Friday, 7th December
There was a loud clanking noise coming out of the kitchen that woke Klaus up. Burglars , was his first thought, which made him sit bolt upright in his bed immediately. His headache made itself known straight away.
Klaus groaned in pain, nearly forgetting about the noises coming out of his kitchen, and put his hand over his eyes, trying to shield them from the sunlight that leaked in through the curtains. Separate from his aching head, the cotton mouth and the nausea he felt made this morning almost unbearable.
Another clattering noise, and then Klaus heard porcelain breaking on the floor and winced. But before he had the chance to look for something he could use as a weapon to defend himself, he heard a familiar voice.
“ ¡Oh Carajo! Shit, gatito , you scared me to death,” Diego said and received a loud and demanding meow as an answer. “Yes, I‘m talking to you, little fellow. Look what you’ve done!”
The cat meowed again and purred loudly.
Okay, so Klaus’ morning couldn’t get any weirder. Diego seemingly was in his kitchen, talking to Einstein. If the whole situation hadn’t been so strange, Klaus would have actually loved the domesticity of it.
Ever so slowly, Klaus started to remember the last evening and understood why Diego was in his apartment and that, thankfully, he didn’t need to call 911 immediately. He tried getting up very carefully, intending not to move his head too much, because even though he didn’t drink as much as Diego did yesterday, he still had more than one too many. He needed an aspirin as soon as possible or he might actually die.
He entered the living room with bare feet, trying to be as quiet as possible, and peered into the kitchen to watch Diego tidy up the mess he made. Einstein strolled around his legs, purring happily like he was hoping Diego would drop some food for him. Apparently Diego had broken a cup when Einstein had startled him. Diego’s frantic expression as he tried to clear it up was enough to quell any irritation Klaus might have felt about that.
Diego was a vision in the morning. Clad only in a pair of tight boxer briefs and a T-Shirt he must’ve worn beneath his sweater yesterday, Klaus couldn’t stop himself from staring at the other man. He must’ve stripped out of his clothes and really Klaus couldn’t blame him: they were stained with puke and smelled disgusting. Klaus’ couch probably smelled awful now too. He definitely didn’t think this through yesterday evening.
“ Gatito , I know you’re hungry, but I don’t know where your food is!” Diego told Einstein, throwing the shards of the broken cup into the dustbin.
“It’s in the cabinet, beneath the sink.” Klaus informed him and smirked as Diego turned around in surprise, wide-eyed.
“Fuck, this is my second almost-heart-attack this morning,” Diego said, sighing, and ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m already hungover. There’s no need for you to sneak up on me.”
“There kinda was. I thought you were a burglar,” Klaus answered and smiled, walking towards Diego. “But I figured a burglar wouldn’t talk to my cat.”
Klaus couldn’t bite back the grin that spread across his face as Diego blushed slightly in embarrassment. Klaus would probably have missed it if he hadn’t been so well versed in studying Diego. Damn, that colour looked way too pretty on his face.
“Right,” Diego said and cleared his throat. “I - I was just… I just wanted to make us a coffee, but then your cat startled me and I… I’m sorry, I broke your cup.”
He could break another cup or two if it meant he’d be standing half-naked in my kitchen , Klaus thought, and chided himself for that. Absolutely not appropriate, Klaus .
“You broke my only cup? Get out of my house, you monster .” At Diego’s baffled expression, Klaus rolled his eyes. “I’m joking, Diego. It’s not a problem. I’ve been meaning to buy a new… Finding Nemo mug for a while now anyway. I should probably feed Einstein first though or he might attack us for real.” Klaus joked, but by the look on Einstein’s face, this was probably the truth.
“Your cat’s name is Einstein?” Diego asked and snorted in amusement.
“Yeah,” Klaus smiled, opening a can of cat food while Einstein purred loudly, strolling around his legs and waiting impatiently for his breakfast.
“That’s an… unusual name. For a cat.”
“Well, my b-” Klaus stopped himself, mid-sentence. The word boyfriend almost slipped from his lips, but luckily he had remembered soon enough. Diego didn’t know he was gay, and that definitely wasn’t something to tell your colleague you barely know before breakfast. Even if your colleague did almost throw up on you last night.
“... best friend didn’t approve of Winston Fur-Chill, Chairman Meow or Vladimir Purrtin, so we finally agreed on Einstein. Because, you know, he always kinda seems to know more than we do.”
Diego rolled his eyes. “And let me guess: your dog’s name is Salvador Dogi?” he muttered under his breath.
Klaus grinned. “I don’t have a dog, but I’d definitely call it Salvador Dogi. Thanks for the suggestion!”
Diego groaned. It served him right, Klaus thought.
While Einstein enjoyed his food, Klaus took two big cups out of the cupboard and turned on the coffee machine. “I think we both need a lot of coffee after last night, right?”
“God, yes. And at least two packs of aspirin, if you have it?” Diego complained and rubbed his temples. He looked unfairly cute when he was fighting a catastrophic hangover. “Man, guess I had one too many yesterday, huh?”
“One?” Klaus snorted, watching the hot coffee drip into their cups way too slowly, before he gave Diego a stern look. That was the biggest understatement Klaus had ever heard. “Fuck, Diego, you almost puked into the taxi.”
“Oh shit,” Diego said and sighed, averting Klaus’ gaze. “Seems like I owe you an apology for that. And… thanks for letting me crash here, I guess. Even though I don’t know why it’s you of all people I ended up with.”
Klaus froze and couldn’t help but notice the sharp pain in his chest those words caused. Anger rose inside him and threatened to boil over in a highly inappropriate outburst. Even though Diego’s remark wasn’t unexpected, it still hurt, after all. Why did he always have to fall for the straight guy, the asshole with the perfect body and even more perfect face?
“Well, next time I’ll make sure to leave you all alone,” Klaus answered, unable to hide the bitter undertone to his words. He took two aspirin out of the box. “And you can walk home.”
“No! No, that’s not what I meant. Sorry, I just… I would’ve thought Luther would bring me home, or I could sleep at Allison’s or something.”
Allison. Of course Diego would’ve wanted to sleep at her place. Klaus would bet that’s not all he wanted to do there, and even though Klaus was incredibly gay he had to admit Allison was incredible, if a little freaked out by him on occasion. Klaus had to will the picture of Diego kissing her out of his mind and shuddered.
At least it wasn’t Allison who took pity on Diego and brought him home in the end. One point for Klaus.
“Well, she practically shoved you into my arms, buddy. Sorry to disappoint.” Klaus said, trying to suppress the spite in his voice.
“Oh,” Diego said softly and quickly dropped his gaze, looking almost crestfallen for a moment. “Right. Um…”
Shit. Klaus didn’t mean to actually hurt Diego or anything. Now he almost felt bad for what he said; instead of apologising, though, he just took the cups of coffee and shoved one into Diego’s hand, along with an aspirin.
“Here. This’ll hopefully help us to cope with the hangover.” And any inconvenient crushes we may or may not have , he didn’t add.
Diego grunted gratefully in response, taking the cup out of Klaus’ hand. Their fingers touched for a brief moment and Klaus had to force himself to pull his hand away, a little too quickly. His heart raced due to the simple touch and he scolded himself for behaving like a jittery teenager standing close to their crush for the first time. He was such a fanboy it wasn’t even funny anymore.
Diego swallowed down the painkiller with his coffee and closed his eyes in satisfaction, tilting his head back so that Klaus got a front row seat to the beauty that was his jawline, sharp and unshaven. “Thanks, man.”
“You’re welcome,” Klaus smiled and gave Diego a warm look, willing to jump on any conversation that wasn’t an argument. Despite looking like he’d been hit by a truck last night, Diego’s eyes were clear and so beautifully dark brown he couldn’t tell the iris from the pupil in the dim light of his old kitchen lamp.
Klaus caught himself staring and looked away quickly, taking a swig of his coffee and swallowing his aspirin as well. Hopefully he’d get through the day without any other disturbance.
Thinking of disturbance, Klaus thought in a sudden panic, today was… Friday. A school day. Shit .
He turned around, taking a look at the clock standing on the kitchen counter. His heart sank as he realised they both had missed their first lessons by a long shot. It was almost nine o’clock.
“Shit, Diego,” Klaus hissed. “The Handler’s gonna kill us!”
“Huh?” Diego answered unintelligently and took another sip of his coffee, unaffected.
“We’re so fucking late! It’s 08:50, oh shit, if we hurry maybe we can get there in time for second period but–” Klaus cut off his own rambling in order to down the rest of his coffee, already heading to his bedroom to dress himself.
“ Fuck! ”, Diego cursed and looked down at yesterday’s crinkled T-Shirt. “I, uh… We aren’t exactly the same size, I know, but I, uh, do you happen to have any clothes I could borrow?”
Klaus stopped in the mid step and turned to look at Diego. The smirk that crept onto his face turned into an actual laugh as he imagined his co-worker in a pair of bright skinny pants, a deeply cut V-neck shirt and a colourful muffler. Diego didn’t look impressed.
At least if anything good was going to happen today, it would be this.
“Stop laughing, idiota . I really hope you’ve got some decent clothes or I might call in sick.” Diego mumbled gravely. “And tell me where the bathroom is. I need to have a shower before I can show up at school. I can’t let my students down by pulling a Klaus.”
“Harsh,” Klaus muttered to himself. “Down the hall, to your left. And hurry . I’ll pick some clothes for you.” Klaus answered, still smirking.
“ Decent clothes!” Diego shouted, already on his way to the bathroom.
“Jesus, Klaus, don’t you have anything normal? Everybody will know these clothes are yours. What’s that gonna look like?” Diego complained on their way to Klaus’ car. Klaus was tempted to make some cutting remark about exactly what it would look like, but refrained if only for his own dignity.
Even though Klaus wasn’t totally sure if he was entirely sober, they had both agreed to take the risk; missing another lesson and getting in even more trouble with the Handler would be much worse than anything else ever could ever be.
Diego pulled at his trousers again - jeans that were a little bit too tight around his thighs - and clutched his arms around his body so his jacket would hide the sweater he wore beneath.
“What’s the big deal? You wear leather pants half the time anyway.” Klaus argued. So maybe he had gone a little crazy with picking out Diego’s clothes for the day. “And I’m sorry that I don’t have another sweater in your size. Besides, orange really suits you.”
“Shut up,” Diego mumbled miserably. Klaus had a feeling it wasn’t necessarily the colour of said sweater that upset him, but what was written on it.
The oversized hoodie has been a gift from one of Klaus’ friends, way back in a time when he hadn’t felt so good in his own skin. So, to cheer him up, there was written “ BE YOU-TIFUL” in big bold glittering letters all over the whole front of the sweater. Klaus had found it inspiring. Diego… not so much.
For Klaus the hoodie was way too large, but that way it was perfect for a lazy day at home, snuggling under a blanket on his couch and watching TV until he fell asleep. Diego however was broader and had more muscles, so the sweater clang to his body like a second skin, making it hard for him to move properly. It did provide everyone else with a really nice view though.
“‘M not gonna take off my jacket today. And if I can’t get rid of this stupid hoodie in the evening, I swear to god, Klaus, I’m gonna cut it up and burn it afterwards - no kidding.”
Klaus grinned. If that was the price for seeing Diego wearing the hoodie all day, it was a price he was very willing to pay it. A little dramatic, maybe, but then Klaus couldn’t judge. “Maybe you should have thought about it before getting so stupidly drunk you ruined your own clothes.” he retorted, getting into his car.
Diego mumbled something inaudible that Klaus didn’t inquire after. He took one last look at his orange sweater and belatedly mourned what would probably it’s last day in existence, before Diego zipped his jacket up and climbed into the passenger seat.
The journey to school was spent in silence while Klaus tried to drive as fast as he could without risking a speeding ticket or the loss of his licence. It was a bit of a struggle to drive properly thanks to his lack of sleep and the undeniable amount of alcohol he drank last night, but he tried to manage it as best he could.
Just act normal , Klaus told himself, concentrating on driving, and luckily it seemed like the universe was taking pity on him just this once; they weren’t stopped by the police or caught by a speed camera once .
(He probably shouldn’t be proud of that.)
Not for the first time, Klaus vowed to never drive like that ever again. It was sort of against everything he told his students, after all.
As he pulled his car into the parking lot of the school, he couldn’t help but voice his concerns to Diego who, by the look on his face, felt similarly.
“I really don’t know how we’re gonna get through the day,” Klaus mumbled as he got out of the car. Diego agreed with a sigh.
“If we survive today I’ll be impressed. If the Handler finds out, she’ll be out for blood.”
“Don’t jinx it,” Klaus told him. He glanced over his shoulder at Diego in time to see the man level him with a sudden, blinding smile. It took Klaus completely by surprise and, even though it only lasted for a second, it was enough to bedazzle him.
In his shell shocked state, Klaus didn’t think twice about opening the doors to the main entrance: this was evidently a mistake. The Handler stood in front of them with her arms crossed and a deadly expression on her face, tapping one high heeled shoe against the tiled floor. Klaus wondered idly how long she’d been standing there like that, waiting for them.
“Mr Hargreeves, Mr Ramírez,” she began in a sickly sweet voice, “You’re late.”
Diego and Klaus shared a terrified glance before looking back at Ms Handler. Before they even had a chance to start justifying themselves, she continued speaking.
“To be exact, you’re one hour and four minutes late. Did either of you call into the office?” From the looks on their faces, the answer was obvious. She squinted her eyes at them and her lips pressed together in a thin line. “You know I don’t appreciate tardiness. Where would we be if everybody broke the rules, hmm? Maybe this school isn’t meant for the both of you.”
Klaus felt his heartbeat quicken and breathing evenly suddenly became a lot harder. She couldn’t just kick them out… could she? Klaus needed this job, he actually liked it - most of the time, at least. He really liked his students and he didn’t want to leave them behind, of course, but he also needed the money. He hadn’t had the nicest past, had made many mistakes and was still paying for that, but at least he was someone now. At least he had a future, and fuck, he didn’t know what he’d do if that was all taken away because of his own dumb mistakes. It would be like his past repeating itself all over again.
In the middle of his panic he almost missed Diego stepping forward, subtly putting himself between Klaus and their boss. He held his shoulders back and faced her with a half frown, suddenly not looking at all hungover anymore.
“I’m so sorry, ma’am.” He began, sounding honestly apologetic. “But this isn’t Mr Hargreeves’ fault. My car broke down on the way to school and thankfully I had time to call Klaus, uh, Mr Hargreeves, right before my phone died. Klaus came to pick me up. I’m so sorry for the inconvenience. I promise it won’t happen again.”
She turned a doubtful expression to Klaus.
“Um, yes.” He corroborated woodenly. “My phone… also died. Sorry.”
Klaus didn’t know what to say. Diego was so obviously lying to her face without batting an eye and he did that for Klaus, taking all the blame himself. If it wasn’t for the throbbing pain in his head, he might have thought this was a dream. Never in a million years would Klaus have thought Diego would risk his job in order to protect him.
The Handler stared at Diego challengingly, but he held her gaze. After what felt like an eternity, Ms Handler sighed.
“Alright, Mr Ramírez, I believe you.” It didn’t seem like she did. “But if this happens again, you’ll have to deal with the consequences. You and Mr Hargreeves, both.” She turned dramatically on her heel and walked away, leaving Klaus and Diego behind.
“Thank you, Diego. That was…” Klaus began, but Diego cut him off.
“I guess we’re even now, huh?” he said, but the usual spite in his voice was missing and the look Diego gave Klaus before he turned and walked to his classroom was almost friendly. Klaus counted that as a success. As he hurried to get to his room as well, he couldn’t help smiling like an idiot.
So maybe Diego wasn’t an asshole all the time.