Diego Hargreeves: We just wanna protect you.
Number Five: Protect me. I don't need your protection, Diego. Do you have any idea how many people I've killed? No. I'm the Four frickin' Horsemen. The apocalypse is coming.
The Umbrella Academy – Season 1 Episode 4: ‘Man on the Moon’ (1×04)
The tears in his brother’s eyes sober Diego up immediately. His eldest little brother is an asshole, but fuck he hadn’t meant to do that.
Hadn’t ever wanted to see that look in his brother’s eyes. Never wanted to hear his voice break like that.
Dammit Diego was the asshole now.
“Fuck,” Klaus breathes out on an exhale, slumping down to a seat on the couch moments after Five jumped from the room.
“I’m…I’m going to go find him,” Allison says dazedly already turning to run out of the room.
“He won’t be in the house,” Ben calls after her knowingly.
Allison goes anyway, taking the stairs two at a time. Luther wanders off across the first floor in search as well. The rest of them don’t bother getting up – knowing Five well enough even after all this time, to know Ben’s words are true.
“Fuck,” Klaus repeats again before slamming his hands down on the couch beside him. “Fuck we fucked up! Why…” he stops, angrily pulling at his hair, “why did I say that? FUCK!”
“I’ve never seen him like that,” Vanya breathes, barely a whisper and he wondered if she’d even meant to say it out loud. Wrapping her arms around herself in a semblance of a hug, she peers back up at them with glistening eyes, “he looked so sad”.
“He’s gone,” Allison announces helplessly as she reenters the room, Luther hot on her heels.
“We won’t find him until he wants to be found,” Ben replies from his new spot next to Vanya. He’s rubbing comforting circles on her back and she offers him a small smile in return.
“Well nice going you two, really good job,” Luther jabs sarcastically, glaring at Klaus who flinches back. Deigo’s hackles raise, taking in Klaus’ already downcast expression.
“Hey! Don’t yell at him like that! He feels bad enough as it is.”
Luther’s attention snaps to him. “Good he should feel bad. This is partially his fault.”
“Really! You wanna throw blame around? You?”
Diego thinks one of his sibling’s might have been about to interrupt before Luther’s booming voice cuts in.
“THIS ISN’T ABOUT ME! But for once in your life you’re right there’s no reason to focus on Klaus when this is really all YOUR fault!”
“Five was being an ass too!” Diego shouts back but the defense feels weak even to him. “It wasn’t supposed to escalate like that,” he finishes lamely.
“And you just couldn’t keep your damn mouth shut! If you hadn’t started it, we wouldn’t be in this situation!” Luther bellows. “You always think you know better than everyon-”
“Would you both just SHUT UP!” Ben yells.
Luther’s jaw clicked shut and he took a step back from where they’d been practically chest to chest screaming at each other, eyes wide as he turned to Ben. Diego understands the feeling – Ben never yelled.
Ben let out a long suffering exhale before seeming to gather himself again, standing from his seat beside Vanya, who is looking at him equally startled. “This isn’t helping. Yelling at each other isn’t going to fix anything.”
“Diego you were a dick,” Ben states meeting his gaze evenly and Luther is practically preening at the implication he’s correct. Diego is about to shut that shit right down on principle alone when Ben beats him to it. “Luther you didn’t do anything to stop it, so you’re just as at fault as the rest of us”.
Diego resists the urge to stick his tongue out at Luther because that would be childish - he flips him off instead.
“Klaus just because you cope with your own trauma by making jokes about it doesn’t mean you can do it to other people.”
Klaus nods easily, looking small and appropriately chastised.
“I know Five has been difficult lately,” Ben continued. “It’s been hard on all of us. All of this crap. We’ve all been lashing out lately. But he didn’t deserve that. Nobody deserves that.”
A chorus of agreement rings out and Ben looks pleased at his minor breakthrough.
“Ok good,” and sensing the solemn atmosphere that’s settled around the room he adds, “Sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves isn’t going to do anything either. So stop acting like kicked puppies.”
“Yes sir,” Klaus salutes, not quite his usual carefree smile but a small smile on his face nonetheless. Ben rolls his eyes, exasperated but fond as he sits back down.
“Well, how are we going to fix this?” Vanya asks gently and Diego draws a blank.
“We need to get Five to talk to us. Actually talk to us. To tell us what’s going on with him. There’s a huge lack of communication.” Diego briefly wonders which one of her many parenting books this particular speech is coming from, before focusing back in on Allison’s words. “I mean we barely know anything about him! About the last forty so years of his life. Hell we don’t even know what his life was like while he was living with us in this house!”
Diego nods thoughtfully before adding, “That would be helpful. I would have never said that stuff if I had known…,” he trails off at Allison’s pointed look.
“Reaaally?” Allison questions an eyebrow raised in his direction. “Right, because you never say purposefully hurtful things.”
Welp, she’s got him there. Can’t even argue that one.
“Okay, but to be fair we all say purposefully hurtful things. That’s what makes us a family,” Klaus finishes with a flourish, eyes closed and hand on his heart.
“It is kind of concerning how little we actually know about him,” Vanya cautiously adds drawing the room into contemplative silence.
“What do you think he meant?” Ben asks suddenly, “He said he lost her. Who do you think he meant?”
“Dolores?” Vanya shrugs but the look on her face says it should be obvious. That’s what he’d figured as well honestly.
“The mannequin?” Luther asks and there’s a hint to his tone that’s just slightly incredulous. Disbelieving still of the mannequin’s value, despite how obviously important it had been to Five.
And isn’t that something. He’s gone from barely resisting the urge to throw a knife at Five, to causing him to burst into tears, and now he’s ready to punch Luther in his dumb face for using a tone when discussing Five’s imaginary friend in front of him. All within the same twenty-minute time window. Brothers through and through.
Though maybe this is more about how ready he is to fight Luther at any given time than how protective he feels about Five. He should probably work on that.
“Well he didn’t lose her. He put her back in that department store. She’s still there now,” Allison reminds them.
“He also said them. ‘I watched them die.’” Ben adds. Huh, he missed that. Having someone who actually listens around here comes in handy it turns out.
“Someone he met after?” Klaus suggests in a questioning tone. “He brought it up while talking about the Commission, maybe it was someone he knew from working there?”
“I didn’t think Five had any good memories from his time in the Commission. Plus, he worked alone didn’t he?” Vanya asks, looking around at the rest of them to confirm or deny.
“We don’t really know anything about his time in the Commission. Other than the whole assassin thing,” Luther says looking deeply uncomfortable.
Klaus clears his throat loudly and obnoxiously until he’s sure he has everyone’s attention.
“Yes Klaus?” Diego finally grits out with false sweetness, “Anything to add?”
“Why yes Diego thank you for asking!” Klaus exclaims and at his unimpressed look gets to the point. “See I was thinking there is someone else we could try, someone who, I don’t know, used to work for the Commission and might have some insider knowledge as to what went on there.”
“You’re kidding right!?” Diego barks incredulous, “You want to invite the man who kidnapped and tortured you over for what? Tea? Cookies?”
“Well like you said, he did torture me for two days, I kind of figure he owes me?” Klaus finished with a flourish, HELLO GOODBYE flashing through the air as he gesticulates.
“You want to go behind Five’s back on this?” Vanya asks looking thoroughly scandalized.
“Well the way I see it,” Klaus begins, “there are two options here. We either wait for Five to spill his heart out to us, which spoiler alert - will never happen. So really, we all get to keep walking on egg shells until one of us inevitably says the wrong thing at the wrong time and we find ourselves right back here.”
A pause for dramatic effect.
“Oooooor we call our good friend Hazel, get him to tell us what he knows, and maybe, just maybe, it’ll be enough to pry the rest of the story out of Five. We can have a whole sibling bonding talk. Laugh and cry and group hug and all learn to love ourselves again!”
No one says anything for a moment as they all think it over. Despite the ridiculous ending, Klaus is undoubtedly right and they all know it – Five isn’t going to divulge anything on his own and they can’t keep going like this.
“Five is going to hate this,” Ben finally mutters breaking the silence. “But on the other hand, I’m really worried about him. I haven’t seen him process any of this and it’s not sustainable. He’s going to crash and I want to be able to be there for him when he does.”
Another bout of contemplative silence before Allison declares, “Right. We put it to a vote then”.
With a 4-2 majority, the vote sways in favor of contacting Hazel, though Diego notes that no one seems particularly happy about it. Which is fair. This is one vote he wouldn’t have minded loosing.
“Five is really, really going to hate this,” Ben whispers under his breath looking distressed. Diego can understand his displeasure. Ben and Five had always been particularly close and despite voting against contacting Hazel, he’s ultimately a part of this betrayal of Five’s privacy. When Five finds out, they are all either going to get disowned or murdered and Diego honestly doesn’t know which one Ben would consider to be worse.
“Well too late now!” Klaus chirps, jumping up off the coach, and disappearing down the hall to go contact Hazel.
He’s still not sure exactly how Five had done it, but in their second go of the timeline, he’d disappeared to go contact Hazel and Cha Cha before they’d been scheduled to make an appearance. He must’ve provided them with some evidence of the old timeline or warned them of the Handler’s displeasure at their past (and future?) failure (because apparently the Commission operated outside the timeline because fucking of course). Either way they’d abandoned their joint pursuit of killing them all.
Hazel had chosen to retire again with the donut shop owner, leaving behind a contact number where he could always be reached in case of emergency, in gratitude.
Diego isn’t sure this counts as an emergency but as Klaus said, he kind of does owe them even if technically, it wasn't this version of Hazel who'd hurt them. Diego is of the opinion that time travelers should be held accountable for all past, present, and future bullshit.
Klaus skips back in, assuring them that he'd managed to contact Hazel and that he is on his way.
They pass the next couple of hours awkwardly. No one really having anything to say or do here, but at the same time not wanting to stray too far in case of Hazel’s arrival. Five doesn’t make a reappearance.
Eventually they’re saved from a particularly awful game of charades, by the door bell ringing.
“Hey buddy, how’s retirement treating you?” Klaus greets cheerfully, after swinging the door open with reckless abandon, almost taking Luther out in the process.
Diego muffles his laughter behind his hand at Luther's glare.
Hazel stands at the door in a shirt and kakis. Cheap sunglasses on his face and color on his cheeks that speak of time in the sun. He's tanner now too and all around brighter. Retirement suits him better than the life of an assassin it seems.
“The house is not on fire,” he announces.
Luther actually has to turn around and check behind him to confirm that no, the house they were all standing in is not on fire, before turning back to Hazel. “No…?” he replies but there is still a question in his voice.
“He said there was an emergency,” Hazel declares pointing at Klaus. “That the house was on fire. Everyone was dying and the fate of the world was hanging in the balance.”
Diego cocks an eyebrow at Klaus who rocks back and forth on his toes. Out of his peripheral vision, he can see the rest of them turn towards him.
“Yeeees, about that…tea? Cookies?”
After the initial annoyance at being dragged out for what did not end up being an actual emergency, it turned out that Hazel did in fact want tea and cookies. Though he does also bring up the fact that he would’ve preferred donuts.
Hazel currently sits at the head of the table, the rest of them all bunched around on the other side, much like that first night Five came back.
“So what exactly is it you needed me here for?” he finally prompts, while starting on his third cookie.
After exchanging awkward glances and pointed looks, Allison has mercy on them all and takes the lead.
“We were hoping you could tell us a little bit about the Commission? About Five’s time there?”
“Why don’t you just ask him yourself?” Hazel asks between bites.
Allison pauses looking back at them for assistance. Diego shoots her his patented don’t look at me look and clearly so does everyone else because she huffs and turns back towards Hazel.
“We would but Five isn’t really the most forthcoming about these kinds of things,” Allison tries going for subtlety.
He chews thoughtfully, “Elaborate?”.
“Five won’t tell us shit,” Klaus says from his perch on the table, “and we really reeeeeally want to know!” Well so much for subtlety. Diego whacks him on the back of the head for good measure.
Hazel looks uncomfortable as he answers, “I don’t know – if he hasn’t told you... I think you best just talk to him. Doesn’t seem like its my place to say…”
Not uncomfortable enough to refrain from taking another cookie however.
“Oh come on man yes, you do!” Klaus interrupts bouncing up and down in place. “Just a few questions. For your dear old friends, who might I add, helped give you your happy ending with sweet, lovely Agnes”.
“That was mostly Five…”
“Please,” Vanya begs, “we’re worried about him.”
Hazel must see something in her expression because he deflates.
“Fine,” he sighs, rubbing a tired hand over his face. Suddenly the trace of brightness from retirement is gone. “But only the very basics and you all have to make sure he doesn’t kill me for telling you.”
At their fervent nods he continues.
“What do you want to know? Can’t say I’ll have all the answers, but I have seen part of his file. I’ll do my best.”
“Do you know if Five ever worked with anyone while at the Commission? A partner maybe?” Ben asks leaning forward in his seat.
“Yes, of course,” Hazel replied easily.
Diego does his best to swallow down his surprise but he’s sure it shows on his face if his siblings are anything to go by. Well, there goes everything they thought they knew about their brother.
At their shocked expressions, Hazel raises his brow. “He never told you?”
Diego resists the urge to snap, “obviously not”. As is, Luther’s curious “Told us what?” overlaps with Vanya’s confused, “He said he worked alone”.
Hazel choses to address Vanya’s comment, “He did but, not at first.”
They all stare in rapt attention and when it becomes obvious that Hazel won’t be providing anything else without prompting, Klaus parrots back an “elaborate”.
Hazel finishes the cookie he’s on and takes a sip from his cup of tea.
“It was the four of them. She snatched them up when they were just kids. Wanted to train them young. Form some kind of elite unit. A corrections team that would never fail. One she could send out after our own rouge agents. They were legends at the Commission. Everyone knew about them. About what they could do. But everything else was kept quiet – even their real names.”
“Not sure where the code name came from. After meeting him years later, I figured it was a jab at Five. A reminder of where she found him. Of where she could send him back to if she wanted. Of the goal he wanted so badly to reach. The Handler was always trying to get a rise out of him…but anyways, I’m digressing."
“Code name?” Diego questions. He can feel that they are on to something. Close to some important truth.
“Mhm, like I said it was all pretty classified. In public, the Handler only ever allowed them to be referred to by code name.”
As an afterthought.
“They were known as the Four Horsemen.”
Diego jolts in recognition. He feels more than sees Luther do the same.
He’s heard that before.
‘I'm the Four frickin' Horsemen. The apocalypse is coming.’
The Handler doesn’t speak as she marches him through hallway after hallway in the Commission’s headquarters. She’s taking him to the infirmary. The scientists need to perform some tests. She doesn’t explain any further despite his questions, and Five can feel the unease thrumming through his body like a palpable, living thing.
Unease or not, it doesn’t matter either way. He doesn’t really have a choice in the matter. He's under no such delusions. So he follows her, albeit reluctantly.
When they finally reach their destination, Five feels justified in his unease. The infirmary turns out to be the stuff of science fiction nightmares, straight from one of Ben’s novels. The room is blindingly white. Overhead fluorescents bathing everything in harsh light. There are instruments all along the walls and shelves, pointed and piercing. None of which, Five recognizes and none of which, should ever go near a human person.
There are large, glass, boxed partitions throughout the room. Four of them in total. One is fitted as what appears to be, a surgical suite. The others don’t look to have a specific purpose. However, with a chill, Five notes that the beds, tables, and chairs within are all equipped with restraints. The kind even Luther wouldn’t stand a chance of breaking out of.
The majority of the glass partitions are empty except for one. There’s a girl, around his same age with tan skin, dark brown hair, and lovely almond eyes. She’s sitting on an examination table, a man in a mask with a doctor’s coat holding a vial of what looks to be blood at her side.
The Handler leads him that way, taps on the glass to get their attention, and then ushers Five in through the door. While the inside of the room was completely visible from the outside, once within, he can’t see back out. He squashes down the feeling of claustrophobia that gives him.
The girl sits a little straighter when the Handler walks in. Eyes roving over Five curiously before snapping towards the Handler as she speaks.
“I trust everything is going well,” she says to the doctor.
“Yes of course mam,” he replies. Five thinks his gaze has flicked to him by the way his hair stands on end, but it’s hard to tell with the mask. “We will be ready for him in a moment. I apologize for the wait, one of the other boys was rather feral.”
The Handler hums in thought and waves off his concern.
“There’s no rush. I thought the kids might as well introduce themselves,” she says before placing her hand on Five’s shoulder and tugging him close. Speaking down to him she adds, “after all, you two will be working together from now on,” before turning her gaze up to the girl on the table.
He tries to shake her off, the touch raising goose bumps on his arms and somehow incredibly violating, but her grip only tightens. Nails digging painfully deeper into soft flesh, until he stops squirming and stills under her hold.
Something flashes in her eyes at his submission, but it’s gone before he can properly decipher what it was.
“Go on then,” the Handler says faux smile still plastered on her face as she finally releases him, pushing Five forward and towards the girl. “Don’t be rude. Introduce yourselves”.
“Five,” he offers with a nod.
She cocks her head to the side quizzically. If she thinks it’s an unusual name, she doesn’t say so. Instead she grants him a gentle smile before offering her hand to shake.
“Nice to meet you Five. I’m Dolores.”