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The White Umbrella

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The White Umbrella

CHAPTER 1

 

The world was ablaze in a cacophony, all the power Allison had sealed away from her was called forth in deadly crescendo, and Vanya had never felt so…like herself. The last thing Vanya remembered was blue light drowning everything else, and a–

 

BANG!

BANG!

BANG!

BANG!

BANG!

 

 

“I’m so useless…I’m so w-w-worthless. There’s nothing special about m-me.”

 

 

Then it was nothing. The abyss. Vanya came to in utter darkness. It was like she was back in that horrible cell; the bunker underneath the Umbrella Academy. But this was different. At least the bunker had a window, this was just nothing, she thought frantically. She could hear her breathing, but something was wrong. Wait…raising her left hand, she snapped her finger next to her ear.

Sounded fine.

She did the same on her right side…but it was faint. Her left ear heard the right hand’s snap. But her right ear…was Deaf.

Trying to shelve the panic she felt at another one of her precious traits being maimed, Vanya desperately tried to make sense of everything. She looked around the darkness and realised she was standing up. There was nothing visible below her feet, but she felt solid matter below them all the same. She pivoted in place to have a proper look around.

            She sensed it before she saw it. lying behind her, not three metres away was a gleaming white violin. Like Vanya , the violin seemed to be resting on a plane of some sort.

            What the fuck happened? Why did Luther lock me way? How come Allison let him…oh wait, I almost fucking decapitated her. They’re right, I’m a fucking monster.

 

…..a few minutes later….

 

            Hold up, Allison tried to lobotomize me again. Luther and Pogo put me in my cage, and the others fell in line like fucking sheep. And I think I killed the world.

 

            Realising the introspection was a little too tainted by her depression, Vanya walked over to the violin. Weirdly, the bow was lying next to it too. Vanya blew out a huff of air. What is there to lose?

            As she played, she tried to call to her powers. And they were there. Instead of the outpouring of horrors that happened before, she tried to focus on something else, another emotion other than well, all the bad ones really.

            Something happy maybe? Okay, happy memories…think Seven! Um, maybe it’s like a Patronus or something? Can’t get to a worse place than I already am….right?

            And so she played, thinking of all the times she got a smile from Grace while she played the violin. Having drinks with Allison. Feeling her powers for the first time in the forest.

            Pogo comforting her when she as a crying child and the others were out doing superhero things.

            Vanya couldn’t help but sob as she played. Pogo may have been an accomplice to her lobotomy, but he was also the only family who stuck by her always. He didn’t deserve what she did to him. If only she could go back, and right that damn-near irredeemable mistake. Did Grace survive or did she kill her mother too?

            The White Violin let out a strangled cry as she fell to her knees the sobs overtaking the music, though she still held the bow.

            If only she could time travel like Five. She could go back and stop herself, fix everything. She could save the world instead of destroy it.

            Vanya stood up, letting the power of that wish, her hope of redemption fill her up. And using her music, she cast that wish out into the universe with all her might.

 

 

            And suddenly there was sound again. The abyss was gone, the violin was gone, and she tumbled to her knees onto earthen ground.

            “Shit, Vanya are you alright?” Allison’s voice filled Vanya’s perception as she came to. She looked up. Her brothers and Allison had umbrellas drawn, her own had fallen to the ground at her side, where she had just been holding the violin’s bow.

            Vanya took Allison’s outstretched arm and was pulled to her feet in a daze. She also stooped and handed Vanya back her umbrella. The men hadn’t really paid her any attention and were beginning to stand around the grave. “Vanya, are you okay for this?”

Vanya looked at her; really looked at her. She had no gash on her throat, she looked radiant, even in the rain. Vanya pulled the taller woman into a hug, burying her face in Allison’s hair.

            Startled at first by the uncharacteristic showing of affection, Allison recovered herself and returned the fierce embrace. Allison could feel the tears tracking down Vanya’s cheeks onto her neck. She didn’t really care.

Despite the horrible way their father had weaponized them, she was barely keep herself together. He was their dad. Allison gently rocked the smaller woman back and forth before feeling the those small arms loosen enough to draw back and look Vanya in the face. She brushed those pale cheeks clear of tears, and again, once they were immediately replaced with more. Allison looked into those wide dark eyes, she noticed for the first time, there was a fleck or two of pale blue. Weird, she thought, before she was distracted by their brother.

“Get your shit together and let’s finish this,” Diego called out; as insensitive to Vanya as ever.

“Hey, leave them alone,” Luther scolded from where he held their father’s ashes.

Pogo sighed, resigned that this scattering of ashes was going to go as badly as he feared it would. At least they had Five back.

It was worse.

After the boys fought, and the make-shift funeral was over, Vanya found herself sitting on the stairs. Just like she did was she was younger. This time however, she was contemplating her situation. She had fucking time travelled…somehow. And it was before everything went to shit. She tried to steady her thoughts, the way she normally did that was through playing the violin. For some reason, she thought that may not be the best idea at the moment.

Suddenly struck by inspiration, she got to her feet and raced up the stairs to their father’s room. Granted, it was a long-shot, but maybe he kept the damn thing. Now that her powers had swept aside Rumour’s fog in her mind like a gale, her memories of her childhood were there for her to see. The tuning fork, that’s what she needed.

            “Thank fuck,” she muttered as she found the damn thing high on one of their father’s book shelves. She jumped off the chair she was using for support and ran downstairs to the small kitchen. She pulled out a couple glasses and set them on the table.

            With a quick stroke, she brought the tuning fork down on the counter, and her training resumed, finally.

 

 

 

                       

Chapter Text

 

CHAPTER 2

            The glasses rang synchronous with the tuning fork. Vanya realised she was holding her breath, and slowly let it out, willing the ringing to grow just a little. The pitch of the ringing rose, and the glasses started to crack. Vanya felt her power coursing through her like before. But it wasn’t this mass of roiling power. It wasn’t a tempest of emotion this time; but was a strong current of calm, and one she could manipulate with ease. Instead of shattering, the glasses held the note, and all rose into the air and stayed there for a few moments while Vanya marvelled at the quiet beauty of it. I don’t have to be the monster.

            There was something wrong though, she felt herself getting slightly weaker, and the glasses floated back down to the table. Why? Oh. Oh. Vanya dug into her pocket and found the last few tablets of her ‘medication’, and tried to remember the last time she took them before coming here. Damn. It was on the car ride over, which meant she wouldn’t be totally clear until tonight. Righting the glasses as she passed them by, she went into the nearest bathroom and flushed her pills down the toilet. For a moment, she considered destroying the bottle as well, but she thought better of it. Marching up to her room, which hadn’t been home for over a decade now, she put it on one of her bookshelves.

            Fuck, so I have limited access to my powers while the drugs are still in me. Makes sense, it’s why Klaus is high all the time. Running from the dead. Shit, that really must be a shitty power.

            Vanya sat on her old bed for a little while trying to remember the events that led up to the concert in sequence. She huffed in annoyance; she didn’t have the answers she needed. The others excluded her from the information flow. The only thing that she knew for sure was an opportunity to shake things up in a good way was Nº5 visiting her that evening. She immediately called a cab; surely a twenty-ish minute delay from the original timeline wouldn’t cause much of a blip.

            When she went downstairs, she encountered Pogo, like last time. Unlike last time, she gave him an overly long hug. She didn’t even care about the horror he was a party to inflicting on her; not now.The horror of his death silenced her rage. She didn’t want to hear him confess or anything. After all, from her perspective, she already had.

“Miss Vanya? Is everything alright?” Pogo asked in a rare moment of confusion for him, is arms gently encircling her.

            “Yeah. I think it is,” Vanya responded. She admirably managed to contain her tears… mostly. There was a honk from outside. As much as she may have wanted to stay here and talk to Allison, she had an appointment to keep with Nº5. “That’s me. I’ll see you soon Pogo.”

            “And you Miss Vanya,” he replied with a small but genuine smile. He watched her go, and with a sigh of regret he closed the door. She was his favourite after all.

           

            On the ride home, Vanya sporadically repeated her finger snap test. Unfortunately for now, it seemed like her hearing was permanently compromised. Maybe I can learn to ‘sense’ the vibrational/sound waves instead of hearing them? Maybe. I’ll go to a doctor tomorrow. But for now, I need to get Nº5 to believe me. And I need to learn how to protect myself if he decides I’m too dangerous to be kept around. Wearied by heavy thoughts, Vanya drifted off to sleep on the ride home.

            When she walked into her apartment for the first time since discovering her powers, she did what she normally did when confronted with overwhelming conflicting emotions: she put on a pot of coffee. After her second cup, she sat down on the couch, with her violin and bow on her lap. She put the coffee on the small table next to her, picked up her PS4 remote and checked the time. She figured she had a solid two hours before Nº5 would make his appearance. Realising her PS4 disk drive was empty; she huffed and went to rectify that. She picked up the Blu-ray disk set she bought herself for the December holidays, not that she really celebrated any of them, alone as she was.

It was Killing Eve. Let’s see if the hype was worthwhile, she mused as she hit play. Two episodes in, she was hooked; but alas, she had the real world to contend with soon enough. At least this time he won’t take me by surprise with anti-rapist window-locking advise. The future really fucked him up huh?

            Like clockwork, Nº5 showed up just as he had last time, blood all over his crisp white collar, and with that same obviously self-inflicted cut on his forearm he was keeping just out of sight. Window locks my ass, he just teleported into that seat. The little shit; Nº58-years-old my ass. Vanya took a deep breath in anticipation of this moment. The PS4 lay in rest mode, forgotten. She allowed her heartbeat to calm her nerves. But Nº5 was so engrossed with delivering his own apocalyptic message; he didn’t notice her nervous tells.

            “You could knock like a normal person you know,” Vanya pointed out glibly.

            “I thought you’d be out longer, I was planning on a dramatic entrance,” Nº5 grumbled.

            “Yeah, ‘cause you’re a weirdo.” Vanya replied. “Is that blood?”

            “It’s nothing,” Nº5 dismissed, like before.

I’ve got one shot at this. Here goes the world, “I have something…huge to confess too actually,” Vanya started tentatively.

That brought Nº5 up short. “What do you mean?”

Vanya decided it was best to just be out with it. “I’m a time traveller too.” Sensing that Nº5 was about to interject she said, “Let me finish. You came here to tell me that you trust me with your secret. Because I’ll listen to you. You think I’m ordinary. And I will listen to you Nº5, but you should know when I come from. A week and a day from now.”

“The day of the apocalypse,” Nº5 breathed. Vanya nodded. She stood up and retrieved a couple wine glasses, the only pair she had, and set them down on the counter.

“When we were four, our father quarantined me in a bunker underneath the academy,” Vanya spoke softly. “By that point he decided that his fear was more important than anything else, and he coerced Allison to help him as well. Pogo was there, and so was mother.”

Nº5 walked closer, having a feeling about what this might be about. A sick feeling twisted in his gut. He remembered the terror during the early days of Allison’s powers and the very explicit threats father made if she stepped out of line. “What did she tell you?” he asked. Five’s air of superiority was vanquished by Vanya’s revelation.

“I heard a rumour that you think you’re just ordinary,” Vanya shuddered.

Chapter Text

 

CHAPTER 3

“Holy fuck,” Nº5 breathed as he took a step back from her. The step back wasn’t out of fear, but in horror of what had been done to his one of his sisters, by the other one. “Vanya, I…I don’t know what to say,” he finished as he slumped onto the couch where Vanya had been sitting previously. There was something about the wording of that Rumour that bugged him. It was far too vague to not have interfered with other aspects of Vanya’s life. ‘Why not just command her ‘you think you don’t have powers’? But he pushed that thought to the side for the moment.

“I don’t know what to say either,” Vanya replied lamely. She considered how much to tell him. It wasn’t long before she settled on the truth, “Well, if the universe was looking for balance, it found it. On the other timeline, Allison tried to Rumour me again. I…” Vanya trailed off before turning around. She pulled over a stool, and fetched her nearly full Fifth of vodka from a cupboard well above her head. Stepping down, she poured herself a glass. Looking up in askance, Nº5 nodded; she pulled down a second tumbler.

Vanya drained her glass with a shudder; Nº5 sipped his without a flinch. “Allison tried to use her powers on me again, but I was faster. I wanted to knock her down or something…” Vanya couldn’t stop the tears coming from her eyes.

“Did you kill her?” Nº5 whispered.

Vanya shook her head, words not quite available yet. She refilled her glass and drained it again. “I…thought I did. The man I was with at the time was a killer. She came there to save me, but then she told me what she did to me when we were children. He dragged me away from her, after. There was blood everywhere. I cut her throat. You and the others must’ve been close behind. Because when I went back to the Academy, Luther suffocated me and threw me in the cage. But she was alive. But I...I don’t think she could talk. No more powers,” the words spilled out of her as fast as they appeared in her head. She had to tell someone. And now she’d started, so she couldn’t stop.

“Pogo told Luther about the bunker, and then all of you left me in the there and it was so dark,” Nº5 flinched, “I don’t know how long I was down there, but I eventually powered my way out. And then…in my rage, I murdered Pogo. I threw him across the room and he was impaled on the wall. And then I brought the whole building down. I went–,”

“Did you destroy the world?” Five interrupted with a tremor in his voice, clearly already thinking of scenarios of how to handle this.

Vanya took a moment to gather her head from her previous rambling and replied, “After everything, Allison still tried to reach out to me, moments before I blacked out. And I smiled at her, ” Vanya replied. “You, Klaus, Luther, and Diego rushed me. I stopped you all. It was easy. I remember you all floating in front of me, suspended mid-air by tethers of blue light linking you all to me. And then there was a gun touching the back of my head. I knew it was Allison,” Vanya stopped short before reconciling her own thoughts with what she was about to confess to her brother. “I was going to let her do it too. Blow my brains out. I think that in the haze of my apocalypse suite, I knew I wanted you guys to be victorious. And while I was somehow okay with hurting all of you, I just…I couldn’t hurt Allison again. I couldn’t do it.”

“She shot you?” Nº5 asked; he was appalled at how out of control things had gotten on this timeline. The horror of the future was the direct result of his siblings trying to kill Vanya, and Nº7 responding in kind. After all those years walking alone, the End Of Everything wasn’t abstract anymore.

“No. At least I don’t think so. She fired the gun next to my right ear,” she said reaching up and snapping her fingers next to it for demonstration. “I blacked out then I was back at Dad’s funeral today, it’s why I fell over on the way to his grave. It was a jarring transition.”

“What was the finger snap for?” Nº5 asked. It was an odd thing for her to do.

“I’m Deaf in that ear now,” Vanya responded simply.

“Okay, how did you get here? I can move through time, but–,”

“I don’t know. I think there was an in-between place. Before I woke up at the funeral. I had my violin, but it was white, like in the future. And then I think I did something with my powers, but it’s like trying to remember a dream. I remember the future though. That’s never leaving my fucking head,” Vanya said with a mirthless chuckle.

            “So we destroyed the world?” Nº5 asked, with his eyes beginning to harden.

            Vanya let out a long-suffering sigh and replied, “Yes. When you, Luther, and Diego decided to put me down like the beast you saw me as, my powers sort of exploded out of me. I overreacted. As much as I want to, I can’t just blame you all when I’m the one who was holding the smoking gun in the end, even if I didn’t load it or put it into my hands. I pulled the trigger.”

Doesn’t look like he’s gonna try anything right now. So she continued, “I’m twenty-nine years old and basically totally untrained in how to use my powers. I’m vaguely recalling memories from my childhood that were shrouded by the Rumour. Dad teaching me with a tuning fork, something about not wanting porridge, shattering wine glasses…It’ll hopefully come back to me soon enough.”

            Nº5 didn’t say anything for a few minutes. Vanya wasn’t nervous exactly, but she was on guard all the same. Finally, her brother said, “I don’t think I’ve heard you talk this much at once before.”

Vanya looked at him blankly for a couple seconds before breaking out in her first genuine laugh in ages. Nº5 smiled a little himself, “You’re not ‘ordinary’ anymore. You’re extraordinary now. And I don’t think you’ll do any of those terrible things this time around. The horror in your eyes is a deterrent enough I think.” It was Nº5’s turn to look uncomfortable. His jaw clenched while he poured himself another helping of vodka. “I don’t know if ‘alternate future me’ told you, but I was an assassin for the Commission; an organization of time travellers who try to maintain the timeline by the cruellest means necessary. I know about senseless violence. I’m still struggling with the fact you murdered Pogo, but I can’t say you didn’t have a really good reason to be furious with him. I’ve done worse.” Nº5 shifted uncomfortably.

Vanya nodded before doing something neither of them really expected. She pulled her brother into a tight hug, “Thank you for not judging me.” Despite her resolve, for third time that day she found herself overwhelmed by positive emotion enough that her eyes shed tears against her will.

Nº5 was obviously just as awkward about hugging as she was, but returned it all the same. “Thank you for exactly the same,” he replied as they parted.

“What should we tell the others? They’ll have to know some things, and my powers won’t be a secret for very long I don’t think,” Vanya said.

            The PS4 controller beeping and shutting down due to inactivity interrupted their conversation. It drew both of their eyes to the screen. Vanya muttered something under her breath and piloted the console back to the main menu where Nº5 caught a good look of the two women in a weirdly sensual headlock as the show’s icon on the home menu. ‘That’s oddly Sapphic,’ Nº5 thought briefly, his eyes returning to his sister. His earlier thought about the exact wording of Allison’s Rumour flooded back into his head. He looked his sister up and down, noticing the style of her clothes. She dressed like a very particular type of person, as cliché as it was to make the assumption. ‘What if I’m right about this guess? How much of her life has been spent needlessly alone because she was looking in all the wrong places?’ His eyes widened in realization of a possible side affect of Father or Allison’s careless wording: oh fuck. But he knew he had to be gentle about this, guide Vanya to the possibility so she realised it herself.

            “What were you watching?” Nº5 asked casually. The one thing that being an assassin for so long taught him: how to lie like a champion.

            “Oh, um, Killing Eve. It’s a show about an intelligence operative in England hunting down this blonde assassin chick. Why?” Vanya was genuinely baffled by this turn.

            “It’s been decades since I’ve watched anything good, would you mind if we watched a few episodes together? You don’t need to start over or anything,” Nº5 was quick to add.

            They ended up watching the whole thing. Because of course they did. During the middle, when Vanya had to switch out the discs, Nº5 got the first real glimpse of her powers. The disc case was only a couple feet away, but when she reached for it, it calmly floated into her hand. It looked like Vanya didn’t even realise how intuitively she just used her powers; so engrossed by the emotions from the show.

            Nº5 was watching Vanya intently, wondering if his gambit had paid off the way he intended. To be fair, he wasn’t expecting the show to be as fun as it was, Villanelle managed to charm away his unease watching a fellow murderer-for-hire onscreen.

But Vanya was a different story. She was enchanted by it. And for the life of her, she couldn’t quite put her finger on why. Nº5 realised it might not occur to her yet, but he decided it wasn’t his place to point out the obvious. Well, he might push her in the right direction though. “I think they belong together, in their own weird and messed up way, what did you think?”

Vanya just looked at him a little blankly, before her eyes flashed ice blue. And then the blue was gone. If Nº5 had blinked, he would’ve missed it. If he wasn’t mistaken, it was Vanya’s powers rejecting Allison’s programing.

YOUTHINKYOU’REJUSTORDINARYYOUTHINKYOU’REJUSTORDINARYYOUTHINKYOU’REJUSTORDINARYYOUTHINKYOU’REJUSTORDINARYYOUTHINKYOU’REJUSTORDINARYYOUTHINKYOU’REJUSTORDINARYYOUTHINKYOU’REJUSTORDINARYYOUTHINKYOU’REJUSTORDINARY….no. I’m not. I’m not ordinary. Vanya’s own voice, quiet as it was, spoke truth, and silenced the lie that had poisoned every action and thought she’d ever had about herself since she was four years old.

Vanya looked back at Killing Eve’s main menu again before looking back to her brother, frantically gesturing towards the screen and back at herself, trying to articulate the revelation she just had, “I’m not ordinary, am I?” She whispered in awe. “I, I’m not…I’m a…fuck, I can’t even talk straight,” the wordplay occurring to her only a second after she said it. She let out a peal of laughter that turned into a guffaw.

She kept laughing uncontrollably until her laughter became choked up and raspy as the full implications of her revelation hit her.

And then she was sobbing, having drawn up her knees and circling her arms around them. She belatedly realised her diminutive, wisecracking 58-year-old brother put a gentle hand on her shoulder in solidarity.

Chapter Text

 

CHAPTER 4

            The next day came quickly enough. This time, Nº5 even deigned to stay the night. He was on the couch when Vanya came out for her morning pot of coffee. She let out a relieved sigh, things were beginning to look up for the better.

            After an embarrassing cry, she went to bed, extracting a promise from her brother to not fuck off like last time.

            The sun was peeking through the blinds, and her brother was still somehow asleep. A memory flickered through her head, a snippet of conversation she overheard between Pogo and Mom, decades ago. She didn’t remember the exact wording, but Grace-Mom definitely implied that Vanya slept the worst out of the bunch. Why that particular memory was running through her head as she sipped her black coffee while watching her brother sleep damn-near idyllically went over her head for some reason.

            What to do, what to do…Vanya quickly realised that her brother had made a series of moves in the last timeline, and she hadn’t a clue as to what they were. The only times they really had any crossover were the times she was at the academy. But if she stayed at the academy, how would she handle Leonard–NO. His name was Harold Jenkins.

She put her quaking mug on the counter before she spilled. Okay, so I have some anger issues. Vanya conceded as she felt the resonance of the ripples in the glass. The drugs were out of her system, which meant her powers were coming alive in a way they never had before. The issue remained, Jenkins needed to be dealt with. Should I kill him? Is that what I am now? What am I now? Bisexual or something? Do I even like guys?

Just for kicks, she opened up her computer and image-searched several of Hollywood’s leading men in various states of undress from recent films. Yeah, no. That’s a solid nope. Not a turn on, though I can grudgingly appreciate the aesthetic. “Ugh,” Vanya sighed as she realised she now had a whole new dimension of herself to explore in addition to her powers. Just for fun, as a double-confirmation of sorts, she decided to redo the search but with leading women in film. It didn’t take long for her to come across a photo of Allison in a seductive embrace with that woman from The Mummy in one of their more recent films.

Quickly Vanya slammed her laptop shut. Not quite admitting to herself that she felt a number of things; not least of which how good Allison looked onscreen. Vanya hadn’t seen her sister’s films in years, not since publishing Extra Ordinary: My Life as Nº7, for reasons she wasn’t really ready to interrogate right now.

But her little test run had it’s desired effect. I guess I’m gay. Wow. As much as Luther is an asshole, I kind of get his pining for Allison. Great. Now I’m just as fucked up as he is, at least in the incest department. Fuck my life. Great! I’m gay, but also and completely separately, a pervert. There really are no gods.

“Vanya?” Nº5 asked from the couch, “You feeling alright?”

Vanya turned around from where she had been pacing. She must’ve carelessly woken her brother when she shut her laptop. “Sorry I woke you,” she replied softly, belying the chaos roiling just under the surface in her mind.

“It’s fine. I don’t think I’ve slept this long in a long time,” Nº5 confessed. He got up and helped himself to a mug of coffee. His eyes opened wide in shock, “This is really good,” he was nonplussed.

“I like my coffee. I don’t have much in the way of luxuries,” Vanya replied wryly gesturing around her apartment. With the exception of the PS4, TV, and her not-too-shabby sofa, the place was pretty damn Spartan. “But when I care about something, I do it right. That there, is quality stuff,” Vanya said with a smile. She considered her brother for a moment before adding, “Thank you for staying over. You didn’t last time and I kinda freaked out.”

The Boy smirked, “I bet you did. ‘Hey sis, it’s apocalypse week, bye!’ must’ve been rough on you. I doubt I did you any favours in the timeline you’re from,” he said knowingly. He didn’t have any illusions about the kind of person he was. If she wasn’t useful to him, he probably cast her aside, like he always had done just like the rest of his siblings.

“You had a plan, and you went about it. I think it would be best if you continued on doing whatever you were going to do, but just keep in touch with me?” Vanya suggested.

Nº5 refilled his mug, “That makes sense, your knowledge of the future would be corrupted the more things change. You obviously didn’t know about the people that attacked me last night, who they are, etc.”

“Okay, well I knew you were speckled in blood last time, but you didn’t want to talk about it. You killed them all, didn’t you.” Vanya asked.

Nº5’s response was as glib as it could be, “Yeah.”

She looked like she was about to add something else, but Nº5 cut her off.

“Best not to tell me. Your powers being unleashed after a series of events that painted humanity and our family rather horribly is the end of the world. I think we’ll be alright if you learn how to control them in the next week. Maybe stay away from your violin?”

            Vanya shrugged at that. If she could use her own heartbeat to fortify her powers, maybe should should hold off using her violin with her powers. “So I suppose you should go and do whatever it was you had planned on without me huh?”

Nº5 nodded reluctantly. “They want the apocalypse. Which means if you deviate too far from your normal routine, they’ll probably just launch nuclear bombs everywhere or something as a substitute apocalypse. We need them to think everything is going according to plan until it’s not.”

Vanya remembered the two monsters who came to the Academy, the one who almost killed her, and bested Luther, particularly came to mind when she said, “So I suppose immediately killing their agents would be dumb?”

Nº5 perked up at that, she clearly was thinking of something. “Unless it’s to protect our family, yeah, don’t go looking for them or anything. What’s on your schedule today?”

Vanya chuckled darkly, “Rehearsal.”

Nº5 closed his eyes as he contemplated his idiocy for a moment. Of course, how did I forget her job was playing the goddamn thing? “Well, try not to end the world early then right?” he joked.

Vanya lightly punched him on the shoulder. “I won’t. I promise. Speaking of, I’ve got to go now. I’ll probably see you at the Academy soon enough.”

Nº5 nodded as he went to wash off his mug, like a gentleman. “What do you want to do about our siblings?” he asked quietly with his back turned.

Vanya considered for a solid couple minutes, “Luther might become a problem. If he learns that I have powers, then he’ll try and neutralize me,” Vanya said heavily. “I don’t want to hurt him, but I won’t go back to that cage, even knowing I can break out. Pogo and Mom are dangerous as well. They are the ones who know that I’ve got powers.”

Nº5 thought for a moment before asking, “Was Luther really that bad?”

Vanya could tell it wasn’t easy for Nº5 to accept the future she laid out. That Luther might be so callous, so careless with her. So eager to please a dead man, and entrenched in his own macho bullshit that he locked up their sister. It took a moment, but Vanya tapered down her antagonism toward her tallest brother, “I wish it weren’t so, Five. Trust me. But maybe this time if he won’t be a monster. If I deserve a second chance. I suppose he does too. But within reason. If he discovers my powers, it can’t be from Pogo or he’ll toe Dad’s party line about quarantine and nothing will dissuade him from that. Maybe Pogo can be convinced Dad was wrong about me? But first, I’ll need to be able to prove to him I’ve got a handle on my powers. Diego is angry at me, but I don’t know how he’ll react when my powers come to light, and Klaus is…Klaus,” Vanya took a breath. She stopped for a moment and went over what she’d just said. She’d strategically analysed her siblings in terms of the threat they posed to her. It seems when I’m not ‘ordinary’ I’m more like Dad than I’m liking right now.

Nº5 seemed to be thinking along the same lines, “Diego and Klaus are wild cards. I’m pretty sure I can convince Luther when the time is right. What about Allison? I mean, she’s the one who…” he trailed off as he looked at his sister.

“I’ll talk to her myself. I don’t hate her. But I’m so scared she’ll try to Rumour me again. I don’t know if I can break her powers again, since they’re both sound-based. I think I can get through to her. I’ve got to believe that,” Vanya resolved herself. She put her mug in the dishwasher before checking the clock. “It’s time for me to head off. Good luck little brother,” she said with a small smirk.

“Hey!” Nº5 protested, though there was no real anger in it. With a wave, he walked to the door and let himself out.

Vanya watched him go. Steeling herself for the day to come, she picked up her violin and put it back in its case.

Chapter Text

 

CHAPTER 5: Helen

Rehearsal was unpleasant, just like it was the last time. Well, it wasn’t the rehearsal itself that was a bummer, but the conversation with the first chair in the bathroom. Helen Cho wasn’t an unkind woman, but she was painfully blunt. Helen was not the type to spare anyone’s feelings when she believed she was right. What hurt Vanya the most was Helen wasn’t exactly wrong. Vanya knew she was a great violinist; she’d have to be out of sheer hours of practice. But was her soul really in it?

How long did she have before Jenkins decided to murder Helen? Would saving her disrupt the timeline? What if she just marched into Jenkins place and neutralised him, or had Nº5 do it for her. He was more comfortable with killing than Vanya would ever be…hopefully. Vanya’s rival was almost out of the bathroom before the shorter woman spoke up, “Hey, I’m sorry if this sounds like an odd or intrusive question, but why do you play? You’re right, you are better than me at this,” Vanya admitted. “I know my technique is perfect, but it’s not the same as when you play. It's so beautiful.”

Helen raised an eyebrow, she wasn’t expecting that question from Vanya; something catty maybe, derogatory at worst; not an honest complement and a plea. Taken aback, Helen didn’t see the harm in being honest, even if she didn’t particularly care for the short and obviously closeted woman. “I play to remember best friend. She was always much better than me, a prodigy really. Something I’m definitely not, I’ve had to work to become as good as I am, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Her name was Melinda, and she died when we were seventeen years old.” Helen looked like she struggled with the next part. Like she was almost trying to stop herself, but just couldn’t. “I never got to tell her how I really felt about her before the cancer tore her apart.” With that, Helen brushed a tear out of her eye in embarrassment at opening up to the shorter pale woman, and promptly turned on her heel and left Vanya in silence.

Whatever Vanya had been expecting Helen to say, that wasn’t it. Like not at all. But as Helen brushed past her to leave, Vanya got a stolid whiff of the first chair’s perfume, and their hands touched for a fraction of a second.

Maybe it was thanks to Vanya’s new powers, or maybe it was normal, but Vanya could feel her heartbeat speed up, and Helen’s mirror hers. And deep down Vanya knew something as she watched the taller pretty woman leave.

Helen must be protected.