediately followed the target while Allison pressed a startled hand to her chest, stepping back.

“Fucking birds .” Dave hissed, not appreciating the adrenaline spike. At least he didn’t need coffee anymore. He cleared his throat and slowly lowered the barrel, lowering his voice at the same time. “Sorry about the language, doll- Allison.”

He had the feeling she didn’t care too much. Shaking her head lightly, she shot him an exasperated look before going back to creeping around the perimeter of the house. 

Once they were about halfway around and the terrain started dipping back down, she looked over her shoulder at him. “I’m not seeing anyone inside.” She murmured, eyebrows knitting together.

“No other car in the driveway.” Dave offered, the corner of his mouth tugging up in a regretful smile. “No town close enough to walk to, either.”

“Shit.” She sighed, worried, “There goes our one and only lead.”

“What’s next?” He asked, taking front to find some stable footing to walk down the hill on. He was eager to get out of the forest and back onto the open road- as much as his subconscious enjoyed the cover, he was also paranoid something or someone was going to jump out from behind a tree. 

“I.. dunno.” She admitted, following him down, “I should find a way to call the house when we stop somewhere, check on Five. If he’s awake, he’ll have seven different contingency plans.”

“I’m drivin’.” Dave volunteered, walking back to the car. Allison unlocked it and he stuck the rifle back where it came from before reaching out a hand for the keys.

“Let’s hope traffic laws didn’t change too much in the past fifty years?” She suggested, amused as she got in the passenger’s side. “I think your license probably expired.”

“It’s a car on a road, it can’t have gotten that different.” To demonstrate, Dave put the key in the ignition and turned it over, starting the engine. “I was a mechanic before I got drafted. I think I know a thing or two.”

Allison watched him for a moment as he put the car into reverse and slung his arm over the seats to look backwards. “Seat belt.”

“What about it?” He asked.

“That’s a law now.” She replied, smug. She was already strapped into hers. “You’re required by law to wear a seatbelt in a moving car.” 

He stared at her blankly, trying to gauge her seriousness. 

“That’s lame .” He finally grumbled with a sigh, pressing down on the break so he could reach over and grab his stupid seat belt. “Am I turning left or right outta this driveway?”

“I bet the last car you drove was a stick shift.” Allison continued. Dave made a face at her that neither confirmed nor denied, and she allowed herself a laugh.

After some more ribbing, the two were headed back down the highway. The next gas station they found, they stopped at. Dave thoroughly confused himself at the futuristic gas pump while Allison went inside to grab coffee and something to eat, after making her phone call at the payphone nearby.

She came out and rolled her eyes at him, amused at his incompetence. He couldn’t even be mad, just sheepish as she shoved their breakfast into his arms and took over to start filling up the car for the rest of their trek home.

“I thought you army boys were supposed to be resourceful.” She teased, helping open the drivers door for him after sticking the pump in.

“I wasn’t trained to swipe credit cards.” Dave argued weakly, sitting down and distributing hot coffee into their drink holders. "Just to point and shoot."

His first sip of hot, fresh brewed coffee was, to put it lightly, fucking heavenly. No powdered, grainy bullshit, no sir. This was real-ass coffee and he relished in it. It was straight black, but he didn’t mind- was used to taking it that way, anyways. Klaus always squirreled away all available sugar packets and powdered milk for his own and Dave could never say no to something so simple, not if it’d make his sweetheart grin in the worst place on earth. 

He wished the memory didn’t hurt so much to think about. It put a damper on the coffee.

“There was no answer at the house, so I guess we’ll just make the best of it.” Allison got back in the car and started digging around in the bag of things she’d bought. “Let’s see- Coffee, breath mints, face wipes, donuts and deodorant.” The last one surprised him, but he still took the small plastic travel tube along with the offered donut.

“Are you trying to say something about me, Allison?” He asked, amused. What surprised him even more was her reaching over and snatching it from him once he was done putting it on. “Um-”

“Oh, shut up.” She said, turning away slightly so she could use the deodorant with some modesty involved. “I grew up with five brothers and their grossness, don’t act like I’m a dainty 60’s housewife.”

“Alright, you’re the boss.” Dave decided, shutting himself up with a bite of pastry as he backed the car out of the station. Allison was made of sterner stuff, clearly, and he figured he’d better get used to it fast. He wasn’t sure if it was a future thing or an Allison thing , though he guessed it didn’t really matter all too much. Dave just shook his head and decided to enjoy his coffee and the drive back to the city.

It felt.. Oddly nice, to do something a simple as drive a car on a paved road while he ate real food and drank real coffee. No orders, no dirt, no landmines to worry about, just smooth asphalt.

Well, it was nice. Until traffic came to a creeping stand still.

“Some things never change.” Dave said mournfully, arching his neck so he could try and see what the holdup was. They were too far away to tell, so he sighed and slumped down in his seat.

Allison was equally thrilled, crossing her arms and leaning back into her door so she could sullenly stare out at the traffic. “Well,” She sighed, “this is just great.”

They sat in silence, only creeping along every other minute.

“So.” Allison started, “How’s the future so far? Anything like you’d pictured?”

Pretty disappointed that the cars don’t fly.” Dave mused, “Other than that, it’s mostly the little things. What people say and do, the things they wear or don’t wear. It’s like everything is.. slightly to the left, or something. Just.. off.” 

That was putting it lightly. He could name a hundred tiny differences in the world back just at that gas station. He could think of a few major ones right then in the car. It was just way easier to try and ignore them or put them to the side, considering everything else crammed into his mind at that point. He wasn't there to play tourist and gawk at things. And besides that, it just plain didn’t feel right, to see this world that Klaus lived in without Klaus himself introducing it.

He knew he'd have had so much to say and probably would've taken a lot of joy in showing Dave's uncultured ass around. Klaus used to almost always be at his shoulder, ready to meet him with a wise crack, an eager grin, or just a weird opinion. And so every single time he noticed something different or new, Dave wanted to turn and ask Klaus all about it. He wanted to know what he thought, how he'd explain, what he'd do.

Clothes, for instance. After glimpsing another woman at the gas station Dave suddenly understood a lot of past conversations they’d had about crop tops, knowing now they were ‘in fashion’ where Klaus came from. And then of course he couldn’t think about new fashion trends without thinking about what future-Klaus might’ve worn, what he would’ve said about it.

With clothes, the Klaus he knew loved to push boundaries and wear weird shit that accentuated his beautiful features. Trying to convince him to tone an outfit down while they were on leave, even if it was for his own safety, was an uphill battle that he always hated fighting. He’d try and pick out skirts and Dave would have to be the buzzkill to remind him that wearing something like that could literally get Klaus killed. 

And Dave didn’t mind the crossdressing himself, really. How could he? Even if he didn’t know much about being queer(because he was so deep in the closet it could’ve suffocated him), Dave wasn’t the kind of person to pass judgment on a man wearing a skirt, or a wearing eyeliner, or a man not being a man at all. And to him, aesthetically, everything Klaus did worked simply because Klaus felt comfortable in it and had the unflinching confidence to wear it. Maybe it was something everyone in the future had or did. Maybe it was just a Klaus thing. He wished he could ask. 

But there was no Klaus here to answer his questions. And with no Klaus, he’d start trying to find the answers buried in the memories he'd built with his partner. So every time Dave dwelled on something about the future for too long or hard, he’d just get sucked back into the past. There was no winning. He was chasing ghosts around corners only to find he was chasing after his own tail, just tormenting himself.

This is what his brain would do. On and on, chasing memories down in circles and then hurting himself when he realized he was asking things he’d never be able to know the real answer to because Klaus, his Klaus was reduced to a fucking echo in his mind. Dave felt like he kept opening doors, only to find a cold brick wall in the way- A helpful reminder that he was stuck and alone and couldn’t ever go back to those better days.

He shook his head to himself, looking down at his lap for a moment. 

“It’s only been two days.” Dave said, pulling himself back into the small space of the car and out of the cobwebs of his memories. He wasn’t sure if he was saying it to Allison for the sake of conversation, or just reminding himself how long he’d been missing his other half. “Two days out of the shit.”

“Oh.” Allison said, quiet.. “I.. I guess I thought you’d been here longer than that. What was it like?” She asked gently, “Vietnam? I only ever had history books, but you had.. Have ..”

The way his mind seemed to shift once she brought up Vietnam was unsettling. Like walking up a flight of stairs without looking and thinking there’s an extra step, only to jostle yourself when you put your foot down. Another sharp reminder that he wasn’t supposed to be here.

“Wet.” Dave surmised, pausing to think of something else short to say. He definitely didn’t want to chase those memories. Had to stay present. “Humid. Hot. Full of snakes, mosquitos, insomnia and people trying to shoot you.” He took a drink of his coffee, staring at the car ahead. “You’ve never lived ‘till you’ve seen some sorry bastard have the shit beaten out of him over a pair of dry socks.”

“Oh. Wow. Um.” Allison didn’t seem to know what to say, and Dave had the feeling he shouldn’t have mentioned the part about the socks. His sense of humor probably wasn’t meant for civilian ears. 

Thankfully, she got distracted. “..hang on. Hey.” She reached over and pointed out the window as they crept around the bend of trees. “Can we pull over?”

There were a few buildings and a crime scene laid out in front of them. “More cops.” Dave stated, unimpressed.

“I want to check this out.” She replied firmly, her eyes fixed on something in the distance. He sighed and pulled out of traffic as best he could onto the side of the road. Allison was already opening the door and getting out of the car, shoving a pair of sunglasses on her face as she sped away. He quickly locked the car and went to follow. 

As a joke, he asked, “Am I bringing the gun this time?” Allison stopped and turned around so fast he thought she might have whiplash. She didn’t think him bringing an unregistered firearm to an active crime scene was a very good joke, apparently. 

“Don’t you dare.” She hissed, grabbing his wrist and pulling him along like he was an unruly toddler. He huffed out a laugh and she rolled her eyes, letting him go once she was sure he was actually walking alongside her. Satisfied he wasn’t doing anything stupid, she made a beeline for a sign pole.

She pulled a knit scarf down off the pole. Allison turned and looked over her shoulder at Dave as he approached, holding it up. “Vanya.” She said gravely before walking directly towards the crime scene tape and ducked underneath it.

Dave didn’t like this at all, stopping at the tape as an officer stepped into her path and interrupted her.

“Hey, pardon me, hey-” The cop said, “I’ve gotta ask you to stay behind the lines. We had an accident here last night.”

“What kind of accident?” Allison asked intently.

“Ma’am, the line, please.”

Allison lifted both hands, seeming to realize she’d have to think about her approach a little more. “Right, yes, sorry.” She said quickly, moving to duck back under the tape and stand by Dave’s side. He nodded to the officer, giving him a quick once-over and lifting his chin slightly. 

“Got a lot of stuff on the ground to worry about, you know. So you two can just..” The man seemed to squirm underneath Dave’s attention. He used to use the same move at Klaus’ side all the time, silently challenging and intimidating other men before they could say something about him or Klaus, or him and Klaus. 

Some things never changed.

“What happened?” Allison interrupted, fidgeting with the scarf in her hands. 

“We’re figuring that out.” The officer replied with enough false confidence to lead an army, “And as soon as we know, you can read it in the newspaper like everyone else. So have a nice day, alright you two?”

“Look, officer,” Allison said, taking off her sunglasses and stepping as close as she could to try and plead with him as turned and tried to walk away. “If there is any way-”

The man turned around to try and ward her off, but stopped himself. “Holy shit!” The officer exclaimed. Dave flinched and instinctively took a step forward and to the side to get in between him and Allison. She frowned and gently put a hand on his arm to nudge him away. 

The man seemed shocked, pointing at Allison in disbelief. Dave looked back and forth between the two, shoulders tense. “You’re Allison Hargreeves?” He asked, a grin slowly spreading across his face. Dave made bewildered eye contact with her before she turned back to the officer with a polite, pained smile.

“I saw you on TV two nights ago in that Sandra Bullock movie about- about underpaid teachers that rob a bank.” He exclaimed with glee. 

So she wasn’t lying about the movie star thing. That was kind of cool, he guessed.

“Yeah,” Allison chuckled, “That’s- that’s me.”

“Oh, wow! Hey!” The man stepped forward, a friendly smile plastered on, “If I’m being honest, my wife and I- we prefer you in romantic comedies.” He explained, “The Love On Loan trilogy.” He made an excited noise, “We couldn’t get enough, let me tell ya.” They stared at each other in a moment of sheer awkwardness before the man’s radio interrupted him. “ Copy, Cheddar ?”

Officer Cheddar . Dave’s unit would’ve chewed this guy up and spat him out without mercy. 

Cheddar smiled at them awkwardly and reached up for his radio to check in. “Yeah, what you got, Fred?” He asked.

Hospital called. Perp from last night just regained consciousness .” Allison and Dave exchanged a glance. She raised her eyebrows at him a fraction, her eyes darting over to Cheddar and back. Dave sighed, resigning himself to spending the rest of his morning with law enforcement.

“Copy. I’ll be right over.” Cheddar replied. He put his hands on the hips and observed the two, an absent smile on his face. Dave wasn’t sure how bright he was.

“Allison freakin’ Hargreeves.” Cheddar insisted quietly. 

Considering the way Allison played the man like a fiddle for the next several hours, not that bright at all. 

He had the feeling she didn’t like to play dumb movie star like this, but he was also figuring out that she definitely didn’t play fair. And also, she was one a hell of an actress. All Allison had to do was keep the officer chattering, drop some comments every so often if he was getting off track. Talk about her movies on the drive over and the walk through sterile hallways to the perp’s room.

Cheddar finally figured out she was full of shit when Allison questioned the cop’s witness for him in the hospital. Dave had mostly been standing back and observing, not willing to open his mouth and ruin things with his terrible poker face and clumsy lies. They were both standing ramrod standing straight and listening intently with a hundred silent questions while the perp explained how Jenkins hired them for some elaborate plot just to freak Vanya out. 

Allison pulled out a picture of Vanya from her pocket- laminated- a book cover? And shoved it in the guy’s face, prompting the officer to take her aside and finally call her on her shit.

“I am sorry for misleading you.” Allison said quietly.

“I believe the word would be lying .” Cheddar hissed back.

Hey .” Dave said, eyes narrowing. The cop took a small step back. 

Allison put a hand on Dave’s chest and pushed him away lightly while she tried to explain their situation. She had it covered, apparently, and he sighed through his nose while the two whisper-argued. 

He was at just the right angle to read the front of the cover clutched in Allison’s hand. An autobiography.

Yeesh .

They almost got the answers they wanted, the cop successfully guilt tripped, but a nurse came in and told them to scram at the exact wrong time.

“I guess we wait.” Allison sighed. They all stepped out into the hallway together, faces grim.

“Well, we’ve got some time to kill.” Cheddar stuck his thumbs in his pockets and rocked back on his heels. “What’s your name, son?” He asked, turning his attention to Dave.

He frowned. “Katz. What’s it to you?”

“Did you serve?” He asked, gesturing vaguely to Dave’s attire.

“Yes, sir.” He said reluctantly, a tad jaded.

“Thank you for putting your life on the line for us.” Cheddar said, very very serious. Dave pressed his mouth together and tried to smile. The donut wasn’t sitting well anymore, but maybe it was just the most recent reminder that Dave was supposed to be sweating his ass off in a jungle halfway across the world, fifty years ago.

At least in the hospital it was easier to keep track of where he was and what he was doing. He thought the food and caffeine helped, too. But it was hard not to get lost in thought as Cheddar and Allison made awkward small talk about her movies throughout the afternoon. Dave picked up on a few interesting details and he definitely wanted to see one of those movies, but that’d have to wait until much, much further down the road.

Eventually a nurse came up and interrupted the conversation. The perp they wanted to question had gone missing, and Dave cursed under his breath. Day couldn’t get much better than that. Thankfully Allison had the presence of mind to pull out the picture of her sister before the nurse could walk away and ask if she’d seen her.

“She left with Mr. Peabody this morning.” The nurse said, scrutinizing the picture. She was in a hurry though, and swiftly walked off before they could ask anything else.

“They must’ve been here when we stopped by the cabin.” Allison said, making panicked eye contact with Dave.”

“Shit.” He said. “They probably went back, we’ve gotta-”

“Let’s go.” Allison nodded, turning to walk off. 

“Woah, hold on!” Cheddar held out a hand, looking between the two in concern. “We got a missing vic and this guy might be dangerous. I need you two to stay here, alright?”

Both Dave and Allison nodded gravely as he turned and started strutting down the hall, muttering excitedly about ‘Allison freakin’ Hargreeves’. As soon as he turned the corner, they both made eye contact.

“Let’s jet.” Dave stated.

“I’m driving.” Allison agreed, quickly walking down the hallway by his side.

“Is it weird that I like this?” Klaus asked, leaning against a wall in the ICU as they all waited around. He hated the hospital, so he was babbling. “Not the Vanya murder thing, but the quality bonding time, y’know?”

“Klaus.” Ben said tiredly, levelling him with a ‘’stop being a shithead’ look.

“Look,” He huffed, “If it turns out I really can’t come back, then.. It’s good for him, y’know?”

His brother looked away, a worried crease between his eyebrows as he sighed. Klaus tripped over himself to try and make the statement less worrying. He’d been worrying Ben his entire life, but now there wasn’t a convenient way to ignore it. Especially considering they were glued at the hip while their family was in danger. ..And he’d be lying if he didn’t miss the hell out of his brother during his time in Vietnam. 

He’d get back to disappointing Ben eventually, probably. For now, all he could do was divert and distract.

“Besides, these two?” Klaus scoffed, “Ugh, dream team. They should solve mysteries together. Child superhero with hot, rugged ex-military? But like, buddy cop and not forced romance? I’d watch that movie.”

“It’s supposed to be you, though.” Ben said softly, stopping Klaus in his tracks.

He was suddenly so full of rage he could explode. Ben ,” He snapped, his voice raising before he paused and took a deep breath he didn’t even need. It was the principle of the thing. Klaus was beginning to understand why Ben always interacted with the world like he was still alive, even if they both knew he was dead and could probably sink through the floor if he wanted to. “I know, okay? I know. You think I don’t fucking know that?”

Ben lowered his eyes to the floor. “No. No, I guess you’ve got a pretty good handle on that one, huh.”

“No shit.” He huffed. 

“It just.. Sucks.” Ben shrugged a shoulder, looking over towards the group with an impossibly sad look.

He paused, eyes trailing over Dave as he considered the deep, impactful words of his brother. Dave was staring off into nothing, his eyes glazed over and unmoving. He looked as lost as Klaus felt. It wasn’t as comforting as he wanted it to be, knowing Dave missed him so thoroughly. It just plain sucked.

“No shit.” Klaus repeated, softer this time.

Chapter Text

She was the one that drove them to the hospital after the cop, having the only valid ID, so Allison already had the keys when they got to the car. She wasted zero time peeling out of the parking lot and back down side roads until they could reach the highway again.

The drive was tense and neither of them spoke as they reached the dirt road leading to the cabin. It was getting dark. The wind was whistling and blowing through the trees when they parked and got out, Dave going back for his rifle in the trunk at the last minute before running to catch up with Allison.

There was no spying this time- she made a beeline towards the stairs, following the distant sound of violin. The wood creaked and rattled in the gusts of wind, and Dave’s stomach was in knots.

“Vanya?” Allison called, raising her voice over the wind and the haunting violin while she made her was across the porch, “Is that you?”

Dave was on her heels when she reached the door, both of them stumbling in out of the wind. “Vanya, there you are.” Allison said, stressed and relieved in the same breath as they looked around the cabin and finally found her sister. “ What is going on?”

The violin stopped abruptly, and Vanya quickly turned to stare at them with wide eyes. “What are you doing here?” She asked, looking back and forth between them in surprise.

“We came to find you.” Allison said quickly, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” Vanya said softly, staring like Allison was a puzzle she couldn’t figure out.

“Something.. Weird is going on- what’s causing it?” Allison continued, looking around the room with a frown.

“We can figure that out later.” Dave reminded her in a low voice, clutching the strap of his rifle in a hand. He didn’t like this. “We should scram.”

Vanya looked between the two again, raising her chin slightly. “Me. It’s me.” She said with fragile boldness.

“What do you mean, ‘me’?” Allison asked incredulously, stepping closer to her sister. Dave sighed through his nose, shifting from foot to foot.

“I mean..” Vanya took a deep breath, “I made those things happen.” There was a pause. “With my powers.”

Both Allison and Dave snapped their eyes back to Vanya. “Turns out I’ve had them all this time.” She continued, seeming surprised along with them before she furrowed her brow. “It’s weird, right?”

The sisters stared at each other in silence, Allison searching for the words to say. Dave had a few choice ones, but he figured this was more of a family… thing. 

“It’s.. it’s incredible, Vanya.” Allison said softly.

“But?” Vanya asked.

“Can-” Allison glanced back towards Dave with a frown before looking to Vanya again. “Can we do this in the car?”


Allison shook her head to herself ever so slightly and sighed. “You’re not gonna wanna hear it.”

“It’s important, ma’am.” Dave chimed in, trying to speed things along. Maybe he was just being paranoid. He really, really didn’t like this forest, after all. That would explain the feeling of wrongness. That, at the fact that Jenkins could show up at any time and they had to be ready for anything.

Vanya gave Allison a flat look, ignoring Dave. “Well, that’s never stopped you before.” She replied. 

Allison shifted from foot to foot, putting her hands in her pockets as she considered this. Finally, she sighed again. “Leonard Peabody?” She asked, and Dave tensed behind her.

“Hey, we really should do this in the car.” He interrupted quietly. The light flickered.

“No, wait,” Vanya raised her bow at Dave, stopping him. He pressed his mouth into a worried line. “I want to hear this first.”

“Leonard’s real name is Harold Jenkins.” Allison told her sister, voice grave. They stood in silence, and Allison took a step closer. “Remember when I couldn’t find anything on Leonard in the library?” She asked, “That’s because he doesn’t exist. His real name is Harold Jenkins.

Vanya looked past Allison to Dave, a frown tugging her entire face down. Dave nodded slightly. “He just got out of jail for killing his dad.” He confirmed.

“When he was 13 .” Allison added.

“This is.. insane .” Vanya started shaking her head, gesturing with her violin and her bow, “His dad was an engineer at the-”

“Dave and I have the police report in the car, Vanya,” Allison spoke over her, loud. “We can show you.”

“I don’t- I don’t understand.” Her sister said softly.

“Leonard, Harold- I know it doesn’t make any sense , and I know it sounds crazy , but we were in his house.” She gestured harshly between herself and Dave, “He has pictures of all of us with our eyes gouged out .”

Dave nodded again, staring at the carpet. 

“I promise, I promise I will tell you everything in the car, Vanya,” Allison stressed, “But it’s not safe-”

Allison reached forward to try and pull at Vanya’s hand, causing her to jerk back and sit down. “No- stop .” She snapped, looking impossibly lost. Allison got to her knees in front of her, trying to catch a glimpse of her face. Even Dave took a step forward, his heart twisting at the heartbreak on Vanya’s face.

“I can’t imagine.. how hard it is for you to hear this,” Allison said softly, causing Vanya to look up at her. “how you must feel right now, but I- I love you.” She insisted, reaching forward and putting a hand on her knee, “I want to be here for you, as your sister, okay?”

Dave felt himself ease up slightly. Allison knew how to use her words and twist them, sure, but at least she knew how to use them with her little sister, too.

“There’s just no way.” Vanya mumbled to herself, looking towards the ground as if the answer laid somewhere on the floor. She took a few deep breaths and then looked up at Allison, her eyes starting to tear up. “I love him.” She admitted, “This just doesn’t make any sense.

“A-and this power- I don’t know- I don’t know what’s going on-” Vanya continued, her hands running down her face and cupping her neck. Her voice broke as she said, “I don’t know what to do.”

Allison didn’t seem to have an answer for that, and the room fell silent.

“Hey.” Dave said softly, causing Vanya to look up at him with tear filled eyes. He couldn’t stand a crying Hargreeves in need, apparently, Klaus or not. “It’s crazy. It’s all crazy. I don’t know what to do either, and I’m not the one with the- with the wind.” He stammered, gesturing lamely with a hand, “But it’s nothing we can’t all figure out together, right?”

Vanya sniffled, her shoulders hunching in, and then she let out a sob and covered her face with her hands. Dave took another step forward, looking down at Allison to see if he’d cut to the chase and comfort Vanya before he got there. All she really needed was her sister in his opinion, as messy as this family got. He had confidence they’d get there.

“I understand now.” Allison whispered.

“Huh?” Dave asked. Vanya glanced up a her, running the heel of her palm under her eyes.

“When we were four, dad told us you were sick. You had to be isolated.” Allison slowly looked up at Vanya. “We were so young.” She breathed, “None of us knew to question it.”

Dave felt a chill run down his spine.

Allison sucked in a deep breath. “I rumored you.”

There was silence.

Dave only very vaguely remembered the run down of Klaus’ siblings’ powers. There were more details with the siblings closer to Klaus, and Allison wasn’t one of them. She only got one or two sentences here and there. But when Klaus said she was very convincing ...

He was beginning to connect some dots. “Y-you did this to me?” Vanya asked, looking so fragile it hurt. 

“I- I didn’t realize,” Allison said softly, quietly. Meanwhile, Vanya only got louder.

“You knew this whole time?” She demanded, her voice cracking. Suddenly, in one swift motion she grabbed her violin and bow and stood up to tower over her sister. “That I had powers ?”

“No, no, I didn’t realize, not until today. Not until I saw it.” Allison protested, standing up and following her sister’s warpath around the room. Dave backed up a step towards the door, watching on with no small amount of worry.

“Well now it all makes sense!” Vanya declared with a gesture, “This is why you never wanted me around.”

“What?” Allison asked, “No!”

“You couldn’t risk me threatening your place in the house, your- your dominance -” Vanya stated, pain and conviction lacing every single word.

“That is not true!” Allison insisted, almost begging with the words.

“You couldn’t handle the fact,” Vanya spat, pointing at herself, “that dad might find me special .”

“You are special, Vanya!” Allison yelled back, “With or without powers!”

Don’t say that !” Vanya replied, rage written on her features.

“Hold on, hang on,” Dave tried.

“We have a chance to start over.” Allison insisted, ignoring him. That was fine.

“You destroyed my life!” Vanya shouted, which was less fine.

Allison let out a tired, exasperated scoff, and Dave sucked in a sharp breath. “Everything is out in the open. We can move on!”

“Oh, I’m moving on ,” Vanya spat, “But not with you. With Leonard.”

Allison widened her eyes. “With Harold , you mean.” 

Oh, fuck. “Vanya, please, we’ve got the report on Harold, we’ve got him dead to rights,” Dave cut in desperately.

“I’m going with Leonard !” She repeated, “The only person who has ever loved me for me.” Vanya declared firmly, her eyes wide and wild.

Allison gave her sister a shocked look and scoffed, unimpressed as she looked away. Dave quickly shook his head, the dread creeping up on him fast. The room seemed to drop a few temperatures, and he naively hoped that it was just him being a little chilly. 

“Look me in the eye and tell me you’re not threatened right now.” Vanya said, her voice low and serious now as she stared her sister down.

“Hey, girls, we can do this later-” Vanya held a hand up towards Dave sharply, pointing her bow at him again, and he quieted. His heart was beating faster.

“Shut up.” She snapped, the wind startling to whistle outside, “I’m not talking to you. Allison .”

The curtains started blowing from the open window. Dave watched as Allison tried to play it off, shrug. “I don’t wanna argue with you right now-”

Then go !” Vanya shouted suddenly, jerking forward.

“I’m only trying to help you.” Allison protested as she glanced around the room warily. 

“Allison.” Dave said quietly, urgently. But everything he and Allison said seemed to make the situation ten times worse and the had the wind growing louder. Dave fought the urge to lower himself to the ground as it started pushing at him.

I don’t want your help !”

“Vanya, I love you!” Allison insisted desperately, tears starting to build in her eyes.

“Allison!” Dave shouted, a warning.

Stop saying that !” Vanya screamed.

The chandelier swung. The rocking chair moved back and forth. The lights flickered. Dave took a shaky breath and clutched at the strap of the rifle, moving backwards and bumping into the door frame. Both he and Allison looked around as something.. unnatural started to move the room, move through the room, move throughout them

Items started rattling and shaking. Glasses broke in a different room of the house. Allison stared at Vanya with confusion and regret. “Are you..” She reached out, taking a small step forward, “Are you okay?”

Vanya sucked in a breath. “ I said go !” It was like the volume of her voice was turned up to 11. The lightbulbs started shattering one by one and the chaos in the room only grew. Dave didn’t know what to do, where to be- he was frozen to the spot and shaking in his boots like the coward he was.

Allison threw her hands over her head to try and avoid the glass falling from the ceiling, and she looked at Vanya and shook her head lightly. The wind grew and grew and grew. “Please, don’t make me do this.” She begged, desperation painted on her face. Her voice shook - Allison’s surefire, confident voice - and it rattled Dave to the very core.

“Allison, wait-” He said weakly.

Vanya’s chest heaved as she grew more and more enraged, staring at Allison with nothing but malice and hate. 

Allison gasped for a shaky breath. “ I heard a rumor.. ” The words seemed to echo and time seemed to slow. Dave watched as Vanya’s hand reared back, and suddenly he was moving towards her just as fast as she slung the bow towards Allison.

Everything stopped. He never made contact with Vanya, frozen a foot away from where she held out her violin to him like a shield.

Dave couldn’t breathe. He raised his hands to his neck and started to gasp and choke for air. Allison slumped to the floor a few feet away, and if he wasn’t panicked already, the gush of blood that burst from her throat was enough to keep him in a panic attack for a week. He tried to struggle away from the invisible hold, looking back to Vanya desperately.


She stared at him from behind her violin. Her eyes were ice white and cold. Dave suddenly had one very clear, very conscious thought.

She was going to kill him. 

No, no, no.

Dave struggled less and less, unable to take his eye off Vanya’s unnatural, cruel ones. The corner of his vision started blacking out as he lost oxygen.

..nya, Vanya, STOP!

Dave dropped to the floor, losing consciousness before his body even hit the ground.

Chapter Text

Klaus was always very good at being the one to diffuse tension in the family. It was practically his job to keep everyone sane with a well timed joke or various antics, not be the ‘lookout’ or whatever Luther tried to pin on him to make him useful. So watching Allison fuck everything up? Really annoying.

They were so close, too.

“This is bad,” Ben whispered, standing close to Klaus, “This is very very bad.” The wind howled in their ears, unnatural gusts strong enough that they could feel it as ghosts, even if they didn’t have to struggle against it.

Klaus was beginning to realize just how agonizing it was to have to sit back, invisible, and watch everyone else live their lives. He wanted to scream at how frustrated he was, unable to step in and fix things. Unable to tell Allison ‘now isn’t the time’, unable to tell Vanya they just want her safe and that they’d be completely broken without her.

He still couldn’t believe Vanya had powers, even though the evidence was all around him, but he definitely believed Allison rumored her. It was a terrible thought, to be stripped of your agency and your life like that in such a cut throat family. At the same time he wondered why dad never made Allison rumor his powers away. Why Allison never saw him struggling and suffering and offered to try.

“What do we do?” Klaus asked, clutching at Ben’s arm, “Fuck, Ben, what do we do?”

“Oh my God.” Ben uttered, staring wide eyed at their sisters in the middle of the chaos, “Allison is going to rumor her.”

“No- no!” Klaus shouted, “No! Stop!”

I heard a rumor.. ” Allison started, her voice shaking.

Everything happened too fast.

Allison’s throat was slit, and both Klaus and Ben shouted and swore in shock and horror. Ben jerked toward their sister who fell to the ground. Klaus focused on Vanya, who had Dave in a- in a hold of some sort. He couldn’t breathe. Dave couldn’t breathe.

Vanya was going to kill Dave.

“Vanya!” He screamed at the top of his lungs, “Vanya, no, stop!” In the blink of an eye he was in front of her, wide eyed and all but feral. “Let him go, let him go, let him go !” The choking sounds behind him from Dave were awful and heart stopping, despite Klaus not having a heart. Ben was over on the ground by Allison, begging and pleading for her to stay in her body. It was too much. He was helpless. Useless. He was going to watch two more people he loved be sent to the grave and he’d have to look their ghosts in the eye and admit he screwed up, did nothing, just like always.

“Vanya!” Klaus howled, jerking forward and making a wild grab for his sister despite the impossible. He couldn’t stand and watch his sister kill the love of his life without trying. He felt like he was on fire with hurt and anger and fear and- and-- “Vanya, STOP!”

Vanya’s eyes widened and she turned her head, making direct, unmistakable eye contact with him as he actually put his hands on her and shoved her.

“Klaus?” She whispered, her unnatural eyes rapidly shuttering back and forth between stark white and deep brown. He didn’t pay attention to the minor miracle, dropping to his knees onto the floor beside Dave the second she let go of him. Dave was wheezing and gasping, sounding pitiful. 

“Breathe, baby, just breathe, you just have to breathe-” Klaus chanted, “Ben? Ben, how’s Allison?” He asked, his voice just on the edge of hysterical.

“Vanya got her in the throat.” Ben said, his voice wobbling uncharacteristically, “She’s losing blood, Klaus, she’s losing so much blood-”

The door swung open and in walked the psychotic murderer of the hour. Klaus looked up and watched as Jenkins took in the scene, a sadistic smile curling at his lips.

Ben and Klaus were helpless as Jenkins manipulated Vanya into leaving with him. “But Klaus is here,” Vanya said desperately, sobbing at the bodies on the ground, “I thought I saw Klaus, he can help, he can-”

“We have to go, Vanya!” Jenkins snapped, all but dragging her out of the room. They heard car doors slamming in the distance and an engine turn over.

Ben looked up and made eye contact with Klaus. 

“I don’t know.” Klaus whispered fearfully, answering the silent question, “Ben, I don’t know what just happened, but Allison and Dave are doing the wavy, fading thing again.”

He faded in and out, for.. He didn’t know how long. He caught glimpses here and there. Someone hunched over in the corner crying, screaming- his eyelids fluttered closed. The door opened and hit him in the leg? A voice- “ You did what you had to .” 

“...she’s dying, up, get up, get up, get up -”

Dave gasped. Then he gasped again, and again, and again. He forced himself off his side and onto his front, bracing his forearms against the ground as he coughed and tried to force air back into his lungs.

His mind was blank, a hand raising to palm at his throat and the swelling he felt threatening to choke him a second time.

A second time.

Dave scrambled up to his feet, still gasping and wheezing. He almost fell over until he grabbed a chair, fumbling for a few steps as he scanned the room and willed everything to stop being so spotted and blurry.

“Allison.” He croaked, stumbling to the body in the middle of the room, “Allison- Allison !”

He felt to his knees and immediately soaked his hands in blood, pressing down her throat. Her pulse was rapid beneath his fingers, and he swore and praised God that he must’ve only been out for a few minutes, because this wasn’t enough blood, not yet, not unless it hit an artery.

“No, no, no.” He begged, “No, please, no,” His hands shook and he gripped her around the throat more firmly, especially wary not to block her windpipe. Her eyelids fluttered and she just barely made eye contact with him.

“Not again. Not again. Please, not again.” Dave pleaded, tears pouring out from his eyes. His voice was a wreck and his chest burned but he didn’t dare stop. Klaus’ dog tags hung in the air between their chests as he hunched over Allison. “Please don’t do this, please don’t take another one- it’s his sister , please-”

Allison’s hand weakly raised to his arm and then slid off, her eyes rolling for a moment, and he sobbed. “How am- am I supposed to tell him, huh?” He demanded through a shaking voice, not sure if he was talking to himself, Allison, or God. “What’s Klaus gonna think when I let his big sister die too? Please, please don’t die. Please, Allison, please.”

His options were limited. Severely limited. If Vanya was gone, then it was just the two of them deserted in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Maybe there was a phone in here, but who could he call? He didn’t have any numbers. And how could he make a phone call when his bright crimson hands were the only thing keeping Allison alive?

He was nearly catatonic, words rushing out of his mouth with air he didn’t have to spare. He shook and shook and shook, begging Allison to hang on, to stay awake, stay with him, he needed a medic, he needed a medic --

Car doors in the distance. Dave looked up, eyes wide.

“HEY!” He shouted, “Hey! Help! I need some help, please!” He shouted, shredding his already hoarse voice. He sucked in a breath and bellowed at the top of his lungs. “ Medic !” 

He heard footsteps start to thunder up to the porch, and the door swung open. Dave looked over in a panic as Luther, Diego, and Five all stepped into the room in varying degrees of shock.

“Allison.” Luther gasped, immediately falling to her other side. Five looked just as haunted as Dave felt, standing in the corner with a shell shocked expression. Diego stared blankly, as if he couldn’t believe it.

“She’s alive,” Dave gasped, “But she needs help- we gotta- we have to call someone, or-”

Five appeared next to Dave’s side and quickly started assessing the damage. Dave moved his hands a fraction when Five wanted a closer look at the incision.

“No arteries hit.” He stated, “But she’s losing blood and she’s losing it fast- Luther, pick her up, Dave, keep your hands on her neck, pressure, good. Diego, help them down the stairs. I’m getting the car.”

“I’ll kill him.” Diego said darkly, “I’m gonna gut Harold Jenkins.”

Dave choked out a sob, frantically wondering how he was supposed to explain that Harold Jenkins had nothing to do with this.

They all followed Five’s instructions. Dave didn’t dare move his hands from Allison’s neck. Luther was white as a sheet while they gently put her in the car. Her eyes fluttered open again as she was jostled, and she gave a shallow gasp, feebly reaching out towards Luther.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Luther whispered desperately, “You’re gonna be fine, Allison, you’re gonna be just fine.”

It should’ve taken hours to get back to the academy, but either Five’s speeding was truly impressive or Dave was losing time again. His hands were slick and hot and shaking and he spent most of his time focusing on Allison’s pulse, faint as it was. It was hard not to be thrown back into the past, remembering Klaus’ broken, torn up chest spilling out blood from beneath his fingers too fast for him to stop. 

He hoped Klaus wasn’t too disappointed in him, wherever he was. 

In what felt like years and seconds at the same time, Luther was hauling Allison out of the car, Dave awkwardly by his side with his hands still pressed to her throat. Diego flung the Academy doors open for them and started hollering for Grace as Five directed Luther and Dave up the stairs into an infirmary.

“You can let go now, David.” Pogo said gently, putting a hand on his arm. Dave looked up and around the room at the concerned siblings and their mother, all staring at him and Allison. He took a shaky breath.

“I don’t- I don’t think I can-” He whispered, “There’s so much blood, what if she bleeds out, what if-”

Diego put a hand on his shoulder. “Dave.” He said, voice low, “You did good. They’re gonna fix her up now.”

He made eye contact with Diego. The other man very carefully reached over for his wrists. Dave let him pull his crimson-stained hands away, clenching them into fists, and Grace immediately stepped in to put pressure on Allison’s throat with a sterile cloth.

“She’s lost a lot of blood.” Grace said very seriously, “She’s going to need a transfusion from one of you.”

“Let me do it.” Dave said immediately, unable to take his eyes off Allison.

“Your blood type isn’t compatible.” Grace said softly. He absently wondered how she knew what his blood type was. “The children all share the same type, one of them can do it.”

“Me. I’ll do it.” Luther stepped forward.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible, dear boy.” Pogo said softly, “Your blood is more compatible with mine.”

“I lost too much blood yesterday.” Five said, cursing under his breath.

“I’ll do it.” Diego let go of Dave and immediately stepped up to the table, pushing up his sleeves. Only to pass out as soon as Grace pulled out a needle. Dave flinched. He was overwhelmingly tired of seeing the Hargreeves unconscious and unresponsive.

“Stick him.” Pogo instructed.

Diego was propped up in a chair by the bedside and set up with a needle in his arm as Grace got to work cleaning and stitching. Dave, Luther, and Five all stood uncertainly around the table, watching and waiting.

“Children,” Pogo said, looking at them all one by one, “Perhaps now would be a good time to clean up and regroup.”

“Right.” Five muttered, “I gotta- right.” He vanished in a flash of blue.

“I’m staying.” Luther said sternly, having a short, tense staring content with Pogo before the monkey sighed and looked away, eyes landing on Dave.

“Go clean yourself up.” He said softly, kindly, “You’ve done everything you can.”

“Is she going to be okay?” Dave asked quietly, blood stained hands reaching up and clutching at his dog tags.

“It could be much worse.” Pogo replied tactfully, “Go take care of yourself now. We’ll let you know when she’s stable.”

He should’ve gone back to the bathroom. Gotten rid of the rapidly drying blood and changed his clothes again. But he wasn’t focused on himself, not at all. Instead he found himself wandering the halls until he was standing back outside in the courtyard in front of Ben’s ruined statue.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered, voice cracking. His throat still felt uncomfortable and his voice wasn’t much more than a croak. He fell to his knees, pressing a bloody hand print to the gravestone, “I’m so- so sorry. I keep failing you, both of you, and I’m so sorry.” Dave closed his eyes tightly and leaned forward until his forehead was pressed against the cool stone.

Chapter Text

“Diego told me I’d find you out here.” 

Dave blinked slowly, his eyes unseeing. He was slumped against the stone of Ben’s memorial, hand loosely wrapped around his dog tags. He was distantly aware that he was shaking, but he didn’t know if it was from shock or from how cold it was in the dim, early morning hours. Leaning against cold stone dedicated to Klaus’ dead brother probably didn’t help either way. But like hell was he moving.

He had stopped actually saying his prayers awhile ago, his throat hurting too much to continue, so he was quietly mouthing the words to himself. 

“You need to tell me what happened.” Five said, his voice grave, “What did Jenkins do?”

Dave slowly shook his head, cheek scraping against stone. Nothing. Jenkins did nothing at all.

“Dave.” The kid walked into his line of sight, and Dave just barely glanced up at him through his lashes. “ Shit . Can you even talk?” Five’s eyes sharpened, focusing on Dave’s throat. If it looked as bad as it hurt, it must be pretty brutal. “Or breathe ?”

He let out a wispy sigh in response.

“Grace has to take a look at that. I’m surprised your windpipe isn’t being crushed by that swelling.” Five decided, “Allison is stable, by the way.”

Dave closed his eyes tightly, thumbing over the familiar ridges in the metal of Klaus’ tags. “She’ll live?” He rasped quietly.

“Yeah. Yes.” Five replied, his voice sounding different in a way Dave couldn’t quite place in his traumatized haze. “You did good, Katz.”

As good as the news was, Dave couldn’t find it in himself to be relieved. He opened his eyes, staring at Five sadly. Five’s expression darkened and he looked away a moment before stepping closer and offering Dave a hand. Presumably to pull him up.

“Is- Can I see--?” Maybe seeing Allison in one living, breathing peace would help Dave feel less hollow.

“Yeah.” Five nodded, “She’s unconscious but you can come see her while Grace looks you over.”

Dave barely registered as Five walked them back inside and guided him through shadowy corridors.

Grace was sitting by Allison’s bedside, working on a cross stitch of some kind. Luther was next to her in a chair of his own, a hand clasped around one of Allison’s while he spoke quietly to her. He didn’t look up when Five and Dave entered the room.

She looked so pale. Dave had stopped shaking once they’d gotten inside, but his hands were trembling again as he eyed the bright red stain covering the front of her white shirt. He still hadn’t washed them. He was still just as blood-soaked.

“Luther.” Five instructed, “I’ll watch her for a bit. Go stretch.”

“I’m fine.” Luther replied, staring at Allison intently like he was willing her to be okay, to wake up.

“Okay, that was my attempt at being nice.” Five shrugged, “Get off your ass and go eat or something. Dave needs Grace and I need the room.”

“Five-” Luther started, eyes narrowing.

“Please, Luther.” Five said, his voice unexpectedly raw and tired. “He was attacked, too. Just- give us a bit.” That was probably the only reason Luther stood up, shooting him a strange, concerned look. 

“Don’t leave her alone, alright? I’ll be back.” He promised, taking one last look at Allison before walking out of the room. Five sighed, watching him go. Then it was back to business.

“Mom.” Five said, turning his attention to his mother, “Dave’s experiencing considerable swelling around his throat. The skin is bruising already and he can barely speak. I doubt he’s getting enough oxygen.”

“Oh, dear.” Grace said worriedly, standing up and setting her project aside. “I noticed some trauma to the area earlier, but Allison required my full attention.”

“Understandable.” Five shrugged, “I think checking his esophagus and trachea for damage would be a good idea, in addition to some kind of anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling.”

“I’ll take a look.” She smiled at her son, “That sounds like a reasonable prognosis. You’ve already been such a smart little firecracker.”

Five stared at her impassively. The outright affection in Grace’s voice towards Five, of all people, was really off-putting. But he guessed Five was still her kid, pint-sized assassin or not. 

Ignoring the look on Five’s face at her kindness, she stepped around the table and moved to Dave’s side. She clicked her tongue as she noticed his hands, still filthy. She pulled out the chair she had been sitting in earlier and Dave slumped down onto it, exhausted as all hell. 

“Take some deep breaths for me, dear. In and out.” Grace’s head tilted to the side as she looked him up and down, something.. Flashing, in her eyes. Dave blinked in confusion, but there was nothing to do with this family’s oddities aside from going with the flow. Maybe he’d find an answer later, maybe not.

“Five was right. You aren’t oxygenated properly, David.” She said, sounding fond and almost scolding at the same time. “Can you describe your symptoms?”

“Uh.” He said weakly, his voice cracking and hoarse, “Haven’t- haven’t felt right since the cabin, ma’am.”

“Where he was brutally choked.” Five said, his sharp eyes watching over his sister as he listened to the two. Dave went back and forth between not being able to look at Allison and not being able to take his eyes off her and the slow rise and fall of her chest.

“I did pass out.” He added quietly, looking up at Grace. That seemed like an important thing to note.

She hummed, concerned. “You’re dealing with severe damage to the soft tissue around your throat.” She explained, “Swelling and bruising will be normal for some time. But rest, an anti-inflammatory, and some time hooked up to some oxygen with a nasal cannula should have you feeling better.”

“I don’ need an x-ray or anythin’?” He croaked. 

She gave him an indulgent, perfect smile. “No, silly. I promise I know what I’m doing.”

“Let her treat you, Dave.” Five instructed. 

No arguing with that. Even if he wanted to, he was too tired. So Dave nodded, wincing a little when his throat stretched and ached with the movement.

Maybe it was the lack of air in his lungs, or maybe it was how incredibly awful last night was for him. But he drifted in and out of his mind as she busied herself, hooked him up to a tank of oxygen through a plastic piece in his nose. Then she handed him two small pills and a glass of water. It hurt to swallow, but it felt good to have the cool water on his throat. 

“Mom,” Five interrupted eventually, after he’d had a few minutes to gather himself and take some more deep breaths, “I’d like to speak with Dave alone.”

She hummed. “Alright. But don’t let him talk too much- I’d like him to rest his throat as much as he can.”

Five nodded curtly. Grace set a gentle hand down on Dave’s shoulder and gave him another smile before walking off and out of the room, her heels clicking as she left. The affectionate, comforting touch had tears welling up in his eyes and he blinked, looking away momentarily.

“I know you can barely speak, but we have to discuss this.” Five said, immediately getting down to business with a sharp look in his eye. Dave closed his eyes tightly and nodded a fraction.

“Diego told me you two went to Vanya’s cabin after I passed out.” He continued calmly, because how else were you supposed to approach something like this when your sister was fragile and still on the table in front of you? “They were there?”

“Not as first.” Dave rasped, his voice low and whispery, “We left. Followed their trail to a hospital, then back to the cabin. Then she was there.”

“Just Vanya?” Five questioned.

“S’all I saw. I think- maybe he came back for her, while we were passed out.” He shuddered, remembering a faint voice in the back of his mind. 

Five stared at him for a long moment, and Dave could’ve sworn he saw the gears turning in his mind. “Are you telling me Jenkins wasn’t there when you were hurt?” He clarified, raising an eyebrow. He was too perceptive for his own good.

Dave shut his eyes tightly, remembering cold, white eyes and the knowledge he’d be joining his lover soon. “Vanya.”

“Dave..” Five said dangerously, an edge to his voice.

“Powers. She’s got powers.” His face scrunched up in pain at the memory, and he raised a hand to rub at his jaw. Five didn’t respond, the silence tense, so he went on. “Allison made her mad and she lost it. Allison said- she’d- convinced you all Vanya was ordinary when you were all little.” He swallowed roughly, wincing a little. “Vanya attacked us when Allison tried to rumor her into stopping again.”

“Are you telling me-” Five’s voice was soft, dark, and full of danger. “Are you trying to tell me that Vanya- my little sister Vanya- she did this to you two?”

Dave sucked in a shuddery breath, his throat burning at the cold air. He nodded once, willing himself to look and meet Five’s eyes.

“Fuck.” Five whispered softly, his expression full of horror. Not blame or disbelief like Dave expected. It was the most open he’d ever seen Five look. “ Fuck . And now Jenkins has her on the run.”

“I’m sorry.” Dave whispered, looking away. His eyes landed on Allison and he tried not to focus on how still and lifeless she seemed.

“Dave..” Five sighed wearily, “stop apologizing for my batshit crazy family.”

He gave a humorless chuckle, but it turned into a painful cough. “You shouldn’t be mad at her.” Dave said roughly when he could speak again, weak, “Vanya. She’s hurting.”

“I-” Five sighed, running a hand through his hair as he began to pace back and forth. “I know. I.. don’t know how to process this, considering I’ve believed this sadistic lie for fifty years now, but I’m not mad. Not at Vanya.”

Well, that was a small relief. He took more slow, deep breaths as Five started to silently pace.

There was nothing left to distract him from Allison.

Slowly, cautiously, Dave lifted a hand and leaned over so he could take her wrist and press his thumb into a pulse point. It was shallow, but it was there. He wanted to cry again in relief and guilt, but that wasn’t about to happen in front of Five. 

“I have to ask you to do something.” Five interrupted, serious, looking Dave in the eye unflinchingly.

“Anything.” Dave agreed softly, still holding Allison’s wrist.

“You can’t tell them about Vanya.” Five didn’t look proud of himself or the news, and when Dave reared back and let his sister go, he sighed. “Not yet.”

Maybe he’d do anything except for that. “I can’t keep doing this, Five.” Dave argued weakly, “Klaus, and now- now Vanya -”

“Look.” Five snapped, “Everyone is on a hair trigger right now and we’re running out of time. We don’t have time to freak everyone out with these bombshells.”

“These are your siblings.” Dave replied, his expression crumpling, “They deserve to know.”

“I know, okay?” Five retorted, running a hand through his hair, “I know. And as soon as it’s safe and we’re not in impending danger, we’ll- I’ll tell them. But not yet.”

“Dave.” A voice whispered. Both Dave and Five tensed as they looked down at Allison, eyes wide. 

She was awake?

“Allison.” Five said urgently, moving to her bedside. Her eyelids fluttered, expression scrunching up. She took in a shallow gasp, looking between the two when her eyes finally focused.

“Keep calm. You’re back at the Academy.” Five continued, and Dave noticed he was gripping her hand tightly. “You got hurt at the cabin, but the cut was shallow. Nothing vital was damaged.” Allison let out a shuddery breath, staring up at her brother, “You’re lucky Dave was there or the blood loss could’ve made everything a lot worse.”

“Dave..” Allison said weakly, lifting her head up off the table as much as she could. He stood stepped forward immediately, staring down at her with worry. She feebly grabbed at his forearm. Her eyebrows furrowed and she blinked a few times, expression unreadable. Was she grateful? Upset that he didn’t stop Vanya?

She opened and closed her mouth a few times. When she spoke, her voice was rough and tired, but the message was loud and clear when she dug her pristine nails into his skin.

“I heard a rumor..” She whispered, eyes locked on his, “that you told me the truth about Klaus.”

Five looked well and truly shocked, then angry . “ Allison .” He snarled.

Dave could feel it worming his way into his mind. Taking control despite all logical thought. No amount of fighting could’ve stopped him from replying. Even the pain in his throat and the lightheadedness couldn’t keep his fucking mouth shut. 

“Klaus Hargreeves served with me in my unit and died in the Vietnam war a few days ago.”

Allison gasped, her free hand flinging up to her mouth as her eyes stared at him in horror. His hand clapped over his as soon as it was out of his mouth, and he stared back equally horrified. 

“H-he’s-” Allison choked, “He’s--?”

Dave’s heart had broken too many times in the past few days, so he was intimate with the pain in his chest and the grief and regret he couldn’t dig himself out of. “How did you..?” He tried to ask, voice muffled by his hand.

“I knew something was wrong ever since you showed up,” She said, her voice feeble and wobbling, “And then you just said- I didn’t- I didn’t think that- oh, God, Klaus-”

“Allison,” Five cut in, trying to angle himself into her line of vision despite his height, “Allison, we’ll explain, but right now you can’t handle -”

“I’m sorry.” Dave said, desperate, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry -”

“I heard a rumor that you told me the truth.” She repeated suddenly, her gaze intense as her nails dug deeper into his forearm and pinned him there.

“Klaus is dead.” Dave choked out, “Klaus is dead in Vietnam.”

No .” She hissed, “I heard a rumor you told me the truth about Klaus.”

“Klaus died in Vietnam.” Dave replied, tears streaming down his face as he slowly shook his head. “Klaus is dead.”

Allison !” Five barked.

“I heard a rumor you told me the truth!” Allison snapped, daring to raise her voice, “Stop lying to me! I heard a rumor you told me the truth!”

“Klaus is dead.” Dave sobbed, pinned in place, “Klaus is dead, he’s dead, I’m so sorry- fuck --” Allison’s nails were digging into his skin so hard they drew blood. The moment someone walked into the room and interrupted them, he yanked his arm back and stumbled backwards.

“Allison?” Diego asked, eyebrows drawing together as he took in the scene.

“I heard a rumor you told me exactly what happened.” Allison said, staring at him with wide eyed fury, “ How was he there? Why ? Who are you?”

“Allison!” Diego snapped, hurrying around to Dave’s side as he took another step back and bumped into a metal cart. 

It didn’t matter how hard he clamped down on his mouth or locked his jaw, he couldn’t stop the words from coming out. “Klaus t-time travelled with the briefcase after he was tortured,” He sobbed, making it harder to speak, but he couldn’t stop . “He time travelled to Vietnam, 1968, with me, a-and we served together.” Dave squeezed his eyes shut, sucking in a shaky breath. He couldn’t stop . “We fell in love. We dated. Oh God .” He threw his head back towards the ceiling. “He died on the front lines t-taking a- a bullet-- h-he took a bullet for me three- four days ago- I just wanted to tell you--”

The room was silent except for Dave’s pathetic sobbing, but the rumor seemed to have run its course. He couldn’t open his eyes. He couldn’t stand the judgement, from them or from himself. Because he didn’t just give her the whole truth and nothing but. 

He just shattered Klaus’ confidence and outed him to his family. He knew it wasn’t his fault, but he couldn’t stop the wrath of his self loathing after what he just did. What the fuck was wrong with him? 

Fuck .” Five said softly. There really wasn’t much else to say.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Allison asked quietly, her voice both broken and full of fury, “That’s- that’s our brother .”

“Me.” Diego spoke up, his voice dark as it cracked, “I told him n-not to, Alli.”

Why ?” She demanded, hushed, the word broken and full of grief. Tears spilled down her face.

“I- I d-didn’t-” Diego squeezed his eyes shut, “I c-c-couldn’t-t tell y-y-” He took his a deep breath, pausing for a brief moment. Dave expected Allison or Five to interrupt him, but they only watched with grave looks. “-had to be s-sure. A-and- and then the ap- apo- ap-- fuck !” Unable to speak, Diego viciously kicked at a nearby chair.

“It’s Klaus .” Allison said through a sob, her voice cracking, “And you all hid it .”

“Allison,” Five stated, trying to take control of the situation, “We can’t be distracted from the apocalypse right now. It would’ve been a mess to announce it. And we might be able to go back and get him, we just need a little more time -”

“Fuck you.” Allison hissed, “ Fuck you , Five, fuck- fuck all of you-”

Dave was shaking again. He yanked the cannula from his nose and took a stumbling step backwards. They all turned to stare at him, and he could feel his breathing coming in quicker and quicker. 

A wash of cold fell over him- not like the slow, gnawing cold from sitting outside too long. More like jumping into a lake when it was still too cold to swim. He gasped and shivered, wrapped his arms around himself, and he found a small moment of clarity with shock to his system.

Self preservation. Fight or flight. He bolted from the room.

Klaus and Ben sat beside Dave in the courtyard. Ben was trying to give Klaus a pep talk, but Klaus was lost in thought as he stared at his beloved. Yesterday, hanging out with Allison, Dave was distracted and more like himself than he’d been since showing up in the future. Now, he was even more of a wreck. A shell of himself.

“I think we should keep practicing.” Ben insisted, “There has to be some way to tap into that power again. If you could remember the feeling-”

“Yeah.” Klaus replied, not really listening. It wasn’t like he actually disagreed- Klaus being able to interact with the world after death was big . He could talk to his siblings. He could help them. He could touch and hold and comfort Dave.

But instead of being even remotely useful, Klaus failed to use his powers. As per usual. Ben’s advice for the whole thing was pretty practical and solid, but he still couldn’t even nudge a rock. Maybe it was because of what Ben kept saying and asking- ‘what were you feeling then, Klaus? Let’s recreate the nightmare that almost got your sister killed and got the other kidnapped, Klaus’.  

He wasn’t eager to try and go that far, not yet. Not after the fucking rollercoaster they’d been on. So.. yeah. Now he was just helping Dave keep his broken, twisted version of a vigil.

Ben had gone back and forth a few times to check on Allison and give him updates. She’d be fine, no major complications. Klaus wished he could tell Dave that.

Thus, the practicing. But nothing was happening. Thus, the break.

“Why don’t you care about this?” Ben finally demanded, throwing his arms up in the air, “Do you have any idea what I’d give to be able to touch something? To feel a book in my hands? To hug one of my siblings one last time? To tell them they’re all being assholes to their faces?”

Klaus’ shoulders hunched slightly. “I care.” He replied pathetically, “I really, really care. I just.. I just want some more time with him, is that too much to ask? Maybe I’m just, like, depleted. I need to recharge.”

Ben opened his mouth to reply, but Klaus must’ve looked super pathetic because he only pressed his mouth into a thin line and let out a sigh. Then, his eyes trailed off. “Five’s here.”

Klaus glanced up at the arrival of their brother. He really hoped Five wasn’t about to drag Dave into another one of his traumatizing debacles. 

The two dead brothers exchanged a bewildered look when Five let go of the questioning in favor of getting Dave some help.

“Wow. Is it just me, or is Five being borderline nice?” Klaus asked, trailing after the two as they went back inside. He wasn’t sure Dave should be walking, but being inside with a semi-responsible not-quite-adult was better than freezing his ass off next to a tombstone. 

“More like Five is feeling borderline guilty.” Ben replied, jaded as ever.

“Ah.” Klaus nodded sagely, “And for a second I thought he cared.”

They watched as Grace fussed over Dave, and Klaus felt a quiet rush of relief. At least someone was taking care of him in Klaus’ absence, even if it was just their pre-programmed robot mother. But then Five dismissed her, and they knew things were about to get serious. Back to business, no more lollygagging for Five.

It all went downhill pretty fast after that.

None of them noticed Allison was awake until it was far too late. Dave had mentioned Klaus’ name when they spoke about covering it all up, and Allison was scarily perceptive even while injured.

She rumored him.

“No.” Klaus whispered as soon as the familiar words came out of Allison’s mouth. It was a bastardized repeat of the cabin. “Christ, no, Allison-”

Dave looked more upset than Klaus had ever seen him as he was forced to spill it. And he’d spent ten months with Dave having comrades lose limbs or die in their arms, and just spent the last few days suffering from the collective of Hargreeves. Klaus was furious with his sister.

And she just. Kept. Going.

Was it fucked up that they were keeping Klaus’ death a secret? Kind of, yeah. But Allison lashing out at Dave of all people made his nonexistent blood boil. Everyone in the room watched as words forced their way out of Dave’s mouth- and not for lack of trying on his part, Klaus could tell. But he’d been on the end of Allison’s bullshit enough times to know that she’d get exactly what she wanted.

Every word looked like it was tortured out of Dave. Even though they were discussing the wrongful coverup of his death, Klaus didn’t know if he’d ever be able to forgive Allison for violating Dave like that.

“This is a nightmare.” Ben said, voice hushed and horrified. His eyes sharpened. “Klaus, do something.”

“What do you want me to do?” Klaus demanded. He watched hot tears roll their way down Dave’s flushed face and couldn’t fucking stand not being able to reach over and wipe them away. And they were doing all this while Dave was injured - because of Allison’s big fucking mouth - and could barely speak. 

“Fuck, I don’t know, anything!” Ben insisted, shoving Klaus forward towards Dave. But even in death, Klaus wasn’t the most graceful individual and he stumbled and flailed, his arms pathetically ghosting through Dave’s body.

Dave reacted. Dave shivered .

Chapter Text

There was only so much a man could take before he had to go have a breakdown in his dead boyfriend’s bedroom.

The medicine Grace had him take was working, at least. He knew that because he had enough of a windpipe to nearly hyperventilate until he got ahold of himself;

His mind was a mess. It was sort of like he was on the outside of a window looking in on himself imploding.

He was curled up on Klaus’ bed, trying and completely failing to pull himself together as he clutched at his late boyfriend’s pillow. Tears streamed down his face and wouldn’t stop, despite him doing nothing but blankly staring at the wall in front of him. He was tracing Klaus’ scribbled handwriting with his eyes, not really comprehending the words. The lingering scent of stale smoke and Klaus was the only comfort he had left.

He didn’t think it was possible for him to feel lower, not after Klaus died and took a piece of Dave’s heart with him. But the universe was doing a fantastic job at proving him wrong.

Was he being punished? Despite his stubborn determination that the love he and Klaus had was good and real and not an evil choice he was making, sometimes he had his doubts. Now more than ever. He curled up slightly around the pillow, holding it tighter. How did things get this far? How did they get so much worse

He wanted to come to the future to do his duty to Klaus and his family. And he’d be a bold-faced liar if he said he wasn’t also looking for some type of comfort or closure from it. Not that he expected much- He’d faintly entertained the idea of a keepsake at best , even if he had to sneak it into his pocket. Dave just.. He wanted to connect to Klaus in the only way he knew was left. 

Turned out, ‘connecting’ with Klaus just meant watching his family fall apart right alongside Dave. 

He felt rotten to his very core after Allison’s reaction to the news. He knew he shouldn’t have kept it to himself. He knew it was wrong. And while he wasn’t the only one at fault, it was just one more guilty burden weighing down on him, gnawing at him. 

And after he spilled what could’ve been Klaus’ biggest secret..

Dave had never planned on telling them a single thing about the true nature of their relationship. It wasn’t his news to tell, not at all. That was the kind of thing that broke families apart and soured memories when they finally came to light. Sharing that shit was a serious decision to make, if someone didn’t find out and make it for you. 

How would Klaus’ family remember him now? It seemed like they didn’t have the most positive memories with the man in the first place, but everyone who knew he died seemed to grieve for him. Whatever mistakes Klaus made or his siblings thought he made, he was their brother at the end of the day. So Dave knew that right now, they loved him.

But he also knew that love could be painfully conditional.

He’d know best, after all. His dad stopped talking to his own brother, Dave’s uncle, after the news spread like wildfire in the family that he was a faggot. And then Dave’s own sister found out about him and..

And now, safe to say, he wouldn’t be surprised if they resented Klaus for his ‘perversions’ . And Allison’s rumor be damned, Dave felt responsible. The truth came directly from his mouth. He wasn't strong enough to fight it off. Could still recall the feeling of his lips moving without his permission, the rotten truth bubbling up from his core, eating at his insides as he spoke it. 

If only Klaus could see him now.. Dave huffed out a humorless, bitter laugh that could’ve been a sob, because maybe he did see. Maybe he was there the whole time with Ben. Maybe he was back in that room with Allison, watching his siblings talk and turn against him even in death.

Despite doing nothing but what he thought was the right thing, Dave felt like a fucking monster.

His self loathing was interrupted- Dave heard the door creak open and tensed, knowing one of Klaus’ brothers was watching him wallow in Klaus’ bed. And with the new, painful context, he didn’t know what to expect. It was anyone’s guess how angry or disturbed they were now that the truth was out there.

Would they blame Dave for ‘converting’ him or tempting him? Should he let them, if only to let them keep their fondness for their brother? Give them something, someone to blame? Maybe that was the only kindness Dave had left for the Hargreeves. The only good thing he could do.


A thought broke through the glass window of his mind, the one he pictured himself looking through. Klaus would’ve despised that idea. Beautiful, authentic Klaus who would rant and complain about being forced into boxes, about people and their small minds and excuses for their intolerance. 

Dave closed his eyes tightly, clenching his dog tags as his face twisted. He’d do the best he could to defend Klaus’ memory, but maybe he didn’t have to throw himself under the bus or apologize for himself or Klaus. If the truth was already out there.. well.

The hairs on his neck were still raised- still being stared at, and he hated it. He wanted to disappear. “I know I don’t live here, but please kiss off.” Dave said to the wall and the intruder in the room that wasn’t his.

The floorboards creaked with slow steps towards the bed. Too light to be Luther, too heavy to be Five.

“You never told me you two were dating.” Diego said, his voice.. careful, for some reason. "Think I would've remembered something like that." What, did he want Dave to say it to his face?

He opened his eyes, making a silent decision. He reached up to scrub the wetness from his cheeks as best as he could with the back of his wrist. His hands were still red and flaking and he didn’t want to spread the mess around. He should probably wash them at some point.

As prepared as he could be, Dave pushed himself up from the bed and turned to face Diego. He had to be prepared for anything.

“No. I didn’t.” Dave replied, staring him in the eye. He doubted it counted for anything, if his face was still red and puffy and pathetic from crying, but it was important to him to do this - whatever ‘this’ was - right. Dave just wanted to do the right damn thing for once.

Diego narrowed his eyes in something that wasn’t anger, thankfully, seeming to think about Dave’s answer. Finally, he sighed.

”You know,” He started, shifting his weight to his hip, “I can’t believe he finally managed to find some taste.” Diego looked bitterly amused as he scoffed, “Of course it took a warzone for him to find a decent boyfriend.”

Dave continued to stare at him, now for a completely different reason. 

“What?” Diego crossed his arms. “Look, he used to date some serious shitheads, alright?”

“You… understand?” Dave asked slowly, “Klaus explained?”

“Explained?” He replied, “Nah. He wouldn’t really— tell me. What they did. I just had the pleasure of throwing at least two of those dickheads in prison.” Diego stated, unimpressed. Not with Dave, though.

“No, not-“ Dave reared back ever so slightly in confusion. He didn’t understand. He couldn’t piece it together. “Is that a threat ?” He asked, voice low.

“What?” Diego looked frustrated now, “Shit. No. I’m saying I-“ He growled to himself as he searched for the right words. “Fuck, man, you’ve done a ton of crap with this mess of a family just in the past few days, after coming home from war .. As far as I’m concerned, you’re one of the good ones.” He sighed in irritation, pulling out a knife and rolling it between his fingers with expert precision that kept him from getting cut. Dave wondered how he was supposed to be nonthreatening . “You traveled to the future just to make sure we knew what happened, and then stuck around to help after Five ranted and raved about the apocalypse because you’re a weirdly decent person.”

“I only did it for Klaus.” Dave replied automatically, bitterly. He wasn’t good, and he certainly didn’t feel decent.

“And that’s why you’re one of the good ones.” Diego said firmly.

“One of the good…” Dave trailed off, still trying to pry the answer he wanted out of Diego without actually asking the question.

“Boyfriends.” Diego frowned, “Unless you’re not a dude- We can say partner. My.. bad?”

“So you’re saying I’m a good boyfriend for your brother.” He stated, eyes intent on Diego for any hint of a negative reaction. He only looked confused and defensive.

After a moment of silence, Diego let out an aggravated noise and looked away from the piercing eye contact. “Look, I know you and I really- and I mean really got off on the wrong foot.” He said, throwing the words out like he was being forced into it, “And fine . My bad. Could’ve handled it better.” He gestured with both hands, as if his apology was a gracious gift to Dave, “But you don’t have to be an asshole.”

Dave blinked and looked away, then blinked again harder. Relieved tears were welling up in his eyes again as he realized there was no danger to him in Diego, and wasn’t that just fucking typical. He had zero masculinity left, might as well just sob like a kid every other minute.

“..are you crying ?” Diego asked with alarm. He threw his head back and stared at the ceiling, shifting from foot to foot before he sighed and moved to sit on the floor against Klaus’ bedframe. “Jesus Christ.”

“Fuck off.” Dave said weakly, “I thought you came in here to throw me out for defiling your brother or something.”

What ?” Diego asked, now with a sharp laugh, “The ship for Klaus’ virginity sailed a long time ago, dude.”

“Not that.” He replied, glancing down at his lap, “I didn’t know you knew. About Klaus, and his- preferences.”

“Oh.” Diego said, “ Oh . Oh, man.” Diego sighed and let his head drop back against the bedframe with a thump, “Dave, let's be honest- that was never a secret.”

Dave blinked, arms wrapping around his torso now that he wasn’t so focused on appearing immovable. “W- what?”

“We all know Klaus isn’t- wasn’t straight. Last I heard, he didn’t even consider himself a guy.” Diego explained with a sigh, “I don’t know what he was like in Vietnam , but he never really kept it a secret here.”

“Oh.” Dave said softly.

“He showed up to dad’s funeral in a skirt, dude. That- that kinda thing is okay, alright?” Diego insisted, oddly serious. He sat up and looked over at Dave again, trying to get the point across. “Things have changed since your time. It’s normal. Not always accepted, but.. nobody is going to hold that against you. Not here. Especially not me.” He scoffed. “Especially not me.”

Dave swallowed, uncertain. “Are you- you’re saying you’re..?”

“Gay?” Diego asked, “So, I mean, girls are hot, but- y’know, dudes can be really- But I was actually talking about--” He paused in the middle of a hand gesture that was oddly reminiscent of Klaus, his expression closing off as he realized it was getting too personal. “ get the point.”

Dave stared at Diego in bewilderment. Of all the things he expected from Klaus’ serious, macho brother.. That wasn’t it. He didn’t know what to say. He’d been expecting an argument, accusations, a fight- anything but this. Anything but a coming out .

Dave started tearing up again. This time for a different reason. For the first time in days he seemed to feel something other than grief or numbness or remorse. Now, he was relieved. He wasn’t a homewrecker for his dead boyfriend. His family wasn’t shocked or upset. 

They’d love Klaus just the same. At the very least, Dave didn’t ruin that.

Noticing how quiet Dave got, Diego turned his head to look at him out of the corner of his eye. He recoiled just a fraction at his watery eyes and swore under his breath.

“Sorry.” Dave mumbled, reaching up to wipe at his eyes again, “This is- everything is-“

“It’s a lot.” Diego finished for him, “We’re a lot.”

“I just-“ He shook his head lightly, turning his face away, “I thought for sure I- I fucked this up for him, telling you, and you guys would- would—“

“No, man, seriously-“ Diego sighed, giving him something of a regretful look, “We’re not like that, okay? None of us. Maybe dad had his issues but even Luther respects Klaus’ shit, even if he doesn’t understand it.”

Dave took in a deep breath and let it out, slow and shaky. It was okay. Klaus wasn’t in trouble and this fragile little part of Dave was safe. Diego wasn’t demanding to know how or why he is the way he is- the complete opposite, even, openly admitting he thinks men are attractive.

He felt like his head was spinning with whiplash at all the major ups and downs. 

“But for the record, as soon as we get Klaus back, I’m giving you a shovel talk.” Diego continued, turning his head to give Dave an unimpressed look. It missed the mark, because Dave’s mind travelled to other things. The room grew quiet and serious.

“You really think we’ll get him back?” Dave asked, voice hushed and gravelly.

Diego took a deep breath and sighed it out through his nose, his fist clenching around the hilt of his knife. “We have time travelling briefcases, Dave.” Diego replied, his eyes narrowing in something like amusement before his expression fell slightly, “None of us are letting him go that easy.”

He still didn’t know what he thought about it. Where and when he was from, the dead stayed dead. The idea of just going back and keeping Klaus from ever being near that bullet in the first place, of erasing the fact that he died underneath Dave’s begging palms, even though he still saw it behind his eyelids vividly—

It was too much.

“I’ll take your word for it.” He decided weakly. Diego didn’t press the issue. Neither of them really wanted to talk more about how, right then and there, Klaus was still dead.

“Alright,” Diego said instead, sighing out the word as he got to his feet, “You.. do whatever, I guess. Five and I are gonna go try and pin down Jenkins again. Luther is staying with Allison.”

“I’m coming with.” Dave replied almost immediately.

Diego made it a point to look Dave up and down, from his disheveled hair, the bags under his eyes, to his blood stained clothes and hands. “Maybe you sit this one out, soldier.” He replied slowly, skeptically.

“No.” Dave croaked, sniffing one last time and wiping at his eyes again to pull himself together, “I’m not done helping you guys. We’ve gotta get Vanya back. Save the world.”

Diego’s scrutinizing look only lasted a few seconds longer before he scoffed, a hint of a smirk on his face as he turned away. “Alright. But if you can’t keep up I’ll child lock you in the car.”

“Boss.” Dave agreed readily - Diego looking back and giving him an odd look at the term - getting to his feet gingerly. Some deep breathing on the car ride over might help the lightheadedness. 

“And, um,” Diego paused, “Wash your hands or something, dude.”

“Oh- yeah. Right. Sure thing.” He said, looking down with a weak wince. Then, what was left of his heart sunk in his chest as he remembered something crucial. “..hey, d’you guys mind if I stop in the yard real quick before we go?”

Diego looked over his shoulder, his eyebrows pinching together. “Make it quick. Meet us at the garage in twenty.”

Another objective, another goal to move towards. He could pull himself together enough to see this through.

“Klaus, I know that Dave is having…” Ben winced, “ Another panic attack, probably, but you have to reprioritize. We have proof you did something as a ghost."

“I know, I know, I know,” Klaus mumbled, his words muffled by the hand over his mouth as he watched Dave make himself at home in his room. “Just… Shit. That just happened.”

“That.. was.. horrific.” Ben replied reluctantly, shoving his hands in his pockets, “I thought she stopped .”

Klaus scoffed, sitting down at the foot of his bed and slowly reaching over for Dave’s ankle to see if he could interact with it in the slightest. Nothing seemed to happen. Not even a shift of fabric or a breeze. He clenched his hand into a fist, the GOODBYE disappearing in his grip. “Yeah, like I stopped doing drugs for like, the fifteenth time?” There was no trace of Klaus’ usual lightheartedness, no attempt at a smile or mask on his face, no faking his emotions. He was just.. Sad. Tired. And angry. “We all have our addictions in this family.”

Ben hummed softly, not disagreeing with Klaus for once. “Guess so.” He said, “Do you want to get back to work?”

Klaus sighed. “I dunno, can we get another sibling in here to make a giant fucking mess that I have to try and fix from beyond the veil? That seems to be the key.” He grumbled, rubbing his face with his hands tiredly, “Maybe we get Luther in here to throw someone around. Shake things up.”

“Klaus.” Ben said, echoing his tiredness. “You want that shit to stop happening? Then practice. Really practice.”

“Yeah, well, when you say ‘practice’, my brain say ‘three more hours in the mausoleum, Number Four’.” Klaus spat, unexpectedly frank. He usually glossed over these types of subjects, but maybe death was making him jaded as it had to Ben. Or maybe he was just really fucking fed up. One of the two.”

Ben’s head snapped up. “That’s not what I mean. You know that’s not what I mean, dude.”

Klaus made an aggravated noise, sliding his hands up to grab fistfuls of hair that wasn’t even real. “I know, I know- I just can’t- what if I fail?” He bit his lip, “What if I actually do it?”

“That.. would be great?” Ben said slowly, questioningly. 

“That would mean so much for my powers. That would mean I could make ghosts corporeal.” Klaus stared at Dave resolutely, not looking at his brother.

“Yeah?” Ben asked, raising an eyebrow. He didn’t see the issue with that.

“Ben..” Klaus shook his head minutely, “They’re leaving me alone because I’m dead and can’t do shit anymore. If I start bringing people back- They’ll never leave me alone again.”

The room was quiet, no sound but the quiet snuffling coming from Dave as he stared off into nothing. It was better than him hyperventilating- or worse, not breathing at all. Klaus liked his lungs when they did their job.

“But..” Ben stepped closer, kicking out at Klaus’ leg gently with a boot. “Wouldn’t it be worth it?” The silent ‘for Dave’ was there, and an even quieter ‘for me’. “And you never know- you could learn to control it. Them. But whatever happens, we’re on a hell of a time crunch.”

Klaus sighed, shoulders slumping as he reached for the leg of Dave’s pants and brushed his fingers through the fabric. Not even a goosebump in sight. “I’m just- come on, Ben.” He shook his head, “I’ll screw it up.”

“Okay,” Ben took a moment to close his eyes and steady himself, “I’m going to put on my ‘you’re a fucking idiot and you need to listen to me’ voice, and I need you to actually listen this time. Got it?”

“Not like I can tune you out that well anymore.” Klaus grumbled, waving a hand for Ben to just get on with it.

“Okay. Dave, completely trusting you on your word- took your time travel briefcase and jumped fifty years into the future. Just to do the right thing and tell your family you’d passed. He did that for you.” Ben stated, and Klaus turned on him with a scowl. He didn’t like where this was going, but Ben was ready to throw down now, and now that they could legitimately fight .. Maybe he’d stay put.

“And then, after learning your batshit crazy family is trying to stop the apocalypse, he steps in. For you.” Ben continued, his gaze intense and pinning Klaus in place. He stepped forward. “Then he goes to try and save Vanya from a lunatic with a revenge streak a decade long.” Ben jabbed him in the chest. “For. You.”

Klaus scowled and swatted him away.

“I don’t know what you’re thinking, Klaus, and I know you don’t want my opinion - you never do - but maybe its time for you to do something a little scary.” His eyes narrowed, “For the sake of your fucking boyfriend, if not for me or even just yourself.”

Klaus hunched over further, curling his arms around his knees and pulling them to his chest protectively. “You’re an asshole.” He snapped.

"And you’re a coward.” Ben accused, “Or you would be, if you weren’t about to manifest the hell out of some ghosts. Now get your ass up and practice with me or I’ll make you.”

Chapter Text

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.”