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Umbrella Academy One Shots

Chapter Text

His father was angry, always angry.

But never did he think it'd get this far.

So much yelling, screaming. Things were being thrown and crashing against the wall. Diego knew he shouldn't be hearing this, should be asleep, but he couldn't. He missed Five, missed his brother.

His mother was in there, too, with his father. She was programmed to be there when he was like this, ensure he didn't hurt himself. But Diego couldn't stand the thought of his mom being in that room too, the same room where everything was breaking. What if she got hurt? What if Reginald really hurt her?

He was pacing now, pacing across his room. The Umbrella Academy pajamas he was forced to wear were itchy, uncomfortable. It was so cold, too cold, and Diego shivered. But he couldn't ignore the insistent screaming, couldn't ignore the shattering of what could've been a vase or an ash tray. He needed to help Grace, needed to help his mom, but he felt too powerless.

If only Five hadn't gone, hadn't left. He was gone for good, or at least for a long time. Diego knew that. He was never close to Five, not really. He didn't really connect with any of his siblings. He was sure that if he did he'd be in one of their rooms right now, stuttering out a sentence about how he was afraid for Grace. But he was alone, all alone, pacing in his cold room in his uncomfortable pajamas.

Then the screaming stopped, the crashing stopped, and there was only silence, deafening silence. Diego stopped, too, the floorboards creaking when he shifted his weight from one foot to another. "Dammit!" is all he heard his father yell before he ran to his father's study.

The door is open a fraction of an inch and Diego isn't sure if he should continue his path. He should just go back to his room, cover himself with blankets and sleep, right? Isn't that what the others do, isn't that what he's supposed to do?

Against his better judgement, Diego creeps forward slowly. He makes sure to make no noise, doesn't even touch the door as he peers inside. Reginald is on the ground, bent over something. Diego's heart stops when he sees what it is, who it is. Grace.

"M-M-M-" Diego wants to scream out, wants to scream for help, for someone to help his mom. But he can't, he can't. Picture the word in your head. It's his mother's words on repeat, over and over, and he closed his eyes. He needs to concentrate, concentrate. "M-M-M-M-M-" He's afraid, horrified. He can't think correctly, never can when it comes to Grace, comes to his family.

But his father is turning his head and Diego wants to run away, run as fast as he can but he can't, he's frozen. He's faced countless dangers—men with guns, deadly robots, even the Eiffel Tower flying into space—but his dad was the scariest, always the scariest, and left Diego powerless and defenseless.

"Number Two!"

Diego is quaking now, his breath just as shaky as his legs. His father's voice is powerful, booming in the large house.

"What are you doing down here? Go to bed. You saw nothing."

Reginald's eyes were filled with disappointment, but behind that was anger, too, lots of it. Five was gone, Reginald's perfect little Five that was great on missions and smart and witty. He was left with just simple Number Two, a boy who couldn't even talk. Diego wants to apologize and say he's sorry, but his tongue is tied, his feet still frozen in place.

His father stands up, and Diego can see Grace's body. There's still a smile on her face, the smile that's always there. Her arm, though, is open, exposing her cut wires. There are tears brimming in Number Two's eyes, but he'd never cry, not in front of his father. He grips on to the door tightly, fearing his legs will give out if he doesn't do so.

"I said," his father continues, voice not raised but very stern, "go to bed."

"M-Mom!" Diego finally cries out, but he's too late, his father's hands are on Diego's shoulders and he stumbles farther and farther back until he trips, back hitting the floor with a painful thud. He opens his mouth in a silent scream, too terrified to make any noise at all.

"Bed. Now."

"What'd y-you do to her?" Diego shouted, stumbling back to his feet. There was anger, anger rooted deep in his soul. He was angry that his father hurt Grace, angry that his father hurt him, angry that he couldn't talk, angry that he didn't connect with his siblings, angry that Five left. Because that is what fueled him, his anger, but there was too much anger now.

"Number Two—"

"My name is Diego!" He continued to raise his voice, allowing that anger to flow out of him. Grace had given him that name, Diego, and he wasn't going to let his father ignore it. Reginald ignored too much, he wasn't going to let him ignore Grace.

"Number Two," his father repeated, his voice stricter, sterner, filled with anger just as Diego's was, but not the same anger. No, no, the anger beneath the two were very different, far too different to even be called the the same thing. Diego's was based off loss, off sadness, fear, desperation, every bottled up emotion in the kid. Reginald's, on the other hand, was based off pure selfishness and off the loneliness that came with it. "Go to bed this instant."

Diego's hand shook, clenching and unclenching, wishing a knife was in his grasp. He just wanted to defend himself, defend his mother.

"Master Hargreeves..." It's Pogo, poking his head around the corner. The chimp never liked the frequent fighting, Diego knew. Pogo felt he had some responsibility to keep them all safe, both Reginald and the kids, but they were so often angry at one another, at the other's throat. Pogo didn't know how to stop it.

Reginald's eyes flashed towards their new companion and he scowled. This wasn't the time to interrupt, clearly.

"Or—Master Diego," Pogo corrected himself, "how about you go to your room and—"

"Screw you!" Diego shouted suddenly at his father, spit accidentally spraying out of his mouth and hitting the man's face. He tried to keep a cool demeanor as he walked back to his bedroom, bumping against Pogo slightly when walking past.

And now he's alone in his room again and his thoughts are overwhelming. Because his mother was on the ground, on the ground and not living and his father was horrible and Five is gone and he's lonely, so fucking lonely and all he has is his knives.

Diego's eyes suddenly find the umbrella tattoo on his arm. That anger is back and it's swelling, so he's itching and itching and itching, nails digging into the skin of the tattoo until he's bleeding. The red stains under his nails, stains his arm, stains his sheets and he knows that if his father sees it instead of Grace he's in trouble. But Diego doesn't want to be here, he wants to be normal. He wants to be a kid and have a loving mother and a loving father and not have the fate of the whole fucking universe on his shoulders and he wants that stupid fucking tattoo gone.

Diego pants heavily, pulling his hand away from his shredded arm, warm tears on his cheek. He shuts his eyes closed, tight tight tight, because maybe then, maybe, he'll wake up and it'll all be one big, horrible, horrible nightmare.

So he closes his eyes and waits.

Chapter Text

No.

No, no, no.

This can't—this can't be happening. No, not again. Not again. It hurts, it hurts too much. He needs to leave, escape. Please. Help.

There's nothing. Nothing and he's alone. It's warm, warm from some still crackling fires and the air feels almost unbreathable. The dust hurts his eyes and he has nothing. No, not even Delores is there. All that's there is—

"No!"

The word is torn out of Five's dry throat with a strangled cry, filled with the torment and trauma of his past. A cold sweat is layering his body, heart racing and body shaking.

The room he's in is dark. He's alone, all alone, too alone. "Dolores!" he yells out desperately, hands clutching at nothing in the dark. She was there, he's sure, she was right there, in his arms when he somehow managed to drift off into sleep. The memories, the left over of the dream and from his time in future still resonate in his mind, the dead faces of his brothers and sister screaming in his mind. "Dolores!" he calls out again, growing more and more desperate.

Finally, his hands grasp at the shape he recognizes as Dolores, his companion in the post-apocalyptic mess all those years. "I'm fine, Dolores," he grits out through clenched teeth. His breath is finally slowing and he stares at the darkness, the pitch black of his room.

There are tears at his eyes. Five ignores them. They're staying back, barely.

All he can see in his mind is the destruction, the ruins. All the gunshots he fired when by himself and when working for The Commission echo in his ears, ringing for what seems like an eternity. Those bodies falling by his own hands. And before he went with The Commission, when he had nothing to eat for days on end. All alone except for his dear Dolores and the bottles upon bottles of old wine and other alcohols. But above all, he can't stop seeing the faces. Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, all dead and lifeless. The prosthetic eye that Number One gripped... his large dead hand let go of it so easily. So easily. They were all so weak and powerless and it left Five all alone.

He wants to cry out for Ben or Vanya, just like he did then. He didn't find their bodies and he was sure they were alive, and he screamed until his voice was gone and he was out of tears and he felt like he couldn't move, couldn't do anything, and he was just so desperate and afraid and helpless. He curled into a fetal position, just as he had done then, trying to calm himself, wishing desperately none of it had happened, that he was safe and back at home with his family and had listened to his father and didn't jump through time like an idiot.

The tears fall down Five's cheeks now, rolling onto Dolores who is clutched tightly to his chest. "I don't need help," he tells her, his prepubescent voice cracking. "What I need is a drink."

With Dolores in his clutch, Five travels down to the kitchen. There's darkness down there, too, and he's alone, just like before. Always alone. So he turns on the television in hopes of drowning out his fears, drowning out the loneliness.

It's why he has Dolores, though. His companion, the one that would never leave him. She helped him through his difficult times, the times when he was all alone with no one to talk to, no one to comfort him and no one for him to hold on to.

Five puts the bottle to his lips and tips it up, taking three big gulps and putting it down with a sigh. That's more like it. Because when he's drunk or buzzed or whatever he can be less alone.

With the bottle and Dolores still in his clutches, Five lays down on the cold ground and closes his eyes, hoping that maybe, maybe, he'll be able to rest more.

But he can't.

Because every time his eyes close he can see the chaos. Brief glimpses into the future. The fires, the dust, the absolute destruction. He can still feel the loneliness and fear deep inside his chest, because what if he can't escape it? What if the apocalypse is bound to happen, what if he's bound to spend years upon years alone until finally, finally, The Commission comes along and gives him a chance to escape it all? What if everyone he knows and loves—though he may not show it—is bound to die a horrible and gruesome death?

Five shivers at the thought and goes to drink more of the wine he managed to grab. It was either this or coffee, and Five knows there's not a single fucking drop of caffeine in the damned house. He drinks more, lots more, until he can feel the buzz, and then he drinks until the buzz amplifies. He decides to focus on the sounds from the television, the pointless talking. It reminds him that it's not over, not yet, people are still here and he's not alone, not truly alone like he was all those years. They could be talking about the news or it could be a soap opera or even a fucking children's cartoon, Five's not sure, he's not comprehending what they're saying, simply taking some comfort in the fact that they're there.

There are feet on the stairs, footsteps, and Five barely registers them. He rolls his eyes and drinks some more of the wine. He doesn't want to be alone, yeah, but does that mean he wants to talk about it? No. Definitely not. And he's almost positive whoever is coming down those steps will ask him what's wrong, but how can he explain? How can he explain that every time he closes his eyes, he sees their dead face? That every time he's alone he's reminded of the end of the world? How can he explain the desperation, the fear, the pain that he went through that he relives and remembers each and every day? How can he explain any of that?

"Who's there?" the person asks, and Five knows it's Diego, Diego's voice. He's no doubt worried it's some intruder, a knife in each hand, one raised and ready to throw.

"Jus' me, Diego," Five calls back. He's glad that out of the other siblings that stayed the night at the Hargreeves house this night—Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, and him—that it was Number Two that was there and not the others.

Five hears him make his way over to the kitchen, where Five is now sitting against a cabinet, Dolores by his side. Diego groans and puts his knife—he was just carrying one, unlike Five guessed—on the counter. "What were you screamin' about earlier?"

Five shakes his head and grumbles, rubbing one shut eye with the hand that isn't still grasping the bottle of alcohol. "Please don't ask 'bout that," he begs, his words slurring slightly. "Wha—what are you doin' down 'ere?"

Diego looks at his brother and sighs. "I was gonna grab a drink," he explains, "but it looks like you had the same idea." He goes to the fridge and pulls out a bottle of beer. Then, with a reluctance to each step, slides down and takes a seat next to Five.

Neither know what to do now, so they sip their alcohol in silence, the television still running in the background. It's dark outside, and Number Five grows tired. Drunkenly, he curls up into Diego's side. Number Two is startled by the action, not knowing how to react, but Five needs this closeness, needs someone, needs to know they're not all dead.

Eventually Diego relaxes, allowing his arm to rest gingerly on his brother's back.

And by some miracle, Five manages to drift off into sleep again.

But when he closes his eyes this time, he doesn't see the dead faces.

Chapter Text

Perfect, perfect, she has to be perfect.

Yes, she has her rumor powers, she knows that, but her rumor powers can't magically make her weight disappear. Her powers can't make everything better and she can't rumor herself.

And she guesses that's when it started. There's no moment in time that she can pinpoint, no day where she just snapped. In fact, after all this time, Allison can't remember when she started doing it. She remembers the general time, general year, yes, but most of it is... a blur.

It started when she was young. Not often, just every now and then. She'd eat the food that Grace had prepared for them and Reginald forced them to have, but as soon as she managed to get some time alone... she just couldn't hold it. She spent so much time in the bathroom after some meals, throwing up each bit of food that was in her. Luther grew concerned at one point, as did the other siblings, but she couldn't stop. She had to be skinny enough, had to be perfect.

But she never was perfect.

When she was younger, just a teenager at the age of fifteen or sixteen, she didn't do it often. Sometimes she only did it once a year, once a month, maybe. But then she started getting older and Allison left the Academy behind her, and it all got worse. Because she became an actor, she got a career, she became a known and recognizable face and she had to maintain the perfect body, the perfect everything in order to keep it all. And, of course, she still did have her rumor powers, and, yes, as much as she may regret it, she used them. But it wasn't about that, it was about looking good, great, perfect, about being skinny enough to be loved even without her powers and past.

It went from yearly to monthly to weekly and eventually... daily. Sometimes more than once a day. She avoided meals whenever she could and when she did eat she immediately threw up. She would go for days on end without eating, and she knew it was a problem, but it got to the point where the simple smell of food made her empty stomach turn. She knew she was at a point of no recovery, of no turning back. Her health had declined immensely, but Allison still refused to eat unless absolutely necessary.

But even with all of that, Allison wasn't perfect. She was skinny, sure, but not skinny enough, never enough, never perfect.

This led to another problem: over-exercising.

Constantly at the gym or on a run at the park, hoping to burn those 'extra calories' that keep her from the perfection she strives for. Because it's not enough, never enough to make her perfect. So she runs and she lifts weights and she swims and does anything, anything possible, to be perfect, because she has to be perfect. She ignores the multiple times where she passes out, ignores all the clear signs pointing to her need of medical care.

And she continues to do this for years. Because she has to be the best, she always has to, she has to be perfect, and how can she be perfect if her body isn't perfect?

And then she got pregnant.

She loved the idea of having a child, loved the idea of getting to be a mother. But that meant something would have to change. Even pregnant, the idea of eating made her sick. She tried to eat, forced herself to eat every night, but more often than not she couldn't handle it, couldn't hold it. That was when her husband, Patrick, started noticing, started noticing how she wasn't eating, wasn't taking care of herself like she was supposed to. He'd hold her hair back when she was hunched over the toilet, try to help her as much as he could.

But Allison felt horrible. If she wasn't perfect before, there was no way she was perfect now. Every night tears fell down her face as she drifted into an uneasy and restless sleep, her hand more often than not resting on her stomach, a baby bump not yet formed.

But she didn't get better. Her eating was still minimal and she threw up the food that Patrick did get her to eat almost, if not every, night. He was perfect to her: cooking her meals, tending to her, and just being an overall perfect husband. If only she could be a perfect wife.

He tried to convince her to get help, to go to a therapist or a hospital or something, anything, but Allison was far too gone. It wasn't about her weight right now, no, she knew she was pregnant and she couldn't exactly lose weight in this time, but she just couldn't eat. Her body didn't allow it, it rejected it, just like she taught it to do after all the years of not eating.

And then something bad happened. She fainted, fainted and she was pregnant. She was rushed to a hospital. Allison insisted she was fine, the baby was fine, everything was fine, but for once Patrick didn't listen and she felt too weak to rumor him. And, deep down, she knew he was right, she knew that not checking in with the doctor would be dangerous, and she wanted this baby, wanted a kid more than anything she'd wanted in her life.

Allison's child was not dead, no, but there were... "dangers." Dangers. What the hell does 'dangers' mean? God, she couldn't be the perfect weight, couldn't be the perfect wife, how could she be the perfect mother? A mother, something she's wanted to be her whole life—she can't fail at that. She has to be perfect, but how can she?

So Allison starts eating more. One more bite a day, forcing herself to hold it down, she makes it until Claire, her perfect little Claire, is born.

But then she's back, back to before and she can't eat and she can't stop exercising and her weight goes down and down. She eats with her husband and daughter at the dinner table but as soon as she's alone again she's throwing it all up again.

And she just can't be perfect.

Chapter Text

"Klaus," he begin, "come help me get the others."

"Why?" they asked. They were already in a horrible mood, horribly bored and just horrible as they tried to stay sober.

"Family business," he explained, as if it were an obvious answer. "I wanted to talk to you all about something."

"And why should I listen to you?" Klaus asked, to which Luther gave his normal answer—I'm Number One, I'm the leader, blah, blah, blah.

"Some leader you are," Klaus remembers scoffing, fed up and not thinking correctly. "You couldn't even keep Ben alive." It was stupid for them to say it, obviously, but they were sick of being bossed around and sick of being dismissed and sick of being sober.

"What did you say?" Luther asked, visibly upset, teeth grinding together.

"I said," they continued, emphasizing the second word with a little push to Luther's chest, "you couldn't even keep Ben alive you dimwitted monkey!"

And he snapped, he snapped and they could see the moment he snapped, could see something break inside him, and then he threw a punch and barely, barely, they dodged it.

"Come at me big boy!" Klaus encouraged their brother, laughing. This, they thought, this wasn't boring at all. "Give me all you got!"

And Luther, with a grunt, curled his large hand in a fist and swung it at them, aiming for their stomach. Once again, they jumped out of the way. If only they realized what they'd done, realized what was coming. "Is that all, monkey man? You got anything left tough guy? Mr. Leader?" they taunted.

And then Luther successfully punched Klaus' side, sending them across the room. And he wasn't even using full strength, no, not yet. Not yet.

And that's when they realized the beast they unleashed. And clutching their side, stumbling back up, they regret everything they said. There's blood in Klaus' mouth—they must've hit their head on the fall. "Woah, woah, Luther, I-I didn't mean it, man," they instantly apologize, recognizing that their brother was serious, that he wasn't going to step down.

There's a flash of something in Luther's eyes, a brief glimpse into what's behind the anger bubbling in him. It's sadness, Klaus realizes, a deep sadness that they assume comes from their mention of their dear old brother Ben.

But Luther doesn't hear Klaus, not over the ringing anger in his ears, and after taking a few breaths walks over to his still stumbling sibling. He punches and punches, but by some miracle Klaus manages to avoid each hit. They know they don't stand a chance, can't fight back against a big guy—with the supernatural strength—like Luther. So he just runs away, dodges, plays defense—or, rather, plays self preservation.

"I-I could get real hurt," they remind him, putting their hands up in form of surrender. "You—you don't want that, right? I'm weaker than you!" Words ring in their head—'you fucked up. Why the hell would you piss him off? You deserve this'—and they can't think straight, not with all the noises, and they almost wish it was the ghosts instead because the ghosts never physically hurt them. But they instantly take back the thought, trying once more to focus on the very important matter at hand—a very large and hairy hand, might they add.

And, for some stupid reason, they add on by saying: "You lost Ben already, you don't wanna lose me, too, right?"

And they instantly fucking regret it.

"Shit," Klaus mumbles quietly under their breath as Luther makes his pursuit towards his sibling. "Luther, brother, if you hurt me—" even though he's already hurt them, "—you'll regret it! Once you calm down, you'll regret this, so let's just do that now, alright? Let's calm down."

But he doesn't calm down, something inside him is broken, Klaus is convinced, and he can't go back, he can't be fixed. So they duck, anticipating a punch, but instead Luther kicks, kicks them square in the stomach and they fly backward, hitting their head back on the wall with a grunt. God, that hurt. They cough, which only intensifies the pain, and blood sputters out of their mouth. The back of their head is screaming with pain and they can feel the warm blood drip down their neck and down their back. This'll be one hell of a recovery process.

Before they even have a chance to fully recover from the hit, Luther is grabbing them by the shirt and lifting them up, up, up.

"Hey, wait!" It's Diego, running into the room, one hand outstretched and a knife in the other. Luther drops Klaus back on the ground, and Diego is walking up to Luther, pure anger written on his face. "What the fuck did you do to them?" he asks, finger jabbing at their brother's hairy chest. Diego curls his hand into a fist, and then walks over to Klaus.

"Dammit, Klaus," he mumbles as he examines his sibling's injuries. He sits them on the couch and pinches the bridge of his nose, resting his knife aside.

There'll be a black eye, he's sure. Swollen lip, a few cuts, and by the way they're clutching them, Diego assumes a few bruised ribs—and that's the quick examination. "Let's get your idiot ass cleaned up."

And Luther is finally calming down as Diego grabs a first aid kit, and he can't stop staring at his hands. His hands, his own hands—they did that. They did that to his sibling—and over what exactly? Some stupid insult? Something that they had the right, every right, to say? No, he can't believe that. He can't look at Klaus, not after what he just did.

"I can't believe you fucking did this," Diego says as he begins tending to his sibling's wounds. "You could've killed him, idiot." Klaus winces when he touches a bad gash on the back of their head, and Diego rolls his eyes, giving a, "Don't be such a baby." But his concern for Klaus is large. Though he isn't the best at showing emotions, he never has been, he hopes that they know the care Diego has for them.

"I-I—" Luther starts, but he doesn't finish it.

"You what?" Diego asks sarcastically. "You're sorry? Do you see what you did to them? Did you lose the one remaining brain cell you had left?"

And suddenly tears are at Luther’s eyes and he doesn't know what to do. "I don't—I'm sorry, alright? It's just—he brought up Ben and..."

Diego puts a bandage over a particularly bad cut on Klaus' face. He hasn't even begun on all the small cuts and bruises. The one on the back of their head will probably need stitches and there's no doubt an array of deep cuts on their back, too, judging from the blood soaking their shirt. There's glass on the floor where he found them, and Diego doesn't doubt the glass made these cuts. Not to mention the damage to their ribs that will take a few weeks to heal. "If you want to be the leader so bad then you can't hurt your own fucking people."

"I-I don't..." and there are still tears in Luther's eyes, but he doesn't cry.

"Guys, this is really nothing to fight over," Klaus insists. They let out a dry and humorless laugh, "Pointless fighting is how this started."

Diego grits his teeth and shakes his head. "He could've killed you, Klaus. It's not like you're comin' back from a hit like that. Well, anyway—you need stitches, you've got bruised ribs, but those are the most serious injuries."

Luther shakes his head. No, he couldn't have done that, not to his own family. He can't stop staring at his fists. Because he did do that. He did.

"Well that should be fun," Klaus sarcastically replies.

Diego takes Klaus up to their room, ensuring them he'd be back quickly, he just had something to take care of.

And then Diego and Luther are alone in the room together. "Luther, I swear to fucking god—"

"He started it," Luther defended. "He-He was trying to piss me off."

Diego gives Luther a small push, similar to the one Klaus gave him, and curls his hand into a fist. "You so much as touch them again," he warns, "I will fucking break you."

And with that Diego leaves to go stitch up Klaus.

Chapter Text

But.

There's always a but, isn't there?

You did great Klaus, but—

We love you Klaus, but—

You're a human being and not a human ouija board, Klaus, but—

He tried, boy did he try. He tried to sleep through his father's yelling, he tried to sleep through the screaming of all the ghosts around him. He tried. But it never was good enough, was it? He never was the strongest like Luther. The most accurate like Diego. The prettiest like Allison. The smartest like Five. The deadliest like Ben. Or even the most musical like Vanya.

He was always just Number Four. He was never good enough, not for his family. There was always a but when regarding Klaus, always something to work on. But you aren't fast. But you're not masculine enough. But you're afraid of ghosts.

Well fuck that. Klaus had had enough buts in his life. Who cares if he wasn't the best? Who cares if his own fucking powers scared him? He needed an escape, an escape from the screaming. The ghosts, all the dead people, screaming over and over. His father didn't have to deal with that. His father didn't have to lie awake at night, shaking from being locked away from his family, from being locked in with the scariest thing imaginable.

Drugs. That what everybody does, isn't it? Klaus can do it, too, he decides. And so the next time they go out, Klaus starts to get information from people on the street until finally, finally, he finds someone who will give him what he needs.

"Diego, Diego, look what I got!"

It was weed, and lots of it. Diego was confused, at first, but Klaus could see the way his brother's eyes lit up when he realized what it was. "Do you even know how to take drugs, Klaus?" Number Two asks skeptically, still eyeing the drug.

Number Four doesn't know why he's showing it to Diego. But there's something in him that just knows he'll like it, knows that he'll be fine with it. Luther would never allow it, and Ben... Ben would be too scared. And Klaus couldn't bring Ben—the little innocent boy—into something like this.

"I do know how. I think I know how. But I want to do it!" Klaus was enthusiastic, always enthusiastic. And Diego, after some convincing, agreed to help his brother in this... journey.

Diego showed Klaus how to do everything—how he knew what to do will forever be a mystery to Number Four. But as soon as he took his first puff, he felt free. Free and loose and happier than he'd ever been.

Diego chuckles. "You seem to be a natural." He took his own drag of the cigarette.

Klaus smiled. He expected some but in Diego's compliment, he always did, but it didn't come. He'd never been a natural at anything, never felt this happy, but with his brother by his side, a rare smile on both of their faces, Klaus knew he... belonged somewhere. He felt comforted, loved. And how could he not?

It didn't take long before the screaming, the ghosts, all that pain and fear inside Klaus was gone, and he was just with his brother, laughing and enjoying his company. He could get used to this, to this freedom, this happiness.

And then the morning came.

He was back in his room and his mother was waking him up, telling him it was time for breakfast. It took some time for Klaus to recollect his thoughts and memories from the night before, but when he did he knew he was on to something. When he was smoking weed, high out of his fucking mind, the ghosts were gone. Klaus was free.

"You are late, Number Four," his father scolds as Klaus trots to the breakfast table guiltily. The boy clasps his hands and hangs his head, not responding. Reginald yells his classic "sit!", looking at Klaus sternly, and they all take their seats, quickly slurping down the bland and boring oatmeal that they have every morning.

And that night, the night before—that's when it started. Klaus didn't stop. He continued smoking the weed, though it was almost always with Diego. More than anything Klaus became addicted to how happy his brother was. Diego was never carefree, smiling, laughing. But in those moments they were both happy. Happy in a way that neither knew existed.

But then Diego stopped smoking with him. Klaus went on to harder stuff. He was drinking during the day and taking whatever drug he could at night. And the ghosts—they were gone, finally gone. Klaus was free.

But there's always a but, isn't there?

His father noticed when his powers stopped working, he noticed that his son's head was always in the clouds. But you're too young to be drinking. But you can't use your powers. But you're not good enough, you're never fucking good enough.

There came guilt and pain. And then he'd turn to more drugs. It was a vicious cycle, one he desperately wanted to stop. But he couldn't. But he wasn't strong enough to stop. But he was just a stupid druggie.

Some part of him felt like he was destined for this. Destined to be an addict for the rest of his life. Ever since he was young he felt that way, felt as if his future was doomed. He was meant to be this way, meant to be a... a failure. Because that's what Klaus was. He was a failure to his family, to the Umbrella Academy, to everyone.

He isolated himself. He didn't want to talk to his family, didn't even wish to talk to his loving brother Ben. Because Ben was there for him and he was there for Ben. But then Ben wasn't there. Ben turned his back on his brother, left him to rot with his addiction.

Klaus lays in his bed at night, just a young boy, traumatized by his father and the ghosts, even if they're gone. And he can't stop, can't stop the drugs. Even Diego is disappointed in him now. And even then he doesn't stop.

But at least the ghosts are gone.

Chapter Text

Self harm.

Think of that word, and what comes to mind?

Cutting. Maybe burning. Maybe even starving yourself. But these—they all tend to leave physical marks, physical evidence of the harm you have induced.

But there are other ways, too. Ways that are less noticed, less visible.

There are scars on her body, yes. The classic wrist, of course, slightly elevated and white scars in neat and clean lines across her wrist. They've been there since she was young. Being told countless times, over and over again that she was ordinary, she was nothing, she was worthless... something was bound to happen.

But, once again, self harm is not all visible. Not like Vanya's siblings ever noticed her cuts, no, but she simply... moved on from it. It didn't give her what she needed, didn't solve the problems that she set out to solve.

The cutting worked at first, though. Just a young teenage girl, hurt and crying and then she has a crazy idea and suddenly a pair of scissors are in her hand. There's a brief thought, barely even there, telling her that she shouldn't do this, shouldn't hurt herself like this, that it'll all get better and she'll be fine, but the thought is gone just as quick as she got it and the blade is running over her skin.

She watched herself bleed, bleed on to the precious marble table top. Her crimson blood glistened in the lights of the Hargreeves house and it was captivating, but more than anything it felt as if Vanya could see the pain in her arm, in her wrist. It began with a small sting, like a pinch, like a shot. But as her blood dribbled down her small arm, the pain burned, blossomed into something bigger, something worse, something that captivated Vanya.

It was a... a throbbing sensation, almost. Like a painful pulse in her wrist, a pulse that was pumping more and more blood out of her body. It felt warm, both the blood and the burn that the cut gave, warm, and that's what Vanya liked, she thinks, she liked how warm it was.

After she did it, though, a wave of guilt crashed over her. She cleaned up the dried blood both on her arm and around her and bandaged herself up, but when no one, not one sibling, not even Grace or Pogo or anyone realized her cut, she didn't feel guilty anymore. She kept doing it, some cuts deep, some shallow, but only a few, a select and strategic few, deep enough to leave scars. It released her sadness and her anger and it made her feel more relieved.

And then it didn't.

There's snow on the ground, cold and white and peaceful. It's dark outside, the sunrise no doubt going to begin in a few hours with how late it is—or, early, technically.

Vanya shivers at the cold, goosebumps running up and down her bare arms. She didn't wear a coat, no, it was too cold for that. Too cold to warm herself. Because she got like this, Vanya did, and she got to a point where she rarely felt true happiness. Sometimes she's sad, hurt, angry, but most of the time it's a numbness, a boring and almost pained way to go through life. It's as if she's watching life fly by without her, not experiencing it herself, not being able to jump in and actually do something, actually move. She's apathetic to it all, having total disregard for the horrendous world around her.

But she also has a disregard for herself, too, a disregard for her health, mental and physical. It explains why she's in below freezing temperatures with no coat, no sleeves, no way to protect her body. It explains why, in the peace and quiet of the night, she lays herself in the undisturbed snow, letting the freezing crunch consume her.

Adrenaline flows through her veins, and Number Seven's eyes shoot wide open without them meaning to. Because, my god is snow cold, cold against your bare skin, surrounding every inch, every single inch of your small body. But it's not cold anymore, no, not really. It's so cold, so cold that it burns, burns her arms and her neck and the bit of ankle that she exposes, too. It burns and her body is tingling, tingling from the pain but she's enjoying it, too, enjoying the adrenaline and enjoying the pain and enjoying the release. Because she can control her own pain when she does this, and she just feels so powerless sometimes, so useless and so ordinary, ordinary like her father always convinced her she was: nothing, absolutely normal.

The burning sensation goes down and down, and suddenly it's not hot and it's not cold and it's just not anything, nothing at all. It's a pure numbness that, when she closes her eyes, isolates Vanya from the society she despises so much, isolates her from the echoing words of her father. Her body is screaming at her, screaming at her to stand up and run away and take a warm shower and drown herself in whatever heat she can find, but she ignores the voice, ignores it all and allows a white noise to wash over her ears instead, focusing on how her body feels, focusing on the numbness her arms feel, a matching numbness in her heart.

But self harm... it's not just physical, either, is it?

You can hurt your brain directly, too, make you feel worse and harm yourself in ways that feel stupid, make you feel stupid, even more stupid, and that's exactly what mental self harm is.

It had been... a bad couple of days, is how Vanya would describe it. Depression rooted deep in her core. Every morning it was a struggle to get up, a struggle to talk to someone, a struggle to live life, and eventually she just... stopped. She stopped getting up and just stayed laying down.

A whole week.

Vanya isolates herself in her apartment, canceling all her activities and spending all seven days alone, isolated, in her bed. And she was looking forward to teaching her lessons, too, but how could she? The words echoed in her mind—'horrible,' 'stupid,' 'weak,' 'pointless,' 'useless,' 'normal'—and keep her in bed, keep her from going anywhere unless she's going outside to the snow, the peaceful and caring and cold and burning and numbing snow.

And still no one knows.

The scars on her wrist may be from years ago and Vanya will probably never add to her collection of scars. But she still hurts, she still hurts inside from her years with Reginald and she still needs a way to release it.

It doesn't have to be physical to be self harm.

Chapter Text

With a childhood like hers, how could she not be depressed?

It wasn't exactly an official diagnosis, no doctor visit or prescription pills.

But Vanya knew she was depressed. She was pretty sure, at least.

Now, depression starts slowly. In her mind, depression is just having peaked in life so early that there's no where to go but down. It's not like she went from a happy kid one day to a depressed kid the next.

If she had to pinpoint one moment, one that switched everything, it was when she got out of that horrible cage. Out of the room that Hargreeves locked her in. It wasn't the isolation, Vanya thinks, that made her depressed; it was being socially outcasted from her family—the people she loved and held so dearly—after the isolation. She hadn't peaked yet, no, but Reginald pushed her down her hill and made sure she could never rise again. She was, and still is, constantly put down. Because she's not enough, is she? She's just ordinary.

She tried to do something to make her father and siblings proud, tried to do something to make herself special, so she tried violin. In no way was she a natural or anything of the sort, but after so much practice she hoped that she could be good, great, could just be enough. But she never was.

At first, Vanya thought she was just sad. She was sad that she had no one to play with, sad she had nothing to do. But it was more than sadness, she later realized. The feeling was so intense that it hurt her, it felt like a weight in her chest and she couldn't move, couldn't live. Reginald would never have that, of course, always forcing her to get out of bed and eat food and be alive.

She was so young. She didn't know what to do with this sadness. She assumed it'd pass over.

When Vanya was playing the violin, though, the sadness did pass, more or less. It helped her calm herself, helped her feel light and get whisked away, as if this wasn't her life, as if she was special, as if she wasn't so sad.

But every night she still cried herself to sleep.

It got really bad when she was a teenager. Her siblings were all doing great things, all being recognized and getting famous. She continued to be a nobody, continued to play the violin even though no one was listening.

And then Five left.

Five was the only one that talked to her, the only one that payed attention to her. He didn't treat her like she was useless just because she was ordinary. And when she was joking with him she didn't feel so, so sad, so depressed, so absolutely miserable.

Every night, after he left, Vanya would make a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich and leave the lights on, because he could come back, he would come back. Because how could he leave her? Vanya told him everything in their time, told him all about Hargreeves and what he did and how useless and helpless he made her feel. How could he leave her with him?

That was when she realized she was depressed.

Everything felt difficult. She couldn't even get out of bed. She hated herself, felt as if it were her fault Five left, felt as if Reginald was right and she was useless. And it wasn't just sadness.

She immersed herself in her music, in her violin. It gave her the freedom she needed, made her feel better. But every night she cried a few more tears and every day she hated herself a little more. She felt more and more ordinary, more and more useless, and more and more like the person Hargreeves told her she was.

Eventually Vanya didn't want to see her siblings, didn't want to interact with them. Not that they wanted to talk to her, either, but she just couldn't deal with people. She was sick and tired of them and she was sick and tired of Reginald and she was sick and tired of being told she was just ordinary and she was sick and tired of life.

She just hated life.

Vanya wasn't exactly suicidal, no. She didn't want to die. She just didn't want to live. There's a difference, a big difference, because dying involves so much pain and effort. She doesn't want that, can't handle anymore of that. She simply wishes she hadn't been born—hell, she wasn't supposed to be born. She was a miracle—no, no, not a miracle. A miracle implies she is something good, something people want. But she knew she wasn't either of those things, she wasn't good nor was she wanted. She was just an accident, a screw up.

But, to just... not live, to have never been born. It would take no effort. It would take away all the pain, the constant pain, the constant and painful sadness, away. And that's what she needs: an escape. At least before, with Five, she was able to talk to someone. But now it's all worse, it's all a hundred million times worse. Because now she holds it in, all of it: the anger, fear, utter sadness. And she just knows one day she'll blow up, she'll blow up because she's holding so much in. She still has her violin, yes, but it's not the same, not really the same.

She wants to spend all of her time by herself, curled up in a fetal position, and just wants to stop existing. Because life is so difficult and everything is bleak and bland and depressing. Because she's just ordinary, always just ordinary. Because the life she has right now isn't worth living.

What can you do when you're sad? What do you do when it's more than sadness, when it's a constant hatred of yourself and the general world around you?

What do you do, Vanya wonders, when you hate yourself so much that sometimes all you can think about is death, escaping everything, everyone?

Chapter Text

“Oh-oh-oh—a tiger!"

“It’s a movie, remember?”

"It's obviously the Lion King."

"Yes!"

"This is so stupid."

Ah, the sounds of family game night. Nobody but Luther wanted to do it, as he was the one who arranged it. Charades was the chosen game for this Tuesday night and it was just awful.

"Alright, I'm outta here," Diego said.

"That was the first round," Luther reminded him. "Your team hasn't even gone yet."

"I know. This is lame."

"Oh, brother dear," Klaus said dramatically, "stay for a few more rounds." He jutted his lip out, putting on a childish pout.

Diego groaned. "Fine. Two more rounds."

"You're in a pretty good mood, Klaus" Five noted. "Normally you're rushing to get out of here and get high."

He just shrugged.

"Yeah, you've been sober," Allison adds on. "I like seeing you like this. You seem... happier."

"What's got you clean all of a sudden?" Vanya asks.

Klaus shrugs, a wide smile on his face. Diego gives him a knowing look and he nods. It was about Dave, obviously. Every second he was sober was a second he could see him. That was enough reason to be sober for him.

"What was that?" Five asked.

"What was what?" Diego responded.

"That look between the two of you—the 'I know why you're sober' look."

"Come on, Klaus," Luther pressures, "what has you sober?"

It's the reason he didn't tell them before. Diego knew, of course, he helped him get sober and helped him see Dave again. But Diego was always kind to him, accepted him. What if the others weren't as accepting?

And, not only that, he didn't want it to be a big deal. But with a sister like Allison? There's no way it's not going to be the largest thing in his life.

Diego gives him a little pat on the back, nodding his head. It may not look like much, but Klaus can tell what it means. 'You can tell them. It'll be fine. I'll support you.' And that was all he needed.

"It's kinda depressing," he explains with a dry laugh.

Ben is sitting beside Klaus, though the others can't see him, and gives him a reassuring smile.

"Is it for Ben?" Luther questions.

"Obviously not," Five argues. "He's newly sober so there's clearly a new person."

"Let him talk, guys," Vanya insists with an eye roll. Klaus huffs a laugh, as does Diego.

"There's, uh... a person," he carefully explained. “Someone close to me.”

"Oh, what's her name?" Allison asks. That's the exact reaction Diego had. It makes Klaus a little more nervous because what if they aren't okay with him liking another guy? What if they don't believe him about anything?

He looks to Diego for support. He shrugs. "His name," Klaus corrects his sister. This is so much more difficult than when he was telling Diego. Because, not only did he know Diego would be fine—mostly fine, at least—with him liking a guy, but it was also the end of the world and he still had some drugs in him. It's been days since he's even looked at some weed and it makes everything scarier.

Klaus can't look at his sibling's faces. Even Diego is nervous for his brother.

"His name was Dave," Klaus finishes. He knows he has a sappy, lovey dovey smile on his face, and any other time he'd be opposed to it. But Dave... god, Dave was great. Perfect. Dave was absolutely perfect.

There's silence for a few moments before Vanya says, "I'm so happy for you."

Klaus finally lifts his head and looks at her. She's smiling at him, big and bright and proud.

"Congrats," Five tells him, his voice not holding much emotion, just like usual, but Klaus can tell he's genuinely happy for him.

Diego pats his brother's back again. Klaus has to be honest, he's happy to have this out there, to have his siblings know.

"That's great," Allison says. "How'd you meet? Is he—he's dead? What happened?" She bombards him with questions, just like he knew she would, and just like he hoped she wouldn't.

"Hey, give the man a break," Diego interrupts. "Just be happy for him."

Klaus realizes Luther hasn't said anything and hesitantly looks at him. His lip is curled slightly upwards in what Klaus thinks is supposed to be a smile, but if he's being honest, he can't really tell. "That's—" Luther begins, but he stops himself. "I'm happy for you."

"Dave's a great guy, Klaus," he hears Ben say to him. Ben already knew about him, of course, but it was always nice to get his brother's reassurance.

Klaus can almost feel tears in his eyes. But it's not because he’s sad, it's not because he's not accepted because of his relationship, it's because he's genuinely happy. He knows he'll try to talk to Dave later tonight, tell him about how this all went, but right now he's content just being with his family. It's almost like they're normal, like Klaus wasn't talking about a dead guy he met years and years ago in a war. It was like they were a normal family gossiping about their relationships.

"I'll take your questions now," Klaus says, chuckling lightly to himself. "One at a time, though."

"How'd you meet him?" Allison immediately asks.

Klaus tenses slightly, though he tries not to let the others know that. "Uh, abroad," he decides to say. "We-we fought together."

And then Diego's looking at him in that brotherly and reassuring way and he feels safe and Ben is beside him and he knows he can tell them.

"In war," Klaus says. "I took one of the brief case thingys and, uh, I went back in time. I was.... I was in the war. And Dave—" and then it's coming back to him, what happened. The gun shots, everywhere, and he was screaming, but Dave—Dave was gone, and—and now he wants to cry again and he regrets it all.

Diego pats his knee. "It's alright," Luther says, and the others give him comforting and reassuring smiles.

Klaus sniffs. "Dave was... god, he was perfect."

"I'm happy for you," Allison said again. "You deserve someone like that."

And, for a few moments, all of Klaus' worries went away.

Chapter Text

It was in the early days, when the Academy hadn't yet become 'the Academy'.

Reginald was certainly no father but he wasn't an idiot.

So Grace took the kids to the park. They had been given a very stern talking to about not using their powers—Diego threw a stick at a kid's eye last time—and had proven themselves ready to go out to the real world again.

Vanya, personally, liked going out. She was with other kids, kids like her, kids that were ordinary in what seemed like every possible way. She didn't talk to them, most of the time, just practiced her violin and sat on the bench alone.

In this park, though, there's a big ant hill. Klaus is obsessed with it, sticking his hand in and trying to convince Grace to let him keep some as pets. She always says no.

An ant bit Allison, once, which is how they found out she was allergic to ant bites. The leg where she was bite formed a rash and constantly itched, and when she woke up her eye was so large and crusted over she couldn't open it. Needless to say, she stayed away from the ants.

The boys, though, they are fascinated by them. Five is one of those kids who studies them, in a scientific way, pretends he's a biologist and knows random facts about them. Luther is one of those kids who likes to pretend he's on a weird nature show and the ants are wild beasts that he's lucky to see—he even uses an Australian accent sometimes. Ben liked to observe them, but in a non scientific way, just watching. Klaus, as mentioned before, is that kid that's really weird with the ants, all nosy in their business. He tried to eat one once, but it bite his tongue. Diego, finally, is the kid who wants to kill everything, and ants are the perfect target.

Vanya likes to watch the ants, like Ben. She likes how ordinary, how normal and simple they are. But they're so helpful to their community. She likes that; ordinary but helpful.

The first time they found the anthill, the four boys were ecstatic. You could hear their gasps of wonder and excitement like the little kids they were. They were right by Vanya's favorite bench, too, where she and her mother would watch the others.

"What are those things?" Klaus asked as he picked one up, it squirming in his bony fingers.

"Ants, stupid." Ah, Five, always snarky to his brothers and sisters.

"I wanna eat it."

"Don't eat them!" Ben pleaded.

"Yeah, don't eat them," Diego agreed. "You got-t-ta crush 'em!"

"No," Vanya finally said, her voice quiet. Her siblings didn't really talk to her and she was afraid to talk to them sometimes, as if talking to strangers. "That's mean."

"Do ants bleed?" Luther wondered aloud.

"You guys are disgusting," Allison shrieked. She was never a fan of ants, even before the bite. "I'm gonna go to the swings."

Vanya could see Luther debating whether he wanted to follow his sister or stay with his brothers. He chose the latter.

"I'm gonna step on it," Diego said, eyes wide and filled with wonder.

"Why would you do that?" Ben asked.

"Because it looks fun!" And with that, Number Two stomped on the small black creature. "Woah, i-i-it's crunchy."

Vanya closed her eyes. She didn't like that.

"Oh, let me see!" Klaus was the next, jumping on a giant line of the insects. "You're right. I wonder how crunchy they'd be if you chewed on them."

Luther got on his hands and knees, inspecting them closely but never touching them. Then a boot was in his face and he jumped away. "Ha!" Diego laughed. "You flinched."

"Stop," Vanya muttered quietly, shaking her head. The ants were doing nothing wrong, they were just being alive, they were just being normal and ordinary.

They ignored her.

"Stop!" Vanya said, louder this time.

"Stop what?" Diego asked mockingly. "St-stop this?" He jumped on the hill and what Vanya could've sworn was thousands of ants swarmed the ground. Vanya shrieked in horror. Luther, Diego, Ben, and Klaus all made sounds of amazement.

"Fun fact," Five said, "if you kill the Queen of the colony, the colony'll only live for a few more weeks—or, no, a few months, at most."

"That's so cool!" Diego said as he began stomping again.

"No!" Vanya continued to yell, and she felt herself growing aware of the tears forming in her eyes. These ants aren't special, they aren't anything important, they're common and normal and ordinary—but that doesn't meant they should die. Because Vanya isn't special, isn't important, she's common and normal and ordinary, but she doesn't want to die. She doesn't deserve to die, not for doing nothing. "Leave them alone."

"Oh," Diego taunted, "is lit-lit-little Vanya gonna cry? Do I need to get tissues?”

"Stop it!" She stomped her foot, avoiding the ants and any other bugs that might be in the area, and a tear falls down her face. "Stop hurting them!"

"Why?" Klaus asks. "There are so many!"

And there are so many people without powers, too, Vanya thinks, but that doesn't meant they deserve to die, they never deserve to die.

Five sighs. "I'm gonna go to the swings with Allison."

Luther nods. "Me too."

Ben nods, going along with them.

Five and Luther give Vanya a disgusted look as they pass by her, her face covered in tears that she's not sure if they come from sadness or anger or something else. "They're ordinary," she mutters so quietly under her breath that she's not even sure she said it. "They don't deserve to die."

"Now, Vanya," Grace says, now beside Number Seven, "there's no need to cry."

"Th-they're killing them," she sputters out.

Grace sighs. "Boys will be boys."

But Vanya has to turn away because she can't stop crying.

They don't deserve to die; they're like her.

Chapter Text

He wasn't exactly... normal.

But he knew that.

He wasn't interested in the same clothes or toys as his brothers were. He wasn't interested in all the girls like his brothers were. But he was fine with that.

And right now he was in her room taking some heels.

He was a teenage boy. A teenage boy! There was no way Diego, Five, Ben, or Luther would do this—well, maybe Ben with a little push. Not even Vanya would do something like this.

"What are you doing?"

Klaus jumps up. "I-I thought you wouldn't be in here for a while and I was—"

"Is that my skirt?" she asks, pointing to what Klaus was wearing.

Klaus turned a deep red and buried his hands in his hands. He didn't want people to know about this. "Well—Yeah."

Allison started laughing. Klaus was humiliated. She's laughing at him, he thinks. "Why do you look better in that than I do?" she suddenly says.

"I—what?" To say he was surprised would be an understatement.

Allison put her hand over her agape mouth. "Oh my god." She squealed, "I should give you a makeover!"

"Are you saying I'm not pretty enough?" Klaus jokingly asked, mock offended.

Number Three rolled her eyes. "Obviously not. You look fabulous."

"I know. But, um... yeah, I'd like that," he sheepishly admitted.

Allison smiled widely and before he knew what had happened he and her were sitting side by side, nail polish and makeup in front of them.

"What color do you want your nails?" she asked, taking one of his hands in hers.

It was all so much. Yeah, sure, he's thought about it before, but to actually be doing it? It was better than he'd ever imagined.

"I don't know," he admitted. "You pick."

She examined each color, thinking carefully before pulling out three purple nail polishes. "Alright, I've narrowed it down to three."

The first, which was called Prized Possession Purple, was grape-colored. The second, which was called One Less Lonely Glitter, was a light purple with sparkles inside. And the third, which was called I've Got Bieber Fever, was a more plum-purple.

"They all look so pretty," Klaus said. He thought for a few seconds longer before pulling out I've Got Bieber Fever. "I like this one."

Allison nodded. "Good choice."

She began to open the bottle, but Klaus stopped her. "I know this is kinda stupid to ask," he began with a huffed laugh, "but, uh, could you, like, teach me? Like—could you teach me so that I could do it on my own? You don't have to, it's just—"

"Yes!" Allison cheered. "Of course I can!"

Klaus found himself smiling. He liked this. He liked this a lot.

Allison explained to him each step on how to paint your nails, doing it on his hand when speaking. After she finished the first hand, Klaus tried his other. It wasn't great, no, but it was something. And it was honestly a lot of fun.

Klaus tried to convince Allison to let him do one of her hands, but instead of actually painting her nails he just painted her fingers, so she laughed and did her nails herself.

"These look fantastic!" Klaus gawked as he stared at his now dry nails, the plum color glistening in his sister's room.

"I know," Allison agreed. She had chosen Suzi & the Lifeguard, a pale pink, and it looked great on her. "Now for the makeup!"

Allison taught Klaus how to use lipstick, mascara, blush, concealer, foundation—pretty much everything she knew. His eyebrows tweezed and groomed, his lips were the same plum color as I've Got Bieber Fever, his cheeks a rosy blush, and more that Klaus didn't even know the name of. All he knew was that he looked great. And he liked it. "It's perfect," he told Allison as he gazed in the mirror, a smile on his purple lips. His muscles hurt from how much he's been smiling. He's not used to smiling.

"It's not perfect yet." Klaus looked to his sister in confusion until he saw her by her closet.

Klaus wanted to squeal with all the excitement in him. He knew that if Diego were here he might make fun of him for being so girly, but to be honest he didn't care. He liked this. And there was no way he wasn't doing makeup or nail polish again.

Allison herself was wearing makeup, too, and Klaus was proud to say that he did her blush himself. She looked great, too, everything about her very pink and perfect.

The two of them went through almost all of Allison's clothes. Dresses, skirts, even simple tank tops and short shorts. They strutted around her room as if in a fashion show, laughing at one another and enjoying the company.

By the end of the night, on top of all the makeup, Allison found herself in one of her pink dresses. It was a little frilly, a little lacy, and fit her and her curves perfectly. She also wore some pink and tan sandals and insisted on holding a tan leather handbag. Klaus honestly admired how good she looked. He, on the other hand, was in a tight black leather skirt with a frilly and loose purple shirt tucked lightly in to it. The shoes he stole from Allison were some shiny black two inch heels; with those extra two inches he towered over his sister.

"God, we look like fucking models!" Allison said, clear happiness in her voice.

"What'd you say?" Klaus asked jokingly. "I can't hear you from up here."

Allison rolled her eyes and pushed him slightly. "Shut up, you idiot."

Klaus laughs. "It's hard to walk in heels," he admits. "How do you do it?"

Allison shakes her head and groans a little. "Lots of practice and lots of pain," she tells him. "But, Klaus, honesty—you look great."

Klaus feels himself blush a little under the makeup. He does look good. "You look great, too, Allison. Really." He waits a second before adding, "Thank you. Thank you for, uh, teaching me, I guess."

Allison shakes her head. "It was no problem, really. And feel free to borrow my clothes," she adds with a laugh. "You look better in some of them than I do."

And Klaus finds himself smiling again. He's in a skirt and a tank top and some make up and nail polish and he just had the best night of his life. He forgets what the norm for guys his age is and allows himself to enjoy the moment.

And this moment is pretty good.

Chapter Text

It's not like they planned to do it.

But they did it and it happened.

There's no going back now.

There's was so much stress and the ghosts and everything, everything was so difficult and Klaus didn't know what to do. They panicked. They grabbed their lighter and suddenly it was open and under their arm and—

Tears were in Klaus' eyes already but this made them fall.

At first they didn't know what was happening. They could only watch helplessly as their body moved, but soon after they pulled the lighter away.

And Klaus felt... relieved?

It was—It was difficult to explain. There was this rush, this high, this euphoric feeling that rushed through their veins. Their eyes were shot wide open and they couldn't stop an odd, lopsided grin appear on their face.

But then they actually felt the burn, felt the pain on their skin. It was boiling, intense and painful. Whatever weird pleasure they felt before was gone, was replaced by the pain in their arm. They ran to the bathroom and ran cold water over it, because it was so warm, so hot.

And then the pain was gone and everything was replaced by an intense guilt. A guilt that echoed in their ears for what seemed like an eternity.

And then they burned themselves again the next night.

Each burn was a circle or something like it. Some were lopsided, others more oval, a few even seeming more like a triangle than anything else. But that guilt, the same guilt as the first night Klaus did it, was always there. But they felt so helpless. They felt as if they were watching it happen but completely helpless to stop it, helpless to do anything.

And this went on for over a year.

The burns blistered over and popped and puss would go everywhere. They'd bandage them and put ointment and all kinds of products on them. They never acknowledged them, always ignored them, ignored what their life had gone to. Because admitting they were burning, were harming themselves—well, that'd be like admitting a horrible failure. But pretending it wasn't happening almost made it seem like a bad dream.

The day had just been absolutely awful. Reginald had been pushing them too far and nothing worked, everything got worse.

Which is how they found themselves on the ground of their room, tears falling down their face as a cigarette lighter was held under their arm, burning another circle in their pale arm.

"Hey Klaus, you looked pretty upset earlier and—"

Klaus jerked the lighter away from their arm, dropping it. It landed in a pile of clothes, setting them aflame. Diego immediately ran over, stomping on the small fire to put it out.

The smell of smoke lingered in the room. Diego was breathing heavily, standing on a pile of charred clothes. Klaus was hiding their face, hiding their tears, hiding their burns.

"J-J-Jesus, Klaus, what the hell was that about?" Diego asked.

Klaus didn't respond.

Hesitantly, Diego got on his knees. He tapped their shoulder. No response. Something caught his eye, though. Diego grabbed Klaus' arm and pulled it down. Burns. Burns up and down their forearm, some healing some new some already healed.

"Klaus, are you—?" He left the question hanging in the air, the final word echoing in the empty room.

Klaus sniffed and raised their head. "You weren't supposed to know," they muttered pathetically.

Diego dropped his sibling's arm. "That m-m-makes it worse!" He was sad, sad and afraid. But, just like he always does, he masks it with anger. Fear and sadness show his vulnerability, and with Klaus already in such a difficult time, he needs to seem strong. So he seems angry. "You can't—Klaus, you-you can't do that!"

And while Diego masks his fear and sadness with anger, Klaus masks theirs with jokes. "Well from the looks of it," they said, "I can. Do you not see the burns, or..."

"This isn't a fucking j-joke!" Diego sighed. Anger wasn’t what he needed right then. He needed to be real with them, tell them how he felt. "Klaus, I—" Nope. He's not good at this. "Shit."

"Diego, I'm sorry, but it's just—"

"Klaus, don't—don't ap-p-pologize. Please. This isn't... it-t isn't your fault."

And then Ben is coming slowly into the room. "I could smell burning," he explains shyly. "Is everything okay?"

With one glance at Diego and Klaus on the floor, Ben knew it wasn't okay. So he took a seat beside them. "What's wrong?"

Klaus thinks about turning it all into a joke, saying something funny, but they decide against it. "I—" God, this is difficult to say. There's a lump in their throat and their vision is distorted by the tears in their eyes. They take a deep breath. "I burned myself. I—I hurt myself." And now the wave of guilt is crashing over them. They've never said that aloud, never admitted it, hell, they never even admitted it to themselves.

And, shit, now they're crying.

"I—" not even Ben knows what to say. His own sibling. Hurting themself. On purpose. It was all too much.

Diego rests a comforting hand on Klaus' back. "It's okay," he says gently.

"I-I-It's not," Klaus cries out.

"It's not," Ben agrees. "But that's fine. It's not always okay."

So Klaus cries.

"Can I ask a question?" Ben says carefully.

Klaus swallows the lump in his throat and nods.

"Why—why do you do it?"

They shrug. "I'm just—everything is so horrible. And I—I don't know, doing... this, it helps, a little. Releases the stress. I don't—I don't know."

"Klaus w-w-when you, uh, y-you know... when you d-do this, in the future, p-please, uh, t-t-t-tell us, maybe? I don't... I don't w-want you to..."

Klaus nods. "I understand." They can almost feel their arm burning, as if the wounds are still under that horrible, horrible fire. They feel so guilty. The purpose of this was never, ever, to hurt their siblings. They didn't think they'd ever find out, never thought about the affects it might have on other people.

"K-Klaus, Ben a-and I... all of us... we c-c-care ab-bout you, and i-if you g-get hurt—" Diego stops himself and shakes his head. He doesn't like this. He doesn't like talking about his feelings, he doesn't like Klaus burning themself, he doesn't like any of it. There are too many emotions and he can't think, he can't, which only makes his stutter worse and now he's embarrassing himself.

"It's alright, Diego," Klaus says, hearing how bad his stutter is getting.

Diego shakes his head. "No. I-I-I'm supposed t-to be comfort-t-ting you, n-not the other way ar-r-round."

Klaus is about to say something, but Ben stops him. "What Diego was saying, though, is that... well, we love you, Klaus. You're funny and sarcastic and witty and you're great. So please, please, please talk to us. We want to help you. You shouldn't—you shouldn't have to go through this alone."

And Klaus smiles, ever so slightly, barely even noticeable. But he knows he'll be okay. Because he has these fantastic, amazing, supportive brothers.

And maybe everything will get better.

Chapter Text

They're all so loud.

Screaming and screaming and screaming at him.

Klaus can't take it. He hates it.

Most are covered in a blood having faced gruesome deaths. The same shrill scream in their voices as when they died. The voices all jumble together to create one ear shattering noise.

They're all grabbing, grabbing, grabbing at Klaus and he can't run, can't run from their disfigured hands and their horrid voices.

He's not sure if they're the same ones he saw when his father locked him up all those years ago, he just knows they’re just as horrible. He knows they're just as loud and just as horrifying and he can't escape them.

He can rarely make out their words, but when he can they're pleas for help, cries of his name—how do they know his name? Why do they keep getting closer and closer and why don't they stop grabbing? Klaus just needs them to stop, to go away. He can't handle it.

With his own dry scream, Klaus is ripped out of the nightmare.

It feels as if his heart is being torn from his chest, trying to run away. His pillow is wet with tears or sweat or maybe both, he's not sure.

This—this is why he started taking drugs.

"Klaus? Are you okay?" Allison is poking her head in his room, concern written on her face.

Mere seconds later, Diego is running in, blade in hand. "What's wrong?"

Tonight was one of those nights where all the Hargreeves kids were at the house. They had met up there previously and the roads were too dangerous to drive, so they all stayed the night.

Klaus can't breathe. He feels as if his throat is closing up, tight, tight, too tight, and no air can reach his lungs. They're still screaming in his head, always screaming.

Diego is now sitting beside him in the bed, whispering things to calm him down but he can't hear any of them.

Luther, Vanya, and Five—armed with a gun—are all in the room now, too, having arrived in that order. Allison explains to them what happened—though she honestly doesn't know much—as Diego continues to try to calm his brother.

Even when they were young this was a problem. The ghosts, the ghosts were always a problem, and Klaus just wants them gone. He wants some weed or alcohol or something, something to take the ghosts away.

"Was it a bad dream?" Luther wonders.

"They're so loud," Klaus whimpers pathetically, pitting his hands over his ears.

"Who are?" Allison asks.

"The ghosts, dimwit," Five shoots back. Five cares about his brother, whether or not he shows it, and seeing him like this—god, it is horrible. He looks so helpless and powerless. He wants to help but he doesn't know how to. He doesn’t mean to be so rude, he really doesn’t, but he doesn’t know what to do.

"What can we do?" asks Vanya, carefully putting a hand on Klaus' shoulder. "We want to help."

He shakes his head. "No, no, I'm fine, I'm fine," he lies. His teeth chatter slightly, his body cold from having been awoken in such a horrible way at such an early hour.

"You're not fine," Luther insists.

Diego shakes his head, telling everybody, "Give him some space."

The others, Klaus can see, are all nervous. They had been woken up in the middle of the night. They probably thought something actually serious had happened. But Klaus wasn't important, he knew that. These nightmares, these ghosts, they didn't care about them. He knew they were only here so they didn't feel guilty about leaving him.

"Klaus?"

He shivered when Diego spoke his name.

"Klaus, are you okay?"

"Never," he answers.

"What can we do?" Allison asks him, always, Klaus thinks, trying to be a savior sister.

"If you all could just get me some weed—"

"Klaus, we aren't—" Luther began, but pinched his nose in frustration.

"We're not getting you drugs," Vanya finished, but her tone was nicer than Luther's. Softer. More full of care. Klaus liked it.

"Well then I'm afraid your help here is done," Klaus jokes with a breathy laugh. "It was a swell time we just had, we should do it more often."

"Come on, Klaus," Diego said. "I know you're not goin' back to sleep after that. You want some coffee?"

"Hey, no one's taking my coffee," Five told them all.

Allison rolled her eyes.

"Not even to take care of your poor brother?" Klaus dramatically asked.

"No. Y'all can make your own."

Vanya shook her head. "Ignore him. What do you need from us?"

"I already said drugs," Klaus reminds them.

"And we already said no," Diego retorts. "Just... start by tellin' us what's wrong."

Klaus shrugs. "The normal," he answers quietly. His heart is still pounding and his ears ring with the horrible voice of them. "The ghosts." He involuntarily shivers and feels his throat close up slightly.

"Breathe, Klaus," Diego reminds him, his hand on his back. "You can't do anything if you can't breathe."

"Stand up straight," Luther instructs. "Just try to calm down. It's easier to breathe that way."

Klaus does as he's told. He leans against Diego and Vanya for support as he stands. He feels so dizzy. He can't think straight, he can't even hear his own thoughts.

"Give me a second," Five says as he spatial jumps to who knows where. He's back a few seconds later, handing a small cup of water to Klaus. "Drink that. Slowly."

Once again, Klaus does so. He didn't even realize how dry his throat felt. But now he's breathing a little easier, which in turn makes his heart beat a little slower. It's not much, certainly not, but it's something, and that's all he really needs right now. Something.

"Please," Klaus says, "just—I'm fine. You all can go. Sleep."

"You think there's any way in hell I'm sleepin' after that?" Diego asks. "No. Now let us help your ghost seeing ass."

Klaus sighs. "Fine."

And, slowly, ever so slowly, with the help of his siblings, Klaus is breathing normally, his heart is beating normally, he's sweating normally...

He's fine. And this time he's not lying.

Chapter Text

The instant he saw his face, he knew.

He knew he was perfect and he knew he was head over heels.

Klaus was absolutely gone.

The first time he saw Dave was, to be fair, a very odd time. But Dave talked to him on the bus and invited him to the club and he knew he was perfect.

The night at the club... Klaus could never forget it.

They had been drinking and dancing and Klaus was far too drunk to not flirt with a hot guy like Dave. So they talked and flirted and laughed and they danced and... then they kissed. It was careful and hidden but, god, it was perfect. Dave's lips fit perfectly against Klaus'.

That was as far as they went that night.

Dave had backed away for a few days after that, clearly afraid. To be fair, it's not exactly like a homosexual relationship was accepted at this time.

But, at some point, Klaus managed to convince Dave to follow his heart. They weren't open, couldn't be open, about their relationship, but there was one.

"Hey, heartbeat," Dave greeted Klaus, offering him a kiss.

Klaus smiled. "Hey, dear."

It was one of those special times when they were at some club, away from the war, away from the others. And no one noticed their pet names and stolen kisses. "You got my brew?"

Klaus handed him his beer, taking a sip of his own.

"Tell me about your family," Klaus said a few drinks in, leaning closer to Dave.

Dave shrugged. "Not much to tell," he told him. "I had no siblings, absent  and drunk father, the usual. What about you? What's your family like? You don't talk much about them."

Klaus shrugged. "I was the fourth sibling of seven," he explains. "We lost two of them... but they were all great. I-I love them, really. I miss them." And Klaus really did miss them, as much as he loved his time with Dave. It was difficult, being away from them. "There was one time," he laughed, "where Luther, one of my brothers, kept throwing spoons at me! He was trying to be like my other brother, Diego, who was just—he was supernaturally good at that stuff."

Dave smiled at him. "Your family sounds fun."

"Yeah," he agreed. "Yeah, they were really fun."

Dave took some of Klaus' hair and curled it around his finger. He liked doing that, liked messing around with his hair. And Klaus enjoyed it, too, enjoyed how comforting and warm it felt. "I can't wait for this war to be over, sunshine," Dave told him. "I want you to see your family. I want to meet them, too. Do they know..."

"That I'm dating a stud?" Klaus asked. Stud was his favorite of the 60s slang terms he'd learned.

Dave chuckled. "Yes, that you're dating a stud."

Klaus sighs and thinks for a moment. "No. No, they don't know. But I'm sure—I'm sure they'll be fine with it." He hoped they would be, at least.

"That's good," Dave told him. "My father—he wouldn't... he wouldn't approve of this."

"I'm sorry."

"No, it's fine. I'm... I'm glad I found you."

Then followed more drinks.

"I'm absolutely blitzed!" Dave yelled, arms thrown up and beer splattering everywhere.

Klaus laughed a little. "Yeah, you are, dear."

Dave grabbed the back of Klaus' neck and pulled him in for a wet and sloppy kiss. This time, though, a few other guys around the club noticed. They started snickering and laughing, yelling out 'fag' and the like.

Dave turned to them, anger on his face. "Shut the hell up!"

One of them took a step towards him. "What're you going to do, faggot?"

Dave curled his hand in a fist, but Klaus grabbed his arm. "Let's go."

"But, Klaus—"

"I said let's go," he insisted again, dragging him out of the club.

"Candy ass!" one called after them. Klaus shook his head.

"Dave, sweetheart," Klaus began, the cool air sobering both him and Dave up a little, "you can't pick fights like that."

Dave sighed and shook his head. "I'm sorry, heartbeat. Let's just—let's go find a room for the night."

Klaus nodded his head in agreement.

Eventually, the two stumbled into a vacant room. It was fit with two beds—they only slept in one, though; the other was just for show—a nightstand, a lamp, a small table, and two chairs. Dave flopped onto one of the itchy mattresses, sighing. It was a luxury compared to what they slept on most nights.

Klaus crawled over, on top of Dave, capturing his lips in a kiss. Thia was more gentle, more thought out, more caring than before. Their lips moved in perfect sync, perfect harmony, matching one another's movements as if they were made for each other. And Klaus is convinced they were.

Klaus was never one to believe in soulmates or anything serious. But with someone like Dave, it felt difficult to not think that maybe there was someone who you were just... meant to be with. Made your life better. Made you better. And Dave did all of that for him. He was the reason he hadn't even tried to go back to his time.

Klaus' hand went down to cup Dave's dick, a clear tent in his pants. He let out a stifled moan, grabbing desperately at Klaus' shirt. He was practically eating his face, tongue slipping in and out of his mouth in desperate and hungry strokes. All of it, though, all of it had some layer of love and caring.

Klaus pulled away from the kiss, first, electing instead to suck a bruise right below his jaw. Dave started taking off Klaus' shirt, forcing him to detach his lips for a few seconds before he went back to eagerly sucking on his neck. Once he was sure there'd be a pretty little purple mark there the next morning, Klaus started sliding down Dave's chest. He could see him stiffen slightly, so he cooed meaningful words in his ear. "You're perfect," Klaus whispered. "God, you're so perfect." And he meant it. He meant every word that he said.

Klaus pulled Dave's shirt off, fingers toying at his nipples. Left. Right. Left. Right. Dave let out a delicious moan as Klaus licked a line up his chest. "You're doing so good, darling," Dave praised.

And, god, it was hard for Klaus not to smile. With all the pet names and tender kisses and hair playing... Klaus was done for. He really was perfect. He couldn't imagine himself with anyone else. Dave was everything he wasn't. He didn't know how he got so lucky with this man, all he knew was that he was never letting him go.

He continued to move down, taking off Dave's belt and sliding his pants off. "No underwear?" Klaus asked in amusement. "Really?"

Dave shrugged. "It's faster this way."

Klaus could still see the anxiety in his face, so he rubbed up and down Dave's thighs soothingly. He leaned forward, liking a stripe up his hard and leaking dick. A strangled cry of pleasure fell from Dave's mouth, so Klaus continued. He licked again, twirling his tongue around the head. Then, Klaus allowed his lips to stretch over the whole cock, moving down slowly until the tip hit the back of his throat, resisting the urge to gag but a few tears making their way to his eyes.

Dave squeezed his eyes shut and grabbed Klaus' hair, pulling him up. "What's wrong, dear?” Klaus asked, hands running up and down his abs.

Dave was breathing heavily, body still tense, stiff. "I've never..." he stops himself and takes a deep breath. "I've never been with another man before," he admits.

Klaus smiles. He was glad Dave could be so open with him, glad he trusted him enough. "Do you still want to... ya know?"

Dave nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, I do, heartbeat."

"So I'll be your first?" he asked with a smirk.

Dave chuckled. "Yeah. Yeah, you will."

"Then I'll go slow, darling."

Chapter Text

The first time they did it they were still young.

Seventeen, maybe.

They were just... fed up with life. Fed up with their family. Fed up with everything.

So they took drugs. Lots and lots of drugs. Every single drug they could find, Klaus took.

They began to feel dizzy, at first. They couldn't stand, had to hold on to the sink counter. And then their eyelids got droopy. They couldn't hold them open, couldn't stand upright. Then their grip went loose and the counter wasn't there. They couldn't stand and they fell, down down down to the floor. Their hip hit the bathtub and then Klaus was out.

They're not sure when they woke up, all they know was when they did they were in a hospital bed. The heart monitor beeped steadily, loudly, too loud. The lights were too bright and it just smelled like a hospital. God, it was horrible.

Beside them was the whole family—well, almost the whole family. Diego, Allison, Luther, Vanya, Ben, and Grace. All by their bedside, taking care of him, ensuring he was okay.

It was less than a year later that they attempted it again. Newly eighteen, newly out of the Hargreeves house, and newly out of money.

Klaus had nothing to live on. All they had was drugs, and it wasn't like they could live off those. They knew their life was shit, absolute shit.

So they found a building, a tall, tall building. And they jumped. The air blew against their face and they jumped, down down down, until they hit the ground.

Once again, they woke up in a hospital bed, Vanya, and Diego by their bedside. Ben was there, too.

The doctor put them in some hospital for a few days, trying to get their mental health straight. But they knew they'd never be okay, not really.

Which is why at twenty-one they tried again.

A different age, different place, different method.

Klaus simply couldn't take any more of anything. They were all alone, lacking of friends and family. They had no money and the money they did have went to drugs. They were dying, either way. Might as well speed up the process.

And third time's a charm, right?

The noose hung down from the ceiling, the knot intimidating them from their spot perched on a chair. It slipped easily around their neck, fitting as if it were always meant to be there, as if it were their fate. And maybe it was.

They kicked the chair away, allowing their body to hang their, limp, the life draining from their eyes. It was a choking sensation, an inability to get any air. They could practically feel their eyes roll back in their head, feel their body as it went dead, any signs of life gone.

Or maybe not.

Another hospital, another hospital bed. It was only Diego there, this time, only their brother. Diego shook his head at them, but gripped their hand tightly. He was worried, clearly, worried with tears in his eyes.

But that didn't stop Klaus.

Next, at twenty-three, they tried to drown themself.

Three nights in a row leading up to this, Klaus had gotten beaten up. Their nose was broken and ribs bruised, life complete and utter shit. Life, they could see, was hopeless. There was nothing for them, nothing to look forward to. No reason to live.

So they stopped trying.

They decided to drown themself in the cold water of a bathtub. It was fairly shallow, the water feeling like ice against what little skin it touched. Goosebumps covered their body, head to toe.

Their first instinct when under the water of that bathtub was simple, predictable: don't breathe. Don't breathe. Don't breathe.

God, it hurt. This, by far, this was the worst way to kill yourself, the worst way to die. Their lungs were burning, screaming for air. They got dizzy again, dizzy and tired. They couldn't help it, it was involuntary; they took a breath.

Not long after that they woke up in a different hospital, different hospital bed. They looked to their side but—but no one was there. They were alone.

Thank god, though, a few seconds later Diego came running through those doors, out of breathe, eyes red. "Klaus?" he called, running to their bedside. He grabbed their hand and sighed. "Thank god you're okay."

But what if Klaus didn't want to be okay? "Yeah."

"I was worried."

You don't care, Diego. You can't care, Klaus thought. You can't care about someone like me. You weren't worried. I'd be better off dead. "I know."

"You can't..." Diego shook his head, gripping Klaus' hand tightly. "You can't do this, Klaus. I can't keep coming after you. I have—I have things to do, Klaus."

So stop running after me. "I know."

"I can't... I can't keep doing this."

See? You don't care. "I know. I'm sorry."

"You could've died."

I wanted to. "I know."

And, somehow, in their crazy and twisted and depressed mind, nothing changed. Nothing changed because there was still no hope in their life. No one cared about them, no one would even notice if they died. No one would care.

They were now twenty-eight. This time... it had to work. It had to work this time, it had to. They had nothing, nothing in their life. All Klaus wanted to do was die, they just wanted to die, they just wanted their horrible, horrible life to be over. Why can't it just be over, just end already?

They decide to go back to the first way they tried this, the first time they tried to die at the young, too young, age of seventeen. Every possible drug they could buy with the limited money they had left was bought. Everything and anything that could lead to a drug overdose was collected. And it was all in Klaus' grasp, all there, right there, for Klaus to take. Because they hadn't seen their family, not even Diego, in years. They hadn't had any real and decent food to eat in weeks. For some time, too, they had no roof over their head, no friends, no family, no food, no reason or will to live.

They had a brief glimpse, brief flashback, brief memory of... eleven years ago. Eleven. It seems, somehow, like forever ago and yet just yesterday. Pills and drugs in their hand, they feel like that small, helpless little kid again, their father standing over them, monitoring their every move.

Down the hatch it goes.

Once again, the dizzy feeling is back, but Klaus doesn't have to hold on to anything. They're laying in their bathtub, completely at peace with themself and with the world. This time, they're sure, is the time. They're meant to die right here and right now, content with their horrible and miserable life, content with death.

There's an odd feeling of nausea in their stomach this time, but they ignore it, focusing instead on the honking of cars outside, focusing on how heavy their eyelids feel, focusing on how cool the bathtub is against their bare back. They're ready to die.

And then their eyes shut.

The beeping is back, as well as the hospital smell they've grown so used to. They're still alive, still alive. Why? Why can't they just die? Just let them rest, let them be at peace. Let them die.

Klaus looks to their side, thinking or hoping, they're not sure, to see Diego there. But he isn't there, he's not sitting in the chair that's always placed by the bedside. He's not sitting where he's supposed to be, not sitting beside his sibling. So Klaus looks towards the door. Maybe he's running late. Maybe he's about to burst through those doors and take their hand in his and cry and tell him not to be so stupid, that there's so much to live for, that he's happy they aren't dead, that he'll be there, he'll be there because he's their brother. And he's always there, always there, he has to be there. He has to.

Tears cloud Klaus' eyes when Diego doesn't come. He doesn't come and sit by their bedside, doesn't tell them that they need to live and they can't keep doing this. They're alone, truly alone.

Why can't they just die?

Chapter Text

There are gun shots, he's sure of it.

Gun shots and screams and his body feels damp from sweat and rain.

The air is difficult to breathe. His ears ring. Blood is dripping from Dave's chest and it's covering Klaus' hands. It's everywhere. Please. Please, no, don't go. Save him. Save him. Save me.

Dave's eyes are open as the life is drained from them. The gun, the shots, the fire, it keeps going. But Dave is dead.

Klaus screams out. The weight of his lover is still heavy in his hands and tears, tears fall down his face. He's still there, still in Vietnam, still in the war, and he can't leave, can't escape any of it.

"Klaus?" He's shaken out of the flashback, the memory, but he can still hear the gunshots, still feel the warm smoke on his face. "Klaus?" Diego is shaking him now, shaking him and trying to get his attention. But he doesn't understand, he can't understand, because how could he understand? "Klaus, what's wrong?"

He shakes his head, the vision of Dave slowly fading away and his family reappearing in front of him. It's only then that he realizes he's breathing heavily, throat dry and closing up. Tears blur his vision and his hands tremble, his whole body trembles, quakes.

"It was a firework," Five assures him from the kitchen. "Probably some stupid kids shooting them off."

Klaus shakes his head. "No," he begins, voice quiet, strangled, forced. "No. No, I-I heard it. I heard the—the gun shots. I heard it," he continues, body trembling in his chair.

Allison gets on her knees in front of Klaus as if he were a child. "There was no gunshot," she assured him. "Just some fireworks. You're fine. We're all fine."

Except they're not all okay, except he can't forget, he can't forget Vietnam, except Dave is dead and it's not all okay, it's not.

His breath gets caught in his throat. "Hey," Luther said soothingly, large hand gently placed on his shoulder. "It's alright. Breathe."

Klaus jerked his shoulder, forcing the hand off him. "It's not okay," he whispered, his voice too weak to go any louder. "It's not okay." It was a stupid firework, some stupid fucking fireworks, he keeps telling himself that. But Dave—his blood is on Klaus' sweaty hands, his heavy body limp in his arms. He's panicking, panicking and he can't stop. His heart is beating fast, fast like when the enemy was shooting at him, fast like when Dave kissed him for the first time, fast like when Dave died in his arms. Panic.

Allison's hand is on his knee, Diego's on his shoulder, Vanya's on his arm, Five standing in front of him, Luther behind him, Ben's ghost sitting comfortably on the arm rest beside him. It's too much, all too much, too many people and not enough space, so Klaus jerks his body, moving slowly away from everyone on his shaky limbs, rubbing his sweaty palms raw on his pants. He just needs to get away, to be alone, to stop panicking and just calm down.

"Klaus," Vanya shouts out to him, "Klaus, come back." But he can't, he doesn't, he can't because they don't understand and he can't breathe and he just needs some space, space from everything, space from his family and space from the goddamn gunshots. But they don't stop, they can't stop, they never stop and they ring in his ears. His hands are pressing tight, tight against his head, but the shooting is inside his brain, the gunshots, it's still there and he can't stop.

Someone's coming after him, he can tell, can hear the feet coming towards him. He knows they'll catch up and he's dizzy with panic so he just slumps against a wall, waiting. Diego, Luther, Vanya, Five, Allison—all of them, all of them there, even Ben beside him now. Diego puts a hand carefully on Klaus' shoulder. "Just breathe," Five reminds him, but it's not that simple.

"He's hyperventilating," Diego tells the others. "He's having a panic attack, I think."

"PTSD," Five says.

Luther looks at him in confusion. "PTSD?"

"Post Traumatic—"

"I know what it is."

Diego nods. "Yeah, yeah, that'd make sense, I guess. But how do we stop it?"

Klaus clenched his fist. "I'm fine," he said quickly. He tried to swallow despite his dry throat, tried to swallow that damn lump in his throat that made his damn voice crack.

"You're not fine," Allison said. Vanya nodded her head in agreement.

"Just—" Klaus shook his head. He tried to take a deep breath. He tried to steady his hand. He tried to calm down. He tried to stop the ringing in his stupid fucking ears. "Just leave me alone."

"Get him some water," Diego told them.

"I'm on it," Vanya replies, rushing back to the kitchen.

"I just—I'm fine," Klaus repeats. "I'm fine, I just need to—close my eyes, I need to close my eyes for some time. That's all. I'm tired."

But when Klaus closes his eyes all he can see is the bodies dropping, the smoke surrounding his eyes. It is too much.

Vanya comes back, handing him a cup of cold, cold water. Klaus just holds it in his hands, relishing in the feel of it. He was so hot, too hot. It brought him back, brought him back to the reality that the war was over, that he was back, back in his own time with his own family and there were no gunshots, just some shitty fireworks.

"Drink it," Ben whispers in his ear, and Klaus snaps out of the odd trance he'd been put in and put the glass to his lips, tipping it upward slowly.

"How're you feeling?" Allison asks him as he rests the cup on the ground beside him.

Klaus shakes his head, taking a deep breath. It felt a lot fuller than the other breaths, filling his lungs with the air he desperately needed. "I told you: I'm fine."

Diego sighed, finally pulling his hand away from Klaus' shoulder. "Thank god you're okay."

"What happened there?" Luther asked.

"Nothing," he told them.

"Klaus—" Five began.

He repeated, "Nothing." Klaus paused for a second. "Thank you."

"For what?" asked Allison.

He shrugged. "For helping me. Not that I needed any help.”

"It's what siblings do," Vanya told him.

Klaus took another deep breath. He liked deep breaths. He liked being able to breathe. "Still. Thank you."

This time, Klaus really was fine. He was fine and he was thankful for his family. He wasn't panicking anymore.

Chapter Text

"Why do you need the money again?"

"For, ya know, bills and shit."

"What happened to the money I gave you before?"

"I dunno. Probably drugs, if I'm being honest. Or I lost it. But probably drugs."

Diego shook his head and sighed. "You can't keep doing this, Klaus."

They shrugged.

Diego stares at his sibling for a few moments. The 'home' they were going back to would be cold. There'd be no power. There'd be no food. There'd be absolutely nothing to do besides drugs, nothing to do beside get high and drunk.

How can they live like that?

And, even if he gave them this money, there's no guarantee it'd go to the things they really did need. There was no guarantee that they'd pay their bills and buy groceries and do all the shit grownups have to do.

"So are you giving me the money or not?" Klaus asked.

"No."

Their eyes widened. "What? What do you mean 'no'?"

"I mean," Diego began, "I'm not giving you money to fill your drug habit. You're stayin' with me."

"I—what?"

"You're staying with me," he repeated.

"So I—I'll be your roommate?" Klaus asked, a grin wide on his face.

Diego groaned. "You seem way to excited about this."

Klaus wrapped their arms around their brother, pulling him into a hug. They might not seem very strong, but their hugs were bone crushing.

"Get off me," Diego told them, trying to pry them away, but Klaus didn't listen.

"This is great news, brother! How could I not be excited?"

"Just grab the stuff you'll need for a few nights. I'll get you back on your feet—this will not be permanent."

"Whatever you say, roommate."

Diego shook his head again, but he was smiling. Klaus' situation—well, it wasn't exactly ideal. And he knew he had to help them, had to help Klaus actually stay alive. This was the only way, he told himself.

So Diego drove Klaus back to their place, helped them shove a few things in his car, and then they were back at his place, back at the place Diego called home, back at the place that Klaus would be staying at now.

"This is a nice little place you got here," Klaus complimented. "Feels homely."

Diego shrugged, throwing one of their bags on the couch. "You can sleep there."

"Classy," they mocked.

"Hey, I'm doin' you a favor. Be grateful," he reminded them.

"Whatever," they responded. "I'm hungry. You got anything to eat?"

Diego sighed. This—yeah, this might be a bit difficult to adjust to. "Check the fridge." Diego began to set the couch up so it was a place where someone could actually sleep. It wasn't a pullout or anything, no, but throw a pillow and a few blankets on the thing and it's a makeshift bed.

The rest of the first night wasn't too difficult. Klaus was too busy stuffing their mouth full of food to talk—though they did try to—and Diego was just too tired to start a conversation. "Get some sleep, Klaus," he reminded his sibling. "I'm gonna hit the hay. Catch you in the morning."

"G'night, roomie!" Klaus called back after him, a wide grin on their face. They got themself settled on the couch, getting ready to sleep. It was nicer than what they were used to sleeping on, if they were being honest, and there was a certain sense of... familiarity and comfortableness with it, too. Because Klaus--Klaus recognized everything, recognized everything that Diego had up and the whole way it was decorated. And knowing that their brother was a room over was comforting, too.

Klaus woke up around noon the next day, but Diego was already awake and in the kitchen. He'd managed to visit the police station that morning, as well as pick up some more food for him and his newfound roommate.

"Mornin', Klaus," Diego greeted them. "Well, afternoon, technically."

Klaus groaned as he stretched his body. "Hey, roomie."

"Stop calling me that."

"Never."

Diego shook his head. "When was the last time you ate?" he asked. "Before last night."

Klaus shrugged. "Not sure. Few days, probably."

Diego placed a plate in front of them. "Eat."

"What is this? Is this—is this a grilled cheese?"

He shrugged. "Yeah. Easy to make. You always loved 'em when we were kids. And you need food. So eat."

"Hey," Klaus said, picking the grilled cheese up, "I'm not complaining."

"Good."

When they bit into the warm mix of bread and cheese, it felt like heaven. "This is fantastic!" they exclaimed. "Shit! It's hot, too."

He rolled his eyes. "You burn your tongue or something?"

"So what if I did?"

"Let it cool down," he reminded them. "It gets a bit hot."

"I hadn't noticed," they retorted. Klaus picked up a Rubik's Cube—fixed, of course, each side having its own color like it was supposed to—and started turning the pieces in random directions. "You have any plans for us today, roommate?"

"I'm just letting you stay at my place, Klaus, I still have things I need to do."

"What things?"

"Things. Now eat your grilled cheese."

Klaus complied. They did enjoy spending time here, really, because they knew that this cold and stern exterior that their brother put up was exactly that—it was just something he put up. Inside he was a big mushy teddy bear. That's why he let them stay at his place in the first place, obviously. Diego didn't even know about the leaking roof they had, didn't know how bad their situation really was.

"You got a girlfriend?" Klaus asked, taking another bite of the grilled cheese. It wasn't too hot this time.

Diego sat next to them, having cleaned up the kitchen a little. "Maybe."

"What's her name?" Klaus pressed, leaning forward in the way that girls always do in stupid movies when they're gossiping.

Diego chuckled. "I've just got my eye on her," he admits. "Nothing's actually, ya know, happened yet."

"You didn't answer my question."

He sighed. "Eudora."

"Well," Klaus teased, "you better tell me if you're bringing her over. I don't want to intrude on your sexy times now that I'm your roommate."

Diego pushed them lightly, in a joking manner. "We're not having any 'sexy times,'" he told them. "At least not while you're staying here."

"Then it'll be a while before you--" they thrust their hips upwards a few times, grunting and making obscene noises until Diego couldn't hold back his laughter. "'Cause I'm here to stay," they finished.

"It's my house. I can kick you out."

"Oh but it's my house now, too, roomie! And would you really kick out your poor sibling?" Klaus jutted their lip out in a pout and Diego chuckled. "See! You just can't get enough of me."

"You're so annoying." But Diego was smiling, grinning, because he really did enjoy his sibling's company. "You need to get a job so you can get back on your feet, Klaus. This can't be permanent. But I—I'm happy to have you stay here for as long as you need. Really."

"You better," Klaus told him, taking a bite of the grilled cheese. "We're gonna have a lot of fun together, roomie."

Chapter Text

Since he was young he took drugs.

They took away his powers, yeah, but they took away the ghosts.

It was better than nothing.

Klaus never did understand why his father let him take the drugs. Reginald dismissed it, dismissed him, mostly. And Klaus never questioned it.

Now his father is dead and he can't question it.

The Hargreeves kids are going through all of Reginald's belongings. They'd meant to do this a while ago but didn't exactly have time with the whole, you know, apocalypse thing. But they wanted to clear the house up, sell what they could.

Klaus got to go through the old man's study—why would anyone let him do that? It was stupid, really. But here he was, in his father's chair, throwing pens as if they were darts and trying to hit the door knob. He missed every time.

With a sigh, Klaus got out of the chair to look through the rest of his things. A lot of meaningless papers, random books, the usual, Klaus assumes. There are some numbers, statistics, but Klaus isn't sure what any of them mean.

There are notebooks, too, some of Reginald's. Not the secret diary type of journal that Klaus hoped for, no, it was the type of journal where you record more data and more statistics and more meaningless numbers.

He isn't sure what inspiration struck him, but he began to flip through the book, skimming random pages. There was some stuff about various training days, notes about each of them. There are notes about Ben's eagerness to please Reginald despite the fact that he seems shy to use his power, how he was easy to manipulate. There are notes about the pills he forced Vanya to take and how chaotic and dangerous her powers were. There are random notes on the emotions each kid held, whether it be anger, sadness, whatever. There are notes about Luther and Diego's fighting and how to use that to his advantage.

And then there were notes about him, notes about Number Four.

Klaus was almost afraid to read them, afraid to see what they said. Reginald noted his fear of ghosts, his fear of his own power. He noted the before and after of training days and missions and the like. But there were notes, too, about the drugs, the drugs Klaus took and the effect it had on his powers.

All these years... he wasn't really sure. He wasn't sure what his father knew, wasn't sure what his father thought of his drug usage. But it was all there, all right there.

'0.04 seems to have begun to take drugs as an attempt to keep the ghosts away,' it read. 'It works similarly to the medication I have given 0.07. He is medicating himself, taking away his powers. I will see how this plays out.'

Pages upon pages about Klaus' drug habit. His father knew. All these years he knew, he let Klaus throw his whole damn life away and he did nothing to stop it. He even wrote down about the hell he went through, wrote down the clear struggles he was facing.

Klaus didn't know what to do, he didn't know what to think. He didn't want this to be true, it couldn't be true. But it was, the proof was right there. It was his father's handwriting all right, his father's journal and his father's words.

Reginald had let him self medicate. He had let him get high out of his mind—for what? For an experiment? For something else?

Klaus slumps against a wall in the study. Why does everything bad in his life relate back to his father, this one terrible, horrible person?

Klaus feels like curling up and crying, but he's shed enough tears for Reginald, cried himself to sleep too many nights to do it again. So he tears the first page out of the notebook, ripping it out. He crumples it into a ball and throws it across the room.

This time he hits the doorknob.

Klaus continues ripping the pages out, starting with every page where he reads 0.04. His father couldn't even give them names! They were reduced to numbers, facts, powers. They were reduced to nothing.

The sadness, that dreadful emotion that was first in Klaus has turned into something else. An anger, a fury, an absolute hatred. Paper balls are thrown across the clean study, some pieces more crumpled than others. Klaus doesn't stop with the ones marked 0.04, no, he keeps going. He doesn't stop, he can't stop. It's too much, he's feeling too much, and he doesn't know what to do.

Eventually, he's not even curling them into balls. He's just ripping them out and letting them flutter to the ground, maybe a few crinkles on the edge. The rips become less and less organized, less and less clean. Klaus tears two, three pages at once. He tears pieces down the center, making the reading unintelligible. But who would ever want to read this again? Who would want to read the calculated pain that Reginald gave to all his children?

The book is empty, now, and Klaus is just sitting, slumped against a wall on his knees. He's out of the breath and tears threaten to ruin his mascara, but he's determined to not cry, he can't cry. He can't cry, not for Reginald, not about Reginald.

He takes a deep breath and stands on his shaky legs. He tries to calm himself, tries to clear his head, but the memories of ghosts ring in his ears and his father's words echo in his mind. His father pushed him over the edge, led him to the drugs, and not once, not once did he try to stop him. He benefited in his son ruining his life.

He's still holding the cover of the journal, pieces of paper still lining the edge. Klaus throws the book at the wall, letting it tumble to the ground amidst the fallen papers. His fist clenches and unclenches, heart tightening and throat closing. All he wants, all he wants, is one more chance to see Reginald. He wants a chance to just fucking deck him, punch him just once for how fucked up he made all of them.

Klaus takes a deep breath and walks out of the study.

Chapter Text

It hadn't worried them.

In fact, they had thought nothing about it.

Death wasn't exactly... death. Not for them, at least. Not when they can see the dead and keep coming back from it.

It was a stupid way to ‘die’, really. They had slipped, they remember, slipped back and hit their head on... something. Something hard and sharp probably, something that could kill them. They were a bit disoriented when it happened, so they don't exactly remember.

The next thing Klaus knows is they're waking up at the Hargreeves house, all their siblings standing above them. "What is this?" they ask jokingly. "Is it a family reunion?"

Klaus can see the surprise on their sibling's faces—Luther's especially. "Close your mouth," they advise him, "don't want any flies gettin in."

"H-How...?" Luther begins.

"You were dead," Diego says.

Klaus rolls their eyes and sits up. "I didn't notice."

"How are you alive?" Allison asks him.

"I think God just hates me," they tell them. "And she's a fucking handful! Tip: don't try to steal her bike. She doesn't like it when you do that."

"You—What?" Vanya says, clearly perplexed.

Five looks oddly calm and composed. He doesn’t seem too surprised about the whole thing, not even a tad bit uncomfortable.

"I talked to God again," Klaus explained. "I tried to steal her bike."

"Again?" Five questions.

Klaus nods. "Yeah." They turn to Number One. "Remember that rave, the one where you met the furry girl? Yeah, well, when you hit me I died, I guess. Met God. She's a real jerk. Moody little girl."

"I think they hit their head too hard," Diego says. "Maybe they have a concussion."

"God is a woman?" Vanya asks.

"Isn't that an Ariana Grande song?" Allison says.

"Woah, woah, slow down everybody," Klaus told them, seeming too calm for the situation. "One question at a time. Vanya, you were asking?"

"You met God? What—What is God like?" she questions, and they can see the doubt still lingering in her.

"Of course I met God. That's what happens when you die." Klaus rolls his eyes as if it were obvious. "She's a young, pre-teen girl, I'd say. Rides a nice bike, has a great hat."

"Alright, that's it, you have a concussion," Luther says.

Klaus looks over at Ben. Ben is smiling at them. He must've met God, he must know that they're right. "I'm not lying!" Klaus tells them all. "Ben—you know I'm right, right?"

"Yeah," he agrees. "Except God isn't a jerk; She just doesn't like you."

"I knew it! That little girl has something against me."

The others stay silent for a few moments before Five finally speaks. "Wait, Luther killed you?"

Klaus nods. "Yeah, that's when I went and saw dear old dad."

They could see something shift in Diego's face, something that showed trust. Diego believed them, as crazy as they sounded. "Wait, wait, wait, so you—you've died before?"

"Yeah. It's no big deal."

"Of course it's a big deal!" Allison yelled. "You died!"

"And?"

Vanya shook her head in disbelief. "We're so fucking messed up."

Klaus laughed. "I tried to steal God's bike! Of course we're messed up!"

"Dying is—dying is bad, Klaus," Luther says.

"We were worried about you," adds Diego.

"Why is this so bad?" Five asks. "He's still alive, so it's not like it's permanent. I see no problem here."

"I wanna see God chase after you again," Ben says. "She is fast!"

Klaus laughs. "That's true. But, really, I'm fine."

"Klaus, I never thought I'd have to say this, but you can't just go dying," Allison tells them. "What if..."

"What if you don't come back?" Diego finishes for her. "Dammit, Klaus, that's dangerous."

"I agree," Vanya says.

Klaus chews on the inside of their cheek. "It's not like I chose to die," he argues. "In fact, it was Luther's fault the first time."

"Don't blame this on me!" Luther yelled. "You should've left me alone."

"Are you saying it's my fault that I died?"

"No, that-that's not what I'm saying, I'm just saying—"

"This isn't something to fight about," Five says. "If you saw God, does that mean you went to heaven? What was heaven like? Was Dad in heaven?" Five's mind was swarming with questions. This fascinated him, he wanted to learn about it, explore it.

"I don't have all the answers," Klaus admitted. "Now can you all give me some personal space and some medicine to help with my head? It feels like there's a man with a jackhammer doin construction up there."

"I'll get the medicine," Allison offers.

"Can you get me some water, too, dear sister of mine?"

Allison rolled her eyes. "Fine."

"Thank god one of my siblings cares about me," Klaus said sarcastically.

"Of course we care," Luther told him. "That's why we don't want you to die."

"I'll try to avoid it, but I can't exactly help it. And, I still want Her bike. There are flowers on it."

Vanya groaned. "Don't steal God's bike. Please."

"No promises."

Allison comes back with the water and pulls. She hands them to Klaus, who grabs them gratefully. "Allison," they say after taking the pills, "if you had a chance to take God's beautiful bike, would you?"

"No," she says. "I would never steal from God!"

Klaus frowns. "Why not?"

"Klaus, can you be serious for one second?" Diego asks. "We're trying to help you out here."

Five sighs. "They're... not totally wrong," he says. "Dying probably isn't the smartest option."

They roll their eyes. "Probably."

"Klaus, promise me—and I'm being fully serious here—promise me you will try your best to not die—"

Luther says, "This is the weirdest conversation ever."

"—And if you do die, you have to tell us. This is dangerous."

Klaus sighs. Diego was really worried about them. They all were. And as much as Klaus did want God's little bike... they couldn't do that to them. "Fine," they reluctantly agree, just as serious as their brother was.

"Promise me."

"I promise."

Chapter Text

He didn't think much of it the first time it happened.

Hell, he assumed he deserved it.

It was during a training session when they were still young. Number Five was having trouble spacial jumping, couldn't do anything. "Come here, Number Five!" Hargreeves yelled at him.

Number Five tried to jump, he really did, but he... he couldn't.

"Number Five!"

With his head hanging low, 0.05–they hadn't even been given names yet—walked over to Reginald. He didn't even know what was happening, he just remembers a sharp sting in his cheek.

"You are done for today," Hargreeves told him. "Go to your room."

Number Five's hand went up to cup his face. He closed his eyes as he tried to recall what happened, why Reginald would do such a thing. He wouldn't hit him, would he? He trudges back to his room, still confused.

After that, Five did better. He always did better, got better, because he wanted to be the best he could.

But there came another day where Five just... he couldn't do it. He was jumping but not far enough, not as far as he needed. "You've done this before, Number Five," Hargreeves reminded him, but he just couldn't do it.

"I'm trying," Five grunted under his breath.

"What did you just say?" Reginald asked, his tone stern.

"I said I'm trying!"

"Get over here right now," he ordered.

Five jumped over there. He was pissed off. He'd been worked so hard, too hard, and now Reginald was blaming him, him, for not being able to jump.

He doesn't normally do this, doesn't normally stand up to Hargreeves. He doesn't know why he's doing it now. All he knows is Reginald is slapping him again, just like when he was young, hand whipping across his face with intense force. It splits Five's lip and leaves his cheek with a distinguishable red hand mark.

He stares Hargreeves in the eyes for a few moments, as if daring him to do it again, before spacial jumping out the door. He walks the rest of the way to his room, shielding his injuries from any potential onlookers.

He sits on his bed with a grunt before making his way to the bathroom. The outline of Reginald's hand is clear on his cheek, bright and red, and it stings, it fucking stings. Blood dribbles on to his chin from his lip, a wide open gash glimmering with his red blood. He doesn't register the pain, not really, all he can think is that he can't have anybody notice. If they notice they'll know he did something wrong or they'll want to comfort him. He couldn't handle any of that.

But, of course, there's a knock at his door as soon as he lays back on his bed. He closes his eyes and holds his breath, hoping whoever it is will just go away, leave without a word. "Five?" It's Vanya, Number Seven, the ordinary girl. He smiles slightly. She was always nice, kind. They were close, as close as Reginald might let them be. He trusted her. "You looked pretty upset. Can I come in?"

Five thinks for a few seconds about telling her not to come in, but his mouth doesn't work fast enough and then the door's opening and his sister is stepping in. Five flips on to his stomach, hoping that maybe he can pass as asleep, maybe she'll just leave him alone and won't notice his cheek.

"Are you alright, Five?"

He said nothing.

"I know you're awake. But you don't have to talk to me if you don't want to, I guess. I understand."

Against his better judgement, he grumbles into his pillow. "Go away," he says.

He can hear her turn, prepare to leave, but then another set of footsteps are coming towards his room, fast. Diego. "Ha!" he laughs loudly as he approaches. "What d-did you do-do to piss Dad off even more?"

"Diego, wait up," Klaus says, running after his brother. "Hurry up, Ben!"

Five sighs as the three step into his room. He doesn't want them here.

"Dad threw a plate against the wall!" Klaus said in astonishment. "He's so upset."

"Why are you face down in the bed?" Ben asks. Then, to Vanya, he repeats: "Why is he face down in the bed?"

Vanya sighs. "Just leave him alone."

"Does anyone know why Dad is so angry?" Allison asks, poking her head in Five's room.

"Go away!" he screams into his pillow.

Diego laughs. "C'mon, man, what-t-t'd you do?" He grabs Five’s shoulder and flips him over. He shields his face with his hands, squeezing his eyes shut, shut, shut.

"Woah, what's that?" Klaus asks, moving forward. "Is that... blood?"

Shit.

There's a smear of blood on his pillow from where his lip was. Five curses mentally, just wishing everyone would leave.

"Are you alright, Five?" Vanya asks, taking a careful step forward.

"Are you all deaf or did you not hear me tell you to leave?" Five says.

"What's going on here?" Luther asks, stepping into the room. "You're being loud, you'll make Dad even more upset."

Nobody responds.

Diego, hesitantly, grabs Five's wrist and pulls it down. "Did he...?" he leaves the question hanging, as if afraid to ask the rest, staring at the mark on his brother’s face.

Five shamefully nods his head.

"I'm sorry," Ben says quietly, barely even audible.

Luther shakes his head. "No, he wouldn't do that," he argues. Always the perfect little boy, loyal to a father who deserves nothing.

"Well clearly he would!" Diego shouts at him.

"Are you alright, Five?" Vanya repeats, her question even more stressed than before.

"Yes," he answers through gritted teeth. "Now leave."

"No," Allison said. "We want to make sure you're okay."

"I just said I was. Now leave."

"What happened?" Klaus asks him. "Like, why did he do it?"

Five takes a deep breath, debating whether or not he wants to tell them. They already know, what's the point in hiding it anymore? "I wasn't jumping far enough," he explains, clearly embarrassed. "I-I probably deserved it."

"No one de-de-deserves that," Diego tells him, a suddenly serious yet sympathetic look on his face.

Five shrugs and looks at his hands. He feels the pain now, feels the stinging and the burn from the hit. It hurts, hurts like hell, and he just wants it to go away. But it won't, it won't, he knows that because this isn't the first time.

"What can we do to help?" Luther asks, though he still seems perplexed by the idea of Reginald hitting one of them.

"I'm fine," Five repeats. "Really."

"But, Five," Ben begins, but he stops himself. He was always a quiet kid, shy.

"Are you sure we can't help you?" Vanya says.

Five sighs. "Yes. I just need more practice."

"I can ki-k-kick his ass, i-if you wa-want," Diego offers.

Five chuckles. "It's fine."

"He's horrible," Klaus says under his breath. Five hums in agreement.

"Well... what do we do now?" Allison asks awkwardly.

Five can feel himself almost smile, but his face hurts too much to do so. "I promise I'll be fine. I'm just going to get some sleep."

"Alright," Vanya said. "We'll just... go, I guess."

Five nodded.

"Tell us if this happens again," Klaus tells him. "We can kick his ass together."

It's on the top of his tongue, 'thank you', but he doesn't say it. He just smiles, despite the pain, and hopes they understand what it means.

Chapter Text

If she was being honest, she didn't expect it to go so well.

Her daughter was excited, of course, and how could she not be?

Allison has told Claire stories of superheroes and superpowers. Of course she'd be excited to meet them. Claire wasn't Allison's worry, no. It was her family, her siblings.

God, they were all messes.

But, somehow, it all worked out.

Luther loved to draw with her. The crayon looked so tiny in his large hand compared to hers; he broke more than a few coloring utensils with those hands. They drew pictures of the moon and spaceships and Claire loved trying to draw Luther and his massive body. Luther's drawings were about as good as hers, maybe even worse, but he always made an effort. He liked to draw The Academy's missions because he knew Claire found them so fascinating. He laughed when she laughed and kept all the drawings she made. Allison said he didn't have to, it'd be fine, but he insisted.

Having Diego meet her daughter was certainly nerve racking. Allison wasn't sure if he'd ever even been around a kid. But, it turns out he was great with her. He never talked down to her in the weird way some people did, but rather squatted down and always seemed genuinely excited about whatever she was talking about. The two played hide and go seek, and Diego always hid in blatantly obvious places. Claire's favorite was behind the lamp. And then when he was seeking he could never find Claire, always made a big deal about finding her which made her small face light up and a laugh escape from her mouth. Then Diego would pick her up and put her on his shoulders, running around the house, and tickle her until she was out of breath.

Claire did fun experiments with her Uncle Five, even if he was in his thirteen year old body. They did a baking soda and vinegar volcano, a potato clock, made slime, made another volcano, even made a marshmallow slingshot. They had fun with those, running around and trying to hit one another with theirs. Five could've spacial jumped, but he never did, not to take advantage of Claire in any way. He'd do it as a joke, yelling 'peek-a-boo!' as he reappeared right beside her, then on her other side. She always loved that, always found it funny, even if she said she was too old for that game. Allison was glad, too, that Five got to indulge himself in childish things, the things they never got as kids, the things Five got the least. Claire taught him games and Five always listened.

Vanya was great with Claire, but that was to be expected. She'd play her violin for her, maybe play a game or two of tag. Claire loved their dance parties, where they'd turn up the newest music to the loudest it'd go and jump around with little to no rhythm. They cheered and danced and Vanya would swirl her around in the air, laughing and smiling the whole time. They'd use hairbrushes as microphones and pretend they knew the words, laughing when the other messed up. They jumped on beds and air guitared, put on crazy rock wigs even when they were listening to pop. Claire was always exhausted by the end.

And then Klaus...

Klaus was the best.

Allison certainly didn't expect it.

Claire fell in love with Klaus the moment she saw him. His cool clothes and flamboyant attitude. His sense of humor and the way he talked to the ghosts. His tattoos, especially the 'hello' and 'goodbye' ones on his hands. They had tea party and played dress up and had a fantastic time. 

"A tea party?" he asked, gasping with excitement after Claire asked. "Why, I'd love to!"

They went up to her room and sat at her small table in her small chairs drinking nothing from small tea cups. Teddy bears and action figures sat with them, eating imaginary scones. They saved a seat for Ben and a few of Klaus' "ghost friends," offering them tea, too.

"Do you like the tea?" Claire asked, beaming.

Klaus took a ’sip’ from the tiny cup, ensuring he stuck his pinky out. It made her laugh. "Why of course! This may be some of the best tea I've ever had. And I've had tea with the queen of England."

Claire started giggling. "No you haven't!"

"No, no, true story. I sat in her palace and drank tea. To be fair, she was technically dead, but that's besides the point."

Claire giggles some more, but her face lit up as an idea came over her. "Let's dress up!" she exclaimed in excitement, and how could Klaus say no to a wonderful idea like that? 

By the end of the night, Claire was dressed as a cowboy,—she looked so cool, according to Klaus,—Klaus was a princess,—he looked fabulous, according to Claire,—they were full on the fake tea and scones, and their stomachs hurt from laughter. Klaus ended up priding himself in being the 'Cool Uncle.'

"Uncle Klaus, wear my boa!" Claire offered him the feathery pink boa, and he took it gratefully, swinging it dramatically on to his neck. She wore a cowboy hat that he had insisted just made her outfit look perfect.

Klaus ruffled up his hair and crossed his eyes "How do I look?" he asked.

Claire laughed. "You look silly."

He pretended to be offended, hand over his chest. "I think I look gorgeous."

They continued to sip air from their cups and Klaus ended up having a great conversation with Mr. Teddy, Claire's favorite stuffed bear that she's had since she was young. The two play with her action figures, which she has a quite impressive collection of. Learning about The Umbrella Academy got her fascinated with the supernatural and extraordinary, people fighting for justice and what is right. 

Klaus managed to sneak into the kitchen with Claire and steal some cookies for the two of them, which they ate while ‘drinking’ their tea. She asked about ghosts and about Uncle Ben and about the Academy when he was young. As much as he hated thinking about those days, he loved talking with her about them.

Klaus offered himself up so she could put makeup on him, and even though the lipstick was sloppy and nothing was quite blended in like it was supposed to, it was the best makeover he'd ever had.

Klaus was a good uncle.

Chapter Text

It's not like he could control it.

He tried as hard as he could, spent hours practicing his words in front of the mirror, Klaus or Grace by his side.

Diego just couldn't control his stutter. Not even in an important time like a mission. It was dangerous, he knew, but one day his words faltered. It didn't affect the mission at all, not really, just maybe added a few seconds to the ultimate arrest of the bad guys.

But Reginald was pissed.

"How could you do that?" he scolded when they were all back at the Academy. "You could've ruined everything."

"I didn't try to," he argued, trying hard to keep his voice steady and words straight.

"You're an embarrassment to the Academy," Reginald told him. "Even Number Seven can talk correctly."

Diego hung his head low. His siblings were all just a room over, surely they heard every word he was saying. "I'm sorry," Diego quickly apologizes, knowing that if he tries to talk too much the stutter, the damn stutter, will come back.

"I don't want an apology."

"So what d-do you want?" Diego squeezed his eyes shut at the little hiccup in his words, barely even noticeable. But this is Reginald Hargreeves; of course he noticed.

Reginald scowled. "I want for you to stop that," he says simply. "It seems highly unnecessary and impairing."

Diego bit the inside of his cheek and nodded obediently. It wasn't that easy, but he couldn't tell Hargreeves that.

He can practically feel the anger radiating off his father, the disapproval. He never liked that, never liked the way that all of Reginald’s emotions could be felt. They were never good emotions, mediocre at best. He had an aura around him that just screamed unhappiness and anger.

"Well?" Reginald said. "Go to your room and start training."

"Ok-k-kay," Diego rushed out, moving quickly away. He didn't want to talk about the stutter right then, didn't want to talk about his flaws. So he ran to his room, taking deep breaths, trying to calm himself down.

There was a knock at his shut door and he sighed. If it were Grace, she'd ensure that Diego knew that, would say her name a time or two and ask politely to come in. If it were Reginald he would simply open the door and walk in. So it was either one of his siblings or Pogo, and Diego didn't feel like taking to either. "What d-do you want?" he grumbles.

There's some shuffling and bushes voices outside the door before Klaus says, "Just wanted to check in."

"Come in," he tells him, somewhat reluctantly.

The door opens and all of his siblings swarm in to the room, sheepish looks on their faces. Diego groans. "I'm fine," he says simply. "C-Can... Can you all leave now?"

"Diego..." Vanya has a sad yet sympathetic look on her face. He wasn't close to her but he assumed she understood the situation, to some degree.

"You're not fine," Five says. "But I'll leave if you want."

"Ye—" Diego begins.

"No," Luther interjects. "We came in here to check on you. Don't kick us out."

There's silence for a few moments before Allison decides to speak. "We can help you," she offers. "With the stutter."

Diego simply shrugs, though on the inside his heart swells. "I guess," he mumbles, picking at a piece of lint on his bed.

"We want you to be happy, brother dear," Klaus says. "Accept our assistance."

He fiddles with his thumbs.

"I can help, too," Vanya offers.

Ben nods. His words were few when in large groups, especially when with all the kids. Unless Luther or Klaus urged him to talk, his lips stayed sealed. Maybe Diego should try that. If he doesn't talk he can't stutter. That's a fix, right? Simple. Easy.

Five shrugs. "You just need to avoid certain letters," he explains. "You're more likely to stutter if there's a 't', 'd', 'p', as well as a few others based off who you are. Those are just some basics.”

"Or," Allison offered, "we can cure his stutter all together rather than ignore it."

"I'm with Allison," Luther agrees. "I think you just need to slow down, take your time, control your emotions."

"Easy for you t-t-to say," Diego growled. "It's not y-you with the st-stut-t-ter."

Klaus frowned. "Lighten up, buddy," he said, throwing a playful arm around his neck. Diego tried to squirm out of it, but his brother's grip remained strong. "Not everybody is evil."

"Let us help," Vanya tells him. "Or at least let us take your mind off it. Off Reginald."

He looked around his siblings, their faces holding care he never expects to see there. They're serious about this, actually want to help him. With a resigned sigh, Diego nods. "Fine," he agrees. "B-But don't make a bi-b-big deal out of it."

"Looks like 'b' is a problem letter for you, too," Five notes. Diego glares at him a little.

Diego spends an hour that night working on his stutter, along with the help of of his siblings. Standing in the mirror, repeating sentences, laughing and joking. Even Luther pitched in and helped, the two putting their little rivalry away for a few minutes to be a family. And Ben may be a quiet kid, but when he did talk, he was funny. Like, hands clutching your stomach and doubling over funny. Diego still got help from his mom, of course, but it was nice to know that the others supported him, too.

After that day, Diego spent thirty minutes with his mom trying to fix his stutter and thirty minutes with one of his siblings. To be fair, only around ten minutes of the time with his siblings was actually spent practicing, but that was besides the point.

Eventually, his stutter got better. It showed up on rare occasions when his emotions were simply too high or he was too tired to care. But Reginald seemed somewhat pleased with the results of the practice and stopped constantly nagging him about it. Once his stutter was gone, though, Diego had no reason to spend a half hour each day with one of his siblings. They drifted apart after that, but he will always cherish those times in front of the mirror, laughing and repeating sentences, words, and having the support of his siblings.

Chapter Text

They were going to do it.

Today was the day when they say fuck it all and go for.

Today was the day Klaus jumped.

For years, they had pondered the idea, rolled it around in their mind. How to do it, when to do it. Do you leave or note, will anybody read the note. The usual ideas of a usual teenager. They only turned more intense when they got older. The drugs, the homelessness, all of it added on to the depression, the despair, the general hatred of life. And who doesn't hate life, really? Doesn't everybody contemplate suicide at one time in their life, hasn't everybody at least had the thought of picking up that knife and slicing it along their wrist? Whether or not they've done it, everybody has had those thoughts. Of hopelessness, helplessness. Klaus is just finally acting on those thoughts.

They'd do it at 3 a.m., their prime time. All the druggies and addicts are out at that time, arguing with their dealer about a price, running from cops, avoiding gun shots or jumping in front of them. It's the place they know they belong, both Klaus and the drug addicts and alcoholics and dealers.

There's a tall building that overlooks the whole city. Klaus stands up there, taking a deep breath through their nose. They don't feel that usual sense of despair, not now, they feel... free. They're making their own fate for once in their life, controlling the one thing they can control. They take in the small breeze blowing against their body, looking at the dark landscape in front of them. There are still a few buildings with their lights on, even at this time. Klaus wonders what they're doing, what has them awake. There are no stars in the sky, just clouds and a moon peaking through. Their foot lingers over the edge and they know happiness and freedom lays beyond that ledge, on the ground. But, despite these thoughts, their throat closes up, their body tenses, tears linger in their eyes.

Why is this so difficult?

It's not like they're really in touch with their family; they haven't been since they moved out when they were right about eighteen. So it's not like they'd miss them. It's not like they met a magical love, neither a person nor a thing. It's not like they have anything going in their life besides the drugs and the ghosts. It's not like they have anything to live for.

Maybe it's just because they're high. They've still got drugs in their system and it's messing up their emotions. Yeah, that's what it is, what it has to be, because they can't be afraid or sad to die. They've wanted it for years. The various marks and scars across their body prove that.

They climb over a fence, finding a somewhat steady position on the ledge, their toes peaking over. They take a deep breath. It smells like the smoke of cigarettes. A car flies by on the street, speeding. The driver is drunk, probably, judging by their swerving. Klaus looks down. The sidewalk stares back at them intimidatingly, daring them to jump, daring them to give in already.

"Klaus?"

They stiffen.

"Klaus, what are you doing?"

"Hey, Vanya," they greet, staring straight ahead.

"Klaus, are you—" Something clicks in her mind as she realizes what's happening. "No. Klaus, don't. You can't."

They chuckle a little. "Can't I, though? I'm so close, I can—I can smell it."

Gravel on the roof crunches under Vanya's foot as she takes a step closer. "You can't do this, Klaus. Don't do this. You have—"

"What?" he interrupts. "I have so much to live for? You know that's not true, sis. Every chance I had in life I destroyed. They're gone now. This—this is the only option." Klaus pauses to think for a second. Can suicide really, really be a choice, when there is no other option? There's nothing left for Klaus. They have to do this, don't they?

"Klaus, please." There's a certain desperation in her voice that sends a tingle down his spine. She sniffs. They haven't looked at her yet, but they're sure she's crying. Hell, Klaus is almost crying, too.

"V, I—I'm sorry. I really am." They shift their position a little closer to the edge.

"No, Klaus, no. I'm sorry," she quickly says, trying to keep them occupied. "I knew you were bad, I knew you were depressed, but I—I never thought it was this bad. Had I known I would've helped."

They scoffed. "No you wouldn't have. Say it if it makes you feel better, but you—none of you—would've helped me. I was just your fucking human Ouija board, wasn't I?"

"That's not at all what you were."

"Then what was I, Vanya?" They whip their head around so fast they almost lose balance. Vanya's eyes are red and puffy and filled with tears. Her nose is red, too—she has a cold. She wears a small little sweater and some leggings, not much, not enough to protect her from the small cold breeze outside.

"You were our sibling."

They shake their head. "I wasn't anything."

"I just want to help. Let me help."

"You wanna know how to help? Go away. Fuck off. Maybe take a video and help me go viral. But I'm jumping and there's not a thing you can do about it."

Vanya closed her eyes tightly. She was cold and confused and sad. Her arms were bunched around her, body shivering. "You can't. I won't let you."

Klaus' lips twitch in to a smile. "I'm sorry, V. Maybe we'll see each other in another life." They give a small salute before allowing their body to go limp, falling off the ledge, down to the ground so far below them.

Vanya lets out a scream, but they don't hear it. Their ears feel clogged but their eyes—god, they can see everything. It all looks so clear, so opening, so inviting. Living seems good, happy, enjoyable.

They don't want to die.

And suddenly they're not falling, Vanya's hand is grabbing theirs and she's yanking them back. They stumble on to the roof, tears streaming both of their faces. "Well that was a hell of an adventure," Klaus mutters.

Vanya lets out a choked sob. "I thought I lost you," she admitted.

Klaus says nothing. They're not good with emotions, not when their usual coping method of humor wouldn't be a good tool in this situation.

Vanya grabs their hands and holds them in her own. She says nothing, just looks at their hands intertwined, running her finger over the nail of their thumb. Neither acknowledge the tears, neither acknowledge the rising sun, neither acknowledge what had just happened.

Until Klaus says one thing, a simple thing. A single word comes out of his trapped and closed throat, but it means the world to both of them.

"Thanks."

Chapter Text

They hadn't exactly been a close family.

Reginald managed to prevent any relationships that got too deep, whether they be romantic or platonic.

But Vanya was always outcasted just a little more than the others.

Well, the others reasoned, she's ordinary. It makes sense that Reginald would keep her away from them, why he would isolate her, why he would push them apart. It made sense that they didn't connect and weren't friendly. It made sense, didn't it?

Vanya had managed to stay somewhat close to two of her siblings. Ben was simply nice to all of them, so she had managed to form some relationship with him. But she also was close to Five, as he treated her like a real human, a real person deserving of love and attention.

Most of the Hargreeves kids had left home—aside from Luther, of course. Allison was famous, Diego kept up the vigilante act, Ben was making sure Klaus didn't go off the rails, Five was a famous scientist making fabulous discoveries as well as occasionally helping Luther on missions, and Vanya was teaching little kids how to play violin, as well as playing some herself.

The last time all seven kids saw one another was when Allison got married.

But now, with the news of Reginald's passing, it's time for them to all meet up again. "Honor" a man who gave them nothing.

"What is she doing here?" Diego asks once he sees her. "You don't belong here."

Vanya opens her mouth mouth to speak, but instead Five walks up behind her. "Don't talk to her like that," he demands.

Diego shakes his head. "She revealed the family secrets. Think I'm just gonna forget that?"

Five sighs. "Shut up, Diego. Don't listen to him, V, he's just being a fucking idiot."

Diego huffed a sarcastic laugh. "You may have gotten smart, Five, but that doesn't mean anything to me."

"Oh, I didn't get smart, Diego. I've always been smart. Now leave us alone."

Diego shook his head, glaring at the two before walking away.

"I'm sorry," Five says, putting a hand on Vanya's shoulder.

She shakes her head and hangs it low. "No, no—maybe he's right."

"He's not."

She can feel the corner of her mouth twitch upwards. "Thanks, Five."

Klaus and Ben walk in soon after. Klaus stumbles a bit, but Ben holds them up. "Are we late?" Ben asks in his usual shy demeanor.

Vanya shook her head. "No, just in time, actually."

They went out and had the service. He died of a heart attack. Grace, Luther, and Pogo has tried to save him, but he was simply getting old. There was nothing they could do.

After that, they fell apart again. They always do. Pogo and Grace would be fine on their own, they assumed, but Diego visited them often.

But then something bad happened.

Vanya was cornered, mugged, almost beaten to death. She woke up in a hospital bad, bloody and barely able to breathe. But her siblings—all of them—stood over her.

They whispered apologies, apologies for ignoring her as kids and adults, for treating her so horribly. With the death of Reginald and her near death experience, all of them realized how much they really were dicks to Vanya—aside from Five and Ben, of course, and even Klaus was pretty good to her, but that's besides the point.

For a month after that night, her siblings insisted she stay with at least one of them at all times. Luther on Monday, Diego on Tuesday, Allison on Wednesday, Klaus and Ben on Thursday and Friday, and Five on the weekends. They grew protective of her; Diego threw a knife at more than one undeserving civilian. It drove Vanya crazy, it did, but she knew that it came from a place of love. And, really, she liked it. She liked being part of the family again.

Luther decided to have them all do a family game night on Sunday. Nobody wanted to, but reluctantly agreed to it.

Even after the month passed and Vanya was allowed to go out by herself once again, her siblings continued to be protective of her. Klaus liked to say that he sent ghosts to stand over her and watch her, reporting back to him at the end of each day. Vanya was never sure whether or not he was being serious.

Every time she went in to a sketchy part of town, Diego insisted he join her. Five gave her checkups as if he were a doctor, though that wasn't too unusual for him. When Vanya got a new couch, Luther made sure he was the one to move it because he didn't want her throwing her back out. Allison was great to her, a strong woman by Vanya's side to make sure she was never put down in any way. Ben went to all of her violin concerts, every single one. The others always made opening night, but Ben was dedicated to supporting her. And Klaus liked to tuck her in at night and read her bedtime stories, as if she were a young kid.

Vanya hated it.

Yet she'd never been happier.

Vanya still thinks back to that night, the night where she almost died. It's sad that it took that to bring her family together, to get their support. She was still healing from the attack, her face tender and bruised. She wonders what would've happened if it hadn't been so severe. She wonders what would've happened had she died. Would her family still come together? Would they be ripped apart even more? Would anything change?

Vanya doesn't like thinking of that. Her siblings constantly apologize to her, Diego especially, acknowledging how bad their actions were. They couldn't even blame Reginald for it, couldn't blame anyone but themselves.

But at least they were together now.

Chapter Text

It started with nightmares.

Just small, little nightmares that rattled him a little.

Then it turned to night terrors, where he woke up in the middle of the night screaming, soaked in sweat and tears.

Then it was flashbacks, flashbacks of their dead faces, of his empty stomach, of the lonely nights.

Five didn't know what to do.

He managed to find ways to deal with the stress. It normally consisted of stealing some alcohol, getting drunk out of his fucking mind. That normally worked. But sometimes it only made things worse. Five was never sure which it would be, better or worse, yet he always insisted on drowning himself in wine and beer and whiskey. He ignored Dolores' comments about him drinking too much and indulged himself, indulged his worries. Because there were so many.

Five stopped sleeping for a while, too. That helped for some time. It wasn't like he was sleeping much, anyways, but he avoided it whenever he could. Until, finally, days after, his body would collapse from exhaustion into a hopefully dreamless sleep. Because every dream had his siblings' dead faces, every dream showed the ruins the world was bound to become.

Then the alcohol stopped working. Stress built inside Five's body to the point where he couldn't think. It flooded his mind, that time, the time of death and destruction. It was too much, all too much, and Five...

Well, Five broke.

He smashed the stupid whine bottle and cut an uneven line across his wrist. It stung like hell. The blood slowly leaked out, glimmering in the light. He didn't even realize his breathing was elevated, but now it was calming down. His heart began to beat normally and his head cleared up, focusing on that one thought, one action—he focused on his pain. It was easier that way, to focus on physical pain rather than emotional and traumatic pain. Physical pain—well, it's guaranteed to heal. You see its process. Emotional pain, on the other hand... that sticks with you forever. And Five should know.

He bandaged his arm and was able to fall asleep on the couch, Dolores in his clutches, facing the television.

Five didn't do it often, not really. He didn't mean to, at least. He only did it in those times of immediate distress, when he was panicking and couldn't breathe, couldn't think, couldn't do anything. So he would take out a knife and slash his arm. The cuts were never too deep nor did he hit any veins. He knew about human anatomy and he knew how to do this the safest way possible, even if he was drunk or overwhelmed by emotions. The cuts were always straight, right across the wrist or forearm, each cut roughly an inch away from the other. None overlapped, none touched.

Five thought he had gotten better, thought the stupid flashbacks were gone. He'd been getting more sleep, sleeping through the whole night.

But it wasn't over.

He doesn't remember what started it, doesn't remember if there was a specific trigger. All he knows is that his ears were ringing with fear or sadness or maybe anger. All he knows is that he took the knife in his trembling hand and listened to the loud beating of his heart. All he knows is that there's an uneven cut on his forearm and he's crying.

"Hey, Five—oh shit."

Five turns around quickly, startled. His blood drips on to the counter, on to the ground, on to his shoes. He stares at Diego as if a deer in headlights. It only lasts a few seconds, though, before Diego jumps in to action and puts a washcloth over the gash. "Shit," he repeats, staring at his brother's arm. Five doesn't say anything, he can't.

"What's with the commotion? You guys got a party going without me?" Klaus asks as they saunter in to the room, a wide grin on their face. But then their eyes meet Diego's—Five's are aimed at the drop of blood on his shoe—and the smile immediately drops. "First aid kit?" Diego nods and they rush to grab it.

They're now sitting on the couch, Diego tending to the wound. Dolores sits in between Five's feet and he stares at her head. Klaus looks at him intently, their expression full of empathy and some sort of understanding.

"Five," Klaus starts, but they're cut off quickly.

"Don't," Five pleads, and he can feel the tears pricking at his eyes again, hears his stupid voice crack. "Please, don't."

Diego swallows audibly and dabs a disinfectant at Five's arm. He hisses. "We have to," Diego tells him. "This... it isn't an issue to take lightly."

"Does it look like I give a flying fuck?" he shoots back, glaring.

Diego opens his mouth to speak, but Klaus quickly interrupts, knowing how sensitive the subject is. "We give many flying fucks," they respond. "We care about you, Five. You and your crazy little mind. We want to make sure you're okay."

He gulps. "I'm fine."

"Clearly you're not fine, you're fucking cutting yourself!" Diego tells at him. "There are scars up and down your arm. This isn't healthy, Five!"

"Think I don't know that, dimwit?"

"Well it sure looks like you don't, moron."

"Ladies, ladies," Klaus interjects, "let's keep the peace here. We can talk about who's dumber later."

The two sigh but comply.

"Five," they urge carefully, "what's wrong?"

Five looks back at Dolores. "I'm—"

"I swear to god if you say you're fine I will find a knife and—"

"Five, what's wrong?"

Five closes his eyes. He can't cry, he can't cry. He can't fucking cry.

He's crying.

"It was horrible," his prepubescent voice squeaks out through the tears. "The apocalypse. I was so alone. I was so alone and lost and I—shit. It sucked."

Klaus nodded and Diego gave him an awkwardly reassuring pat on the back. "Why did that lead to cutting?" Klaus continues. "Damn, I'm like a therapist," they note aloud.

Five manages to let out a little snicker as Diego continues to poke and prod at his arm. He won't need stitches, but the cut was deep. Diego wants to make sure he's perfectly fine before he puts the bandages on. "I see it," he chokes out. "I remember it, clear as day. You all were... were dead." His throat closes up and he stops. They were dead. They were fucking dead. "I'm broken."

Klaus leans forward and puts their hand on his knee. "I'm so sorry," they apologize. "That must be horrible. But this—this isn't the answer. You have to know that." Five gives a small nod. He's too tired to put up any fight. "I don't mean to be mean, but you're only hurting us—hurting yourself—more by doing this. And you're not broken—sure, you might have a little crack here or there, but I've got plenty of cracks!"

Five can't help the small laugh that escapes his mouth.

"Done," Diego declares, Five's arm cleaned and bandaged. "Klaus is right. You can't go cutting your arm like a crazy idiot."

The corner of Five's mouth perks up a little. He tries to think of some wise remark, but his brain can't do it, it's too cloudy, too full. "I know."

"Promise," Diego says. "Promise you won't do this. You can't do this again."

He stares at Dolores again, thinking. "I promise."

They all take a deep breath and there's silence for a few moments. "Thanks," Five whispers quietly, so quietly the other two almost don't catch it.

Diego smiles. Klaus fucking grins. But neither respond because they know Five doesn't want a response.

But Five does intend to keep his promise.

Chapter Text

She's submerged in the snow.

The cool air swims around her, chilling her to the bone.

Vanya can feel the tingle in her arms and legs as her body slowly goes numb to the cold, allowing herself to get lost in the sensation. It makes all her bad thoughts float away as she focuses on one thing, focuses on the numb and cold surrounding her.

"Vanya?"

Vanya's eyes shoot open—she hadn't even realized they were closed—at the voice. It was her sister.

"Vanya, is that you?" Allison calls out again. "What are you doing in the snow?"

She quickly scrambles up, the snow crunching under the weight of her small body. "I-I fell," she tries to explain quickly. "Just a bit clumsy, you know? Nothing to worry about. What—Um, what are you doing out here so late?" She couldn't help it when her body shivered from the cold, but she tried to stop it.

"I could ask you the same question," Allison pointed out. "I couldn't sleep. Running helps me. What's your excuse?"

Vanya pulled her exposed arms around her body. "Yeah," she lies, "me too."

"You're pale white and shivering. We need to get you inside. How long were you in that snow for?"

Vanya puts a fake smile on her face when Allison pulls off her coat and puts it around her. "Not too long," she lies again.

They begin to walk back to Vanya's apartment, as it was closer than Allison's place. "I haven't seen you in days," Allison says. "Where have you been? Why haven't you been answering my calls?"

Vanya's throat closes up. She wasn't prepared to talk to people, to see people yet. It had been only three days, only three days. This isn't what she needed right now. "Lost my phone."

Allison nods, but she clearly doesn't believe her.

They're back at Vanya's apartment now and Allison starts a warm bath for her sister. There's no food in the fridge when Allison looks and a layer of dust has settled over certain rooms. Vanya just sits on the couch, knees pulled up to her chest as she hopes, pleads that she won't ask her anything.

Allison comes back. "The bath's ready for you. When you want."

Vanya nods her head.

Allison stands there for a few more moments before sighing and taking a seat beside her sister. "What's up?"

She shrugs.

"C'mon, Vanya. Talk to me."

Vanya stares forward.

"Fine. I'll just sit here until you tell me." Allison sets her hands in her lap, looking firmly ahead. Vanya knows she's serious about this.

"Fine," Vanya tells her firmly.

"Fine."

Neither are sure how long they sit there, staring ahead. No words are spoken and there's no sound beside Vanya's teeth chattering and their breathing. They're both determined not to break, both determined to sit there until the other gives in.

Vanya gives in.

"I did it on purpose."

Allison is clearly surprised when Vanya speaks. "You—What? Did what on purpose?”

Tears are swelling in her eyes as she bites her lip. "I—"

Allison wraps an arm around Vanya. "Hey, hey, it's okay. What's wrong? Talk to me."

A sob escapes her mouth and she leans in to her sister. "It's not okay," she cries, and the tears fall down her face. "It's not okay, Allison! It's never okay. I'm a fucking mess."

"What happened?"

"I did it on purpose," Vanya repeats. "It was all on purpose." Once she starts talking, she can’t stop. She could feel herself giving in and spilling everything, letting it all get out there. "The snow, the isolation. It was on purpose."

There's silence. Allison doesn't know how to react, doesn't know what to say. What do you say to something like that? What do you say when someone tells you they submerge themself in snow for—for what? Why? Why would someone do that, what leads a person to that point? "Can I—Can I ask a question?"

Vanya tries to calm down and level her breathing. She's drowning in the guilt of admitting this, admitting any of it. "Sure," she says, though she doesn't actually want to answer anything.

"Why do you do it?"

She doesn't know. She doesn't know why she does it—well, she doesn't know how to explain it. How can she explain the numbness that fills her every move, explain the pain that swells in her soul? How can she explain the adrenaline when first being in that chilling snow, explain that odd impulse to cancel all plans and isolate herself?

"Vanya?"

She didn't even realize how long she was silent for. "Sorry," she apologizes, sniffling. "But I—I can't. I can't explain it. It's—" She chokes up. The Hargreeves kids were trained to not talk about their feelings, trained to not even feel their feelings. This was the most vulnerable part of her, and Vanya was sharing it with her sister. It was difficult. "I don't know. I feel—I feel numb, if that makes sense?"

Allison nods. "That... makes sense. But why do... this?"

She shrugs. "Impulse," she answers, though the way she says it it sounds more like a question. "It can help. I guess."

Allison nods. "Well... thank you for telling me."

Vanya nods. "Thanks for listening," she says, the corner of her mouth curling in to a smile as she leans closer in to Allison. "I'm cold," she lets out a little laugh, trying to lighten the mood.

Allison rolls her eyes. "Of course you are. But, Vanya, can I—can you do something for me? Can you tell me if you ever feel like that?"

Vanya ponders that request for a while. The problem is she always feels that way. There's always a dreadful numbness inside. It's not always this bad, but it's always there. "I can't promise that."

Allison frowns. "Van—"

"You can't expect me to do that, Allison," Vanya continues. "I can't control this, I can't—I can't control me, for God's sake. But I—I can try. I'll try."

There's sympathy in Allison's eyes, a care for her sister. It's not the pity she expected to see. "Thank you," Allison says.

Vanya smiles.

Chapter Text

peachyediits:
could you do a five sickfic with Diego and Klaus hovering like parents

"102.6 degrees."

"Yeah, you're sick."

Five frowned at Klaus and Diego. "I'm fine," he insisted. "I was sick more times than I can count in the apocalypse, but I'm still alive."

"You have us now," Klaus said. "So we're gonna lay you in front of the couch and you're gonna watch some tv and you're gonna fucking enjoy it, okay? Okay." They picked Five up and pulled him to their chest, but he squirmed too much.

Diego laughed. "Feisty," he joked. "C'mere." He threw Five over his shoulder.

"Let me go you knife-throwing bastard!" Five yelled, banging his hands against Diego's back. He sighed. He felt so helpless and childish. He hated it.

Diego lay him down on the couch and Klaus quickly came running with a blanket, a cup of water, a bowl of soup, and a mug of hot chocolate. "Get comfy."

Five grumbled something about how he was decades older than both of them, something about the fact that they can't control him, yet he stayed on the couch, blanket draped over him. He was in the itchy and uncomfortable Academy pajamas because he had nothing else, but it was better than the uniform.

Five held on to Dolores as he turned on the tv, scrolling through channels with nothing interesting on. After some time, Klaus came back over. They put their hands over his cheeks and forehead, frowning like a concerned parent. "Still warm," they noted.

"Of course they are," Five retorted. "I have a fever. It's not gonna go away."

Diego walked up, too, looking over his brother. "At least at your soup," he tells him. "I worked hard on that."

"I could of done it myself," Five tells him.

"But you didn't. Now eat it. You need the nutrients."

Despite how opposed Five was to it all, it felt nice to be taken care of. For years he was on his own, no soup or blankets or hot chocolate when he got sick. But now he had two people standing over him, making sure he got better. It was refreshing.

The two went away after that, though Five knew they wouldn't go far. They were hovering over him, ready to pounce on anyone and anything that even dare go near him.

He doesn't know whether they heard something or saw something or what. But Five was shivering, teeth chattering and pulling the blanket farther up his body. He was freezing cold, a cold where you just couldn't get warm. Nothing was enough. Despite this chill, he was sweating, soaking his clothes and the couch. But he didn't care, he just wanted warmth. He held the hot chocolate in his hands, relishing in the feel of the warm cup in his hands, the warm liquid sliding down his throat.

Another blanket is thrown his way. "Here," Diego tells him. Diego tried to stay cool, calm, collected. He tries to stay uncaring and isolated and a loner. But his love for his family was clear, even if he didn't mention it. He didn't need to help Five when he was sick; this was his choice.

Klaus came in with another bowl of soup; Five had finished the first. "The thermostat is up," they informed him.

Five rolled his eyes, but he couldn't help the smile crawling up on his face.

For a while, he was fine. Wrapped in blankets, television playing in the background as he sipped his hot chocolate and cuddled with Dolores. He wasn't able to eat anymore than one spoonful of the second bowl of soup, though. On top of the fever, Five assumed, he had some stomach bug that was messing with him. Maybe he had the flu.

He's not sure how much time passed before he found himself running to the bathroom on instinct. His throat burned as the soup and hot chocolate and dinner he ate last night came out with a retched sound. He was breathing heavily, clutching his stomach, and an awful taste was in his mouth. The smell of his insides floated in the bathroom, only making Five's need to throw up increase.

"You alright in there?" Diego asks, knocking on the open door. There's a sympathetic and understanding look on his face.

"Is he okay?" Klaus asks, practically sliding down the hall to their brothers.

Diego nods. "Just got a little sick, I guess."

"I'm fine," Five tells them through his gritted teeth. But he can feel the bile rising in the back of his throat again and leans over the toilet. A hand is rubbing his back—Klaus', he assumes—in a way that's oddly reassuring and comforting.

Five groans, wiping the corner of his mouth. Diego hands him a bottle of some blue liquid—Gatorade. "Drink it," he instructs. "Good for your, uh, stuff."

Five would normally insult him and say what the Gatorade actually did to his body—it contains electrolytes, sodium, and potassium that can help replenish his body with all of the important elements he lost after vomiting—but he feels too weak to do so, so he gratefully takes the bottle. He drinks it slowly, enjoying the way it slides smoothly down his throat. He slumps against the wall, breathing heavily for a few moments. He just sits there, allowing his eyes to gently shut. His body is so hot now, burning up, so he leans against the cool tiles of the floor and wall. Klaus squats in front of him, their hand on his shoulder. Diego stands at the doorway of the bathroom, leaning against it casually, another bottle of Gatorade in his hand—just in case, he tells himself.

Eventually, Diego picks him up—Five insists he can walk himself, but Klaus insists that they need to take care of him—and lays him back on the couch. Klaus sits on a chair beside him, placing a bucket by Five's head in case he needs to puke again. Even though Reginald wasn't here, he'd come back from the dead to hell at them for getting the floor dirty.

The rest of the day, Five is drowsy. He floats in and out of consciousness, finally falling asleep at 8:30 pm. Diego carries him back up to his room. Klaus tucks him in, pulling the blanket up to his chin. They put their hands on his cheeks and forehead again, informally checking his temperature. He was still burning up, so they insisted they stay in his room until at least 9:00 pm. Diego let them, leaving to clean up the bathroom and living room, putting the rest of the soup he made in the fridge.

Five woke up the next day, still sick, but feeling better than ever.

Chapter Text

Lily:
Your work is so beautiful and I think a great and accurate depiction of the characters you really capture their voices! Could you please do a one shot about klaus choosing/getting back from the war after watching Dave be killed?

After Dave—

There was nothing left for him.

Dave was—

Klaus was alone.

As soon as he'd gotten back to camp, he opened up that briefcase, hoping with some blind faith that he'd be able to leave that place. He hadn't even cleaned himself up, still covered in sweat and dirt and blood and tears. Because there really was nothing left for him here, not when Dave—

He went back to his time, heart shattered and tears falling down his face. There was a blind rage, a fury in him when he reappeared on that bus. That stupid briefcase, that stupid fucking briefcase, it was the problem. So Klaus started swinging it around, swinging and swinging and swinging until—boom. It was gone. Flames erupted and civilians jumped away, but Klaus just sat there, haven fallen to his knees, breathing heavily, crying despite himself. His head was hammering, but he couldn't stop the screams that erupted from his throat. Everything hurt, all the memories and all the thoughts. His body was aching but he'd never felt this kind of pain before, the pain where each thump of your heart brings another tear to your eye.

He trudged along the sidewalk after that. There was still blood covering his body, dry and crusty and red. His mascara was completely destroyed, tear streaks marking his face. He never let Dave's dog tags slip through his fingers, always keeping them in his grasp. He just wanted to sleep, close his eyes and relax. He wanted to sleep forever, never wake up to the nightmare that is life. His body screamed and itched and with the hand that wasn't holding the only thing of Dave's he had, he was scratching, up and down, head to toe.

He finally managed to go back to the place that he called home for so many years. He wonders how long he was gone for, whether it was as long for his family as it was for him. He wonders if they noticed his absence, wonders if they even care. He wonders if he can drink himself to sleep.

Klaus crawled into the bath, slowly stripping his clothes off. The water was perfect and should've been soothing, should've been peaceful, should've been relaxing like he'd hoped for. But the flashbacks, the images and memories that echoed in his brain—those, those were worse than the ghosts. And not even a bath could fix that, nothing could fix that.

The water had turned a light pink color from the blood and he got out, putting on new clothes. Five talked to him about the briefcase and time travel and whatnot, but Klaus had trouble paying attention to what he was really saying. He was too distracted. He couldn't care less about what Five needed to do, if he was being honest. Because he lost the most important person in his life.

The house was a bit of a mess. And so was he, honestly, as Diego so kindly pointed out. Klaus didn't know where Diego was going or what he was doing, all he knew was that he was determined to get a ride from his brother. He didn't feel like talking during the drive, couldn't form the words, couldn't get them out of his mouth. He just stumbled in to that veterans bar, hoping to just be left alone and grieve.

There it was. Him and Dave, side by side. His finger trailed over the photo and more tears found their way to Klaus' eyes. Dave was smiling, a cocky and confident little smile, just like Klaus was. They were closer than they needed to be but no one mentioned it, no one said a word.

Dave was—

No. No, Dave couldn't be—

But he was. In Klaus' own arms it happened, yet he couldn't admit it to himself. Because Klaus was Dave's heartbeat and Dave was Klaus' stud. They completed one another. But Dave was—

Dave was dead.

After the whole adventure with the bar fight and the apocalypse and whatnot, after all of that, when he finally had a chance to rest, Klaus couldn't sleep. He couldn't sleep because when the ghosts weren't screaming at him, the guns were, shots ringing in his ears. He couldn't sleep because when his eyes weren't open, Dave's were, staring into the light that would soon take him. He couldn't sleep because he was alive and Dave wasn’t.

The apocalypse? No problem. Having your father lock you in a mausoleum? More of a problem. But losing the love of your life? Klaus could imagine nothing worse.

He was home from the war. He'd talked with Dave about going home. Ten months. He only got ten months with him. Klaus never got to meet Dave's family, Dave never got to meet Klaus'. And he tried to stay sober, he really did, to see him. And sometimes it worked. But even then it wasn't perfect. Because etched in to Klaus' memory was the blood coming out of Dave's chest, his eyes wrestling to stay open, the light leaving the person he cared about so dearly.

Diego tried to get him to go to therapy or find help. He said Klaus had something called 'PTSD'—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Klaus refuses to believe him—or, at the very least, refused to go to therapy. He was fine crying his worries out in a shower, where the patter of the water was so loud that no one could hear him sob.

His family would've liked Dave. Klaus has told them all about him. He always chokes up when he talks about him, always feels tears pricking at his eyes, even when discussing good memories. Because most of the memories were good, they were fucking fantastic. And Klaus will always hold on to those.

But Dave is dead.

Chapter Text

The mission had... mostly worked.

Mostly.

One of the bad guys got away, all of them were at least mildly injured, and Diego had, though he wasn't showing it, a sprained wrist.

Reginald has already yelled at the kids enough after the mission. So they did what they normally did: gather in Allison's room. Her room was the largest and they all liked to discuss what had happened during the mission. On days like this—where everyone was sad and not even talking—even Vanya joined them. No one dared to get in the way of Reginald, so no one dared step in to the same room as him.

None of the kids mentioned the fact that they were crying. None of the kids mentioned the fact that they were covered in cuts and bruises. None of the kids mentioned the fact that someone had gotten away.

Reginald had told Grace not to check on the kids. And she was programmed to do what he said, to listen to him. And she knew that they'd failed the mission, she knew that someone had gotten away. But she also knew that the kids were hurt. They were crying. Something was wrong. And that part, that part was the part that pulled through. It was the part that baked a pan of cookies and knocked on Allison's door, knowing that all the kids would be in there. It was the part that said, soothingly, "Kids? It's your mother. Are you okay?"

Vanya was the one that opened the door; the others stayed cemented to where they sat. Grace set the plate of cookies on the ground, in the middle of the group. Allison, Luther, and Vanya sat on the edge of the bed while Klaus, Ben, Diego, and Five all sat across from them on the ground, in an almost-circle. They stared at the cookies, not moving, not speaking. Grace could see that they wanted to thank her, but it seemed as if the words got stuck in their throats, ghosting over their lips.

"Are you okay, kids?" she asks again.

They mumble some response, nothing audible and most not even proper English. Just grumbles of disappointment and pain and all the emotions in between.

Grace frowns. Something inside her still screams to leave, to walk away, to listen to Reginald because maybe the kids deserve to wallow in their misery. But she sees Diego is still in his mask, hiding the tears she's sure are behind there. She sees Ben's quivering lip because he doesn't want to make a sound. She sees the way Vanya frowns, sees the way Luther clenches his fists, sees the way Klaus shakes, sees the way Allison has trouble controlling her breaths, sees the way Five squeezes his eyes shut. She sees that they need her help.

Grace smiles. "Let's talk about it over cookies."

Diego can't help it when his lip twitches upwards in an almost smile as he and the other kids each reach for the treat. They eat it silently as Grace finds a seat on the bed, in between Vanya and Allison. "How did the mission go?"

The kids grimace. "Not great," Diego admits through his cookie. He was always the one that would talk to their mom, whether or not he wanted to. He knew that Grace would listen and understand. He knew she'd be a mom.

"And why is that?"

Five scoffed and rolled his eyes, which were now open. "You know why."

The smile on Grace's face didn't falter. "How are the cookies?"

"Th-they're good, Mom," Diego assured her, and then Grace's eyes dropped to him. He was holding his wrist, staring at it.

"Are you okay, Diego?" she asked. It was difficult, going against her programming, but she was also programmed to protect these kids, to help them. She tried to listen to that side, the side that said help others, the side that said be a mother. Even if it meant going against what Reginald said.

He nodded his head and dropped his wrist. "'M fine," he answered.

That made her smile falter. But she didn't pry. Instead she turned to Allison. "Do you want me to clean your wounds, honey? You have lots of scratches on your face."

Allison shook her head, pulling away when Grace reached out to touch her.

"What about you, Luther?"

"I'm fine, Mom."

Grace looked around the circle of kids. "Ben? You haven't touched your cookie yet. Are you okay?"

He nodded his head, looking down. She didn't expect much of an answer, if she was being honest with herself. He still had a few splatters of blood on him; he never liked using his power. He wouldn't talk for days after using it.

She opened her mouth to say something to Five, but he spacial jumped to a far corner in Allison's room before she could ask anything.

"Feel free to have a second, honey," Grace said to Klaus, seeing he had finished his first.

He nodded and grabbed another from the plate, stuffing it in his mouth.

"How are you Vanya?"

"I'm fine, Mom," she answered. "A bit tired."

"Well you should rest, then."

"It's five o'clock."

Grace nodded. Nobody seemed to be in a mood to talk to her, not even Diego. She purses her lips. "Let's play a game."

They all grumbled no.

"Diego, honey, what's wrong with your wrist?"

"Nothing," he snapped back. He rarely had such venom in his voice when speaking to his mother, but he couldn't control it. "I-I'm sorry, Mom," he quickly apologized. "Reginald would get-t mad."

"Madder," Allison corrected with a grumble.

Five scoffed from his place in the corner. "Screw him," he said.

On instinct, Grace began, "Now your father is a good ma—" She quickly stopped herself. "Let's take a look at your wrist, Diego."

He sighed, but didn't disobey. He never did, not with Grace. She inspected the injury, just as she was trained to do, and deduced it was sprained. Diego just went back to sitting on the ground, all of them in silence.

Grace pondered, wondering what would make them all happier. "I will give you all ice cream after dinner," she announces. She knows desserts make kids happy, and even if Reginald was against it, she was willing to do anything to make the kids smile.

The kids all immediately light up. "Really?" Allison asks, voice light and happy.

"But Dad—" Luther begins.

Klaus shouts, "Ice cream!"

"Even me?" Vanya asks.

"Take that, old man," Five says, snickering.

Diego pumps his fist in the air, allowing a smile to crawl on to his lips.

Ben can't help the squeal that escapes his lips as he pulls his knees right against his chest, grinning.

"Yes, even you, Vanya," Grace answers. "What your father doesn't know doesn't hurt him, Luther. Now Diego, lets go find you a brace for that wrist."

All the kids were smiling and cheering. Diego and Grace walked away, going to the closet that they kept all the basic medical supplies. She put a brace on Diego's hand, telling him what he'd need to do to make sure it healed as fast as possible. The whole time, a smile lay on his lips, despite the pain.

They begin to walk back to Allison's room when Diego finally speaks. "Tha-thanks, Mom."

"Of course, honey."

Chapter Text

The kids were thirteen when it happened.

It was supposed to be a normal dinner; no talking, simply eating. No drama. And certainly no time travel.

When Five ran away, Reginald refused to look for him. He refused to even poke his head outside to see if maybe, maybe he was still there.

That night was a difficult one for all the kids.

Number One found himself feeling guilty. Because he'd been talking to Five about time travel, he'd been talking to him about all of it. Maybe if he'd just stopped, hadn't encouraged him—

Luther couldn't sleep that night. All he could hear in his mind was his conversation with Five—"Time travel would be so cool! You could kill Hitler or something!"—and all he could see when he closed his eyes was his brother's face. Maybe, Luther thought, maybe he could've helped. Could've made him stay. But Five was gone. And Luther knew it'd be a while before they found him.

Number Two was jealous. He was worried about Five, of course—he was his brother. But all Diego could think about was that at least he was away from Reginald. Five didn't have to deal with all the shit Reginald put them through. No matter where he was, Diego was sure that it was better than there. But even then, there was a nagging worry in the back of his head. Diego couldn't imagine Five not being safe. He couldn't imagine something bad happening to his brother because even if they weren't close they were still family.

Diego’s not really sure if he slept much. All he knows is that tears rolled down his face and he didn’t know why. All he knows is that he was glad Five was gone because he wanted Five to have a better life. All he knows is that he doesn’t want Five to be hurt.

Number Three was confused. Allison was confused as to where Five had run off to, when he'd come back. She was confused as to how he even could time travel and whether or not he was able to. But Allison was confused by what that meant for the fate of the Academy. Reginald wouldn't shut them down, no, but would he have any sympathy? Would they get any days off? The answer, of course, was no.

Allison drifted in and out of sleep that night. Her mind was filled with questions that masked her utter fear, so she tried to answer the questions. As her eyes grew heavy, a new question would erupt and she'd try to find an answer. She never did find any answers, though.

Number Four was in denial. Klaus couldn't believe any of it. Five couldn't be gone, they thought. He couldn't. Because if he was gone then they had one less person to talk to. Because if he was gone then Reginald would be angry and on edge. Because if he was gone then he could be in danger. And they couldn't accept any of that, couldn't allow any of it to happen. Klaus cared too much about him, about all of their siblings, to allow anything to happen to any of them. Yet they knew, as soon as Five slammed his fork in to that table during dinner, they knew that something bad was going to happen that night.

Klaus didn't sleep, but that wasn't a surprise. The ghosts kept them up most nights, but the ghosts were barely there that night. All they could think about was their brother, little Number Five. Five was always nice to them, to some degree. As nice as the snarky, sarcastic bastard could be. And Klaus missed him.

Number Five was scared. Five couldn't sleep, couldn't do anything. He was stuck looking for some way out, some way back to his family, to his healthy and alive family.

Number Six felt powerless. Ben wanted Five back, he really did. Because Five didn't ignore him, he'd made an effort to talk. But Ben knew there was no way to bring him back. He knew that Five was gone and Ben was powerless to bring him back. Because tentacle arms couldn't jump through time and neither could strength, knives, rumors, ghosts or violin tunes. Nothing could save Five.

Ben, at one point, passed out from exhaustion. He was used to getting a normal eight hours of sleep, but that night he only got one. He had tossed and turned most of the night, trying not to think of how useless he was to stopping this whole situation. There was no solution, none that the Academy would actually be able to do. Ben tried not to think of any of that.

Number Seven.

Vanya Hargreeves.

She didn't know what to do with herself.

Five was the only one that spoke to Vanya. He was the only one that treated her like she belonged and was worthy, even if she had no powers. He was the only person Vanya really knew.

Vanya left the lights on, in case he came home. She hoped he would, but she'd be lying if she said there wasn't this lingering thought in the back of her mind saying he wouldn't come back.

She made him a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich—Five actually made his first one with Vanya. They'd been sitting awake on the kitchen counter, like they'd done for years before, and he just came up with it. He was hungry and curious.

Vanya ignored the tears that slid down her face. She ignored how tired she was. She ignored the overwhelming sadness inside her. Five was her best friend. She lost him and now—now she can't do anything. She has no one.

She stayed up all night. She had to. Because what if Five came back? What if he wanted to say goodbye or wanted to take Vanya with him? What if he really needed a sandwich? What if he wasn't gone, wasn't dead, wasn't away from them? Vanya couldn't go to bed because Five could come back. He would. He had to come back.

He had to.

Everyone, all of them, needed him.

Chapter Text

April first.

The favorite date of all tricksters, pranksters, and jokesters.

The least favorite day of all siblings, parents, and unsuspecting civilians.

April Fool's Day.

After Five left and Ben died, nothing was really exciting at the Hargreeves house. No one wanted to do anything fun, much to the disappointment of Klaus. And Ben.

But now, with Five back, the two were determined to make this the best, most prank-filled April Fool's Day in the history of the Hargreeves house. Klaus had managed to convince them all to stay at the house the night of March thirty-first, playing it off as a 'bonding experience.' Really, though, it was just a set-up.

Night was the perfect time to set up pranks. So Klaus set to work, happily taking the advice of Ben. They switch Luther's special shampoo with purple hair dye, draw vulgar photos all across Diego's face with the word DICK-FACE plastered across his forehead, put an air horn by Allison's door so it blares when she opens it, put toothpaste in Five's Oreos, and replace Vanya's toothpaste with wasabi. Just classic pranks.

Just as they planned, the first prank to go off is Allison's—the air horn screams when she opens her door, always the first awake and out of her room. It makes everyone jump, but Klaus and Ben were expecting it.

"What the hell?" Diego yells from his room. "What was that?"

Klaus snickers.

The whole house is moving now, unable to go back to bed. The next prank is Diego's, another scream coming from his room when he sees his face. "I'll fucking kill you!" he yells.

Then it's Vanya, a surprised yelp coming from the bathroom when she tries to brush her teeth. Ben found that one hilarious—it was his idea, after all.

As Luther showers his big monkey body, Five comes down the stairs, large bags under his eyes. He always steals some Oreos before Grace makes breakfast, and he does that day, too, just as Klaus expected.

He sighs as he bites in to the first one. He glares in Klaus' direction, spitting the prank back in their direction. "You ruined good Oreos," he scolds.

They act offended, hand placed dramatically over their chest. "Why, I would never."

And last, but certainly not least, a shout comes from Luther. He's done with his shower, Klaus assumes, judging by the curse words coming from his direction.

Eventually, all of them sit at the breakfast table, frowns on everyone's faces but Klaus' and Ben's. Ben looks around the table, beaming, because they can't do anything to him. He's dead, it's not like they can kill him again. So he sits back and waits.

Diego laughs when he sees Luther. "New hairdo?" he asks.

Luther scowls at him. "Don't even try me, dick face," he shoots back.

Diego covers the drawings on his cheek—he was able to get most off, but his skin was rubbed raw and there were still traces of the marker. "Alright, who the hell did all this?" he asks. All eyes fall upon Klaus. "Shit," Diego mutters.

They grin widely. "Yep."

"What?" asks Five, clearly confused.

Allison answers the question. "It's April first."

"Happy April Fools Day!" Klaus cheers.

Ben snickers. "Tell Luther he looks like a hairy grape."

Klaus can't help but laugh. "Luther, Ben says—he says you look like a grape. But, like, a hairy one."

Luther somehow scowls harder.

"Is this going to be an all day thing?" Five asks. "I have important things to do."

"Oh, it's all day alright," they confirm.

Vanya frowns. "Klaus, please—"

"Nope. It's happening, whether you like it or not."

She did not like it.

They manage to make it through breakfast without any fights breaking out—which is impressive on any day, really. But today especially.

And then starts the war.

Diego is the next to contribute to the pranks. It's after breakfast, everyone having dispersed to various parts of the house. Klaus is in the living room, chatting with Ben about all that had happened that morning. Diego wanted to get them back for the drawings, so he decided to go for a classic—whipped cream to the face. He ran up behind Klaus, smashing the 'pie' in their face.

Klaus lets out a yelp when they're hit. They sit there, confused, for a few seconds before they register both Diego and Ben laughing. Klaus takes their finger and swipes some of the cream off their face, sucking on their finger. "Mm. Why, thank you, Diego—that was very delicious."

Diego shakes his head and laughs. "Whatever. That was fucking hilarious."

The next to prank was Five. Clearly upset with toothpaste-Oreos, he fills a box of donuts—a dozen, a dozen donuts—with mayonnaise. All of them. He leaves the box out, knowing Klaus will take some. They always do. And this time wasn't any different.

They ate half a donut before they realized something was wrong with it. Yet they continued eating it. "Huh," they said. "Tastes like mayo."

"That's because it is mayo!" Five screamed, frustrated. Klaus shrugged and took a bite of another donut. Of course.

At this point, it had become Klaus and Ben vs. the other Hargreeves kids. Diego and Five had already taken their shots, but Luther, Allison, and Vanya all had their time. Allison was the next to act.

Klaus loves orange juice. Who doesn't, honestly? So, Allison mixes water and Mac & Cheese powder, putting it in the same jug they put the orange juice in. It looked exactly the same—not even she could tell the difference.

When Klaus poured themself a glass, Allison almost gave the whole thing away by laughing hysterically. She never was good at pranking. Klaus chugged the whole glass, smacking their lips together when it was empty. They chewed on the inside of their lip. "That's not orange juice."

That's when Allison began laughing in her corner of the kitchen. "It-It's cheese powder," she said, barely able to get the words out.

"Well. It was tasty."

Then Allison stopped laughing. Ben scoffed. "You're weird," he told them. "That's disgusting."

Klaus shrugged. Not only were they determined to not let anybody win in this prank war—and therefore they were determined to not let any prank annoy him—but they actually liked it. The mayonnaise donuts were absolutely horrible, but this wasn't too bad.

Luther was the next of the Hargreeves to try to prank Klaus. He put Saran Wrap on their bedroom door—with the logic that they'd walk in to it. Easy, right?

"That's too high, Luther," Diego told him. "They won't hit it."

"It's fine," Luther insisted.

He was wrong.

When Klaus walked in to their room, not only did the wrap not hit them, they saw it a few feet away. With a resigned sigh they tore it down, laying on their bed.

"It was stupid," Diego said to Luther.

"It was good! They're just short."

Allison sucked in a breath. "It wasn't great, Luther," she admitted.

The other siblings kept trying to get Klaus various ways: onion made to look like a candied apple, mixing soy sauce and Sprite to look like Coke, replaced sugar with salt, everything. But, at this point, Klaus expected it. They dodged every prank with ease.

But there was still one sibling: Vanya.

Klaus didn't expect much from her, if they were being honest. How much could she do? She refused to take part in her siblings' plans to prank Klaus, so why would she do it on her own?

That was their first mistake: underestimating Vanya.

They spent most of the day in the kitchen, wandering around the house and laughing at their siblings' poor attempts to prank them.

That was their second mistake: leaving their valuables unattended.

That left Vanya alone, all day, to plan and execute her prank. In fact, she'd been planning it for a week. She knew Klaus would get them, and they delivered. Now it was her turn.

Nobody saw Vanya most of the day. Nobody questioned it. They thought she'd driven back to her apartment. In reality, she was in Klaus' room all day, wrapping everything they owned in wrapping paper.

It was a lot of work. But the startled scream that came from their room at the end of the day made everything worth it. "This is fucking fantastic!" They were laughing loudly, tears of joy pricking at their eyes.

Vanya emerged from behind Klaus. "Tada!" They jumped when they heard her, clearly taken by surprise.

"You did this?" they asked, pointing to their room. Walls, ceiling, bed, dresser—everything but the floor was covered in green wrapping paper with Santa Claus' face.

Vanya nodded sheepishly, tugging on her sweater sleeve. "We had no other wrapping paper."

They laugh, pulling her in to a tight hug. "This is fantastic! It's—god, I hate it, but I love it! I taught you well." They grab her hand, raising it in the air. By this point, the rest of the family has gathered by the bedroom, trying to see what all the noise is about. "The prank champion!" they declare, making Vanya blush.

"What'd she do?" Allison asks.

"The classic wrapping paper prank," Klaus explained. "Must've taken forever."

Vanya shrugs, a wide grin on her face.

Klaus grabbed her hand one last time, raising it in the air once again. "Vanya, the Queen of Pranks!"

Chapter Text

First she was useless.

Then she was a monster.

Vanya can't get that nagging voice out of her head, the one that tells her 'you're not good enough.' Reginald was the one to put it in there and it didn't leave even after he was gone.

Vanya had hoped her powers might do something good. She hoped they'd help her prove herself, prove she was good enough.

Clearly she wasn't.

She almost killed everyone she knew, everyone she loved. She caused the fucking Apocalypse. How in the world can Vanya tell herself that she's good enough.

She doesn't remember how she found it, when she found it. But it was a small pistol, easy to use. It had been in Five's room and on some impulse, some odd impulse, Vanya had taken it. She'd taken it back to her apartment and slid it in a desk drawer. She looked at it every night, right before bed. Did the world really need her anymore? Hadn't she caused enough damage?

For a while, it was only thoughts. Vanya grew depressed, though she didn't tell anyone. She began to hate herself and isolate herself. She begin to think about suicide.

It was a while before she attempted it.

Tears flowed like a river down her face. She sat in her bad, as she would any night, the gun in her hand. Contemplating. Was tonight the night? The only thing different about that night was her answer:

Yes.

Yes, tonight was the night. Yes, tonight she was going to die. Yes, she was ready.

As horrible and awful as she feels, there's an odd sense of calm and reassurance knowing that she'd finally do it tonight. She knew how the night would end, she finally knew her fate. No one was controlling it. Not Reginald, not Harold, not Luther. She was free.

The cold barrel of the gun trailed down her nose, down her lips, down her chin, resting just below it, resting in that crevice right between her neck and her head, pointing towards her brain. A deadly shot for anyone, super-powered or not.

Vanya stared at her blank wall, her breath hitched and heart racing. She was in no hurry, not now. She took time to feel the gun against her skin,—cool, hard, oddly exhilarating,—took time to feel her emotions,—sadness, anxiety, anticipation,—took time to remember why she's doing this,—the deaths, the apocalypse, the moon,—she took time to prepare for her death. Her suicide.

Her hand is shaking. She's not steady. Maybe she's not ready. Maybe she knows she doesn't want to die, not really. It's not her time.

She shoots.

Then she wakes up in the hospital, her siblings surrounding her. The bullet had only scraped her body, hadn't done enough to kill her. They say it was her powers that stopped it, that she narrowly escaped death, that she should be happy. But how could she be happy?

Klaus was holding her left hand, Allison her right. Ben and Diego were both by Klaus, Luther beside Allison. Their faces held care, held grief, guilt, sadness. Vanya's not really sure.

"Are you okay?" Klaus asks, squeezing her hand tightly.

She doesn't say anything.

It's a week before she talks. She's isolated in order to ensure she doesn't kill herself, she's given pills that feel too similar to the ones her father gave her, and her family never leaves her side.

"You can't leave until you tell us what happened," Luther tells her. It's been seven days since she went to the hospital. Seven days since she's tried to kill herself.

Vanya shakes her head and scoffs. "I found a way to get out after you locked me up the first time," she points out. "I think I'll find a way the second time, too." Those are the first words she's said in a week.

"We're not—we're not locking you up," Klaus says. "We need to make sure you're okay."

Allison frowns. "Talk to us. Please."

Vanya shrugs, looking at her feet. "I don't know what you want me to say."

"Maybe why you had one of my guns," Five proposes. "Or, I don't know, why you tried to kill yourself. Something along those lines."

"I found the gun."

"Obviously," Diego says. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"Not so harsh," Luther tells him. "She's vulnerable. Be kind."

"I'm not a dog, you know," Vanya shoots back. "I can take it."

"Talk to us," Allison repeats.

"Fine. Want to know why I tried to kill myself? It's because I'm a monster. It's because I blew up the moon. It's because I started the apocalypse. It's because I almost killed you guys!" The tears are back in her eyes, now, voice shaking slightly. "I can't believe—I can't believe I did something like that."

"We forgive you," Klaus assures her. "But that's not what you want to hear, is it? V, you need to forgive yourself."

"That was... oddly poetic, Klaus," Five says.

"How can I forgive myself? I'm-I'm a monster."

"You're not a monster," Diego assures her.

Allison agrees, "You're great. We can't lose you, Vanya. We need you."

A sob escapes Vanya's throat, tears coating her face just like it did that night. "I'm sorry," she says. "For everything. But I—I can't live like this. I can't. The guilt, pain, it's too much. It's too much."

"So talk to us," Five says. "I learned the hard way that family is there for you. But we're here for you."

"Or drugs. I did drugs."

Diego sighs. "We know, Klaus."

"I don't recommend it. Didn't work out well for me."

"We know, Klaus."

Vanya laughs a little. "Trust me, I won't do drugs."

"Vanya," Allison says, trying to remain serious, but a small smile creeps up on her lips, "please talk to us. We want to help. Really."

Chapter Text

There's an old Latina woman who talks with a young boy every day.

This woman is named Camila, and the boy is named Klaus.

The thing is: Camila is dead. And Klaus can talk to ghosts.

Klaus tells Camila all his worries. He tells her about his problems and his wonders, his joys and his fears. And she always listens, always reassured him.

"You are per-fect, Klaus," Camila tells him. He always liked how she said "perfect." She held the 'r' for three extra seconds, enunciated the c with extra precision. She broke it up as if each syllable was a different word. But no matter how she said it, she said it was complete sincerity.

Klaus didn't think he was perfect. But it never hurt to have Camila tell him he was. And he always enjoyed their talks on the couch when Reginald was too busy in his study and Grace was off cooking dinner.

No one in Klaus' family reassured him like she did.

It was after their third mission when Klaus came home to talk to Camila, spilling all of his worries. "I don't know what I have to offer them," he admits. "Everybody else has powers that actually help them in battle. I don't have something like that."

Camila nodded and hummed. "You will find your place," she assured him. "People always do."

Klaus shrugged and looked at his hands.

Luther walked in to the room at that moment, fuming. He was angry. Which was valid considering how the mission had gone. They caught the bad guys—they always do—but Luther had almost gotten badly injured. "What the hell was that?" Luther yelled at Klaus. "You were supposed to get him. He almost shot me."

Klaus nodded. "I'm sorry," he whispered.

Luther shook his head and scoffed. "Just learn to be useful," he told him.

"Don't listen to the boy," Camila said to Klaus. "You are per-fect."

"I tried my best," Klaus mutters. But he knows that isn't good enough, he knows he isn't good enough. He's not good enough for the Academy. He doesn't belong there, doesn't belong anywhere.

"Look at you," Luther continued, gesturing to Klaus' scrawny body, "you can't even fight. I could flick you and you'd fall over."

Klaus can feel the tears pricking at his eyes. He knows Luther is right.

"Aren't you gonna say anything? You can't even talk, can you? You really are useless."

Beside Klaus, Camila stands up. "Why you—" and Klaus doesn't need to know Spanish to know that what she said after that was not nice.

Klaus shakes his head. "He's right," he tries to tell Camila.

"Oh? Is one of your ghost friends here?" Luther taunts. "Well, can they help during missions?"

Klaus mumbles something under his breath, but it wasn't real words. He couldn't find it in him to speak, to say anything that could be used against him.

"You will end up killing one of us," Luther tells him. "Unless you find something that can actually help us, someone's death will be on your hands. You got lucky today."

Klaus chews on the inside of his cheek. He already feels so useless, so worthless. He doesn't need Luther to tell him this. And he can't, he can't cry in front of Luther, he can't do anything else that will prove just how useless he is.

"How many guys did you catch today, huh? Everybody but you caught someone."

"I know," Klaus says, voice quiet and shaky.

Camila shakes her head. "Don't let him walk all over you. Stand up for yourself!"

But Klaus doesn't. He can't. Because there's nothing to stand up for, nothing to defend. Klaus has no purpose, not at the Academy. He doesn't even have a place in the real world. He's too weak to defend the world and too odd to live in it.

When Klaus is finally pulled out of his thoughts, he realizes that both Luther and Camila are gone. He's alone. It's probably for the best, anyways. He only drags people down. From the day he was born he had one job, one thing to do. He was supposed to be part of the Umbrella Academy, was supposed to save people. But all he can do is talk to the dead. And how has that helped him? It's given him countless nightmares, that's all it's done.

He can't help it. He curls up on the couch and cries because that's all he can do. What if someone does die because he can't do anything? What if him being out there, him trying to fight, is actually making the world worse than if he stayed back, stayed with Vanya? Maybe that's what he should do. He should just stay back, stay with his sister. He might as well not have any power.

Luther was strong. He could easily capture any bad person, throw them out a window—he has, in fact. Diego has accuracy. He can effortlessly pin down anyone. Allison has her rumors. She can make anything go her way with those powers. Five has his spacial jumps—not to mention his awesome fighting skills. Combine those two and you have a kid who can take down any person in less than a minute. And Ben has those badass tentacles. He can just go all octopus on everyone. But ghosts? What can they do?

It seems like Klaus is only good for nightmares and for tears. He doesn't want to cry, but he can't stop it. His knees are pulled up to his chest and he wishes he could hide his tears, make them go away, but he can't. He can't do anything, can't do anything but cry.

He really is useless.

Chapter Text

He hated ghosts.

Even before his father locked him in that mausoleum, he hated them.

But there was one ghost that Klaus didn't mind.

The ghost's name was Dave. Klaus always called him his Guardian Ghost. Dave was tall with dirty blond and curly hair, icy blue eyes. He had clearly been in the military, based on what he was wearing, and he had clearly died during service, based on his blood soaked chest. His eyes were kind and his smile was bright, but more than anything he was smart and protected Klaus.

Klaus doesn't remember when he first started seeing Dave. It was before training got serious, before the mausoleum. In those early days, he doesn't remember much. He just remembers an army man standing over him, a smile on his lips. He was like an angel in those days, never saying much, simply checking in now and then.

Klaus got older. He started exploring his power, started exploring the world. Even then he didn't get a chance to talk to the Guardian Ghost. But Dave was there. Whenever Klaus would get too overwhelmed, too afraid of the ghosts surrounding him, Dave would fend them off. He would protect Klaus until he was breathing normally, until he could handle it.

Then Klaus got even older. His father locked him in that horrible mausoleum, left him alone there. And even though Klaus wasn't exactly sure who Dave was, he looked for him. In that sea of ghosts, he looked for that one face. The army man who died during combat, the Guardian Ghost. But he couldn't find him.

It was a few weeks after that when Klaus finally saw Dave again. Dave was in the corner of Klaus' room, the latter having just woken up from a horrible nightmare. And, for some odd reason, Klaus felt better. He felt comforted just knowing that the ghost was back, knowing that someone really was watching over him.

After that, Klaus would always look for the Guardian Ghost. Whenever he was panicking, afraid, whenever something wasn't right, he knew Dave would be there. Dave rarely spoke to him, as much as Klaus tried to start conversations. He would always just smile at Klaus and shake his head.

Dave eventually started talking. He would never have a conversation with Klaus, no, but he'd offer tips. He was the voice of reason in Klaus' head when he was just a young and reckless boy. If it hadn't been for Dave, odds are Klaus would have been dead at a young age doing some stupid dare from Diego. But he always had the Guardian Ghost there, telling him what was and what wasn't smart, which decision was best and what to do to stay alive.

If it hadn't been for Dave, Klaus would've started drugs much sooner.

The first time Klaus thought about stealing some alcohol from Reginald, Dave was there. He was there telling him it wasn't smart, that it wasn't how to cope with the ghosts. He was there telling him that there were other options.

And then Klaus tried to buy some weed. Dave was there, too, just like he always was. Dave was there, telling him the dangers of the drug, telling him how much it would hurt him. He was there telling him to talk to his family and get help, get help for the ghosts.

Dave was always there.

But one day Klaus didn't listen to the Guardian Ghost. One day Klaus started drinking alcohol, starting taking drugs. Because one day the ghosts just became too much and he needed to escape one way or another.

He was only thirteen.

Dave had wanted to help Klaus. He had tried so hard, tried to steer Klaus away from it all. But Klaus didn't want help, not really.

The ghosts were gone when he was high, but that also meant Dave was gone. That meant his Guardian Ghost was gone.

Whenever Klaus had a nightmare, he would look to a corner of the room, hoping to see him. He wasn't there. Whenever he was about to do something stupid, he would look to his side, hoping to see him. He wasn't there. And even though Dave was no longer beside him, Klaus still heard him, still heard that voice of reason. He still heard his kind voice telling him that he'd regret taking drugs. But it never stopped him, why didn't it stop him?

Even though Klaus couldn't see him, Dave was there. He looked over Klaus and begged him to stay sober, begged him to make the right decision. He just wanted to help him, wanted to protect him. But Klaus had locked him out and there was nothing he could do.

Somewhere along the line, Klaus forgot about the Guardian Ghost. Maybe it was all the drugs or simply just all the time that had passed. But Klaus had no memory of Dave.

Sometimes, though, Klaus would still look to the corner of his room after a nightmare. He would still look to his side as if hoping to see someone there. Klaus never knew why he did this. It was simply instinct. He felt as if he were missing something, someone, whenever the corner was empty and no one was by his side. But he never could figure out why.

Dave slowly stopped looking over Klaus. At least, not to the extent that he did before. He knew that he was shut out. He accepted it.

But he couldn't help checking in every now and then. He couldn't help that nagging worry, nagging wonder.

Eventually, Klaus found someone else. He had Ben to look over him, to be a voice of reason. Ben was his new Guardian Ghost. And Dave was fine with that. It made him happy, in fact, to know that someone cared enough about Klaus to make sure he was okay.

But Dave still checks in every now and then.

Chapter Text

To be honest, he hadn't thought much about it.

He assumed everybody had these thoughts, everybody did these things at least once in a while.

Diego wouldn't consider it 'self harm' per se. It was more of a... general disregard for his health and safety. It started small, simple. He wouldn’t look either way when he crossed the street, for starters. But slowly it got bigger. He refused to go to a doctor, no matter how bad the injury was—that broken arm was a bitch. His shower would always be scalding hot. He would never wear mittens when baking or goggles when experimenting. Now, none of these sound too bad, but he always found a way to do worse things.

But, again, Diego thought very little of it. He was a young teenage boy. He thought it was normal. He thought these thoughts swarming in his head, these angry and sad and hateful thoughts are normal.

Though he didn't know it, his biggest problem was the scratching. He scratched and scratched his arm until blood would bubble to the surface. Diego didn't even know why he did it, he just knew that, in some odd way, it helped him. He craved that adrenaline, craved the release.

They were just hanging out—him, Klaus, and Ben. They did it often. Just sitting in Ben's room—it was always the cleanest—and talking about missions or about how much they hated Reginald. So they were there, just like they always were, when Klaus asked the question. "What are you doing?"

Diego's body stilled and he looked at Klaus. "I'm not d-doing anything."

"Yeah, you are," they insisted. "You're scratching your arm."

He shrugged. "Yeah. And?"

"You've been doing it for a while."

Diego was confused. Because didn't everybody do something? Didn't everybody have a thing? Something to give them that adrenaline rush, something to take away the bad thoughts? Wasn't that normal?

Diego pulled his hand away from his arm.

"Is that blood?" Ben asked.

"Yeah."

"Did you cut yourself or something?" Ben was clearly concerned, confused. He was always a caring kid.

Diego blinked his eyes a few times, the blood rolling down his arm. "It was the scratching," he explained it as if it were obvious. But this really did confuse him. Surely at least Klaus did something like this. Surely.

"Woah, dude, that's not—why?" Klaus asked.

Okay, so maybe they don't do something like this. "I d-don't know," Diego says slowly. "Is-Isn't it norm-m-mal?"

Ben shook his head. "No, it's not. That's not good."

Diego didn't say anything.

"Bro," Klaus said, sounding beyond perplexed, "I think you might be, ya know, depressed." It was a statement, yeah, but their voice raised at the end making it sound like a question. And maybe it was. Klaus thought Diego had all the answers. But what if he didn't? What if none of them knew what they were doing?

"No, th-that's—no." He couldn't be depressed—could he? "B-Ben, do you thi-think—?" He leaves the question in the air, not fully sure what to ask. But Ben was smart, Ben would know. He had to know.

"I don't know," Ben admitted. "Do you think bad thoughts? Like—are you generally sad?"

Diego paused to think about it. He wasn't really sure. This, all of this, it was just some silly habit he picked up along the way. It wasn't meant to be anything, wasn't supposed to mean anything. But was he depressed? Was he more fucked up than he originally thought? "I don't—I do-don't know," Diego says. "M-Maybe."

"Maybe?" Klaus asks. "How can you 'maybe' be sad?" Their heart pounded in their ears, worried. They don't know what they'd do if something was wrong, something was really wrong with Diego.

Ben couldn't stop staring at the blood on Diego's arm. It looked painful—or uncomfortable at the very least. But Diego didn't seem bothered by it, not at all. How could be not be bothered by it? How could he think that this, any of it, was okay? Why didn't Diego just ask for help—he knows, he has to know, that both Ben and Klaus will always be there for him. Doesn't he know?

"I-I don't kn-know, Klaus!" Diego yells. He takes a few deep breaths. His emotions are taking over. He's worried, he's afraid. He wants to scratch, he wants to turn to that release that's there for him. But what if it really is bad? His fist clenches and unclenches. He doesn't know what to do.

His hand keeps trailing to his bleeding arm. He doesn't know how to stop it. It's a habit at this point, something he does instinctively. How can he stop? What can he do?

"This isn't good," Klaus mutters. "I don't know what to do."

None of them know what to do.

Ben takes a deep breath. He has to be logical here. "Alright, this is—it's simple. Just—just don't do it. Don't scratch."

"I ca-can't st-st-stop," Diego says. He's about to cry, he knows it, and he can't stop stuttering. He's so confused, he's afraid, he's fucking afraid. He needs to stop, he needs to.

"Alright, well, what can we do then?" Klaus asks. "I want—we want to help."

Diego clenches his eyes shut. What is happening to him? Why can't he just stop? "I do-don't know-ow," he sobs out. And it all comes crashing down. Somewhere, deep down, he knew it wasn't normal. He's past saving, far past it. He's broken. He's depressed and he's broken. No one can help him.

"You just need to talk to us," Ben says. "We'll always help you."

Klaus pulls Diego into a hug. His face is wet with tears and soaks their shirt, but they couldn't care less. They just want to help their brother. "We're always here," they whisper softly. "You don't have to do this anymore, Diego."

Diego clutches on to Klaus' arm wrapped around his body. His breathing is shaky and he can't speak, the words won't leave his lips. So he just reaches a hand out and grabs Ben's, hoping that it'll mean something. Because he doesn't want to do this, not alone at least. And he wants both of them to know that.

He just hopes his habit will go away.

Chapter Text

Each kid remembers it a little differently.

Each kid remembers most things differently, though.

It was supposed to be a simple mission. No one expected it to happen, no one expected anything bad to happen. It was just a robbery, a simple bank robbery.

They'd be lying if they said it wasn't harder after Five died. Yes, they always managed to get the job done, but it seemed to take more effort, even years after.

Most of the robbers had been taken care of. But now it was Ben's turn. He always hated using his power, and his hatred only grew as the years went on. But Luther was behind him, insisting. "C'mon, Ben," he said. "We need you. Just let the bad boys out and we can go home." And how could Ben go against Luther? How could he do that to his brother, do that to the mission? So he did what he was told to. He always did. Because he never wanted to let down Luther, never wanted to let down Reginald.

He took a deep breath and let it loose.

The tentacles reached out and grabbed the robbers, throwing them around as they always did. It was bloody and violent but it was effective, fast, easy.

But there was a secret Ben had, something he hadn't told anyone. He couldn't control the tentacles—that was known, more or less. But the secret was that it was getting harder and harder to get them to go back in each time. He had less control over them. It was as if the tentacles had minds of their own. But no one knew this. Ben didn't tell anyone.

The robbers were dead. The tentacles had grown much more violent, too, killing anyone they could each. They tore the heads off or ripped off each limb, always painful deaths. It was gory and brutal and no one deserved that death. It was why he hated using his powers so much. He felt like a killer.

Never did Ben, never did anyone, think this would happen.

They turned on him.

It was gruesome. The tentacles attacked Ben, ripped him apart. His screams were so loud they were heard outside the bank. Klaus jumped forward and tried to help him but Luther held him back. They were crying and screaming, all of them, as their brother was tore limb from limb in front of them, blood covering each and every inch of the bank floor. None knew what to do, none knew how to stop it. They weren't even sure what they were witnessing.

And then Ben stopped screaming.

He dropped dead, him and the tentacles limp. A cry escaped Allison's mouth, and Klaus charged forward. "No!" He pounded his fist on the ground, over and over, kneeling beside his dead brother. "No!" He'd already lost Five, he couldn't lose Ben, too. He couldn't. "Ben, Benny, please." He cried, whole body shaking. There was no way anyone could survive that.

"Be-B-Ben," Diego stuttered out, slowly stumbling over to join Klaus. He didn't know what had just happened, couldn't understand any of it. He stared at the blood on the ground, at the scattered body of his brother, in denial, disbelief. How could that happen, how could someone's powers turn on them?

Allison was screaming, crying, whole body weak. It was too much, all too much, and she couldn't do anything to stop it. Ben was—Ben was dead, he was fucking dead, and she couldn't do anything.

Luther held Allison in his arms, trying not to cry himself. But this—it was his fault. He was the one that insisted Ben do it, he was the one that insisted Ben use his power. Luther knew he was reluctant. Why couldn't Luther just listen, just leave the poor boy alone? This death was on his hands, whether he liked it or not.

They were dragged out of that bank. Klaus didn't want to leave his brother, he couldn't leave him. But Reginald forced them out, forced them home, forced them to clean off the blood that coated their bodies.

Vanya had only gotten a glimpse of Ben's body. She couldn't stand it, she couldn't look. It was too painful. It was too gruesome. It was too bloody. The tears swam in her eyes but something in her held them back. It all felt like a dream, a horrible dream, a nightmare. But it was real. She was living in this nightmare that she called life and she couldn't stop it. She'd lost the two people she was closest to in her life and had nothing to do.

The kids couldn't comprehend what they had just saw, they couldn't comprehend the fact that Ben was gone. First Number Five and now Number Six. They were both so young, too young. They didn't deserve to die. So they all stayed in their rooms for days on end, refusing to talk, because maybe if they didn't acknowledge what happened then it wouldn't be true. But it was true.

Klaus fell in to a deep depression. He knew he should stop the drugs and the alcohol but he couldn't. Yet, somehow, he forced himself to stay clean for a few days, long enough to see Ben.

It was at his funeral that Klaus finally saw his ghost. The funeral was small and short. Reginald never gave them much time to grieve, to think; he always pushed them to keep going. But it was there that Klaus saw Ben.

Ben looked mostly intact—which made sense, he supposed. Klaus didn't see any scars or marks, but there wasn't a body to scar. There was nothing left of him, nothing to mark.

Luther couldn’t sleep. His final words to Ben rang in his ears—"Just let the bad boys out and we can go home." But Ben didn't get to go home. And that was his fault, that was all Luther's fault.

Diego was haunted by nightmares of those tentacles, of those screams. He wished he couldn't sleep, he wished he could just make it all go away. He just wanted Ben back.

Allison cried herself to sleep every night. She cried because they were too young. Too young to die, too young to see something like that. Ben was just a boy.

When Klaus wasn't talking to Ben's ghost, he was high out of his mind. He rarely left his room and drifted in and out of sleep.

Vanya would sit in her silent bedroom alone, wishing Ben were there, wishing she could talk to him. She wished that his death was nicer. He died too brutally.

But all of them wished Ben wasn't dead.

Chapter Text

They have always been a fairly skinny kid.

And they knew they weren't exactly fat, not really.

But Klaus couldn't help it. They felt overweight. They ate too much, they knew, and Reginald would just about kill them if they got too fat. So they tried to fast, they tried to puke up all the extra calories and food they ate, they tried everything. But then they heard about it, something else. Diet pills. They had to help, didn't they?

So Klaus found themself going down to their local convenience store, found themself grabbing some of those pills. Anything that could help them lose that extra weight.

It went fine at first. Pop in one of those and they felt fine with all the food they ate. Mostly fine, at least. They felt more in control, felt like they had a way to control their weight, their food intake.

Every night and every morning, even before the pill, Klaus stood in front of the mirror. They didn't wear a shirt, simply stared at their stomach. It never was good enough, they never were good enough. The number on the scale was always too high and their stomach always had too much fat. Even with the diet pill they weren't good enough. So they started taking more of the pills, started eating less and less. Because they needed to control their weight, needed to stay skinny enough for the Academy.

They didn't expect side effects when they started taking the diet pill. But it wasn't long before they started showing up. There was a rash on Klaus' forearm, itchy and red and swollen. They felt dizzy and lightheaded. And they kept throwing up. And in that weird, messed up place in the back of their mind, they thought that this was good. Not only did they have the diet pill to help restrict their weight and food income, but now the food they did eat didn't stay in their body. They couldn't get fat if they couldn't eat, right?

But they still frowned every time that number showed up on that scale, they still hated the way their body looked in the mirror.

Reginald forced them to eat, forced all the kids to have that large breakfast, lunch, dinner. But Klaus couldn't bring themself to eat all of it. They just slid the extra food on to Diego's plate or Luther's plate, hoping no one would notice. But they couldn't eat, they couldn't, even if they were hungry. Because food meant weight and Klaus couldn't afford any more of that. And even then, after they finished eating, they threw it all up in the bathroom afterwards.

The hardest part about all of it, though, was hiding it. They had to hide the pills, hide the rash, hide the not-eating, and hide the throwing up. And it was so difficult. But it was worth it. They had to do it. There wasn't a problem as long as Klaus didn't get too overweight, right? There couldn't be a problem.

Klaus begin to grow weak, thin, tired, fatigued. But they refuse to admit that anything had happened, anything had changed. They refused to even admit it to themself. They kept taking the pills and kept losing weight, but they never felt good enough, they never felt skinny enough. Maybe, they thought, maybe they just were made to be overweight. Maybe the couldn't lose weight, maybe they could never be good enough.

Klaus started eating less and less. They spent most of meal times simply staring at their food, moving it around with their fork. They were hungry, practically drooling at the sight and smell of their food, but they couldn't bring themself to eat any of it.

It was getting more and more difficult to keep this up. They were on their third bottle of pills and Reginald had started to grow suspicious of where they were when they went to get the pills. Some of their siblings noticed how pale they'd gotten, how weak. Their mother noticed their decline of eating, their weight loss. But they just couldn't stop. They were in too deep.

It was a morning like any other. Klaus dragged themself in to the bathroom, rubbing the sleep from their eyes. They took off their pajama shirt and stared at their pale and skinny body, but all they could see was fat. They stood on the scale and felt the need to break it because of the number it showed. They showered, brushed their teeth, combed their hair, then pulled on their Academy uniform. And, a new part of Klaus' routine: they popped in one of the diet pills.

They felt their empty stomach stir. They thought they were going to have to throw up again—though at this point all that came out was bile. They gripped on to the cool marble of the sink counter, trying to ground themself, trying to prepare for the long, long day ahead of them.

They needed to just relax. They needed to stop itching that fucking rash on their arm. They needed to not feel so dizzy.

Klaus tried to convince themself they were fine. They tried to convince themself that everything would be okay, that these side effects would go away and that they wouldn't be so overweight. They almost wished they had Allison's power, maybe try to rumor away that extra fat that showed itself in their stomach, thighs. But they couldn’t, they were stuck with the stupid ghosts and the stupid weight.

Their vision began to blur and they couldn't think straight. It had been days since they last ate, days since their vomit had some actual substance in it. They were dizzy and felt sick and they couldn't stop it so they grabbed on to the counter and wished that they hadn't taken those stupid fucking pills.

They're too weak to hold on to the counter, to support their body. They can feel themself start to give in, their body failing. They tumble backwards a little.

And right before everything goes black, right before they pass out, they have one thought:

At least they lost some weight.

Chapter Text

She was a naturally talented actress, anyway.

Even without her power, she could portray any character perfectly and everybody loved her.

But something in Allison compelled her to do something more, to be something more. She had grown up using her power on a daily basis and leaving the house with little social skills was, to say the least, difficult. The only way she knew how to live her life was using her power, rumoring her way to the top. And she didn't want to do that, she wanted to be normal. But she couldn't be.

Her start in the acting industry hadn't been because of her powers. Like mentioned before, she was simply a good actress and a pretty face. All good things to have. In her late teen years, she had a few minor roles as a side character, maybe appearing in a show every couple episodes. But then she became more popular, the people wanted to see her. She began to costar shows, movies, be in the spot light. Or, at least, she was beginning to be in the spot light. There were always other actors and actresses that were more popular or famous or more in demand than her.

And something in Allison screamed for more.

She managed to hold off for some time, managed to settle for where she was. But, watching those other actors and actresses at big award ceremonies on tv, ceremonies that she wasn't invited to, it made something in her snap. Because that should have been her, that should have been Allison. But no matter how good of an actress she was, no matter how many starring roles she had, she couldn't seem to be good enough. And she really, really just wanted to be enough.

So that's when she started using her power. That's when the rumors began. And suddenly that normal life that she had worked so hard to get disappeared in an instance. With the simple words whispered in someone's ear--"I heard a rumor"-- everything came crashing down. But she only rose up.

She started getting invited to more parties, started getting more and more roles. She began being a popular demand for the public. All the men wanted to date her and all the women wanted to be her. And as cliche as it sounds, it's true. She was more famous than she had ever imagined possible, going to all of the awards and almost always winning something. Just with those simple words. "I heard a rumor."

I heard a rumor that I got this gig. I heard a rumor that I was invited to this party. I heard I rumor that I was this person's friend. I heard a rumor that I won this award. I heard a rumor, rumor, rumor.

Any job that she wanted, the got. Anything that she wanted, she got.

I heard a rumor that you were in love with me.

Patrick. The man Allison had her eyes on for years. But his heart was never for her, he didn't love her like she loved him. Until she uttered those few words, at least.

She did feel bad, truly. But it was so difficult to stop, it was so difficult to just let her life be normal. So she suppressed those feelings, as much as she could.

And then she got pregnant.

It was the biggest news Hollywood had ever heard. Allison Hargreeves, famous actor, perfect husband, and now a mother. Questions swarmed the press and the public. Was it a boy or a girl? Was it planned? Would she keep it? Would she still act?

Allison didn't want to use her powers, not on her baby at least. Maybe this was her second chance, her chance to do things right. Maybe this time she wouldn't use her power. Maybe this time she'd be normal.

But, once again, it didn't last for long.

Even without the rumors, the acting industry welcomed her after her birth with open arms. She and Patrick did countless interviews about Claire, about their relationship, about Allison's career. And Allison honestly liked the break from using her powers.

But then Claire got older. She was constantly crying, refused to sleep, refused to eat. And Allison was going back to work soon. It was all too much to handle.

One day, one exhausting day, she couldn't help it. It was almost an instinct to say those words, to mutter "I heard a rumor." She cringed as soon as the words left her mouth, cringed when baby Claire fell asleep, just like she told her to. Things weren't supposed to happen this way, things were supposed to be normal. No rumors, no superpowers, nothing but an ordinary life. But Allison was exhausted and she needed sleep. Any mom, she told herself, in her position with her powers would do the same. She would probably be considered strong for holding off this long.

But she still felt guilty.

She went back to acting, unsurprisingly gaining a starring role in the newest movie. It was supposed to hit the charts. But filming was going to be far away. It would separate Allison from Patrick, from Claire. She couldn't handle that, not with the baby being so young. But she wanted, no, needed this job. She needed something big for her break back in to acting after giving birth and this was it. So she did it again, rumored them to film somewhere.

And, sure enough, the movie made millions and Allison was still at the top.

Eventually, the guilt faded in to a dull uncomfortable feeling, nothing she couldn't handle. And she did try, she really did try not to use her power. But weren't all of her siblings using their powers? Wouldn't anybody sane use their powers if they had one? Allison told herself all of these things to ease the pain she felt when she rumored her way in to an award or rumored her daughter to sleep.

Yet she didn't stop. She never stopped. She couldn't stop.

Chapter Text

Everybody has their "thing."

It can be a person, object, maybe even a place.

But everybody has their thing. The thing that makes them go soft, sweet.

For Diego it was Grace. For Allison it was Claire. For Klaus it was Dave. For Five it was Delores. For Ben it was puppies. And for Vanya it was her violin.

Luther's soft spot was Allison.

For whatever reason, Luther could not be mad at Allison, could not be mean to her. He just wanted to be there for her, help her, comfort her, protect her. And even though he was soft and sweet with Allison, if anybody were to dare make her cry or hurt her, they were in for one hell of a treat.

Whenever she had a nightmare or something scared her, Allison always ran to her brother. And Luther was always there, was always a friendly shoulder to cry on. He hugged her and tried to calm her down, tried to make her smile once again. Because she always made him smile and he wanted to do the same for her.

Even without her rumor powers, anything she asked for from Luther, she got. He just couldn't resist the smile that formed on her face. The way that her eyes scrunched a little more the wider the smile got, how a little squeal would escape her lips when she was really excited. How could he turn that down?

The answer is: he couldn't.

Though Luther was against breaking the rules their father set for them, when Allison was involved it seemed fine. Hiding out in their little tent, drinking sodas after midnight, playing card games and truth or dare and trying not to laugh too loudly. As long as Allison was happy, Luther was happy.

No one else—and nothing else—makes Luther like this. No one else can get Luther to go against the rules, no one else can make Luther give them everything, and no one else can make Luther laugh so much.

And Allison is just so kind to him, so nice. She was the one person that could make Luther open up, let down his barrier, let down his feelings of responsibility. She was the one person that could make him relax. Without Allison, Luther is sure, he would be dead by age 25 due to stress and lack of personal care. But she keeps him youthful, keeps him happy. And he needs a person like that.

One time, after Five made Allison cry,—he swears it was an accident,—Luther almost beat him up. Almost. And if it weren't for Reginald staring over them at all times, he probably would have. Because nobody, nobody makes a single tear fall from Allison's eye. Nobody makes her feel bad in the slightest and doesn't pay for it.

And Five did pay for it. Though it couldn't directly be linked back to Luther, Five knew it was him who dyed his hair pink. Everybody knew it was Luther—aside from Reginald, Grace, and Pogo, of course. But that was simply a warning for them all, a warning to never mess with Allison. And after that, for the most part, they were fine to her. Maybe even nicer, more polite. But all that mattered to Luther was that Allison was happier and she'd never have to cry another tear in her life.

It was difficult when Allison moved out of the Hargreeves house. Luther would have no way of checking in with her, making sure she was safe and happy. He wouldn't be there if she had a nightmare, he wouldn't be there if she began to cry for whatever reason. And that almost scared Luther. Almost.

Whenever he heard her name on the television, though, he'd turn the volume up just a little bit to hear what they had to say about her. And whenever he was afraid or upset, he would just watch something with her in it. Though it wasn't the same as seeing her kind eyes and bright smile in person, though it wasn't the same as soaking her shirt with his tears, though it wasn't the same as watching comedies with her to wash away the bad thoughts, it was close enough.

When he came back from the moon and saw Allison again, there was a relief that washed over him. He felt safe, cared for, even just being in her presence. And he was sure she felt the same way, to some degree, at least.

But Allison was so sad. She was so sad about Patrick and Claire, about everything. And Luther was there for her, just like when they were kids. He held her and let her cry in to his shoulder,—though with the new height distance it was more like his chest,— letting the salty tears be absorbed by his shirt. He whispered soothing things and assured her things would turn out fine, they always do, he'll make sure they do.

But Allison felt like she deserved the pain. She felt like she deserved everything that came to her. And that made Luther more upset than he thought it would. Because how could someone as smart, as talented, as kind, as perfect as his sister possibly think they didn't deserve the world? He would have brought her the moon if he was able to.

Despite the difficulties, Luther stuck by Allison's side. He couldn't leave her, not again. They were apart for too long. He didn't get to hear that laugh, see that smile. He's better when she's around. Whether she's happy, sad, angry, whatever, Luther feels better just having her there.

He still helps her more than he needs to. He still babies her a little, still gives her everything she needs. Because he has a soft spot for Allison.

Luther doesn't have many soft spots; none of the Hargreeves kids do. But they each have their thing. Everyone has their thing.

And Luther's thing was Allison.

Chapter Text

"So this is the bitch you were talkin' 'bout?"

He shakes his head and sigh. "Ignore them," Five tells the Handler. "Diego especially."

The Handler nods, her eyes glancing over all of the siblings standing behind Five. It was clear they had no idea what they were getting in to, what with the timeline and time travel. They were clueless about it all, just like Five said they would be.

"Now," Five says, "what do you want?"

With the world around them frozen, it almost seems brighter. It seems more alive despite the fact that everybody else was dead still. "I want you back," she answers. "I believe I've made that quite clear."

"No one is taking our brother," Allison just about growls. She, Luther, and Diego were all standing up tall, straight, eyes glaring and ready to attack at any moment. Diego even has a hand over a knife, just in case. Vanya and Klaus, on the other hand, slouch, look down, nervous and unsure.

"Hold on," Five tells Allison. "Let's hear her out."

"But, Five—"

He glares at her and she immediately stops talking.

Smiling and satisfied, the Handler lets her fingers glide over the collar of Five's school uniform. He shivers under her touch. He always hated it, she knew, but it was so much fun to mess with the man. "I can guarantee their safety," she tells him. "They will all get their choice of time—so long as they don't screw anything up too much. And you, too, once you retire."

Five really doesn't want to be considering the offer. But he can't handle the idea of anything happening to his siblings. He couldn't care less about himself. As long as no one else he cared about died he was fine.

"Do you think Five is actually dumb enough to do this?" Luther asks. "He—"

"Anytime?" Five asks, interrupting his brother.

The Handler smiles at him. "Yes," she confirms. "Any—" her fingers rake down Five's arm before he yanks it away, "—time."

"Get your grimy hands off my brother," Klaus tells her.

"Stay out of this, Klaus," Five snaps. "You can promise their safety?"

The Handler smirks, knowing she's getting through to him. She crouches down, running her finger along his cheek. He flinches but just clenches his eyes tight. He can't mess anything up. If he has a chance to save his siblings—well, he'd take that chance any day. He already knows that they can't save the world; his many time travels have shown that. But maybe he could make it better for them, make them happy. And Five didn't want to do anything to mess that up.

"Depends," she whispers, leaning in close, her hot breath hitting Five's ear, "what do you say?" Her hands paw at his chest, nails trailing down.

Diego jumps forward. "I swear to good, lady," he says, voice laced with a clear venom, "you touch him one more time and this knife—" he holds it up, right by his ear, "—goes through your chest."

The Handler chuckles, standing up and walking a few steps toward Diego. "This isn't your deal to make, Mr. Hargreeves," she tells him, a proud smile on her face.

He raises his fist, ready to hit the fucking shit out of the Handler, but Five spacial jumps his way, grabbing hold of his arm. "Don't," he warns. And there's that stupid smirk on the Handler's face again, that smirk that says she knows she's won.

"You can't do this, Five," Vanya says, finally speaking.

"Yeah," Luther agrees. "We can find a way, we will find something—"

"No," Five snaps. "You've seen what's happening! This isn't just something we can stop! We've tried time and time again—"

"We can try again," Allison says. "We can try again, Five. We have to try again."

"No," Five repeats, shaking his head. "No, at this point the only way to stop this is to put a fucking bullet in Vanya's brain and I'm not willing to do that!" He can feel himself almost crying, stupid teenage hormones, but he can't cry and he can't let his siblings die.

The Handler hums. "Listen to the man," she tells his siblings. She grabs on to the side of his uniform jacket, running her fingers down it to make it straight. "He's a very. Smart. Man." She punctuates each word with a little tug on Five's jacket, bring him just that much closer to her.

Five grits his teeth. "Get off me," he growls. She puts her hands up but takes a step forward, her body a mere inch away from his.

"So," the Handler said, "yes or no? Deal—" her hand went to rest between his shoulder blades, "—or no deal?"

Klaus grabs Five's shoulder, trying to pull him back, but he doesn't budge. "Five's not going anywhere," he insisted. "He's our brother."

The Handler doesn't respond, simply moves her hand farther down Five's back, feeling him as he tenses up. She smirks, tongue moving over her teeth. She waits for answer, waits to hear what Five says. This is about him, after all. He knows he belongs in the Commission, knows a gun belongs in his hand. "Come on, Five. What's it gonna be?"

Five can feel his hand shaking. He hated her touching him, hated her being so damn close, hated her fucking presence. And as much as he loved his siblings and wished for their safety, the only thing that overpowered that was his pure hatred for the Handler. He couldn't give in, not to a monster like her.

"Say no," Diego urges behind him, "because I'm certainly not going anywhere."

"And step away from him!" Vanya says.

The Handler has her hand travel down farther, until her hand is at the curve of Five's hip and he jumps away. "No!" he yells. "No. Get away from me. I'm done with you—we're done. Goodbye."

The Handler grabbed Five's shoulder. "We're not done," she said, voice harsh. Her other hand gripped Five's waist tightly, unrelenting.

"Let him go!" Allison shrieked.

Diego curled his hand in a fist and punched the Handler square in the jaw, disorienting her. Luther grabbed Five, pulling him away. "I said," Five said, "we're done."

The Handler let out a vicious and venom filled laugh, but Diego throws another punch, knocking her to the ground. "Don't you ever fucking touch my brother again."

Chapter Text

They had made a habit of doing this.

Two siblings, one outcasted and the other idolized.

Five liked to think he was idolized, at least. He knew he was a good fighter, smart, always one of the best on missions. He always assumed someone idolized him.

And then there was Vanya. The ordinary girl, no power except her tenacity in learning the violin. She wasn't even a natural at that, no, but she tried damn hard to learn it. She wanted to have something to make her family proud.

The two were sitting on the kitchen counter, a tradition they had started years before, swinging their legs and talking. The tradition had started on a night when neither could sleep, and they just kept going back to that kitchen to talk. Every night.

Both enjoyed the company. Reginald didn't exactly promote friendships in the household, so it was nice to actually have one. It was nice to be able to talk to someone.

The main topic of discussion between Five and Seven was generally Reginald for the first half of their time together. Discussing how horrible he was, what he had done that day. Then they would talk about the mission if Five had had one. Five would amuse Vanya by jumping throughout the kitchen, stealing what was generally a cookie in her hand to make her laugh.

They were close. They enjoyed one another's company, they needed it. They needed someone to talk to.

The time neared one in the morning, with Five and Vanya only getting more hungry and more tired. "I need food," Five whined.

Vanya giggled a little. "How do you go from talking about time travel to asking for food?"

"Hey, I'm too tired to stay on one topic right now," Five reasoned. He hopped off the counter, rummaging through the food. "Alright, we have bread... peanut butter... fish... pomegranate... marshmallows... and oatmeal." Five grabbed the bread and peanut butter.

"Wait," Vanya stopped him. "Grab the marshmallows."

Five chuckled and put the bag on the counter. "The perfect sandwich?" he asked to no one in particular, clear hope in his voice.

Vanya laughed. "That wasn't what I wanted marshmallows for, but sure. Go crazy." She grabs a handful of the sticky marshmallows first, chewing on them as Five jumps to grab a knife, then spreads the peanut butter on the bread.

He takes a deep breath. "Marshmallows," he says, holding his hand out, as if he were a doctor preforming surgery. Vanya's mouth was stuffed full so she couldn't quite get out a laugh, but some noise escaped her as she handed her brother the bag. He dumps a generous amount on to the bread, so much that when he picks up the sandwich at least half fall off.

Five starts laughing. "I think I put too many marshmallows on."

"No such thing!" Vanya argued, still chewing.

"Here it goes." Five lifts the peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich to his mouth, and when he bites in it's just about heaven.

"So?" Vanya asks. "Is it good?"

His eyes open wide, quickly chewing to answer the question. "It's fan-fucking-tastic!"

She shakes her head and giggles.

Five shoves the sandwich her way. "Here," he offers. "Taste it. I'm gonna make myself another one."

When Vanya finally stops laughing and does manage to take a bite, she'd be lying if she said it wasn't good. Though, she wasn't a huge peanut butter fan. "It's good," she admits. "Though you know how I feel about nuts."

Five laughs a little. "Is that really the right way to phrase it, V?"

Vanya shakes her head and grabs a handful of marshmallows, throwing it at him. "Get your head outta the gutter!"

He manages to catch one of the marshmallows in his mouth, pumping his fist in victory. He finishes making the second sandwich, eating it in an instant. "You are a pig," Vanya jokes.

Five points to the half eaten sandwich in front of his sister, mouth still full. "You gonna eat that?" he asks, crumbs flying from his mouth.

Vanya shakes her head, but grabs another handful of marshmallows from the bag. "All yours." He takes it gratefully, shoving it in his mouth. 

Five starts to assemble another sandwich, and Vanya almost makes fun of him again. But then she realizes he isn't using the peanut butter, just bread and marshmallows. She thinks that maybe he'll eat that one, too, but he slides it over to Vanya instead. "No peanut butter," he tells her, as if she hadn't watched him make the whole thing. "Just the way you like it."

Vanya smiled. No one was this nice to her, no one except Five. She almost didn't know what to do with him being so kind, with him accommodating to her. So she just grabs the sandwich and takes a bite. "Thank you," she whispers under her breath once she's swallowed, that small smile still playing at her lips.

Five shrugs. "No problem."

From that night on, to start their late night kitchen talking session, Five would make two sandwiches. One peanut butter marshmallow, the other just marshmallow. There'd always be a bag of marshmallows between him and Vanya, too, because he knew she would want to snack on some. They would talk and laugh, their mouths and stomachs full.

And then Five left. He wouldn't stop talking about time travel in the time leading up to that, the topic becoming the main thing they discussed. Vanya would stay up every night, sitting on the counter, just like she and Five had done. She would make two sandwiches, one peanut butter and one not. She would always add a little more peanut butter than Five did.

She would never eat more than a few bites of the marshmallow sandwich. Couldn't even snack on the marshmallows in the bag. It didn't feel right, none of it felt right, if Five wasn't there. Yet she always did it, always turned on the light, made the sandwiches, stayed up late. She would talk to herself, sometimes, too.

More often than not, the night would end with Vanya going to her room, tears in her eyes. But after Five left, those tears were from sadness and loneliness, not laughter and happiness.

Chapter Text

Her name was Beth Blood.

Beth was bisexual, mixed race, long dreaded dark brown hair, chocolate brown eyes, 30 years old, 5'4.

She was also in a relationship with Vanya Hargreeves.

Vanya and Beth met at a bar, where the former was drunk out of her mind and taking body shots off the latter. Beth had cared for her, nursed her hangover, and then gave her her number.

Then they went on dates. They started dating. Like, officially dating.

Beth was the first woman Vanya had ever been in a relationship with. Vanya had known she was a lesbian, yes, but she almost couldn't accept the fact. She only dated three men, and not one did she love, not one did she even remotely like.

But Beth was different. She made her smile, made her giggle, fucking giggle. She made her heart swell and affection bubble in her chest. Vanya... well, Vanya loved Beth. Truly.

Vanya got to meet Beth's family. She had two dads, one African American and one Mexican, but she wasn’t blood related to either. She had been adopted, as had her African American brother, who was 22. They all accepted Vanya with open arms and warm hugs, talking to Vanya about her music and her book. She loved getting to know them, she really did. Beth's parents were kind and sweet, and though her brother, Brady, was protective of Beth, Vanya was able to get to know him and see that he was a nice person.

Vanya didn't know how her family would react, if she was being honest. Both to her sexuality and the fact that she was in a relationship. And the fact that she didn't tell them.

Vanya told Beth all about her family, though. And Beth wanted to meet them. And Vanya wanted her to meet them, too. But she knew having Beth meet them all at once would be a bit too much. So she decided to take it slow, one sibling at a time.

She chose to have Beth meet Klaus first. It was more a comfort for Vanya than for Beth, though, because Vanya knew they'd be okay with her being a lesbian. She knew they'd be fine with the relationship.

"It'll be fine, babe," Beth assured Vanya. "They won't mind."

Vanya laughed a little. "I should be the one calming you down," she joked. "Not the other way."

Beth gripped Vanya's hand tightly. "I guess we're just special."

Vanya's hand shook as she knocked on Klaus' bedroom door. "Come in!" they yelled, and she took a deep breath before entering. "Vanya! And who is this friend?"

Vanya looked over at Beth. She loved her eyes, fierce but reassuring, empowered but soft. It made her feel safe. She squeezed her hand. "This is Beth," Vanya introduced. "Beth, this is my sibling, Klaus. Klaus, this is Beth. My... girlfriend."

Vanya squeezed her eyes shut, horrified to see their reaction. But then her hand is squeezed and she forces herself to look, a large grin is spread wide on their face. "I'm so happy for you!" Vanya finds herself smiling, too, when Klaus hugs first her then Beth. "How did you two meet? How long have you been together?—Oh, Ben says congrats, by the way.—Are you gonna get married? Give me details, now." Klaus pressures them with questions, never giving the couple enough time to answer them. Vanya and Beth just shook their heads and laughed.

The next person to know was Allison. She hadn't meant for it to happen, even. But Beth was over at Vanya's apartment and Allison was coming over. The two had lost track of time, kissing on the couch as they watched some stupid sappy romcom that they made fun of.

Allison had her own key to Vanya's apartment, as there had been enough situations where she needed to get in that Vanya just gave her a key. So she opened the door, a bag in her hand full of matching pajamas, tea, and movies. "Oh my god," Allison said, seeing Beth and Vanya with their lips locked. "I'm, uh, I'm sorry. Am I—am I intruding?"

Vanya jumped away, though she wished she could continue kissing Beth. "Allison, I'm—I'm sorry. I lost track of time, and..." Vanya doesn't know what to say. She didn't mean for this to happen.

"No, no, don't apologize, V," Allison insisted. "But, can you introduce me?"

She rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly as Beth stuck her hand out to shake Allison's. "This is Beth. My, uh—my... Uh, Beth, this is Allison, my sister."

Allison nodded slowly. "How do you two know each other?" she asks.

Beth looks over to Vanya. This is her family, her sexuality. She has no right to say anything.

Vanya takes a deep breath. If she does this now she can get it over with. "She's my girlfriend. I—I'm a lesbian."

Allison doesn't respond and Vanya is sure she fucked up. But then Allison is pulling the two in a hug with her. "This is great!" she cheers. "Good for you."

Five is the third sibling she tells. She probably would've had Beth meet him sooner, but it was kind of difficult to explain why he looked thirteen years old.

Five was in the kitchen of the Hargreeves house, making coffee. Beth stood beside Vanya, their hands intertwined. She felt less nervous this time, for whatever reason. Maybe the fact that she had done it before helped.

With an odd sense of confidence, the couple walked up to Five. "Five, there's someone I'd like for you to meet."

He looked up, scanning his eyes over Beth. He sticks his hand out, grabbing hers. "Nice to meet you. You're Vanya's girlfriend, I assume?"

Beth giggles a little. "I am, yes. I'm Beth."

Vanya shakes her head, smiling. He hadn't even seen them holding hands, but of course he knew. He didn't make a big deal out of it, simply grabbed a cup of coffee and said he had work to get to. Beth said she looked forward to getting to know him more.

Two more siblings to go: Luther and Diego.

Vanya warned Beth when they went to go meet Luther. She warned her about his large body, yeah, but she also warned her about how Luther was a bit clueless. It wasn't that he didn't accept it, no, he just didn't understand it, not really. He didn't—still doesn't—understand Klaus' pronouns, so she wasn't sure how he'd respond to Vanya being a lesbian.

Beth tried to hold Vanya's hand, but she was too nervous. She felt like she couldn't breathe. Her body was shaking. She was panicking. She really didn't want to explain herself, wanted to say as little as possible. But Luther would need an explanation, she knew. He was naive.

"Vanya," Luther greeted once the two women were in his sigh, "nice to see you." His attention turned to Beth. "Who's your friend? Does she play violin, too?"

Vanya cleared her throat. "Actually, she's a bartender. And, uh, and she's my—my girlfriend."

"Your... girlfriend," he repeated slowly.

She shook his large hand. "I'm Beth. Nice to meet you."

"Vanya, how do you have a girlfriend?" Luther asked, and she knew he didn't mean to be rude or condescending, he just hadn't been exposed to the real world.

Vanya cleared her throat. "I—I'm a—I like girls," she explains.

"What about Harold?"

"I was... confused. In denial. But—" Vanya grabs Beth's hand, needing that reassurance, needing that weight to ground her, "—I'm not confused anymore."

She's not sure whether or not Luther understands, or if he just sees how much Vanya doesn't want to talk about it, but he doesn't urge her to continue. He just looks Beth in the eyes, then Vanya, and smiles. "Congratulations."

Vanya thanks him, promising that they'll catch up another time. But they still have to deal with Diego.

She was worried about coming out to Diego. Worried that he'd make fun of her, of Beth. She tried to put it off as much as possible, tried to avoid him. But Beth told her it was time, that she had to say something.

Vanya was practically bouncing up and down with anxiety as she waited to see Diego. Once again, she refused Beth's attempts to soothe her, though she really did appreciate them.

"What do you want?" Diego greeted Vanya, ever so warm and friendly.

Vanya scoffed. "Nice to see you, too, Diego."

He repeated, "What do you want?" His voice wasn't harsh or rude, not really, just annoyed. It was clear he had been in the middle of something.

"I can come back later," Vanya offered, "if this is a bad time..."

He sighed. "No, no, it's fine."

Vanya took a deep breath. Of course she choose a bad time to tell him. But she was already there, she couldn't back down now. "I wanted you to meet my girlfriend. Beth."

Diego looked at Beth. His face seemed neutral, no hint of disgust or anything that Vanya expected to see. "Cool," he said. "Nice to meet you, Beth.”

"You—You're fine with that?" Vanya asked. She honestly expected him to put up some kind of fight.

He shrugged. "Yeah. Why wouldn't I be?"

Vanya shook her head and smiled. "You're right, yeah. I guess you wouldn’t be upset. Well, we'll leave you alone, now."

Diego nodded. "See you soon, Beth. Vanya."

When Vanya walked away, a stupid smile was on her face. She hugged Beth and kissed her because she had helped her. None of that would've happened without Beth.

But now the Hargreeves family knows. Vanya is open and out. She is dating Beth.

Chapter Text

He doesn't exactly remember why he did it.

All he knows is that he did.

Five took a photo of every place he visited while in the Commission. He and Klaus sat on the floor, flipping through the various scenes, various memories.

Klaus held up one photo depicting the U.S. capital and some short brick buildings. A few people walked in front of the camera, one even smiling in to it. "When was this?" he asked.

"Ah," Five said, nodding his head. "That was Washington D.C., where one of the agents went rogue. Took one of the computers from... was it 2017? But, they tried to show the computer to people. That was 1967, which was a big no-no."

Klaus chuckled a little, going through more photos. It was a few more minutes before he held up another photo. "And this one?"

The photo showed a bundle of trees and bushes, smoke rising up in to the air. It looked familiar to Klaus for some reason, but he didn’t quite know why. The landscape made something deep in him ache, but he couldn't understand why he felt this way.

"Oh, that," Five said. "That was the Vietnam War."

And then Klaus understood. He understood why he recognized it, understood why it hurt to look at it. "What—uh, w-what were you doing there?" Klaus asks, trying to keep his voice steady. But whenever that time is involved he can't think straight, can't talk straight.

But Five doesn't seem to notice. "I killed a guy named Dave Katz."

Klaus' whole body tensed up, froze. He stopped breathing, the name echoing in his head. "D-Dave?"

Five nodded and continued flipping through the photos. He had been on so many jobs, so many things to look through. He didn't even seem to notice the change in Klaus' attitude.

"Dave—you killed Dave," he said, and the tears were forming and he couldn't stop them.

Five looked up then. "Yeah," he told him. "Why?"

Klaus' voice was strangled, shaky. "You killed my boyfriend."

And then it clicked. "Oh shit."

Klaus jumped up, moving away from Five. He jabbed his finger at him, trying not to let the tears fall. "You murderer!" he yelled. "You fucking killed Dave! It was your fault, it was your fault."

Five stood up, too. He felt bad but he wanted to defend himself. It wasn't his fault, he had no choice. It was either that or the apocalypse. And how was he supposed to know, how could he have known that Klaus was connected to him? "I didn't mean to—”

"Oh, screw what you meant to do," Klaus shot back. "You killed the only person I ever loved, you dickwad."

"No. No, that was your fault!" Five didn't mean to say it, but he couldn't stop what was coming out of his mouth. "I didn't kill anyone. I just pulled the trigger. But if you hadn't taken that brief case, then—"

"Oh, fuck you, Five! Stop acting like you're above us."

Five looked at the photo, which lay down on the ground. He remembers that one, one of his last. Dave Katz, only child, drafted into the war. Few friends, frequent drinker but a fantastic shot. The enemy was firing at them, Dave was behind a log. And Five took his shot, the bullet hitting his chest. And then Five ran away, away from the firing and the death. He thought he was far enough away, but then he heard a heartbreaking scream, one of loss, fear. The voice sounded familiar, comforting. But Five blocked it from his mind because no, no it couldn't have been Klaus.

And now here they were. "You're dead to me," Klaus growled. But something in him agreed with Five. Maybe it was his fault that Dave was dead. He disrupted the timeline. It was his fault.

Five knew he had gone too far, wished he could take it back. But he couldn't, he was stuck with what he had said, done. And he regrets it, regrets all of it. "Klaus, I-I didn't mean it, I—"

He shook his head. "I don't want your stupid apologies."

Five stepped forward, closer to Klaus. He wanted to comfort him, wanted to apologize. He didn't—he didn't have a choice. It wasn't his fault. He couldn't go back to the apocalypse, couldn't starve to death with no one but Dolores around.

"Don't come near me," Klaus warned. But Five kept going, kept walking towards his brother, because he didn't want him to be so upset. "I said don't come near me!" Klaus shoves Five back by the shoulders, and he lands with a thud on the ground.

"Klaus, I'm sorry!" Five said, raising his voice. He didn't stand up, just stayed down, the photo resting beside him. The photo was wrinkled and faded, old. Maybe if Five had just listened to his gut, if he had left the Commission sooner... "I didn't know, Klaus. I-I didn't want to, believe me."

Klaus almost wants Five to fight back. He wants to justify his actions, just wants to do something that will stop his crying. But a choked sob escapes his mouth as he falls to his knees. The tears fall, tears that seem oh too similar to the tears he had cried when Dave died. Dave died, he was dead, murdered by Klaus' own brother.

Five tentatively crawled over, putting a cautious hand over his shoulder. "Klaus, I..." None of the Hargreeves kids were good with emotions, but Five especially. He didn't know how to help Klaus, didn't know what to say. So he didn't say anything.

Klaus leaned in to the touch, letting his tears fall on to Five's shoulder. His mind flashed with images of Dave, of the blood, of the shooting.

But he understood. He knew Five had no choice, knew why Five did it. And as much as he wanted to hate him, wanted to blame him, wanted to blame anyone, he knew he couldn't. Five was as much a victim as Klaus, as Dave.

So he whispered three words. He's not sure if Five heard them, what with how shaky and choked his voice was, but he hoped he did.

"I forgive you."

Chapter Text

It wasn't rational.

Needles were just tiny knives, right?

Diego can deal with knives. But why can't he deal with needles?

To be honest, he doesn't know. Ever since he was young he couldn't stand them, kicking and screaming and crying whenever he had to get a shot. Reginald dismissed it at first, thinking it was just some childish fear he'd grow out of.

But then training started.  Diego couldn't stand the needles, shuddering at the simple sight of one. Reginald eventually started using them during his training session, trying to force the fear out of him. Needle after needle, never ending. Diego usually ended up in tears.

And then the tattoos. Diego swears they got the tattoos just because of his fear of needles. It was the worst time of his life, getting that umbrella put on his skin. He couldn't even take the comfort of his mother. He was so scared but he couldn't cry, he couldn't do that in front of his siblings.

But his fear didn't go away. He was fine with the knives, with everything else, but those stupid needles were going to be the death of him. Reginald had Diego handling needles, getting frequent shots, blood drawn, anything that put him near the things. Maybe he thought it'd make the fear go away. If anything, it made it worse. Hell, look at Klaus! Reginald did the same thing with him, forcing him to face and confront his fears. But it only got worse.

The fear escalated. He didn't just cry, no. It continued with the puking, getting sick. He couldn't even think of a needle without having to run to the toilet. He tried to avoid training when he knew needles would be involved, when he knew Reginald would do his usual kind of torture. Because that's what it was. It was torture.

He was fourteen when the fainting started. He had grown out of the crying, grown out of the puking. But now the mere sight of that needle had him dizzy, had him falling. It was only with big needles, the ones that seemed to be the size of his whole arm, though they were rarely larger than a pinky finger. But even that was too much for Diego.

After he moved out of the house, he avoided doctor appointments. He knew they'd have to test his blood, pull out that giant needle. He couldn't stand it, couldn't stand the thought of that going in to his arm, of that pulling out his blood.

And then there was Eudora. Diego wanted to look so strong in front of her, didn't want to seem weak.

He had taken a pretty bad beating one night. He was put in the hospital, Eudora by his side. But then they said he'd need an IV and he almost passed out right then.

In a hushed voice, he tried to explain to the doctor that he didn't do needles, didn't do that kind of stuff. But she insisted it was necessary and brought it in, anyway.

He tried so hard not to faint. He tried to remember what his father had told him, but all he could remember was how much those needles terrified him. So he just tried not to look at it, tried not to face it.

But then it was in front of his face. He fainted, passed out.

He felt so childish for it. What kind of grown adult faints at the sight of some silly needle? What person can go out, risk their life, guns firing at him, but some tiny knife scared him? It was pathetic, truly pathetic. And he wished it wasn't true, Diego wished that fear wasn't there. He couldn't explain it to people, couldn't explain where it came from or why he had it. But he couldn't get rid of it.

When Diego finally came to, Eudora was still by his side, and that needle was in his arm. He started hyperventilating when he saw it, but then she grabbed his hand, whispering him things. She told him it was alright, it was just a needle. She laughed a little through it, squeezing his hand every now and then to assure him that she wasn't insulting him.

Eudora would joke about it every now and then after that. And though Diego was embarrassed, he knew she meant it in a joking way, wasn't trying to insult him. He even joked about it himself, trying to make it so it wasn't embarrassing. Maybe if he joked about it, maybe if he didn't think about the way Reginald had, he would be fine.

And he was. The fainting, the fear, none of that stopped, no. But he felt fine with the fear, felt fine with who he was. And Eudora certainly helped him feel that way, helped him feel good.

Diego still avoided the doctor. And he still hated, hated needles. But it felt better having come to terms with that fear, having gotten rid of the ideas Reginald planted in his head.

Fears were... normal. They were okay to have. There was nothing wrong with Diego. And, in his defense, when he got his blood drawn for Allison, that was one big fucking needle. And he didn't want to faint in front of his siblings, but god that was giant. If anybody else had to go up against that needle, he's sure, they would've fainted, too.

But, yeah. Diego felt, for once in his life, good about something. Or, fine with it, at least.

And that was fine. That was good enough.

Chapter Text

It was a tradition Klaus had always enjoyed.

To celebrate the end of a long week, he and Vanya would go out for a drink at a nearby bar. It was a good time to catch up, and to drink their worries away.

So that's where they were. Vanya in her baggy sweater and loose jeans, and Klaus in a crop top and leather pants, his army jacket over it all.

The two were already a few drinks in, not thinking straight. Klaus was trying to convince her to do some karaoke, to live a little.

"C'mon, V," he whined. "It'll be fun." He dragged out the final word, grabbing her arm and dragging her along.

Vanya's sweater sleeve hiked up a little, so she quickly pulled her arm back. She didn't want Klaus seeing what was there.

He paused. She could see the confusion in his face as he grabbed her wrist again. She pulled it back. He grabbed it again, quickly. He pulled up the sleeve to reveal an array of cuts, scars. Some fresh, some old. A layer of new ones lay on top.

Suddenly, Vanya felt herself sobering. The reveal didn't seem as dramatic as she had thought it would be. The people around her kept drinking, kept moving, the music kept playing. The world went on. But Klaus stood in front of her, unmoving, trying to think with his drunk brain. "Are those—"

She pulls her arm back. Screw those loose sweaters and baggy sleeves. "No."

He blinks rapidly a few times, as if trying to blink the alcohol out of his mind. He wasn't thinking right, his words a little slurred and his body swaying a little. But this—this was important. He had to be present, had to be serious. "V, are you—"

"I said no," she shoots back. She knows he's going to ask if she's cutting herself. The answer is obviously yes, but maybe if she denies it...

"Vanya, that... talk to me." It sounds like Klaus is begging her, as if he were the one in distress, he were the one depressed, he were the only cutting.

She closes her eyes right, trying to drown out the sound of the bar. "You weren't supposed to find out," she mumbles to him, though over the crowd it's barely audible.

Klaus scoffs a little. "Obviously. But, Vanya, those—some of those looked, you know, new. Fresh."

Vanya tugged her sleeves down farther. She felt self conscience about it all, about the scars and the blood and the bandages. "That's because they are," she mumbles, but it comes out in one jumbled mess.

"What was that?" Klaus asks.

"They are," she states firmly. "They are fresh, alright?" She raises her voice, finds an odd anger bubbling in her. The anger masks her fear, masks her discomfort, masks everything. "They're fresh and I—"

A man bumps in to Vanya from behind her, spilling his beer all over her chest. "I'm sorry," he mumbles through his hiccups and through a drunk smirk. "Hey, hey, damn you're hot. Wanna—Wanna meet me at my place in 10? Ditch your friend and—”

Vanya pushes him away. "Get off me!" She feels overwhelmed. The smell of alcohol is too strong, the sound is too loud, and everybody is so damn close. The beer drips down her hair, down her sweater, down her jeans. And she can't take it, just can’t take it, and she storms outside. She can hear Klaus running after her but she won't slow down. She runs and runs until she thinks she's lost him, sitting down on a nearby bench, crying and out of breath.

But Klaus finds her, he always does. He takes a silent seat beside her, letting his hand rest on her knee.

He pauses. Then, "Are you okay?"

Vanya laughs dryly and humorlessly. "Do I look okay, Klaus?"

Klaus chuckles a little. "I guess not."

Silence.

A sob escapes Vanya's mouth. She can't help the tears that slide down her face, mixing with the sweat and alcohol. She smells like the desperation and despair she's feeling.

Klaus pulls her in to a hug. "Hey, hey," he soothes her, rubbing her wet hair. He doesn't care that she's soaking his shirt, doesn't care that she's getting the stench of beer on him. "It'll be okay."

"No it won't," she exhales shakily. "I-It won't be okay. I'm a mess, K! I'm a mess!"

He pulls her closer, hugs her tighter. "Vanya, you are the kindest, smartest, strongest, bestest person I know. You will make it through this. I know you will."

Vanya looks down at her arm. There are some bandages here and there, but most of her cuts are left open, red, swollen and agitated. And below that there's a layer of pale cuts, scars, barely visible in the moonlight. "I did that," she whispers, more to herself than to her brother. "I—" The words get stuck in her mouth and she can't continue, just leans in to her brother's touch.

"I know," he tells her. "I know."

Vanya shudders as a rush of cool wind runs through the air. "I'm cold."

Klaus chuckles. "I know."

Vanya sighs. "I'm sorry," she apologizes, "for ruining the night."

He shrugs. "I'm still a little drunk," he admits, "so it wasn't a total loss." Then he looks at Vanya, making sure their eyes meet, and tells her, "And we spent the night together. Nothing can ruin that."

She smiles. "Thank you."

He shrugs again. "Now I gotta baby proof your house," he jokes. "No sharp anything."

She manages to laugh a little. She didn't think Klaus would ever find out about those cuts, but now... now she's almost glad he did. "Will you—will you help me?" she asks. "I want t-to get better."

Klaus smiles and wipes away her tires. "Of course I'll help."

"Thank you." She doesn't want to end the conversation on that topic, on such a low note, so she quickly adds something else. "Now let's get home so I can get this beer off me."

The two laugh. "Yeah. Let's do that."

They don't make a move to stand up, though. In fact, Vanya snuggles into Klaus even more. Because as long as they're together, she's fine.

Chapter Text

"If the phone rings, don't pick it up."

"Oh, I'm definitely picking it up now."

"Diego, I swear to god—"

"What're you gonna do, Five? Punch me in the kneecaps?"

Five growled at his brother.

"Why don't you want us to pick up the phone?" Klaus asked.

Five rolled his eyes. "Some old hag got mad at me and said I should be in school or whatever. Got the phone number of this place and wants to talk to my parents."

Allison smiled. "We are so answering the phone. But only if I get to be your mom."

"We should answer and pretend that it's, like... a brothel," Klaus suggested. “Ben says he wants to be in on it, too."

Diego and Vanya laugh. Luther shakes his head.

Five sighs. "So I'm just supposed to be like 'Yes, ma'am, I live in a brothel with my six parents. This is why I'm not enrolled in school’?”

"That makes us sound like a cult," Vanya points out.

"We are," Diego tells her.

"Ah," Five sighs, "my six cultish brothel parents."

Then the phone rings.

~~~

"I already know everything!" Five grumbled as he pulled on some clothes.

Luther shrugged. "You have to go to school, or else they'll take you away."

"We couldn't live without our little baby Five!" Klaus says.

Five shakes his head. "This is so fucking stupid."

"Woah, there," Diego warns him. "You can't be usin' language like that as a middle schooler. Teachers don't like that."

"Screw you."

"Love you, too!" Klaus shouted back, cheerily as ever.

~~~

Five is sure school will be boring.

And he is right. For the most part.

The teacher takes attendance, each person mumbling something along the lines of 'here.' But one name caught Five's ear. "Delores?"

"Here." The girl looked to be around 13, with brown hair to her shoulders. She had a broken arm and was sitting in a wheel chair, both legs encased in casts. She had dark blue eyes and wore a white shirt with black polka dots, hanging down to one side. Her smile was practically infectious, her cheeks a rosy red and dimples showing.

The teacher called attention back to the class, but Five continued to sneak looks at Delores. She looked just like his Dolores, except, for one large difference: she was human.

The class eventually got a break, and out of some impulse Five went over to talk to her. "Your name is Delores, right?" he asks.

She nods, that smile showing her bright white teeth and dimples. "Yeah. And you are?"

"Five." He puts his hand out and shakes hers—the one that wasn't in the cast, that is. "How do you spell your name?"

"D-E-L-O-R-E-S," she answers. "Why?"

Five shrugs. "Nothing, I just knew a Dolores. Her name was spelled with an 'o' instead of an 'e,' though." Thank god for that distinction, at least, he thought.

"That's pretty cool. It's not exactly a common name."

Five scoffs. "That's true."

"Your name is cool, too," Delores tells him. "You sound like a secret agent or something. Agent double-oh-five."

Five chuckles a little. The classes had been boring—he already knew everything they were teaching—but this... this wasn't that bad. "What happened to your, uh, everything?"

Delores laughed. "I fell out of a tree," she explained. "I'm not exactly the most graceful."

"You broke all of that just because of some stupid tree?"

"I was really high up."

Five nods. That makes sense. His Dolores always had a sense of adventure, too.

It was just too odd how similar the two were. It seemed like there were only two distinctions: one, Delores was human while Dolores wasn't exactly, and, two, Delores was spelled with an 'e' while Dolores was spelled with an 'o.' But it was almost scary how similar the rest was. Same color eyes, color hair, color skin. Dolores was missing an arm and her legs and Delores couldn't use hers. It seemed as if someone had made Delores based off Dolores.

"What's your favorite subject?" Delores asks all of a sudden, trying to spark conversation.

Five pauses. He doesn't like any of the classes, not now. But back at the Academy, he did always favor one. "Math," he answers.

"Me too!" Delores seems ecstatic, as if this was the most interesting thing ever. "Science is pretty cool, too. But both of those are too easy here."

Five scoffs. Yeah, they are.

"What about... what do you want to be when you're older? I think I want to be a fashion designer. Or a model. I love modeling." Dolores was... practically a model. And Dolores has quite a sense for fashion herself.

"A scientist." That had always been Five's dream before the apocalypse, at least. There was no way he would be able to be a scientist now, not with the things he's done. But maybe it was okay for him to dream a little. Dolores always told him to stay hopeful and happy. Maybe this was a good way to do that.

"That's so cool," Delores told him. And Five found himself smiling, as much as he didn't want to. Delores seemed nice, caring. And he'd be lying if he said she wasn't cute. Not in any romantic way, of course—he just looked thirteen, that wasn't his actual age.

"God," Five said. "I could really go for a drink right now."

Delores laughed, clearly thinking he was joking. "You're funny."

Five shrugs, and before he can think of anything else to say, a young boy is running up to them. "You're Five, right?" he asks. "I'm Kenny."

Five rolls his eyes. He doesn't want to talk to Kenny—hell, he doesn't really want to talk to anyone. He doesn't even want to be at this school. "We're in the middle of something," Five tells him.

"Hi, Kenny," Delores greets him. "Don't listen to him, he's just a bit... bored."

That's definitely something Dolores would say to him. And it wasn't wrong. So he sighed. "Hello, Kenny." The sarcasm dripped from his voice, so obvious that no one could miss it.

One thing was for sure, though: Five was never going back to school.

Chapter Text

The gun shots rung in their ear.

They were damp from sweat, from tears.

From blood.

Klaus shook Dave off. "It's not bad," they mumbled, growing drowsy. "Jus' a little shot to the shoulder. Nothin' bad."

Dave continued to support their body, running to the helicopter. "Medic!" he screamed. "We need a medic!"

Klaus was dragged in to the helicopter. Then their vision went black.

~~~

Klaus woke up some time later, laying in a stiff and uncomfortable bed, Dave gripping their hand beside them.

Klaus smiled when they saw him. "Hey, baby," they whispered weakly, still in pain.

Dave shot up, rubbing his thumb on the back of Klaus' hand. "Hey, heartbeat," he soothed. He was normally so careful with the pet names, never saying them in public, but this... Dave couldn't help it. He was worried. "How are you?"

Klaus shrugged, but winced in pain as they did so. "I'm alright," they lie, chuckling a little. "I got some drugs flowing through my system, so I can't be that bad. And, besides, it was just a graze—"

"It wasn't," Dave interrupts, squeezing Klaus' hand. "Bunny, you were—you were shot. It's serious."

They could see the serious worry in his eyes. He cared about Klaus, cared too much to see anything happen to them. They sighed. "I know. I—I know, Dave. But you can't freak out. Please. One of us needs to be sane here."

Dave shakes his head. There are tears in his eyes. "You don't know how worried I was. You scared me, Klaus. You could've died from how much blood you lost."

"But I didn't."

"But you could have. It was too close for me. I can't lose you. Not when I have nothing else. No one else." Dave wiped the tear that had made its way down his cheek and laughed a little. "God, I said I wouldn't cry in front of you. I promised myself—"

Klaus pulled him closer. "No," they soothed. "No, it's okay, Dave. It's fine—oh, watch the shoulder. Yeah, that hurts like a motherfucker." The two chuckle, and Dave opens his mouth to apologize. "Don't. I'm fine—I will be fine, at least."

Dave blinked, trying to clear his tears. He never liked crying. Not in front of Klaus, not in front of anyone. He rarely cried, even if he was alone. And he wanted to try to be vulnerable in front of Klaus, wanted to open up to them, but this—it was so much, too much. "You promise?" he asked, trying to keep his voice steady.

Klaus pulled Dave's hand up to their lips, kissing it. Klaus was less careful than Dave, always reckless with their relationship. They always stood too close, always hugged too long. They let their pet names and kisses slip, let everybody know just how much they loved Dave. "I promise."

He took a deep breath. That was a good start, something he could work with. But he also knew that if the wound got too bad, Klaus would be sent home—wherever their home was, that is. And Dave didn't know if he could survive in the war without them. "I'm going to help you," they decided. "Nurse you back to health... tuck you in each night... change your bandages..." With each new thing, Dave lent in a little closer to Klaus, close enough that their noses were touching.

"What else are you gonna do?" Klaus asked suggestively, leaning forward so their lips grazed.

Dave trailed his hand along their ear, running it through their hair. "I'm going to cuddle with you every night... kiss your injury... give you baths..."

Klaus moves their head so that their mouth was right by Dave's ear. "Fuck me senseless," they add deviously, their voice low and quiet.

His breath hitches. It always does. "Yeah. That too, heartbeat. Always that."

Klaus chuckles, connecting their lips with his. "You're gonna take such good care of me."

"Oh, you know I will." Dave begins to let his hands wander down Klaus' neck, down their shoulders, down their chest and to their stomach. He starts tickling them, which causes Klaus to erupt in laughter and sharp movements.

"No!" Klaus begs, eyes already filling with tears from their laughter. "Stop!"

Dave tucks his head in their chin, whispering into their neck. "Never," he mumbles, laughing himself.

"Dave! Dave, Dave, c'mon!"

"Not until you say it."

"Say what, say what? I'll say anything, baby, c'mon!" They roll around in their bed, stomach hurting from the laughter. They almost forget about the throbbing ache in their shoulder.

"Say you love me," Dave tells him. "Say you love me and I'll stop."

"Fine, fine!" they shriek. "I love you! I love you!"

"Now give me a kiss."

Klaus, with shaky hands, grabs Dave's head. His fingers still roam up and down their body, making them laugh and laugh. Klaus pulls their lips together and Dave finally stops, melting in to the kiss.

When they pull apart, both out of breath and laughing, Klaus mutters, "You monster."

"You love it," Dave replies.

"I love you."

"I love you more." Dave sighs. "I should probably head out," he says. "Before people start wondering where I am."

Klaus frowns, grabbing at Dave's hand. "Stay a little longer. I need someone to change my bandage."

Dave looks at Klaus' shoulder. Sure enough, the bandage is blood soaked. It looks painful, and he hisses himself just from seeing it. He can't imagine the amount of pain Klaus is in. Dave's been shot at and shot more times than he can count. He's used to it, he can deal with the pain. But Klaus... well, they're still new to this. They've never been shot before. "Fine," he reluctantly agrees. "But promise me one thing."

"What is it?" Klaus asks, looking up at Dave. As long as they're looking in to those eyes, the eyes of the man they love, they can't even think about the bullet wound. They can't even think about the pain and can't even think about anything else. All they can think about is how gorgeous and kind and caring and sweet the man in front of them is.

"Promise me," Dave begins, voice shaky and hesitant, the tears crawling back, "that you won't leave me."

Klaus nods their head vigorously. "Baby, I—I would never leave you. Why would you think that?"

But Dave's been hurt too many times. And war is unpredictable, he knows that. But he loves Klaus more than he has loved anybody in a pretty damn long time. He can't lose them. "Promise me."

Klaus can see that he's serious. They can see how much this means to him. It's almost as if he's afraid. The fearless man that Klaus loves, crumbling and filled with tears at the idea of losing them. So they swallow and nod.

"I promise."

Chapter Text

It wasn't one particular moment.

It was a build up of so, so many things.

Klaus was ignored, interrupted. They were overlooked and forgotten. They just wanted to be loved, valued.

Though they rarely worked together, there were still threats that only the Umbrella Academy—with the added help of Vanya, officially a member of the Academy—could handle.

Luther always wanted to be the big man, be the leader. He would make the plans, almost always with him having the lead role.

And, once again, he said those magic words: "Klaus, you're the lookout."

They scoffed. "Of course."

Luther stopped talking, looking at them in shock. "What'd you say?" he asked.

Klaus sighed. "I said of course you'd put me at lookout. Which roughly translates to: of course you'd overlook me."

"Overlook?" Luther repeated. "Klaus, I—"

They shook their head. "No, no, save it. If you don't see my clear value, then that's fine. Totally fine."

Nobody else dared to speak. They all stared at Klaus in astonishment. Nobody expected them to fight back, to speak up. They always had Diego and Ben to do that for them. But now even they were speechless.

"Klaus, if you're upset about anything," Luther said, "you can talk about it later. Now is not the time."

"It's never the time!" Klaus raised their voice, and that was the snapping point. They couldn't go back, couldn't contain their anger. "Did you not see how great Ben and I were last time? Did you not see how I actually helped all of you?"

Luther opens his mouth to speak, but Diego interrupts him. "Just hear them out," he demands. "They're right."

Klaus smiles a little. "Thank you, Diego. But I think I deserve just a little bit more recognition in this family—Diego, Vanya, Ben, you all are doin' great. But I need this big guy over here most of all to actually fucking care about me!"

"Klaus, I do care—"

"You care when I benefit you. But you'd rather I just sit in a corner and shut up than have me say anything. You completely dismiss all my ideas! And, to be fair," they chuckle a little, "some of them are bad. Like, abso-fucking-lutely horrible. But some are good. Hell, some are great!"

Luther sighs. "Klaus, is this really the time to—"

"What other time will you give me?" they ask. "You're proving my point right now. You just dismiss what I say, ignore me. Well guess what? I'm done being ignored. I'm done being the stupid fucking lookout when I should be in there fighting with you all! Me and Benny can help!"

"Don't bring me in to this," Ben warns beside them. Ben didn't want to be part of the conflict. And it wasn't like he had a choice; he had to go where Klaus went. And he sure as hell wouldn't just sit on the sidelines if his siblings were in danger.

Though Klaus doesn't respond, they make a mental note not to bring Ben up again.

"That was one time," Luther says. "Do you even know how to control that?"

"Well—no, not fully, but I can help in other ways, too! Despite contrary belief, I am a great fighter. Mostly. I know how to throw a punch, at the very least."

"You're not exactly helping your point," Luther points out.

Klaus balls their first in anger. "This isn't even just about the missions, Luther! You won't listen to anything I have to say. You always find a way to put me down, or-or to ignore and dismiss me. I'm sick of it!"

Luther rubs the back of his neck, refusing to look them in the eyes. Surely he didn't do that, right? He wouldn't do something like that. Plus, he was the leader. His ideas were the best—they had to be the best. And Klaus was over exaggerating, obviously. They weren't ignored that much. They weren't out at lookout that much. At least, Luther didn't think so. "Can we just get on with the mission?"

"Can you just agree to respect me?" Klaus asked, voice still raised. There was a bubbling anger in them, an anger that had been there far too long. It was all coming out now, all the anger and the annoyance. All the rage that they kept caged inside. And they couldn't stop it—hell, maybe they didn't want to stop it. It was time they stick up for themself for a change, time that they don't back down.

"I never said I didn't respect you," Luther points out.

"But you don't. It's clear in your actions, your words." A humorless laugh escapes their lips. "You don't respect my pronouns, don't respect my choice of clothing! You don't respect anything about me so you just ignore me! And I'm sick of it. I'm done."

"If you're so done then leave," Luther tells Klaus.

Klaus raises their fist, but Diego grabs their wrist and Ben warns them not to do anything stupid. They can't let that anger take over. "Just calm down, Klaus," Ben says. "Deep breaths. It'll work itself out, just stay calm."

So Klaus takes their deep breaths, staring in Luther's eyes defiantly.

"I think we should call it a day," Diego suggests. "You both seem a bit... worked up. I don't think it's smart for you two to be near each other."

"I'm fine," Klaus assures him through gritted teeth. "As long as Luther agrees to stop putting me at lookout and to start valuing my ideas, then—"

"He will, Klaus," Vanya interrupts. She can see the anger bubbling in them again and she doesn't want to take any risks. "Now, I agree with Diego. Let's just take some time apart."

As Vanya grabs Klaus' arm and begins to walk away with them, she leans over and whispers, "I value your ideas, Klaus."

And they know she does.

Klaus just wished Luther did, too.

Chapter Text

The wind blew through her hair, chilling her body.

She had been planning this for weeks.

Vanya had always been a planner.

So there she stood, atop a high building, staring at the world as it stared back at her. And, for once in her life, she felt okay. She felt content. She felt excited, almost. But more than anything she felt in control of her future, the future Reginald had so meticulously planned out all those years. But now she got to decide. She got to decide if she was special or not, she got to decide her fate.

And this was her fate.

She had always thought the concept of writing suicide notes was odd. Especially with a family like Vanya's, no one would miss her. No one would care, note or no note. And she didn't want to risk anyone finding her.

Vanya took a deep breath. Snow flakes flew gently in the air, getting in her lungs, sticking in her hair. It looked peaceful outside. Her future, for once, looked peaceful. She took another deep breath.

Then the door to the roof opened with a creak; it was always rusty.

"Vanya, is that you?" It was Klaus. His voice sounded light, happy. "What are you doin' out here?" He paused. "Oh."

Vanya chuckled humorlessly. "Yeah," is all she could say.

"Hey, how about we get a drink or something, talk this out?" he suggests. "In fact, let's-let's do anything you want. Anything but this, of course."

Vanya shrugged. Her head turned and looked at her brother. There was a cigarette in one of his hands, a wine glass in the other. He was freezing, no doubt, with how much skin he was showing, but he didn't seem to care. "No," Vanya tells him nonchalantly, as if this were no big deal. "I think I'm fine."

Klaus barked a laugh. "Fine?" he asked. "Sorry to break it to you, V, but there is no way in hell that you're 'fine' if you're standin' up there, about to do what I think you're about to do."

Vanya smiles at Klaus. Aside from her pounding heart, no one would be able to tell that she was panicking. She didn't want Klaus to see, he couldn't see. She didn't want to do that to him. She cared too much. "I will be fine. After I do this."

He shakes his head. "Nope, nuh-uh. We're not doin' this. C'mere." He reaches his hand out towards her, but she doesn't take it. "C'mon. We're going."

"No," she says.

Klaus sighs. It's clear he's a little high, a little drunk. It's clear he doesn't know what to do. "Come on, Vanya. I can't—Jesus Christ, Van, I can't lose you."

"You won't lose me," she points out. "You can see dead people. Ghosts. No big deal." There was no way Vanya was turning back, not now. Not when she was already on the edge, not when she had everything planned out. "I've had enough of life," she tells him. "I've had enough of being unwanted, enough of just being... normal. I've had enough. This—" she points to the ground, flicking her eyes away from Klaus for less than a second, "—is the only way. It's my escape."

"From what I've heard, that is no escape."

"It is mine."

"No, it's not. C'mon. We're leaving. We're getting you off that edge. Now." He takes a step toward her.

"Don't," she warned. "Don't take another step towards me." Her voice wavered a little as she spoke. She didn't want to hurt Klaus, she couldn't hurt Klaus.

"V, I'm serious. You—You can't." She can hear the way his voice shakes, hears how it cracks. She's stopped looked at him, but she knows there are tears in his eyes.

She shakes her head. She has to do this. She can't live, can't live anymore. This—This is her only choice. Even if she doesn't do it now, even if she goes with Klaus, Vanya knows her death is inevitable. And she will be the one to cause her death. It will happen. "You don't get it."

Klaus laughs. "You think I don't get it? Vanya, I am currently high. I'm always high, for fucks sake! I've got these weird ass ghosts following me wherever I go. My life is a shit show. I'm surprised I'm not the one up there."

Vanya grits her teeth. Can't she just be left alone? Can't she just kill herself? God, she can't be here anymore, can't do this.

Her legs wobble. She was so sturdy before, so ready. Ready to die. But Klaus, fucking Klaus. If he hadn't found her, if he had just stayed away—

Then she'd be dead.

The thought hurts Vanya more than she thought it would. Dead. She was ordinary and useless, and she would be dead, too.

She stumbles backwards, quickly falling in to her brother's arms, in to Klaus' warm and caring arms. He's dropped the weed and the wine, now just holding Vanya.

She's crying. She doesn't want to be, doesn't want to care, but she does. The tears are cold against her cheeks, even colder as the wind picks up again and the snow attaches itself to her cheeks.

The snow. God, Vanya had almost forgotten it was snowing. She had been so distracted she didn't even realize that the white flakes were still falling.

Klaus pulled her closer to him, right against his chest. Both their bodies shook. Maybe it was the cold. Maybe it was the tears. Vanya would never be sure.

Klaus sniffed. "Are you—" he clears his throat, getting choked up, "—are you okay?"

"Never," Vanya whispers into his chest. "But I'm alive." And for now, after everything she had been through, after all those horrid thoughts, she was fine with that. She knew Klaus cared about her, knew he loved her. There hadn't been a doubt in her mind that he loved her. But now he was here, he was with her.

And they were alive.

And that was good enough for the both of them.

Chapter Text

She wasn't programmed to care about people.

At least, not as much as she did.

But Grace couldn't help herself. Not only did she care for all seven Hargreeves kids, but she loved them. She was their mother.

She cared for and loved all the kids, each in their own ways. And she took care of them, cleaned them up. She was a good mom.

With Luther, she helped him with his stress, his anxiety. He took his role as leader seriously—too seriously. It put a lot of pressure on him, pressure that he couldn't handle alone. So Grace was there, helping him. Calming him down.

With Diego, she helped him with his stutter. She can't even count how long they stood in front of his mirror, reciting words—well, she can count it, actually. She knows the exact time they did that, down to the second. And Grace enjoyed all of those seconds.

With Allison, she helped her with her powers. It wasn't that she needed help with them, no. She was very good at using them. But Grace tried to reach her not to abuse those powers. She tried to teach her the appropriate and inappropriate times to use them, tried to teach her that she still had to work for things.

With Klaus, she helped him just stay safe. God knows that that boy did, but he somehow always managed to get a fire in his room. And he was always so close to it. It's a miracle he wasn't burned sooner. But Grace made sure he had his fun while also ensuring that he stayed safe.

With Five, she helped him with his arrogance. He always thought he was better, smarter. But that led to so, so many of his down falls, so many of his mistakes. So Grace tried to help him stay grounded, tried to help him sympathize and be sincere. Arrogance was a dangerous thing, and she didn't want any of her kids to have it.

With Ben, she helped him with his emotions. He was an emotional kid, and she loved that about him. But she ensured that his emotions never got too out of control. She would clean him up and put a smile on his face when he was sad or would read a book and tuck him in when he felt afraid. Grace did everything she could to keep him balanced.

With Vanya, she helped her with her self esteem. It wasn't surprising that she didn't think highly of herself. But Grace would always compliment her music, always reassure her. Someone needed to do it, and she was more than happy to.

After Klaus got back from the mausoleum, after Reginald finally let him go, he was messed up. He was shaky and refused to sleep. He ate less and was always on edge. But Grace was there. She was there to help him. She always was.

Klaus didn't want to talk about what had happened. He rarely talked the week after he got out. So Grace didn't pressure him. She let him get readjusted, let him move at his own pace.

Whenever Klaus had a nightmare or whenever the ghosts overwhelmed him, Grace rushed to him. She would pull him in her arms, cradle him, run her fingers through her hair. She would whisper sweet nothings and coo him to sleep. It got bad enough that Klaus couldn't sleep if Grace wasn't in the room with him when he drifted off.

Grace understood the importance of eating, especially for a growing boy. But she also understood that what Klaus had gone through had changed him, had traumatized him. So, sometimes, she didn't make him finish his food. As long as he ate half, she was fine. She knew even that was a lot for Klaus, so she didn't fight with him. She could never fight with him. All Grace wanted was to see that beautiful smile on his face again.

Grace spent more time with Klaus in those weeks after the mausoleum than with any of the other children. She just wanted to be there for him. She didn't want him to be sad, didn't want him to be afraid.

Even though they had dropped the habit a few years prior, Grace started reading to him. She would read to him before he went to bed, read to him after dinner. She would let him snuggle up to her, let his tears soak her shirt.

That's another thing: after the mausoleum, he cried. A lot. And Grace didn't blame him. She imagined that whatever he went through, whatever he saw, was horrifying. It would be absolutely scarring for any child.

But Grace would just wipe those tears away. She would pick up Klaus' chin and smile at him. And he would smile back, wiping at his eyes. And then he would hug her and they would continue the story, continue the book as if nothing had happened.

But that smile, that smile on Klaus' face, that is what made it all worth it. Even with the tears, his eyes lit up and sparkled. Even the tiniest of his smiles made Grace happier, made Grace love him more.

Sometimes it was just a twitch of his lips. Other times it was a full on grin, lips parted to show his teeth. And Grace loved both. She loved what it meant: it meant he was happy. And if Klaus was happy, then she was happy.

She missed that smile every second he was away. Missed the smile after the mausoleum, when Klaus' face remained unmoving and set on a stern face.

Grace has been afraid after Klaus came back from the mausoleum. She was afraid he would never be the same. She was afraid he would never speak again, that his nightmares would never end, that his smile would never return. But that smile reminded her that Klaus was still Klaus. He was still her son. And she still loved him, loved him as much as she possibly could.

She just hoped she loved him enough.

Chapter Text

"You've got to be kidding me."

"Nope."

"Klaus, I swear, if you're fucking with me—"

"I would never, Diego," Klaus swore. Then they smirked, waving the giant bag of weed. "You know you want some."

Diego sighed, contemplating for a few more moments. But both of them know what he's going to say next. "Fine," he agrees.

So Klaus rolls up a joint, the siblings making themselves comfortable on Diego's bed. They pass it around, taking deep puffs until they're high out of their minds. With Reginald dead and the others out of the house doing who knows what, no one can get mad at them.

Diego holds one of his knives in his hands, his touch light, gentle. He stares at it intently, deep in thought, as Klaus does the same with the weed. They just stare, completely lost in the last remark that was made, though they can't quite recall it.

Diego sets the knife down and looks at Klaus and blinks a few times before saying, "What if I were dead?"

Klaus takes a few seconds to ponder the question before they reply. "What if you are dead? Like, actually dead."

"But you can see me—oh wait. Woah." Diego's eyes widen. "That's fuckin' wild, man." The two seem to forget the fact that Klaus can't see ghosts when they're not sober, but neither care. He takes another hit. "What if everyone is dead," he begins slowly, "except for you?"

Klaus' tongue pokes at their cheek. "The idea's crosses my mind," they admit. Many ideas have crossed their mind, in fact. Some logical, some not. Most the latter.

Diego grabbed some chips from the bag that sat between them. Nacho cheese Doritos, some of his favorites. He laughs. "I feel like a teenager again."

Klaus rolls their eyes. "Remember when we did this, like, weekly?" they reminisce.

"Dude, I'm pretty sure it was daily." His mouth is full of food and sprays everywhere when he talks, but neither he nor Klaus seem to care. They're too busy laughing at the memories, too busy smoking.

Diego wasn't wrong, though. At its peak, the two would meet nightly in his room. They never met in Klaus' room for a few reasons. For one, that's where they stored the drugs. If the smell wasn't in their room, they reasoned, it couldn't be traced back to them. But, two, Diego's bed was bouncier. The two teenagers would smoke weed and then jump on the bed, cheering like little kids. Klaus even hit his head on the ceiling one time, but that didn't stop them.

The tradition slowly faded away, though. Nightly turned to weekly, weekly to monthly, and after that... there wasn't even a yearly. It was just done, over. Diego moved out soon after, and neither were able to express how much they loved the time they spent together.

But here they were again. Two grown adults in a room clouded with smoke with chip crumbs scattered everywhere.

Klaus is bundled in one of Diego's hoodies, though it is far too big on them. They have the hood on and it's so baggy that Diego can barely see their eyes. They practically swim in it, but they insist on wearing it. Diego had just shook his head, laughed, and let them do it. There was no way Diego could've talked them out of it.

Klaus continues to mumble high nonsense. "You know what's crazy? There are more butt cheeks in the world than people."

And though this is a very logical fact, Diego is absolutely blown away by it. His mouth hangs open a little as he thinks about it.

Along with bouncing on the bed when they were high, Diego and Klaus had another tradition. They tried to come up with the most outrageous idea, most outrageous fact. These facts were never extraordinary, no, but what did they expect? Even now they were just two kids at heart, bouncing on beds and eating chips as they smoked.

Diego tried to think of something to counter Klaus' remark. "You know that story—the one with the weird maid kinda girl? But-But she turns into a princess or some shit?"

"Cinderella?"

"Yeah, that bitch! Well, if her shoe fit so well, why did it fall off?"

Klaus tried to respond, but they can't. So the two sit in silent thought for a few moments, just staring blankly at the wall ahead of them as they absentmindedly pass around the weed, eventually rolling up another joint.

After some time, Klaus finally speaks. "I feel like we should be doin' some speech practice or something."

Diego chuckles. That's another thing about marijuana: it helped Diego with his stutter. Temporarily, of course, but it helped. Whenever he and Klaus would get high, they would do some speech exercises. Somewhere in their brains, they thought that if Diego didn't mess up a sentence or a word when he was high,—for example, the dreaded "banana,"—then he wouldn't mess it up when he was sober.

This, of course, was not true. But it was nice for both of them to dream, to hope. And it was a good excuse for them to sneak off together and get high.

In fact, especially as kids, getting high together was one of the few things they looked forward to. Diego knee it was an excuse to unwind. He didn't have to worry about his stutter both because he did it less and because Klaus didn't care. He didn't have to worry about the nagging pressure from Reginald, or the constant fighting with Luther. He was able to be himself, whoever that was. Klaus accepted him, and he accepted them.

For Klaus, though, they liked it for more than that. Of course it was nice to be in a place where they didn't have to worry and where their pronouns were respected, but it was about so much more than that for them. For starters, it took away the ghosts. Klaus hated the ghosts, couldn't fucking stand them. They were constantly screaming, but not when they were high. They were gone then.

In addition to that, though, they enjoyed the time they spent with their brother. They enjoyed hanging out with Diego, enjoyed joking with him. Klaus enjoyed simply just getting to know their brother as he grew up. They would never admit that, though.

Klaus is rambling on about something, but Diego stopped paying attention awhile ago. In the middle of their sentence, he grabs a chip and tosses it at their face. A little bit of the flavor dust sticks to their forehead, and Diego laughs.

Klaus shakes their head, throwing a chip themself. It couldn't exactly be called a good war, as they took turns, but they always thought of it that way.

It was another thing they did when they were younger. Tossing chips at one another and hoping the crumbs didn't get stuck on Diego's bed.

Eventually there are no more chips to be thrown, no more weed to be smoked, and no more energy to be used. Diego and Klaus are slowly drifting off, Klaus on Diego's bed and Diego on the floor. Klaus always got the bed, one way or another. They would push him out, at first, until eventually Diego gave in and gave up the bed instinctively.

As the two are drifting off in to sleep, Diego looks up at the ceiling and whispers. "That was fun," he admits.

Klaus mumbles into the pillow in response, but Diego can't quite make out what they say. All he knows is that they're both happy.

And that's good enough for him.

Chapter Text

He's not sure what prompted him to do it.

Maybe he was homesick. Maybe the war scared him. He wasn't sure.

But something in Klaus screamed for him to go back home. But not just to go back home; to go back home with Dave. Because Dave was his home, at least during those months in Vietnam. And he wanted his family--his Umbrella Academy family--to meet him.

It was difficult to explain to Dave what was happening. How could Klaus explain that he was from the future, explain that he could see ghosts? How could he explain the briefcase--hell, he barely even understood the fucking briefcase.

But Dave trusted him, trusted whatever he said. So he went with him. He always did.

To be fair, though, neither knew if it would work. Klaus had no idea what the briefcase did, had no idea how it even sent him to Dave in the first place. But all he knew was he wanted to take his chance.

Klaus kissed Dave before he opened the briefcase. He wanted to make sure that if they didn't make it, if it didn't turn out fine, he'd get a chance to do that again. "I love you," he whispered.

And then it opened.

Klaus was brought back to a bus. He was disoriented and his head hurt, his whole body itching. But he turned to his side and--and Dave was there. Klaus smiled, practically cheered, and wrapped his arms around him.

Dave seemed marveled by everything around him. He seemed in awe, in dismay. He seemed confused but fascinated. He asked questions about everything and everyone. Klaus always loved how curious he was, always loved his love for learning. So he answered every question he had, gave every answer he knew.

They arrived at the Hargreeves house. Klaus lingered outside for a few moments, grasping Dave's hand, taking deep breaths. He didn't know how any of his siblings would react, didn't know anything. But he was willing to take his chances.

The two managed to get in to the house more or less unnoticed. Klaus gave Dave a little tour of the home, told him a little history about the family. He then hid Dave in his room, wanting to introduce him to the family all at once. He could do that tomorrow, maybe.

Dave and Klaus spent the rest of the day cuddling, kissing, and itching the places the other couldn't itch. It was perfect.

Eventually, after the whole apocalypse deal, Klaus introduced Dave to his family. They opened him with more or less open arms. Five was worried about time line consequences and Luther was a bit confused on how the whole Vietnam boyfriend thing worked, but aside from that it was smooth sailing. Diego was clearly going to give Dave a hard time, but he was just a protective brother. Allison seemed through the roof with joy. Vanya seemed proud of Klaus for having so much courage and dating a dude. And Ben seemed to like Dave, even though it meant Klaus payed less attention to him.

Dave loved it in Klaus' time. He enjoyed not being in the war, for starters, but he also loved how much more accepting the time was. He could hold hands with Klaus and no one would beat them up for it. Sure, maybe a dirty look or two, but nothing big. None of it was like what Dave grew up with.

Five still nagged Klaus about the time line consequences and blah blah blah, but Klaus couldn't care less. He had Dave and he had his family. No matter what happened after that, he would be happy. He got to spend every second of his day with the man he loved so dearly. So, fuck the consequences.

Dave eventually got a job. He said he liked working, liked having something to do. He was always expected to do something before. So he ended up getting a job flipping burgers at a nearby diner. He was a great employee, and Klaus loved the discount.

Dave was also working on getting Klaus sober. Well, maybe not completely sober. But it certainly wasn't going to work out if Klaus was high or drunk more than half the time. It had been difficult—the withdrawal had been hell for Klaus—but the two managed to do it. Together. And Dave helped Klaus deal with the ghosts, as much as he could.

It was a few years later, lots of time gone by, but Klaus would never forget that look of pure joy on Dave's face that day when he came home and said they had enough money to get their own apartment. Just the two of them. All to themselves. It would be a dream come true.

Diego and Vanya helped Dave and Klaus move in. Neither had many belongings so there wasn't much to move and pack, but a little help didn't hurt.

At that point, Diego and Dave were close friends. Well, they were... buddies. They got a beer every now and then, but it was clear that Diego was ready to break him if he hurt Klaus.

Klaus had never been happier. He had never been so in love. It was almost surreal, living with Dave. It was like something out of a dream. And if Klaus was dreaming, then he didn't want to wake up.

When Dave was sleeping, he had constant nightmares of Vietnam, more often than not waking up in a cold sweat with tears on his face. But he had Klaus, now. He had Klaus to coax him back to sleep, had Klaus to remind him they were far away from the war, had Klaus to remind him everything was okay.

And maybe for the first time in Dave's life, it was okay.

Klaus never expected any of this to happen when he brought Dave back from the war. But he loved it, loved every second of this life, this new life he's made.

He and Dave were together. And that is all that really matters.

Chapter Text

"One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do."

God, was that true.

Luther was so lonely in the Hargreeves house all by himself.

Diego had left when he turned sixteen, soon after Ben's death and three years after Five's disappearance. Then it was Klaus at seventeen and Vanya at eighteen. And Allison... well, Allison stayed until their nineteenth birthday. She tried to stay as long as possible. But even she left. They all left.

Luther was left with nothing to do all day. He tried anything to keep himself entertained; riding a bike around the house, reading, singing, writing, drawing,—hell, he even tried to learn to cook. It did not turn out well.

But Luther was just so lonely. He would watch movie after movie, show after show, more often than not with Allison in it. He just wanted to see her face again. And he always wondered what the others were up to, if they were safe. And Luther knows, he knows, that if they were there, if they were with him, he wouldn't feel so lonely.

"It's just no good anymore since you went away."

It really wasn't. There's nothing for him to do, nothing to make him smile.

As much as Luther loves Reginald, Grace, and Pogo, it's just not the same.

And then he got sent to the moon.

Up there, he was alone. He was all alone. Not only was he lonely, but he was bored out of his fucking kind.

Luther had no one to talk to. Not except for the robot, Ben, but Ben wasn't exactly chatty. And even then, Ben wasn't a person; it was a robot.

Luther really was alone up there. He could see the Earth, could only imagine everything his siblings were doing. But instead he was stuck up there for whatever reason, a reason he didn't know or understood.

But he never fought it. He stayed there. He always stayed.

"One is the loneliest number."

Even on Earth, Luther didn't seem to have any friends.

All of his siblings left him. Some on purpose, others on accident. But they were still gone.

And now he had the large body. It was hairy and oversized. There was no way anyone would accept him, now. Maybe not even Allison.

So even if Luther were surrounded by people, he would still be lonely. Moon or Earth, makes no difference. He's still just a sad and lonely guy with no one but a robot to talk to. He was still Number One.

Luther spent most of his time telling himself stories from his childhood. He liked the relive the memories, relive the easier times. And even those times weren't that simple, no, but at least they were together. At least they were a family.

But even as a kid, Luther wasn't close to his siblings. Except for Allison, that is, but even their bond wasn't as close as he would have liked.

Being Number One meant he was the leader. He had to be in charge. He had to be perfect.

He spent more time pleasing his father than he would've liked. He spent more time trying to be a leader, trying to be Number One, than trying to be a kid and a brother.

So, Luther honestly isn't surprised with how things turned out. He was the one who spent years alone in the Hargreeves house. He was the one who spent years alone on the moon. He was the one that felt alone even as a child, regardless of how many people surrounded him.

On the moon, Luther kept photos of his siblings. Most of them he was in, too. He had photos of them in the park together, running around and screaming. They were so happy back then. Training hadn't started yet, at least not to the degree it was in later years. They still had Five and Ben. Those may have been the happiest days of Luther's life.

He had so many regrets, more than he could count. He regretted going on that final mission. He regretted not leaving with his siblings. He regretted losing his childhood and letting it happen. He regrets all of it. But it was too late to turn back now, too late to try to start over.

If Luther got the chance, though, he would start over. He would have a better childhood, one with more smiles and laughs, less stress and anxiety. He wouldn't fight with Diego so much and he would try to talk to Allison more. He would move out when he turned eighteen and maybe, just maybe, he could start a family of his own. Find someone he loved and finally, finally, not be so lonely.

And, yet, some part of Luther wouldn't want to start over. There was something about the title—"Number One"—that Luther... well, he liked it. He liked what it symbolized. It meant that he was the leader, he was in charge. It meant he was important and needed. And maybe, just maybe, it meant that Reginald cared about him, even just a little more compared to the others.

But the moon was lonely. Robot Ben wasn't good company, not good enough. He needed, craved, human contact—real human contact.

And then he got the message that Reginald had passed away.

Of course, Luther was sad. Well, more disappointed than sad, but still. It made him upset.

But some part of Luther was happy. Not to see his father die, of course. No, he was happy because he got to go back to Earth. He got to see people, real people. He got to interact with them and talk with them and hug them. And Luther missed it, he really did.

So he was back on Earth. And it was honestly a fucking mess. But he got to be with Allison and the others. He got to be a normal person—or, as normal as he could be, considering his enlarged body and super strength.

Yet, no matter how many people surrounded Luther, he was always lonely.

Chapter Text

Ben's death was difficult on everybody.

All the Hargreeves kids just... well, they missed him. They missed him a lot.

They all had regrets. Wished they spent more time with him, talked with him more, the usual. But there was nothing they could do. He was gone.

Well, not completely.

Klaus still saw him.

Klaus saw Ben first at his funeral. Klaus was dedicated to staying clean in order to at least have some time with his brother.

The two talked for hours on end. There was usually nothing to talk about, but Klaus had missed his voice.

One evening, when the Hargreeves kids were relaxing, nothing to do, Ben was there. It had apparently slipped Klaus' mind to tell his siblings that.

"I'm hungry," Klaus mumbles to the group. "Think Mom'll make me waffles?"

"No way," Allison said. "Dad would kill her."

"I miss waffles," Ben whined behind Klaus.

Klaus rolled his eyes. "You say that, like, every day."

Allison seemed confused. "Me?" she asked.

He shook his head. "No, no, Ben. He was just sayin' he missed waffles."

Vanya's eyes widened. "Ben?" she repeated slowly. "Is he—he's here?"

Klaus nodded. "Yeah. Obviously."

"You're shitting me," Diego says. "Dude, I swear to god—"

"I'm not!" Klaus swore, putting his hands up. Behind him, Ben laughed.

Luther didn't say anything. He seemed too stunned to do so.

"Hey," Ben tells Klaus, "can you tell them something for me?" He nods. "Can you—uh, can you tell them that I miss them?" Ben blushes a little—how the hell does a ghost blush?—and turns away.

"You cheesy bastard," Klaus mutters.

Vanya shoots her head up. "What'd he say?" she questions.

He shrugs. "Nothin'. Just that he misses us."

"I miss them," Ben corrects. "I don't miss you at all, Klaus."

There are a few moments of silence as each kid remembers their dear brother, as each tries to comprehend the fact that Klaus can see Ben. Ben—he isn't gone, not fully. But what are they supposed to do now?

"Can I ask Ben a question?" Diego says, breaking the silence.

Klaus looks to Ben. He nods his head. Klaus nods his.

"What—What's i-it like being d-d-de—" Diego tried to say it, tries to choke out the word "dead." But he can't. He's too overwhelmed, too emotional. He can't control his stutter and he can't accept the fact that Ben is dead. He can't say it.

Klaus puts a reassuring hand on his shoulder as Ben answers. "It's weird," he admits. "It's like I'm here, but I'm not. Like there's a one-way mirror separating us, and I can see all of you, but you guys—you can't see me." Ben pauses for a second as Klaus recites the answer, then continues. "And it's really lonely, sometimes. But other times I'm overwhelmed with other ghosts and other people and I—I can't take it."

When Klaus finishes Ben's answer, Diego nods solemnly. He wishes he could do something to help Ben, make him feel more comfortable. But he can't. And it's hard, it's fucking hard.

Vanya sniffs, and it's then that Klaus realizes she's crying. Ben reaches out and tries to hug her, to comfort her, to do anything. But he can't. So Klaus does it for him, whispering quietly in Vanya's ear "from Ben."

"Can I also ask him something?" Allison asks.

Ben nods again and Klaus does, too.

"Is it better? Is it better on... on that side of the mirror?" She fiddles with her thumbs, eyes glued to her Academy skirt. She's not sure what answer she wants to hear.

Ben shakes his head. "No," he reassures her, though she can't hear it. "No. It can't be better. I mean, I can't talk to any of you guys if I'm dead—well, aside from you, Klaus. And, yeah, I don't have to deal with Dad anymore, but... it sucks."

"He says he loves it," Klaus tells Allison. "He says he's just completely done with all of us. He has new ghost friends now."

"That's not at all what I said!"

Klaus shrugs.

Allison laughs a little. She knows that Ben didn't say that. She knows that Klaus is trying to lighten the mood. And she appreciates the effort.

"Really, though, he says it sucks," Klaus corrects himself. "He says he misses us, or whatever sappy shit."

A small smile somehow tugs at each of their lips.

"I still can't believe he's here," Vanya says. "I can't believe you can talk to him."

"I can't believe you're sober," Diego says. They don't talk about Klaus' addiction often, but it truly was a surprise to all of them that Klaus was sober.

"Anymore questions?" Klaus asks.

Vanya nods. "Can he—" Vanya stops herself. She wants to address Ben directly, make sure he still feels... human. "Ben, can you—can you see Five?"

It was something they were all thinking but too afraid to ask. But now if was out there, open.

"No," Ben answers. "I don't think he's dead. I think he's still out there. Somewhere. Alive."

"Ben says he can't," Klaus assures Vanya. It's been years, but she still misses Five. And with the still-recent death of Ben, that aching for someone to talk to has grown. First she lost Five and now Ben. "He says he thinks Five is safe—alive, at least."

Vanya nods. That's good. Maybe then they still have a chance of finding him.

Everyone looks at Luther. He hasn't said a single word since they mentioned Ben, hasn't asked a single question.

"Your turn, Luther," Klaus urges him. "Any questions for Benny Boy?"

Luther takes a deep breath. He doesn't want his voice to shake as he asks this. But he needs to know, he needs to ask. Otherwise he might go insane. "Do you blame me?" he asks. And they all know what he means, all know what he's asking. 'Do you blame me for your death?'

Ben doesn't even have to think about his answer before he says it.

"Of course not."

Chapter Text

Since he was young, he knew he was different.

Well—she knew she was different.

Her given name was Kelsa.

Kelsa was the fourth of the Hargreeves kids. But there was something about her that was different, aside from her powers.

The thing that was different was that "she" was actually "he."

Since Kelsa was young, she felt trapped. Trapped inside her body. She didn't belong in it.

At first, she got binders. She didn't think it was anything big, didn't even recognize what it meant or why she did it.

And, it wasn't like Kelsa was very masculine. She loved make up and nail polish and skirts and high heels. But she knew, after some time, that she wasn't living the life she wanted. She knew she had a different destiny, a different fate. And, honestly, she didn't care whether or not Reginald approved of it. She didn't have a choice in it.

For a while, Kelsa figured she would be content with her life as a female until she was able to get out of the house. She would just push through it all: keep her pronouns, keep her name, keep her body. 

But she couldn't do it. There was no worse feeling, to her at least, than being trapped in your own body. She was't able to do what she wanted, wasn't able to feel what she wanted to feel. And she hated it, absolutely hated it. She felt isolated from her siblings and couldn't talk to them, just locked herself in her room. What was the point in being out there if she couldn't be herself—or, himself, rather—and couldn't be happy.

The first person Kelsa told was Grace. She told Grace something very simple: she wanted a new name. The two went through many names and many ideas before she said she wanted a male name. "I'm not a girl," she explained. "I am a guy. I want a name to reflect that."

Grace was understanding. She finally gave Kelsa the new name of Klaus and agreed to respect Klaus' new pronouns—he and him.

The newly named Klaus immediately went to Diego next.

"Hey, Diego?" Klaus said tentatively, sticking his head in his brother's room.

"What d-d-d'you want, K-Kelsa?"

Klaus cleared his throat. "Can you, uh, can you not call me that?"

Diego sat up and looked at him. "Call you what? Your name?"

Klaus looked down. He didn't know what to say. It was easier with Grace, for some reason. "I—uh, that's not my name anymore."

Diego scoffed. "Th-Then what is your name?"

He scratched the back of his neck. "It's Klaus."

"Klaus?" Diego repeated. "Isn't-t that a guy's nam-m-me?"

Klaus nodded. "Yeah. That's 'cause I'm, uh, a guy."

It took some time to explain to Diego what that meant. But once he understood, he was accepting. Encouraging, even.

For a while, Klaus didn't tell anybody else. He told Ben after a few days, but no one else knew. They still called him Kelsa around everybody, but until Klaus was able to get some surgery or get Reginald to not kill him for it, he wouldn't come out to anybody else. He couldn't come out to anybody else. 

Klaus finally approached Grace about it. "I want surgery," he said. 

"Are you hurt?" she asked, a programmed concerned look on her face. 

He shook his head. "No, no. I, uh. I want to—to transition?"

"To what, honey?"

"To a guy. I—I want surgery so I can be a guy."

Grace smiled at him, running her fingers through his hair. "Of course," she told him. She then followed it with a bunch of facts about being transgender, about transitioning and surgery, about the risks and the rewards, but Klaus was still happier than ever. 

Slowly, Klaus came out to the rest of his family. To Vanya, Allison, Luther. Five was already gone. But he would never tell Reginald.

Vanya was happy for him. Happy that he was being himself, happy that he was confident enough to tell her. She was happier than Ben or Diego were. And she wasn't just happy, no, she was proud. She was proud to call him her brother. 

Allison seemed surprised. Maybe it was the heels or the skirts or the makeup that threw her off, but she didn't seem the understand that Klaus was a male. She thought he was too feminine, not masculine enough, all of it. She didn't say this, no, but Klaus knew she was thinking it. Instead she smiled and hugged him.

Luther seemed more concerned about how it would affect the team, affect the Academy. It seemed that was all he cared about, lately. He put so much pressure on himself that he couldn't think of anything else, barely even thought to congratulate Klaus or say anything to him that didn't regard the team. But Klaus was fine with that; he understood. Reginald was the one that put that pressure on him, and Reginald was the one that made Klaus afraid to be who he was. So he didn't blame Luther at all.

Klaus vowed that, if he were ever going to get the surgery he wanted, he would not use his father's money. Or, at the very least, he wouldn't ask for the money. And if Reginald offered it, he sure as hell was not taking it. He could steal a few bucks here and there, of course, because Klaus had few other ways to make money. 

But he wanted surgery. He wanted surgery so that he would look like who he was, so that he could feel comfortable. But it cost money, and a lot of it. So Klaus started selling his belongings, started making as much money as he could. 

By the time Klaus was sixteen and Ben had passed away, he still lacked the money. And his father still knew him as Kelsa—well, Number Four, technically. But Reginald didn't know about Klaus' new—no, real—name and pronouns. He didn't know.

So Klaus decided it was time to tell him.

Reginald, unsurprisingly, did not approve. He refused to call him the pronouns he wanted, refused to acknowledge the name. He dismissed it all as a phase—that's even what he had called it. "It's just a phase, Number Four. Don't make any drastic decisions here."

"It's not a choice," he argued through gritted teeth. He decided that he had to do this. Ben told Klaus to be his true self, even to Reginald. So he was doing this for him, doing it for his brother. "And I will get the surgery, whether you want me to or not. You can't stop me."

Reginald didn't even bother to stop Klaus as he walked away. He just let him leave.

But Klaus was determined to get the surgery and anything else he needed to be seen as a guy.

And, when Klaus turned nineteen, he was able to do it.

Chapter Text

He didn't mean to come out.

He had it all planned out; when, where, how. Everything.

And then Five's plan got ruined.

They had all been out during a mission. Successful, unsurprisingly. But out in the crowd, looking right at Number Five, was a cute guy. Right around his age, too. Piercing green eyes and ruffled dirty blond hair. A confident and smug smile was on his face. The boy knew that Five knew he was looking at him.

Five smiled, too. He nodded his head subtly, barely anything anyone could notice, to the boy. The boy nodded back. Five smiled wider.

The children all went back to the house, separating to their own designated rooms. But Klaus didn't go to his; he knocked on Five's door.

Reluctantly, Five called out, "Come in!" Tentatively, Klaus stepped in the room. "What d'you want?" he asked. His voice was somehow soft and gentle, despite the daggers he was sending Klaus' way.

Klaus nervously rubbed the back of his neck and cleared his throat. "I saw you, earlier," he explains. "With the, uh, guy. In the crowd."

Five cant hide the blush creeping up on him. "What guy?"

Klaus sighs. "Don't act stupid, man. I saw the way you looked at him. You liked him."

Five shrugs and looks down. He mumbles something, some response, though no real words escape his mouth. He doesn't know what he can say.

"So, what's the deal?" he asks. "Are you gay, or...?"

"No, I'm not gay, dimwit," Five shoots back. He doesn't mean to be offensive in any way, but this is the only way he knows how to react when something personal like this gets revealed. And he was going to tell them all, he swears, but not like this, not like this. "I'm bisexual. There's a difference."

Klaus smiles. "I know there's a difference!" He pulls Five into a hug. "You could've told me, man!"

"I was going to," Five explains. "I had a plan and everything."

Klaus shrugs. "You gotta be spontaneous, sometimes. Life doesn't have a plan, so you can't, either."

The two stare at each other in silence for a few moments.

"So," Klaus finally speaks, breaking the silence, "when are you gonna tell the others?"

Five shrugs and looks down. "Dunno now, to be honest."

Klaus sits beside his brother. "I'll help you."

Five smiles. "Thank you."

Two days later, during a time where all the Hargreeves kids were together, Five was ready to come out.

Well—he wasn't "ready," not really. But he had a plan and he wanted to stick to it.

"I have something I want to tell you all," Five admits to the group, taking deep breaths. Shit, shit, shit. He looked at his siblings. He couldn't do this, couldn't tell them—

Klaus gives him a smile and a thumbs up.

"I wanted to say that I—" He's shaking—is he shaking? He's not sure. Five's just worried what the others will think, what his siblings will think. He can be a dickwad sometimes, yeah, but he still loves them, cares about them. What if they don't accept him? "—I've been thinking about time travel."

Five closes his eyes. Shit. No. No, that's not what he meant to say, what he needed to say. He can't even pay attention to what they're all saying, he's too lost in his own thoughts. But Klaus taps his leg and looks up at him, a confident look in his eyes. He smiles again, and it's contagious.

"Actually," Five says, stopping the murmuring, "I wanted to say something else. I—" deep breath, close eyes, clench fists, "—I'm bisexual."

Five doesn't open his eyes, doesn't look to see their reactions. His heart is beating in his ears and he's sweating—is it hot in there? Is the room spinning? He'll never be sure.

Klaus taps his leg again, pulling him out of the trance. Five sees his siblings, and—

And they're smiling.

Smiling.

Five didn't expect that, honestly. He thought at least one of them would be disappointed or disgusted or something, anything. But they all seem supportive and happy and nice and accepting and—

And Five doesn't know what to do now. He's so trained for disaster, for things to go wrong, that he doesn't know what to do when something goes his way. He doesn't know what to say or think or do. So he just chuckles a little and smiles in dismay.

A few of his siblings are asking questions. "How long have you known?" "Do you have a preference?" "How do you know you're bi?" But they ask them so fast that Five has no chance to answer anything, to even think of what he'd say.

Eventually, Five is able to answer a few questions. He's known since he was around ten. He doesn't really have a preference, but if he had to choose he would probably date a guy. He knows he's bi because he likes both boys and girls. All of those questions and more he answers, choking up a little on his words. He's not used to talking about it, admitting it. But he's glad he has. He's glad they know.

Vanya tells Five that she's proud of him. She told him it takes a lot of courage to come out, to be open, to be himself. And Five never thought about it that way. He thought it was courageous to never show weakness or places of vulnerability. But now he knows, thanks to Vanya and coming out, that that's not true at all. He can't do anything if he isn't himself.

So Five promises himself that he'll be open. Open about his sexuality, yeah, but also about his fears and hopes. His happiness and hate.

And Five is happier than he's ever been.

Chapter Text

He didn't mean to keep it.

Hell, he didn't mean to even look at it.

But that stupid cat was outside of Ben's window every night. It was meowing and keeping him from sleeping. No collar, no tag. Just a stray.

Ben tried to ignore it. But he gave in. 

At first, Ben started giving the cat some food and milk. The cat was skinny, underweight, so much so that Ben could practically see it's ribs. Plus, Ben thought, there was no harm in helping out the cat. 

But even once the cat was eating enough, it—well, she—came back. Every night and day.

Something in Ben told him to take the cat, to keep her. He knew Reginald wouldn't like it, but he couldn't help it. Something about the cat had stolen his heart.

Ben named her Goose. He fed her daily, cuddled with her, pet her. And he did his best to hide the scratches and cuts that covered his arm.

Nobody else knew about the cat. If they did, Ben knew he'd be screwed. Goose would be screwed. He wanted to give her a home, give her a family, even if it was just him. He knew that if she were to go back out on the streets, she could die. And he just couldn't let that happen.

Ben spent so much time running around the house after he took in Goose. He was running around to clean her litter box, or running around to grab money for her food. He was grabbing milk and water, cleaning her and taking her on walks. He had more close calls than he could count.

But it was all worth it. Because every night, when no one else was awake, he was able to relax and cuddle with Goose. She calmed him after missions and after using his power, calmed him after fights with his family. And after Five left, she was there, her fur the perfect pillow for him to cry on. Even if she didn't exactly respond, she was someone to talk to. Ben was able to tell Goose everything: the good, the bad, the confusing. He was no longer holding in all his emotions because he finally had someone to talk to about them. 

With Goose in his arms as he swayed and some slow music playing in the background, Ben felt content. He might have even felt happy.

Then the door barged open. 

Ben was so startled that he dropped the cat. She landed on his bed, thank god, unharmed. "What the frick!" Ben exclaimed, heart pounding.

Klaus was rambling and talking, but Ben couldn't understand anything he said. He was too fast, too excited, and—"Is that a cat?"

Ben froze. Klaus stared at Goose, breathing heavily, out of breath. "No," Ben said, drawing out the word.

Klaus slammed the door behind him shut, making the cat jump and scurry off the bed. She ran to Ben's closet, curling up on the bed Ben gave her. 

"That was a cat," Klaus said. "Oh my god, Ben, why do you have a cat?"

"Lower your voice," Ben hissed. "The other's are gonna hear you."

Klaus put his hands up in defense, but then pointed to the cat. "That is a cat. What—Where—Huh?"

Ben sighed. "Her name is Goose," he explained.

Klaus laughed. "Goose? You named your fucking cat Goose?"

"Shut up," Ben shot back. "You named your right arm Ear, so shut up."

Klaus cradled his right arm against his chest, mock offended. "Don't you ever insult Sir Ear again!"

Ben shook his head and smiled. "Yes," he finally said, sighing. "I have a cat. She was a stray, and she hung outside my window every night. In fact, I'm surprised no one else noticed her."

Klaus shrugs. "The ghosts are too loud at night for me to hear anything else," he said, nonchalantly. "Alright, how old is she?"

"I'm not positive," Ben admits, "but I think maybe six years old? I've had her for four years—"

"Four years?"

"—and I think she was about two when I first got her. But I'm not sure, honestly."

Klaus seems stunned. "You kept this secret for three years?" he asks. "Benny, how? If we have ice cream after bedtime, it only takes you two days to fess up!"

He shrugs. "Goose is... different. She's helped me. And after Five left, and I didn't talk to anyone for a while—"

"You talked to your cat."

Ben nods. Klaus wasn't trying to be condescending or judgmental. He understood. "Yeah. Yeah, I did."

A silence hangs in the air. There's always a silence after mentioning Five. Ben can't speak for the others, but in his mind he's hoping that Five will appear if they just say his name. Five, Five, Five, and poof. He's there. Like a ghost—or, no, not a ghost. Not dead. He can't be dead.

"Are you," Ben clears his throat, "are you gonna tell anyone?"

"Obviously not," Klaus assures him, scoffing. "That is, of course, if I can be the mom."

"The mom?"

"Yeah! I would make a badass cat mom. Goose will be my child."

Ben chuckles. "Sure, Klaus. You can be the mom."

Klaus pumps his fist in the air. "Yes! I'll make the best damn tiger mom ever!"

Ben shakes his head, still laughing. "Whatever you say, Klaus." Ben proceeds to tell him the basics of how to take care of a cat, though he doubts Klaus will actually do any of it.

But, to his surprise, Klaus does. He takes great care of Goose, spending at least half an hour each night cuddling with her. He cleans her litter box and feeds her every other day, with Ben doing the other days.

Two years later, Ben dies during a mission. 

Klaus took even better care of Goose after that, though she was old. She rarely moved, spending most of her time in her bed. It wasn't even a challenge to hide her from Reginald at that point; she didn't run around, didn't meow loudly when she was hungry. She didn't do much of anything after that. She didn't seem to know, Klaus was sure, how to live without Ben. And, to be fair, Klaus didn't know, either. So he cuddled with Goose, pulling her old and graying body close, crying in to her fur and whispering pleads for Ben to come back.

A month later, Goose died. She was depressed.

And when she died, a part of Klaus died, too.

Chapter Text

He didn't think it would get so bad.

He thought the pain would just go away.

But Diego felt like he could barely walk, barely move. And he knew, he knew, he should tell someone. Grace, Reginald, hell, even Klaus—or, maybe not Klaus. But he didn't. He didn't tell anyone.

It had been two weeks of limping and moving slowly. Two weeks since a fight where he was thrown back and hurt his knee. He didn't know what was wrong with it, he just knew that it wouldn't go back to normal. And he needed it to go back to normal. He'd been worse during training, competitions, even missions. Nobody had gotten hurt because of that last one, thankfully, but it was a close call. And Luther did give him a very stern talking to afterwards. 

He tried to spend as much time in his room as possible. If he didn't have to move, then no one would know, no one could know. So he just didn't leave his room.

The thing that he couldn't ignore, though, was the swelling. He tried to ice it, tried to elevate it, everything. But his knee had just about doubled its size, and it didn't seem to be slowing down. And the more swollen it was, the more it hurt. 

After dinner one night, Diego limped back to his room to put on his pajamas. He hated the things, but Reginald insisted on them. A knock was on his door, though, before he could get out of his uniform. "C-Come in," he called out.

The door opened slowly to reveal Allison, slowly creeping in. Diego jokingly groaned. He liked his sister, even if he was a dick to her sometimes. "What's up?" he asked.

Allison finally stepped in to the room fully. "I was worried about you," she admits.

"Why?"

"Your knee," she says pointing to it.

Diego tries not to stiffen. "What about i-it?" His tone is harsher now, a warning. A warning to not push any further because you won't get answers, you'll get a knife or a broken nose. 

"It, uh, looks hurt."

"Why wo-would you say that?"

Allison shakes her head and sighs. "Don't play dumb with me, D," she tells him. "I know when you're hurt. You're hurt."

He shrugs. "I ha-have no idea wh-what you're t-t-talking about."

"Sit."

"What?"

"Sit," she repeats. When he refuses to do so, she gives him a light push so he falls back on his bed. "Leg up."

"Wh--"

"Leg. Up."

This time, he complies, raising his leg slowly. He winces as he does so, but tries to hide it.

Allison pulls the pant leg up enough so that it reveals his knee. Tears bubble in his eyes as pressure applies to his injury, but he doesn't say anything. A cry is on his lips, ready to come out when she starts poking and prodding, but he remains silent. He has to. He has to remain strong and he has to remain silent. He can't be hurt, he can't be.

"It's bad," Allison tells him. "I think it might be..." She stops herself.

"M-M-Might be what?" Diego urges. "C'm-mon."

"Did you hear a pop?" she asks. "When it happened. Was there a pop?"

Diego thinks back to it. "I thi-ink."

"You think?"

"It wa-was so l-l-long ago!" Diego argues, raising his voice slightly. "Like, t-two weeks!"

"Two weeks?" Allison starts laughing. 

"Wh-Why are you laughing?" Diego asks.

Allison shakes her head. "You idiot," she mutters, voice shaky from laughter. "You've kept this for two weeks? How did you live?"

"In pain," Diego tells her, and he's starting to laugh, too.

Finally having calmed down, Allison takes a deep breath and begins to explain what she thinks might be wrong with Diego's knee. "There are a few possibilities," she tells him, "but there's one that I think is most likely, especially if you did hear a pop. I think you tore your ACL."

"You thi-ink I what n-n-now?" he asks. "What the h-hell is an ACL?"

Allison sighs. "It's your anterior cruciate ligament," she says. "Just a part of your leg. Very crucial, though."

"Is tearing those b-bad?"

"Very."

Diego flops back on his bed with a groan, Allison's hand still on his leg. "What am-m-m I gonna do?" 

"Tell Mom," Allison suggests. "Or Dad. Or anyone, really. You're only making it worse by not treating it."

"But I'm icing it," he argues. "And elevate-elevating it. I'm do-doing everything I c-can."

"Not everything. You'll need a brace."

"I-I-I can-n't get a b-br-brace!" Diego says. He's freaking out now, panicking. His stutter is out of control and he can't talk, can't think. "Th-Then I c-can't do-do training or m-m-missions!"

"It'll be fine," Allison reassures him. "It'll be better for you. If you don't treat this—" she points to his swollen knee, "—then you may never be able to go on missions again."

They're quiet for a few moments before Diego sighs. "D-Da-Dad's go-gonna kill m-me." His hands are covering his face, making his voice muffled. He sounds do defeated, dejected. And Allison hates to see him like this.

"It wasn't your fault."

"But it was," Diego tells her, sitting up. "It was m-m-my fault, Ally. I w-was the one who-who kept it a s-s-secret. I was the o-one who hurt m-m-m-myself. I wa-was the one wh-who went after the b-b-bad guy."

"Dad can't get mad at you for going after him!" Allison argued. "You were doing what he trained us to do. What he told us to do. It's not your fault that there was a little slip up on the way. God, if I had a nickle for every time Luther messed up a mission and wasn't blamed for it, I'd be rich."

Diego chuckles a little, a smile twitching on his lips. 

"Just tell Mom," she repeats, smiling, too, because her brother is. "You know she won't get mad."

Diego sighs. "Fine," he reluctantly agrees. "B-But only b-bec-cause this hurts like a b-b-bitch."

Allison laughs again, and Diego does, too. A moment passes after where neither say anything. Then: "You need to tell someone."

"I al-already said I was go-going—"

"No," Allison cuts him off. "Not just tonight. This will happen again. You have to tell someone. In the future. Even if it's just me."

Diego can see the worry in his sisters eyes. He can see how she cares, actually cares. He finds it hard to believe, but he can't deny what he's seeing. "F-Fine," he agrees. "I'll tell some-someone next time."

"But let's hope there's not a next time."

Diego chuckles a little. "Let's hope there's not a next time."

Chapter Text

It was instinctual.

He didn't know how to change it.

For years and years, Five had to ration his food. In fact, there were times where he had no food to eat, at all. Nothing to ration. So for days on end, he wouldn't eat, he literally couldn't eat. And eventually he became used to that, used to practically starving.

And when he went to the Commission, when he went home, he wasn't able to change that.

Sure, at first he devoured food. He was hungry, having eaten nothing but canned food and Twinkies for years--here's a fun fact: they don't have an infinite shelf life. At all.

But then he fell back in to the pattern of eating maybe only every other day. And even then, it was very little food; maybe a meal, half of one. Because he was used to that, his stomach was used to it.

Except it wasn't.

Five was in a thirteen year old body now, his thirteen year old body. The same body that demanded food every hour, the same body that had dreams of its next meal. And even though Five's mind was trained to ration, his body wasn't.

He grew skinny—like, really skinny. His ribs protruded from his chest and he was bony and pale. There was no fat on him, nothing on his bones. His stomach rumbled, begging for more, begging for something, but Five wasn't able to do it. Every time he tried to eat, his mind screamed at him: save it for later, you'll need it later.

So Five saved it for later.

The only problem was, later was never soon enough.

Five began to grow weak. He felt as if he couldn't hold himself up on his own two feet. And just as his stomach told him to get more, his brain told him to wait. So he let himself starve.

There was a ticking clock, though, in Five's brain. 3 weeks. 21 days. 504 hours. 30,240 minutes. That timer, that clock, ticked in his brain. It was his survival brain, his apocalypse brain. 3 weeks before he would starve to death. 4 days without sleep before he would hallucinate. 3 days before he would die from dehydration. All these clocks, ticking and ticking in his brain. But the one that always seemed to be in the back of his brain was food. He could go 3 more weeks, surely. He could go 2 more weeks, surely.

Five wished he could turn it off. He wished he could eat without having to think about it, wished he still had muscle or fat or something on his bones, wish he could turn the clocks off, turn his brain off. But it was never off. It was a constant cycle of hunger and saving, starving and rationing.

Eventually, Klaus noticed, because of fucking course they noticed. Five didn't want anyone to know, he couldn't let anyone know, because he didn't want to talk about the apocalypse. He didn't want to talk about seeing them dead.

But of fucking course Klaus brought it up.

"You need to eat!" Klaus told him, vibrant and enthusiastic as ever. "You're a growing boy, you need your meat."

Five grumbled. "Leave me alone."

Klaus frowned, lowering the plate with a ham and cheese sandwich. "I slaved over the stove for hours," they exaggerated, "and you're not even gonna try it?"

He shook his head. "Not hungry." His stomach growled.

Klaus gave him what Five likes to call the "mom-stare." It's the "Really? You're gonna play that card on me?" face. "Even your stomach knows you're lying," they say. "C'mon. Eat something."

Five shrugs. "I'm fine. Really."

Klaus sighs, and suddenly their happy go lucky attitude disappears. They take a seat beside Five, putting the plate at their feet on the ground. "What's wrong?"

A shiver runs through his body. What's wrong? It's the fact that he can't eat, no matter how much he wants to. It's the fact that he has all these clocks and times ticking in his survival brain. It's the fact that he lived through the damn apocalypse with no one. No one. "Nothing."

"Stop lying!" they told him, laughing dryly and humorlessly. They hated trying to talk about serious issues, issues where the health of one of their siblings was in danger. So they tried to add or find humor, tried to do anything to make it less serious.

"I'm not," Five said.

Klaus shook their head. "You sound like teenager after their first break up."

Five hid his face in his pillow, not wanting Klaus to see his smile. "I'm fine," he insisted once more.

"Why aren't you eating?"

And there was that question. There was no room left for Five to dodge it, nothing else to say. "Because."

"Because...?" Klaus prompted.

He sighed. "Because I can't."

"Of course you can—"

"No, Klaus, you don't understand. I-I can't."

Klaus frowns, worry in their eyes. He can't? "What do you mean?"

"I mean—" Five sighs. "I mean the apocalypse... messed me up. The rationing and the... starving." It always leads back to the apocalypse, though, doesn't it? Every bad thing in his life is either because of that or Reginald. "My body needs food, I-I know that, but my brain... my brain doesn't know that."

Klaus hums and nods. "Is there anything I can do?" they ask. They want to help, want to make it all better.

Five shrugs. "Dunno," he admits. "Don't think so."

They sit up a little straighter and pick the plate up. "Eat," the demand, handing it to Five.

He pushes it awake and shakes his head. "I can't, I—"

"Eat," they repeat.

Five sighs and takes the plate. He picks up the sandwich, and that voice echoes in his brain: you can't eat it.

But now there's another voice. Klaus'. A voice that tells him he needs to eat, needs to eat something.

He listens to the second voice.

The first bite goes down fine. The second, too. But as he goes for that third, his brain can't take it. He gags, unable to stop it. But Klaus is looking at him, hopeful and waiting and everything else, and Five forces it down.

A smile is on their face. "That's good," they tell him. "Again."

"Klaus—"

"Again. Eat half the sandwich."

Five can see there's no way he can get out of it. And maybe he doesn't want to. He should be eating. He knows he should.

So he forces the rest of the sandwich down.

Chapter Text

He was under a lot of stress.

And he didn't know how to handle it.

Until one day, he found a way.

Diego could come up with hundreds of arguments for how it wasn't his fault. Reginald pushed him too hard. His access to the knives was too easy. He didn't receive enough love. He was treated as a soldier, not a child. No one watched over him. It was just a phase. Yada yada yada.

But he knew none of it was true—well, not none of it. Reginald had pushed him too hard. His access to the knives was too easy. He didn't receive enough love. But all it comes down to own thing: he broke. He broke, even though he could have held on longer. He broke, even though none of his siblings did. He broke because he wanted to.

He still remembers the first time he picked up a knife. It felt so comfortable in his hand, made him feel so safe. He had no fears, suddenly, nothing to worry about. And he knew, he knew in that moment,  that he would have total control over them. He could use it for good or bad, to help or to hinder. That was for him to decide.

He still remembers the first time he picked up a knife with a different intention. An intention of harm, of relief. Intentions of doing everything yet nothing, it's nothing if he ignored it. It couldn't be anything. But when Diego picked up a knife that time, he had decided what he would use it for.

The first cut to his arm made him wince in pain, tears bubbling in his eyes. The blood slowly swam down his arm, glinting in the light. So much adrenaline ran through him, so much he could feel his heart echoing in his head. But once the pain dripped away, a sense of calm rushed over him. A deep breath out made all his worries fly away and he felt safe, secure. It was a sense of euphoria Diego had never experienced before.

He had stopped that night, after the first cut. Cleaned it off, bandaged it. But his thoughts never left it, never left the blood and the pain and the overwhelming relief.

For a few days, Diego managed to stay away. He pushed that nagging thought, nagging want, nagging need, to cut himself again. But he knew he couldn't resist it, not forever.

It had been a bad few days. A mission failed, difficult trainings, scoldings from Luther and Reginald. And Diego just couldn't take it, he couldn't take it.

So he picked the knife up again.

This time, his hand shook so much he was afraid the knife would fall out. He took deep breaths. One, two, three. He stared at the tattoo on his wrist, stared at the marking. Right below it was the cut he had made not too long ago, the scab still healing.

Another breath.

The blade came down with his shaky hand, cutting the umbrella tattoo.

Before Diego knew what was happening, he was slashing and slashing at his wrist. He was barely able to make out the tattoo, covered in cuts and blood. But he cut more and more and more. He couldn't stop, he couldn't.

He threw the knife across the room.

His cheeks were wet with tears, bed sheets soaking up his blood. Diego's hands shook, his whole body shook, covered in blood, sweat, and tears. He wanted to pick the knife up again, wanted to dive for it and keep cutting, keep watching the blood as it bubbled up.

Something in Diego carried him to the sink on shaky legs, washing his wrist. The water stung even more and he winces, squeezing his eyes shut. The water turns pink as it runs down the drain, but the blood doesn't stop. And some part of Diego's doesn't want it to stop.

He felt dizzy, as if the room was spinning. He had to clutch on to the sink, had to clutch on to something, to keep him upright. There was so much blood, too much blood, and he didn't know what to do.

Eventually, he was able to bandage himself up. By the morning, the blood had soaked through.

He struggled to hide the cuts and scars. He struggled to hide the pain he was in. But he hid it. He hid it because he always did. He hid it because he had to. He couldn't show his pain, couldn't show his struggles, his weaknesses.

Diego felt like he was addicted to cutting himself. He couldn't get his mind off it, he couldn't be happy without it. He tried to go without it, but he began to grow shaky, as if suffering from withdrawal. He didn't feel any rush, any joy, not unless if came from the blood dripping down his arm, a blade pressed to his wrist.

And so he kept cutting. He cut and he cut and he cut. He cut because he was sad. He cut because he was overwhelmed. He cut because he could, because he wanted to, because he had to.

Diego wasn't suicidal, not in the slightest. Sure, he had thought about losing his life, but not about taking it. And everyone thought about death from time to time. So cutting wasn't about getting closer to death, it wasn't about that at all. It was about releasing that pressure, about matching his physical pain to his emotional. It reminded him that he was human still, not just a knife-throwing soldier.

He wished he felt guilty about cutting, he really did. He wished he could tell someone, could ask for help. But Diego knew that that wasn't possible, that it wouldn't happen. Aside from that knife, aside from the blood and the adrenaline and the scars, aside from all of it, Diego had nothing. He had nothing to bring him joy, to make him calm down.

So he kept cutting and cutting and cutting.

Chapter Text

Another mission.

Another fight.

This was the third mission where the Umbrella Academy hadn't succeeded. The third mission where the bad guys—and girls—went free.

Just like after every failed mission, Luther and Diego yell at each other as their other siblings helplessly watch them tear each other apart.

"This is your fault!" Luther screamed, jabbing his finger at Diego. "If you had pulled out your knife faster—"

"M-My fault?" Diego asked. "It-It's your so-called le-le-leadership that's b-brought us t-t-to this point!" He felt like his blood was boiling, steam coming out of his ears. He couldn't care less about how much he was stuttering, he was too angry to care.

Luther scoffed. "Like you could do any better. I'm the best damn leader this team will ever see!"

The other siblings wished they could jump in, could say something, but they've learned nothing will stop those two.

Diego shook his head. "I-I would b-be a fa-far be-b-better lead-leader than you!"

"Really? Tell me, what would you've done differently, huh? What would you have done?"

"I wo-would've m-m-m-made sure w-we won, f-for start-t-ters."

"My plan would've had us win! If you just sped up your stupid knife throwing act—"

"A-And if you would-would've t-taken i-into account th-the time it-t takes to t-t-take out a-a knife—"

He rolled his eyes. He doesn't know what came over him, doesn't know what led him to say what he was about to say. All he knows is he wasn't thinking, he wasn't thinking and he was so angry. "How about you learn to talk before you criticize my leadership, okay?"

The words hung in the already thick air, no one even daring to breath.

"Oh shit," Luther whispered. "Diego, I-I'm sorry, I—"

"Sh-Shut the h-he-hell up," he grits out.

Klaus shakes his head. "Luther, that was just too far." The others hum in agreement.

Luther puts his hands up. "I-I didn't mean it! I wasn't thinking, I wasn't—"

"Clearly," Five mutters. He scoffs and jumps to another room. He always does.

Luther runs a hand over his face. He didn't—He didn't mean to—

In a shaky voice, Diego spits at Luther, "I w-will f-fuck-fucking k-kill you."

And then tears are in Luther's eyes, too. "Two, man, I didn't... I'm sorry."

"It's too late for that," Ben says. He's normally so quiet, wants to please Luther, does whatever he's told. But he has to stand up for Diego.

"You always go too far," Vanya adds. "Both of you. If you'd stop fighting, then you'd actually get along. But you're too busy trying to soothe your fragile egos to realize that."

"Th-This wasn't-wasn't m-m-me," Diego argues. "Luther—"

"It was both of you!" Vanya shakes her head. "I'm sick of your fighting."

"Diego was insulting me!" Luther says. "He insulted my leadership. I-I just—"

"St-Stop," Diego interrupts. "You d-don't ge-get a cha-chance to d-defend your-yourself."

A tear rolls down his cheek. "I'm sorry." He doesn't know what to say, he doesn't know how to make it better.

"It's not his fault, you know," Klaus points out. "Diego didn't choose to have a stutter. So it's not fair—"

"It's not fair that he can insult my leadership!"

"It is when you're making us lose!"

Luther opens his mouth, but doesn't get anything out before Allison speaks. "Don't," she warns. "They're right, Luther."

"Allison, Allison please—"

"I'm not saying you're a bad leader. All I'm saying is you went too far."

Luther shook his head. No, no, Allison had to be on his side, she had to—

"See?" Diego says harshly. "No-Not even A-Al-Allison th-thinks you're r-right."

"I know I'm not right," Luther says. He tries to stop his voice from shaking, his lip from quivering. He can't cry, he can't cry. "I never said I was."

"You seemed pretty confident you were right when you said it," Ben mumbles.

Luther runs his hands through his hair. "I'm sorry," he repeats. "I-I went to far, I know that, but please—"

"Just give it a break, man," Klaus tells him. "You're not swayin' anybody's mind right now."

Diego wants to say something, he wants to defend himself. But he can't. Every time he opens his mouth, tries to speak, the words get caught in his throat. Luther knows, he knows that Diego's stutter isn't something they talk about. He knows. He knows that Diego spends hours, hours, trying to fix it, fix him, trying to find some magical cure that'll make it all go away. So how could Luther say something like that?

"I know."

"So then why are you still talking?

"Because—"

"Just stop already."

"But, Klaus—"

"Luther."

Diego shakes his head. He doesn't want this, this fighting. He just wants to be left alone. "St-Stop."

"Diego—" Luther tries to say.

"No. I-I just... I ca-can't. J-Just leave m-m-me alone."

Luther looks at his feet. He didn't mean it, he didn't mean to say it. But he can't take it back.

Diego trudges away, Klaus' hand on his shoulder. Diego jerks his body so Klaus' hand falls off. He just wants to be alone. Klaus nods, understanding, and walks a different way.

Ben rubs the back of his neck awkwardly and follows Klaus.

Luther feels like crying even more when Allison puts her hand on his arm. "I know you didn't mean it."

"But I said it," he replies, refusing to look at her.

"But—"

"No. No, you said it yourself. I went too far." Luther bites his quivering lip and walks away.

Chapter Text

He cradled his arm against his chest, trying not to let the tears fall.

A cast supported his arm, keeping it in place.

It hurt so much. But Klaus couldn't cry, not anymore.

He didn't know what he was doing. The men were firing their guns, and everyone was yelling, and Klaus—

He didn't move fast enough. He didn't have the time. So a bullet to the shoulder is what he got.

"What the hell were you doing?" Luther asks him. It's clear he's angry. "You could've lost us that mission."

"I could've lost my arm!" Klaus defends. "And it-it's not my fault I don't have super strength or teleportation."

The two had been at each other's throats ever since the mission ended and they arrived back at the place they called home. The argument kept going in circles, no new points emerging, but neither willing to stand down.

Luther shook his head and scoffed, jabbing his finger toward Klaus' chest. "You're a liability out there," he says through clenched teeth. "Someone could've gotten hurt."

Klaus tries to ignore the pain, both in his arm and his heart. A liability? "I did get hurt, idiot."

He rolled his eyes. "I meant someone important."

On instinct, Klaus raised his arm, ready to hit his brother, but winced in pain. "It's not my fault—"

"Oh, it's never your fault, is it?"

"It isn't! Not this time, at least! It's not my fault that my-my power doesn't help me during battle. It's not my fault that I can't seem to get a single muscle on my body. I'm not built for this life, Luther. And I can't control that, I can't fucking control that!"

Luther knew Klaus was right. Klaus had no control over those things. "You need to put in more effort," Luther tells him. "Hell, even just paying attention would help us! You hurt the mission, Four."

Klaus knows that. He knows he's not great at missions or the most athletic. But he's trying. He's trying. "Oh, give me a break, Number One," Klaus tells him. "It's not my fault that dear old Dad puts me out in the field. It's not my fault that any of this has happened."

Luther grinds his teeth together. "Don't bring Dad into this."

"But it is Dad, Luther!" Klaus says, raising his voice. He pushes Luther a little, but he doesn't budge. "He's trained us to be little soldiers, but clearly he didn't do it well enough. Because, surprise surprise, I was shot. And that can't be blamed on me, Luther, that can't—”

This time, Luther pushes him. Klaus stumbles back, trying to catch himself. "Shut the hell up," he demands. "You getting hurt wasn't Dad's fault. It was yours. It was your fault that you weren't paying attention, and it was your fault that you got shot." Luther keeps walking towards his brother, and Klaus keeps backing up. Eventually, his back hits the wall, and he's stuck between that and Luther.

"Just shut up," Klaus spits out at him.

Luther takes a deep breath and a step back, giving Klaus some space. "Alright, do you see that?" he asks, pointing to Klaus' cast. His voice in condescending now, speaking to Klaus as if he were a child.

He nods.

"That hurts, right?"

Another nod.

"And we don't want that to happen again. To you or to anyone else."

Klaus' head hangs low as he nods, looking at his feet. Luther had a way of doing this: of reducing Klaus to a little kid. He was nodding obediently, afraid to look his brother in the eyes.

"And, so far, you're the only one that has gotten hurt. Is that right?"

Nod.

"So can we technically blame this on you?"

Klaus almost nods again, he almost does. But then his head shoots up and he stares Luther down. "No," he says. "We can't blame this on me." Part of Klaus tells him that Luther is right. He should just take the insults and all of it because Luther is right. But another part, the part leading him right now, is telling him to stand up to Luther.

Luther takes the step forward, again, and Klaus tries not to wince when his chest brushes his bullet wound. "You're a liability to this team."

"You've said that," Klaus reminds him, because even in immense pain he's a smart ass, because even when Luther could crush him to bits his big mouth won't shut up.

Luther runs a hand through his hair. He was just worried. He was worried about Klaus getting hurt again, or about any of his siblings getting hurt, or about any civilian getting hurt. "You know," Luther begins, his tone softer, "if someone gets hurt, it comes back to me. If someone messes up, it comes back to me. I'm the leader of this team, and I—I can't have anyone getting hurt. I can't have you getting hurt."

Klaus shakes his head. "So you're just doing this for your own good?" he asks. "Doing it so Dad doesn't get mad."

He sighs. "No, Klaus, that's not what I'm saying—"

"Because I remember you saying that I wasn't important enough for you to care about."

"No, Klaus, that's not what I said." He takes a deep breath. He needs to compose himself, to stay strong. He needs to help Klaus understand. "I'm sorry," he begins. "For all that I've said. But... I think you should take a break."

"A break? A break from what?"

"From the team," Luther explains. He shifts his weight so Klaus has more space.

"What? Luther, no, no you can't—"

"You could've died out there, Klaus. I can't risk that. I can't have that happen."

"Why? Because then my death will be on your hands?"

Luther doesn't bother to correct him. "Just take a break. At the very least, take a break until your shoulder heals up. Take this time to really train. Work on your power. Maybe... maybe find something that will help you contribute to the team more." He takes a few more steps back.

Klaus shakes his head. He can't believe it. "Screw you," he spits out, then turns and walks away.

Chapter Text

God, the tattoos...

Well, they hurt like hell.

Diego hated his. He hated how it felt and he hated everything it symbolized. He wished he could get it off.

But now he was branded. He and his siblings were branded by their father, claimed by a man that didn't care about them at all. It was horrible.

Diego thought Vanya was lucky, honestly. She didn't have that tattoo, didn't have that horrible marking. She didn't understand the pain.

And that's why Diego got mad when he saw it. That's why Diego snapped when he saw the sloppy marker on his sister's wrist. "What the h-hell is that?" he asked, inspecting it.

Vanya pulled her hand away. "Nothing."

"No, Van-Vanya, what is it?" he pressures.

Vanya sighs. She was always so quick to give in, but only because she knew Diego would get it out of her, anyway. There was nothing she could do to stop it, so she might as well tell him willingly. "It's a tattoo."

Diego cringes when he hears it. "T-Tat-t-tto?" he stutters out.

Vanya doesn't dare look him in the eyes. "Yeah," she confirms. "A tattoo. Like yours."

Diego stares at it for a moment, stunned. "Why?" he asks, because why would anyone want that? Why would anyone want that horrible tattoo?

"I just wanted to be like you," she explains.

Diego turns away, allowing his gaze to briefly drop to the umbrella on his wrist. There are fresh cuts around it, symbols of his desperate attempts to get it off. Vanya wanted to be like him? Why? No one in their right mind would want to be in the same position he was. He was just a soldier to his father, a life that didn't matter. He was a product of his father's creation, not a human and certainly not a kid. "Wash-Wash it off," he demands, ripping his eyes off his wrist.

"W-What?" Vanya asks, confused.

"Wash i-i-it off," he says again, more firm this time. His heart pound as he remembers the needle against his skin, as he remembers the blood and the pain and the tears he didn't allow to fall.

Vanya pulls her arm close to her chest. "No," she says quietly. "I won't."

He turns around. "Off. N-Now."

Vanya can feel the tears as they swim into her eyes. She should've expected this, should've expected that Diego wouldn't want her. Of course she wouldn't be included. She was just ordinary. "Diego, please, just let me—”

"No," Diego repeats. "Y-You don't d-d-deserve it," he spits out. He doesn't mean to say it, not really, but he just needs to find something. "You're no-not part o-o-of the Academy."

Vanya shakes her head. "Just leave me alone," she begs. Her thumb rubs over the still-fresh marker, smudging it slightly. The umbrella is lopsided and the ring around it is too thick. It's not at all like the tattoo on Diego. She just wanted to be like her siblings, just wanted to be included. To her, the umbrella symbolized unity, symbolized a team. But she wasn't part of that team.

Diego's fists clenched And unclenched. "No," he tells her. "I w-won't leave you a-alone. N-N-Not until you-you wash that t-t-tatt-ttoo off."

As Vanya blinked, a tear ran down her face. "You can't make me," she mumbles. "You can't make me."

"I sw-swear to go-god, Van-Vanya, if you d-don't wash it o-off, I'll—"

"You'll what?" she challenges. She sniffs and wipes away the tears that are now steadily moving.

Diego shook his head. "It-It symbolizes some-something you d-d-don't have," he says. "Do-Do you see yourself go-going on m-m-missions? Do y-you see yourself with-with powers? Train-Training d-daily? Save-Saving people? Risking y-y-your life?"

Vanya lowers her gaze and shakes her head. Her index finger trails lightly over the marker on her wrist, trailing over the smudge. It was broken, just like her. She was supposed to have powers, too; she was supposed to be like her siblings. Vanya was supposed to be Number Seven, she was supposed to be part of the Academy. But now she couldn't even be part of the family.

"So th-then you d-don't deserve the ta-t-tattoo." Diego tries to make sure his voice doesn't quiver. Some part of him wishes he was like Vanya: ordinary. He wished he wasn't a soldier, he wished he didn't have a tattoo on his wrist. He wished to just be normal, just be a kid. But now, with this brand on his arm, he'd never be normal.

Vanya rubs her eyes again. "Fine," she spits out. But it isn't fine, it's never fine. She just wants to be accepted, just wants to have someone. She wants to actually be Diego's sister, not just a stranger that lives under the same roof. That tattoo, that bond, is something that connects all the kids. And Vanya desperately wants that bond, desperately wants to be part of that family. But she's outcasted and shunned.

Unconsciously, Diego's thumb strokes the tattoo. There are bumps from the cuts, from his attempts to get the tattoo off. He remembers how much it hurt, getting it, and how much it hurt trying to take it off. "If-If it's fine, then w-w-wash it off," Diego demands.

Vanya bites her lip, sniffing again. She stares at Diego for a few more seconds, a few extra seconds of defiance. Then, with a sigh, she nods. "I will," she reassures him. "But it's not my fault that I'm not good enough."

With that, Vanya trudges to the sink.

Chapter Text

Honestly, he doesn't remember when it started.

He doesn't remember when the body issues started; he doesn't remember when the puking started.

All Ben knows is it won't stop.

Maybe it's the tentacles. Maybe it was Five leaving. Maybe it's just being a teenager. Or maybe he was just built like this; maybe he was broken.

Ben had lost a significant amount of weight once Five went missing, but everybody signed it off as grief. And, eventually, they just dismissed it all together. Nobody questioned why he was so skinny; nobody questioned why he went to the bathroom after every meal.

Whenever Ben felt bad, he traced it all back to his weight. If Reginald was too hard on him, it was because he wasn't skinny enough. If the Academy lost a mission, it was because he wasn't skinny enough. So he obsessed and he obsessed and he obsessed. He never went anywhere without a shirt on, too self conscious to even remove his shirt in the privacy of his own room.

Grace had cooked a particularly large dinner one night. As much as Ben didn't want to eat it, he forced it down his throat. He felt terrible about it, imagining all the calories that went in to his body, imagining all the extra pounds it would add. He almost excused himself early. But his remaining self restrain kept him stuck at the table, fork shoveling food into his mouth.

Immediately afterward, Ben ran to the bathroom—well, he didn't literally run, because that would bring attention to him, but you get the point—and knelt in front of the toilet. He could already feel it coming up in the back of his throat before he even shoved his fingers in his mouth, forcing the food out of his stomach.

There's a hesitant knock on the bathroom door. Then, "Ben?" It's Allison.

Ben quickly tries to compose himself. "'M fine," he tells her, his voice coming out raspy and weak.

She sighs. "Okay."

Ben stays kneeling in front of the toilet for a few more moments, panting heavily. He listens intently, trying to see if Allison is still there. He hears nothing.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Ben does it again: he forces himself to throw up.

This time, though, instead of a knock, the door is opened.

Shit. Ben forgot to lock the damn door.

"Ben!" Allison's hands are over her mouth, voice concerned.

Ben doesn't even bother scrambling away. It's clear what he was doing; there's no point in hiding. So he laughs, all humor devoid from the sound. "Hey."

Allison quickly rushes over to him, kneeling beside him. She grabs onto his shoulder, and the pain is evident in her eyes. "Ben, what—What was that?"

He scoffed. "Wasn't it obvious?"

Allison shook her head. "Ben..."

He wipes the remaining vomit on his face off with the back of his hand and reaches up to flush the toilet. Neither say anything.

"When?" Allison asks out of the blue.

"Huh?"

"When did you start doing... this." She can't imagine her brother, her sweet and pure and innocent brother, doing anything like this. Something to hurt himself.

He shrugs and leans against the wall, making Allison's hand fall off his shoulder. "A month after Five left?" he guesses. "Well, the throwing up, at least. The body image issue, on the other hand..." He trails off slightly, shaking his head as memories pop into his head. Some odd part of him is almost relieved that Allison caught him, relieved to have someone that he might be able to talk to. He knows he needs help for this, he knows that, and he hopes Allison will give him the elk he needs. She always has.

Ben can see Allison cringe a little when he answers. "For that long?" she asks. "Ben, you—you know you can talk to me, right? You can tell me about this?"

He shrugs again, but this time he doesn't verbalize his answer.

Allison sighs. "Ben, you know this isn't good, right?" She can't stop saying his name. It reminds her why she's on the floor of a bathroom, reminds her why the scent of dinner and vomit lingers in the air. This is Ben—the brother she loves so much. How could he do this to himself?

He nods. "I know." He can't look Allison in the eyes, can't risk seeing the disappointment in them. Her Ben, her brother, nothing more than a stereotype, a broken boy.

Trying to be comforting, trying to help, trying to do anything, Allison rests her hand on her brother's knee. She can tell he's shaking a little, barely even noticeable, but he's shaking. "Can I, um—Can I do anything to help?"

That's when Ben's eyes lock with Allison's, and he can't stop it. Everything comes out—and not out of his stomach, this time. The tears fall and he leans forward, clutching on to Allison desperately. His hands grapple at her back, tears soaking her shoulder. Cries escape his mouth, loud and choked, but he can't stop it.

Allison rubs Ben's knee. She whispers, "It'll be okay." She whispers of over and over and over again. She tries to make herself believe it, tries to make Ben believe.

But Ben can't hear her comforting words. His ears feel like they're ringing and all he can hear is white, blank noise, which isn't comforting in the slightest.

"It'll be okay," Allison says again. A salty taste is in her mouth and that's when she realizes she's crying, too. She's crying because she's worried, so worried about her brother. She knew he was skinny and losing weight, but she couldn't accept that this was happening. She couldn't. And now her tears fall into Ben's head as they sit on the cold ground of their bathroom.

As Allison pulls Ben closer to her, whispering reassurances, she promises him one thing.

"I promise I'll help you through this."

Chapter Text

atticus
I love your writing, but I've noticed a disturbing lack of Ben. We just can't have that. Ben is such a precious boy. Can you do one where Ben is like 14-15 and he's going through an emo phase and no one takes him seriously when he says really edgy things. Then someone (most definitely Luther because he's Luther) makes fun of him for it and Ben just cries about it.

It was a normal thing for a teenager to do.

Just a simple, harmless phase.

Vanya went through the same phase. So did Diego.

And now it was Ben's turn.

The world seemed darker to him, worse. He constantly listened to My Chemical Romance—a classic emo band. His hair, his nails, his eyes, all of it became black black black. He even took up writing in a journal. He wore a black hoodie over his Academy uniform, almost hiding his face completely.

The others, they didn't take him seriously. They didn't think that Ben, sweet little Ben, could be emo. But, hell, he was a better emo than Diego.

"Tell me a joke," Klaus said to Ben, trying to hide his snickers when he saw his brother's new fashion.

"My life," Ben told him.

Eventually, Ben started sneaking out. He started wandering around the house, taking in the fresh air. He tried to attend concerts, tried to get as immersed in the culture as he could. He was an emo now, and he was dedicated to acting like one.

"You're just a joke," Luther told him. "You can't be an emo. You're too, ya know, happy."

Ben just pulled the strings on his hoodie tighter, refusing to reply.

One time, Ben spent the whole day in his room, headphones over his ears, blasting My Chemical Romance, Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy—all of it. He refused to go out there, to see his family. He would rather wallow in his own constant misery.

"He's just grieving," Allison dismissed it. "Five's gone. It makes sense."

Luther shook his head. "It's a stupid way of grieving."

Ben tried to take up guitar. He wasn't good, not in the slightest, but that didn't stop him. He even began to write his own songs, pouring his heart and soul into it. The songs themselves were good, the lyrics filled with pain and sorrow, but Ben's singing and playing wasn't the best. His guitar sat on his lap most of the time, his notebook on top of it as he scribbled down more notes, more lyrics, more emotion.

"You'll snap out of it," Luther told Ben. "You're just being overemotional. It's hormones, probably."

Ben shook his head. "I've just realized how miserable life is."

Okay, so maybe he was grieving. But could you blame him? His brother was gone—maybe not dead, but gone. And Ben didn't know what to do, he didn't know how to deal with it. He wanted something new, something to detach him from his old life. So the emo thing kind of just... happened. It wasn't intentional, wasn't planned, but it just happened. But Ben didn't bother to change it.

"God, what are you wearing?" Luther asked, seeing the black hoodie and skinny jeans Ben had on.

"Clothes," Ben answered simply.

Luther chuckled. "Well, they're stupid." He didn't necessarily mean to be mean, but he certainly didn't apologize for the insult.

"You're stupid," Ben shot back like a little kid.

Luther put his hands up, still laughing a little. "Woah there, bud, don't get too feisty."

Ben scowled. "Just leave me to my misery," he says.

"What's got you so down, buddy?" Luther's tone had turned condescending, judgmental.

Ben shoved his head in his hands, curling his legs up to his chest. "Everything," he answers solemnly. "Life. Death. You."

Luther nodded. "Oh, right, you're edgy now, aren't you?" he asks. "Contemplating life, thinking deep thoughts. Being a downer."

Ben can feel the tears pricking at his eyes. They accepted Diego when he went through this—they even accepted Vanya. But why couldn't Ben just be something new, why couldn't he be an emo if he wanted?

"Screw you," he spits out. "I'm going to my room."

Luther tries to say something to stop him, but Ben stomps away. As soon as he's in the comfort of his own room, he closes the blinds, making the room all dark. He stumbles around to find his headphones, sticking them on and turning his music up as loud as possible. He shuffles his playlist—which is almost exclusively emo bands, now, though there are a few pop songs mixed in.

Ben barely even registers the songs as they pass by. All he can think of is the tears running down his face, Luther's hurtful words. The guitar playing in his headphones is so loud it almost blows out his eardrums, but he doesn't turn it down. He instead allows himself to melt into it, allows it to become his reality rather than the pain that is his life. And the song is by no means happy, but it manages to take Ben away from his own life, which is good enough for him.

After some time, Ben pulls his guitar and notebook into his lap. They always end up there. He begins to write down his thoughts, his feelings. A little journal entry, just to clear his mind. Once he finishes it, once he has all those emotions already down on paper, he begins to write some more—lyrics this time. Lyrics of heartbreak and pain, betrayal and being an outcast.

Alright, so maybe he was being a little over the top. And maybe this phase wouldn't last forever. And maybe his clothes were stupid. But Ben didn't want to be told that. He wanted the escape of the music, wanted this new identity so he could leave his old life, old failures, behind. And so he figured being an emo would work, would make him different. And it did, it really did, but Ben was still just the sweet, self conscious, happy boy that he was years ago.

Eventually, he gave up the emo life. It was just time. And it was bound to happen.

He still listens to the music, though.

Chapter Text

As a little kid, she loved her power.

She could get anything she wanted with one simple sentence.

But, as she got older, she wanted more. She wanted to help. Help her family, not just others.

It started after Klaus got out of the mausoleum. Allison wanted to help him, wanted to make him better.

Klaus was the one that asked Allison. “Could you use your power?” he pleaded. “I just—I can’t do it. I need your help.”

So Allison nodded, saying the words that he wanted to hear.

"I heard a rumor that you weren't afraid of ghosts."

But, of course, it didn't work. Her rumor power couldn't alter reality. But that didn't stop her from trying, day after day.

She tried different variations, tried everything and anything to help him. She just wanted to help him.

Then they got older. Allison didn't use her power for anything like that. She became selfish, caring only about herself, caring only about how her powers could benefit her.

And then Five left.

Everyone was devastated. They spent their days locked in their respective rooms, tears falling down their faces. They didn't know what to do, didn't know how to continue. Five was gone, and what could they do with him gone?

So Allison stood in front of the mirror every night, whispering words and rumors. Anything that might bring him back, anything that might make it better.

"I heard a rumor that Five was here."

"I heard a rumor that Five never left."

"I heard a rumor that Five was safe."

No matter how often she did this, no matter how often she said those words, nothing worked. Five was still gone. As much as she wanted him to be there, wanted him to be with them, he wasn’t. And not even her powers could fix that.

After Five left, Diego's stutter got worse. Diego was simply too heartbroken, too anxious. He just didn't speak most of the time, didn't want to stutter. Diego was torn up inside and out, even if he didn’t talk about it.

Allison wanted to do something. Maybe she couldn't bring their brother back, but maybe, maybe, she could help Diego. She just wanted to help.

"I heard a rumor that you didn't stutter anymore."

Diego didn't want her to do it. He was so pessimistic, not even willing to give it a chance, but Allison went ahead and did it anyways. Diego wasn’t willing to give anything a chance, he never was, never accepted the help his siblings tried to offer. But Allison still tried to rumor his stutter away, still tried to make it all better.

But Diego's stutter didn't go away. Five was still gone. Klaus was still afraid of ghosts. It never worked.

Then there was Ben.

Ben's death was a gruesome one. It left all the children scarred and depressed. Even when Reginald pushed them all to train, they couldn't bring themselves to do it. They couldn’t bring themselves to do anything, not without Ben.

But Allison still used her power. She would stand in front of the mirror, just as she had a few years prior with Five, saying rumors that she knew wouldn't come true.

"I heard a rumor Ben was alive."

"I heard a rumor we didn't go on that mission."

"I heard a rumor that Ben was unharmed."

None of it brought him back, though. And it never cured Klaus’ fear of ghosts, nor Five’s disappearance, nor Diego’s stutter. It made her feel useless, because if she couldn’t help her siblings, what could she do? What was the point?

Allison began to use her powers as much as she could. She wanted, needed, to continue herself that her powers still worked, that she still had a use. It became all she could think about: the rumors. Because maybe her powers weren’t strong enough yet, maybe she just needed to work on it more and then she could do everything she wanted.

So she kept trying. She kept trying to bring Five back, kept trying to bring Ben back. She kept trying to cure Klaus’ fear and Diego’s stutter. Every night, every single night she did it. She just wanted to help, wanted to help her family.

When Allison got older, she stopped doing it as much. She spent less time crying in front of the mirror as she begged the world to give her brothers back, to make everything okay. And eventually she moved out. She got a job, a husband. A kid.

And then she started doing it again. She tried to fix everything, tried to make it better. Whenever Claire was sick, whether it be a fever or a simple cold, she would try to rumor it away. When Claire scraped her knee while playing, crying and crying from the pain, she would try to rumor it away.

“I heard a rumor you were healthy.”

“I heard a rumor that you weren’t hurt.”

And just like when she was younger, it didn’t change anything. Everything stayed the same.

Allison didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know how to make everything better. She didn’t have anything besides her power, she didn’t have anything that could change the world. If the rumors couldn’t fix everything, then what could?

She just wanted to help people, wanted to help her family. She wanted to make everything better. But not even she could do that, not even the rumors could fix everything. She couldn’t bring anybody back and she couldn’t make everything better.

Yet that didn’t stop her from trying. It never really did. Because if she had a chance, just a chance, to help the people she loves, she’ll take it.

“I heard a rumor that everything was okay.”

Chapter Text

They'd been planning to do it for a while.

Coming out.

But it always seemed too scary. It always seemed so dangerous.

So Klaus never told their family any of it. Their sexuality. Their gender—or lack thereof. They just avoided the topic, avoided all of it.

After the near-apocalypse, Luther insisted on a few things.

1. Everybody lives in the mansion. It wasn't too difficult, honestly, as they had all done it before. And it was nice to be together again, as annoying as everybody could be.

2. Weekly family game night. This was slightly worse. Every Saturday night, Luther would gather all Hargreeves kids to play charades or Clue or the like. It always ended in an argument.

3. Weekly family therapy. This was the worst of them all. Every Thursday before dinner, Luther would gather them all to talk. Hash things out. Confess secrets, admit feelings. All that sappy bullshit.

And that's when it happened.

"Klaus, do you have anything you'd like to say?" Luther asks.

As always, Klaus just leans back and stays silent.

"He doesn't have to say anything if he doesn't want to," Vanya says, making Klaus cringe. He. Him. Pronouns they had dropped long, long ago.

"That's not fair," Five objects. "If we all have to share, Klaus has to, too."

"Yeah," Allison agrees. She leans closer to them. "Got any love interests lately?" she pushes. "Any cute girls you've got your eyes on?"

Klaus can't help it: they scoff. And the scoff turns into a laugh. "Are you all really do ignorant?" they ask. "Is it not obvious?"

"Is what not obvious?" Luther questions.

Klaus shakes their head. "Alright, I was gonna do this in a, ya know, better way and time, but I guess now works." They sigh. "I'm gay! Hooray!"

"You're what?" Luther asks.

"Gay. Do you have too much earwax or something?" Klaus was fed up, just done with all of. The stupid assumptions and the discrimination. They hated it. "Oh, also—fuck genders."

"Fuck—what?" Luther doesn't understand, clearly. No surprise there.

Klaus nods there head. "What I'm saying is I'm not a dude, but I'll fuck them."

No one says or does anything for a few moments. Beside Klaus, Ben chuckles. "That was anticlimactic."

The first reaction that Klaus notices is Vanya. She smiles and leans over to wrap her arms around them. "I'm so glad you trust us enough to come out," she says.

The next reaction was Diego. He already knew about Klaus' relationship with Dave, so his reaction wasn't that big. "Cool," He says. And Klaus is fine with that: they don't need a big reaction. In fact, they don't want one.

Five has a similar reaction. He just does a little nod, not saying anything. And he doesn't have to: he's always accepted them, always understood. Even if he wasn't there, he was accepting. Always accepting.

Allison's reaction was much bigger than the others'. She was cheering and smiling at waving her hands until they finally pulled Klaus into a hug. "I'm so glad for you?"

Glad for what? they wanted to ask. But they stayed silent.

"Do you have a boyfriend? Oh my god—do you have a husband? You have so much to tell us—" Klaus zones her out, just letting her words become a jumble of sounds.

Eventually everything is calmed down, but Luther hasn't said anything. Klaus turns to him, hoping for something, anything.

"You can't not be a gender," Luther says finally.

"Uh, yeah I can," Klaus responds. "It's called non-binary."

Luther's eyebrows scrunch together in confusion. "No," Luther repeats. "You're either male or female."

Klaus shrugs. "Doesn't feel like I'm either."

"Well if you're not a guy," Luther continues, you can't be gay."

Klaus tilts his head towards the side. "Well clearly I can be."

"Just leave them alone," Diego says.

"If you're gay, then you're a man that loves other men." Luther explains it slowly, either for himself or for Klaus. "But if you don't identify as a male, then—then you can't be gay."

Klaus squeezes their eyes shut. It feels all too much like when they were with Dave, when they were back in Vietnam. Nobody accepted them, nobody accepted their relationship. "Well I identify as gay," they explain. "That's all that matters."

Luther shakes his head. Reginald had taught him, had always taught him, that your gender was the one you were born with and you could love the other sex and the other sex exclusively. He didn't understand, didn't know what to say. "No," he muttered.

"He—They," Vanya corrects herself, "showed a lot of courage by coming out to us. Don't be mean to them."

"It's fine," Klaus assures them all. "I'm fine. I get it. It—It makes sense. I understand." But it wasn't fine. It was never fine.

Luther stood up. "One or the other," he says. "One or the other. You can't be both. It—It doesn't make sense."

They shrug. "It doesn't have to make sense."

Luther rubs his temples. Reginald never told him that this could happen, that this was an option. "Yes it does!"

"Lower your voice, big guy," Diego tells him.

Luther shakes head. "No. No!" He hates it because, at one point in his life, he had similar feelings and ideas. He thought that maybe he wasn't straight, maybe he wasn't a guy, maybe everything was wrong. But his father put him down for it, made him feel like he was wrong.

Luther throws a vase, and it shatters against the wall.

Klaus flinches away, closing his eyes.

That sound, that noise, it seems all too familiar. Gun shots ring in their ears as smoke lingers in their eyes, and suddenly blood is on their hands, it's blood, Dave's blood, and—

Klaus doesn't know what to do. They're shaking, suddenly, taken back to the war. They don't know how to bring themselves back, how to leave it all behind.

They're not sure how much time passes before they come back, Diego's hand on their shoulder, shaking them. "Hey, hey, bud," he whispers. "Hey, it's okay." He shoots daggers at Luther—with his eyes, of course. Not real daggers. "Look what you fucking did."

Klaus is hyperventilating, and they can't—fuck, they can't breathe. They can't breathe. Their ears ring and their chest hurts, why does their chest hurt?

Luther's head is in his hands. He feels bad, he feels really bad. But he doesn't know what to do, how to fix it. "I'm sorry."

They all ignore him.

"It's fine," Vanya assures him. "We accept you, Klaus. It's fine. It's fine."

Chapter Text

They almost didn't do it.

They almost stayed away.

Almost.

But one look in her desperate eyes made Klaus go back. One glance at her tears, at her frown, made Klaus go back. They wouldn't let their sister sit in that fucking cage like an animal.

"We have to do something," Klaus told Ben, pacing back and forth beside the cell Vanya was in.

Ben shook his head. "Are you sure, man?" he asks. "Luther seemed pretty sure this was the right thing to do."

Klaus scoffs. "'Course."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Ben questions, standing in front of them to stop their path.

Klaus walks through him. "It means you always take Luther's side."

"I do not—"

"Look at her!" Klaus says. "Look at Vanya—our sister—in the eyes, and tell me she's evil. Tell me she deserves to be in there. Tell me she doesn't deserve to be saved."

Ben, hesitantly, turns to look at Vanya. And Klaus is right: she doesn't look evil. She looks sad, and desperate, and—and pained. God, her eyes looked so pained, so afraid, so alone. Ben could see the tears swimming there, the ones she held back, and his chest hurt with grief. How could they do that to her?

He sighs. "Fine. What do we need to do?"

Klaus looks surprised, blinking their eyes rapidly a few times. "I—I don't know. I really didn't think I'd get this far."

Ben shakes his head. "Really? If we're gonna get V out, we need a plan."

Klaus massages their temples. "I know, I know." Without saying a word, they simply change directly and walk with urgency towards the cell Vanya's in.

Vanya bangs on the wall a little, trying to get their attention, but she already has it. "We'll get you out of here," they promise, even if she can't hear them.

"How?" Ben asks.

Klaus takes a deep breath. "I'm figuring it out."

After a moment of thinking, Klaus backs away from the door. "I've got it." At full sleep, they charge towards the cage. They fall back against the ground with a thud.

Ben laughs. "You idiot!"

Klaus stands up, brushing themselves off. "I don't see you helping," they grumble.

Ben shrugs, leaning nonchalantly against the wall. He can't bare to look in Vanya's eyes. "I'm dead," he says. "Can't exactly use my powers."

Ben can see the exact moment that a lightbulb goes off in their brain.

"No—"

"Yes!" Klaus interrupts. "It would be perfect. If I could just harness your powers—"

"It'll never work."

"And you thought you'd never touch me again! But do you not remember punching me in the fucking face?" Klaus can't help but smile, but it quickly drops from their face. "Besides, we need to try. For Vanya. We need to get her out, Ben. Whatever it takes."

Ben sighs. He looks at Vanya again. Even Allison trusted her, and Vanya has almost killed her. How could Ben not trust her? "Fine," Ben agrees. "How do we do this?"

Klaus is giddy with excitement. "Okay, okay, so just—just stand in front of me or something. And—And I'll think really hard about you. And then you let it go. Unleash the beast. Release the kra—"

"Okay, I get it," Ben interrupts. "Let's try it." He really doesn't want to, doesn't want to use his powers. But he knows it's necessary, knows that he has to help her.

It doesn't work the first time. Ben can't get the tentacles out. It hurts him too much, is too difficult. He can't do it, he can't do any of it.

But Klaus assures him he can. They assure him it's the way, it's the only way to help Vanya. So he takes a deep breath and tries again.

The second time, it doesn't work, either. Ben got the tentacles out, but he wasn't able to do anything, not to the real world. So Klaus promises they'll try harder, they'll think harder.

It's the third time that it finally works.

Ben releases a cry of anguish as the tentacles shoot out, grasping every which way until they finally hit the cell Vanya's locked in.

Klaus can feel the pain Ben is in, because they're in the same pain. It's like a horrible tearing in their chest, as if something is being torn out of them. There's a glowing blue all around Klaus' body, and he finally realizes that the blue is Ben, it's Ben.

The door is finally torn out and the blue dims down. They're both breathing heavily, a goofy smile on Klaus' face. "That was awesome," he breathes.

Vanya blinks rapidly a few times, trying to process what happened. She takes slow and careful steps, but then rushes towards Klaus, throwing her arms around them. "Thank you," she cries, tears soaking into their chest.

Still slightly disoriented, Klaus wraps their arms around her. "You're welcome."

Ben tries to reach out, tries to touch her, but his hand just goes through her. His body is shaking as he looks up at Klaus. "Ask her if she's okay," he pleads.

Klaus pulls Vanya closer. "Ben wants to know if you're okay."

"Yeah," she answers in a shaky voice. "I think I'm okay. Thank you, Ben."

The corner of Ben's lip twitches up into an almost smile. His eyes are full of tears—ghosts can cry? Since when? He hates this, hates it so much. He just wants to touch Vanya, to hold her.

"Don't do anything stupid," Klaus warns. He chuckles a little. "These, uh, these powers can be, uh, ya know, difficult to, uh, navigate." He doesn't know what to say, doesn't know how to help her.

She sniffs and pulls away a little. "I know," she says. "You have to believe me, I—I would never do—I could never hurt—"

"I know," Klaus interrupts. "I know."

Chapter Text

She never thought she'd be a jealous type.

But having a girlfriend changes you.

Because Beth was a bartender, Vanya began to spend a lot of time at the bar. Surprise surprise.

Now, Beth was a good looking woman. Vanya could go on and on about it. And as a bartender, flirting was normal, almost expected, by guys and girls alike. Especially with a face like Beth's. In fact, their relationship had started with a little bit of drunk flirting.

But now that they were in a relationship? Vanya could not deal with any flirting. Any. No lingering looks, no winks, no phone numbers, no touches, no suggestive nicknames, none of it.

Vanya remembers one night, sitting at the bar, when a man took a seat beside her. He was a decent looking man, too: black framed glasses, ruffled black hair, a stunning smile that could charm anyone, couldn't have been older than 30. Vanya wasn't surprised when he started flirting with Beth a few drinks in. But she certainly didn't like it.

Vanya finally snapped when she saw him licking his teeth, a lopsided smile on his face. He didn't even have to say anything, didn't even have to ask for her number, but Vanya knew he was going to do it.

So when Beth brought Vanya her next drink—just a Shirley temple; she wasn't a big drinker—Vanya let her hand linger on her arm. "Thanks, baby," she said. She leaned forward, allowing her lips to ghost over Beth's.

Beth smirked. She knew that Vanya got a little jealous—okay, maybe more than a little—and loved the outcome. She lived for it.

Vanya saw the instant fall of the man's face beside her. His lopsided grin instantly disappeared as he fumbled for his money, asking for the bill.

So maybe Vanya got a little jealous. Maybe she got a little possessive. But how could she help it? She was lucky enough to have some as amazing, as perfect, as accepting as Beth, and there was no way she was letting her go.

That wasn't even the worst time, though.

The woman came in with a large group of friends, something that looked like a classic girl's night out. Beth knew the rest of her shift would be hellish with them all. But sometime during the night, the woman separated from her group, instead taking a seat at the bar. Two shots of tequila, Vanya remembers.

The woman was named Carrie. She had blonde hair that just passed her shoulder blades, blue eyes that bordered on gray, deliciously toasted skin, and a skin tight dress that hugged every perfect curve of her body. Vanya remembers her perfectly.

Beth smiled when she saw Vanya shift uncomfortably in her seat when Carrie started hitting on her. Carrie would lean over flirtatiously, allowing her breasts to show just a little more than before. She laughed louder at every one of Beth's jokes than she needed to, looked at her a little longer than she needed to. And Vanya Hater it, hated every second of it.

Beth's shift was almost done, and Vanya was positive Carrie would make a move. So she stood up and walked around the bar counter, ignoring the clear "EMPLOYEES ONLY" print on it. She grabbed Beth by the waist and pulled her towards her, allowing their lips to collide. The kiss is hot and slimy and desperate, but Beth allows herself to get lost in it.

Finally, they pull away, breathing heavily. There's a devious glint in Vanya's eyes. She doesn't even glance at Carrie, but she's sure the look on her face is downright humorous. Vanya grabs Beth's smooth hands, biting her lips. The lingering taste of her girlfriend is still there. It tastes like cherry and whiskey and something so uniquely, so perfectly Beth. "Let's go home," she says, her voice quiet, cheeks burning red.

Beth giggles a little. "'Course, honey."

Vanya's not one for public displays of affection. Her relationships are always quiet, low key. Even hand holding is rare for Vanya to engage. But she'll be damned if she lets some hot ass woman flirt with her girlfriend and not do something about it.

When they leave the bar, Vanya expects Beth to go to her car, but instead she pushes her up against the brick wall, kissing her again. Vanya melts into it, allowing herself to be consumed by all of it. The rough scratch of the bricks against her back, the warm tongue pushing against her lips. She needs it, craves it.

"You got a little jealous there, baby," Beth says against her lips.

One of Beth's hands is against Vanya's cheek, and Vanya allows her fingers to graze down the other arm. "Yeah, I guess I did."

Vanya can feel Beth's smile against her lips. "Now why'd you do that?"

"Can't lose you," Vanya answers honestly, letting her eyes slip shut.

Beth begins to kiss Vanya again, but stops soon after she realizes Vanya wasn't joking. "Are you really worried about that?" she asks. Beth grabs Vanya's hand again. "Baby, you never have to worry about that with me."

Vanya smiles a little. "I know."

"You're the only one I want. The one and only."

Vanya giggles a little. "Alright, you big sap."

"I love you, hon," Beth says. "Know that I love you."

"I know."

"Do you?"

"I know."

"Say it."

"Say what?"

"Say that I love you," Beth tells her. "Say that I love you, and we can go home."

Vanya shook her head a little. "You're not serious."

Beth pulls Vanya's lower lip between her teeth for a brief second. Long enough to make Vanya want—need—more. "Oh, I am."

Vanya smiles. "Beth loves me." She leans forward to place a kiss on her lips. "Can we go now? It's getting old."

Beth laughs a little. "'Course."

When they get back to Vanya's apartment, they have the most mind blowing sex ever.

Chapter Text

Her hands shake.

Sweat covers her body.

She can't breathe, can't breathe.

Not too long ago, Vanya had taken some pills. A lot of pills. Enough pills to kill herself.

A part of her wanted to go back. A part of her wanted to get help, wanted to live.

The other part wanted her to die on the floor, then and there.

The former part won.

With her shaky limbs, Vanya went over to her phone. She didn't know what to do, who to call. She couldn't think, couldn't do anything.

Finally, she found a contact: Klaus. Klaus, she'd call Klaus. He'd know what to do.

The phone rings. "Hello?" Klaus answers.

"Help," is all Vanya can choke out before she spasms, foaming at the mouth, and collapses on the ground.

~~~

All the Hargreeves kids wait anxiously in the hospital.

The doctors said it would take a miracle for Vanya to wake up.

Five passed across the waiting room, hands held up against his mouth, rubbing against his temples. He mumbled things under his breath, curses and prayers.

Klaus sat on a chair in the center of the waiting room, mouth open in disbelief, a bottle of vodka in his hand. Beside him, Ben sat anxiously on the arm handle, worrying his ghost lip between his ghost teeth.

Diego sat in a chair in the far corner of the waiting room, the closest to the emergency room doors, the closest to Vanya. His foot taps anxiously, rapid and fast, fingers drumming along with it.

Luther sat against an empty wall, head in his hands. None of the chairs could fit him and his legs felt weak, his body felt weak.

Allison was beside him, hugging him. She cried into his shoulder silently, wishing and hoping that her sister would be okay.

"Dammit, dammit, dammit!" Five said. "Fuck!"

Nobody said anything. He'd been going off like that since they first arrived. They were the only ones in the room, so it didn't really matter.

Diego tilts his head up to the ceiling in a silent prayer. 'Please,' he thought. 'Please save her. Don't let her die. She can't—she can die.' Diego wasn't one to believe in God, but if there was someone, something that could help Vanya, he'd do whatever it took. He never got to talk to her enough, and when he did his words were always too harsh. He didn't get to tell her how much he loved her, didn't get to say all the things he wanted, needed, her to hear.

Five was holding back tears. He didn't nearly enough time with Vanya. There were so many nights that he wished she were there, so many nights that he longed for his sister, for her comfort. He would've killed for just one more peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich with her. He would've killed for another second with her. She couldn't leave so soon. She couldn't.

Klaus wasn't drunk, wasn't high, wasn't anything. He was sober, too sober. But Vanya overdosed, and he couldn't do that, couldn't do that to her. He couldn't start chucking the alcohol he so desperately wanted. He couldn't do it. He couldn't think properly, either, wouldn't have been able to bring the bottle to his mouth. He was too busy thinking of all the things he should've said, all the things he wanted to say. He wanted to tell her about Dave. He wanted to tell her about anything and everything. He didn't talk to her nearly enough. But now he may never get to again.

Ben didn't know what to do. He wanted to help, wanted to do something. He was dead already, there was no need to say goodbye to another Hargreeves kid so soon. He couldn't have Vanya be dead, he couldn't have her life be taken away. He just couldn't.

Luther's mind swarmed, buzzed. With questions, with regrets. With guilt. He was always too hard on Vanya. He never really got to know her, never really got to appreciate her. He excluded her and he outcasted her. And she just tried to kill herself, she tried to—

Luther couldn't stand it. He blamed himself. If he had been nicer, it would've been fine. If he had accepted her, had let her be, had done anything, he could've stopped it. Vanya would still be there and maybe he'd get a second chance. But she can't die, she can't die. She can't.

Allison's body shakes and jerks with her cries. She just wants Luther's coat to block everything out, wants all of it to be a horrible, horrible dream. She wants Vanya to be safe and happy and fine, perfectly fine.

Allison wanted to go back. She wanted to go back and make it right, make it all okay. She wanted to go back and be nicer to Vanya, be her sister. She wanted to go back and be less judgement, be more caring. But she couldn't go back, she couldn't do anything. She couldn't deal with Vanya on the verge of death, couldn't deal with the overwhelming guilt that maybe, maybe she had something to do with it.

Nobody says anything. Nobody can. What would they say, even? Their brains are fried and they're behind tired emotionally, physically, and mentally. They just want their sister to be okay. They wish she hadn't tried to kill her self, wish they could do those last things they wanted.

Vanya wasn't dead. Not yet, at least. But all the Hargreeves kids knew all too well that is was possible, it was fully possible. And they hated that, hated that idea.

So they waited for a miracle.

Chapter Text

Ever since he was young, he knew the other kids weren't exactly... fond of him.

But he thought it was just because he was the leader.

Luther never expected it to go on for so long. He never expected their feelings to be so harsh, so severe.

But they were.

The friendly competitions with Diego got a bit... less friendly. There were insults and full blown out fights, cheap shots and black eyes. Luther could see that Diego hated him. He just didn't know why.

And, looking back on it, Vanya's hatred was probably a little bit more justified. But Luther was just following the orders, just doing with Reginald told him to do. And Vanya didn't accept any of his apologies or attempts to help her, she just pushed him away entirely.

And then there was Klaus. Luther knew he could've been nicer, but Klaus could've been, too. All of them could've been a little kinder, could've cared a little bit more. But it was Luther's job to come up with the ideas, his job to order them all around. He was the leader. And while Klaus certainly wasn't looking to be in that position, he despised Luther for what he did. Klaus didn't want structure, didn't want work. And so he hated Luther.

And Five and Ben, though they're gone, hated him too. Five thought he wasn't a good leader. Ben always thought he was too controlling.

Allison was the only one that didn't hate Luther. And while she might not hate him, there wasn't love radiating off her.

These were the thoughts Luther was left with when he was on the moon. A giant man isolated from society because of what he was.

But it all got worse once Reginald died. It all got worse once Luther went back to Earth.

For starters, his giant size didn't exactly give him an ego boost. Reginald has called it an "upgrade," but it really wasn't. Luther was twice the size of a large human, and about twice as hairy. Eyes lingered on him, observed him, tore him apart. As if he didn't already hate his new body.

But he was also with his family again. He was also fighting with Diego again. The insults were thrown his way, and Luther would be lying if he said he didn't throw a few back. But he thought they were all just mourning of their loss, the death of father.

But then time went on.

And the insults never stopped.

Vanya seemed like she couldn't even stand to look at Luther. She avoided him and his attempts at conversation, walking away when he was in the same room. And Klaus spat insults at him when they weren't outright ignoring him. There was Five, too, who always thought he was superior, was above them all. And, who knows, maybe he was. Maybe Luther didn't deserve anything.

For days, Luther lay in his bed. He couldn't bring himself to move, to eat, to do anything. But the thoughts kept coming, rattling in his mind. His family hated him. His father, the one person he trusted, lied to him. His body was so awful that nobody could look at him.

Eventually Luther didn't even register the tears. They fell, though, soaking into the small beard that he'd grown simply due to his lack of shaking. They rolled down his face every night, every day, and Luther just ignored them.

That is, until the new thoughts started rolling in.

These thoughts were different. Luther Hater these thoughts, despised them. But he couldn't stop them.

Luther wanted to kill himself.

Well, Luther didn't want to kill himself, but his brain wanted him to. It wanted him to shove pills down his throat until he hit the ground with no pulse. It wanted him to avoid food, avoid water, to the point where his body was so severely dehydrated that he couldn't stand it. It wanted him to tie a knot, just a simple knot, choking himself until all the breath, all the light, all the life, was soaked out of his body.

These thoughts made Luther tremble, shake. As much as he wanted to fight back against the thoughts, he just couldn't. And maybe some part of him didn't want to stop the thoughts, maybe some part of him wanted to embrace them. Because Luther's life was shit. Compete and utter shit. There was no way to fix it, no going back, no redoes.

Unless he was dead.

Then it would be a fresh slate. No powers. No disfigured body. No moon. And no matter what the afterlife brought, it would, at the very least, take him away from his current one. One where he was unloved, uncared for. One where even his own father couldn't find a purpose for him.

These thoughts crossed Luther's mind far too often. He spent far too much time contemplating, legitimately contemplating the ideas. Contemplating death. Suicide.

But he could never bring himself to go through with it. He doesn't know why. Maybe he was still clinging to something, some hope. But no matter what it was, it kept him alive, kept him strong.

Luther was finally able to pull himself out of bed. He was able to shave his beard, take a shower, eat some food. He wasn't fine in anyway, no. In fact, he may have been in one of his worse states ever. But he was alive.

But the thoughts never stopped.

Chapter Text

He was expecting them, of course.

He just never expected them to actually catch him.

Five was at Griddy's, which had quickly become one of his favorite places. It served the best coffee he could find, and he'd be lying if he said he wasn't a fan of the donuts.

He knew they were close. He knew Hazel and Cha-Cha were closing in on him. But he didn't expect it to be so soon. But if fucking course he had to chose the same donut shop as Hazel to eat at.

As soon as Hazel saw Five, he called Cha-Cha, ready to attack. But Cha-Cha has told him to stand down, to wait.

And it paid off.

It must've taken lots of planning. But the two were able to obtain a power dampening pill and crushed it up into Five's coffee. Then, when he left, they knocked him out.

Five woke up in some cheap motel room, chains around his wrists as he was held up, feet barely touching the ground. He wasn't panicked, not in the slightest.

That is, until he couldn't special jump away.

That raised some questions. He tried again and again, but nothing worked. He finally looked around him, taking in the room. It looked so familiar, felt so familiar. He guesses all crappy motels are alike, because it felt just like the ones he stayed at back when he was with the Commission.

The Commission.

Shit.

It clicked. Crappy motel, power dampeners, chains...

He craned his neck and, sure rough, there were Hazel and Cha-Cha in all their glory.

"Ah," Hazel said, mouth full of donut, "you're awake."

Five was still disoriented, still completely out of it, but he immediately spit out, "What do you want, asshole?"

Cha-Cha smirked and stood up. "They always said you had quite the dirty mouth."

"Eat my ass," Five snarls.

Cha-Cha chuckles a little. She's twirling something in her hand, but she's doing it so fast that Five can't see it. She stops to inspect, and that's when he sees what it is:

A knife.

"I'm happy to finally have a chance to talk to you," she says. She finally looks him in the eyes and she can see the fear he hold in them. Five finally has his family back and he doesn't want to lose them. And she knows that. "You know, you gotta tell me how you did the London job in '66. Beautiful work, truly."

A smug and prideful smirk crept up on Five's lips, but it quickly leaves when he feels the cold metal of the blade press against his Adam's apple. His toes scramble as he tries to back away from the knife, but he can't.

"Or how about the Denver job in '89? That was executed—" she trails the the knife down slowly, applying pressure but not enough to cut him, "—perfectly."

Five grinds his teeth together. "I'll fucking kill you," he warns.

Hazel saunters up behind. "Oh, but you won't."

"And why is that?" Five asks, voice laced with sarcasm.

"We took your powers, bud." Hazel swallowed the last of his donut—a classic glazed—and smiled. "Pills."

"They won't last forever," Five points out, trying to ignore it when the knife trails down his chest. "And when they wear off, you can bet your ass I'm taking you two down."

The knife had dipped into Five's bellybutton, but Cha-Cha stopped it abruptly. "Is that so?" she asked. Not a second later she's swinging her arm, the knife cutting through Five's uniform shirt and opening a wound right by his ribcage.

Five wails in pain, feels the blood as it soaks into the shirt. "Fucking. Kill you," Five repeats. He's slower this time, breathing heavy, trying not to react too harshly to the pain. But the damage is done.

Cha-Cha smirked. "I'd like to see you try."

~~~

Five was back at the Academy, holding his chest, trying to stop the blood. "Shit," he murmurs.

Klaus stumbles into the living room, their eyes immediately drawn to their brother. He was sitting on the couch, body covered in cuts and bruises and blood. "Oh my god," he sad. "Five, are you okay? Guys, guys get in here! Five needs help!" It didn't take long for the others to arrive, Diego with a first aid pack. He had always been the most skilled in that stuff.

Diego begin to inspect Five's wounds. They were across his chest, his back, even on his face.

"Five, what—what happened?" Vanya asked.

Bitterly, he replied, "Hazel and Cha-Cha happened."

"Why did you just teleport away?" Luther asks.

Five rolls his eyes. "Geez, didn't think of that," he says sarcastically. Even in immense pain, he's a smartass.

Five winces as Diego begins to clean a cut on his chest. It's deep, blood still gurgling out of it with each on of Five's breaths. "Sorry," he apologizes. "It's gonna hurt."

Five bites his lip and squeezes his eyes shut, but he nods. He knows.

"Are you okay?" Allison asks as Diego continues to poke around the wound. "Will you be fine?"

Five let out a humorless chuckle, but that only made it hurt more. "I'm fine," he assures them. He tries to smile, just to prove it, but all that does is hurt the deep gash on his cheek. He quickly corrects himself. "I will be fine."

They all look questionable, hesitant. Klaus glances at Diego for an answer. "He'll be fine," he agrees with a long sigh. "Just needs some stitches."

Nobody says anything for a while. Vanya grabs Five's hand, trying to comfort him, but they don't speak.

Until, finally: "What about emotionally?"

Five looks at Vanya. "Huh?"

"Will you be fine emotionally?"

Instinctively, he nods. But he pauses before answering. The Commission, the killing, and now the torture... he's messed up. And pretty damn bad. "'Course," he lies. He tries to ignore the tears pricking at his eyes, tries to play them off as pain. But he knows it's more than that, it's always more than that.

The others, clearly, are skeptical. "I think you're gonna want to see a doctor," Diego says, easing the tension slightly. "These cuts are too much for me to handle. What the hell did they do to you?"

Five doesn't answer. He closes his eyes. The worst part wasn't even the physical torture, no. The worst part was the threats. How they threatened Five's family, the ones he loved.

Five reached out to Allison. She had Dolores in her grasps, as per Klaus' demand. She always comforted him, made him feel better, less alone.

Five's not sure how much time passes. But all the Hargreeves kids just sit in silence, waiting for something.

And then Five's tears fall.

Diego immediately pulls him into a hug, allowing the mixture of tears, blood, and sweat to soak into him.

"It'll be fine," Vanya assures Five, grabbing his hand again. "It'll be fine."

But Five's not so sure.

Chapter Text

She doesn't exactly remember why she did it.

Something about a "girls night out."

That was, of course, before Allison went home to sleep with a hot guy and Vanya was left by herself.

Vanya honestly preferred it that way. Alone. Especially when she was drinking. She was fucking wild when she was drinking.

Wild just like she was then.

Body shots. Seriously, who in the fucking world would have thought that Vanya Hargreeves was drunk out of her mind and about to do body shots on a woman?

But it was the truth. It was what was about to happen.

It had been some dude's stupid request. He had done stupid clothes, a stupid face, a stupid personality. That's all Vanya remembers about him.

But then there was the bartender. Smooth, almost covered skin. Dreaded black hair that reached down down down for what seemed like forever. Deep dark brown eyes that seemed black when they stared at Vanya, stared right at her.

And that's how Vanya started doing body shots.

The bartender had shot her a look. Vanya was too drunk to realize what kind of look it was, but it was a look. One filled with either curiosity or lust.

"You gonna come over and try it yourself, or are you gonna keep drooling in the corner?" she asked.

Vanya stumbled over, but it wasn't the drinks that made her trip over herself, no, it was the bartender's insistent eyes.

"I-I've never—I haven't—" Vanya doesn't know how to explain that she's never done body shots before. Her mind is swimming everywhere and she can't think clearly.

The bartender scoffs. "Clearly."

But, Vanya finally does it. And, she'll admit, she loved it. And it certainly didn't hurt that the bartender just had a fan-fucking-tastic body.

Vanya made her way through the night, drinking more and doing drunk things. At one point, she's sure, she tried karaoke. For a song she didn't know.

Not her finest moment.

Sometime in the night, a hand grabs Vanya's arm. It's the bartender. "I'm taking you home."

Vanya pouts like a child. "I can do it myself," she says, her words slurred. "Plus, 'm taking an Uber." Vanya wasn’t an idiot. There was no way she would drive herself home with how drunk she was.

The bartender shakes her head. "Nope. I'm taking you home," she repeats.

She practically dragged Vanya to her car. The whole way, Vanya was laughing and giggling and hiccuping, too drunk to care.

“You gotta help me out here,” the bartender begged as she buckled Vanya up. “I don’t even know where you live, and I’d rather not have you pass out or puke in my car.”

She got in the drivers seat, Vanya told her her address, and they took off.

Vanya’s head lolled to the side. “Did—Did you know that you’re really pretty?” she asks, smiling at the bartender.

“You’re drunk,” she says, not even bothering to look at Vanya.

“And you’re pretty.” Then Vanya passes out.

Vanya’s not sure how much time passes before she wakes up. Her head hurts and she’s disoriented, confused. What happened?

Then the memories rush back. The bartender, the drinking, the shots. The body shots.

Just then, the bartender walks into Vanya’s room—how’d she end up back at her house? “Oh, good. You’re awake.”

Vanya rubs her eyes. “How long was I out?” she asks, her voice scratchy from sleep.

“‘Bout two hours,” the bartender answers. She’s leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed and a cocky smirk on her face. “Hope you don’t mind that I stayed here, I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“Yeah, yeah,” she assures her. “Thanks.” She pauses. “Wait. We didn’t, uh, ya know...”

“No,” she assures her. “We didn’t sleep together.” The bartender saunters over, taking a seat on the edge of the bed. “So. How much do you remember?”

Vanya shrugs. “The clearest thing is, uh, the body shots,” she admits, her face growing red.

The bartender bites her lip and smirks. “So you remember that, huh?”

Vanya hides her face in her hands. “Yeah,” she says.

The bartender chuckles. “That wasn’t even the worse part.”

“Oh, god, no.”

“Well, there was a bit with some karaoke.”

“No, no, stop,” Vanya says, laughing.

“You also decided to get quite friendly with me.”

“God, stop!”

“You called me ‘pretty.’”

Vanya’s face got even more red, if that was possible.

The bartender leaned a little closer. Neither said anything. Vanya was too busy looking into those beautiful eyes, as cheesy as it sounds.

Vanya hasn’t had much... experience with girls. Not in a relationship sort of way, at least. But Vanya likes the bartender, wants something. “Well, it’s true,” she says.

“Hm?”

“It’s true. You are pretty.”

The bartender smiles. “I could say the same about you.” A few more moments if staring passes, their breaths mingling together.

“Give me your phone,” the bartender finally says, holding her hand out.

“What?”

“Phone.”

Vanya fumbles in her pocket to grab it. She sees a series of texts from Allison, but she doesn’t care. She hands it to the bartender.

“I’m putting my phone number in,” she explains. “Feel free to use it.”

Vanya takes her phone back. Beth Blood, the contact says. “M-My name’s Vanya,” she tells her.

Beth puts her hand out for Vanya to shake. “Nice to meet you, Vanya.”

“Nice to meet you, Beth,” Vanya replies. Her cheeks hurt from how much she’s smiling, and she doesn’t know how to stop it.

Beth stands up. “You gonna be okay here on your own, Vanya?”

Vanya wants to reach out for Beth, beg her to stay. “Yeah,” she says. Her head is still pounding from the alcohol. “Hangovers are a bitch, but I’ll live.”

“Good,” Beth tells her. “‘Cause I’ve gotta get going.”

“So soon?”

“Yeah,” Beth answers, putting on an extreme frown. “I have work.”

“Alright. I’ll, uh—I’ll see you later?”

Beth smirks. “I sure hope to.”

Chapter Text

They didn't even know it was a thing.

They didn't mean to find it.

Diego and Klaus were just bored. They were on their Reginald-provided computers, scrolling through holidays from the month of May. It was a fun way to pass the time, to see all the arbitrary holidays people celebrated.

"Did you know that May 13th is International Hummus Day?" Klaus asks, glancing at Diego.

Diego snorts. "No, no, l-look at this," he counters. "May 2nd. Nat-National Brothers and S-Sisters Day. Why the h-h-hell would anybody wa-want to celebrate sib-blings?"

Klaus laughs. "Hey, May 25th is National Wine day. Now that's a holiday I can get behind."

And then Diego finds it. "M-May 12th," he mutters under his breath. "Klaus, did-did you know th-that May 12th is National M-M-Mother's Day?"

Diego can tell by the way they tilt their head that no, no they didn't know.

"We have t-to do some-something for Mom!" he proposes. "It's to-to-tomorrow, we can easily throw something together."

Klaus seems skeptical. "Like what?" they ask.

"I d-d-dunno," Diego admits. "But we'll find s-something."

"It just seems stupid. We haven't celebrated it before, why should we, now?"

"Because n-n-now we know about. C'mon. You know M-Mom deserves it."

Klaus sighs. "Fine. Let's see what we can do."

~~~

"Diego, honey, what are you doing?" Grace asked, seeing him at the stove.

"I'm mak-making breakfast," he explains. Grace had taught him to make pancakes a while ago, and the kids had permission to have pancakes once a week. "Happy Mother's Day," he says then, going over to hug her.

"Oh." A smile grows on her face. "Thank you."

Diego and Klaus had told the other kids about Mother's Day, too, so they all had something planned. Allison came down the stairs, practically skipping as she went along. She handed her mother a bundle of roses. "I picked them myself," she explains cheerily. She then wraps her arms around Grace's waist. "Happy Mother's Day, Mom."

One by one, the kids come down the stairs bearing gifts. Klaus with chocolate covered strawberries, Luther with a necklace, Vanya with a handmade card, Five with perfume—"I dunno, the internet said it was good"—and Ben with handmade bracelets, one for him and one for her.

Sitting at the breakfast table—Reginald was absent, saying he had important errands to run—Grace looked almost... overwhelmed. Confused, at the very least. "What's all this for?" she asks.

"Mother's Day," Five explains, his mouth full of Diego's pancakes. He'd never admit it, but he liked Diego's more than Grace's.

"Yes, I'm aware. It was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. But you've never celebrated it before."

"We didn't know it was a thing," Ben admits, almost sheepishly. "Dad never told us."

"But we-we're celebrating it n-now," Diego points out. He's still wearing the apron he wore when he was cooking the pancakes. Luther had made fun of it, and now he was wearing it just to spite him.

"I don't need gifts, though," she tells them, but that smile never leaves her face. "I don't do what I do for recognition."

"Doesn't mean we can't recognize you," Vanya says. "Plus, it's fun. I like being nice to you."

"Thank you, sweetie."

"It was my idea," Diego quickly says. "I-I thought there was som-me overdue ap-appreciation. You've done-done so much f-for us." He can feel Luther shooting daggers at him—Luther never liked when Diego took credit for an idea, whether or not it was his—but he doesn't care. He wants his mom to know, he wants her to know how much he cares about her.

"That's very kind of you, dear," Grace says, "but I assure you, you don't need to do any of this."

"But we want to, Mom," Klaus says. "I promise. Don't think too much about it. Just appreciate it."

Grace decides to drop the subject, instead saying, "Well, Diego, you did a very good job on these pancakes."

Diego turns away bashfully. "I learned from the best," he says, just barely loud enough that everybody can hear.

"Your father is going to be out most of the day," Grace then tell them. "Do you kids have any idea what you want to do?"

"Anything you want, Mom," Allison answers. "We're making today about you."

"All I want is for you kids to be happy," she assures them. "It's your choice what we do."

That go-ahead has all the kids rambling about what they want to do. Ice cream. Movie. Park. Swimming. They all talk over one another, trying to be louder than their siblings. Their requests jumble in to what sounds like one big blur of words and sounds.

Grace laughs. "One at a time," she says. the kids obey her almost immediately, though Diego makes sure he gets out the last words in his argument with Luther. Grace shakes her head, but the smile never falters. She's not sure what she's feeling or whys she's still smiling, but she can't find it in her to stop. She loves all these kids, truly, and it doesn't matter what her programming says. She feels happy, happy that all the Hargreeves kids love her just as much as she loves them. "We don't have to do anything if you kids don't want to." It's a warning: if you guys don't stop fighting right now, we won't go anywhere. That really shuts them up. "Klaus, honey, what would you like to do?"

"What?" Luther whines. "Why do they get to decide?"

"Because they didn't pick a fight with any of their siblings," Grace responds. "So, Klaus, what would you like to do?"

On the spot, they freeze. Their mouth opens and closes, but they don't say anything. Luther groans.

"Now, now, Luther. Don't be rude." He doesn't say anything after that.

The Hargreeves family ends up going out for ice cream and a walk in the park. They stay close to Grace almost the whole time, her constantly assuring them that they don't need to do it. She'd be lying, though, if she said she didn't appreciate it all. It was nice to have people care about her.

The best gift of all, though, was the time she got to spend with her kids.

Chapter Text

He didn't even know he was doing it.

Or, maybe he did.

But Ben didn't admit it. He didn't admit that he cried himself to sleep, didn't admit that he always woke up with a wet pillow and crusted tears on his face. Sometimes, he wasn't even crying by the time he drifted off, but the tears were always there.

Ben constantly had horrible nightmares. Nightmares of that horrible monster inside him coming out, doing something horrible. He couldn't stand the thought.

He always had the same dream, or some variation of it. Him losing control of the tentacles, having them kill someone he loves. Father, mother, siblings. And after that, everyone he knew left him. They left him and called him a monster, called him evil.

Ben woke up crying. He always did. There was also a layer of sweat covering his shaking body, as well as a horrible pain in his gut. He couldn't breathe, couldn't do anything.

Finally, after having calmed down a little, Ben crawled over to Vanya's room. He was still crying, the tears running down his face. He tried to hold back his sobs, but a choking noise was strangled from his throat.

"Hm?" Vanya hummed wearily, tiredly, looking around her room. "Ben?" Her voice was quiet, rough from sleep. She rubs her eyes. "Ben?" She immediately sits up, wrapping him into a hug. "Ben? Why are you crying? What's wrong?"

Ben sniffs. "I-I—"

"Shh," she hushes him, seeing his struggle. "Hey, it's okay. It's okay."

And then he can't help it. He's crying, sobbing. She was the latest victim in his dreams, the last to die. He just needs to know she's okay, know she's alive. "Please don't leave me," he begs. He can't have her leave her.

"I would never," she assures him. "Hey, hey, Ben, what happened? Are you okay?" She's worried for her brother. She doesn't like seeing him cry, doesn't like seeing how sad he is.

Ben doesn't answer. He can't. He doesn't know what he'd say, how he'd explain it. He just knows that he needs to hold on to her for a little longer, needs to stay for a little longer. "I'm sorry," he says, voice just as shaky as his body.

"No, Ben, don't apologize. You did nothing wrong." She's given up on finding the reason for this, knows that Ben isn't in a state to tell her. And she's fine with that. As long as Ben is okay, she's fine with it.

This went on for a while. The nightmares, the crying. Vanya got used to waking up in the middle of the night, got used to comforting her brother. He always said things that she didn't quite understand, though. "Don't leave me," he would beg. Some nights, though, he'd say, "You need to stay away from me." It was as if he was afraid of himself.

But, no matter what words were uttered from his mouth, he always went to her. He clung to her, cried onto her shoulder. And, no matter what words were uttered from his mouth, she always accepted him. She always hugged him back, stroked his hair as he sobbed.

Ben never told her what the dreams—no, nightmares—were. He knew that if he tried, he wouldn't be able to get the words out. Even thinking about them made his throat close up and mouth go dry. Eventually, Vanya stopped asking. She desperately wanted to know what was bothering him, but she knew he wouldn't be able to get it out. And she understood that.

Once again, Ben's pillow was wet with his tears. His body was shaking and his lips quivering, but he didn't make a sound. He never did. He just crawled over to Vanya's room, like always.

Vanya was awake already, sitting upright in her bed, a book in her hands. Her lamp was on, and Ben had a hard time adjusting to the new light.

"Ben?" she says, immediately putting the book down.

He jumps on to her bed, burying his head into her shoulder as she wraps her arms around him. He's not even sure if he's crying anymore, but he just knows he needs to be with his sister.

Vanya has survived that particular nightmare, so that wasn't the problem. No, it was Vanya leaving him. All the names she called him.

"Vanya," Ben began shakily, his voice slightly muffled by Vanya's body, "you—you don't think I'm a monster, do you?"

Vanya pulled away enough that she could see his face. "No!" she assured him. "Ben, how could you even think that?"

He sniffed and closed his eyes. He couldn't care to look at her. "I dunno," he says, voice somehow quieter than before. "I just—my powers," he admits. "I could—Jesus, Vanya, I'm dangerous. I-I don't even know how to control it, for Christ's sake."

"That doesn't matter," Vanya tells him, placing a hand on his knee. "You are no monster, Ben. You are many things: kind, funny, smart, caring. A monster is not one of them. I love you, Ben. You have to know that. You're my brother; I'll always love you."

"What if I hurt someone?" he asks her. "What if I—What if I kill someone? Someone I care about?" Ben runs his hand through his hair, allowing himself to open his eyes to glance at Vanya for a second. It was a mistake. Vanya's eyes are filled with care and love and emotions that shouldn't be there. He doesn't deserve any of it. He closes his eyes again. "How could you love me then?"

Vanya pulled him back into her. "You would never hurt anyone," she says. "Not on purpose."

Ben wants to argue, but he knows there's nothing he can say to change her mind. So he doesn't say anything.

He just hugs Vanya back.

Chapter Text

It was difficult for him to get a drink.

To be fair, he was in a thirteen year old body.

But Five needed some alcohol. He had had a shitty day and he just needed something.

Five's main way of obtaining alcohol was by jumping in and out of bars. He'd chug a drink or two then hop to the next place.

Five had been doing that that night. Jumping place to place, chugging beers and wine and what was probably whiskey. He had also made a habit of threatening people when he was drunk, so everybody in his current bar flinched away from him, afraid. The bartender gave him drinks with no questions asked when Five requested one. Though, he did flinch whenever he got near the sixty-year-old man in a thirteen-year-old body.

After some time—Five isn't quite sure how much time—he jumps away. It's sometime around 2:00 am, and he's truly not that drunk, though his words are slurred a bit. That bar was only the first of his stops, and he'd had two, maybe three drinks. But, for some reason, Five felt like he'd had much more. He was stumbling a bit, eyes drooping closed.

That's when he realized what it was.

Shit.

He must have been roofied or something, some drug put into his system, because the wine alone couldn't be making him feel like that.

Shit.

Five looked around anxiously. He was away from the bar, thank god, so the creep that did this wasn't near him, but he would in no way say he was safe. There was a homeless man on the corner, cigarette resting between his lips. There was a business woman walking briskly, briefcase in one hand and a cup off coffee in the other. There was a man sitting at the bus stop, eyes red and mouth hanging open, laughing at nothing. And then there were the usual groups of druggies and creeps that stay out late at night near bars.

Shit.

Five had to lean against a wall to keep himself upright. He tried to spacial jump somewhere, but he couldn't get himself in the right mindset. He couldn't focus on anything, his vision going blurry. God, he just wanted to lie down. He just wanted to sleep, take a little nap.

He lowered himself to the dirty ground.

Shit.

His head lulled back against the brick wall. His eyes drooped shut, struggling to stay open. But they had to stay open, they had to.

His eyes fell shut.

Shit.

~~~

"Back the hell off!"

Diego runs towards his brother, Klaus and Vanya trailing behind him, scaring the mystery person off. The person's belt flaps in the air as they run, clinking. Diego wants to run after him, but knows he should tend to his brother, first. That's all that matters right now, It's all that can matter.

Diego crouches down beside Five and takes his pulse. Good, he's alive. There doesn't seem to be any severe damage done, though there are a few scratches along his body, and his uniform is ruffled and unkempt. It was clear someone had messed with it. Probably the creep that had run off.

"Is he okay?" Vanya asks.

Diego smells his breath. "He's drunk," he says. "Out cold."

Klaus shakes their head. "Alcohol didn't do that," they say.

"Really?" Diego says sarcastically. "Please, Klaus, tell me how you came to this frankly absurd conclusion. The kid got drunk, passed out. End of story."

They shake their head again. "Nope. I know a roofie when I see one."

"I don't see anything, Klaus," Diego says.

Klaus sighs. "No, I don't mean an actual—god, I mean when someone has been roofied."

Vanya blinks her eyes a few times, trying to comprehend it. "So... someone drugged our brother?"

"Mhm."

"That creep."

"Mhm."

"We don't know the full story," Diego quickly cuts in. "We can't be sure." He can't handle the idea of someone doing that to Five, of doing that to his brother. Sure, the kid may technically be sixty something, but he's still a kid. He's still Diego's brother.

"Let's just get him home," Vanya says. Her voice shakes a little.

Klaus and Diego nod.

~~~

Five stirs awake, slowly.

His head hurts. That's the first thing he notices. Then he notices how uncomfortable his clothes feel, how—how invaded he feels.

And then he's about to puke.

Five gets ready to run to the bathroom, but beside him is a bucket. He knows he can't hold it any longer, and everything that was in his stomach comes out. It burns his throat, makes his eyes water, but he doesn't let himself cry.

It's only then that he realizes he's on the couch. And it's bright outside.

Five groans and rubs his eyes. He doesn't feel like he has a hangover—or, not a too severe one, anyway.

"Five, are you—are you awake?" Vanya puts down the book she had been reading and leans forward.

Five groans again.

"Guys!" Vanya calls out. "Guys, he's awake!"

"Wh—"

Diego and Klaus walk into the room before Five has a chance to finish his thought. "What the hell happened?" Diego demanded. His tone was slightly harsh, but it was clear there was care in it.

"Dunno," Five says, his voice groggy. "All I know is that 'm gonna puke in a few seconds and unless you want me to stain this carpet—"

A bucket appears in front of him, and his stomach instantly releases everything, burning the back of his throat.

Again, Five groans, rubbing his sleeve against his mouth.

Klaus takes a seat beside him. "How you feelin', bud?"

Five rolls his eyes. "I'm feelin' just peachy," he says sarcastically.

"How much did you drink?" Diego asks.

Five shrugs. "Jus' a drink or two." His words are still slurred, though not from the alcohol. He's tired and drugged and can't think straight.

"So, were you—?" Vanya doesn't finish the question. She doesn't have to.

He nods, looking down at his hands. "Yeah, I-I guess I was. Not sure who or why or how, but, ya know." He gives a dry and humorless chuckle.

The others nod.

Klaus sighs. "Five, man, you can't—you can't do that," they say. "You can't be drinking or take those risks or—"

Five waves them off. "I know, I know."

"We just care about you," Vanya says.

"I know," he repeats.

"Please," Diego begs, "just stay safe."

Five nods.

Chapter Text

It had been difficult to find it.

Hell, he wasn't even sure he'd have one.

But, sure enough, Klaus found it: Dave's grave. DAVE KATZ, it read, a Jewish star between the first and last name. Above him a bit was who Klaus assumed to be his mother and father.

Klaus never liked graveyards.  He hated all the spirits, the ghosts. They were all so sad and angry and afraid. But he also didn't want to be drunk or high when he went to see Dave. So he had a few sips of wine—okay, maybe a full glass—and hoped it would be enough.

It was.

As soon as Klaus saw the man's name, tears formed in his eyes. Dave Katz. The man he loved and cherished. The man that had died in his own arms. Absentmindedly, Klaus reaches to grab the dog tags around his neck.

Klaus puts down some flowers and clears his throat. "Hey," he says awkwardly, then laughs. The cemetery was almost completely devoid of life that day, except for the two people Klaus had seen way back towards the entrance.

Klaus lowered himself to the grave. He let his fingers run over the tombstone. A great son and a great soldier, it read. "You're so much more," Klaus whispers, his voice cracking a little.

He wipes the tears from his eyes. "God, sorry," he apologizes. "Or, uh—not God, I mean gosh." Another laugh. "You never did love it when I used the Lord's name in vein. Sorry."

Klaus rubs the back of his neck. He doesn't know what to say, doesn't know how to do this. "I'm sorry," he blurts out. "Not for the whole, uh, Lord's name in vein thing. I—Dave, I was—I'm sorry. I-I wanted to protect you. I'm sorry—" He can't continue. He can't. He sucks in a shaky breath, but a smile dances on his lips.

"You were always so perfect," he continues. "Perfect." Klaus' finger stops on the "Z" in KATZ. "I'm so thankful that I had you in my life. I don't—I don't know what I'd do without you."

Klaus takes a deep breath. He hates this. "I was—I was gonna sing you a song. I will sing you a song. It's, uh, a song that my mother used to sing me before I went to bed. Always calmed me down. I dunno, maybe—maybe it'll calm your spirit or something."

He clears his throat again. "Um, okay. So. Here it goes."

Klaus opens his phone, the lyrics on screen. He has them memorized, but he wants it in front of him, just in case.

Klaus has never had a great voice, no, but Dave said he loved hearing it. Dave said he loved everything about Klaus.

"You are my sunshine," Klaus sang, voice wavering.

"My only sunshine

"You-You make me happy

"When skies are gray."

Klaus looks up. The sky is clear, not a single could in sight. It's blue, a nice blue, a blue that he rarely got to see during Vietnam. He wonders briefly if Dave misses the sky.

"You'll never know, dear

"How much I love you

"Please don't take my sunshine away." That bullet, that stupid fucking bullet, it—it took away Klaus' sunshine. The one joy in life was taken from him, and Klaus hated it, he hated it. He loved Dave too much to lose him.

"The other night, dear

"As I lay sleeping

"I dreamed I held you in my arms." Klaus wishes he could hold Dave, just one last time. The last time he held him was when—

Klaus can feel the blood covering his palms. Dave's blood. He shakes the memory from his mind.

"When I awoke, dear

"I was mistaken

"And I-I hung my head a-and cried." There's no denying the tears flowing from Klaus' eyes now, the shake in his voice.

"You are my sunshine," Klaus continued.

"M-My only sunshine

"You m-make me happy

"When sky's are gray

"You-You'll never know, dear

"How-How much I love you

Please don't take my sunshine away."

Klaus' body jerks and shakes as he sobs. His fingers continue to trail the tombstone, feeling the worn down letters under his fingers. "I'm so sorry," he says again, voice chocked. "God—Damnit—Fucking—Gosh," Klaus finally corrects himself. "Gosh, I promised myself I wouldn't cry." They wipe their tears away. "Though, we both knew that wasn't happening."

Klaus takes a deep breath. He stares at the name as if it'll bring him back. "You are my sunshine, Dave," he says, his voice quiet. "You always have been. You always will be. And I—I'm your heartbeat. I'll never forget that."

Heartbeat. It was a cheesy pet name, but Klaus had grown quite fond of it. Dave called him that constantly, probably over two hundred times in the short span they were together.

"I wish I could bring you back," and there's that damn voice crack again. "I-I think about it a lot, actually. About you."

Klaus runs a hand through his hair. "I, uh, I hoped you liked the song," he says, giving another chuckle. "I would sing more, but, ya know, don't have anything else prepared."

Klaus bits his lip. What do people even say when doing this stuff? "I'm safe, as you can, uh, see. I'm back with my family, so that's good, I guess." Not as good as being with you, Klaus thinks. "I just—I want you to know that I haven't forgotten about you. I never will."

Does that sound too cheesy? Does it sound clingy or creepy? God, Klaus hates this. "I hope you won't forget me, either, but I can't blame you if there's some hot ghost dude you're into." A dry laugh.

"I'm sorry," he repeats. "It's the last time I'll say that, I swear, but it's true. I shouldn't have let you die. I should've—I shouldn't've been talking. I should've been paying attention to you, and I—I'm sorry. I am."

Klaus leans over and places a kiss on the tombstone. He doesn't care about how dirty and dusty and disgusting it is. It's Dave. That's all that matters.

"I wish I could visit more," Klaus says. "I think I'll try to. I'll have to get better at this, though."

He stands up. "I'll, uh, see you, I guess." He can barely see because tears cloud his vision. "'Til then, I guess."

Klaus sniffs. His chest feels tight.

"I love you, Dave. You are my sunshine."

Chapter Text

Who would've thought.

A robber and a creep.

For some reason, that was the only prominent thought in Five's mind as he was locked inside the room with the man. He could hear the remaining gun shots behind that door, hear the screams of civilians that he was supposed to be protecting. But, instead, he was locked in a room with this guy.

The man took a few steps closer to Five. Five knew he should jump out of the room, or somewhere else, but he also knew he needed to catch this guy. He needed to stop him from wrecking havoc—and, based on where the guy's hand was going, stop him from wrecking havoc on kids.

Five pushes the man back, and he stumbles a bit. Then, he laughs. An evil grin appears on his face. Five's not sure why, but suddenly his heart is beating, pounding, and he can't stop it. It rings in his ears, screaming and screaming at him to run, to do something. But he stands his ground. "I like 'em feisty," the man says, his voice deep and husky.

Five takes in the man's appearance. Big, baggy gray coat to hide the stolen goods. Dirty and crusty pants. A dull beanie pulled over his head, gray hairs mixed with brown poking out. He looked as if he were homeless, which was honestly smart. Then he would be able to hide in plain site. His eyes were either blue or gray, but Five didn't dare look at them long enough to find out. He was taller then Five, much taller, as well as bigger and clearly stronger.

Five takes strides towards the guy, his fist raised, ready to punch the creep in the nose. Instead, the guy is able to grab him by the shoulders. "Shit," Five mutters, before jumping to the other side of the room.

The man seems surprised. He looks between his hands and the kid multiple times, and then he smiles in amusement. "You wanna play some games? Alright, we can play some games."

Five jumps beside the man, trying to kick him in the legs, but the man sees it coming. He's able to grab Five again, that horrible grin spread wide on his face. Five's too startled to move. The man's hand trails down, before harshly grabbing Five's ass. Five struggles for a few moments, making the guy laugh.

"Get away from him!"

They both turn to the door, and the man drops Five. There is Luther, Number One, in the doorway. The guy is shaking in his boots. All of them had seen what Luther could do, and it was clear the guy didn't want to be thrown out a window or be used as a human wrecking ball.

The man tries to run, but Five sweep kicks him. He falls to the ground. The others are by the doorway, clearly asking if Five needs help, but he shakes his head. Five grabs the man's  head and slams it against the ground, making blood drip from his nose and making him get knocked out. Five's breathing heavily, shaking, and he shivers from disgust.

Luther picks the man up, and Diego throws a few knives without warning. One hits the man in the arm, the other in the leg, and the third in his dick--a dick that was disgustingly hard. "That's for fucking touching my brother," Diego says.

There's a moment of silence as everybody catches their breath, catches their thoughts. Then, Klaus says, "Are you okay?"

Five stares at the man for a few moments, his heart pounding so loud he can barely hear his own thoughts. He feels so invaded, and barely anything happened to him. It was just a simple ass grab, it was nothing. Shit like that happens all the time to so many people everyday, and they live. They're fine. "Yeah," Five lies, his voice quiet. It's clear how shakes up he is.

"What, uh—" Ben stops himself to clear his throat. He's covered in some blood, but, for what might be the first time ever, he couldn't care less. "What happened? What did he, uh, do?"

Five's throat tightens and he feels like he can't breathe. He can't tear his eyes from the man's face, as much as he'd rather never see it again. The man's eyes are open. They're gray. "Nothing," Five lies again.

The others nod. They saw what had happened, they knew it was more than nothing. And they say how shakes up Five was, how—how afraid he was. They knew it wasn't nothing.

Allison wraps her arms around Five, pulling him into a hug. And Five needs it, as much as he doesn't want it. He feels like crying, but he knows he can't.

The others join in the hug, practically suffocating him. Their touch is so much different than the man's. It's gentle, filled with care, worry, love. Not filled with the need to get off in a child.

A noise escapes Five's mouth as if he's about to cry, but no tears fall. He won't let them.

It's not that bad, he reminds himself. Nothing happened. You're fine. You're fine.

But he doesn't feel fine. He doesn't feel fine in any way. His body still tingles from the man's touch, making him want to throw up. He's sure he'll have bruises from how hard the man was holding him, marking and reminders of the event. Five wishes he could just forget it.

"It'll be okay," Klaus whispers to him.

Another choked sob escapes Five's mouth. He can't say anything. He knows if he tries to speak then the tears will fall. And he can't have that happen. He needs to stay strong, needs to just let it go. It wasn't that bad. It wasn't that bad.

Five almost doesn't say it. He almost doesn't. But he has to, he has to say it, because he has to let them know how grateful he is.

"Thank you."

Chapter Text

He groans.

Blood is turning the bathwater pink, and he tries desperately to grab onto her hand.

"P-Please, Dora," Diego begs. His voice sounds so weak. There's a deep cut in his stomach, and cuts along his arms. There's a gash on his cheek, blood dripping into his mouth.

Eudora grabs onto his hand just as desperately. "Diego." Tears fall down her face. "D, please, just go to the hospital. Please."

Diego shakes his head. "No," he refuses. "I can't, baby. You know that. B-But I-I'll be fine." He's stuttering again. That's his tell, his damn tell. He doesn't know if he'll be okay, he doesn't know if he'll even live.

Eudora tries crouches beside the bathtub. She can't bare to see the pink water, can't bare to see the blood pouring out of his chest. "Diego, I--you can't--"

"I know," he says. "And, I'll st-stop, I p-promise I'll stop, b-b-but they need m-me, Eudora. I--I gotta help 'em."

Eudora shakes her head. "No, you don't." She drops his hand. Diego suddenly feels so cold. He just wants the warmth of Eudora, the smile that he loves. He just wants her to be happy with him. "What about us?" she asks, her voice shaking. "Did you ever think about that?"

Diego tries to answer, but Eudora won't let him.

"Hon, you--you could've died."

"And e-every time you put o-o-on that police uniform--"

"I know, I know," she interrupts. "I could die. It's the same argument we've been having forever. But when I go out into the field, it's different. I go out there with a team, with the proper equipment, I--I'm law enforcement, D. I'm trying to bring--"

"Justice?" Diego finishes. His whole body hurts and he doesn't want to argue right now, but he knows Eudora won't stop. She never stops. She keeps going after every idea she has, very single hunch. And that's why he fell in love with her in the first place. "Don-Don't you see that that's what I'm do-doing, too? I was g-given a gift--"

"A gift? You certainly didn't seem to think of it as a gift when you were a kid. When you were treated like a soldier. This--This whole getup, vigilante thing, it's just so you can assure yourself that everything you learned as a kid wasn't for nothing. As much as you hate your dad, you seem determined to follow his plan for you." She stands up again, teeth grinding.

Diego winces. "Just f-f-for a fucking sec-second," he says, his voice quiet and fake calm, "could you not bring that up? D-D-Dora, babe, I--I'm fucking dying here."

"So go to a hospital!"

Diego shakes his head. The water--he's not even sure he can call it that at this point--is warm and uncomfortable, stinging his still fresh wounds. "Look, Dora--"

"Don't call me that." Shit. This is serious. She only doesn't want Diego to call her Dora when she's really pissed off.

"Eudora," he corrects himself with an eye roll, "I'm just tryin' to help people out here. I-I got the bad guy! B-B-Babe, all I c-care about is you. U-Us. Do-Don't think for a se-second that I don't c-care ab-ab-about you." He hates his damn stutter. He can't help it that he gets a bit emotional. But when he does, he can't talk. He can't think He can't do anything.

And, Diego really does care about Eudora. He does. Maybe he doesn't say it enough, but surely--surely she knows he loves her, right? She must know. She has to know.

Diego can feel the tears pricking at his eyes and he's not sure if it's from pain or from sadness. Probably both. He shifts his body and winces.

Eudora glares at Diego. She can barely look at him, hates seeing him in so much pain, emotional and physical. "I'm sorry." Her voice cracks, showing her care. She really does care. "I don't want to have to do this, but I--I have to."

Diego already knows what she's about to say. "No," he begs. "No, Eudora, you can't."

She nods. "You have to choose, D. Me or--" she gestured towards his outfit, "--this."

Diego shakes his head. "That's un-unfair. I h-h-help people, Eudora, I help--"

Eudora's bottom lip quivers. "Then I guess we're done."

"No, Dora, please--"

"I told you not to call me that."

He starts crying. he can't help it. "Eudora, please, I--I don't kn-know what I'd do w-with-without you. I want y-you, E, p-please."

"It's too dangerous," Eudora explains. "I can't keep taking care of you like this. I can't keep having panic attacks because I think my boyfriend is dead. Every time I get a call, I'm worried it's someone telling me you're dead. I can't do that."

Diego tries to swallow the lump in his throat. He can't.

"B-B-Baby, p-please, I l-l-lo-love--I love you, dam-m-mmit. You c-can't leave m-m-me!" His salty tears mingle with the bloody water. His body shakes as he cries, only making him hurt more.

Eudora is crying, too. "I'm sorry," she says again. She doesn't want to leave, she really doesn't, but she has to take care of herself. She can't have anymore nightmares of Diego dying in her arms, can't have anymore nights where she can't eat because Diego isn't there. She's worried herself crazy, taken her mind off of her work and her health, just because of how much she cares about Diego. But she can't do that anymore. If something happens to Diego, that's his fault now. He'll have to deal with the consequences. He'll have to stitch himself up, he'll have to apply and reapply bandages once he's soaked through them.

Eudora shakes as she heads to the door of the bathroom. Diego cries out after her, voice shaking and stuttering. It only makes it more painful. But more necessary, too.

One last time, she glances back at him. He's crying, shaking, holding his chest in pain. "I'm sorry," she whispers, but Diego doesn't hear her. Her voice is too quiet. She can't bring herself to be louder.

She grabs the door handle and walks out.

Diego stays in the bath all too long, crying and sobbing and wishing she'd come back, wishing it was all a dream--or a horrible nightmare, really.

But she doesn't come back. She doesn't wipe away his tears, doesn't hold him close. She doesn't come back.

Diego is alone.

Chapter Text

Powers were the only way she knew how to live her life.

For her, there was nothing else to do.

All the kids were exhausted, Allison more than the others. They'd had at least one mission a day, once even having two. They were covered in bruises and the stench of blood cling to them, no matter how many showers they took.

Allison saw how miserable her siblings were. Diego could barely move his leg and Ben was visibly shaking. She wanted to help them.

So, Allison went over to Reginald. "I heard a rumor," she began, and she saw how he flinched, preparing himself for the next words that even he had no control over, "that we didn't have to go on any missions today."

It had almost been a joke. But she knew that it would come true, because it always did. She knew a relaxing and fun day was ahead of her.

Allison decided not to tell her siblings what she did. She just wanted to let them all relax, sleep, do what they want to do.

The kids all enjoy their day off. They don't have to do anything, thank god. They get to rest their bodies, have some fun. It may be one of their best days ever.

That is, until it ends.

As they do every night, the kids watch the news. More often than not, there's nothing interesting on. But with the number of interviews they have, as well as all the time they spend stopping bad guys, they're on the news a lot. And they never get sick of seeing themselves on television.

But that night isn't good. There's a solemn look on the news reporters face, grim but serious. She says something about how there was a tragedy. Some shooting. Seven dead, twenty injured, nine of which are in critical condition.

They show footage. The news reporter there is scared, horrified. "We're just hoping that the Umbrella Academy gets here," he says. Gun shots ring on the screen, screams running through the air. Sirens wail, red and blue flashing.

"One of the dead," the news reporter says, the screen showing her and cutting from the footage of the shooting, "was the first police officer to arrive at the scene. Officer Leonardo Garcia." A photo appears at the corner of the screen. A twenty-something year old Mexican man, a smile on his face. "He was twenty-two years old. The two shooters are still at large."

Allison's mouth hangs open in shock.

"Why weren't we there to stop it?" Luther asks. "Why—We should've been there."

Tears are in Allison's eyes. Did—Did she do that? Is that her fault?

"That's our job," Diego says, his voice filled with anger. "Why didn't we get an alert? This—We've fucking trained for this! And now people are dead!"

No one responds.

Allison takes a shaky breath.

That was their job. To save people, to stop bad guys. And they didn't do their job. They didn't do their job because of Allison. Because of that rumor, that stupid rumor, seven people were dead. And two shooters were still out there, ready to kill again.

Allison's throat feels dry. She wouldn't be able to say anything even if she wanted to.

"How did this happen?" Ben asks, his voice quiet, choked. He's still shaking a bit, and Allison isn't sure if it's from how much he's used his powers or from the shooting. Maybe both.

Allison feels like she can't breathe. Her chest feels heavy with guilt, weighing her down.

She didn't mean for this to happen. She just wanted to give herself a break, just wanted to give her siblings a break. She didn't mean for anyone to die. No one was supposed to die.

A tear rolls down her cheek, but nobody notices. They're all transfixed by the television. The reporter continues to talk about the Umbrella Academy.

"Can we turn this off?" Allison finally speaks. Her voice comes out shaky and quiet, almost silent, but the others hear her.

Klaus turns it off.

"What's wrong?" Luther asks. He wraps an arm around her, and Allison lets her head fall onto his shoulder. His uniform shirt soaks up her tears. "Hey, hey, it's not your fault," he assures her. "You couldn't have done anything to stop it."

Except she could have. If she hadn't said that rumor, if she had just let them go on the mission—

But Allison doesn't say that. She can't tell them what she did, she can't tell them that it's her fault. They'd hate her for it, despise her.

"I'm just—" Allison can't finish the sentence, just wipes the tears from her eyes and goes to her room. She needs to be alone.

Allison wishes she could go back. She wishes she could take it all back, never even say that rumor. She wishes she could save all those people and not have to worry about dangerous people with dangerous guns.

What if they kill again? What if more people die and it's her fault? Allison doesn't know how to live with that feeling, doesn't know how to live with those deaths on her.

A fear grows in Allison. What if she does something like this again? What if her power ends up hurting more people than it helps? Allison doesn't know how she could let that happen again. She doesn't know how she could let that happen. She doesn't know how she'll ever use her power again.

All Allison knows is she can never tell her siblings about the rumor.

Chapter Text

It was always awkward.

They didn't plan on ever seeing one another again.

But of course, of fucking course, Vanya and Diego had to go to the same grocery store.

They ran into each other every now and then, almost always when Diego was picking up alcohol or Vanya was picking up... feminine products. And it was always awkward.

It was one of those days. Vanya saw Diego grabbing some packs of beer, a solemn look on his face. Vanya's cart was filled with vegetables and other various things. She quickly checked out, not wanting to see him. He had been super bitter since she published the book.

There was a shortcut to Vanya's apartment. She rarely took it, but it was faster, and Vanya felt like getting home as fast as possible.

She probably should've known, though. A creepy and dark alley, damp with pee and unknown liquids. Dark even in the sunlight, a stench of trash and rotten food lingering in the air. People drunk and high and everything in between.

But Vanya wasn't afraid. She trusted the neighborhood, the people. Well, as much as she could trust them.

"Whatcha got there, pretty lady?" a man asks Vanya.

Vanya sighs. "I just wanna get home."

The man grabs her shoulder, spinning her around so she faces him. "Gimme all your money," he demands, grip strong.

Vanya doesn't respond. It seems like for once all the druggies in the alley are gone, no one to help her. Vanya shakes her shoulder, trying to get him off her, but he doesn't budge. "Fuck you," she spits at him, raising her fist—she may not have been part of the Academy, but Reginald didn't leave her completely out of training. She knew how to defend herself, how to hold her own.

The man grabs her wrist, then the other one. Vanya drops her groceries, having them spill all over the ground. "Oh," he says, laughing deviously, "you're not goin' anywhere." He's wearing a hoodie, black, the shadows covering his face.

"Get off me, creep," she says, thrashing around. She's just about to knee him in his, uh, sensitive area, but before she can do anything, she sees Diego.

On instinct, Diego picks up a rock and hurls it at the back of the man's head. The man's grip immediately loosens, his hand going back to rub the sore spot on the back of his head, allowing Vanya to get away. She punches him in the stomach, making him stumble back. Diego is there, then, grabbing him and shoving him against the wall.

"What the fuck were you gonna do?" Diego asks, his voice quiet but intimidating against the man's ear. He grabs the man's arm and brings it around his back, making him wince. Diego smirks. "Not so tuff now, huh?" He brings the arm farther back, and the guy's face scrunches up in pain.

"Diego, it's fine," Vanya assures her.

Diego hesitates for a second, then drops the man's arm. "Fine," he agrees through gritted teeth.

The man doesn't even give the two a second glance before sprinting away.

Vanya turns to Diego. "I could've handled that," Vanya tells him.

Diego shakes his head. "A thank you might be nice."

She sighs. "I had it covered. I knew what I was doing."

"Didn't look like it," Diego replies. And of course, even after Diego has saved Vanya's ass, the two are still fighting. They love each other, they really do, but they never stop fighting.

"Dad taught me how to fight, too," Vanya points out. "I had a plan. I knew what I was doing."

"Can't you just be grateful?" Diego asks. He starts to pick up the vegetables scattered about the dirty alley, putting them in the torn bag.

His groceries are back at the end of the alley, filled mostly with beer. Eudora and some other police academy friends had been staying over at his place more and he ran out quickly. Cops did like their beer.

Diego hands the bag back to Vanya. "Here," he says, his voice not holding the kindness it should.

Vanya takes it back. She can't help but wonder what would've happened if Diego hadn't been there. She says all these things, but really she doesn't know what would have happened if Diego hadn't thrown that rock.

"So, uh," Diego begins, rubbing the back of his neck, "what happened there?"

Vanya shrugs. There are red marks on her wrist, the intentions of the man's fingers clear. "He just stopped me," she explains. "I'm honestly not sure if he wanted to steal my money or rape me." She lets out a laugh to ease the clear tension between them, but it comes out strained and dry.

Diego nods. "Are you—Are you okay?" He's having trouble getting the words out. He's never been a very emotional or caring person, especially not with Vanya—it's just not the type of relationship they have—and he doesn't know what to say. He wants to be kind to her, wants to make sure she's fine, but he doesn't know how.

Vanya smiles. "Yeah," she tells him. "I mean, all my groceries are probably inedible now, but it's fine."

That makes Diego chuckle a little. "I wouldn't recommend eating those," he agrees. "This isn't exactly the most, ya know, sanitary place."

A silence stretches between them. Neither wants to leave first but neither knows what to say.

"So are you gonna be good?" Diego says finally. "'Cause I got places to go, and..." he trails off, unsure of how to continue.

"Yeah," she assures him. "I'll make sure not to go down any more sketchy alleys again. Don't exactly want to have this same experience."

Diego nods. "Yeah. Well, I guess I'll, uh, see you later, then?"

Vanya smiles. "Yeah."

Vanya waits for a few more moments. She wants to say it, she knows she should. "Thanks," Vanya finally says. "For helping me."

Diego shrugs. "'Course."

They walk their separate ways.

Chapter Text

He knew he wasn't straight.

And he knew his father wouldn't like that.

But Diego couldn't help it. He couldn't help it when that cute guy in the crowd stared at him. He couldn't help it when the cute guy introduced himself as Malik. He couldn't help it when the cute guy gave him his email address. He couldn't help it when the cute guy came over to the Academy.

Malik was a good looking guy. Clear, mocha skin with fuzzy black hair and brown eyes so dark they might as well have been black. He was an inch or two taller than Diego, but that was fine. He normally preferred shorter guys and girls, but Malik was... well, in Diego's young eyes, he was perfect.

Diego had to sneak Malik in. It was difficult, but Diego had planned it out well before Malik came to the house. He knew where all the security cameras were, knew the quickest and quietest route.

Malik sat on Diego's bed while Diego sat on his desk chair. They faced each other, awkward but happy smiles on their faces. "So, Two," Malik said, "this is a pretty big house you got."

Diego blushes a little, embarrassed. He nods. "Yeah. It's nice, though. Easy to get away from my siblings."

Malik laughs. "Yeah, I get that. I have a little brother—just turned seven. Little devil, he is, but I love 'im to death."

Diego nods. He understands that. He may want to punch his siblings sometimes, but he still loved them.

"So what's it like?" Malik asks.

"Hm?"

"Being an Umbrella Kid," he explains. "I mean, you're famous. Man, I'd kill for somethin' like that."

Diego bites his lip. "It's not all great," he admits. "Some parts of my life I just wanna keep private, ya know? Like—Like this. I don't exactly want the news to find out about something like this." That may or may not be because of the internalized homophobia from Reginald, though.

Malik smiles, then holds out his hand. "C'mere," he tells Diego, pulling him to the bed. "No one has to know about any of this."

Diego lets his fingers run through Malik's curly hair. "Good. 'Cause this is just for us."

The two stare at each other for god knows how long. Their breaths mingle together as they slowly, ever so slowly, move closer.

But the sound of feet coming towards Diego's room makes them stop.

"You gotta hide," Diego quickly says.

Malik laughs a little, but Diego finds no humor in the situation. He ushers Malik to his closet, cramming both their bodies in and closing the door.

"Diego?" he can hear Grace call out. "Honey, are you in here?"

Malik is trying not to laugh, that bitch. Diego punches his arm lightly, trying to shut him up.

Finally, Grace leaves. But Malik and Diego don't.

"You've got nice lips," Malik whispers. He leans over so they're just an inch apart. Diego can feel his face going red, his heart thumping rapidly.

Diego gets on his toes a little, closing the distance between them. The kiss is messy and dry, neither of them having experience, but they quickly find a rhythm. They work together, lips molding together.

Malik pulls away slightly with a laugh. "Kissing in the closet. Fitting, Two."

Diego shakes his head, but chuckles. "Shut up." He gets on his toes again to kiss Malik, and he never wants to stop. Malik's lips are dry but soft, the softest thing Diego has ever felt.

Malik's hands roam up and down Diego's back, while Diego's stay on Malik's cheeks. Malik pulls Diego closer, just wanting to touch him. They'd talked for so long, but Malik never thought he'd get this. Get to kiss the famous Umbrella Kid, get to kiss the hottest of the bunch.

And Diego... well, he never thought he'd get to kiss a guy. And now his first kiss ever was with this cute and sweet and funny dude that he can't seem to keep his hands off of.

Eventually, they pull away to breathe. They're both smiling, Malik laughing a little.

Diego isn't sure how long they kiss on that closet. There was some tongue and teeth, lots of bumping and fumbling, but it was the best thing Diego had ever experienced. They were learning together, getting to experience every new touch, scent, sight, together.

After some time, they stumble out of the closet and flop back on Diego's bed. They laugh and they talk and they kiss a little bit more. "You're pretty good at that," Diego says.

Malik laughs. "You're not too bad yourself, Two."

"Can I tell you a secret?" Diego asks.

Malik chuckles. "'Course."

"You're my first kiss."

"Ever?"

"Yeah." Malik laughs. Diego punches him. "Shut up! It's not funny. My dad's just super strict."

But Malik doesn't stop laughing. "Damn, man, not even a peck or something? Like, with a girl?"

Diego shakes his head.

Malik laughs some more. "When I was, like, five I tried to kiss a girl on the lips," he admits. And that makes Diego start laughing, rolling around on the bed. "And I did it, too. Man, my mom was pissed. Didn't get dessert for a week."

"God, that's hilarious."

"I was a playa," Malik jokes. "I had three side hoes. Betty, Nia, and Asia."

"How old were you?" Diego asks, tears forming from laughing so much.

"Six, at the oldest. But I was a cute kid, I can't blame 'em."

Eventually, Diego stops laughing. He and Malik make out for a few more minutes before Malik pulls away. "Shit, I gotta go," he says, sneaking a glance at the clock behind Diego.

Diego sighs. "Now?"

Malik rolls off the bed and grabs his things. "Yeah, sadly."

Diego sneaks Malik out. He's not even sure how much time Malik had been over. "I had fun," Diego tells him.

Malik smirks. "Hell yeah you did." He laughs. "I did, too, Two. It'd be nice to do it again."

Diego nods in agreement. He quickly glances around him, ensuring they're alone, before giving Malik a peck on the lips. "Later," he whispers against his ear.

"See ya, Two."

"Bye, Malik."

Diego doesn't stop smiling for a week.

Chapter Text

He was honestly sick of his body.

He was a grown-ass adult, for hell's sake!

But, Five would be lying if he said there weren't advantages to being in a thirteen year old body. His movie tickets were cheaper, and nobody questioned when he got hyped up on sugar.

"It's your bedtime," Klaus says to Five.

Now that... that is not one of the advantages.

"Piss off, Klaus," Five shoots back.

"You're a growing boy, you need your rest," Klaus continues.

Five shakes his head. "I'm older than you."

"You sure don't look like it," Diego tells him. "C'mon. Chop chop."

Five groans. "Fuck you."

"Language!" Allison warns with a laugh.

"Fuck. You." Five says again, but he makes his way to his room anyway.

Now, Five honestly isn't a big fan of the whole "bedtime" thing. But he'd be lying if he said he hated it when Luther came in and read him a bedtime story, or when Allison tucked him in—just like she did with Claire, she said.

Five's bed felt warm, much warmer than he'd ever remembered it being. And even though his family was treating him like a fucking six year old unsteady of a sixty year old—or even thirteen, seriously—Five liked it. He would never admit it, though.

Five woke up to the smell of pancakes and bacon wafting through the house. He was confused. Grace was still...

Five shook the thought from his mind. He hated thinking about it. He still spent more time than he should trying to fix her, and they didn't even have Pogo to help.

Groggily, Five drags himself to the kitchen, still in his pajamas. It's a dinosaur onesie Allison had insisted on buying him, and it was the comfiest thing he owned.

"Oh, you're up," Vanya says happily. "How'd you sleep?"

Five rubs his eyes. "Fine," he answers. "What's cookin'?"

"Oh, that." Vanya nods. "Diego is making breakfast."

"Really?"

Vanya shrugs. "He insisted."

Nodding his head slowly, carefully, he makes his way to the kitchen. Sure enough, there's Diego, hard at work cooking pancakes and bacon and eggs, wearing a pastel pink apron that says "i kiss better than i cook!" Five almost has to laugh at it.

Diego slides some pancakes on a plate and tosses two pieces of bacon on with it. "Eat up," he says, handing it to Five.

Five takes the plate, startled. Why would Diego make him breakfast?

"You're a growing boy," Diego explains, heading back to the kitchen. "You need your nutrients."

Five shakes his head. "Oh, fuck off. I get plenty of nutrients."

Klaus rushes over to where Five is, taking a seat beside him. He immediately starts to cut up the pancake, jabbing one piece with a fork and smiling deviously. "Here comes the airplane," he sings.

Five knocks his hand away. "I can eat on my own," he insists.

Klaus puts his hands under his chin and smiles. "They grow up so fast."

Five takes a bit of the pancakes, and it may be the best thing he's ever tasted. Another perk of being treated like a kid, he guesses. 

~~~

Five groans. He hates being short.

On the top shelf are the marshmallows. Five isn't sure who put them there, he just knows he'll kill whoever did. That person put the marshmallows in the worst possible spot: Five is too short to reach them and there's no good landing to jump to. 

"Need help?" Luther asks behind him, snickering.

Five shakes his head. "I've got it," he insists, still trying to jump up and reach them. 

Luther sighs after watching Five's attempts for another few minutes. "Here, just let me--" Luther grabs Five under the armpits, holding him up. He's laughing, trying to contain it so he doesn't drop Five. 

Five grits his teeth together. The worst part about the whole thing is the fact that he can grab the marshmallows now. He grabs them quickly, pulling them to his chest. "I swear to god, Luther, if you don't put me down right now--"

Luther laughs and sets him down. "Fine. Don't get too excited."

Five shakes his head. "I hate all of you." But that was much easier than having to get the marshmallows himself.

Five makes his peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich, then saunters over to the couch to watch television. He flips through channels, the screen switching from vibrant colors to almost pitch-black. Eventually, he settles on some stupid post-apocalyptic movie. "That's not at all how it would be," Five screams at the tv through a mouthful of peanut butter. 

Suddenly, the tv shuts off. "Hey!" he yells.

Vanya is holding the remote, a smile on  her face. "It was R rated," she reasons. "Seems a bit too mature for you."

Five al           most laughs. He almost does. "I'm a capable sixty year old man, okay? I think I'm plenty mature for any movie."

Vanya bites her lip, looking Five up and down, her diaphragm shaking from laughter. "I mean, having a wild imagination is good I guess--"

Again, Five almost laughs. But he doesn't. He has a reputation to uphold, and he certainly won't laugh at one of those stupid jokes.

As annoyed as Five acts, he really does love being treated like a kid--well, for the most part. It makes him feel loved, feel like someone still cares about him. He spent so long alone, only Delores by his side, slowly aging while the years ticked by. And then there was the Commission, and there's no way Five could have felt love there. He was a soldier, a sniper with only one mission.

But this... this is different. He sees the smile on Vanya's face, on all of their faces, and wants to smile, too. They may be messing with him, but it's all out of good natured love. 

Five pats the seat on the couch beside him. "Watch with me," he tells Vanya. "It's a good movie, I promise."

Vanya, with a sigh, sits down and resumes the movie.

"Oo!" Klaus exclaims. "Are we having a movie night?"

"No, Klaus," Five quickly tries to say, but his brother is too fast.

"Everyone! Movie night!"

The others come into the room, clearly confused. But then Allison offers to get popcorn and Diego offers to get blankets. "Ben thinks we should build a pillow fort," Klaus says. "He thinks Five would like it." So even the dead one is treating Five like a little kid.

But they still make a fort. And eat the popcorn. And watch the movie.

And Five loves every second of being treated like a kid.

Chapter Text

He knew he shouldn't wear them.

He knew his family wouldn't like it.

But Klaus couldn't help it. He loved heels, loved skirts, loved makeup. He was a guy, yes, but he couldn't help but love girly things.

Reginald hated it.

Klaus was sure he wasn't around. He had borrowed a pair from Grace. Slick, shiny red heels. He practically drooled every time he saw them.

There was a rush of adrenaline when Klaus put them on. Sure, they were maybe half a size too large, but it worked. It worked and it was perfect.

Klaus was a little shaky in the heels at first. He always was. But he was the master of heels, as Allison says, and he got the hang of it quickly.

Klaus couldn't stop the smile that spread on his face when walking around in the heels. He was happy. He loved walking in heels. He loved the feel, loved the height. And he truly was a natural—as natural as any person could be in heels, anyway.

"Number Four." Reginald's booming voice rang down the hall, stopping Klaus in his tracks. "What did I say about the heels?"

Klaus' body tenses up. "Uh—" He can't say anything. His throat closes up and no words come out, only intensifying his father's anger as he walks towards the boy.

"Answer me when I speak to you, Number Four." But Klaus can't, he can't. He can feel himself trembling in the heels, heart racing. Last time his father found him in a pair, he was locked away for a day and a half. He doesn't want to do that again, doesn't want to be punished for wearing what he likes.

"I-I'm sorry," he stutters out.

Reginald shakes his head. He's face to face with Klaus now, disappointment clear in his eyes, in his frown. But with that disappointment is a burning, burning anger.

Klaus isn't sure what happens next. He thinks he feels his father's hands on his chest, pushing him—or maybe it was Reginald's foot tripping him. All he remembers is tumbling down the stairs, the stairs he didn't even know he was by. He rolls down and down, taking blows to the face and the back. He knows there'll be bruises all over his body the next day.

Finally, finally he stops rolling. His body feels numb almost, no pain at all.

And then he tries to open his mouth.

He tastes the blood and he's sure there's some on his jaw, too. It's already starting to swell, causing a deep pain in Klaus. He feels like screaming or crying, but he knows that would only hurt him more.

For a while, Klaus' life is a blur of pain meds. His jaw was broken, wired shut. He couldn't say anything, could barely eat. And, if Klaus was being honest, he wasn't sure he wanted to speak. He was afraid—terrified, really, of Reginald.

Klaus wasn't locked away this time. No, it seems as if his father thought the inability to talk was enough punishment.

And it was. It was pure torture. Klaus flinched every time he was near Reginald, and he couldn't explain to Diego why. He refused to even look at a pair of heels, and he couldn't explain to Allison why.

Klaus' jaw continued to swell. There was lots of bruising, a deep purple with blue around the edges of it. Klaus' back had similar markings.

It was hard to believe that Reginald did it. That his father, his very own father—the man that was supposed to love him, take care of him, help him when he was hurt—would do such an awful, awful thing. And Klaus was sure Reginald was proud of it, proud of the pain he had caused.

After seven weeks, Klaus was able to speak again. But he didn't. It wasn't until the eighth week, when his chin had turned an ugly yellow color, that he started talking again. His jaw was still sore, and he winced every time he yawned or opened his mouth too wide, but he was talking again.

Klaus never told anyone about what happened on the stairs that day. All of his siblings think he tripped. It was probably better that way, if he was being honest. No one would believe him if he told them the truth, if he said Reginald pushed him or tripped him or did whatever he did.

Diego made jokes about wishing Klaus' jaw was broken, said he missed the quiet. Klaus laughed along, but there was that lingering fear in him. What if Reginald did it again? What if Reginald hurt Klaus even more, even worse? What would he do then?

For a while, Klaus avoided heels at all cost. He avoided anything and everything that might upset Reginald, too afraid to encounter the same fate. Nobody noticed his odd fear in their father, no one questioned it. No one even questioned why he had stopped wearing heels. They just assumed he didn't want to trip down the stairs again.

Klaus' jaw was back to normal. No soreness, no bruising, no cuts or scrapes or leftover blood. He could talk again, eat again, yawn again. And he almost said something. He almost did. He almost told all his siblings that their father did it, that Reginald tripped or pushed Klaus, that Reginald intentionally harmed him just because he was wearing Grace’s heels.

But Klaus never said anything.

He was always too scared.

Chapter Text

He has some bad memories from the apocalypse.

The majority of his life was spent there, after all.

Right now, Five can't help but think about his time in the apocalypse. His leg is propped up, ankle swelling up and sprained. His siblings are beside him, fussing over him, making sure he's okay.

Five remembers the apocalypse very well. Even the earliest parts. He remembers when he was maybe two or so years into it, he had suffered a similar injury. Sprained ankle. He remembered he couldn't walk for the longest time. He almost starved after he ran out of food, and then he almost messed up his ankle more by crawling to a run down and destroyed store in hopes of finding some crutches or food.

Beside Five now sits a pair of fresh crutches, already adjusted to his height. There are cute little pillows where Five'd armpits would rest, just to make sure he doesn't get too uncomfortable moving around. That was Vanya's special touch, saying she didn't want him to get too uncomfortable. She had crutches once before, and she needed the padding to get through just a single day. The pillows she chose did have ladybug faces, but Five was honestly fine with that. It was better than nothing.

Five remembers how hot it was. It got so hot and dusty, which made everything even worse. Along with his swollen ankle, Five was close to dropping from exhaustion and from the heat. He clutched Dolores close to his chest, hoping and wishing he'd been okay.

Now, a bag of ice is placed on his ankle by Allison. She smiles at him and asks if he needs anything else. He shakes his head. He already has food, some painkillers on board, water, a television, and the ice. He has more than he needs, really. But he appreciates it all.

Five remembers the overwhelming pain of his ankle during the apocalypse. God, it felt like his ankle was throbbing, like it was screaming at him. He had no way to stop it. He'd searched place after place for some sort of pill, but he found nothing. Absolutely nothing. So he was stuck with the pain until his ankle was to heal.

Diego had been the one to give Five the painkillers. He had handed him them gently, saying that he'd need them. Well, he was right. Now, Five's pain was soothed. It was nothing like the apocalypse, nothing like what he'd experienced before. The throbbing in his ankle had reduced to a dull pain, something he could easily ignore.

Another difficult part about being injured in a post apocalyptic world was healing, was safety. Though he had found crutches, Five wasn't able to find a cast of any soft. He had some bandages which he put on shakily, through tears falling down his cheeks. It had been a horrible job, really, and with the heat Five had quickly sweated them off.

Luther held Five's foot carefully, bandages in his other hand. Five would assume Luther's large hands would put him at a disadvantage, but, now, having him wrap up his foot, it was made clear to Five that Luther could bandage someone up, no matter the size of his hand. And it was done properly, too, something that would support Five but also help him heal.

All of this... Five didn't have it during the apocalypse. He had pain and sweat and no food. He almost lost Dolores, once, almost lost the only thing he had. With the crutches and the bad ankle, Five wasn't able to carry her with him. He needed food or water or something. He hadn't set up a camp yet, was still trying to navigate this new horrible wasteland that he was living in, and he had to leave her. He had no idea if he'd ever find Dolores again, if he'd ever have anyone again.

But, now, he's surrounded by people he loves. Sure, maybe Dolores isn't there, but he can live with that. He has his family, is siblings. He knows they won't leave him, knows he won't lose them. Klaus is sitting beside Five, snuggling up tight beside him. They whisper soothing things in his ear, pet his air. And Five may hate what they're doing to him, may want to push Klaus away, but he doesn't. He doesn't because this is better than anything he's experienced before. The love of his family, of his siblings... it's something he'd never pass up.

Five remembers the apocalypse all too well. He would visit the Academy—or, what was left of it, anyway. The ruins. He would visit his siblings, laying, dead, beneath the rubble. He never found Vanya or Ben. He thought they were alive. But soon he realized he was alone. He was hurt, alone, and running out of food. He was probably going to die soon. Maybe from an infection, dehydration, starvation...

Vanya, Klaus, Luther, Diego, Allison, and probably even Ben surround Five now. They care for him and for his ankle, hug him and help him and promise he'll get better. He's fed and hydrated and around people that he loves and that loves him. He doesn't have to think about the apocalypse anymore, doesn't have to think of the pain and torture he endured. He gets to have the relief of painkillers, of ice, of padded crutches. He gets to have the relief of a family, of a support system.

The apocalypse was horrible. Five spent so much of his life there, had to do so many things to survive. He lost count of the times he got hurt or sick, lost count of the times he thought he might die. But he didn't die. No one died. He's with the siblings that he thought he'd never see again. He feels to cool touch of the ice against his swollen ankle, a touch that he had been without for so long that he forgot what it felt like. Five was alone for so long.

But now he has his siblings.

Chapter Text

The apocalypse...

Well, it had screwed him up.

Not to mention the time travel. The Commission. The killing.

Five may have been in his kid body, but he was in no way a kid. And maybe he never was. Maybe Reginald messed up Five way before the apocalypse, before the Commission. Maybe Five was bound to have this happen, regardless of everything else.

The cold barrel of Five's gun sits under his chin. His hand trembles, finger on the trigger. He chuckles. He used to have the steadiest hands working for the Commission. Never missed a shot, never hesitated. They'd laugh if they saw him now. Shaky, afraid.

Five's door creaks open. "Five?" It's Diego.

He almost pulls the trigger right then. But he sees his brother's wide eyes, sees the panic and concern on his face. "Woah, woah, hold up there, bud," he says, putting his hand out.

Five pulls the gun down. He doesn't say anything.

"You, uh—you don't have to do this." It's clear Diego doesn't know what to say, how to stop this. "You don't have to go."

Five scoffs. He knows he doesn't have to. But he—he want to.

"Five, you could've—you could've said something. To me. I never thought..."

Five rolls his eyes. "Don't lie to yourself. You're not surprised I'm killing myself; you're just surprised it took this long."

Diego takes a shaky breath and tries to take a step forward. Five points the gun at him. "No!" he yells. His stupid prepubescent voice cracks, and tears bubble in his eyes. "No," he repeats, calmer this time. His ears are ringing. He can see Diego raise his hands up, see him open his mouth and say something, but Five can't hear it. His ears are ringing and ringing and ringing and he can't think, can't breathe. "Stop!" he yells, squeezing his eyes shut, tears running down his cheeks.

Five was fine. He was fine with his fate, he accepted it. Diego wasn't supposed to be there, he wasn't supposed to see him or say anything or try to stop him. He wasn't supposed to make him rethink his decision.

"I'm not movin'," Diego says, hands still raised, crouched low to appear less threatening. "I'm not movin'."

Five shakes his head. "Shit," he whispers, quietly crying. He wipes his face with the palm of his hand, taking a deep breath to get his cool demeanor back.

"You've got so much to live for," Diego tells him.

Five bites his quivering lip. "Yeah?" he asks, ignoring his wavering voice. "Like what?" He laughs dryly and humorlessly. "Reginald—" he had stopped calling Reginald "Dad" long ago, realizing the man was in no way a father to them, "—ruined me. He ruined us. The constant abuse, the—the asking us to kill. We were just kids, Diego. We were just kids."

"He's gone now. You don't have to worry about Dad anymore."

"I've done too many horrible things in my life, Diego," Five says. His arm shakes, strained from holding it up for so long. He may be used to it, but his body isn't. "I've killed innocent people."

"You had to—"

"No. No, I didn't. I could've stayed in the post apocalyptic shit hole like I did for years."

"You would've died—"

"I liked it," Five says suddenly. It's the first time he's ever admitted it to anyone, even to himself. "I—I liked it. I liked the feel of the gun in my hand, the sound of the gun ringing in my ears." Ringing ringing ringing. Something's always ringing, isn't it? "I—I'm horrible. There's nothing left for me here, nothing for me to do. To live for. I don't even have Dolores anymore."

Diego takes a shaky breath. One of his hands is still outstretched, the other safely by his side. "You have us. You have me, Five. I don't care whatever you do. You're my brother."

"No," Five disagrees. "We're soldiers. Numbers. Reginald trained us. We weren't a family." Five turns the gun back toward himself.

Diego outstretches one arm, the other behind his back. "Hey, hey. Don't. Please, man. C'mon. Put the gun down."

The barrel is back under his chin. His finger is resting on the trigger again. "I'm sorry," he chokes out.

But he doesn't pull the trigger. He can't. The gun drops out of his hand, cluttering to the ground, and Diego jumps to get it. He kicks it far, far away. Across the room, out the hallway, far far away. Somewhere Five can't get it.

Five feels his legs grow weak, and Diego grabs him, holding him up. Five drops himself, crying and crying. "Just let me die," he begs. "Please... just let me die..."

Diego holds Five close, whispering soothing things in his hair. He's not sure what he's saying, though, too hyped up on adrenaline and fear to be thinking clearly.

"I don't—I don't deserve this," Five cries. He doesn't deserve love, doesn't deserve a family. He doesn't deserve a good life, doesn't deserve to be happy. He should be dead, bullet in his head. He shouldn't be crying in Diego's arms, shouldn't be held up by anyone. He should—

"I l-love you, Five." Diego's voice is choked, stuttering slightly. His emotions are too high right now. That's the first clear sentence he's said since he's grabbed Five, since the gun has been gone. It's the first clear thought he's had, too. But he does. He loves Five.

"Diego..." Five continues to cry, just whispering his name over and over. He clutches onto is brother, holds on so tight he might never be able to let go.

Diego holds him back. "I'm not going anywhere," he assures him. "And you better not." Diego can't lose Five, he can't. He doesn't know what he'd do if something happened to him, if Five was dead.

Five doesn't say anything. He just nods into Diego's chest.

Chapter Text

He had never had a dog.

Or any pet, for that matter.

But Diego loved pets. He fell in love with them working in the K9 unit when he was still in the police academy, and he decided, then and there, that he would get a dog.

Eudora and Diego had moved in a month ago. Diego was struggling to pay rent, and she offered to help him. Roommates. It helped that they had started dating even a month before that.

The idea of adopting a dog  had been in the air since Diego had moved in. They discussed it almost jokingly, as if it was a thing that would never and could never happen. But that didn't stop them from looking at adoption websites, from discussing which dog breed was their favorite, or what name they thought would be best for their future dog.

Finally, Diego brought the idea up again. Eudora laughed, but he said he was serious. He wanted a dog.

And then they started discussing costs. Dog food, toys, a backyard...

"We should get a German Shepard," Eudora said, smiling at her screen. She was clearly looking through dogs up for adoption. She always did.

Diego rolled over in the bed to face her. The light from the laptop screen illuminated her face, made her eyes twinkle. He had an overwhelming urge to kiss her. "I want a mutt," he said.

"'Course," Eudora agreed, still scrolling. "And a rescue."

"What about a pit bull?" Diego asks. He stares at the smile floating on her lips and grins. He loves when she's happy.

Eudora hums thoughtfully. "What about Bubbles?" she asks.

Diego cocks his head to the side. "Bubbles?"

She finally pulls her attention away from her screen and looks at Diego. "As a name."

Diego laughs. "Dora, baby, you can't be serious," he says. He leans over and plants a kiss to her lips. Just a quick one, smiles on both their faces. He does it once, twice, three times.

"I'm serious," Eudora says, laughing with him. "I think it's cute!"

"Baby, baby, no," Diego tells her. His tone is lighthearted and he closes her laptop, kissing her soft and beautiful lips again.

"Alright, you got a better idea?" she asks.

Diego nods, eyes closed in contentment. He lays his head on her chest, snuggling into her, making her giggle. "Buster."

Eudora raises her eyebrows, though he can't see her. "Really? Buster?"

"I like it." His voice is muffled by her thin black tank top, but he doesn't make any move to change position. "I think it's cute," he mimics.

"It's so basic."

"And Bubbles isn't?"

"It's original!"

"It sounds like something a five year old came up with." Diego wraps his arms around her waist, wriggles his leg on top of hers. "Baby, lets do somethin'."

Eudora wrapped her arms around his back. "We are doing something. We're talking about getting a dog."

Diego pulls himself on top of her, kissing and nibbling at her neck. "That's no fun."

"So you don't want a dog?" she challenges, running her hands through his hair.

"'Course I want a dog, Dora. Jus' don't wanna talk about it. Not right now, at least."

Eudora frowns. "Why not?"

"'Cause I wanna talk about somethin' else. Or maybe—" he wiggles his hips suggestively, "we don't have to talk at all."

"Nope," Eudora replies, popping the 'p.' "I wanna get serious about this. I wanna get a dog."

Diego groans and lifts his face. "I do, too," he agrees, now staring at her beautiful eyes rather than her lips, "but once we get the little shit,—and I mean that in the kindest, most affectionate way,—we'll have no time for ourselves. So let's get freaky while it lasts."

"Get freaky?" she questions, giggling.

He rolls his eyes. "Get funky. Screw." He crawls farther up her body with each suggestion. "Fuck. Make love." He nibbles on her earlobe, and Eudora giggles. "C'mon, Dora. Let's have a bit of fun."

Eudora grabs his shoulders and rolls on top of him. "Fine," she agrees, straddling his hips. He smiles deviously, rubbing his hands up and down her arms. "But only if we decide this first."

Diego throws his head back with a groan. "Baby, please!" he whines.

"I'm sorry, D." Her hands crawl down his naked chest, fingers running through the hair. "But we gotta talk about this."

"Fine," he says, flopping his arms dramatically on the bed. "I want Buster. You want Bubbles. There. We talked about it. Now lets do this." He rolls on top of her again, their bodies nearing the edge.

Eudora leans up and plants a kiss on his lips. "We should decide on a name."

"You should take your shirt off."

She shakes her head with a sigh. "Babe. I'm trying to be serious here."

Diego sighs. "Fine. Fine. Let's talk about it." He rolls off her, but his body falls off the bed with a thud. The two erupt in laughter, Diego's slightly pained. Eudora reaches her hand down and pulls him back up. They lay side by side, facing each other. Diego rubs his thumb against her cheek. "So."

"So."

"We need a name."

"Mhm."

"I think it should be Buster."

"Yeah."

"And you think it should be Bubbles."

"That's the gist, yeah."

"So."

"So."

Diego sighs. He pulls himself closer to Eudora, pulling her scent closer, her touch, her beauty. "So let's talk about it."

And they do. They talk for hours. They talk until the sun begins to shine on the world. They talk until... well, until the talking ends and they start a new activity.

But they never made a decision. They continued to talk about it for days, weeks. Just simple conversations, nothing too serious after that night. They hadn't found the right dog yet, they hadn't set all their plans yet. So it was fine.

But they never got a dog. They never any further in their conversation, never decided on a name.

Because not too long later, Eudora broke up with him.

Not too long later, Diego was alone.

Chapter Text

He made a promise.

But he can't keep it.

Five promised Klaus and Diego that he wouldn't cut again. That he wouldn't hurt himself again.

And he was going to keep the promise. He was going to follow through, he wasn't—he wasn't going to cut again.

But he did. He put Dolores back, put back the only person or thing that he had ever loved. And now he was alone, completely and utterly alone.'

At least, that's what Five told himself when he began drinking his worries away. Fuck his liver, fuck his life, he would drink as much as he wanted. And now he didn't have Dolores to tell him to stop.

And so he cut himself. With shaky and unsteady hands, he grabbed a knife and he cut.

The next day, Five couldn't show his face. He felt so guilty, overwhelmingly guilty, but that only made him want to cut more.

So he did. He kept cutting, lines after lines, scars after scars on his wrists. The Academy uniform hid them, and Diego seemed to trust Five when he said he had stopped, that it was a one time thing.

Five lost count of how many days, weeks he'd cut himself. They'd begun to blur together. Blurs of blood and pain. Of bandages and scars. The problem was, though, with all the scar tissue building up, constantly being irritated, Five's wrist began to itch.

Almost constantly, Five was picking at his cut wrist, itching and itching. The stupid nerves and stupid scar tissue. He hated it.

"Whatcha doin' there, bud?" Klaus asks, seeing Five itch.

Five yanks his hand away. "Nothing," he says a little too quickly.

That piques Diego's interest. "Really? Nothing?" He holds his hand out. "Gimme your arm."

Five shakes his head.

"C'mon, man." Diego sounds exhausted. He sounds afraid, sounds panicked. "I don't wanna have to grab it."

"You couldn't of you tried," Five challenged, because he always challenged. He didn't want his brother anywhere near his arm, though.

Klaus sighs. "Don't fight him," they beg. "It'll be easier if you just do what he says."

While they talk to Five, Diego manages to grab Five's arm. He yanks the sleeve up to reveal the cuts, the scars. Some are bandaged, clearly fresh, while others are white and fully healed.

Diego's mouth falls open. Klaus clasps their hands over theirs. Diego blinks rabidly. "Five..."

He pulls his arm back, pulling the sleeve down. "Don't," he just about begs. "I told you, I'm broken. I—I can't be fixed."

Klaus shakes their head, that humorless chuckle escaping their lips. "Five, no, you—you're not broken. Not at all. You—You're better than all this, Five!"

He rolls his eyes. He knows he's not.

Diego runs a hand through his hair. "You promised," he breaths out a bit shakily. "You—You promised you wouldn't do it again."

Five nods. "I did." He wants to apologize, he really does, but he feels that lump in his throat return. He can't say anything, can barely breathe. There's a look of sadness, of disappointment on Diego's face—an expression that Five caused.

Diego rubs his hand through his hair again. "Five, buddy..." He trails off, not sure of what to say.

"You need help," Klaus finishes. "Like, professional. Medical." They hesitantly put a hand on Five's knee, and he flinched away from the touch, but doesn't stop it. "A therapist or something."

Diego nods.

Five shakes his head. "No," he says. "No, I can't. I—I can't do that." He tugs at the end of his Academy uniform, pulling the sleeve farther down his arm as if it will make the cuts disappear. It doesn't.

"Why not?" Diego asks. "Why can't you go to a therapist? Why can't you get help? Why can't—Why can't you just fucking take care of yourself." His voice is filled with anger, rage, but not at Five. No, he's mad at himself. Mad that he didn't notice, mad that he couldn't help.

Five scoffs. "I'm too complicated," he explains. "We've got our shit show of a family, our powers, the apocalypse, the Commission..." He shakes his head. "No. No, it doesn't make sense. It wouldn't work."

"You don't know 'til you try," Klaus points out.

"Nope. Pretty sure I know."

"Pretty sure you don't."

"Eh. I know."

"Eh. You don't."

"Jesus Fucking Christ, you two," Diego groans, "stop bickering and shut up. We have to talk about serious thing here."

Klaus and Five stare at each other for a few more moments before turning to Diego. Diego sighs. "Five, you know I. I l-love you, r-right?" Screw his stutter, his stupid stutter. He hates emotions, he's bad at them, and the stutter certainly doesn't help.

Five sighs, but doesn't respond. He doesn't deserve love. He knows he doesn't. He breaks promises, he leaves people, he hurts them, he hurts himself. How could anybody love him?

"You need help," Klaus tells him.

Five scoffs. Yeah he fucking needs help.

"Like, professional," they clarify. "A therapist."

Diego gives Klaus an odd look. They ignore it.

"In fact, I have a therapist!" That cheery demeanor is back, that light and upbeat voice. "She's fantastic, I love her. Helped me with the hell hole that was my life."

"Wait, Klaus," Diego stops them, shaking his head, "you have a therapist?"

Klaus nods.

"Why? W—When? What the?"

"This is about Five, Diego."

"Well, yeah, but—"

"No buts. Unless it's Five's butt in a therapist's office."

Five rolls his eyes. "Like hell I'm going to a shrink. I mean, c'mon, Diego, back me up on this." He looks to his brother for support.

Diego sucks in a breath and bites his lip. "I think they're right, bud. Therapy might help you. I—I hate to admit this, I really do, but—I don't think Klaus and I alone is enough. This is some serious shit. I don't know how to handle it."

Five runs his thumb over the scars. It stings the fresh ones, but he's grown numb to the pain. He did long ago.

Klaus squeezes Five's knee. "Please," they beg.

Five takes a shaky breath. He hates this. He hates it. He hates everything. He hates his life and he hates the cutting and he hates—"Sure," he agrees. "I'll do it."

Diego's eyes widen in surprise. Klaus leaps up and hugs him. Five tries not to cry.

This time...

This time Five won't break the promise.

Chapter Text

As a kid, they had talked about it for a while.

Who would be what?

Five always assumed he'd be an alpha. Or, at the very least a beta.

Who would've thought he was an omega?

If he was being honest, Five only remembers brief parts of his first heat. He remembers how... how hot he was. Sweating, head to toe, soaking the dirty and torn up clothes he had been wearing for the past few weeks.

He remembers practically dropping in the shop that he was scavenging. He was so hot, so damn hot, and he felt weak and needy and pale—how can someone feel pale? But he did. He felt pale. He shivered as if he was cold, but he was far far from it. He was burning up, inside and out, and he didn't know how to stop it.

He remembers how desperate he was. Desperate for... for something. Anything. For it to stop, whatever it was. For some goddamn relief. For some explanation.

Five remembers being confused, being afraid. He remembers gripping the first thing he could find, could feel. Some mannequin, missing one arm and everything from the waist down. He remembers being so, so afraid, feeling so alone. But at least he had the mannequin, had something to hold on to. Something to remind him that he wasn't dead, he wasn't dying.

And then he remembers how oddly, um, tight his pants were. He hated it. He hated how flushed his body was, hated what his body desired, needed. He hated the stains that ended up covering his body. They made his clothes even more uncomfortable, even more unpleasant. Soggy and crusty.

Five didn't care who. He just needed someone. Just someone to touch him, anywhere, to cool him off. He needed water, needed a break from whatever was happening to him. He—He needed an alpha, whether or not he knew it then. But there were no alphas left, there was no one left. No one but him.

It had hurt, honestly. Five was desperate for something, so desperate that it hurt him. Physically and mentally. He remembers laying on that ground, clutching even more desperately to the woman he would name Dolores, the one thing that would get him through every heat, through all his time in the apocalypse. And while she hadn't stopped the pain, her presence had certainly soothed it.

Five remembers scavenging for some suppressants after it all stopped, some pill to hold back the heats—he had figured out that they were heats. He had figured out that he was an omega. And he hated it. He hated the knowledge, hated his own skin, his own body. He hated being at the bottom of the now nonexistent hierarchy. He hated all of it. But there was nothing he could change, nothing to do about it.

There were no more pills, nothing to stop the heats. They had all been destroyed or lost, which surprised Five because of how common they had become. It has disappointed him, too. But after the first one, after that first heat, they weren't as bad. They weren't as painful, as confusing, as frightening. It was a part of life that Five grew to accept, to live with, as much as he despised it. He lived with the sweaty nights, lived with the stained clothes and growing desires. He lived with it all because he had to. He had to live with all of it.

After that first night, Five never left Dolores anywhere. She was his support system, the one thing he had. Five couldn't let her go. He didn't know why, really, but he knew that he needed her. Dolores had helped him when he was afraid, even if she didn't mean to. She had gotten him through the most frightening thing in his life. How could he leave her behind after that?

Five remembers almost not going back to his family when he had the chance. He knew there was a chance his calculations would be wrong. He knew that the possibility of him being in his thirteen year old body was all too likely. He remembers being so afraid to have to present in front of his siblings, to have to have a second first heat. He remembers almost just staying with the Commission. Abandoning his mission, everything he had worked for, had lived for.

But he didn't. He couldn't. Because he still had to save his family, still had to keep them alive and stop the apocalypse from happening.

And then his calculations were wrong.

Thirteen year old body. A body that had never endured a heat, that had never endured anything except what his father had made it.

The first thing he did was find Dolores. He needed Dolores. He always needed her. If he didn't have Dolores then he didn't have anything. He had nothing to help him, nothing to support him. And Dolores was the only thing, the only person that could support him.

He knew he could find repressors, but he also knew he couldn't hold off his first heat forever. He knew he couldn't avoid who he was, what he was, as much as he wanted to. He knew his siblings would find out that he was an omega, would find out how weak he was.

And it scared him. He hated it. He hated heats and hated being an omega and he hated being afraid. He hated being afraid.

But there was nothing he could do about it.

Chapter Text

"What the hell was that?"

He sighs. "Shut up, Diego."

Diego grabs Five's shoulder, spinning him around so he's face to face with his brother. "No. Tell me what the hell happened back there."

"What do you mean?" Five asks, voice irritated. He knows exactly what Diego means.

"The touching," Vanya clarifies. "What was with all the touching?"

Five sighs again. "I'd rather not talk about it."

"Yeah, well, too bad," Diego tells him.

"Fine," he begrudgingly agrees. "I'll tell you what it was: nothing. It was nothing."

"You know, you can tell us," Allison says. "We're here for you."

Five shrugs and looks down. It really was nothing. "It was just a thing that happened. It was common back at the office. The Commission."

"Five, did you—did you tell her that you were okay with that?" Luther asks.

Another shrug. "I mean, I never told her to stop."

"That's not how it works," Allison says. "You have to give her permission to do that. Like, consent. Otherwise..."

Allison doesn't have to finish her sentence. Five knows what she thinks: sexual assault. He pinches the bridge of his nose. "No, it—it's not like that."

"Then what is it, Five?" Diego almost sounds angry, but his anger isn't directed at his brother. It's directed at the Handler, at the creep that couldn't keep her hands off his brother.

Five's hand goes back and runs through his hair. "I can't really explain it," he says, though what he really means is he doesn't want to. He doesn't want to explain, to relive his time in the Commission, with the Handler. "It's not—It's not what you think it is, though."

"So then what is it?" Klaus asks. "'Cause she was gettin' a bit... handsy."

Well. He wasn't wrong. "Yeah," Five agrees. "But it's not..." He groans. "God, this is difficult." His hands go up to massage his temples as his eyes fall shut. He hates this. Hates it hates it hates it. "It's just the way she is," he says. He lies. "It's fine."

"I can and will kill her if you want," Diego offers.

Five scoffs. "Doubt that."

"I will."

Five rolls his eyes. "It's fine," he assures him. What the Handler did was fine, honestly. Yes, he hated it, but only because of what it meant. The history behind it. The lingering touches when Five was at the Commission, the right grips and unnecessary contact.

Five had accepted it, welcomed it. He had been deprived of touch for so long that he was willing to take anything that people were willing to give. And the Handler was willing.

But, now, Five can't stand it. There's so much meaning behind every touch, a meaning that he wishes wasn't there. And it's not like he was in a relationship with the Handler, no. But there was something there. Not a romance, but a mutual gaining. Nothing beyond lingering touches and looks. But it was what got Five through his time in the Commission, as much as he hated it all.

"You can't just say that it's fine," Vanya says. "Can we just... have a little bit more explanation? So that way we know that it really is fine?"

Five closes his eyes. "You guys don't have to care about me," he says. "It doesn't matter. It's fine. Just drop it."

"The way you're describing it," Luther begins slowly, "it sounds like she assaulted you. We're going to need a little bit more information if you want us to believe that it wasn't that."

Five clenches his fists. It doesn't matter. They shouldn't care. If they could just ignore it, drop it, then it would all be fine.

"C'mon, Five," Allison pushes.

"No," he spits out. "It's my fucking business, stay out of it."

Diego puts his hands up. "Fine. Fine." It was clearly not fine. "We were only tryin' to help, but fine. If you don't want help from us—from your family—then fine. Fine."

"I don't need help," Five tells him. "She's gone now. We don't have to talk about it anymore, so just forget it. It's not important."

"It is fucking important, Five. You—You're my brother. And that lady is a fuckin' creep. I don't want her anywhere near you."

"Fine. Fuckin' fine," he reluctantly agrees. "You wanna know what that was? It was touching. Yeah. And, god, I hated it, but there was nothing wrong with it. It's the way she is. It's what she does."

"But—" Klaus tries to say.

"No. No buts, no nothing. She did not assault me, or-or do anything bad like that. What happened, happened."

"It's fine, Five," Vanya assures him. "We believe you."

"Nope," Luther disagrees, shaking his head. "I don't. That person—"

"The Handler," Five says.

"—Yeah, yeah, the Handler. Her. She's evil, Five. And she was all over you. And, look at you! You're thirteen, you're a kid—"

"I'm older than all of you. I'm not at all a kid. I'm a grown fucking adult."

"Well you sure don't look like one."

"Oh, fuck off, Luther. I didn't ask for this. All I do ask is that you mind your own business." He feels the Handler's hands trailing down his back again. It feels like they're always there, just touching and touching him. That feeling used to be comforting.

Klaus sighs. "You can always talk to us, Five," he says. "We don't care what happened. As long as you're not hurt, it's okay. But... you know you can always talk to us, right? We won't judge you or anything."

"I know," Five says. But that doesn't mean he has to tell them anything.

"Good. We're here for you."

Five nods. He knows that. But this is too personal, a part of him he wants to keep locked up.

No one asked him about the Handler again.

Chapter Text

He hated the skirts.

But he was forced to wear them.

Technically, his name was Margarita. Technically, he was a she.

But in reality? His name was Diego. He was a boy.

Since he was young, he knew that he wasn't really normal. And that's not even including his powers. But he knew he wasn't like Allison or Vanya, wasn't like the other girls. He hated the skirt, hated makeup, hated his own body.

After some self indulgent research, at the time Margarita decided she was transgender. She was actually he.

The first person he talked to was Grace. His mother. The person that was always there for him, always accepted him. "Hey, M-Mom?" he asked.

Grace turned to him with a smile. "Yes, honey?"

Diego—he had already decided that that was the name he wanted—tugged at his long hair, eyes turned to the ground. "I don't—I th-think... w-would you ev-ever not l-l-love m-me?"

Grace grabs his wrists and holds them close. "Of course not, Margarita." He cringes at the name. "I will love you. No matter what."

He can feel the tears in his eyes, and he's ready to cry. "Th-There's som-mething wr-wrong with m-m-me." His voice wavers. He doesn't know what to say. "I—I'm n-not a girl. I don't—I think I—no, I-I know I'm a g-guy." And he can't help it. He starts crying. And he holds on to his mother and cries.

"That's okay, Margarita," Grace tells him. "Should I still call you that? Or would you prefer a different name?"

He smiles. "D-Diego."

"Alright. I love you, Diego. I always will." He likes hearing that, hearing his true name being spoken by someone besides him.

The only other person Diego wanted to tell was Klaus. His brother, the one that joked with him and was nice to him.

Taking a deep breath, Diego knocks on his door. "Come in!" Klaus tells.

He takes a careful step in. "Hey."

Klaus smiles. "What's up, Tequila?"

Diego shakes his head and laughs. Even if he doesn't want the name Margarita anymore, he will always accept his brother's stupid nicknames. "There-There was a-actually something I-I wanted to te-tell you."

Klaus sits up straight in his bed, that goofy lopsided smile permanently on his face. He pats the bed beside him, and Diego takes a seat. "What's up?"

Diego rubs the back of his neck. "I—" He stops. "Do—Do you ev-ever feel... trapped? In-In-Inside your o-own b-b-b-body?"

Klaus rubs his chin. "I mean, I guess."

"Well... g-god, I did-didn't do this w-well," he laughs. "Wh-What I'm-m trying t-to say is..." The room feels hot. He feels trapped and claustrophobic. He feels like he can't breathe. He can't speak clearly, the stupid stutter won't go away. "I'm a girl. W-Wait, shit, th-that—n-no, I—" Diego puts his head in his hands. "Fuck."

Klaus laughs and pulls him into a hug. "I get what you're saying. You're trans. It's cool. I'm glad you told me."

Diego smiles.

"So, he/him pronouns now, right?"

"Mhm."

"You got a new name or somethin', or can I keep callin' you various types of alcohol?"

"D-D-Diego. But you-you don't have to st-stop the nicknam-m-es."

"Thank god." Klaus holds his hand out to Diego, and Diego takes it. "Well, nice to meet you, Diego."

Diego smiles. "G-Good to m-m-meet you, too, K-Klaus."

"Can I have some of your skirts now?" Klaus asks. "Or, like, dresses and stuff. Allison cut me off."

Diego laughs. "'C-Course."

After that, Diego felt more free. His other siblings eventually caught on and started using his real name and real pronouns. Reginald hated it, but there was nothing he could do about it.

"I-I want surgery," Diego decided. His hair was shorter, his clothes more masculine. It had been years since he came out. He knew he would be moving out soon, would be moving on with his life. He wanted to start that life in a body he wanted, a body he loved. He couldn't be so trapped anymore.

"For what, sweetie?" Grace asks.

"For, um. M-M-My top. Top surgery."

A look of concern forms on her face. "Are the binders not working? I can get you new ones if you need."

"No, no, Mom, i-it's fine. But I just... I-I dunno. I wanna b-be me, I guess." Diego shivered just thinking about the surgery, though. All the needles, poking and prodding at his body. He hated the idea, wanted to faint, but he hated his body even more.

"Oh. Of course, Diego."

Diego sighs. "Alright. Good. Th-Thanks. But, uh—c-could Klaus come, too? I just... I want him to be there."

"Of course, Diego."

A wide grin spreads on his face. "Alright. Alright. Good. Good." Happiness overwhelms him and he doesn't know what to say. "I—I'll tell Klaus."

Just a few weeks later, he had the surgery. He ignored his fear of needles, ignored how shaky his entire body was, and had the surgery. No more binders for him.

Diego was the happiest person in the world after that. He felt free, felt happy. He felt like himself, which was something he could rarely say.

His siblings were happy for him, too. They didn't seem weirded out or annoyed by the surgery. In fact, they almost seemed glad that it had happened, glad that Diego was himself.

And it would be weeks before Diego would wear a shirt again.

Chapter Text

God, he was sick of it.

Or, her, technically.

Dolores. Luther didn't call her that, though. She was just "the Mannequin."

She—though Luther oh so very fondly referred to her as 'it'—was always there. Dolores was in Five's arm at least half the time, probably even more. He cared about the mannequin more than he cared about his family.

So, Luther was done. He was done with it all. So he takes Dolores during one of the few times Five isn't holding her and hides her. Besides, he thought, she's just a mannequin. Five cant care about her that much.

Oh, but he could not be more wrong.

Dolores was the one person, the one thing that was there for Five during the apocalypse. She holds memories, good and bad. But, more importantly, she holds comfort. Reassurance. Reassurance that whatever is happening right then isn't the end of the world. Her presence reassures him that he can do anything, get out of anything.

Five instantly knew something was wrong when Dolores wasn't where he had put her. "Any of y'all seen Dolores?" he calls out tentatively, heart hammering.

No answer.

Five starts special jumping around the house. He checks in cupboards and under pillows, even checks the fridge. He jumps and jumps throughout the house, but there's no Dolores.

So, Five grabs the next best thing: alcohol. He prefers red, but all he could find was white wine, so he takes it. He takes it and he drinks and drinks and drinks.

Now, Luther had left long ago. He and Allison were going to see a movie together, something Allison herself had starred in but Luther never got a chance to see because he was on the moon. So he had no idea the disaster he had created. And, luckily for him, he wouldn't have to clean it up.

The person that would have to clean it up would be Klaus.

Klaus had walked into the kitchen planning on making something. Baking, in particular. They didn't care how late it was. Trying to get sober was hard, and they needed to keep themself occupied. Knitting hadn't worked, and neither had cross word puzzles or sudoku or crocheting or—well, the list goes on and on. But cooking, baking... it was something Klaus was good at. And it was fun.

But that night wasn't as fun as they thought it would be. No, instead of baking, they found their brother on the ground, drunk, a half full bottle of wine in his hands and a nearly empty one beside him.

Shit.

Klaus shook Five's shoulder, trying to shake him awake. "Five?" they whispered harshly. No response. "Five? Five!" He jolts awake, splashing wine on him and Klaus.

"Hm?" he asks tiredly.

Klaus sighs in relief. He's fine. "That's a lotta wine you got there, buddy." Klaus tried to ignore that nagging want to drink it, instead focusing on Five. "Probably not good for you."

"Nah," Five says, shaking his head. "'S fine." His words are slurred, and Klaus can barely understand what he's saying. "See? 'S jus' some wine. Nothin' tah worry 'bout."

Klaus bites their lip. They hate seeing Five like this, seeing their brother like this. They remember when that's all they were like. Just a drunk mess who couldn't even form a coherent thought. "What's wrong?" they ask, crouching down beside Five. "You seem... upset."

Five shakes his head and waves the idea away. "Nah," he says again. "No big deal here. Not like the love of my life was ripped from my arms. Nothin' like that."

Klaus tilts their head to the side. "Love of your—oh." It clicks. Dolores. "Well, what happened to her? Did you just, um, misplace her, or..."

"I would never!" Five shouts. "I would never misplace my girl."

Klaus almost laughs at that, but they don't . "Alright, then, what happened to her?"

Suddenly, Five's face turns serious. "Can I tell ya somethin'?" he asks. Without waiting for an answer, he grabs them by the shirt and pulls them close. His breath reeks of alcohol, only making Klaus' need for it worse. "I think," he drawls, "someone took 'er."

Klaus nods, and suddenly any humor that was once in the situation is gone. They can see and how distressed and afraid Five is. They think for just a brief second that they might know who took her, but they let the thought slide. Luther wouldn't do that. No, no, he couldn't. "I'm sure we'll find her," Klaus assures him.

Five leans back against the wall, pulling the wine bottle close to his chest as if it were Dolores. "'M scared," he admits, tears glistening in his eyes. "I just—" A choked noise comes from him, like a sob but not quite. "I need her, Klaus." And the tears start falling as he curls up against his sibling.

Klaus carefully pats his back. Some of the wine in Five's hand splashes into their lap, and they wince. "It'll, uh, be okay," they tell him. "But drinking this much won't help you at all." They roll their eyes. They know that all too well.

"But I cant stop," Five cries, spit flying from his mouth. Drunk crying. He acts like he's the same age as his name, and Klaus does not want to deal with that. But they have to. Because they care about him, because Five is still their brother.

Carefully, they pull the bottle away from his thirteen year old hands. "Yes you can," they assure him. They push the bottle away, far enough that neither can reach it. "I'll help you." They feel like they should make a joke, lighten the mood, but Five is already half asleep in their lap.

Two days later, Klaus finds Dolores under Luther's bed.

Chapter Text

py·ro·ma·ni·a
/ˌpīrōˈmānēə/
noun
1. an obsessive desire to set fire to things.

Pyromania. A rare condition that, as far as scientists know, affects a little over 1% of the world's population.

Pyromania. A rare condition that is commonly caused by neglect or abuse as a child.

Pyromania. A rare condition that gives people the desire to set fire to everything.

Honestly, the Hargreeves should have noticed it early on. Noticed the signs. Noticed the fires that Klaus constantly lit, noticed the small smile on his lips each time one occurred.

And, maybe they did. Maybe they noticed. Maybe they didn't want to say anything, despite the warning signs. Maybe no one believed that anything could be wrong with Klaus.

But there was something wrong with him.

He was a pyromaniac.

Klaus isn't sure when the obsession with fire started. His early teen years, he believes. He just remembers accidentally lighting some carpet on fire, and an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction run through him. He liked it. He liked burning things. And, at the time, he assumed that was fine.

But, now, with Grace malfunctioning and spiting our random facts about pyromania, Klaus is sure he wasn't fine. He was never fine.

Grace soon told her diagnosis to the others. Reginald decided not to believe it, decided that Grace was wrong. But the others knew, his siblings knew. They knew that she was right.

The worst part about all of it, everything, was that Klaus... well, he liked the fires. He liked making things burn, watch the flames swell up and eat them. He got relief from it, a similar relief that someone cutting would get. Except, it was even better.

But, Klaus almost felt guilty about it. He only felt guilty, though, after Allison told him it was wrong, after Luther called him sick. And maybe he was sick. Maybe it was wrong. But Klaus couldn't deny the feeling that the fires brought him, couldn't deny the smile that would spread across his face.

The problem was that the fires Klaus wanted—needed—to start, only got bigger. It started with small things like pillows or bedside tables, things that were flammable but easy to put it. But it only got bigger. Carpets that covered a room, dining tables, whole houses. And he tried to start all those fires, he did. But, normally, Vanya was there to hold him back.

Vanya was the one that assured Klaus that there was nothing wrong with him. He was different, sure, but there was nothing wrong. He was just a person, a normal person, and nothing could change that. Not even his pyromania.

A match shook in Klaus’ hand more often than not. He couldn’t stop the urge to burn, couldn’t calm himself down. He just knew that in order to feel better, in order to be happy and not stressed, in order to smile again, he had to burn. And he had to burn the whole fucking house down. Every room, every piece of furniture, everything in the house had to burn, had to be caught on fire.

Really, it was the fire, not the burning that made Klaus’ eyes light up. The heat, the heat that radiated off it, that felt like it went for miles and miles. The mix of red and yellow and orange and, when it got really really hot, blue.

Allison and Ben panicked whenever they saw the determined look in Klaus’ eyes. And their panic reminded Klaus that he was doing something dangerous, that he might hurt someone he loved. And he just couldn’t do that.

Diego and Luther, on the other hand, froze. Their faces were stern but stuck on that expression, neither of them able to say anything. They stopped moving, stopped breathing. So Klaus stopped, too. He was forced to stop.

Then there was Vanya and Five. Though Five wasn’t there for a lot of it, he was always calm. Him and Vanya has an odd sense of calm, as if everything was normal and fine. And it was normal, for Klaus at least. It happened so often that they began to expect it. And their calm, collected demeanor always managed to get Klaus to put the match out.

More than once, Klaus tried to burn the house down. One time it was out of anger, another it was just that odd urge to burn. And he almost did it. Both times, he almost made the house turn to ash. But he had Grace behind him, taking the match from his hand. He had Diego beside him, telling him it was fine, that Klaus could shake the urge and go against it. And he had Vanya in front of him, calming everyone down, telling Klaus that everything was okay.

And it worked. It always worked—well, not always, but most of the time. The small fires happened more often than not. Just small fires like leaves and branches, pillows and blankets. Nothing that would hurt anyone, nothing too dangerous. Still fires, but controllable.

Klaus didn’t like being a pyromaniac. In fact, he hated it. He hated feeling bad and wrong, hated feeling like there was something wrong with him. He hated the urges that he knew were bad but he couldn’t resist.

But it was easier with his family. His family helped him. They helped him stop when he needed to, when he’s on the verge of hurting someone else or hurting himself. And they helped him calm down when he was a bit out of hand, when the urge became too strong. Without them, without his mom and his siblings, Klaus wouldn’t have made it through his life. He would have done something stupid with fires early on and died.

But Klaus was alive. He was making it through his life, even with his pyromania. And eventually, he was better at controlling the urges. He didn’t set as many things on fire, he didn’t hurt as many people.

And it was all thanks to Klaus’ family.

Chapter Text

"There's no need to be nervous."

"Beg to differ."

"Vanya, you'll be fine! They'll love you."

She blushes. "I just... I want them to think I'm good enough. Because you're their little girl, and you're just... god, Beth, you're perfect. I still can't believe you're with me."

Beth smiles and kisses Vanya slowly. "Well, believe, 'cause I'm not going anywhere." She hope out of the car. "Now, c'mon. They're waiting."

Vanya takes a deep breath and joins her girlfriend, grabbing her hand for comfort.

Beth was the one that rung the doorbell. A young man, probably somewhere in his twenties opened the door. Clearly not either of Beth's dads. His hair was short, black, and frizzy, skin a shade or two darker than Beth's. He looked Vanya up and down, carefully. "So," he said, "you're Vanya, I assume." He holds his hand out. "I'm Brady. Beth's brother. Nice to meet you."

Beth glares at Brady over Vanya's shoulder. "Brady," she says through gritted teeth, "may we come inside?"

His mouth opens as if he had just noticed that they weren't inside yet. "Oh, yeah. 'Course." He steps aside, and Beth drags Vanya in.

Inside, sitting on the couch, Vanya sees Beth's parents. Dads. Both seem to be in their early fifties, maybe even late forties, but Vanya knows that they're more in their mid sixties. The taller one had his arm around the shorter's shoulder, loving smiles on both their faces. Vanya wanted that. She wanted to be in love, no matter her age.

"Dad," Beth says, getting their attention.

The shorter one looks up, a smile still on his face but a different type of smile. One of pride and joy and anticipation. "Beth!" he exclaimed, getting up with his hands outstretched. He wrapped his daughter in a hug.

The other one spoke up. "Don't forget to greet our guest, Leo." He has a faint New York accent, so faint that Vanya barely even notices it.

The shorter one—Leo—nods. "Right. Nice to meet you, Vanessa." He shakes her hand.

"Actually, um, it's Vanya," Vanya corrects.

Leo nods his head again. "Yes, of course, that's right. My mistake. Bad memories comes with the age, I guess."

The taller one laughs and shakes Vanya's hand, too. "I'm Michael."

"Nice to meet you," Vanya says. "Both of you."

"And you've already met Brady," Michael says. Then, he leans in close and says in a whisper, "He May seem scary, but he's just a big ol' teddy bear."

Vanya giggles a little.

Beth takes a deep breath. "Um. Is dinner almost ready?"

Brady comes running in the room from the kitchen. "Dad," he says, voice urgent, "there's a, uh—" He's cut off by the sound of a fire alarm and smoke running into the living room.

"Shit," Michael curses. "Vanya, Beth, I'll be right back. Leo, honey, keep 'em company, will you?" He and Brady go running back into the kitchen.

Beth laughs nervously, gripping Vanya's hand. "I swear, it's not always like this—"

"Oh, don't lie, honey," Leo tells her with a chuckle. "Our family is a mess. But it works." Leo has short, whispy black hair and a kind smile.

Beth sighs. "Yeah," she admits. "And, honestly, Brady is a good cook. That is, when he can turn the oven off."

Leo laughs at that, and Vanya finds herself laughing, too. She feels comfortable here. The house is small, much smaller than she had when she was growing up, but she liked it. It felt cozy and homey. It felt very Beth. And that was all that mattered.

Vanya heard some fumbling and cursing in the kitchen, but at least they got the fire alarm to turn off. She turns to Leo. "So, how'd you meet Michael?"

Leo gets a wistful and life filled look on his eyes. Beth rolls her eyes. "Don't get him started."

Leo shakes his head. "I actually met Mike through a dating app," he explains with a laugh. "But our first date... god, I couldn't have hoped for anything better."

"Dad broke a wine glass and they didn't have enough money to pay the bill," Beth interrupts.

Vanya's mouth hangs open, but there's a smile on her lips. "Really?"

"Mhm," Leo confirms. "He was always a bit clumsy, but I loved him."

"You didn't wanna go on a second date," Beth points out.

"That's beside the point," Leo retorts with a laugh. "But, yes, I didn't. But then he offered to take me to a carnival, promised to win me a prize, and..."

"You tellin' the story of how we met?" Michael asks, wrapping his arms around Leo's waist.

Leo hums, turning his head to place a kiss on Michael's lips. God, Vanya thinks, they're fairytale in love. Happily ever after, forever and ever. She can only hope she and Beth will be the same way.

"Dad," Beth sighs.

Michael pulls away laughing. "Alright, alright." He sighs. "Brady's gonna order pizza. Vanya, do you have any allergies, food restrictions...?"

She shakes her head. "No, anything is fine."

"Brady!" Michael calls towards the kitchen. "Pizza's fine!"

Vanya rubs her thumb against the back of Beth's hand, just to remind herself that she's there. She's there and she's not alone.

"Well, would you like to sit?" Leo asks, motioning to the table. All four sit down, a fifth chair kept open for Brady, who joins them soon after.

The five talk and talk as if it were normal for them, as if Vanya was part of the Blood family. Brady interrogated her a little, asking if she would ever cheat etc. etc., intimidating her here and there. But Vanya assured them that she had no plans on breaking Beth's heart.

Michael told stories about Beth when she was young. Apparently, Beth had wanted to be a singer. She would sing and sing as she ran around the house barefoot. And then, when she went to high school, her dream was to become a scientist. She loved science. But, sadly, it didn't work out. Money was hard to come by and they weren't able to make college work.

Leo asked Vanya about her music. He seemed to love classical music, and adored discussing violin with Vanya.

And the best part, about all of it, was that Vanya was accepted. They ate pizza and talked and laughed and told stories. And not once did they bring up her sexuality, not once did they bring up her famous siblings. They accepted Vanya for Vanya—well, after Brady interrogated her, of course, but that was to be expected.

Vanya gripped Beth's hand and smiled at her. Brady and Michael were joking with each other, voices raised, and Leo was watching it all unfold.

Vanya squeezed her hand. "You were right," she says. "There was no need to be nervous."

Chapter Text

He still wasn't great at using his powers.

But he used them a lot.

Six of the seven kids were training, with Vanya practicing violin instead. They more or less had a grip on their powers, but there were always mistakes. After all, they were just kids.

It was after a mission when the argument started. One of their earlier missions, where they were still being introduced to the world. Image was important, Reginald reminded them, so it was vital that no mistakes were made. And Luther, ever obedient, made sure that they were perfect.

Except, this time, Five wasn't. He wouldn't admit it, but there was a little slip up on his part. It did nothing to the mission, didn't hurt anyone, but it certainly did slow them down a bit.

"You looked like you had no idea what to do out there!" Luther yells. "If people are gonna trust us, then we have to know what we're doing."

"I did know," Five says. "I just—the spatial jumping—it didn't work—"

"Then you should be training right now," Luther tells him. "Because can't slip up again—"

"It won't happen again," he says through gritted teeth. "I'm working on it, okay?"

"You could've ruined the mission for us."

"But I didn't."

"Someone could have gotten hurt or the robbers could've gotten away—"

"But they didn't."

"You've heard Dad. You know how important it is that we do good. People need to trust us and trust that we'll help them—"

"And we do. We saved probably one hundred people today, Luther. And this so called 'slip up' changed nothing. So get off my fucking back." Five shook his head. He would be a better leader than his brother, he knew he would be.

"But—"

"No," Five interrupts. "No. No buts, no nothings. You know what? Screw you. Screw this. Screw all of this." He clenches his fists, special jumping to somewhere else, to anywhere else.

Luther scoffed. "'Course he'd run away," he murmurs to himself.

Five had jumped to an ice cream shop about a town over. He jumped there often, whenever he needed some time away from his family.

Five ordered a double scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. He always did. And Luther went back to his room, assuming everything was fine.

But the next day, Five wasn't there. He tried to go back to the Academy, he really did, but he couldn't. He had been jumping so much that he couldn't do it anymore. His powers were drained and his body too weak to jump anymore.

"Have you guys seen Five?" Allison asks as everybody is getting ready for breakfast.

Everyone shrugs and murmurs some indistinct answer. But Luther stops right as he's straightening out his uniform jacket. "Five's not home?" he asks.

"Nah," Diego answers. "Have-Haven't seen 'im."

Luther clenches his fists. Shit.

Klaus laughs. "Dad's gonna kill him if he's not at breakfast."

"Do you guys think something happened to him?" Vanya asked. "Five's always here. He doesn't do stuff like this."

No one answered. They rarely answered Vanya. Luther had a fleeting thought that he should say something to them, should tell them what happened. But he doesn't. The thought goes as fast as it comes.

By the afternoon, Five still isn't back. Though the others don't know this, he's trying to hitchhike back to the Academy. The problem is, he doesn't know exactly where the Academy is. They're trapped inside there, with no measure of what's around them. So, needless to say, it creates some difficulties.

"What could've happened to him?" Ben asks.

"He should be here," Vanya says, voice scared.

"He's safe," Allison assures everyone.

"He's so fucked," Klaus panics.

"Where is h-he?" Diego questions.

They all say different things. Questions, statements, reassurances, fears. They talk over each other, unable to come to any final agreement.

And then Luther speaks. "I think I know what happened." He has to repeat it a second time, but everybody stops talking and stares at him, stares at Number One, at the leader, at the person who drove Five away.

So Luther tells them about the fight. And he tells them about Five jumping off to who knows where.

And then the rambling starts again.

Some of them shout accusations at Luther. It's Luther's fault, he scared Five away, Five will never come back.

The others, though, comforted Luther. Five just needed some time, he would come back, Luther did nothing wrong.

Luther didn't know what to believe, what to think. All he knew was that Five, his brother, someone he was supposed to be watching and helping and supporting, was gone. Maybe forever. Maybe he would be back by tomorrow. But he was still gone. Luther had still failed him.

"Does anybody know where he might have gone?" Luther asks.

Everybody shrugs.

Luther sighs.

Meanwhile, Five stands on the side of the road, arm outstretched and thumb raised. Just a preteen in a school uniform hitchhiking, nothing odd there.

Every so often, Five tried to jump again. But Reginald had overworked him, had made him spatial jump so much and so far that he was practically stranded. No where to go, no way to get home. But that didn't stop him from trying.

Eventually, when Five wasn't back at the Academy by lights out, the kids gave up hope. They did that pretty easily. They assumed Five wasn't coming back, was gone forever. They assumed Five was so mad at Luther that he was ditching them all.

But Vanya knew better. So she left the lights on and a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich out because Five was going to come back. She knew he would. He had to.

Sometime around one in the morning, Five did. It had taken forever, but he had found the Academy. He was home.

He smiled at the sandwich, but was too exhausted to even think about eating it. He just crawled in to bed and slept.

Five never got ice cream a town away again.

Chapter Text

Alright, so maybe he was a bit of a dick.

And maybe he overworked them.

But Reginald wasn't abusive. He couldn't be.

At least, that's what Diego kept telling himself.

Now, it's not that Diego liked Reginald. No, not at all. But he didn't even want to imagine his father hurting one of them, any of them.

Even Vanya.

Diego wasn't close with Vanya. Hell, he was rarely even nice to her. But she was still his sister. He still loved her, wanted to protect her.

He didn't mean to hear it. He didn't mean to hear Reginald's yelling, didn't mean to hear the crashing in the room, didn't mean to hear Vanya's shriek as a sharp crack echoed through her bedroom. He didn't mean to hear Reginald call her worthless as he walked out of the room and slammed the door.

Diego wasn't sure what to do after that. His body worked on pure instinct, and before he knew what was happening, he was knocking on Vanya's door.

No answer.

Another knock.

No answer.

Diego closed his eyes. Had he imagined the whole thing? Was he crazy? Was Vanya fine?

But he couldn't take any chances. He just couldn't.

So he turned the knob and went through the door.

Vanya's room had been trashed. What little belongings they were allowed were broken. Vanya lay on the bed, head in her hands, shaky cries coming from her mouth as tears slid down her cheek.

"Van-Vanya?" Diego asks hesitantly.

"Go away," she tells him, voice muffled by the bed.

Diego sighs. "You kn-know I c-can't d-d-do that." He takes a seat beside her on the bed. "V, did-did he..." Diego trails off. He doesn't want to say it, doesn't want it to be true.

Vanya is still for a few moments. Then she nods her head.

Shit.

Diego will fucking kill him.

"Are-Are you ok-k-kay?" He can't think, mind overwhelmed with concern for his sister. Someone hurt her, hit her, laid a single fucking finger on her. And he couldn't let that happen.

Vanya nods again. Then, "N-No." She rolls over and faces Diego, a clear red mark on her face.

Diego isn't sure what he says next. It's a bit of a blur. There's lots of stuttering and stammering involved, on both ends. He asks something along the lines of "how long?" and "why?" and "how often?" and other questions he can't remember. He can't even remember her answers.

"We have-have to t-t-tell th-the others," Diego decides.

Vanya shakes her head, years still falling. "No," she begs. "Please, Diego, please, don't."

Diego grabs Vanya's hands. He's not sure if he's trying to comfort her or comfort himself. "We h-have to. I-I will get-get you a-a-away from him, Van-Vanya. B-But we need their h-h-help."

Vanya sniffs and wipes away her tears. Her cheek still burns from her father's hand and tears still swim in her eyes. "Fine," she agrees. She knows Diego is right.

And so they do just that. They tell the others, all of them, what had happened, what had been going on. Vanya tells them about the abuse, the yelling, the hitting, all of it. There were lots of tears and lots of hugs.

And then the rebellion started.

Well, that's what Diego liked to think of it as. He always did love being dramatic.

"One of us," Luther plans, always being a leader, "should stay with Vanya at all times." Even with the red mark on his sister's cheek, Luther was still skeptical. He was an obedient child, trained to be that way. He wouldn't believe that Reginald would hurt one of them until he saw it himself.

"Sounds like a plan," Klaus agrees. "We'll protect ya, V."

And so they do. They stay with Vanya all day, and Reginald doesn't lay a hand on her.

And then night comes.

Each kid went to their room, but they were on high alert. No one could sleep, too worried for Number Seven.

And, sure enough, it happened. Reginald was back in her room yelling and hitting. Immediately, all the kids rushed to her room.

Reginald's face was practically red from anger. Diego could just imagine steam coming out of his ears. "All of you," Reginald demands, "go to your rooms. Now." Vanya was in front of him, holding her cheek, trying not to cry.

"No," Allison says.

Reginald looks shocked. "No? Number One, tell them to go back to their rooms."

"No," Luther repeats. "How about you step away from Vanya?"

"Number Seven? She's useless. Powerless. Why would you care what happened to her?"

"She's our sister," Ben says quietly.

Klaus nods. "Yeah. Step away from her."

Reginald scoffs and shakes his head. "You wouldn't be here without me—"

"A-And without you, Vanya would-wouldn't be ab-ab-abused," Diego stutters our. Abused. The word feels odd on his tongue, uncomfortable, but there's nothing else to call it. Abuse. Their father is abusing her, as horrible as that reality is.

Diego grabs Vanya by the arm and pulls her toward him, hugging her close. He won't let anything happen to her, he can't.

"Fine," Reginald says. "Try living on the streets on your own."

"It would be better than living under your roof," Five tells him. "At least we have a better chance of surviving."

"You will all go to your rooms. Right now. Or else—" Reginald threatens.

"We'll go to our rooms," Luther says, "but only if you agree to not to touch Vanya again."

Reginald stares down Luther, glares at his favorite son. Luther doesn't expect him to crack, but he does. "Fine," he agrees. "Now go to your rooms."

Reginald never lay a finger on Vanya again.

Chapter Text

Each of the kids had varying levels of experience with, well, kids.

Some handled the de-aging better than others.

Allison, for example, was a mother. She knew how to handle kids, handle babies. Luther was clueless, having spent most of his life locked away. Diego loved kids, was a saint to them. Five had spent most of his life alone, no one of any age around him. And Vanya was pretty good with kids, due to her violin classes and the young age of people she so frequently taught.

And here they were, a two year old Klaus in front of them.

There had been some... complications in an experiment the Hargreeves kids had been doing. And it seemed as if Klaus was suffering the consequences.

Weird was normal in the Hargreeves family, though, so they didn't think much about it.

There was still a problem on their hands, though: taking care of a two year old.

Young Klaus was waddling around the large Academy, stumbling and falling and touching anything he could get his hands on. Somehow, despite the fact that he hadn't been outside, he had managed to get himself dirty. It was a miracle—or a nightmare.

"Someone needs to keep an eye on him at all times," Allison says. She takes the charge on this one. She has the most experience, What with Claire and everything. "Three year olds are difficult. They can't be trusted. We have to make sure we're watching him."

The others all agreed. Any normal kid would be difficult, but a young Klaus would be extra hard to control.

And he was.

Klaus had taken to running around with Diego, chubby little legs carrying him faster than anyone would imagine.

And then he fell.

And man, that kid could cry. He wailed, the sound echoing through the Academy.

"How do we get him to shut up?" Five asked. "Can we just choke him or something? Make him pass out?"

"No!" everyone shouted.

Diego sighed. "C'mon, Klaus. Coochie coochie? Will you just. Stop. No, no, Klaus, don't even think about—okay. Fuck you too."

"He hit you?" Allison asks.

"He hit me." Diego's face is one of pure anger. A kid fucking slapped him, how the hell was he supposed to react?

"Okay," Luther says, staring at the screaming—and apparently violent—Klaus, "how did Dad handle is when we were kids?"

"I have no idea," Vanya answered. "If he had to deal with this, though, I'm sure he found a way to stop it."

"He probably kept it in one of his notebooks," Five realizes. "Luther, go check his study."

Luther nods and goes off.

Allison picks up little Klaus in her arms. "Do you think maybe it's the ghosts?" she asks. "He fell a while ago, there's no way he's still crying about that."

Diego scoffs. "I don't know anything at this point. I'm sure it wouldn't be beyond him to cry forever about something small."

"Well the ghosts probably aren't helping," Vanya agrees. "But it's not like we can get a baby drunk or high."

"Again, I can just make him pass out, go night night for a bit—" Five suggests.

"No," the others repeat.

He sighs. "Fine. Do it your way. But if you don't get him to shut up soon, I'm cutting off my own ears."

"Good for you," Diego says sarcastically.

Allison hold a Klaus tighter to her chest, his head on her shoulder. He's kicking and pounding and crying. Allison had been a mother, knew how to deal with tantrums, but she never had to deal with something like this.

"I think I found something," Luther says, coming back in the room with one of Reginald's open notebooks. "It says here, '0.04 has a habit of crying for hours on end—'"

"Fuck," Diego curses. "We gotta deal with this for hours?"

"'—but,'" Luther continues, glaring at Diego slightly, "'I have found ways to entertain him for long enough periods that he will not cry. I do believe the crying is due to what appears to be some fear, possibly one of his powers, which I have yet to fully uncover.'"

"Blah blah blah, get to the part where Reginald learns to shut him up," Diego urges. His head is pounding from the sounds of Klaus' cries.

Luther flips through a page or two before finding it. "'0.04 seems to enjoy television. Cartoons with abstract characters seem to calm him down the most.'"

"Great," Vanya says. "Let's just put him in front of the tv and put something on."

Allison does just that, laying the still crying Klaus on the couch while Luther flips through channels until he finds a show he deems calming. It features some white cow cloud sort of creature, and things that almost look human.

"Oh, Moominvalley," Five says. "Good choice."

Everyone looks at him in surprise.

"What?" he asks. "Can't a guy like tv?"

Klaus' crying has stopped somewhat—well, not stopped, but slowed down, gotten quieter. He instead stares at the tv, transfixed by the colors on the screen.

"Snufkin," Diego says, shaking his head. "What kind of a name is Snufkin?"

"I dunno, but I think it's cute," Vanya admits. "You can't tell me you think the Moomins aren't cute."

Allison sighs almost dreamily. "I'm sure Claire would've loved this show."

"What kind of names are these?" Luther says. It may be one of the few things he agrees with Diego on. "I mean, Moomintroll, Snufkin, Little My..."

"Hey, don't insult Little My like that," Five tells him.

Luther hold his hands up and laughs. "Fine, fine."

Everyone pauses for a second, then lets out a sigh of relief. They don't hear crying anymore.

"Thank god," Diego says.

Klaus laughs at the tv, pointing with a large smile on his face. Everybody else takes seat on the couch beside the kid.

"You know," Diego says not too long later, Klaus' head in his lap and his hands running through the sleepy kid's hair, "I think I actually like him like this."

Klaus smiled as he drifted off into sleep.

Chapter Text

He didn't mean to be mean.

He didn't want to upset his brother.

But Luther didn't realize how sensitive Diego was about his stutter.

The siblings had been trying to get closer, been trying to reconcile. They recalled funny moments from their childhood, tried to relive the good times—or, the okay times, really.

"Remember the first time Klaus smoked weed?" Allison asked. "I swear, he acted high for a week."

"That'd because I was!" Klaus defended. "That was some strong stuff."

Diego rolled his eyes. "I smoked with you, Klaus. Nobody would've even guessed I was high."

Five started laughing. "Stop lying, Diego. We all knew you were high, we just didn't say anything."

"What? Seriously?" Diego asks.

Vanya shrugs. "Yeah."

Diego shakes his head.

"Klaus," Ben whispers to them, "remind them about the first time Vanya broke the strings on her violin."

Klaus laughs, and everybody looks at them. "Benny wanted to bring up the first time you broke your violin strings," Klaus explains, pointing to their sister.

Vanya's face turns pink. "Do we have to relive that?"

"You thought you broke it," Luther remembers. "Like, the whole violin."

"Well Dad hadn't taught me anything!" she defends. "It wasn't my fault."

"You cried for days," Ben says, knowing that only Klaus could hear him. At least it gets a little chuckle out of them.

Diego can't stop laughing. He remembers that moment like it was yesterday. "I thought you were n-n-never gonna stop crying."

"You still have that stutter?" Luther asks. "Thought you got rid of that years ago."

And now it's Diego's turn to go red. He lets out a forced laugh, but it quickly ends. There's a new tension in the room, as if everybody is holding their breath.

"Shit," Luther curses under his breath. He clears his throat and rubs the back of his neck. "Are we, uh, not supposed to mention that?"

Klaus sucks in a harsh breath. "Tough subject, Luther."

"Oh geez. I'm sorry, Diego," he quickly apologizes. "I didn't realize—"

"No, no, it-it's fine," he dismisses.

"Diego, it's clearly not—"

"It's f-fine," he insists through gritted teeth.

"Lets just drop the subject, yeah?" Allison suggests.

Vanya nods. "Sounds like a good idea. Five, do you have any good stories, or...?"

Five shakes his head. No one speaks.

Until Luther does. "D, I—"

"I s-s-said it's f-fine," he repeats. Everyone is looking at him and he hates it. He hates the stupid stutter, just wants it gone. Of course, of fucking course Luther had to bring it up, though.

Luther sighs. "I didn't realize that you were still so sensitive about it."

"Wh-What if I had insulted you-your leadership sk-skills?" Diego asked. "And-And not just challenged you, b-but insulted you. Said-Said, 'Luther, you-you're a t-t-terrible leader, and-and you should just give up.'"

Luther looks down. He wishes he could take it back, he does. It was a stupid thing to say, he wasn't thinking, and if he could just take it back...

"Let's not do this," Klaus tells them. "You two always turn this into something bigger than it needs to be."

"We don't do that," Diego grumbles.

Five rolls his eyes. "Yeah, you do."

"I just want to apologize," Luther says. "Without being interrupted, that is."

Allison sighs. "Diego, will you let him apologize?"

Diego shrugs. "He al-already did."

"But you just dismissed it," Luther shoots back. "Seriously, Diego, I'm sorry for talking about your stutter. I really didn't realize that you were still so sensitive about it. I didn't mean to insult you in anyway."

"Good. Then we're d-done." Diego always hated the argument. He couldn’t do anything about the stutter, couldn’t control it. Hell, even as an adult he wasn’t able to fully control it. Sure, it was better, but a stutter wasn’t something he could just get rid of. He’d be stuck with it for the rest of his life. And after being insulted and put down his whole childhood because of his speech impediment, Diego was sensitive about the subject.

Diego knew Luther wasn’t trying to insult him. He probably just got caught up in the moment, spoke before thinking. But that didn’t make it hurt any less.

“Can we get on with the story telling?” Klaus asks. “Or do we need to put you two in time out so you don’t kill the fun?”

“No, no,” Luther said. “We’re fine. Or, Diego—are we fine? You aren’t upset?”

Diego shrugged. “‘Course I’m-m upset. But I’m fine.”

Everybody looks between the brothers for a few moments, trying to see whether or not the arguing will start up again. Thankfully, neither say anything. Luther doesn’t want to upset Diego and Diego doesn’t want to stutter again.

“Alright, great,” Klaus says, clapping their hands together. “Anybody have anymore stories?”

Five raises his hand, as if waiting to be called on. “I actually have a pretty good one. The first time Luther and Diego fought—” everybody cringes, worried the fighting will start again, “—Diego tackled Luther. Remember? Well, they never told you guys, but Diego basically kissed Luther.”

Diego puts his head in his hands and groans, Luther throwing his head back in laughter.

“Yeah, lips to lips,” Five continues.

“Let’s just shut up a-all together,” Diego asks. “I officially hate this.”

“I think this is fantastic,” Klaus says, laughing. “My two bros sharing a brotherly moment? Makes me proud.”

“You were so embarrassed,” Luther reminds him. “I swear you couldn’t look at me for a whole week.”

“Well,” Diego defends, “I rarely want to look at you, an-anyways.”

Luther’s jaw drops. “You jerk!”

Everybody else laughs, going around a telling more stories and more jokes.

Luther never brought up the stutter again.

Chapter Text

Ghosts.

The damn ghosts.

Klaus can hear them screaming and crying, crying his name—how do they know his name? Why are they so bloody? Why are they so loud?

Klaus is still young. He is yet to lose two brothers, yet to begin drugs. He has no way to control his fear of the ghosts. And that fear is certainly no better after the whole incident with the mausoleum.

After being locked in that mausoleum for god knows how long, Klaus just... shut down. Every ghost he saw made him shake a bit more, made him close his eyes a little tighter.

But closing his eyes didn't work. Nothing worked. The ghosts were always there, screaming and screaming and screaming—

And he snapped. Something in his brain just... stopped. Something went wrong somewhere and Klaus didn't know how to fix himself.

He felt frozen. The ghosts were still there, all around him, but he couldn't do anything. His mouth was open as if he were about to scream, but he sat on his bed, frozen. He couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't do anything.

"Klaus?" Diego shakes his shoulder, but Klaus only blinks. "Guys, help! Something is wr-wrong with Klaus!" Almost immediately, the others come running into Klaus' room. "He-He won't talk," Diego explains. "And he's not—he's not m-moving."

Ben lays Klaus back on the bed and Five crawls over. He examines Klaus as if he was a doctor—he is the closest out of the six. "I think he's in shock. Or..."

"Or what?" Vanya asks.

Five sucks in a breath. "Or something went wrong. With his, uh. Brain. Which means he's mentally, you know, insane."

Diego closes his eyes tight, his hands shaking. No, no, no, this can't happen, his brother can't be—"

"It's the ghosts," Luther theorizes. "If always is, isn't it?"

The others nod. It was always the ghosts.

"But it's not like there's a cure for his powers," Allison reminds them. "We can't just... take it away. He's stuck with them."

Diego shakes Klaus' shoulder again, but he doesn't move, doesn't respond.

Klaus is in a world of his own. A nightmare, rather. He can see his siblings in front of him, worried and waiting and trying, trying to get him to respond, but he can't. The ghosts swarm around him, trap him.

Klaus feels like he's underwater, drowning in the ghosts, forgotten how to swim. He can see everyone despite the water, hear them even though it's muffled, but he can't respond. If he responds he'll drown, drown in the water, in the ghosts.

"H-How d-d-do we get him to r-respond?" Diego asks, sighing as he turns to Five.

Five frowns. "I don't know."

Ben clasps a hand over his mouth, feeling the tears in his eyes. Klaus had been there for him every time, had always comforted him after using his power. He even fondly referred to the tentacles as 'Bentacles,' which always made him laugh. But now... now Klaus might not respond ever again. May never make stupid jokes about their powers or their lives.

Why couldn't he have been there for his brother, Ben wonders. Why wasn't he there when Klaus was shaking, crying, tears running down his face? Why wasn't he there when Klaus sat in his room, screaming? And why wasn't he there when Klaus went unresponsive? Still alive but dead to the world?

"We'll figure it out," Luther assured them all. "Dad will know what to do." But Luther didn't know any of that. Any promises or reassurances he made were all empty, said to comfort his siblings just as much as they were said to comfort himself. Because, as far as Luther knew, Klaus may never speak again. Those ghosts may have finally tore down the last wall Klaus had between sanity and mental illness. He may have lost his brother permanently.

"Can he see us?" Vanya questions. "Hear us? Or is he passed out?"

Five shrugs. "I'm not sure," he admits. "I... I don't know."

And that makes everybody even more nervous. Five always knows the answer, always knows everything. If Five didn't have the answer, if Five couldn't help Klaus, then who could?

Klaus wants to cry out to his siblings, wants to say something to them, tell them he's fine. But he's not fine. And he can't. He can't talk, cant move, can't respond. The ghosts scream in his ear but he can still hear his siblings' worry, still see it on their faces. And he's worried, too. If the ghosts are water, then he's forgotten how to swim. He's drowning and he can't save himself.

"Mom or Dad will know, guys," Allison tried to say, tries to calm them, but her voice is shaky and unsteady. "They—They have to know. This is what they do, right? This is why they have us. Right?"

Nobody said anything. They just stared at Klaus, unresponsive on his bed. Five stood over him, Diego beside him. Ben was in the corner of the room, trying not to cry. Vanya was against the wall, biting her quivering lip. Luther had an arm around Allison at the end of the day, trying to ground both himself and her.

And then there was Klaus. He saw them all, heard them over the cries of the ghosts. He wanted a hug more than anything, as odd as it sounded. Just a reminder that they were still there, still cared about him.

Or some food. Yeah, Klaus could go for some of that. He had lost track of time, didn't know when he had last eaten. He wasn't sure if the rumble in his stomach was hunger or fear, but he knew food would soothe it.

But he was trapped on that bed. Not moving, not speaking.

He was drowning in the sea of ghosts.

Chapter Text

She had learned it for practical reasons.

'It' being how to tie a noose.

Now, before Vanya had even thought about the violin, she had taken up other hobbies. One of the more odd ones was knot tying. Name any knot, she could tie it.

But, none of that information relates to what is about to happen. Except for, of course, one thing: the noose.

Vanya had tied it with her shaky hands not too long ago. She tied it to a beam on the ceiling, stood on a creaky chair that she had dragged into her room. The rope had been used by Reginald to train the others not too long ago. Not a big and fraying rope, not like the ones you'd see if you searched the word 'noose.' No, it was a fairly thin and small blue rope. But it would get the job done. Vanya knew it would.

Now, Vanya has plenty of reasons for doing what she was about to. She had lost not one, but two brothers. She had been excluded and outcasted and put down her whole life. Since Five—her best friend, her brother—left, she cried herself to sleep every night.

But not this night. No, this time she wouldn't wake up in the morning. She wouldn't have to suffer through another day, another insult. She wouldn't have to cry again.

As far as Vanya could see, this was her only option. Suicide. Taking her own life. God, she hated how it sounded. It made her sound selfish or ungrateful. But she wasn't, not at all.

Vanya had written up a note. It was under her feet on the chair. It explained everything. It explained why she did it. And it may seem cruel to leave a note, but she wanted her family—her siblings, really—to know that there was nothing they could do to save her.

Her hands trailed along the knots and ties made in the rope. This would be her end.

Vanya grabbed it, taking a deep breath as she began to put it around her neck.

"Hey, V, Klaus and I were gonna-gonna go out and he said I should invite you." And of course, because Diego has no manners whatsoever, he barges in her room without a knock. Why hadn't she locked the door? She swore she had.

Diego looks up to see his sister and freezes. Vanya closes her eyes and slowly takes her head from the noose.

She should be dead already.

"Woah, alright, h-hold up there, Vanya. Let's not, heh, get too hasty there." He puts his hands out and lowers down as if it'll stop the situation at hand, as if he were taming some rabid animal. But he's not. He's trying to stop his sister from taking her own life.

Vanya doesn't respond. Hell, she barely even heard him. Everything sounds... muffled, almost. As if she were underwater—or maybe Diego's the one underwater. Maybe Vanya is the only one seeing clearly.

Her fingers linger on the rope. Maybe if she doesn't let go, Diego will leave. Maybe if she doesn't let go, she will be able to follow through with it. Maybe if she doesn't let go, she'll wake up from this nightmare.

"Let's just step a-away from the chair, Vanya." Diego had gotten better at controlling the stutter, and he was trying as hard as he could to not stutter when talking to Vanya. He tried to keep his voice steady, tried to seem calm. He didn't want to startle her, make her do something she'd regret. "You don't—You don't have to do this."

But she did. She had to. If she wanted to stop the pain, stop the sadness, then this was the only way out. But she didn't say any of that. She didn't say anything. She just smiled and stared at the rope. She felt frozen to her spot, stuck with the noose just a few centimeters from her head.

Diego ran a hand down his face and sighed. She wasn't moving. Talking didn't seem to help, it didn't seem to do anything. Vanya seemed to be in a trance. He saw tears in his eyes, he's sure he sees them, but Vanya doesn't seem... sad. She seems afraid, almost. But he knows she would never admit that.

Diego sighs. He takes a few steps toward his sister, but she doesn't move. "You gotta step down, V. I can help you, I promise I will, but this isn't the way. Just give me a chance to help you. Because that—" he points to the rope dangling from the ceiling, "—is not something you can come back from. And it'll probably hurt like hell. But I can help you if you just step down."

Diego is beside the chair now, raising is hand out to Vanya. She looked down at him as if he were unrecognizable, as if he were a total stranger. She grabbed the rope again and began to put it around her neck.

"No!" Diego yelled. On instinct, he pushed Vanya back before the noose was fully around her. She fell back on the bed, and Diego quickly kicked the chair away so she couldn't get close to the rope again.

Diego shakes Vanya's shoulder. "V? Are you okay?"

A tear rolls down her cheek. "No," she admits in a shaky voice. "You should've—you should've let me die. I—I wanted to die."

Diego hugged Vanya and smiled. "I wouldn't let that happen. Nothin' is gonna happen to you on my watch."

"Why don't you hate me?" she asks. "I'm a horrible person. Don't you—Don't you think I was being selfish? Trying to kill myself?"

Diego scoffs. "Vanya, you are the most selfless person I know. And in the future, please talk to me. Please. I don't want you dead. I would never want you dead."

A few months later, Diego moves out. One by one, the others do, too.

But Vanya never forgot Diego's words.

Chapter Text

The cutting hadn't stopped.

He's not sure he could stop if he tried.

Cuts covered most of Diego's wrist. His umbrella tattoo was bloody and scarred, barely visible anymore. But nobody noticed. They never noticed. He had worn long sleeves since the first time he cut himself, and it hid all the scars.

Diego no longer felt guilty about cutting. He didn't feel much, if he was being honest. Nothing felt as bad—or as good, for that matter—as cutting. And each time he picked up that knife, the knife he always used when hurting himself, he decided he would cut a little deeper. There was always more blood left behind, a little more to clean up.

Diego had begun to cut every night. It was like an addiction, something he couldn't stop. Before bed, he always picked up the blade, always let it glide across his skin.

And that's what he was doing that night. Sitting on his bed in his freshly cleaned Academy pajamas, knife in hand. His hand no longer shook, now accustomed to the pain.

Diego had gotten through three cuts before Klaus barged into his room. Klaus rarely knocked when it came to Diego, just ran into the room. And Diego despised it.

"Shit," Diego curses, freezing. "K-Klaus, i-i-it's not—fuck."

Klaus' eyes were wide open. "Diego, is that, um, blood?"

Diego rolled his eyes. "D-Don't be a b-baby, you've se-seen it before."

Klaus immediately rushes to his brother's side. "Diego, this is—this is different! You—Did you hurt yourself? Cut yourself?"

Diego shrugs. He feels a bit lightheaded, but thinks nothing of it. He lost blood, that was normal.

Klaus runs one hand through his hair as another frantically searches the bed sheets in search of—in search of something. A cloth, maybe. Something to stop the bleeding. But there's nothing. So, on instinct, Klaus pushes his own hand on the wounds, soaking it in blood.

"Shit!" Diego yells. "That f-fucking hurts you-you ass."

Klaus pulls it away quickly. "Sorry, sorry. But we need to just, you know, stop the bleeding, right? That's what you do?"

Diego pulls the sleeve of his Academy pajamas over the cuts, the blood soaking into the fabric quickly. "I'm fine," he insists, but he knows it's a lie. There's more blood this time than before, a lot more. He's never been this dizzy, this light headed.

"Diego, have—have you done this before?" Klaus asks.

He shrugs. "Yeah," he answers. He doesn't want to make it a big deal, he never makes it a big deal.

"Dammit Diego, you can't—shit, you can't do this."

"Well, I-I-I did." He shrugs again. He's still alive, even after the cutting. He was still alive after all of it. It's not like the cutting would kill him—well, it hadn't yet, at least.

Klaus shakes his head and groans. "That's not what I mean! I mean—this is bad, Diego. This is—This is really bad."

Diego chuckled. "You're stut-stut-stuttering more than I a-am."

Klaus punched Diego's shoulder. Blood continued to soak into the pajama sleeve, not letting up. "That's not the point, idiot! The point is that you're hurting yourself. I don't want to see you hurt yourself."

"I don't w-wanna hurt m-my-myself," Diego shoots back. He sways a little as he stands up, unsteady. "You think this is wh-what I want? N-No! I fuck-fucking hate it. I h-hate m-m-myself. That's why I-I do this, Klaus." He leans forward a little, eyes going dark. He feels like he's falling, but he's not sure what direction he'll fall. "Shit," he murmurs, collapsing on the bed, eyes going black.

He comes to less than a minute later, Klaus shaking his shoulder. "Diego? Diego? Fuck, Diego, please."

He's disoriented, looking around. Why did he pass out? Why is his sleeve wet? Why does his wrist hurt?

And then he remembers. The cutting. Klaus found him.

"Klaus, I-I-I'm fine," he says.

"Clearly you're not!" Klaus tells him, raising his voice. "You just passed out because you lost so much fucking blood! That's not 'fine,' you fucking idiot."

Diego puts his hands up in defense. "G-Geez, no need to get so-so up-upset."

Klaus' eyes widen and he shakes his head. "Of fucking course I'm upset, you idiot. I thought you—I thought you were dead or something. Fuck, Diego, I thought you wanted to be dead. That this was a stupid plan or something."

"No, no, I-I don't want t-to die," Diego quickly responds. And it's the truth. He doesn't want to die. He just wants to feel better, wants to not be stressed. He never meant for the cutting to get this far. He never meant for anyone to find out, either, but he's not sure that he should mention that to his brother.

"Thank got," Klaus says with a sigh. "But, still. You're hurting yourself. Cutting yourself. Diego, I don't want to lose you. You can—This can kill you. Even if you don't mean it to, this might kill you one day. And I know you're an idiot, but please be smart about this. Please."

Diego frowns. "I'm s-s-s-sorry," he apologizes. He didn't mean to worry Klaus, to make him upset. He didn't mean to pass out, to get so addicted to this horrible horrible thing. If he had just left the knife down that first night, if he had just stopped, then maybe he wouldn't be in this situation. But he was.

"I won't-won't do it a-again," Diego says. "I don't—It won't be e-easy. I'll n-n-need your h-help. But-But if you w-want me to st-st-stop, then I-I will."

Klaus wraps his arms around Diego. "Thank you. Now, let's get your arm cleaned up."

And, with some assistance from his brother, Diego didn't cut again.

Chapter Text

Hello.

Goodbye.

Two words, two hands, two tattoos.

Klaus got the tattoos before they had even left the Hargreeves house. Reginald highly disapproved, but they were past caring what he thought. They were past caring what anyone thought.

Now, the origin of the tattoos is quite simple: ouija boards. Klaus was, obviously, high when they came up with the idea, but they still thought it was brilliant. Ouija boards were, supposedly, able to connect the living to the dead, able to give people a glimpse in to the afterlife. That's what Klaus was, essentially. The glimpse in to the afterlife. The glimpse in to the other side.

Their whole life, Klaus had been used more as an object than a person. Conjure him or talk to her, summon the dead and blah blah blah. And they hated it, despised it. Their whole family treated them like nothing more than a walking ouija board. Yes, they could see the dead and could talk to them, but they were so much more than that, so much more than their power. And while they normally pushed that identity away, Klaus still got the tattoos. Hello. Goodbye.

Honestly, Klaus wasn't sure if the tattoos were them accepting that identity or rebelling against it. Honestly, they weren't sober enough when they came up with the idea to think of much other than 'the tattoos would look cool.' They also come in handy (that's a pun) when Klaus is trying to make someone go away. It wasn't uncommon for them to say "talk to the hand" and then show that person the 'goodbye' printed in ink on their palm. It always gave them a good laugh, even if the person on the receiving end didn't find it as funny.

But, that's besides the point. While the tattoos are helpful for fun and games, they do have real meaning. While Klaus might not even realize it, the tattoos are a way for them to show their family that they are so much more than a bridge between the living and dead. Klaus' tattoos are a way of saying "yes, I can help you talk to people in the afterlife, but I am more than that." Because, under their power of talking to the dead, under the drugs and the alcohol, under everything, they were still a person. They were still made of flesh and bone. They were still worthy of love and care and kindness. But that meaning was hidden deep in Klaus' subconscious, so far back that they didn't even know the meaning was there.

The tattoos had hurt like hell when they got them, obviously. There's such little flesh there, such little cushion, that Klaus shed more than a few tears when they received them. And it had taken multiple sessions, too, to finish the set. One day for each word. But it was worth it. It was worth it to see the look of shock on their father's face, and it was worth it to make all those stupid puns about hands and ghosts and ouija boards.

Every tattoo Klaus has on their body has a meaning. Later in their life, they'd have tattoos that symbolize the war, that symbolize the time they had with the love of their life. They'd get a tattoo every time they almost died, every time something monumental in their life happened. Many tattoos were drunk mistakes, many ideas created when they were high. But each tattoo was special, no matter when they were created. Each tattoo had some meaning, no matter how stupid or pointless the meaning might seem to others.

But the Hello and Goodbye tattoos were just a bit more special than the rest. They were the first tattoos they got, which is always monumental. They were a symbol of rebellion and a symbol of acceptance. They were the marking of when Klaus said "fuck it all" and left the house, left Reginald and Grace and their siblings.

As Klaus grew older, they grew to love the tattoos even more. Not only did they think the tattoos were unique and stylish, but they also fell in love with their meaning. The more nights they spent thinking about the tattoos, the more they realized how important they were. During each thinking session they were high, but that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because, even high, the meaning is the same. The symbolism is the same.

Nobody other than Klaus knows of the importance of the tattoos. Most people figure out the connection to ouija boards once they learn their power, but the tattoos are so much more than that. But Klaus doesn't tell anyone that. They don't need to. The meaning is for them and them only.

And so that is the story of the infamous Hello and Goodbye tattoos that rest on each of Klaus' hands. A story filled with lots of drugs and alcohol, but a story nonetheless. A story with meanings that lie below the surface.

And a story that Klaus will keep with them forever.

Chapter Text

Dave.

The love of his life.

After Dave died, Klaus was heartbroken. He didn't know what to do. So he just took the dog tags from Dave's neck and ran, ran away.

Those tags are the only thing that he has left of Dave. He wears them at all time, holds them when he's scared. Those tags are the only thing holding Klaus together.

And, one day, Klaus fell apart.

Klaus woke up one morning without the tags around his neck. He was sure he had worn them when he went to sleep, he was sure he had, but they weren't there.

Except, the tags had fallen off some time the day before. Luther had found them, picked them up, and threw them on his bed. But Klaus didn't know that.

The first thing Klaus did every morning was reach up and grab the tags that hung around his neck. The first thing he did was think of Dave. But this morning, the tags weren't there.

Immediately, he began to panic. Heart racing, throat tightening, tears burning at his eyes. He fumbles around his bed, looking, looking for the tags. They have to be in his bed, they have to be.

Except they aren't.

Klaus can feel his chest tightening. He can't breathe, can't breathe. He needs the tags, needs the reminder of Dave, needs something.

Tears started rolling down Klaus face. "Fuck," he whispered to himself. Now—Now he has nothing.

He needs to look through the house, he decides. But the house is big, so big, and it could be anywhere.

Fuck.

Klaus jumps out of the bed, not caring that he didn't look presentable in any way and wore not nearly enough clothing. All he knew was that he needed those dog tags.

Klaus felt dizzy the whole time he was looking for them. "Please, please," he chanted the whole time, voice shaky and choked. He was having a panic attack, he knew that, but he wasn't able to calm himself down. He needed those tags.

He searched the whole house, searched the sidewalk outside. He stripped his bed, threw everything everywhere, just to make sure he wasn’t missing it.

By the end of the day, though, he hadn't found them. He was begging, fucking begging, for someone to tell him where they were. But nobody knew.

Until he saw Luther.

"Please," Klaus begged, body shaking, face covered in tears, "have-have you seen my tags? The-The dog tags that I got from Dave. I can't find them, please, I can't—I can't find them."

"What?" Luther asks. He didn't know any Dave. Except—

The dog tags he had found last night. The name. "Dave Katz?" he asks.

Klaus' eyes shoot open. "Y-Yes," he quickly answers. "The tags, the tags. Do you have them?" On instinct, he reaches for his neck, but the cool metal that he had for so long is no longer there. It makes his heart ache. He lost Dave, but he can't, he just can't lose the one thing he has left of him.

Luther shrugs. "I think so. Why? Why are they so important?"

And Klaus cries. Tears of joy this time, though. Because if Luther really has them, really had the tags, then this whole nightmare can be over. "Thank you," he mutters. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. I-I've been looking for them all day. Jesus fuck, Luther, I need them."

"Why?" he repeats. What could be so special about some object? And who was this mystery Dave Katz that Luther had never heard about?

"Fuck, Luther, please just give them to me. I need them," Klaus cries. He grabs Luther by his big ol' shoulders and tries to shake him. "Just give them to me before I die."

Luther puts his hands up and shakes Klaus off him. “Fine, fine. They’re in my bedroom.”

Klaus all but cheers as he follows Luther into his room. And, sure enough, the dog tags are on the bed.

Klaus fucking jumps on the bed, scrambling to put the tags in his hand and then around his neck. He holds them tight in his hand. “I’m so sorry,” he whispers to no one in particular, voice still shaky. He calms with the cool metal weight in his hand again, feels comforted.

Though Klaus can’t see him, he feels as though Dave—or Dave’s ghost, rather—is behind him. He always feels like that, really. As if the dog tags is, somehow, Dave himself, as if Dave goes where the tags go.

“Klaus?” Luther snaps in front of his brother’s face, trying to get his attention. “You were kinda out of it, there. But, uh, if you don’t mind me asking... what are those dog tags? You didn’t serve in the military. And, that’s not even your name.”

Klaus rolls his eyes and sighs. “There’s so much you don’t know, dear brother,” he replies. He keeps one hand wrapped around the tags and uses the other to pat Luther’s shoulder. “Thank you. But if you ever touch these again, I will fucking kill you.” Klaus flashes Luther a fake and cheesy smile.

From that day on, Klaus rarely let Dave’s dog tags go out of his sight. He couldn’t risk losing them again, couldn’t risk losing another part of Dave. He loved Dave more than the world, more than himself, and he doesn’t know what he’d do if he didn’t even have something as simple as some dog tags from the war.

Those dog tags mattered more to Klaus than most things do.

And he never lost them again.

Chapter Text

Somehow, he got away from his family to talk to the guy.

Somehow, the guy gave him his number.

After multiple missions and multiple times of eye contact, Five finally went over to the boy that had been staring at him after every mission they had gone on. The guy introduced himself as Asher, then gave Five his phone number.

For days, the two texted each other. Five had to buy a phone without Reginald’s knowing, but it was worth it.

Finally, Asher said he wanted to meet up with Five. As a date.

They were meeting up in the park to get ice cream. Simple, laid back. Five ignored the obvious problems and dangers with it and agreed.

Five wore his school uniform and domino mask. He wasn’t supposed to go out, let alone go out without a mask. So he wore it.

“I have to go somewhere,” he explained to his siblings. “The park. Will you guys cover for me?”

“‘Course,” Diego agreed.

Five smiled widely and special jumped up the park.

Silence fell between the remaining six for only a few seconds before Klaus spoke. “We’re going after him, right?”

“Obviously,” Vanya agreed. And then they were off.

Asher was already at the park when Five arrived. His dirty blond hair was ruffled and thrown around, the tips recently dyed pink, and his eyes were green enticing. Five smiled to himself.

Asher turned and noticed Five. “Hey!” he greets, waving him over. He pulls Five into a hug, despite the fact that Five goes stiff when he does so. “It’s great to see you.”

Five looks down and blushes.

Blushes? No, no, that can’t be right. Number Five doesn’t blush.

“You too,” Five says.

The two walk over to an ice cream truck, Asher trying to make pointless conversation. “Before we order,” he says, “you should take off the mask. Don’t wanna draw attention to yourself.”

Five runs a cautious hand through his hair. “But...”

“And,” Asher continues slowly, “I wanna see your face.”

Five takes a deep breath. “Sure,” he agrees. “Yeah.” He takes the mask off, his eyes immediately fleeting downwards.

Asher chuckles a little. “You don’t look half bad, Number Five,” he jokes. “Not half bad.”

Five looks up to see a grin on Asher’s face. “And you don’t look too bad yourself,” Five says.

They get in line for ice cream, Five ordering mint chocolate chip and Asher ordering chocolate. It’s only after they order that Five notices six people hiding behind one tree—one single tree. He groans. It’s his siblings.

“What is it?” Asher asks, licking the ice cream to make sure it doesn’t drip.

“Nothing,” Five lies. “It’s nothing. Let’s, uh, go over to the lake or something.”

Asher shrugs and agrees.

As the two walk over, they talk and laugh. Asher tells Five how his little sister won a spelling bee the day before, and Five tells Asher how Allison tricked Reginald into letting them have candy for dinner.

Behind them, the other Hargreeves kids followed. Diego and Luther kept pushing one another, fighting over who got the better view. Somehow, though, for once in their lives, they managed to keep quiet.

Five knew they were following him, obviously. He kept shooting menacing glances behind him, warning his siblings that if they got any closer he wouldn’t hesitate to murder them.

Asher and Five has sat down by the lake, under the shade of a tree. They’re laughing at some stupid joke or story one of them told, but Five isn’t sure who said it. He feels like he’s floating, happier than he’s ever been.

Somehow, he’s not sure how or when it happened, Asher’s hand slipped in to his. Their fingers intertwined. Five was nervous that his hands would grow too sweaty, or his body was too stiff. But Asher didn’t seem to care. He didn’t say anything, at least.

“D-Damn,” Diego whistled. “Five’s got-got some ga-a-ame.”

Allison rolled her eyes. “The other one is the one that started the hand holding.”

“Does it matter?” Vanya asks with a groan.

“Shhh,” Ben hushed. “We don’t want ‘em to catch us.”

Asher squeezed Five’s hand, turning to face him. “So, what are you?”

“Hm?” Five questions. His hand feels warm, feels safe. He never wants to let go.

Both of them had finished their ice cream a while ago, and were now just talking. “Like... what do you identify as? Sexuality wise.”

“Oh. I’m, uh, I’m bisexual, I think,” Five answers.

Asher chuckles. “So now I gotta worry about girls stealing you, too?”

Five shakes his head, but smiles. “What about you?”

“Gay,” Asher quickly says. “Guys only for me.” And Five’s not sure if it was related to Asher’s answer or not, but Asher gives Five’s hand a squeeze that lasts a little longer than the ones before. “Are you out to your family yet? Do they know that you like guys?”

Five rolls his eyes. “Yeah. Well, my siblings and my mom do. I haven’t told my dad yet. I actually told them right after I met you. One of my brothers found out, and I just couldn’t avoid it. Are you?”

Asher shrugs. “I haven’t told them outright, but I’m pretty sure they know. I’m not exactly discreet about it.” As if to prove his point, he gestures to the pink tips of his hair and his hand intertwined with Five’s.

Five blushes a little. He’s not sure why, really. He shouldn’t feel so nervous. But he can’t help it.

“I actually have to go,” Asher says, pulling his hand from Five’s and slowly getting up. Five does the same.

“I’ll see you later?” Five asks. Asher smiles and nods, leaning in to hug him.

“Now kiss!” Diego yells from the bushes.

Asher seems stunned by Diego’s presence, but Five just turns so he’s facing his brother and yells, “Oh, fuck off.”

Shaking his head and laughing, Asher pats Five’s back. “This was nice. I—I do wanna do this again. If you’re up for it, of course.”

“I’d like that,” Five admits.

Asher flashes Five a smile, then walks away.

And Five has never been happier.

Chapter Text

Too hard.

Always too hard.

Five wanted—no, needed—to be the best person out on the missions, needed to prove to everyone that he knew what he was doing.

But he over worked himself. His spacial jumping must have failed somehow, and he jumped right in to a bullet. It only hit his leg, nothing serious, but he had still screwed up.

Five sat on his bed, leg newly stitched up, siblings surrounding him.

“C’mon, Five,” Klaus said. “You can’t walk on that. Just let me get some water.”

“No, no,” he insisted, trying to stand up. “I got it.” As soon as he gets on his feet he starts to fall down, but Luther is there to catch him.

Diego laughs. “Yeah, there-there-there’s n-no way you’re w-w-walkin’ on that.”

Five groaned. “Fine.”

“What even happened back there?” Allison asks.

He shrugs. “Dunno. I—I tried to jump, but it—it didn’t work.”

Ben scoffed. “Dude, that bullet was coming towards me. You saved my life. I guess you really do love me, huh?”

“Shut up,” Five grits out.

“Come on. Say it. Say you love your brother,” Ben pushes him.

Five shakes his head. “Never.”

“We all know you love us anyway,” Vanya says.

Luther set Five back down on his bed. “Never seen you screw up before,” he says.

“First time for everything,” Klaus responds with a laugh.

“Did none of you hear me say ‘shut up?’” Five asks.

“Oh, we-we heard you. We j-just don’t c-c-care. B-But we still l-love you, bro.” Diego slaps Five’s back, smirking.

“Can all of you just be quiet?”

“Maybe,” Allison says. “And I can’t still get you that water, if you need.”

“I’m fine,” Five lies. “If I need anything, I’ll get it myself.”

“No, you’re not,” Vanya tells him. “You’re not leaving your bed until your leg is healed.” She crosses her arms and stares Five down. Of the six, she is the only one that can get away with saying something like that. And she’s the only one who Five will listen to.

But Five would never admit that. So he chooses to say nothing instead.

“I st-still can’t believe that you—Num-m-mber Five, m-m-m-messed up our m-mission.” Diego rolls his eyes. Of course he would choose a sentence with so many opportunities to stutter. But, none of his siblings mention it, thank god.

“Hey, I was saving Ben’s ass,” Five defends himself. “And it’s not my fault Dad worked me too hard during training. That’s the whole reason this happened, anyway. I was worked too hard.”

“You still screwed up,” Klaus points out. “But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that, until your leg gets to healin’, we get to take care of you. And it’ll be f-u-n. Fun fun fun.”

“I highly doubt that,” Five responds with a scoff.

“Nope.” Klaus pops the ‘p’ when he says it. “We’re gonna have all the fun in the world, or my name isn’t Mr. Klaus Fun Pants.”

“It isn’t,” Luther says.

“Then I’ll change it to that!”

“No you won’t.”

“You can’t stop me.”

Luther rolls his eyes. “Yeah, I can.”

“Again, you guys can shut up,” Five interjects. “And you guys can leave. You don’t need to be here. I’m fine.”

“You’re not,” Vanya insists. “And we’re not leaving. You’re hurt, Five. We can’t just... leave you alone.”

“Sure you can. It’s easy. Just walk out that door.”

“No. We won’t leave you, Five. Just think of us as your personal servants until you’re healed.

“Just,” Diego says, “d-don’t m-m-make us do an-anything to kinky.”

Five grabs a pillow from his bed and throws it, hitting his brother’s head. “You’re disgusting.”

“I just w-wanna set bound-boundaries,” Diego defends.

“Vanya’s right,” Allison agrees, trying to steal the conversation away from what Diego had turned it to. “We’re here for you. At least, I am. There’s no way I’m missing a single second of Mr. Perfect Boy’s mistake healing up.”

“I’m not perfect,” Five says. He’s far from it, and he should know. “I’ve never even claimed to be. I’m just... more perfect than all of you.”

“Wow. And humble, too,” Luther sarcastically says. “And there’s no way you’re ‘more perfect’ than me—”

“Luther,” Allison warns.

Luther looks down and bites his lip. “Right. Sorry.”

Ben shakes his head and laughs. “God, we are all total messes. How did this not happen sooner?”

“No one knows,” Five answers. “I guess something was keeping our little boat from sinking.”

“Lets just hope one little leak doesn’t mean our ‘boat’ will sink,” Ben says. “But, honestly Five, thank you. Whether or not you meant to save me like that, it—it means a lot, man. And if you need anything, anything at all, just call out.”

“I can do everything on my own,” Five mumbles. He’s almost embarrassed at having messed up, at needing his siblings to help him. And, besides: Five is a capable kid. He can do what he needs. At least, that’s what he tells himself. He’s not spacial jumping, just to be sure, and he can’t even walk. He needs his siblings’ help, even if he won’t admit it.

“Can I just go to bed, now?” Five asks. “Really, I’m fine for tonight.”

“You sure you don’t need that cup of water?” Klaus asks.

Five shrugs. “I’m fine.”

“Alright,” Vanya says. “I guess we’ll see you in the morning, then?”

Five pulls the blanket over his body, wincing slightly from the pain in his leg. “Sounds good to me.”

“Night, Five,” all six say, almost in sync.

“Night,” he responds. His siblings leave, turning off the light, and Five closes his eyes.

A smile remains on his face the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

June means pride month.

And pride month means pride parades.

And pride parades means Klaus is getting their gay on.

Only two members of the Hargreeves family have ever been to a pride parade. Non-binary pansexual Klaus, and lesbian Vanya. But all of the Hargreeves should be at the parades, if we're being honest.

For one, Luther is aromantic. He doesn't understand it, doesn't know what it means, but he is. He's never experienced romantic attraction, never wanted someone to be his girlfriend or boyfriend or anything.

Diego is bisexual. He's known it for most of his life. Crushes have come and gone, some being boys and others girls. He prefers the term bisexual than pansexual for no particular reason, it just... feels right.

Allison is also bi. She's never given it much thought, though. She never thought the longing glances at women on the street meant anything, never thought she could like any gender aside from guys. But now she was embracing her identity as bisexual, thanks to her siblings.

Then there's Klaus of course. They dropped gender long ago, but even before that experimented with different labels for sexuality. Straight to bi to gay back to straight and finally settling on pansexual.

Though he doesn't exactly have much to go off of, Five is asexual. Biromantic asexual, really. He's never had the desire to fuck or screw anyone or any of the words people use. He's fine the way he is, and he has been no matter what age his body is.

And even ghosts can have a sexuality, apparently. Ben always just thought of himself as queer. Fuck labels. He went through so many in his life, so in the dead he was dropping them.

Finally, Vanya. Though it took her, quite frankly, most of her life to admit it, she was a lesbian. She was gay. She liked girls and girls alone, and she was proud of it.

Klaus was the one that convinced the family to go. "It's pride month, guys! We gotta go!" There was some grumbling and some protest, but eventually, they were all on board.

Klaus insisted they all dress up at least some what. They wore a bikini with the top half having the colors of the non-binary flag and bottoms of the pansexual flag. They had worn it every year they went to pride.

Diego quickly decided what he needed to wear: a bi flag as a cape. He insisted on wearing the vigilante outfit with it, and, Klaus had to admit, it didn't look half bad.

Allison wore a dusty pink jumpsuit decorated with flowers, each small plant showing a bisexual flag. Luther waved a giant aromantic flag, the only one willing to wave a flag that large. Five held a tiny asexual flag, waving it around every now and then, generally because Klaus complained that he wasn’t showing enough spirit. Ben, invisible to all but Klaus, had put on glasses decorated with the pride flag—where the hell did he even get those?

And then there was Vanya. She wore a loose rainbow dress, lesbian flag tied around her like a sash. It was an outfit she wished she could wear every day.

The thing that struck Luther first was all the color. He had been away for so long, hadn't seen so much color and brightness in so long. It was a beautiful sight, one he would never forget.

Everything was loud, but nobody minded it. It was loud because it was full of love and joy and excitement. It was full of acceptance. Flags and glitter and beads were thrown everywhere of every color and every form of pride. It brought a smile to all of their faces.

The whole time, though, Klaus thought of Dave. Dave would have loved to see this, would have loved to see the acceptance. These people were screaming about their sexuality, showing it off for every person to see. And they weren't getting hurt or insulted for it. It was the future Dave had hoped for. Klaus just wished he could have seen it. And maybe he can, hopefully he can. Maybe he's there and Klaus just can't see him. Maybe he's off somewhere in the ghost realm, running around with a pride cape around his shoulders. The thought makes them smile.

Vanya thought of Beth. Beth hadn't been able to attend Pride with Vanya, sadly. She and her family had flown out to her father's home of Brooklyn to celebrate it, just as they had every year. Vanya almost went with them, too, but figured she should be with her siblings for their first pride.

Diego thought of Eudora. He had loved her—he still does. He just wished he was able to share something this special with her. Kiss her while everybody cheers and his bisexual cape flaps behind him. But he knows, at the very least, that she’s happy that he’s there. Happy that he’s embarrassing his identity.

Someone was throwing bead necklaces from a nearby rooftop. They were dressed as Spiderman. Everyone cheered at the Spiderman, trying to grab some of the necklaces. One was thrown right in front of Klaus, and he bent to pick it up.

“Woah, there,” Diego warns, shielding his eyes. “You’re gonna flash me with how little you’re wearing.”

“Oh, suck it up,” Klaus tells him, putting a purple bead necklace around their neck and throwing a golden one to their brother. “There are people here wearing much less than I am.” And, as if on cue, a man in nothing but red speedo walks by, followed by many women in shirts too tight and shorts too short.

Diego shakes his head. “Whatever.”

They continue to walk with the crowd, cheering when a gay couple kisses atop one of the floats. It’s some famous actor that Allison honestly probably knows, and photos will be all over the news the next day, but everybody is having too much fun to care.

Diego spots a pal from the police academy, sporting tie-dye tank top and some jean shorts, transgender flag painted on his cheeks. Diego talks with him for a bit, both saying that they had no idea the other was LGBTQIA+.

Five smiles when he sees kids there. He knows that, when he was actually thirteen and not just in the body of a thirteen year old, he would have loved to have such a free spirited and accepting place to go to once a year. And seeing teenagers waving around flags of how they identify makes him realize just how far the world has come since he left it.

Luther is surprised by how many people approach him about the aromantic flag he holds. Most people are other aromantics, telling him to stay strong, or complimenting the flag. Others aren’t, and are telling him that it’s good that he’s confident enough to share his identity with the world. And he supposes it is: on the moon, he was all alone. But now he was surrounded by all these people—people telling him how fantastic he is. And it feels good.

Vanya takes countless videos and pictures to show her girlfriend. She wants Beth to know how good of a time she had, show her how open and out her family was. She knew they would go back at the photos and laugh once Beth was back home, and that was enough encouragement to keep Vanya going.

Ben walked with everyone else, even though none of his siblings could acknowledge him. He saw a few other ghosts, though. The ones that were calm and weren’t constantly crying in pain, that. He saw ghosts with all sorts of flags, all sorts of gear. Because who says you can’t embrace your identity even after you’re dead?

When the parade finally ends and people start going home, all of the Hargreeves kids are smiling wider than they’ve ever before. Theres this excitement, this buzz that still lingers in all of them, and they barely sleep. Instead, they think about how fantastic of an experience they had just had. And Allison was already planning her outfit for next year.

From then on, June was their favorite month.

Chapter Text

There are noises all around them.

Beeping, concerned voices.

It smells like chemicals. There's a heavy weight in Klaus' hand, warm. It feels like—like another hand.

The room is bright. Bright fluorescent lights are on the ceiling. There are... tubes in their arm. Needles. Fluids going in to their body. And there's a beeping, a stupid and steady beeping.

A heart rate monitor.

Klaus' eyes slowly flutter open. They can hear people talking above them, but it all sounds... muffled. As if they were hearing the conversation, but underwater.

Someone is shaking their arm, repeating their name. "Klaus? Klaus?"

Klaus' eye's finally open, and they recognize the room they're in. They're in the hospital-like room in the Academy. Klaus never learned the name of it, if they're being honest.

Grace is in front of them, wearing her nurse uniform. And beside them is their siblings, Allison's hand in theirs. Diego is the one shaking them, saying their name.

"Huh?" Klaus mumbles. They feel dizzy. Their memory is a bit blurry, and they can barely think. What happened to them? Why were they in this room with tubes and needles in them?

Ben sighs. "Thank god."

Klaus blinks a few more times, trying to come back to reality. "Wha—What happened?" Their words are a bit slurred and their body weak.

And then they remember.

The pills. The avoiding meals. The weight loss. They—Their body was weak from their lack of eating. And they passed out. Or, at least, they think they passed out. They probably passed out.

"What the hell happened to you?" Luther asks, almost—almost angry.

Klaus runs a hand over their face. "Nothin'," they lie. "Jus' got a lil' woozy I guess." They start laughing then, throwing their head side to side. "Woozy," they repeat. "That's a fuckin' stupid word."

"Now, now, Klaus," Grace warns. "We don't swear in this house."

"They're just hyped up on drugs," Five says. Grace already knows this, of course, but he still wants to explain it. He always does.

"How king was I out?" Klaus asks, finger flicking at the IV in their arm.

Diego grabs their hand and pulls it away, making them stop. "M-M-Most of the d-day. Like, w-what, f-f-four hours?"

Grace nods. "I estimate about four hours and thirteen minutes, though I'm not quite sure."

Klaus sighs. This wasn't the first time they had passed out, but it was the longest. Their eyes flick to their stomach. They still see too much fat there, and they're sure the number on the scale would be too large. "'M sorry, guys," they apologize. "I dunno what happened."

Allison scoffed. "You sure as hell do know. Now spill. What were you doing with those fucking pills?"

"Allison," Vanya begins cautiously, "lets take it easy on them. They just woke up. And they're probably still a bit weak."

"No, no." Klaus waves the statement off, letting their eyes drift shut as they take in a deep breath. "She's right. I do know. But—But it's stupid, y'all don't wanna hear it."

"D-Don't gi-give is that c-c-crap," Diego hisses. "I wanna-wanna know why I-I found m-my si-sibling, lying on the f-flood, un-un-unconscious."

"Take a breath, Diego," Grace reminds him.

Diego nods, doing as he's told. He needs to be calm about this.

Klaus frowns. So Diego was the one to find them. Well that just makes them feel ten fucking times worse. Diego was the one that was constantly trying to get them to eat, was the one that would check in with Klaus at the end of each day to make sure they had eaten something. And Diego was the one that Klaus lied to, time after time again.

"Those pills, Klaus... those were those dieting pills. The weight ones. Klaus, you—you don't need those. And those can be dangerous, seriously. You stopped eating. You need to eat. You need to. Why—Why would you do that to yourself."

Klaus can feel tears pricking at their eyes. "I—I don't know, Vanya. Maybe it's because I hate the body I see in the mirror every mornin'. Maybe it's because that number on the scale is—it's always too high, V. And I'm sorry, I am so sorry that this happened, but I can't—" They don't continue. A tear rolls down their cheek as a sob escapes their mouth.

"Klaus," Ben whispers gently, his finger trailing softly over their arm. "You could've talked to us."

Klaus keeps crying. They put their hands over their eyes and lean in to Diego, letting his warmth embrace them. "I—I can't stop," they cry.

All of their siblings take a careful step closer, trying to comfort Klaus. "We'll help," Luther offers.

And so Klaus tried to break their bad habits. The bad habit of not eating, the bad habit of vomiting after meals, and the bad habit of those horrible diet pills.

For a week, Klaus was good. They were eating again, they were gaining their strength and their muscle back. They felt powerful and empowered.

And then they took a step on the scale and everything went to hell.

Klaus started the pills again. It didn't surprise them, really. They knew that they couldn't just... stop. They couldn't just stop the thing they had trained their body to do. They couldn't just stop caring about their weight and the number that they saw on the scale.

It wasn't as bad, though. Never did they get dizzy. Never did they feel starved. Never did their body grow pale or weak. And that's not enough, Klaus knows that, but for then it was good enough for them. As long as they were safe, they were fine.

Klaus knew this—this addiction would never go away. They knew they would be stuck with this eating disorder forever. But now they also knew that they had their family by their side.

Eventually, Diego found the pills and flushed them all.

Eventually, Luther started making sure Klaus had three meals a day.

Eventually, Allison and Vanya took turns making sure Klaus wasn't puking up their food.

Eventually, Five and Ben taught Klaus that, sometimes being underweight isn't the best thing in the world.

And, eventually, Klaus felt comfortable with the number they saw on the scale.

Chapter Text

They were just supposed to get dinner.

Just go out and grab some food.

Nobody planned for it to happen.

Five certainly didn't.

The Hargreeves kids had gone out to some diner that Diego worked at for a little bit. Good food, and it was cheap.

Luther got some wings, Diego got a bacon cheeseburger, Allison got a BLT with avocado, Klaus ordered pancakes ("Yes, I know it's dinner time, but I will get some fucking pancakes if I fucking want pancakes!"), Five ordered chicken fingers, and Vanya got a prime rib sandwich.

For the first time in what seemed like forever, the Hargreeves kids talked. They didn't argue or yell, but they talked. And they laughed. They laughed and they joked and they honestly enjoyed one another's presence.

"I'll be right back, I just gotta wash my hands," Five says as he gets up from the table.

Diego shook his head and laughed. "You literally just ate some chicken fingers, how dirty can your hands be?"

"Three words: greasy diner food," he explains. With that, he turns to go to the restroom.

Just a few seconds after Five enters the restroom, though, two men enter. They close the door gently behind them, trying to be quiet. They say nothing as they click the lock on the door, then stare at Five.

Five continues to wash his hand trying not to look at the men. But, through the corner of his eyes, he can see one of the men is tall and skinny, tan, full head of blond hair, probably in his mid-20s, and wearing a plaid shirt and some jeans. The second man is a bit bigger, but no shorter than the former, big brown beard with a buzz cut on his head, probably in his early 30s, and wearing a baggy gray sweatshirt and some sweatpants. The men looks nothing like what you would assume pedophile would look like.

Five grabs some paper towels and drys his hands, then quickly tries to spacial jump out of the bathroom. But, god, he's tired. Drained. The car they had used to get to the diner couldn't carry them all, so Five volunteered to just meet them there and spacial jump his way to the diner. It was tiring. His body felt weak from that, even after a full meal and some relaxation time.

"Hey there, kid," Plaid says, smiling to show some perfect white teeth.

Five doesn't respond. He just closes his eyes and concentrates, trying to jump out of the stupid restroom.

"What's your name?" Sweatshirt asks. He crouches down a little, as if he were some friendly man and Five were just a little seven year old.

Five rolls his eyes. "None of your damn business."

Sweatshirt chuckles, his voice now deep and menacing. "Looks like we've got ourselves a fighter, Ryan."

Plaid—or, Ryan, apparently—licks his lips and takes a step forward from the door. "I always like the feisty ones, Jim."

"Get away from me, you creeps," Five snaps as Ryan continues to get closer.

"We don't wanna hurt you, kid," Jim soothes him. "We just wanna teach you a few things."

Ryan grabs Five by the shoulder and pulls his body against his. Five can feel something poking against his upper leg and—yep, fuck, the man is fucking getting off on this. Of course he is, though: he's a pedophile.

Five's breath stutters for a second, sheer terror taking over him as Jim goes over and joins him and Ryan. Jim starts stroking Five's hair as Five struggles and squirms to get out of Ryan's grip. "Get off me, you ducking creep!" he yells. "Help! Someone help!"

Ryan's hand is suddenly over his mouth, eyes practically red from rage. "Keep it down," he hisses.

But Five continues to scream, even though it's muffled by Ryan's palm. Jim's hand falls down and he starts stroking his back, hand getting lower and lower each second and—

Five lifts his knee up so it hits Ryan's, uh, personal area, and the man drops him with a groan. "Fuck," he whines.

Finally free, Five tries to run to the door. But before he gets there, it's being kicked open by Luther. "What the hell is going on here?" he asks.

The fear is evident on both men's faces. They stammer for an answer, but can't find the words.

"Did you fucking touch my brother?" Diego asks. He pushes Jim against the stall door and puts his arm against the man's throat. "Don't make me fucking ask again."

The man is trembling and on the verge of tears, but manages to slowly nod his head. Diego sneers, grabs a handful of Jim's hair, and knocks his head back. Jim falls out of Diego's arms, unconscious.

Luther grits his teeth and grabs Ryan by the front of his shirt. "You touch my brother again—no, no, you touch any kid again, and we won't let you two go so easily."

Klaus is suddenly beside Luther. He punches Ryan's cheek, and there's definitely going to be a nasty bruise there the next day. Luther drops him on the ground, and Ryan doesn't even try to stand up.

Five, Luther, Diego, and Klaus all step out of the bathroom to join Vanya and Allison. Vanya immediately pulls Five into a hug. "Are you okay?" she asks.

"I'm fine," he lies.

"You're shaking," Allison points out.

Five didn't even realize that. He's too busy trying to hold back the tears, trying to hold back the urge to hold on to one of his siblings and never let go.

"Lets go home," Diego says. "Get as far away from these creeps as we can."

Five sniffs and nods. "Yeah," he agrees. No one asks him any more questions as they drive back to the house.

In the car, though, Five can't help it. He starts to cry. He leans in to Klaus's side and cries into his brother's shirt. Klaus runs his hand through Five's hair, and he flinched, remembering the feel of Jim's meaty hands running through his hair the same way.

Klaus senses how Five tenses up though, and stops, electing just to hold his brother instead. Five grabs on to him just as desperately.

Five will tell his siblings everything once they get home. But, for now, he's content just crying in the arms of his brother.

Chapter Text

It was the first mission anybody had gotten hurt.

But at least nobody was dead.

That's that Five kept telling himself, at least.

He's hooked up to a bunch of stupid hospital stuff, his side newly stitched and bullet hole closed. The reason there was even a bullet hole in his side in the first place was because Luther, even though he can he a fucking prick sometimes, was about to get shot, and Five couldn't let his brother get hurt.

"You idiot," Diego mutters, shaking his head. "You c-could've gotten your-yourself k-k-killed."

Five chuckles dryly. "'M fine," he says. And, really, he does feel fine. He's filled with pain meds.

"You didn't have to do that," Luther tells him. "I would've been fine."

Five pokes his tongue to the inside of his cheek. "Kinda looked like it was gonna kill ya."

Luther smiles slightly then sighs. "Thank you," he says. "I just—thanks. You didn't have to do that, but you did."

Vanya looks down at Five and bites her lip. She can't stand the thought of how close her brother was to death. She doesn't want any of her siblings to die, even if they are jerks sometimes. "I'm just glad you're safe," she says quietly, loud enough that only Five can hear.

Five smirks. "I'll always stay safe," he assures her.

Allison scoffs. "You sure about that? Just an inch the other direction and you'd be dead right now."

Five shrugs, ignoring the tingle in his side when he does so. "But it didn't go an inch the other direction. I'm fine, guys. Promise."

"You're alive," Ben corrects. "That doesn't mean you're fine."

Klaus rolls his eyes. "It's better than dead, trust me."

"I'm not saying it's worse. I'm just saying that he could be better."

"But I could be worse," Five counter. "And, yeah, maybe I'm not perfect right now or anything, but, again—not dead."

"You're st-still gonna be out for a f-few weeks," Diego reminds him.

"Doesn't matter," Five says.

"Oh, but whatever will we do if you're stuck in bed, Five?" Klaus asks dramatically.

Five chuckles, then holds on to his side. The pain meds make sure there isn't much pain, but there's still a tingling feeling in his side where the bullet was removed.

Honestly, nobody should've gotten hurt on the mission. It was just a simple one, some people robbing a museum. Nobody expected them to have guns.

Luther was the one that walked in first, and almost immediately the men began shooting. The sound of the gun still rings in Five's ears. And Five spacial jumped to his brother's side, pushed him away. But the bullet still hit Five, went into his side.

There was blood. Lots of it. He went a bit numb at first, tried to keep going after the robbers, but Luther held Five down until the shock was gone and he was howling from the pain of the bullet.

Diego, Ben, and Allison kept going after the men, though. They got them, thank god. Luther and Klaus stayed by Five's side, tried to pick him up in a way that wouldn't agitate the wound.

A shiver runs down Five's spine as the memory runs through his mind. Blood covered his hands, so much of it, and it—it was his blood. His own blood. Not one of the robbers, not even one of his siblings. His own blood.

Five feels a shock of pain run through his side, but he knows it's just his imagination.

"You okay, Five?" Vanya asks, gently planting her hand on his shoulder.

He nods his head stiffly. "Fine. Just fine. Peachy. I'm alive, I'm—I'm livin' the life. Couldn't be better."

Luther sighs. "It shouldn't've been you," he says quietly.

"Hm?" Five asks.

"I should be the one stitched up in a hospital bed. Not you. I'm sorry, Five. I'm the leader, I—you're my responsibility out there. And I failed you."

Five rolls his eyes. "I'm no one's responsibility. I'm my own, independent person. And I made the decision to save you out there. And I would do it again. You may be a fucking idiot, but I'd do it again."

Luther laughs slightly. "You can't just be nice to me?" he asks jokingly. "You still gotta be a smart mouth?"

Five smirks. "Always a smart mouth, Number One."

Diego ruffles Five's hair, making sure that he doesn't hurt his brother while he does so. "I'm-m jus' glad y-you're feelin' alr-right."

"I'm invincible, D," Five jokes. "Didn't you know that?"

"You fu-fuckin' d-d-doof."

"Is there anything you need?" Allison asks. "We're here to help you, Five. Just say the word."

"I’ll make sure to keep that in mind,” he says. “But honestly, I’m fine right now.”

“You sure?” Ben asks.

Five nods his head. “Positive.”

Five looks over at Luther. All he can imagine is his brother in the hospital bed, his brother with stitches, his brother—

His brother not quite being so lucky.

And Five hated the thought. He couldn’t stand the thought of any of his siblings getting hurt, or worse. Especially if he had the ability to save and protect them. He would much rather have himself be the one in danger.

So, Five smiles at Luther, thoughtful and caring. “It could’ve been worse.”

Luther sucks in a breath. It could have been worse. He keeps repeating that to himself, trying to make himself feel better.

“How long did Dad say you should stay out?” Klaus asks.

“‘Bout three weeks,” Five says. “Roughly. But I’m sure he’ll have me be training again as soon as possible.”

“Well,” Vanya tells him, “I’ll keep you company while you’re out. Make sure you stay healthy, stay entertained.”

“Thanks. I’ll probably be back in no time, though. Depends if Mom says I’m healthy enough.”

“Well, anyway,” Luther begins, “thank you for helping me. I didn’t need it, but... it certainly didn’t hurt.”

Five rolls his eyes. “It hurt me,” he jokes.

“But you’re alive.”

“That I am.”

“I guess we’ll leave you, now?”

Five nods.

And, until Five got healed, Luther didn’t stop thanking him.

Chapter Text

He had always admired his father.

He seemed to have a plan for everything.

And, Luther thought, the plan Reginald had was always helpful. Would benefit the world.

But Luther isn’t right about everything. And he certainly wasn’t right about his father.

It was in the middle of the night when he heard it. The noises. He’s not exactly sure what it was. There was definitely someone talking, but it was too muffled for Luther to make out what the person was saying.

That night, Luther just went back to bed. He thought nothing of it.

But he kept hearing it. He kept hearing the noises at night. And, finally, Luther had to investigate.

The old wooden floorboards creaked under Luther’s careful footsteps. He slowly made his way down the stairs, closer and closer to the noise. When he finally finds it, he’s in the basement, one door between him and the noises.

He can hear his father, speaking—no, no, yelling. He’s yelling at... someone. Luther isn’t quite sure. “You worthless child! Just open the door.”

That’s when Luther heard it. The crying.

“I—I can’t.” It was Vanya. His sister. Number Seven.

“You know what happens if you don’t complete the task, Number Seven,” Reginald warns.

Luther heats a sob escape Vanya’s mouth. “No,” she begs. “Please don’t lock me up. Not again.”

That—No, that can’t be—

Reginald would never do that. He would never lock one of them up for no reason. He would never—

Luther can’t help it. He opens the door, he has to. And what he sees... it shatters Luther’s beliefs.

Vanya is hooked up to wires and machines, tears running down her face. Luther isn’t sure what any of the wires are doing, isn’t sure what his father has planned this time, but now he’s sure that Reginald can’t be doing anything helpful or good.

“Number One,” Reginald says. “Go back to bed this instant.”

Luther bites his lip and sucks in a breath. “No.” He’s never gone against his father before, never rebelled against him. But this time, he has to. He has to save Vanya.

“No?” Reginald repeats. “That was an order, Number One. You don’t get to say ‘no.’”

Luther walks over to Vanya and ignores his father. He takes all the wires off of her, pulls her close. “Are you okay?” he asks, loud enough for only her to hear. “What did he do to you?”

Vanya cries in to her brother’s shoulder, clutching on to him. “He-He tried to make me—make me use my powers—and I’m tired, Luther, I’m tired—”

Luther pet Vanya’s hair, hushing her. “I have you now. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”

“Number One,” Reginald snaps harshly.

“No,” Luther says again. His training as leader of the Academy has prepared him for a lot of things. But he didn’t think that this was one. That protecting his siblings was one. Protecting them from their very own father. “Don’t touch her again. If you make another tear fall from her face, I will make sure my fist is the last thing you see.”

“Now, Number One, I don’t think this is something you want to do—”

“No, it is. I have to keep my siblings safe, right? Isn’t that what family does? Or is supposed to do, anyways. You clearly don’t do that.” Luther starts guiding Vanya towards the door and away from Reginald.

“I am your father,” Reginald reminds Luther. “You will not disobey me, Number One.”

“You aren’t my father,” Luther says. “You never were. You’re just some... some guy that trains us. You make our lives worse, Reginald.” It feels weird to use his father’s first name, uncomfortable, but it’s no longer appropriate to call him “Dad.” Because he isn’t that. He isn’t their father, he isn’t anything to them. Nothing but a captor.

“And I have a name, you know. I’m not just, just some number. My name is Luther. And this—” he points to his sister, “—this is Vanya. And there’s—there’s Diego and Allison and Klaus and Five—not Number Five, just Five—and Ben. We—We’re people, not just, just some lab rats you can experiment on.”

“Shut up,” Reginald shoots back. “I can just lock both of you up until you follow the orders you are given. I thought better of you, Number One.”

“I’m a brother first,” Luther tells him. “I care more about my siblings than I could ever care about you.” He and Vanya walk out of the room, then run upstairs to Luther’s bedroom.

Vanya sighs. “Thank you,” she says.

“Course,” Luther responds. “I care about you, V. And you’re not—you’re not worthless. You know that, right? You don’t believe what he says?”

Vanya shrugs. “I’m not sure,” she answers truthfully, rubbing tears from her cheeks.

Luther pulls Vanya back into a hug and lets his mind wander.

Reginald. He had respected him so much, had looked up to him, had done everything he said. How could he do this? How could he be so cruel to Vanya?

“I’ll never let that happen again,” Luther promises. “He won’t hurt any of us again. I’ll make sure of it.”

“But you can’t. You can’t stop him,” Vanya says.

Luther smiles slightly. “If it’s to help my siblings, I’ll find a way. If one of you got hurt, I—I don’t now what I’d do.” He lets out a dry and humorless chuckle. “Probably kill someone, honestly.”

“We’re not going anywhere,” Vanya assures him.

“I know.” Luther wipes another tear from Vanya’s eye. “I know.”

And from that dat on, Luther made sure that Reginald didn’t hurt any of them again.

Chapter Text

They had never known anything else.

They just assumed it was normal.

Reginald was horrible, yeah, but all of his children assumed that's what all fathers were like. And, to some degree, they assumed they deserved every horrible thing they got.

And then Five got stuck in the apocalypse.

There’s not much to do in the apocalypse, believe it or not. No lone survivors armed with guns and witty attitudes like they describe in the books. There’s no animals or people, barely any food left.

So, Five took to reading. Lots of reading. Most books were destroyed or burned, but he made sure to find all of the books that were in good enough condition. One of those, obviously, was Vanya’s book. It was one of the first books that Five had found. And it was the book that made Five really start reading.

So, Five read. He read and he read and he read. Not all the books were good. Not all the books were entertaining. Not all the books were stories. In fact, once, Five just read a giant cookbook. He didn’t have the ingredients for anything, didn’t have any of the necessary tools, but he read it.

One of the books Five read, though, was about child abuse.

Now, Five hadn’t really heard of child abuse, but it was easy to assume what it was. And, thinking about child abuse, Five’s mind wandered to his father. Wandered to his siblings.

Immediately, he picked up the book. He needed to know whether or not he was abused as a kid.

And, surprise surprise, he was. Reginald was not just like any other father. He was an abusive shit.

For some reason, Five started to smile. It made him happy to learn that not every kid was treated the way he was. That not every kid was constantly yelled at, was neglected, was put into dangerous situations and hurt constantly because of their parents.

And, it was nice to know that his suspicions were correct. He didn’t deserve to be hit if he couldn’t spacial jump. Klaus didn’t deserve to be locked up because he was afraid of ghosts. Vanya didn’t deserve to be isolated because she wasn’t like the others. He could go on and on.

And then guilt came and ripped away his smile.

Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, Ben, Vanya—they were all stuck with Reginald. Stuck with an abusive father. And there was no way for Five to help them.

That day, Five tried more than once to jump back to his time, back to his siblings. But, just like every time before, it didn’t work. It never worked.

Everything was a bit bittersweet. The sweet part was that Five wasn’t just overdramatic when his father worked him too hard. He wasn’t just overdramatic when he cried himself to sleep, shaking because of Reginald’s harsh words. But the bitter part was that his siblings were still getting abused and thought nothing of it. They thought that they deserved it all, thought that what happened to them was normal.

Five continued to read books on child abuse and child neglect, even though he could do nothing about it. But he needed to know everything. He needed to know how to deal with it, how to deal with the trauma of it. He needed to know the different types of abuse, why people did it. And, eventually, Five’s reading branched our from child abuse to all abuse. Marital abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse...

Five learned about the six different types of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional/verbal, psychological, financial, and cultural abuse. Of those, Reginald did three. Half. Fifty percent.

Five can’t believe it. He didn’t think his father was normal, or that his punishments were fair, or any of that. But Five never imagined that Reginald was that bad.

His siblings, though, were still stuck with Reginald. And it’s not like the apocalypse is much better, but that doesn’t make their situation any worse. Five would do anything to go back to his siblings, to see them again, and to tell them that they don’t have to stand for Reginald’s abuse. No child should be locked away, should be beaten, should be yelled at constantly, should be put down, should be told that they are wrong or bad. Every kid—no, scratch that, every person—messes up. They make mistakes. But they shouldn’t be told that their mistake could literally be the end of the world.

To some degree, Five has accepted that he couldn’t save his siblings, couldn’t help that. That didn’t stop him from trying, though. But, once Five accepted that, he just started wishing, hoping. He wished that his siblings would do something that would get them away from Reginald. He hoped that maybe they would figure out that they didn’t deserve to be abused, that they didn’t deserve to be hurt physically, emotionally, and mentally.

But Five would never know. Aside from what he learned in Vanya’s book, he didn’t know anything about the lives his siblings lived between the time he left and the end of the world. He didn’t know anything.

But, in some way, that was okay. It was okay because Five knew his siblings were strong. He knew they would get through anything life threw at them. And they would get through Reginald. He knew they would. They had to.

And they did.

Chapter Text

There were a lot the kids didn't know.

One of those was the severity of their powers.

All of the kids had some part of their power that was greater than they ever realized. But one person they always underestimated was Klaus.

Klaus' power might not seem like much at first. They can see ghosts, but what else is there to it? Not to mention the fact that they're haunted (pun intended) by their power, by the ghosts.

But there was much more to their power than their siblings realized.

Because he underestimated their power, one of Diego's favorite things to do was to try to scare Klaus. Sneak up on them, startle them, make them jump. But Klaus always knew when Diego was coming.

Eventually, Diego made it his mission to sneak up on Klaus. He got his other siblings to join in on it, too.

At least once a day, one of Klaus' siblings tried to sneak up behind them and scare them. But Klaus didn't get scared. And it wasn't like they weren't afraid of anything; in fact, they were the most fearful of the kids. Yet, nobody could sneak up on them. For weeks, the Hargreeves kids tried, but nothing worked.

It’s because Klaus had a secret that the others didn't know.

"How do you do it?" Allison asks one day when all the kids are together, talking about nothing in particular.

"Hm?" Klaus says. "Do what?"

"You always just... know when we're coming. How?" Allison asked the question they were all wondering.

Klaus shrugs. "No big deal," they dismiss it. "I guess I just can."

"C'mon, Klaus," Five urges. "It can't be that simple."

They shrug again. "I dunno what to tell you."

Diego rolls his eyes. "J-Just say it, m-m-man!"

"The ghosts," they finally answer.

Luther tilts his head to the side. "What?"

Klaus repeats their answer.

"But how?" Vanya questions. "What, do you just have a ghost friend that tells you when we're coming?"

"No," Klaus says with a laugh. "But the ghosts—they follow you guys into the room. I can hear them, even if I can't hear you."

A silence falls over the Hargreeves kids, no one knowing how to respond. Klaus laughs nervously. "Surprise!" they say, trying to lighten the mood.

Five runs a hand through his hair. "What the actual fuck, Klaus?"

They shrug again. "Not like I can control it. It just... happens, I guess. The ghosts are everywhere, and I just gotta use it as an advantage."

"So they're just following us?" Vanya asks, looking around her as if she could see them.

"Kinda," they answer. "I mean, most of the time, yeah. I don't—I don't really know how to describe it. But every time you guys try to sneak up on me, there's—well, there's a ghost behind you guys that I hear."

Another silence. Klaus isn't sure how long it lasts, maybe a minute maybe an hour. But Klaus knows it's one of the most uncomfortable silences that has fallen over the Hargreeves kids.

"That is," Luther starts, "awesome."

Klaus scratches the back of their head. "What?"

"That's great!" Luther says. "That makes your power, like, ten times cooler."

"And more helpful," Five points out.

"Really?" Klaus asks. They had never thought of it that way, had rarely thought of it at all. "It's not much, guys, really."

Ben rolls his eyes. "Beg to differ. That's much cooler than my power."

Klaus scoffs. "Yeah, right," they say sarcastically.

"Alright, maybe not cooler, but better. It won't kill people."

"But it's literally people that were killed. That's not much better."

"It'll definitely help during missions, though," Allison tells them. "If you can just know when the bad guys are behind you..."

Vanya nods. "It'll definitely make your missions safer."

Klaus waves their hand to dismiss it. "It's really not a big deal, guys."

"St-Stop putting yourself down. J-Jesus, Klaus, your p-power is helpful and, w-well, powerful. Just-Just em-mbrace it."

They sigh. They hate their power so much, are so scarred by the ghosts that surround them, that they can’t see any positives to it. Of course, Klaus is sure other people could find advantages to seeing ghosts, but they’ve never seen them. They’ve never spent nights awake and shaking, because dead people are screaming in their ears. “Honestly, it’s just a little thing,” they insist. “Barely anything.”

“I have no power,” Vanya points out. It’s something they rarely discuss, but she’ll bring it up every now and then. “It seems better than the situation I’m in.”

Honestly, Klaus would rather be powerless than see ghosts. “I’ll trade ya,” Klaus jokes.

“Honestly, though,” Five says, “that’s pretty cool.”

They shrug again.

Ben sighs. “So that means we can’t try to sneak up on you anymore?”

“You can try,” Klaus says. “I’ll just catch you.”

“Well then what are we supposed to do?” Luther asks. “Who are we supposed to sneak up on?”

“I vote Diego,” they say. “Or Five.”

Diego smiles. “Hey!” he says. “Why m-m-me?”

“Because if it weren’t for you, nobody would try to sneak up on me.”

Diego tried to defend himself, but sighs. “Yeah.”

“Why me?” Five asks.

Klaus shrugs. “You’re difficult to scare.”

“You guys just aren’t scary,” he says. “Y’all are like... big, cuddly, teddy bears.”

“You cuddle me and you die,” Luther warns.

Five nods. “Maybe not cuddly, but still. Teddy bears.”

Allison raises an eyebrow. “Really?”

“Most of you,” Five corrects. “Allison is the only one I’m legitimately afraid of.”

“Good,” she says.

Klaus sighs. “Yep, I definitely vote Five.”

“It-It’ll be m-m-more fun than trying to sn-sneak up on y-you,” Diego mumbles. “St-Stupid freakin’ ghosts.”

Klaus shrugs.

From then on, the Hargreeves kids rarely underestimated Klaus’ power.

Chapter Text

"I can make it go away."

He covers his ears.

"None of it will have to happen."

He shakes his head. He can't let the Hander get to his head.

"Just one simple thing, Five, and your family will be safe. The apocalypse will never happen."

Five shakes his head. "I won't fall for any of your tricks," he says. "You haven't proven to me that I can trust your word."

The Handler nods. "Yes, I know that. But if you just hear my conditions, then you can decide. Or, if you'd rather, your friends, your family, everyone you love. They can die."

A shiver runs down Five's spine. "Fine," he reluctantly agrees. "I'll hear your conditions. But don't think that means I'll accept them."

The Handler smirks, locking her fingers together. "Have my child."

Five stiffens. "What?" he asks, voice surprisingly calm.

"Accept me as your alpha," she continues.

Five clenches his fists. "How do you know that I'm—"

"An omega?" she finishes, chuckling a little. "Oh, dear Five, have you forgotten about all those years I watched you? You worked for me? I saw you in the apocalypse. I know everything about you, Five."

Five takes a deep breath, trying to steady himself. "Why? Why me? Why—Why this?"

"Certainly you can't be that naive," the Handler says, voice cocky and confident. She knows that Five is considering the offer. "Our child will be... extraordinary. With your natural skill with guns, and my brilliance, our child will be able to run the Commission better than ever before."

Five cringes. She said everything as if it were a definite, as if it were bound to happen. And maybe it was. Five loves his family, wants to save them. He's tried countless times to stop the apocalypse, but unless he killed his own sister, the apocalypse would happen. And he couldn't kill Vanya. He just couldn't.

Five takes a deep breath then sighs. "Fine," he agrees.

Someone, the smirk on the Handler's face grows wider. She knew that Five would say yes, knew that he would be hers.

Two weeks.

Two weeks of nervous waiting, of time to back out. Two weeks until Five went into heat.

In those two weeks, Five could have said no. He could have told the Handler to go fuck herself, to find some other poor soul to have her kid. And she would have let him.

But he didn't say any of that. He didn't say anything at all, in fact. He kept silent for the whole two weeks, stayed silent during it all. He couldn't give the Handler the satisfaction of winning arguments, of having control over him.

After those two weeks, it happened. Five hated every second of it, but it happened. He did it for his family, to save them. He just needed to save his family.

Five woke up the next morning wanting to throw up. He felt sick, felt wrong in his own body. He wanted to rip his own skin off, wanted to will the Handler dead and the child out of him.

Groggily, he crawled to the bathroom. The Handler was asleep—he didn't know that she slept. His clothes were baggy and old, one of the few outfits he had aside from his Academy uniform. He wanted to burn the clothes now.

Five looked in the mirror as he wiped the sleep from his eyes. He could barely recognize himself. Years ago, he never would have let the Handler get her way. He never would have agreed to have her child. But a lot has changed in a few years.

There's a mark on Five's neck. He rubs and scratches at it, as if he could make it go away. But it's not going anywhere.

Five shudders involuntarily. The Handler—god, it was a fucking mark. He was marked by her, he held her child. It was one of the worst things he could move imagined.

He closes his eyes, squeezing them shut, hoping that when he opens them he'll wake up from this nightmare. There will be no apocalypse. His siblings will be safe. He will have never gone to the apocalypse, he will never have left his family. He will have never met the Handler or joined the Commission.

But, when he opens his eyes, nothing changes. There's still a mark on his neck. The Handler is still asleep in the bed he slept in. He still missed years of his siblings' lives. And he was still bound to have a child.

Five turns off the lights, unable to look at his own body. He's disgusted with himself. He strips himself of his clothes then steps in to the shower, wanting to wash everything away.

Warm water cascades down his back, and Five tries to let himself relax. He has to keep reminding himself that he's alone, that the Handler won't appear beside him at some random moment.

Five grabs the soap and starts rubbing his skin down. He rubs and rubs and rubs, rubs his skin until it's raw and red. He's not sure if he's angry, afraid, or disgusted. Maybe all three. But, somewhere in his mind, it thinks that if he just keeps rubbing, just stays in denial, then it'll all be okay.

So Five doesn't think about the Handler. He doesn't think about the mark or the child.

He doesn't think about anything at all.

Chapter Text

It's very difficult to avoid meals in certain households.

But in one household, it's more difficult than others.

The Hargreeves house.

Reginald is there at every meal, and if he's not, then Grace is. The kids aren't allowed to leave the room until they eat every last thing on their plate.

But Five finds a way.

He's not exactly sure when, but at some point, Five started feeling like he was fat. It wasn't as if he went to sleep one night feeling skinny and woke up the next feeling fat, no, it was a slow feeling that came on throughout his life.

Five's solution to this feeling, though, was skipping meals. Food, he knew, was the source of his weight. He exercised constantly, did everything in his power to stay in shape. Yet, somehow, it never seemed to be enough.

So he stopped eating.

Five was smart, so it wasn’t that difficult to stop eating. Sliding his food on to his siblings’ plates, excusing himself to the bathroom to spit it out, claiming sickness to skip meals... and no one noticed.

Slowly but surely, Five did start losing the weight. It went down and down, but that wasn’t what Five cared about, not really. The thing that upset him was the extra fat still on his stomach. The number on the scale didn’t matter.

Now, Five wasn’t generally a self conscious person. He knew he was great at what he did, knew he wasn’t ugly and wasn’t slow. But there was still the fat.

As much as Five didn’t like to admit it, all of it boiled down to his father. He wanted to impress his father, make him proud, as much as he hated him.

So he kept trying to lose the fat.

And he did.

He rarely ate, at that point. Maybe one meal a day, if he was feeling good, but even that was rare.

But, still, no one noticed. So he kept doing it.

Eventually, Five could see his ribs just by lifting up his shirt. Absolutely no fat there. Yet he didn’t start eating again. Because if he started eating again, then the fat would return.

But nothing lasts forever.

Five’s not sure when the last time he ate a full meal was. Maybe a few weeks, maybe a month or two. He had shed all that extra fat, but still made sure to not gain it again.

And that’s when Allison noticed.

She noticed how loose fitting Five’s uniform was. She noticed how often he was “sick” and missed dinner, noticed how more food appeared on her plate when it left Five’s.

“Alright,” she says, walking into his room one day, “what the hell is up with you?”

Five tilts his head to the side in confusion. “What d’you mean?”

Allison rolls her eyes. “The food, Five. Are you even eating?”

Five shrugs. “I mean, sure, yeah. I gotta eat, right?”

“Doesn’t look like you are. I mean, look at how loose that stupid shirt is. It wasn’t like that before.”

“I got a new size,” he lies.

“No, you didn’t. You know how I know? It’s because you still have that stupid stain that you think you’re hiding under the blazer. What even is that? Like, ice cream? We haven’t even had ice cream recently.”

Five looks down at the stain, then pulls his uniform blazer over it. “It’s not that obvious.”

Allison scuffs. “Keep telling yourself that. But, that’s besides the point, Five. Tell me about the eating.”

Five can feel his heart beating fast. No, he doesn’t—he never meant for anyone to find out. He doesn’t want them to find out. “I’m fine,” he insists.

Allison shakes her head. “You’re not, Five. Stop lying.”

He sighs. “Fine. I may have missed a few meals because I wasn’t feeling well. But that’s not a crime, is it?”

“If was more than just a few. And you were feeling fine. You showed no sign of being sick or anything.”

Five shrugs again. “I dunno what to tell you, Ally.”

“Maybe the truth. Can you do that?”

Five can feel himself crumbling. He could’ve known he couldn’t have lied for long, should’ve known someone would’ve found out eventually. But he needed to lose the fat, needed to skip those meals. So he sighs. He trusts Allison. “Fine. I got a bit, uh, skinnier because I missed a few meals. But that’s fine.”

“Stop it with the lying!” she demands. “Lift up your shirt—oh, god, not in that way, I didn’t—just—you know what I mean. Now, do it.”

“Why?”

“I need to see your stomach. See if you’re actually healthy and safe.”

Five gulps. He knows she’ll find out eventually. “Fine,” he agrees. With somewhat shaky hands, he grabs the end of his uniform shirt and slowly pulls it up to reveal his stomach. There’s no fat there, which Five just loves. Obviously he could get rid of a little bit more fat, but it’s an improvement from before.

“Oh my god, Five, you’re—”

“Just shut up, okay?” he says. “I’m fine.”

“I can see your fucking ribs!” Allison complains. “Look at that! That’s not healthy in any way. I’m surprised you haven’t, like, passed out or something.”

“I haven’t,” he says. “So I’m fine. Now just drop it.”

“Five, why—why would you do that?” Allison asks, almost afraid. “Why would you—you starve yourself? You could kill yourself, Five! I can’t—I can’t let that happen, man.”

He sighs. “I—I get that. But I feel fine. Mostly. And I’ll eat more, I promise I will, but I don’t think I can, you know, eat, I guess.”

“Of course you can eat, idiot. You just don’t want to. But still, you didn’t answer my question—why?”

Five takes a deep breath. “Allison, did you not see me before?” he asks. “Like, Jesus fucking Christ, I was—I was fat, okay. That’s why I wasn’t eating. I was fat.” He crosses his arms over his stomach, suddenly more self conscious.

Allison frowns. “You’re not fat, Five. You were never fat. And, even if you were, starving yourself? That’s not the way to lose weight. Sure, it’ll work, but me and everyone else—we’ll help you, dude. Just let us help.”

Five shrugs, not saying anything.

“I am making sure you’re eating from now on, though, okay? No more skipping meals or anything. Get it?”

“Got it,” he says reluctantly.

“Good. Now, let’s go get a snack.”

Chapter Text

Everybody has priorities.

But some have theirs more in order than others.

Klaus is not one of those people.

For a while, but especially after he moved out of the house, Klaus prioritized drugs over food. Most of the time, when he wasn't on drugs, he was too shaken to even eat. So, drugs were his priority.

And, honestly, it went fine for some time. He was running off money that he stole from his father, was able to rent himself a nice apartment, get a job, make some friends. But then he had to make the decision: drugs or food. And he always choose drugs.

That's when the money started getting tight, when rent was hard to pay, when he lost his job... but that's a story for another time.

Because he always chose drugs and because he had no spare money for food, Klaus rarely ate. He would go days without food, sometimes maybe even a week. And, honestly, he was fine with that. As long as the ghosts went away.

He's not sure when it happened. He had lost track of the days since he had last eaten, since he moved out of the house, lost track of most things. The only thing he remembers is when he last had some drugs, any drugs. But, one day, he passed out.

He had just woken up, rolled out of bed. Klaus was either walking to grab some weed or grab some breakfast, he's not sure. He just remembers getting a bit dizzy. But that had been happening for weeks. The thing that hadn't happened before was the black setting in around his eyes, as if he had put on some vintage filter on his eyes.

And then it was only black.

He's not sure how long he was out, wasn't even sure what had happened. All he knew was that, when the black went away, he was in a hospital bed, his brother beside.

"Diego?" Klaus asks groggily, teaching towards his face.

Diego snaps his eyes open and looks at Klaus. "You're awake," he says.

Klaus runs his hand over Diego's face and laughs. "'Course, dummy. My eyes are open."

Diego shakes his head. "What the fuck happened to you, man?"

"No, no, no, the question you should be asking is—why are you here? You. Not me. It's obvious why I'm here. But why are you here, D? It's been, what, three months? More?"

Diego sighs. "I'm still your emergency contact," he reminds him. "Thought I told you to change that. I love you, man, but I can't be babysitting you."

Klaus tried not to let his sadness show. "Well, what are you doing in your life?"

"Is this really the time to catch up?"

"'Course it is! Always a good time to catch up."

He rolls his eyes. "Fine. If you must know, I enrolled in the police academy."

Klaus whistles, then coughs. "Any girls you got your eye on? Guys? Non binary peeps?"

"Alright, just shut the hell up," Diego says sternly. "You're gonna tell me what the fuck happened to you, I'm gonna get you back on your feet, and then you're gonna take care of yourself and we don't have to see each other again."

Klaus tries to blink the tears that formed in his eyes away. "Oh, so you just want nothing to do with me, then, is that it?"

Diego sighs. "Klaus, I—I left the Academy for a reason. I want to set my own life, have a family, do what I want. You're family and I will always come when you call, but I can't just stop my life for you. But I clearly can't let you go on like this. So, what was it? Was it the drugs?"

Klaus bites his lip, nodding his head just an inch. "Yeah," he whispers.

"Klaus, I swear to god—"

"Shh," a nurse tells him, glaring at him.

"Sorry, sorry," he apologizes. Then, he turns back to his brother. And, in a quieter voice, continues. "It's always the drugs, isn't it? With you."

"It wasn't just the drugs," Klaus interrupts.

Diego scoffs. "Oh, so now there's more than drugs? What else can you do?"

"If you need to know, dear brother, I stopped eating. I passed out—or, I think I passed out. That's probably what happened. Hasn't exactly happened to me, before."

"When was the last time you ate?" Diego asks, putting his hand on Klaus' shoulder. His features become softer, sweeter. He's officially switched on to protective brother mode.

Klaus shrugs. "Lost track," he admits. "Few weeks, you gotta figure, though. Long enough ago to make me pass out."

Diego runs a hand through his hair. "You gotta eat, K."

Klaus chuckles. "K," he says sarcastically. "Been a while since you've called me that."

"Been a while since we talked," Diego tells him. "But, still. I'll get you back on your feet, Klaus, I'll make sure you eat and make sure—"

"No," he says. "I can—I can take care of myself, Diego. I don't wanna... disappoint you."

"Klaus, you could never disappoint me," Diego says, almost tiredly. "You're my brother, and you know that. I'm honestly just worried about you."

Klaus almost says something sarcastic. Part of him wants to. But he doesn't. He can't. He won't let Diego drop everything to take care of him, and he can't have one of the last things he said to his brother be rude and condescending. "I know that," he responds instead. "But I promise, I'll be fine."

He looks unsure. “Klaus, really, if you need anything—”

“I’m fine,” Klaus promises. Then he takes a harsh breath in. “Actually, I could use some money.”

Diego rolls his eyes and laughs. “‘Course you need some money.”

Klaus laughs with him, then stops. “But, no, seriously. Just some money. I’ll pay you back. But I need to—to get back on my feet, like you said.”

Diego’s lip twitches upward in a smile. “Fine,” he agrees. “But only to get you back on your feet.”

Klaus tried to pull his brother into a hug. “C’mon,” he urges. “C’mon. You know you wanna. You gotta.” It takes a few tries, but eventually, and very reluctantly, Diego hugs him.

“Alright,” he says. “Time to get you out of this hospital.”

Klaus nods. “Guess it’s time.”

And, slowly but surely, the make it out of the hospital together.

Chapter Text

“Your temperature is 102.3 degrees. You’re sick.”

“Well I coulda figured that out.”

“I will exempt you from all training that is occurring today,” Grace tells Klaus.

Klaus would normally smile, but god he hates having fevers. He’s warm he’s cold he’s a sweaty and shivering mess. He might rather be training than be sick.

“I will inform your father,” Grace continues. She tells Klaus what he needs to do to ensure that he recovers as fast as possible, how he just needs to relax and sleep it off or whatever.

After that, Klaus is laying in his room, bored out of his fucking mind but too awake to even try to sleep.

Slowly, his door creeps open.

“Vanya?” Klaus asks. It has to be his sister. His other siblings are out training with Reginald, and the figure is too short to be Grace.

The figure nods. “Yeah,” she answers.

Klaus’ lip twitches upwards into a smile. “Hey, lil’ sister.”

“We’re the same age,” Vanya reminds him as she slowly closes the door behind her.

Klaus shrugs. “Tomato, tomahto.”

Vanya waves Klaus over, forcing him to make room for her on his bed. She sits beside him, smiling.

“What are you doing?” Klaus asks. “Shouldn’t you be, like, tuning your guitar?”

Vanya rolls her eyes. “It’s a violin, and it’s tuned just fine. And I wanna spend time with my brother.” She nudges his side playfully. “But, anyway. How are you feeling?”

Klaus chuckles. “Like garbage.” He has the blanket pulled all the way up to his chin, and under that he’s wearing three layers. “I’m pretty sure I’m gonna freeze.”

“I’m sorry, K,” Vanya says. “I know it sucks to be sick.”

“I’m just happy I haven’t thrown up again,” he says.

Vanya’s eyes widen and she scoots away from her brother. “Wait, seriously?”

He laughs. “‘M just messin’ with you. I haven’t thrown up, but, god, I feel like I could.”

“Well, if you do, aim that way—” she points away from herself.

Klaus fake gags, still facing Vanya. Then, dramatically, he pretends to puke all over her.

“You’re disgusting!” Vanya complains, laughing. “Once you’re better, I swear I’m gonna kill you.”

Klaus shrugs. “Fine.” He pauses for a minute, then pushes the blanket away from him. He rips off his sweatshirt, breathing heavily. “Did it get hotter?” he asks.

Vanya shake her head.

“Damn. Feels like it got hotter.” Klaus wipes his forehead, letting out a breath.

“I can, uh, get you some medicine or something?” Vanya asks. She hates seeing her brother sick, and wants to help as much as possible. “A glass of water? Some peace and quiet?”

Klaus waves her off. “No, no, I’m fine. I’m just—wow, feels like a hundred degrees.”

Vanya nods understandingly. “Yeah, fevers suck.”

He scoffs. “More than that. Honestly, I’d rather be training with the others than cooped up in my room all day.”

“Me too,” she admits with an eye roll. “If I had to choose between being with all of you or being stuck alone, I’d always choose being with you guys. But that’s why I’m here. It sucks to be alone, so...”

Klaus nods. Before he can reply, though, the door to his room is opening again, with his other five siblings on the other side. “Hey!” Klaus cheers. “What’re you guys doin’?”

“Shouldn’t you be sleeping?” Luther asks.

“D-Don’t listen to h-h-him,” Diego says, pushing past his siblings to get beside Klaus’ bed.

“How are you feeling?” Allison asks. “Any better?”

Klaus scoffs. “Yeah, I’m feelin’ just downright dandy, Allison,” he says sarcastically.

Ben rolls his eyes. “Clearly not.”

“Why are the lights off?” Five asks. “Not like you have a headache or anything. Seems pointless.”

Klaus can’t answer all the questions coming towards him from his siblings, bud he’s fine with that. In fact, he’s smiling. Vanya was right: it’s so much better to be with everyone else than alone.

“I assume training is done,” Vanya says.

Five nods. “Yup,” he answers, popping the ‘p.’ “Figured we would come and check on our dear sick brother, but seems like you beat us to it.”

Vanya shrugs, a prideful smile on her face. “Guess I’m just better than you guys.”

Allison shakes her head and laughs. “Oh, shut up,” she says jokingly. “This is about Klaus.”

“Yeah,” Ben agreees. “Do you, you know, need anything? I mean, we’re free the rest of the day, so...”

Klaus shrugs. “I need this fever to go away, but other than that, no.”

And, once again, the door begins to open. Everyone freezes. Klaus was supposed to be sleeping and recovering, not messing around with all of his siblings.

“M-M-Mom!” Diego exclaims, the first person to see who was at the door. He chuckles nervously. “We-We were just, um, y-you know, check-check-checking in on Klaus. Yeah, th-thats what we w-were doing. We were j-just about to l-l-leave, though, so no-no need to w-w-worry ‘bout that.”

Grace looks across the room, a smile on her face. “I just came to give Klaus his medicine,” she explains.

Klaus sighs in relief. “Oh, thank god.”

Grace doesn’t acknowledge any of the other kids, just gives Klaus his medicine and checks his temperature again, which has gone down by a degree. Then, “Just don’t do anything too extreme.” And with that, she leaves.

All the kids are smiling, happy to have their mom on their side.

“Your temperature went down, right?” Luther asks.

Klaus nods.

“That’s good,” Luther says. “You’ll probably be back to training in no time.”

“I wish I could get out of training,” Ben says with a sigh. “It’s no fun for me.”

“Wasn’t this supposed to be about me?” Klaus asks, laughing. “C’mon, don’t you wanna take care of your favoritest brother?”

“That’s not a word,” Allison points out. “Favoritest.”

“Alright, fine. Most favorite.”

“That’s just redundant.”

“Whatever! I’m sick and you love me.”

“You’re an i-idiot,” Diego laughs.

“But a lovable one.”

“Whatever,” Five says. “We’re just here to help you get over this fever.”

“I’m fine,” he insists. “At the very least, there’s nothing you can do. But thank you. Seriously. I should probably get some sleep though.”

“That’d be smart,” Vanya agrees.

Each kid says goodbye to Klaus, leaving him to get some rest.

And, despite the fever, he would count that day as a good one.

Chapter Text

She almost declined the job, with how young the kids were.

But then she saw how much she was being offered.

The employer was Reginald Hargreeves. A famously rich man, well known for a few scientific discoveries. He had recently adopted seven children, and had requested that they get analyzed yearly. He wanted to see if their powers changed their brains and the way they thought and acted, wanted to see what affect his experiments had on their behavior.

The first thing the doctor thought when she first walked up to the door was how gigantic the house was. She could easily get lost in it.

She takes a deep breath and rings the doorbell. Almost immediately, a woman appears at the door, a smile on her face. "Well, hello there," she says. "My name is Grace. I'm assuming you are Dr. Vanya Schmidt?"

The doctor nods. "Yes I am. Are Reginald and the children here?"

"Yes," Grace confirms. "Right this way."

Dr. Schmidt talked to each of the children, got to know them. She wasn't allowed to know their names, only their numbers—and, by the way, who the hell names their kids different numbers? It's no wonder that all of them had some form of depression or anxiety at just seven years old.

It was the third time Dr. Schmidt met with the kids that she learned their names. Number Seven seemed very happy to find someone with the same name as her, something to bond over.

When the kids were twelve, Reginald made Dr. Schmidt spend hours with Diego, trying to make his stutter go away. She told him it wouldn't, that it wasn't that easy, that he'd always have it, but he didn't listen.

She met with the Hargreeves kids just a few days after their brother, Five, disappeared. And that day she didn't run any tests, didn't do anything except comfort them. Dr. Schmidt has grown close to the kids, and, in some odd way, felt like she needed to protect them. Even she felt torn up over Five leaving, felt as if she had failed him.

And that's the year she started planning everything.

Dr. Schmidt knew Reginald was a bad father. She knew he was abusive, at least emotionally and probably physically. And she knew that no kid deserved to grow up in a home like that.

When the kids were fourteen, Dr. Schmidt told them about her plan. It had taken some convincing to get Ben and Luther on her side, but eventually they agreed.

It would be difficult, they all knew that, but they didn't care. All of the kids just needed to get out of that house, away from their father.

Dr. Schmidt knew what she was going to do would be against her employer's wishes, obviously, and she would no longer be payed by him, but that was fine with her. Never before had she seen children be treated so horribly, and never before has she grown so attached to those kids.

Honestly, the doctor wasn't sure what she'd do with the kids once she got them out. She wouldn't be able to take care of six kids on her own, and her relationship with her boyfriend wasn't serious enough for them to raise the Hargreeves kids together. But she knew she would figure something out. She had to.

And so, when the children were fifteen and Reginald called Dr. Schmidt once again to evaluate them, she was ready to put her plan in order.

Honestly, the most difficult one to rip away from the house was Diego. He didn't want to leave Grace, didn't want to leave his mother. He hugged her, promised her he'd come back, that he wouldn't let Reginald hurt her. And the doctor knew that he would keep those promises.

It was surprisingly easy to get Luther, Diego, Allison, Klaus, Ben, and Vanya out of the house unnoticed, though. Dr. Schmidt has gained some of Reginald’s trust, and it didn’t seem as if he was constantly watching her anymore. The hardest part about it all was making sure that Luther and Diego didn’t argue too loudly.

The first thing Dr. Schmidt told the kids when they all got out of the Umbrella Academy was, “Lets do something your dad never let you do.”

She was bombarded with suggestions as she and the kids walked along the sidewalk. She wasn’t able to catch all of them, just an occasional “stay up after midnight” or “have candy for dinner.” Dr. Schmidt smiled, though, and nodded, making note of everything she heard. She wanted these kids to have their best life. It was already difficult for them with their powers, their father, and losing their brother, but she was determined to make sure that the rest of their lives would be perfect.

Dr. Schmidt still wasn’t sure what she would do with the kids. She wasn’t sure if putting them in foster care would be the best decision with their powers, but she also didn’t know what other option she had. But she decided not to worry about that. Right then, she was just focused on showing the kids the world, showing them how much they had missed. And she was focused on making sure they were happy.

Dr. Schmidt took them out to the movies, where they watched some action movie with guns and violence, as another movie that was about cartoon animals. But during each movie, she saw the kids’ faces light up.

They got ice cream, crepes, and funnel cakes. The kids were stuffed by the end, but never wanted to stop eating. Understandably so, too.

For that night, Dr. Schmidt let the Hargreeves kids stay at her house. They stayed up all night, had pillow fights, and talked through movies while throwing popcorn at one another. And while all of it was fun, the doctor’s favorite part was seeing how happy all six kids were.

And Dr. Schmidt wanted to make sure every day they had was just as perfect.

Chapter Text

There was a lot to unpack about his love.

For one, the fact that they were from the 50’s.

But there was so much more that the Hargreeves kids had to learn about Dave. Klaus had brought his lover back with him from the Vietnam War, and, once the whole apocalypse thing died down, introduced him to his family.

It didn’t really come as a surprise to anyone that Klaus was gay—well, pansexual, technically. But nobody was surprised by the fact that Klaus would date a dude. The only surprise there was the fact that the dude was a Vietnam vet from the nineteen fucking fifties.

Dave Katz is Klaus’ boyfriend. Now, just from that name most people could assume his religion. Katz is a very Jewish last name, but none of Klaus’ siblings wanted to assume.

Dave was a very religious man, though. He didn’t really saw anything outright about being Jewish, though. That is, until December.

The Hargreeves house was abuzz with planning for Christmas. It had been one of the few holidays their father let them celebrate, along with Thanksgiving.

“You wanna help me choose the tree?” Vanya asks. She was always trying to include Dave, wanted to make him feel as welcome in this new time and new family as he could.

Dave shrugged. “Not a big Christmas guy,” he says.

“Oh? Why not?” she asks.

“I’m Jewish,” Dave tells her, almost sheepishly. Many people didn’t like his religion, at least back in his time, and so he was always tentative to talk about it. But Klaus had also made it clear that his family was accepting, and he wanted to be truthful with them.

“Oh, shit!” Klaus says, dropping some lights and putting his hands over his mouth. “Baby, I completely forgot. God—or, gosh, or whatever—I feel so bad. If you want, I can tell everybody to stop, or—”

“No, no, it’s fine, doll,” Dave assures him.

“I’m assuming you celebrate Hanukkah, then,” Luther says.

Dave nods, rubbing the back of his neck. “Heh, yeah.”

“Oh, dope. I’ve had some Jewish friends. I mean, if you’d rather, we could celebrate Hanukkah for ya,” Diego offers.

Dave chuckles awkwardly. “I wouldn’t want to take away your traditions. But you guys, uh, don’t care that I’m Jewish? That’s fine with you guys?”

Five nods. “‘Course, man. Klaus says you’re a good guy, and from what I’ve seen so far, he’s right.”

“And, honestly,” Allison admits, “it doesn’t really surprise me. I’ve seen you praying and everything.”

“Not to mention your last name,” Diego adds. “No offense or anything, but Katz? Pretty fucking Jewish.”

Klaus grabs Dave’s hand and leans against him. “See, love? Everything’s alright. And can I suggest something? What if we do both Hanukkah and Christmas? That way we get a little bit of both worlds.”

Dave smiles and kisses Klaus’ nose. “I’d love that, heartbeat. That is, if your family is okay with it.”

There’s a mix of shrugging and nodding in the room. “I’d be down for that,” Diego says.

“Sounds fun,” Luther agrees.

“And Ben is in, too,” Klaus says.

Dave rubs a hand through his hair, blushing a little. “Really?” he asks. “I mean, you guys would do that for me?”

“Of course,” Vanya says.

Luther nods. “Yeah. If your religion is important to you, then we’ll respect that.”

“Gosh, you don’t have to do that for me,” Dave says sheepishly. “I don’t wanna be bad news or anything.”

“You’re fine!” Klaus assures him. “Seriously. We want to do this for you. I know it’s difficult for you, being between times and all, but... I don’t know. We want you to feel as comfortable as possible.”

“I love you, Kay Kay,” Dave coos.

“I love you, too, Katzy Bear.” Klaus kisses Dave, intertwining their fingers. Whenever he touches Dave, he feels like they are the only two there. Klaus assumes that’s what being in love is.

“You two are so cute,” Allison gushes.

Diego rolls his eyes, but smiles. “Get a room.”

Klaus laughs and pulls away.

“Anyway,” Five interjects, “we should get a menorah—unless you already have one, Dave.”

Dave shakes his head. “I wasn’t able to pack it. But it’d be great if you all would be willing to get one for me.”

“Well, it is essential for Hanukkah,” Luther says. “And we buy all this stuff for Christmas, night as well get it for another holiday, too.”

“I could pay for it,” Dave offers. “Really, I don’t—I don’t wanna get in your way.”

“You’re part of the family now,” Allison tells him. “You’re never in our way.”

“And, if you want,” Vanya offers, “you could still get involved with our Christmas planning and everything. We’d love to have you be part of our traditions.”

Dave chuckles a little, raising his arms in the air. “That’s great. I’m jazzed.”

Klaus laughs, and squeezes Dave’s hand. “Jazzed,” he repeats. “You’re such a fifties man, Dave.”

“But I’m your fifties man,” Dave says.

“That’s right. And I’m your stud.”

“Yeah, you are.”

“What did I say about getting a room?” Diego says. “You two are sweet and all, but disgustingly so. I swear I’m gonna get a cavity with how sweet you two are being.”

“Oh, shut up,” Klaus laughs. “You’re just jealous.”

“No, I’m not. I don’t want some hot Jewish boyfriend.”

Klaus puts a hand over his heart, mouth agape. “Did you just call my boyfriend hot?”

“Wait, what—n-no!” Diego stammers.

Luther shakes his head. “I think you did, bud.”

“Alright, first of all, I didn’t mean it in that way. And, second of all, never call me ‘bud’ again, bud.”

Luther puts his hands up in defense, and the others laugh.

Dave pulls a Klaus into a hug. He’s never been in an environment so excepting of him. And not just his religion, but his sexuality, too.

And as odd as it is to be in a whole different time, Dave knows he would never want to go back.

Chapter Text

Everyone was broken down.

Their own sister. Dead.

This was the second sibling that the Hargreeves had lost. And both died because their power was too powerful.

Vanya’s death is a bit of a blur for everyone, much more so than Ben’s. At least when Ben died, they could see the tentacles ripping him apart, as horrifying as it was. But for Vanya’s death, they couldn’t see much. They were—they were definitely doing something. Maybe they were being attacked? Something like that.

But Vanya... she had to use her power. And—And it ripped her apart, from the inside out. Nobody really remembers exactly what had happened, though. Tears were clouding their eyes, both from pain and sadness, and nobody was able to get a good look at what happened.

But, Vanya was dead.

Dead.

God, what a horrible word. Klaus could barely get themself to say it, could barely make their mouth form the word. Dead. Their sister was dead.

And, of course, Klaus would still see her. But it was different. Being dead changed people. They knew that from Ben. Such a sweet, innocent, young boy, turned into a harsh and cruel ghost. They aren’t sure if it’s the act of dying that changes people, or the time they’re dead, but it doesn’t matter. They still change.

It was two days after Vanya’s death that Klaus was able to see her. Just like Ben, she looked mostly intact, aside from a bloody cut on the top of her forehead that she got during the fight.

As soon as they saw her, their mouth fell open. “V-Vanya?” they stuttered out, teaching to touch her.

Vanya ran a hand through her hair. “You can see me?” she asks in a shaky voice.

Beside Vanya appears Ben, the first of the Hargreeves siblings to die. “Of course they can see you,” he says. “That’s kinda what they do.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, Ben, but—Klaus, I—god, I’m so sorry.” Tears are forming in her eyes and she struggles to hold them back. She had learned early on that you could cry even if you were dead. As soon as she saw the brother that she had lost, she burst into tears.

“Fuck, V, don’t—don’t apologize,” Klaus tells her. They aren’t as strong as Vanya, aren’t able to hold back the tears. Before they know what’s happening their cheeks are wet and they feel like their legs are about to give out. “Yeah, I can—I can see you, V. You’re okay, thank god you’re okay.”

Vanya chuckles a bit dryly. “Well, I’m dead,” she points out. “Wouldn’t exactly call that ‘okay.’”

Klaus reaches out to touch her, but their hand flies right through her shoulder. They were still working on that part of their power, constantly practicing with Ben. They feel a bit dejected now, being unable to touch their sister. But it’s okay. They’ll figure it out later. “Ben said he saw you. But I didn’t—I didn’t know why I couldn’t—”

“It’s fine,” Vanya assures them. “I didn’t think you would be able to see me. Ever. I thought—I don’t know, maybe you were too high, or—”

“I’m actually clean,” Klaus says, proud of themself. “Almost clean a month now, I think. Is that right, Benny?”

Ben nods. “Tomorrow’ll be a month clean,” he confirms. “You’ve been doing really good, actually.”

Vanya smiles, but it quickly switches to a frown. “I wish I could congratulate you.”

“You can,” Klaus says.

“No, but like... I want to be alive and congratulate you. You know, bake you a cake or something,” she explains. “Because I’m proud of you. I just wish I could show it.”

Klaus shakes their head. “You don’t need to do any of that, V. I’m just—” they stop themself, a lump in their throat. They wipe the tears from their face and take a deep breath. “Vanya, I’m just glad that you’re not hurting. Not—Not screaming in pain, not wailing for help. I’m just glad you’re okay.”

Vanya smiles. Her vision is cloudy with tears, but she goes towards Klaus anyway. And she hugs them. She hugs them, actually touches them. It lasts only a few seconds before she falls through them, but it was enough.

Nobody says anything for a few seconds. Nobody knows what to say. But, then, Klaus sucks in a harsh breath. “Vanya, I—I have to know. Did it, um... did it hurt? When you, you know...”

Vanya smiled sadly. “A bit, yeah,” she confirms. “But not for long. Only for, like, a second or two. It happened so quickly, honestly, I don’t—I don’t know how much I remember.”

Klaus rolls their eyes. “Same here. God, half that day is a fucking blur.”

“But you’re not in pain anymore,” Ben points out. He puts an arm around her shoulder, pulling her closer. He was with Klaus when it happened, had saw everything. And he did remember it. Clearly. But he didn’t want to think about it, couldn’t think about it.

Vanya nods, resting her head on Ben’s side. “That’s right.”

“Is there anybody you wanna talk to?” Klaus asks. “I can be a messenger for you, if you need.” They wipe their eyes again, trying to keep the tears away and their voice steady. “Maybe some of the people you taught, or Allison or Five, maybe a mystery loved you had—”

“Klaus,” she stops them. “I’m fine. For now, I just want to talk to you.”

Klaus’ bottom lip trembled as they tried to keep the tears away. “You’re gonna make me cry, you bitch,” they joked.

Vanya and Ben chuckle a little. “I’m just saying the truth,” Vanya tells him. “And, you say that like you weren’t crying before.”

“Shut up,” Klaus complains.

Vanya shrugs, then laughs some more. “It’s true.”

They talked the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

There were lots of things he had nightmares about.

Sometimes it was dying, other times it was his family dying.

This time, though, it was Reginald.

Diego had had a few nightmares about his father before. Sometimes it was Reginald hurting him, others it was Reginald locking him up. This time, though, the nightmare had nothing to do with Diego himself.

Diego woke up in a cold sweat, shaking and breathing heavily. His pillow was wet from tears and drool, and he felt weak. But, somehow, he still managed to crawl out of his bed.

He didn’t know who to go to. Not Luther, obviously. He would never understand. And Five was gone, Vanya was grieving, Klaus was probably, high, and Ben was still shaky from the last mission.

Allison. Her room was closest, and she always knew how to calm him down. So, Diego went to her room.

He knocked hesitantly. Almost immediately, he heard movement on the other side of the door, the knob slowly turning.

Allison poked her head out, bags under her eyes. “Diego?” she asks groggily. It’s does she was about to say more, but once she sees how shaken up he is, she stops herself and immediately lets her brother in.

Diego sits down on the bed, still shaking. “What’s wrong?” Allison asks, yawning.

“I—I h-h-had a-a—”

“Woah, woah, slow down,” she says. “You’re hyperventilating. Just try to steady your breaths, take your time. I’m here, D, okay? I’m here.” Allison wraps her arm around her brother’s shoulder as she tries to get him to calm down.

Diego isn’t sure how much time passes before he speaks again. Maybe a couple minutes, maybe an hour. He doesn’t even know what time it is. But, eventually, he’s calm. “A d-dream,” he explains.

Allison nods and rubs the his back. “What happened in it? Are you okay?”

Diego takes a deep breath in. He’s still a bit shaky, trying to think of what to say. In his mind he can see the images of the dream flashing through his head. But he doesn’t want to see it, doesn’t want to remember. “I’m fine,” he assures her. “Ph-Physic-ically, at-at least.”

“That’s good. That—That’s definitely good.” Allison pauses, unsure of how Diego will react to her next question, unsure of whether or not she should even ask it. But she has to ask it. She has to know. She wants to help. “If—If you don’t mind, uh, could you tell me? What the dream—or, nightmare, it sounds like—was about?”

Diego tenses up a bit at that, and his left eye twitches. He’s not sure if he wants to say, if he even can say it. “D-Dad,” he manages to stutter out. “In-In the dream, he—he, uh. He.” The tears are back in his eyes again, but he can’t cry. Not in front of Allison.

“It’s okay, Diego,” she says. “Dad didn’t do anything.” Not yet, she thinks to herself. But she can’t say that out loud, not while Diego is still so shaken up and afraid. “You don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to. But, if you do, I’m here.”

He nods. “I kn-kn-know.” His voice is a bit shaky, but he can’t even be bothered to steady it. “Can-Can I just, um, just st-stay h-here?” he asks. “For the n-n-night? I’m-m just... sh-shaken up, I guess.”

Allison nods. “Of course,” she tells him. She pulls him back into a hug, running her fingers through his hair. Something wet hits her arm—a tear. As much as he didn’t want to, Diego was crying.

“He k-killed you,” he chokes out. He can’t stop crying as the images of the dream fly through his mind. There was—There was so much blood. Reginald had experimented on the others so much that they—they—

They died. They died. But for some reason, he spared Diego. He made Diego watch, made Diego see his siblings’ suffering and torture, but Reginald never touched him. And that was the worst thing Diego could honestly imagine. Reginald—no, no, anybody, not just his father—hurting his siblings, and Diego being helpless to it all, unable to help.

Allison tries to soothe him, make him feel better. “I’m not dead,” she reminds him. “See? Dad did nothing to me—nobody did anything to me. I’m fine. We’re safe. You don’t have to worry about that.”

Diego doesn’t know what he’d do if something happened to his siblings. He doesn’t know how he would cope with something like that. He needs to protect them, even if he wasn’t the designated leader of the group. He loved his siblings too much to let them go, especially without a fight.

“I-I c-c-couldn’t save you,” he cries. “Save a-any of you.” He leans into his sister’s side, trying to remind himself that she’s still there, still alive.

“You don’t need to save us. From anything. It was just a dream, D. Remember that. We’re safe here. Nobody is trying to kill us.” Except Allison knows that isn’t true. With how hard Reginald trains them, it won’t be long until he pushes them past their limit. And by going out on missions so often, they’re putting themselves in the line of fire constantly, as if they’re asking to get killed.

“Wh-What about F-F-Five?” Diego questions. “He’s-He’s gone, Ally. I—We could-couldn’t save h-him.”

Allison ignores the tears that appear in her eyes at the mention of their brother. “We don’t know that he’s gone forever.” She still holds on hope, just like Vanya and Ben do. Luther, Diego, and Klaus, though, gave up that hope a while ago. “Lets just try to get back to sleep, alright? Everything is fine.”

Diego sucks in a shaky breath and nods. “S-Sure.”

Whenever Diego had a nightmare again, he would always go to Allison for help.

Chapter Text

All of the kids knew he wasn’t a good father.

Hell, even ‘bad’ would be a compliment.

But never did the kids think that Reginald would hurt them. Intentionally, at least.

Except for Five.

Five experienced first hand Reginald’s abuse. His father had always had high expectations for Five, and when he didn’t meet those expectations... well, let’s just say that he wasn’t exactly nice.

Honestly, Reginald didn’t beat Five often. Just the occasional slap. And, when that happened, Five was normally locked away for a day or two until the mark healed.

Nobody ever noticed. And Five didn’t plan to tell anybody. He didn’t want them to insult him for messing up, for not being good enough, for being a disappointment. And so no one knew.

Until Diego saw it happen.

Diego has no idea what led to it happening. All he remembers is hearing some yelling during Five’s training time. “Incompetent,” Reginald had yelled. “Worthless.”

Diego had to see what was going on.

Diego saw Reginald’s hand raised, saw it come down on his brother’s cheek. He heard Reginald yelling, but Diego wasn’t sure what he said. Diego felt dizzy, felt like his ears were ringing.

Reginald—their father, a man who they looked up to and admired—had just hit Five. Five, one of the smartest and most capable of the group. A good fighter, great control of his powers, respectful, honest, follows orders...

How could Reginald do this? Diego thinks. How could anyone hit their own kid?

By the time Diego finally comes back to reality, Reginald is shouting at Five and pointing at the door.

“No!” Diego yells instinctively. He hisses when he says it, almost regrets it. But he can’t just let his father get away with hitting his brother.

“Number Two,” Reginald says harshly. “What are you doing here?”

Five is shaking his head, holding his cheek. Tears are falling down his face but he’s concerned about Diego, not himself. Diego will never understand how Five manages to be an ass and be selfless at the same time, but here he is.

“Go to your room,” Reginald continues.

Diego takes a deep breath and stands his ground. “No,” he repeats. “You-You h-hit m-m-my brother. You c-can’t do that!”

Five is practically shaking. He doesn’t want Reginald to hurt—he can’t have Reginald hurt Diego. He can’t have that happen. Because if Reginald hits Diego like he hits Five, then Five would never be able to forgive himself.

“He’s not your brother,” Reginald tells him. “You are soldiers. Soldiers don’t have brothers.”

Diego balls his hands into fists. “Yes h-he is! B-But y-you’re not m-my fath-father. You never w-were.”

“You will follow my orders, Number Two. It’s what good soldiers do. And, if you don’t... you know the consequences.” Reginald eyes the red mark on Five’s face, and Five shivers.

Diego takes a few steps forward, defying Reginald’s orders. “M-M-Maybe I’m-I’m not a g-good sol-soldier.”

“Number Two—”

“I have a n-name, you know.” Diego takes a few more steps, growing bolder with each word he says. Reginald can’t just hit Five! And Diego won’t let him get away with it. “Or-Or do you ev-even know? It-It’s not like y-you c-c-care.”

Reginald opens his mouth to speak, but Diego doesn’t let him. “N-No, just-just shut up f-for a m-m-min-min—for a second. You hi-hit Five. You c-can’t do that!”

Reginald takes a step this time, closer to Diego. He raises his hand, ready to hit him, but stops. Diego had put his hand on his side, grabbing at the handle of a knife. Reginald would risk lots of thing, but he knew Diego wasn’t bluffing. And he knew that, even if accuracy wasn’t his power, Diego wouldn’t miss.

“I would-wouldn’t d-d-do that, i-if I were you,” he tells Reginald with a smirk. Diego’s eyes flick to Five for a second, trying to tell his brother that he’s okay, that both of them are okay. He will make sure that Reginald never hurts Five again.

Diego sees the fear on Five’s face. He’s not sure if the fear is there because he’s afraid of Reginald, or afraid of what Reginald would do to Diego. But Diego almost doesn’t want to find out. He doesn’t want his brother to be afraid of anything.

“Number Two,” Reginald says again, but this time his voice is less stern. It wavers barely, and Diego almost doesn’t catch it. But he does.

Reginald is afraid.

“Go to your room. Now. And we won’t speak of this again.”

Diego shrugs. “Eh. N-Not sure I sh-sh-should, R-Reginald.” Diego pulls the knife out, twirling it around in his hand. He eyes it, then looks at Reginald, who is staring at the knife with a slight hint of fear. “S-S-See, I-I have another prop-prop-proposition for you.”

Reginald glares at Diego, but doesn’t stop him.

“I pr-propose that you n-never hit m-m-my brother again. And then, we m-m-might stay and-and help you with your l-l-little m-mission to be f-famous or what-whatever. M-Maybe.”

Reginald takes a deep breath. He’s actually contemplating it. He knows Diego has the power here with the knife in his hand, knows that if he even wants to have a chance to keep the Academy running, he has to do what Diego says.

Reginald glances at the knife again, then back at Diego. “Fine,” he agrees reluctantly. “Now go to your room, Number Two.”

“It-It’s Diego,” he says.

Reginald glares at him, but says nothing.

“C-C’mon, Five,” Diego says, grabbing his brother’s arm. “Let-Let’s go.”

The two walk out of the training room and to Diego’s bedroom, flopping on his bed and laughing. “Man, you were badass back there!” Five says.

Diego laughs and agrees. He knows he should probably ask Five about the slap, about whether or not it had happened before, but he decides that it wasn’t the time.

Diego and Five continue to laugh about it all.

It’s dark by the time Five leaves his brother’s room. Right before he leaves, though, he turns back and says one thing.

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

It had been difficult.

Training so rigorous that his father might have planned it.

But Reginald didn’t plan anything. It was all Klaus. Along with the help of Ben and the motivation of Dave, of course.

Klaus did constant exercises and practices, trying to get a stronger grip on his power. He just—He just wanted to touch Dave again. To kiss him, hug him, hold hands with him.

And, finally, Klaus was strong enough.

Dave’s ghost stood across from him, smiling. “You ready, babe?” Klaus asks.

Dave nods once. “As long as you are,” he says giddily.

Klaus takes a deep breath. “Alright. Alright, I can, uh—I can do this.”

Klaus closes his eyes, and tries to conjure Dave. It was so easy when he was just practicing with Ben, but now that’s it’s the real deal, it feels so much more difficult.

Except, when Klaus opens his eyes, Dave’s slightly transparent ghost has turned solid.

Klaus’ mouth hangs open, and he jumps up to hug Dave. Dave is—Dave is solid.

Klaus is laughing and smiling, muttering incoherent things. And Dave is squeezing him back just as tightly, hold him close.

“You did it,” he says.

“I did it!”

Dave grabs Klaus’ face and kisses him, right on the lips. Klaus stiffens at first. Before, Klaus wasn’t allowed to kiss Dave, Dave had made that very clear. No kissing in public, and you had to double triple check that no one was around. Yet here Dave was, kissing Klaus like there was no tomorrow. And maybe there wasn’t.

He eventually melts into the kiss, letting his hands travel up and down Dave’s body. The body was so familiar. Klaus had spent hours trying to memorize all of his curves and crevices, every freckle and every hair. It had been too long since he had gotten to run his hands all over his body.

Dave rests his forehead on Klaus’ pulling away. There are tears in Dave’s eyes, but he won’t let himself cry. “I missed you,” he whispers.

Klaus grabs Dave’s shoulders and runs his hands down his arms. “Me too.”

Dave can’t help it. He closes his eyes, and a tear rubs down his cheek.

“No!” Klaus says sadly. “No, honey, no crying. It’s fine. I love you, hon, I love you.” He wipes the tears away, planting another kiss on his lips.

Dave chuckles dryly. “Ah fuck, heartbeat, I didn’t—I didn’t wanna do this. This was—It was supposed to be a blast, but here I am, crying—”

“No, no, it’s fine!” Klaus assures him. He wipes away his hair and kisses his forehead. “Are you happy with this? If it’s too much, I can stop, just tell me.”

“Trust me, I’m on cloud nine. I just—Heartbeat. Klaus. You know I love you. I just—I missed you. I really missed you.”

Klaus kisses Dave again. He missed him, too. More than he ever thought was possible. But now he has Dave again, even if it’s not the same.

Klaus waits a few seconds, and then says it. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Dave asks, chuckling a little. “You’re not the one cryin’ like a little ankle biter.”

Klaus shakes his head and smiles. “God, your stupid 50s slang.”

He rolls his eyes. “Not much better than yours. But, K, what’s wrong? Why are you sorry?”

Klaus tips his head and kisses Dave again. Then he takes a deep breath. “For letting you die,” he says in a quiet voice.

Dave runs his hands through Klaus’ hair, ruffing it up. He shakes his head, mutters reassurances to Klaus. Klaus shouldn’t be sad, shouldn’t be sorry. None of it was his fault. “It’s fine. It’s fine, heartbeat, I promise. I—” he takes a deep breath and tries to ignore the lump in his throat. He hates thinking about that day. He can’t avoid it, though, especially with the bullet wound and blood still on his chest. “I should’ve been payin’ attention. It—Klaus, it was my fault.”

Klaus tips his head back, trying not to cry. “It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t! If I just wasn’t talking, if I had payed attention—me, not you—then maybe... I—I don’t know,” he admits. “I don’t know. I just wish you were still here. Like, here here. Not just conjured because of some stupid power that I wish I didn’t have.”

Dave sighs. “We can’t change what happened. I wish more than anyone that we could, but—but we can’t. And maybe it’s better this way. Bein’ dead ain’t no picnic, but neither was the war. And I still have you.”

“I know. I—Maybe you have a point. But that—”

“That doesn’t make it any easier,” Dave agrees. “And I‘m not saying it does. ‘M just sayin’... we should try to find the positive in all this. Because there is positive.”

Klaus bites his lip and nods. “Is this a positive?” He grabs Dave softly and kisses him again. It’s much more tender this time, less desperate, less starved.

“Definitely,” Dave agrees, pulling away, breathless.

That puts a smile back on Klaus’ face. “Let’s not focus on any of that grim and sad stuff. Let’s just... let’s just enjoy the time we have.”

“That sounds perfect.” Dave slips his hand into Klaus’, intertwining their fingers.

Their saliva and sweat and tears mix together, and neither could tell where one began and where the other ended. But they were fine with that. In fact, they were more than fine. They were fucking perfect.

Klaus isn’t sure how long he and Dave kiss for. All he knows is that he can’t get enough of it. Even as a ghost, Dave just... he just smells like Dave. He smells like perfection, like heaven.

And poor old Ben wished he had never helped his brother.

Chapter Text

Naturally, he wasn’t a touchy person.

But now, he flinched away from every touch.

Five’s siblings questioned him constantly about it once they realized. He flinched away from random hugs, pats on the back, noogies, all of it. And for a while they assumed it was from Reginald, but eventually, they realized it wasn’t.

“What happened, Five?” Klaus would ask. “You were never like this before the Apocalypse.”

But Five never said anything. He couldn’t. He didn’t want to seem weak in front of his siblings, didn’t want to be vulnerable. So he kept it all in.

Until he couldn’t keep it in any longer.

“You wanna know why?” Five says in front of his family. “Why I flinch away every time one of you idiots tries to get close to me? Why—Why I cant stand anybody getting near me?”

“Five—” Allison tries to interrupt him, but he doesn’t stop.

“No. No. I’ll tell you. If it’ll make all of you just stay away from me and shut up about it, I’ll tell you.”

Nobody tries to stop him this time.

Five takes a deep breath. “It—It was the Handler.”

“From the Commission?” Diego asks.

Five rolls his eyes. “No, from McDonalds. Yes, from the Commission!”

“What did she do to you?” Vanya asks.

“Do we have to kick her ass?” Luther questions.

Five shakes his head. He regrets bringing this up. He should’ve just left it, left his siblings guessing and never have said anything. But he’s in too far now.

Five takes a deep breath. “I—” there’s a lump in his throat and he can’t speak. He squeezes his eyes shut, trying to ignore his siblings’ eyes on him. “She would, um. She would abuse me. S-Sexually.” There are tears in his eyes but he won’t cry. It was so long ago, he should be over it by now. It wasn’t a big deal, he shouldn’t be upset.

Klaus’ jaw drops. “Five, man—shit, I um... you don’t have to say anything more if you don’t want to. I’m sorry we pressured you and everything, I—jeez.”

Five takes another deep breath to try to calm himself. “No, it—it’s fine. It’s fine. It—It’s stupid. It was so long ago, it’s not a big deal. I shouldn’t be bothered by it, really.”

“It’s fine to be upset, Five,” Vanya assures him. “Nobody just gets over that.”

Five’s body involuntarily shivers when he thinks of it. “No, honestly—honestly it was my fault. When I screwed up, didn’t complete a job, she would, uh—she would—” He tilts his head back, trying to keep the tears back. Why is he crying? It’s not a big deal. The Handler isn’t there anymore, she can’t do anything to him.

“Hey, take your time, man,” Diego tells him. “Only tell us what you want, and in your own time.”

Five clenches and unclenches his fists, trying to relax. Fuck, he didn’t want this. He didn’t want any of this. He didn’t want to be vulnerable, to react like this. He didn’t want to flinch away from contact, didn’t want to be so afraid.

He didn’t want to be sexually abused.

But there was nothing Five could do about it anymore. What happened had happened. He couldn’t go back in time, it would be too dangerous, and he wouldn’t want to anyway. He wouldn’t want to go through the apocalypse again, or relive his life in the Commission.

“When I didn’t finish my work,” Five continued after some time, “she would sexually abuse me. I, uh, won’t go in to specifics, obviously, but, yeah. And... fuck, it was horrible. God, I wanted to die in those moments more than I ever had. So I just became the perfect soldier. I did everything perfectly. I was the best shooter they had. But, somehow, the Handler—she would find a way. An excuse. Some reason to, uh. You know.”

“I’m so sorry,” Luther tells him. “We has no idea you were going through that.”

“Well, you couldn’t have. I didn’t tell you guys. But it’s fine, really, it—it’s fine. I’m still alive and kickin’, right?” Five cockles humorlessly, truing to lighten the mood. He didn’t want to think about it anymore, talk about it any longer.

“Is there any way we can help?” Allison asks. “We’re here for you, Five. You don’t have to go through this alone.”

“I’m fine,” he repeats.

Diego shakes his head. “C’mon, man. Let us help. You went through a shit time, and—”

“No,” Five interrupts. “I didn’t go through a ‘shit time.’ I went through fucking hell. My whole damn life. But I got through it all. And I did that alone.”

“You have us now, though,” Klaus says. “You went through it alone because you were alone. But you’re not. We’re here, Five. Let us help.”

“You wanna know how you can help? Fine. Just stay away from me. I can’t stand touching or any of that. The Handler ruined that for me. So if y’all could just respect my wishes and do what I ask, then that would be fucking perfect.”

“We can make you feel better,” Vanya says. “Maybe we could make you like touching more. Or, not flinch away. The Handler is gone, Five. If we did therapy, or—or something, we can help. We can make it better.”

“You said it yourself,” Five points out. “You don’t just ‘get over it.’ This isn’t changing. I’m stuck with this did the rest of my life. But I can deal with that, I’m dealing. On my own.”

“Well, whether you like it or not, we’re going to help you,” Luther says. “We’re family, Five. It’s what family does.”

“I spent most of my life without family, Luther. I think I’ll be fine,” Five dismisses.

“Alright, Five, shut the hell up,” Diego says, exhausted. “We’re gonna help you through this. I know you got this whole lone wolf vibe going on, but you’re not getting out of this. We’re helping you.”

Five sighs. “Fine. Go crazy. See what you can do.”

And, even if Five flinched at contact for the rest of his life, he knew he had a family that would help him through everything.

Chapter Text

The siblings had been trying to get closer.

Really, though, they wanted to make sure their sister was safe.

Vanya was the one Hargreeves kid to still live on her own after the almost-apocalypse. Even though her siblings urged her to move in to the Academy again, she just couldn’t do that.

So, her five living siblings decided to visit her at her apartment, claiming they wanted
to ‘get closer.’ But, really, they wanted to ensure that she was safe, that her temper was under control.

Diego flops on Vanya’s couch, his siblings taking seats beside him. The family starts talking about pointless things, like what good movies they last saw or what books they were reading.

Diego wipes the sweat from his forehead. “Hey, Vanya, mind if I open a window?” he asks. “Room’s gettin’ a bit stuffy.”

Vanya shrugs. “Sure.”

“Do I have to unlock ‘em, or...?”

She shakes her head. “No. There actually aren’t any locks on them.”

Five groans. “You seriously haven’t gotten locks on those?”

“Wait, what?” Allison questions. “You—You don’t have locks on your windows?”

“Like I told Five before,” Vanya explains, sighing, “I live on the second floor.”

“And like I said,” Five counters, “rapists can climb.”

“Wait, why did we start talking about rapists?” Klaus interjects. “How did this turn from window locks to rapists?”

Five shrugs. “Safety reasons,” he says slowly. “I mean, they’re a real threat.”

“I don’t think I have to be super worried about that,” Vanya says. “Really, guys, it’s fine. This building is safe. No one has ever broken in here.”

“Ever?” Luther challenges. “I highly doubt that. And, even if it hasn’t happened before, doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future.”

Klaus nods. “Before us, no one had ever had superpowers. But look at us now! Failed heroes! You never know what could happen.”

“Klaus,” Diego sighs.

“What? I’m right and you know it.”

“Not the best example, though, man.”

“Actually,” Allison disagrees, “I think it’s a great example.”

“Thank you! Finally, someone recognizes my genius,” Klaus says.

“Not the best wording,” she continues. “But, still. It’s a good example.”

“Honestly, I’ve lost track of what we’re talking about here,” Vanya admits.

Diego nods. “Right. Locks. Windows. You need those. Not only can rapists scale buildings, or whatever Five said—”

“Climb,” Five interrupts.

“Whatever. The point is, you’re basically famous. With the book and the powers, people know who you are. And they’ll know where you live. Aside from rapists and that shit, there are legitimate threats to this world. If they knew where you were... it wouldn’t be good.”

“I was a threat to this world not too long ago,” Vanya recalls bitterly. “I can fend for myself. Maybe you forgot, but I’m not your powerless, useless little sister anymore.”

Klaus sighs. “We’re not calling you useless, V.” He was the one sibling that still called her that nickname, and it instantly made her feel calmer. It reminded herself that the people surrounding her loved her, just wanted her safe.

“All we’re saying is that you could be safer,” Allison tells her. “What is there were a robbery? Even if it’s unlikely, it could happen. Like Klaus pointed out: it was unlikely that we would be born without fathers and with powers, yet it happened.”

“Why does it matter that much?” Vanya asked. “Nothing has happened yet.”

“Yet,” Luther repeats. “Nothing has happened yet. If I wanted to, I could break into your apartment. I’m sure Diego could do the same. If you didn’t know us, we would probably rob this place.”

“Or kill you,” Diego adds on.

Luther rolls his eyes. “You didn’t have to add that part.”

Diego shrugs. “I was making a point. Dying is much worse than getting robbed.”

“I beg to differ,” Klaus says, scoffing. “I would hate to get robbed, but I wish I was dead every other day.”

“Jesus, Klaus,” Five says. “That was extremely depressing and unnecessary.”

Klaus smiles. “Thank you, it’s my specialty.”

Vanya laughs. “I think I get the point you guys are trying to make,” she says.

“Are you saying that because you actually believe it?” Allison asks. “Or because you want us to shut up?”

“Can it be a bit of both?” jokes Vanya.

“Whatever,” Five says. “As long as you get locks on your stupid windows.”

“And don’t just get locks,” Diego tells her. “Actually lock them. I learned that the hard way.”

“Wait, Diego, did you get robbed?” Klaus asks, laughing.

“None of your damn business. All you need to know is that I actually lock up where I live, both when I moved out of the Academy and when I’m living there.”

“He definitely got robbed,” Allison agrees.

“Oh my god, guys, just shut up,” Diego complains. “This is about Vanya, not me.”

“But she agreed to get locks,” Luther says. “So let’s talk about you a little longer.”

“Vanya never actually said she was getting locks,” Diego points out, forcing all of his siblings’ eyes to turn to her. “All she said was that she understood our point, whatever that means.”

Vanya doesn’t say anything. She knows she should, but she doesn’t know what to say.

“So?” Klaus pressures. “Is that a yes on the keeping yourself alive by having locks on your windows, or no?”

She sighs. She’ll have to scrape up some money, and it’ll take some time, but she knows she should do it. And if all of her siblings are actually agreeing on something, then she knows it’s important. “Fine,” she agrees. “I’ll find a way to get locks on the windows. It might be a little while, but I’ll make it happen.”

“Thank god,” Diego says.

Five rolls his eyes. “Finally. And all it took was the fucking apocalypse.”

“Almost apocalypse,” Vanya reminds him.

“Whatever,” Diego says. “As long as you promise to get the locks.”

“I already said I would.”

“But you gotta promise.”

“Fine. I promise.”

And Vanya follows through on that promise.

Chapter Text

They just assumed he was anti social.

That years of being alone made him socially awkward.

But Five was more than either of those.

Five was a smart kid—or, adult, technically. But, either way, he was smart. But his social skills? Not the best. He didn’t make eye contact with people, couldn’t talk about his feelings. He was obsessive about things once he started learning or talking about them.

Now, everyone dismissed this. His siblings, his mother, his father.

That is, until Vanya started learning about autism.

One of her students had been diagnosed with autism. Her parents had given Vanya a book about autism, and Vanya, obviously, read it. She learned all about the spectrum of it, learned about the characteristics and the diagnosis.

And lots of the characteristics reminded her about someone she knew.

Five.

The more Vanya learned about it, the more she saw it in Five. For example, hyper fixation. Once Five started exploring time travel and time jumping, his mind was set on it. He had to learn about it, had to do it. And he wouldn’t let it go until he figured it out.

There was also that “social awkwardness.” He didn’t look people in the eye when they were talking, interrupted them and didn’t know why he shouldn’t. He has trouble showing empathy or emotionally relating to people. He’s withdrawn and wants to be alone.

And, though Vanya doesn’t know this, Five clung to having a routine, a way of doing things. Being part of the Academy and the Commission gave him structure. When he was alone in the apocalypse world, he did the same thing every single day. It stressed him out if he didn’t, made him anxious.

That’s another thing: the anxiety. Though it wasn’t part of the autism, anxiety and depression weren’t uncommon for people who were diagnosed with it. And Five was definitely one anxious person.

Finally, Vanya approached Five about it. She wanted him to go to a doctor, get diagnosed, just to be sure.

Five shrugged when she brought it up. “Yeah, I have it,” he says. “Self diagnosed, but yeah.”

“Wh-What?” she asks. “You knew?”

“I took up reading during the apocalypse. Not much else I could do,” he explains. “Found lots of books about it, self diagnosed myself. Honestly wouldn’t be too hard to figure out, though. It’s clear I’m not, you know, a normal kid or anything.”

“Five, why didn’t you tell us? Or why didn’t you see a doctor to try to get a professional diagnosis? Five, can you—can you just try to look me in the eyes?”

“Why?” he questions. “It’s not like it matters. Any of that. Telling you guys, getting a diagnosis. Even looking you in the eyes is pointless. See? I’m doing it, yet nothing special is happening.” He immediately looks away. It’s uncomfortable and difficult for him to look anybody in the eyes, even his sister.

Vanya sighs. “It shows me that you’re listening. That you care about what I’m saying.”

“Well, I don’t,” he admits. “Listen, I get your concern, but it really doesn’t matter. I have it all figured out, Vanya. A diagnosis won’t change anything.”

“Five, I just want to help you. Like you said, and I don’t want to offend you or anything, but you aren’t normal. Your social skills are, excuse my language, shit. I just want to help you. I want to help you become more... normal, as horrible as that word is. Fit in better.”

“What if I don’t want to fit in better?” Five challenges. “What if I’d rather just be left alone, with whatever I have? What if I’d rather just read my books and figure out my equations and jump from place to place, not interacting with anyone? Would that be so horrible, Vanya? Would it be horrible if I’m not normal?”

Vanya opens her mouth to speak, but doesn’t know what to say.

Five shakes his head then scoffs. “Not like you can say anything about normality. You almost killed everyone on earth. You’re severely depressed and have anxiety, even if you won’t admit it. You rarely speak to your family and your childhood was fucked up, your father was abusive and negligent, and you lost two of your siblings when you were just a kid. Not to mention the fact that you grew up surrounded by powers while your father drugged you to suppress your own. I could go on, but I see no reason to. Now tell me again, Vanya, why I should try to be normal. And, please, tell me what ‘normal’ looks like, just so I can make sure I’m doing it right.”

Vanya sighs. “That’s not what I mean, Five. All I’m saying is that... hell, I don’t even know what I’m saying. I just want you to be happier. I’m sure it isn’t easy living with autism or whatever you have. Maybe, if you just got a diagnosis, you could find somebody—a therapist or behavioral specialist or something—that could make it easier.”

Five pats his sister on the back. “Thanks for the offer, but I’m fine,” he assures her. He walks away with a cup of coffee in his hand, probably back to his room to do who knows what.

Vanya sighs. She should’ve figured it wouldn’t be that easy. And, honestly, she doesn’t know what her objective was.

But at least she knows Five is fine. He can work through anything the world throws at him. And even though Vanya knows that, she can’t help but worry.

There’s noting she can do about Five, though. Whether or not he’s on the autism spectrum.

Vanya just hopes she said the right things.

Chapter Text

There were many reasons she wrote the book.

More than even she realized.

Vanya knew her book would be controversial. It would insult the Umbrella Academy and Sir Reginald Hargreeves. It would tear down what everybody thought about everything.

Vanya supposes that’s one of the reasons she wrote it. Maybe she wanted to ruin the name the Academy made for itself, make the world despise Reginald as much as she did.

But that wasn’t the only reason. She wanted to prove to her father, prove to her siblings, prove to the world that she wasn’t useless. She might not have powers, but that didn’t mean she deserved to be forgotten. She could still write, could still play the violin, could still do so much.

On top of all of that, Vanya wanted to be noticed. Not just by strangers, random people that read her book, but by her siblings. By her family. That’s why she sent her father a copy of the book.

Most of her siblings were upset when they read the book, but Vanya was fine with that. She didn’t write it to make them happy. In fact, it was probably better that it made them upset. She didn’t want to tell a story that would make them smile and fondly remember their days at the Academy. She wanted people to understand the pain she felt as a child.

Becoming mildly famous—or, at least, recognizable—was not the plan when she wrote the book. In fact, she almost didn’t publish it. It was a way for her to write her feelings and write what had happened. But it certainly didn’t hurt to get more publicity, more money, more recognition. Anybody would want that.

Vanya initially wrote the book with no purpose other than just putting her thoughts on a page, than reminding herself of what she went through and her life. She wrote it just because she wanted to. She loved to write, almost as much as she loved music, and she had a story to tell. There was nothing stopping her from writing it, so, for what seemed like the first time in her life, she went for it. She went for it and succeeded.

There are so many reasons Vanya wrote the book. Some, she can’t even put in to words. They were just feelings, something nobody could put words to. She wishes she could explain to people why she did it, why she did everything, but she couldn’t. So she was just stick with a mildly interesting book that people quickly forgot about.

Again, though, Vanya didn’t care about the book. She didn’t care what random people thought about it. She just wanted people to know her life, recognize her story.

Maybe that was the biggest reason she wrote the book. She wanted to be noticed—no, she wanted her story to be noticed. Nothing about her mattered, just what she had to tell. And what she had to tell was that Reginald was a horrible man and horrible father. What she had to tell was that Reginald adopted more than six children, and was negligent and abusive to all of them.

Vanya had more stories to tell, but that was the only one that mattered. So many people got one side of the story, and it was time for her to tell her part. Not the part where six children with powers saved the world and stopped bank robbers, but the part where those six children were worked to the brink but still managed to find a time to insult and discourage the seventh.

That is why Vanya wrote her book.

And that’s the origin of “Extra-Ordinary: My Life as Number Seven.”

Chapter Text

The gate between the living and the dead.

That sounds much more poetic than it actually is.

But Klaus doesn't know how else to describe it. That's what their power is, at its essence. The gateway. Sure, they can see ghosts, but it was more than that.

Right now, though, that’s beside the point. The point is, nobody thought Klaus could die. Nobody thought the gateway could die.

But they did, during the apocalypse. And it wasn’t the debris, wasn’t the fire that swept through the land, wasn’t any of that. It was... it was so many souls tearing at him, going to the other side.

The gateway got clogged, but the souls kept coming. Everyone from everywhere was dying, souls being ripped from their body and through Klaus’.

Klaus felt like they were being ripped from the inside out. Or maybe the outside in. They weren’t sure if their body was going to explode from so many souls already in them, or implode from so many souls going on to them. They thought, somehow, both would happen. Their body would go in on itself and then, boom, guts everywhere, brain hitting a ceiling fan.

The pressure hurt them so much that they barely even registered the debris around them, crushing their body, trapping them to the floor. They barely even registered their siblings screaming out of pain, screaming for help. They barely even registered the fact that they, too, were screaming, howling from it all.

How many people are on earth? Seven billion something, right? That’s seven billion something people dying, seven billion something people crushing Klaus in every way possible. And that doesn’t even account for all the other people that died, tearing at him already. Their whole body feels like it throbbing, pulsing. They almost want to die, want it all to stop.

But it doesn’t. They keep coming and coming, from every possible place. Klaus isn’t sure if it all happened at once or in periods, but it felt like they could feel each individual soul rip through this body.

Normally, someone dying would almost create a ripple in Klaus’ body. That’s what it felt like, at least. Nothing too noticeable, especially after a while.

But this... it was different. Each person was yelling in more and more pain. And that made sense, really. Each person was either dying from being crushed by random rubble or by burning alive. Klaus was sure neither would be a good way to go. But those people’s pain became their pain. They felt the pain of them dying, heard their shouts and felt their tears—wait, no. Those were their own tears.

Klaus isn’t sure if the wetness on their cheek is tears, sweat, or blood. Maybe a mix of all three.

There’s so much dust in the air, from all the debris and destruction. Klaus squeezes their eyes shut, but then all they can see is the ghosts. So many ghosts, so loud and bloody and broken. Klaus knows they’ll look like that soon, knows they won’t be able to survive it all. There’s too much pressure.

Klaus isn’t even sure if their siblings are alive or if they’re already dead. They don’t know if their souls are already tearing at them or are about to.

They wish, more than anything, that they could just see Ben. It may sound odd, and they probably should be concerned about their own safety, but they know they’re going to die. What they don’t know, though, is how all the new ghosts is affecting Ben. Is Ben okay? Is he just as overwhelmed as Klaus? Is the screaming too loud, are the images too gory, is everything too much?

Klaus just doesn’t want to be alone, they suppose. And technically they aren’t. Not only do they have billions of souls ripping them apart, but they’re also surrounded by siblings that may or may not be dead yet. But they want to know if Ben is in the same amount of pain they’re in. They don’t want him to be, obviously, but maybe it wouldn’t be horrible if someone understood their pain.

Klaus isn’t sure how long it took for them to die. It felt like an eternity. Everybody else got to die so quickly, like a snap of the fingers, but they had to go through the pain of billions of souls ripping through them.

Maybe it wasn’t the pressure that killed them, though. It felt like the overload would be the cause of death, but maybe it wasn’t. Maybe Klaus died because they were no longer needed. Everybody was already dead, and the gates between the world of the living and the world of the dead had to close somehow, right? Klaus’ death sealed that gate, locked it up tight. Maybe their death was just the final part of the apocalypse.

Or maybe it was the seven billion new souls ripping them apart. Maybe Klaus imploded or exploded or was ripped to shreds. Maybe their brain just finally gave out and gave up, said goodbye to the world like all the souls that made it shut down.

Klaus would never know, though. Obviously. They were dead. It wasn’t like they could examine their body, not from the other side.

But Klaus is certain on one thing: the debris didn’t kill him.

Chapter Text

He rarely got sick.

Even before he went to the moon.

But being away from people and disease for so long... it made Luther’s immune system weak. For years he didn’t have to fight bacteria, didn’t have to fight colds or fevers. But now, back on Earth, he was exposed to it all once again.

It wasn’t long before Luther caught something. It was inevitable, really.

It should’ve just been a simple cold. Congestion, sore throat, maybe some fatigue. The usual. But it had literally been years since Luther had had a cold.

Luther felt dizzy, freezing and shaky, even when the temperature was above 70F. “Suck it up,” Diego told him. “It’s just a little cold, it can’t hurt you.”

Luther shook his head and pulled his covers over his body. “Screw off,” he says. His voice is raspy from congestion and his eyes are already drooping shut from exhaustion.

Diego rolled his eyes. “Whatever, cry baby.”

Nobody took Luther seriously about how sick he was. They had been getting colds for years, and they always went away within a day or two. To them, they were never a big deal.

Everybody aside from Luther and Diego had gone out for the day to do their own things, so Diego was stuck taking care of his brother.

Luther was wrapped up in even more layers than he usually was, but even then he was still shaking. He felt both burning hot and freezing cold at the same time. He was looking through the kitchen, hoping to find soup or something else to eat.

Before he could find anything, though, the dizziness became too unbearable. His vision started blurring, started going dark.

Luther woke up—wait, when did his eyes close?—on the ground. His body hurt from falling, hurt more than it did before.

Diego was above him, running a hand through his hair. “Shit, um—Luth-Luther, are you awake? Thank god.”

He groans, closing his eyes again. “What happened?” he asks.

“I think you passed out. You probably shook the whole place by fallin’,” Diego explains. “What the hell happened, man? What’d you do?”

Luther got up slowly, trying to gain his balance. “I didn’t do anything,” he hisses. “I told you—” he coughs, a violent that rattles your core and makes you taste blood, “I’m sick.”

Diego sighs. “Shit, I’m—sorry, man, I thought you were just being a wimp about it,” he apologizes sheepishly. “But, I mean, it’s just a cold. How could it be that bad?”

Luther shrugs, steadying himself on a table. “Dunno,” he admits, his voice weak from the coughing fit. “I just wanna sleep. Forever.”

“How about we, uh, just get you up to your bed, and then you can relax, yeah?” he suggests.

Luther nods, then bursts into another coughing fit. He feels like he can’t breathe, feels like he’s about to cough his lungs out. Diego slowly helps Luther back to his room and into his bed, where Luther throws all the blankets off of him. He feels like his skin is about to boil, so he rips off a few more layers of clothing until he’s down to the necessities.

“If I die—” Luther begins.

Diego scoffs. “Oh, shut up,” he says. “You’re not gonna die. You may be more sick than we realized, but this isn’t your death bed, idiot.”

“Can you just be quiet?” Luther asks. “I’m sick, just let me be.”

“You know I could never do that,” he says. “And you can suck up your stupid sickness. Don’t be a dramatic bitch.”

“I’m the dramatic one?” Luther asks, laughing. His laugh turns into another coughing fit. It lasts either a few minutes or a few hours, Luther isn’t sure. It feels like it goes on forever. “Jesus, this is what death feels like.”

Diego huffs a laugh. “Yeah, you’re the dramatic one.”

Neither of them says anything for a few minutes. Diego just looks at his brother, the leader of the Umbrella Academy, someone so strong and powerful. He looks so weak, though. So vulnerable. He looks like he is on the verge of death.

“How the hell did this happen?” Diego asks. “You never got sick when you were a kid.”

Luther sighs and shrugs. “I’m not sure,” he says. “I have a general idea, though. With my immune system so bad, it makes sense that I would catch illnesses easily.”

“But why would it be so bad? It’s always been great before.”

“Well, I did spend years on the moon. My immune system couldn’t get stronger, so now... it’s just weak. This is the first time I’ve been exposed to sickness and bacteria in years, Diego. I didn’t expect my body to react like this, but it makes sense why.”

Diego nods. “That makes sense. You could’ve told me, though. That you were sick.”

“I did,” Luther reminds him.

“No, like, really sick. That the moon fucked up your immune system or whatever. You could’ve told me that it was this bad.”

“I didn’t think it was this bad.”

“Well, obviously, but you had to have known that it wasn’t just a cold. That it was worse than that. Right?”

Luther shrugs. “I thought it was possible. I didn’t think it was likely.”

Diego scoffs. “Man, you are dumb.”

“Hey!”

“All I’m saying is that you knew it was possible, and you still said nothing. Seems like a dumb move to me.”

“Fine, you’re not entirely wrong. In the future, I’ll definitely tell someone if I think this could happen.”

“I would hope so.” Diego sighs. “Honestly though, I—I am sorry. I should’ve helped you earlier.”

“It’s fine,” Luther tells him. “I should’ve said it was this bad.”

Diego helps take care of his brother for the rest of the night, never once questioning how sick he was.

Chapter Text

He had been in bed for days.

Depression does that to people.

Luther was worried that if he did get out of bed, he’d kill himself. Tie a noose, jump off a building, overdose. He couldn’t face his siblings, couldn’t handle anything. His family hated him.

There was a knock on Luther’s door and he groaned.

“Hey Luthey?” Klaus asks, knocking again. “Can I come in?”

He sighs. “Fine.”

Klaus opens the door slowly, poking his head through. “Hey, big guy.” He takes a seat on Luther’s bed beside him. “How you doin’ sport?”

Luther rolls his eyes. “Come to taunt me some more?” he asks. “Just leave me alone to die.”

“I would never,” Klaus says. “Why don’t you get outta bed, buddy?” He nudges Luther a little bit, smiling widely. “You’ve been in bed for days. What’s goin’ on, man?”

“Like you care,” he grumbles.

“Of course I do, Luther. Why would you think I don’t?”

He shakes his head. “You all hate me. It’s obvious. So just leave.”

“Wait, wait—you think I hate you?”

“All of you do. That’s why I hate myself.”

“You—wha—what?” Klaus runs his hand over his face. “I can’t speak for the others, but I can tell you I don’t hate you. And—And what was that about hating yourself? Luth, man, that’s not good.”

Luther shrugs. “My whole family hates me. I—God, I just wanna die.” A tear runs down his face and into the beard that he’s grown. He feels pathetic. He doesn’t deserve to be the leader of a team, he doesn’t even deserve to be alive.

“I don’t hate you,” Klaus repeats. “I’m just... I’m bitter,” he says. “You were always Dad’s favorite. I don’t hate you for that, I hate him for that. I’m just... jealous isn’t the right word, but you understand.”

“Then why do you act like you hate me?” Luther challenges, wiping his face. “You-You make fun of me, you insult me, you—”

“It’s called being a sibling,” Klaus interrupts. “You all love me, but you’re still asshats.”

Luther rolls his eyes and snorts. “Yes, we love how humble you are.”

“Obviously,” he agrees. “But, that’s besides the point. The point is, I don’t hate any of you. Do I mess with you guys? Yeah. Of course I do. It’s what siblings do! I love you, but I’m not supposed to be nice to you.”

Luther’s lip twitches upward into an almost-smile, but it quickly goes back down.

“Don’t feel bad about yourself, man,” Klaus continues. “None of us hate you. I mean, sure, we can want you to fuck off sometimes, but we don’t hate you. You’re our brother. We—Or, I, at least—love you.”

Luther shrugs. “I guess.” He sighs. “It’s just—god, I feel like shit. All that time on the moon, alone... I had nothing to think about. Nothing except you guys. And then I could—I could only think of the bad things.”

Klaus bites his lip and nods. “I get it. Bad thoughts are, well, bad. I’ve dealt with enough of those in my life.”

“But have you ever wanted to die?”

“Course.”

“But have you ever wanted to kill yourself? Have you ever been close to doing it? Klaus, tell me, have you thought of all the ways to kill yourself? Have you been on the edge—the literal edge—and almost jumped off?”

Klaus sighs. “No. Not—No. And I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that. But we can help you. I’m sure if you told the others, they’d want to help you.”

“But they—”

“Don’t. Don’t say. Don’t tell me that they hate you or any of that crap. We’re family, Luther! And family means no one is left behind! Hakuna Matata, man!”

Luther can’t help it. He chuckles a little. “Hakuna Matata? Really?”

“Yeah! Peace and that shit!”

“Klaus, do you even know what that means?”

Klaus almost looks offended. “Yeah!”

“Hakuna Matata!” he starts to sing, completely into the song but completely out of tune. He sways around, hitting Luther more than once.

“What a wonderful phrase

“Hakuna Matata!

“Ain't no passing craze.”

“Oh my god, stop!” Luther begs, laughing.

“It means no worries,” he continues, leaning in close to his brother.

“For the rest of your days

“It's our problem-free philosophy

“Hakuna Matata!”

“Alright, alright, I get it,” Luther says, trying to stop his laughter.

“Do you? Or do I need to keep singing?”

“I get it, I get it.”

“Fine. Then get your big gorilla ass out of your bed and shave that fluffy thing on your face. What the hell even is that? Is it a dead cat, or...?”

“It’s a beard,” Luther says.

“Sure it is. But whatever it is, it’s gotta go. Not workin’ for me.”

Luther nods. “It is getting a bit out of hand,” he agrees. He sighs. Getting out of bed seems so difficult. It means facing life, facing his family, and he can’t do that. But he has to. His brother is with him, saying he loves him, and saying that he can help. So Luther has to get up, has to let Klaus help.

“And maybe a shower?” Klaus continues. “Gettin’ a bit ripe there, man. Smells like you were laying in a dumpster for all those days.”

“I’ll shower. It’ll be good to freshen up.”

“A change of clothes, too. How did you even stain that shirt? You haven’t even left this room for days.”

Luther shrugs. “Life finds a way.”

“Well, find a way to get it to go,” Klaus suggests. “Makes you seem sloppy.”

“Since when do you care about sloppy?” Luther asks.

“Since it regards my brother.”

Luther smiles. “Thank you, Klaus.”

“Any time.”

Chapter Text

She knew it wasn’t right.

She knew no kid should be worked that hard.

Even if her siblings weren’t the nicest to her, Vanya knew that the way they were treated wasn’t right. They worked more hours in a day than most adults. They risked their lives constantly. It was only a matter of time until one of them got hurt. Or worse.

The kids were almost thirteen when Vanya just couldn’t stand it. She couldn’t stand the fear that all her sibling would die. That, every time they left, she might not see their faces again.

Vanya heard shouting from the training room. All her siblings were in there, trapped with Reginald. She knew she should just leave it alone, let it be, but she couldn’t stand the fear that her siblings were hurt. And if one of them was, she had to do something.

So, she ran to the training room. If nothing was wrong, she’d leave, and nobody would even know she was there.

Vanya peers in to the room right as Reginald pushes Diego to the floor. “No!” Reginald shouts. “Can you do anything right?”

Vanya sucks in a sharp breath and freezes. She wants to go in, wants to help, but she can’t. She just can’t.

“You’re all worthless!” Reginald continues. “Number Five, spacial jump to that door.”

Five tries. He does. But he can’t make it more than a few feet.

“Worthless!” Reginald yells as he slaps Five’s face.

And that’s all Vanya can take. “Enough!” she says—except, she didn’t say it. Yes, it was her voice and her body, but the word came from deep within her. It was an instinct.

Reginald seems stunned. “Stop?” he repeats, perplexed. “It’s not like you’re any better, Number Seven.”

Vanya takes a few steps into the training room. “You can do this.”

He almost chuckles. “Well, clearly I can, because I just did.”

“It’s not right.”

“Oh, who cares what’s right? I help them stop deadly threats to the world. I think that makes up for it.”

“Doing a good deed does not cancel out the bad one,” Vanya says, taking another couple steps forward.

“Vanya—” Allison tries to stop her, but Vanya won’t let her. She has to protect her siblings because they’d do the same for her.

“No, Allison. He’s hurting you. He isn’t helping you guys at all! You could take him down, if you wanted to. All of you could. I won’t let him hurt you, though.”

That does make Reginald chuckle. “You think that you can protect them?” he asks condescendingly. “You’re the weak link. A screw up. Powerless. Useless. What are you going to do? Cry until I stop? Play that retched violin? That’s not how this works.”

Vanya swears there’s steam coming out of her ears. All of her siblings seem stunned both at their father’s words, but also their sister’s actions. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Someone standing up to Sir Reginald Hargreeves. No one did that. No one.

Until now.

Vanya takes another step forward. “You don’t intimidate me,” she says through gritted teeth. Her fists are clenched, as if she were ready to punch him, but she knows she never would. She wants to, though. More than anything in the world. “You’ve put me through hell,” she continues. “There’s nothing that could scare me anymore. I’ve been locked away so much that the cage has become a second home. I’ve been hit so many times that I’ve grown numb to it. So, try your worst. See what it does.”

“What are you doing?” Luther asks. “He’ll kill you.”

But Vanya just takes another advancing step.

Reginald smirks. Number Seven is fierce, angry. She lets her emotions control her. That’s the exact reason he drugged her, suppressed her powers. He’s sure that if she wasn’t taking the pills, everyone in the room would be dead in an instant. He’s curious, though, as to what she’ll do next, whether or not she has a plan. His bets are on no.

“We’re fine, Vanya,” Ben tells her. “We’ll be fine. I don’t want you to get hurt. Please, just—just leave, please.”

Vanya doesn’t turn away though. She loves her siblings, no matter how horrible they are to her. They’re her family, or the closest thing she has resembling one. She won’t lose them. She won’t let them get hurt.

“No, you guys have to go,” she says. “You’re the ones that can help this world. You don’t deserve any of this.”

“Neither do you!” Five argued. “V, seriously. Let us handle it.”

“I haven’t seen you guys handle it so far. You’ve just let him abuse you.” Honestly, though, Vanya doesn’t blame them. It’s not like she ever did anything when Reginald was being horrible to her. She just let it happen. But she figured she deserved it. She did nothing good to the world. But maybe, she’s realizing, she didn’t deserve any of it. If she can help her siblings, then maybe she is good for something. Maybe she has some use in this world.

Reginald shakes his head. They’re all too emotional, too attached. He thought he had trained them better. But clearly they had more to do. They weren’t nearly at the level he had hoped they would be. “Just leave, Number Seven,” he says. “We have training to do.”

“You’re going to hurt them again!” she says. “I can’t leave them with you.”

Diego takes a deep breath and grabs one of his knives. “I’m with her,” he finally says. “You can’t hurt us anymore.”

Allison smirks, realizing what he was doing. “Me too.” She couldn’t let her brother and sister stand alone. “I heard...” she starts slowly.

The others nod in agreement, almost cheering, and Vanya feels better than she ever has. Not only are her siblings standing up for themselves, but they’re also encouraging her. It’s something she never thought would happen.

Reginald sighs. “You’re all useless,” he hisses.

“We’re better than you, at least,” Klaus says. “At least we help people. So you better listen to Vanya and stop.”

And Vanya knew that, no matter how that day ended, she had helped her siblings.

Chapter Text

He doesn’t know how he got dragged to the lake.

And he doesn’t know why he doesn’t tell them.

But, for some reason, Five finds himself standing by a lake wearing some swim trunks with his siblings beside him.

“Why did you have to wear that?” Allison asks, disgusted.

Klaus scoffs. “You’re just jealous that I look better than you.”

“As if,” Allison says.

“I’m with her,” Diego agrees. “A speedo? Really? Jesus, man, I’m gonna see something that I don’t want to if you bend over.”

Klaus wiggles their eyebrows. “You sure you don’t wanna see it?”

Diego pushes Klaus. “You’re disgusting!”

“You love it.” Klaus throws off their sunglasses and takes a deep breath. “Alright. Who’s goin’ in first?”

All the siblings are lined up at the side of the lake, staring at the water. “Hmm,” Diego says, tapping his chin. “I vote...” he pushes Vanya in, and she shrieks. He jumps in after her, curling his legs up to his chest.

“You ass!” Vanya yells, wiping the water from her eyes.

Diego laughs, swimming back to the edge. “C’mon, guys! The water’s warm!”

Five takes a few steps back from the edge. He knows what Diego is about to do, and doesn’t want to be the victim.

“Hey, Luther, help me out?” Diego asks, raising his arm to grab Luther’s hand. Luther, like an idiot, and Diego grabs it. But, instead of being helped out of the lake, he pulls Luther in with him.

“You guys are idiots,” Allison says, laughing.

“Oh, you’re not getting out of this so easy, Allison,” Vanya says. “Either get in yourself or I’ll pull you in.”

Allison shakes her head, then jumps in.

“Only two more people,” Diego says.

Five shakes his head. “I’m out.” He couldn’t even jump in if he wanted to. He never learned to swim, never got the chance. Reginald didn’t teach him before he left, and the Commission wasn’t exactly giving out free swimming lessons to sixty year old assassins.

“I’m not,” Klaus says. They back up, the run into the lake, jumping right between all of their siblings.

Five takes a seat on a chair he brought, book in hand. It was a nice day out. He spent most of it reading while his siblings were swimming around, splashing each other in the lake. Honestly, Five was fine not being in the lake with his siblings. He’d rather just relax and read his book.

After a while, all the Hargreeves kids come out of the lake, exhausted. They plop down on chairs and mats, snacking on chips and sandwiches. They’re wrapped in towels, Allison trying to get a tan while Klaus throws crumbs at her.

“You know,” Luther says, “there is still one person who hasn’t gotten wet.”

Five groans and sets his book aside. “Can you guys just let it go?” he asks. “I just—I’m fine. I don’t want to get in the lake.”

Klaus laughs. “Not sure you have a say in that.” They pick Five up, ignoring his squirming, and toss him into the lake.

“Shit!” Five yells. He’ll be honest—he panicked. He started flailing and yelling, trying to get some air. And he knew he should’ve just turned on his back and relaxed, let his body float to the top—hell, if he concentrated he could’ve just spacial jumped himself out of the lake with no problem—but he panicked. He didn’t want to drown. “Help! I can’t swim, you dimwits!”

“Oh fuck,” Diego mutters. He throws the towel off his shoulders and dives back into the lake, scooping his brother into his arms. He tosses him out, onto the grass.

Five coughs violently, spitting out water as he rolls on the ground. “You idiots,” he says. “You fucking idiots.”

“Are you okay?” Vanya asks as she and the others rush over to their brother’s aid.

“God, Five, I’m so sorry,” Klaus repeats, hands over their mouth.

Five coughs one more time, then tries to get his breath back. “I can’t swim,” he explains, still gasping for air.

“You should’ve told us,” Allison tells him. “We don’t care whether or not you can swim, we care about your safety!”

Five sighs. He almost told them. But how could he? Yeah, he’s in his thirteen year old body, but he’s had sixty years on Earth. He should know how to swim. And he knows it’s not his fault that he doesn’t know, but it doesn’t make the fact any less embarrassing.

Diego climbs out of the lake and runs a hand through his hair. “You’re good though, right? Not dying or anything?”

Five almost laughs. “Not anymore, no.”

“Thank god,” Luther says. “I shouldn’t have pressured you to get in the lake, Five.”

“It’s fine,” he dismisses. “It’s not your fault—well, it partially is, but I’ll let it slide.”

Klaus hands Five the towel that they had wrapped around their waist. “Here,” they say. “Dry yourself off and you can get back to your nerd book.”

Five accepts the towel and pulls it around himself. “I’m sorry,” he apologizes, as hard as it is to say. He never apologizes, especially not to his family, but he feels like he should do it this time. “I should’ve told you guys. I just—I don’t know. Maybe I figured you guys knew. It’s not like Dad taught us how to swim.”

Diego scoffs. “Yeah. I’m not a swimmer because of him, that’s for sure.”

“We should’ve known,” Vanya says.

“No, you shouldn’t have. I was gone for years! You guys didn’t need to remember whether or not I learned to swim. And, you don’t know what I did in those years I was gone.”

“We’ll teach you, if you want,” Allison offers. “We can teach you to swim so that way you don’t have to worry about it. If you don’t want to, don’t feel pressured, but—”

Five nods. “Sure,” he accepts. “It’ll be nice.”

“You’ll love it, bud,” Diego tells him.

Five slaps Diego’s leg. “Don’t call me ‘bud.’ Makes me sound like a kid.”

“Fine. I won’t call you bud. If you agree to let me take you swimming at least once a weak for two months.”

Five sighs, but it’s only for show. Honestly, he loves the idea. “Fine.”

The Hargreeves kids spend the rest of the day teaching their brother how to swim.

Chapter Text

She hadn’t been on a date in forever.

God, the last relationship she had was...

Well, it was Leonard. Or Harold, whatever his name was. And that was just a desperate attempt to be in a heteronormative relationship, which was honestly anything but normal.

But Vanya decides not to think about that. Instead she tries to think of the date ahead of her.

Vanya and Beth has texted for a while. Finally, Beth asked Vanya out on a date. ‘Let’s do it,’ she wrote. ‘Date. You, me, taco truck, tomorrow night. My treat. I’ll pick you up at six.’

Ever since that text, Vanya had practically been shaking. Whether from anticipation or anxiety, she wasn’t sure. All she knew was that she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Vanya decided to dress fairly casual, but still good enough to impress someone. She wore a nice but slightly loose fitting red sweater (she read somewhere that people are more attracted to people wearing red), some faded blue jeans, and cute brown boots that Allison had gotten her. She felt like she looked ridiculous, but after texting Allison and getting a thumbs up for the outfit, she decided it was the best option.

Beth shows up at 6:01, ringing the doorbell to Vanya’s apartment. Vanya is pretty sure her heart stops for a moment when she sees Beth. She’s wearing a white shirt with blue overalls over it, a leather jacket, and some black sneakers.

“You look...” Vanya starts, but can’t find the words to capture how amazing Beth looks.

Beth laughs, seeing her loss of words. “You too,” she says. She then puts her arm out for Vanya to take. “Shall we?”

Vanya giggles a little. “We shall.”

“Wait,” Beth stops her. “Do you have a sweatshirt or something warm you can grab? Might get a bit chilly on my ride.” She has a devious smile when she says it, and Vanya’s heart races. She grabs a white zip up jacket, and then grabs Beth’s arm.

When they get to the parking lot, Beth smiles wildly. “Here we are,” she says, motioning to a motorcycle in front of them.

Vanya’s jaw drops. “Of course you have a motorcycle,” she murmurs in awe, more to herself than to her date. And, in the future, if you asked Vanya when she had fallen for Beth, this is the moment she would say. Right then, though, all Vanya could think about was how fast her heart was pounding and how much of a badass the woman beside her was.

“You ready?” Beth asks. Then, quickly, adds, “And, if you feel uncomfortable, we don’t have to take it. I just thought it could be fun.”

Vanya laughs a little then takes a deep breath. “Okay. Okay, let’s do it.” She’d never been on a motorcycle before, never even wanted to be on one, but she’s been doing a lot of new things recently. The body shots, the dating, the dating a woman... one motorcycle ride couldn’t hurt.

Beth grinned, then handed Vanya a helmet as she put on her own. Vanya was glad that Beth wasn’t reckless. She didn’t even want it to be like one of those movies where the guy gives the girl his helmet. She doesn’t want to date anybody that’s stupid and doesn’t care about their own safety.

The two hop on to the motorcycle, Vanya’s front pressed up against Beth’s back. She’s pretty sure Beth can feel how fast her heart is, and hopes she can just blame it on the motorcycle and not how close she was to such a beautiful woman.

As soon as the motorcycle starts to move, Vanya shrieks and tightens her grip around Beth’s waist. Beth laughs, then goes faster.

Vanya isn’t sure how long they ride for. All she knows is it’s the freest she’s felt in a long time. And she would ride on that motorcycle forever if it meant she got to be close to Beth and hear her bubbly laughter.

Finally, the two arrive at a taco truck parked at a curb. “Woo!” Beth cheers as she hops off the motorcycle. “Wasn’t that fun?”

Vanya laughs and shakes her head. “I was pretty sure I was gonna die.”

“I wouldn’t let you,” she tells her. “C’mon.” Beth grabs Vanya’s hand and leads her to the truck. Beth almost, almost intertwines their fingers, but her nerves get the better of her. In her defense, Vanya is... she’s extraordinary. She’s one of a kind. And Beth doesn’t want to scare her off. She doesn’t want to move too fast. And, sure, it’s just holding hands, but it’s more than that.

“A food truck?” Vanya asks jokingly, pulling Beth out of her thoughts. “Really?” She hopes that Beth doesn’t see how red her face us, notice how nervous she is. Thankfully, she doesn’t say anything.

“Trust me, it’s quality food.”

There’s only a short line by the truck, and the two get through it quickly.

“Ay!” the man at the window says when he sees Beth. “Nice to see you, girl.” He reaches his hand out and does a little handshake with her, laughing. His face is covered in freckles and he’s got curly black hair. He couldn’t be older than twenty.

“Good to see you, too, Cameron,” Beth greets. Then, she turns to her date. “You have any food restrictions?”

Vanya shakes her head. She finds it sweet, the little encounter between Beth and Cameron. But she doesn’t mention it.

“Another girl?” another guy in the truck asks. He’s toward the back, so Vanya isn’t able to get a good look at him. “What is that, like, the third this week?”

Beth shakes her head and laugh. “Oh, shut up, Benny.”

Cameron turns around and slaps Benny’s shoulder with the back of his palm. “Don’t listen to him,” he tells Vanya. “He’s just an ass. Beth here is great. One of my closest friends. I’ll make sure she’s good to ya.” Vanya blushes a little. “Anyway, what can I get you two fine ladies tonight?”

“I’ll get the chicken burrito,” Beth orders. “No lettuce, as usual.”

“I’ll get the same thing,” Vanya says. “But, uh, I will have lettuce.”

“Good choice,” Benny says. “I’ll get that ready for you guys real quick.”

When Cameron tells them their total, both Beth and Vanya reach for money. Beth stops her, though. “I said it’s my treat,” she insists.

Benny was right: the burritos were ready in what seemed like only a minute. Beth led Vanya to a little bench, where they sat and ate.

“So,” Vanya begins, “how do you know Cameron and Benny?”

Beth nods, quickly trying to swallow the bite she just took. “I grew up with them,” she explains. “Cam’s like my little brother. Lived next door to me. Sweetest guy you’ve ever met. Friends with everyone he laid eyes on. Smile that would just light up a room. Great dancer, too. Just a sweet kid. And Benny’s one of my best friends. We went to middle school together. He’s a bit of an idiot, but he’s funny. He’s a bit shy, though, until you get to know him. But he grew up cooking for himself because his parents were out a bit, and loved it. Then Benny got the truck, and Cameron needs the money, so here they are.”

“Well, their food is fantastic.”

“That it is,” Beth agrees, taking another bite.

Vanya and Beth talk and laugh for the rest of the night. They learn about one another’s family, and bond over how annoying brother’s can be. At the end of the night, they ride back to Vanya’s apartment on Beth’s motorcycle. Vanya’s much less nervous the second time. She feels like she’s floating on air, so happy with how well the date went.

Beth stops Vanya back at the apartment. “So,” she says, “I like where this is going.”

Vanya smiled. “Me too.”

“Will I see you again?”

“I hope so.”

Beth grabs one of Vanya’s hands then looks her in the eyes, her eyes full of kindness and care and love. “Can I kiss you?”

Vanya almost laughs. “Please do.”

Beth’s lips feel soft against Vanya’s. They feel warm and comforting. They only meet for a few seconds, but it’s enough.

Vanya pulls Beth into a hug. “Text me when you get home, okay?”

Beth giggles. “Sure.”

Beth hops back on her motorcycle and rides home. Vanya tries to watch her, until she’s just a speck in the night.

But it’s a night Vanya will never forget.

Chapter Text

His life was going great.

He had friends, and a potential job.

Diego always wanted to be a cop. Well, not always always. But he always wanted to do something helpful, especially once he left the Academy.

So, he decided to join the police. He was still just in the police academy, but he was getting there.

Diego and some almost-cop friends frequently went out to bars and the like. When Justice—fitting name, right?—suggested that they head to a nearby strip club, something they had never done together, everyone said yes.

Diego had tried to get Eudora to go. He’d been trying to talk to her, get to know her. All the other guys made fun of him for it, calling him soft and the like, but he didn’t care. Sadly, though, she declined. It was probably for the better, anyways.

The five friends—Diego, Justice, Bruno, Micah, and Paige—sat down at a table, facing the poles. Bruno whistled loudly, cheering the girls on.

“I’m gonna need some beer,” Paige muttered as her eyes scanned up and down one of the strippers.

“You sure your girlfriend is fine with this?” Micah asks, laughing as they see Paige’s enthusiasm.

Diego scoffs. “Have you met Alex? She’s chill with it.”

Paige nods. “Open-ish relationship,” she explains, clearly distracted. “If we ask permission, it’s okay.”

“Damn, that’s nice,” Bruno says. “Wish I could find me a girl like that.”

Diego laughs. “That would require a girl to look in your direction,” he jokes.

“Hey! Girls look at me all the time!”

“Yeah, the lesbian ones,” Paige tells him. “We’re tryin’ to figure out how gay you are.”

He shakes his head but smiles. “Y’all are asses. Screw y’all.”

“Is fancy Texas boy comin’ out?” Diego asks. “What’re you gonna do? Kick me with your cowboy boots? Dazzle me with redneck spirit?”

“I’ll show you what I can do,” Bruno says, then wraps his arms around Diego’s neck and puts him in a chokehold. He ruffles up his hair, and the two laugh.

Micah smirks. “See that waitress there?” they ask, tapping Justice’s shoulder. “Damn. Now I would hit that.”

Everyone looks over at where they pointed to see who they were talking about. A few of them whistle in amazement, but Diego is just stuck where he sits.

Well that was not a face he expected to see.

But, in front of him, was his sister. Vanya.

“What the hell is she doing here?” he mutters under his breath.

“Clearly tryin’ to get some guys,” Bruno answers, the only one who heard him. “And, I’ll be honest, it might be workin’.”

Diego pushes Bruno off him. “Jesus Christ, dude, back off. She’s my fucking sister.”

“Allison?” Justice asks.

Micah rolls their eyes. “No, you idiot. The other one. Vanya. Allison is, like, a movie star or something.”

“I gotta go,” Diego excused himself as his friends murmur amongst themselves.

Diego power walks towards the brown hair of his sister, grabbing her arm. “What the hell?” he asks, leaning in to her ear to make sure she hears him.

Vanya stiffens as soon as she feels a hand on her. She’s not sure if hearing the voice attached to it makes her more or less nervous. “Diego.”

“Vanya,” he replies. “What are you doing?”

Vanya rips her arm free and looks at her brother. “Working, obviously. And you?” Her tone isn’t kind at all. The last encounter she had with him had not been too friendly, and as much as she hated holding grudges, she had a right to be pissed.

“I’m with a group of friends who’re all eyeing you. What the hell are you thinking?”

“I was thinking that I needed cash and idiots like you pay well.”

“I can lend you some fucking cash,” Diego hisses, and he’s pretty sure it’s the angriest he’s ever offered to help someone. “I’m not gonna let you be eye candy for strangers. Christ, Vanya, do you know what my buddies could do to you if they wanted to?”

Vanya looks down. This was her only choice. She had to make some quick cash. And then she kept doing it. Playing the violin didn’t pay the bills, and she didn’t have a power to pay it for her. So here she was, because she had to be. “I don’t want your money. And I know. But I’m safe. So you don’t have to worry about me.”

Diego takes a deep breath and tries to calm himself. He glances back to his friends. Thankfully, they’ve turned their attention to some other woman. Beers are on the table, and Diego can even see one for him. He turns back to Vanya. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I didn’t mean to get angry. I just...”

Vanya nods. She doesn’t need Diego to say it to understand what he’s saying. He’s saying that he’s worried. And Vanya knows he is. He should be. But she’s her own person. She can fight for herself. “I don’t need your help,” she insists.

Diego runs a hand through his hair. “Just let me pay one or two payments on your apartment,” he says. It’s not that he’s loaded with cash, it’s nothing like that, but he can’t stand the thought of some rat bastards eyeing his sisters... everything. He can’t deal with them touching her, thinking about her. He doesn’t know what he would do if he one day got the call that some man had done something to her because she worked at this trash hole.

Vanya sighs. She wants to decline, but she knows she needs it.

“But,” Diego continues before Vanya has a chance to say anything, “you have to find a new job. You have to.”

Vanya runs a hand over her face. “Fine,” she reluctantly agrees. “Fine. But you’re not giving me any money. It’s a loan. I’ll pay you off.”

He huffs a laugh. “You better.”

“I’ll let you do it. But, I do have to finish my shift.”

Diego nods. “Alright. Fine. But if any guy—no, any person—looks at you, I’ll kill them.”

“I know. But go back to your friends. I have to work.”

And Diego does. He and his friends chat for the rest of the night. They get drunk, completely trashed. He even thinks Paige and Justice managed to pick someone up—and Bruno might’ve gone home with some guy.

But, throughout the whole night, Diego watched Vanya and made sure she was safe.

Chapter Text

It had started almost the instant he got back from the moon.

Surrounded by people again, seeing how horrible he was compared to them...

Well, let’s just say that it wouldn’t make anyone feel good about themselves. So, Luther ate. That’s what he tended to do when he was upset. Eating until he couldn’t and then eating a bit more.

After those eating marathons, Luther felt horrible about himself. He wanted to rip his own skin off and just throw it away, start all over. He just didn’t want to be so—so large.

So, he threw it all up. Sometimes he would spend a whole day at the toilet just to make sure it was all out, to give himself some space.

Luther isn’t sure when the scars showed up. All he knows is that, with his teeth scraping against his knuckles whenever he made himself sick, they appeared. And, the scars weren’t his initial reason for the gloves he wore, but being able to hide it and have nobody question it was easy and ensured that he kept the gloves on.

After emptying his stomach of everything he had eaten in the last few hours or days or however long he had binged, he was done. No more binge eating until three in the morning. No more shoving food down his throat until he couldn’t speak.

For now, at least.

Luther had episodes like this frequently. Well, no—it was most of his life, actually. Eating more than anyone thought was possible, getting all of it out of his system, and then not eating for however long he needed in order to feel better.

It was a horrible cycle. But Luther just couldn’t stop. His body was horrible, and, while eating comforted him, avoiding food made his weight go down. So, to him, it was the only option she had.

It had been going on for a while before Luther’s siblings found out. He was good at hiding things. He had hid his depressive thoughts, his body hatred, had hid so much from his siblings that he barely even thought about it. That’s not to say he doesn’t always feel horrible about it, he does, but he doesn’t think he could stop if he wanted to.

Luther forgets why he had to take the gloves off. He thinks he had to wash his hands, or something like that. And he was a bit tipsy, he’s positive of that. Maybe he just forgot to put the gloves back on, or maybe the gloves had been the things to get dirty. All Luther remembers is hearing Diego say, “Yo, dope scars, man.”

He immediately froze when his brother said that, because he knew what question was coming next. And, to no one’s surprise, Five asked it. “How’s you get ‘em?”

Luther swears he can feel himself sober up, feel each drop of alcohol he had leave his body and clear his mind. “Oh, heh, you know, f-fighting, and...”

Allison grabs his hands, inspecting them closely. She has to wipe pieces of hair out of the way in order to get a good look at the knuckle scars, but, when she does, she sucks in a sharp breath. “Luther...”

Klaus laughs, oblivious. “What’d he do? Hurt himself while havin’ some good ol’ alone time?” He then makes an obscene gesture of his hand jerking off an imaginary penis, and he moans loudly. But neither Allison nor Luther even look his direction.

Vanya seems to be the only other one who understands that the situation is serious. “Allison? What is it?” She makes her way over to Luther, too, staring at the scars.

But Allison ignores the question, instead looking up at Luther. “Luth, have you, um...?” She can’t bring herself to finish the question.

Luther bites his quivering lip.

“Allison, what is it?” Diego asks sternly. Now all the siblings crowd around Luther, trying to figure out what’s so bad about some scars.

“He—No, no, you can’t be.” She drops his hand, then takes a deep breath. In a more steady voice, she tells her siblings, “He makes himself puke.”

All of them stiffen a bit, clearly surprised. Nobody knows what to say, how to react. Because how does someone react at being told their brother—the one everyone looked up to—has an eating disorder.

Luther runs a hand through his hair, trying to steady himself. “How’d you know?” he asks.

Allison gives him a sad smile. “Claire,” she admits. “I’m an anxious mother. I knew eating disorders were common, and... well, Russel’s Sign.” She tries to laugh to lighten the mood.

“Why?” Five asks, almost angry. “Why would you do that to yourself?”

Luther rolls his eyes. “That’s not all I do,” he mutters.

Vanya lowers her eyebrows. “What else do you do?” she questions.

Luther figures that he might as well tell them. They all know about it, at this part. “I’m bulimic,” he says. It’s the first time he’s said it out loud, and he hates the way it feels on his tongue. He never wants to hear the word again. He thinks it in his mind all the time, but to say it is different.

“What?” Klaus asks, clearly confused.

Luther sighs. His voice is slightly shaky, and he can’t bare to look at his siblings. “It means that I binge eat. Then I—I do that—” he motions to the scars on his knuckles, “—and then I just... stop eating.”

“Luther...” Diego sighs.

“I don’t need pity,” he tells him.

“We’re not here to give you pity,” Allison assures him. “We’re here to give you help.”

“I’m far past help, Ally.”

“You’re never past help. Just... we’ll monitor you. Until you’re, you know, better. Healthier.”

Luther looks up at the ceiling, trying to keep the tears in his eyes. “Fine,” he agrees. “It won’t be easy. I—I’ve tried.”

“Is anything easy?” Five asks.

Luther scoffs. “You’ve got a point.”

And, so, the Hargreeves kid made it their mission to help their brother.

Chapter Text

“God, I love your face.”

“I love your ass.”

“Well I love yours.”

“How about you show it some love, then, sugar?”

Dave pushes back some of Klaus’ hair and rolls on top of him. “Happily,” he whispers, kissing Klaus slowly.

Klaus melts into it, letting his hands roam over Dave’s arms. His hand travels down to Dave’s belt, and he fumbles with it before managing to get it off.

Dave chuckles at Klaus’ struggles, pulling back, he pulls his shirt over his head, then Klaus’. He plants a kiss right above his boyfriend’s bellybutton, hands roaming his stomach.

“Dave,” Klaus breathes, “just give me the go-ahead, and I’ll—”

Dave kisses his again. “Yes. Yes, yes, yes.” Klaus starts fumbling with Dave’s pants while trying to keep up with the intense and lustful kiss Dave initiated.

“I swear to fucking god,” Diego screams from outside the door, “someone needs to tell Luther that he cannot walk around the house without a shirt. It’s disgusting, man!”

“Not my fault,” Luther argues. “And, wait, are you intimidated that my chest is better than yours?”

Diego barks a laugh. “As if!”

The two continue to bicker, and Klaus groans. “Way to ruin a mood.”

Dave shakes his head and laughs. “Your family is sweet, sunshine. Enjoy the time you have with ‘em.”

Klaus frowns. Klaus slides his shirt back on, throwing Dave his. “I know, I know. But I wanna enjoy my time with you, too.”

Dave is about to put his shirt back on when someone fumbles with the locked door handle. Eventually, Diego sighs and kicks the door in. “Klaus, I’m going to kill Luther. Either that, or barf.” He stops then, looking at Dave who seems to be a deer in headlights. “Oh, hey Dave. Hope I wasn’t interrupting anything.”

“Jesus, Diego!” Luther shouts. “Let the men have their privacy.”

Once again, they start arguing. Klaus blocks out all that they said, though.

Dave wanders downstairs once he gets dressed and cleaned up. There’s so much to learn about the kitchen alone. All the new technology, things that people thought were impossible when he was a kid.

But, that’s not why he went to the kitchen. He started making a sandwich, still not used to it confident with all the fancy equipment.

“Hey there, handsome,” Allison greets him. “How’s it goin’?”

Dave smiles. “Really good, actually. But do your two brothers ever stop arguing?”

Allison scoffs. “Diego and Luther? Not really. But, can I tell you a secret?”

“Only if you want.”

“Diego’s a softy. He loves Luther, actually, even if he doesn’t show it.”

Dave nods, taking a bite of his sandwich. “I get that,” he admits. “Some of the soldiers back in ‘Nam, toughest guys I’ve ever met. But, soon as you get ‘em alone and get to know ‘em, they’re sweet as can be.”

Just then, Vanya joins them. “Hey, Allison. Dave.” She stands beside her sister, both of them looking intently at Dave.

Dave blushes a bit and looks down, rubbing at the back of his neck. He opens his mouth to say something, but Vanya beats him to it. “So,” he says, “how’re things going between you and Klaus?”

Dave immediately relaxes at just the mention of his name. “Really good. I love bein’ with him here. And with all of you, too, but it’s different.”

“Of course it’s different,” Allison agrees. “You and Klaus have something special. But, I just have to say—you break his heart, I break you.”

Dave laughs, thinking it’s a joke, but stiffens as soon as he sees the serious look on Allison’s face. He runs an almost shaky hand through his hair. “Don’t plan on breakin’ no one’s heart,” he assures them.

“Good,” Vanya tells him. “Klaus is strong, but he’s vulnerable with you. And if you take advantage of that, then... well, let’s just say you won’t be breaking anyone’s heart for a while.”

Klaus joins the group, too, planting a kiss on Dave’s cheek. “Hey there, babe.” He then turns to his sister, sensing the tension. He sighs. “Can you please stop interrogating my boyfriend? He’s fine—no, no. He’s perfect.”

Dave blushes again. “Aw, heartbeat,” he coos.

Klaus smiles widely and kisses Dave’s nose. “I love you, Katzy Bear. I know you’d never break my heart.”

Klaus and Dave spend the rest of the day in bed together, simply cuddling and talking. Klaus tried to get Dave away from his family as much as possible. And, more often than not, it’s not for a sexual reason. He just wants moments to him and his boyfriend. Wants to call him cheesy nicknames and use dumb pick up lines that Dave’s never heard before. And he wants to get away from the onlooking eyes of his siblings.

Klaus’ siblings are accepting of his relationship. When Klaus first introduced Dave to his siblings, they congratulated them and then basically brushed the whole thing off. Which, honestly, might’ve been better.

Klaus and Dave y’all about that and one hundred other things until, eventually, they both drift off into sleep.

Around three in the morning, though, Dave bolts awake. He’s shaky and covered in a layer of sweat. His ears ring and he can feel himself covered in blood. Is—Is it his blood? One of his friend’s? An innocent civilian that he killed?

Dave takes deep breaths, trying to steady himself. Klaus is sound asleep beside him. Dave couldn’t wake him. So, he places a kiss to his forehead, and walks downstairs.

Someone is already down there, though. Five. He’s got a glass of red wine in his hand, and he’s laying across the kitchen island. He sits up, though, once he sees the new person. “Oh, um, D-Dave. What’re you doin’ up?” His words are bit drawn out, a bit slurred, and it’s clear that he’s had more than one drink.

Dave rubs his eyes. “Couldn’t sleep. Jus’ gonna grab a beer.”

Five nods thoughtfully. He scooches over, patting the open space on the island beside him for Dave to sit down. After grabbing a beer and sighing, Dave complies. “Anythin’ in particular keepin’ you up tonight, man?” Five asks. “Problems with the misses? Y’all get in a fight or somethin’?” He takes another sip of wine, staring intently at him.

Dave chuckles, tapping his finger against the bottle. “No, no, just...” He sighs. From what Klaus has told him, Five would understand. And Dave is tryin to bond with his boyfriend’s siblings, so he might as well tell him. “Flashbacks,” he admits. “Nightmares.” Another weak chuckle escapes him. “All so vivid.” He shakes his head, then takes a sip. “Jus’ haunts me a bit, you know? I mean, wars are always difficult and all, but ‘Nam... it was worse than anything I could imagine.”

Five purses his lips, nodding slowly. It’s clear he’s thinking of his own bad time in life, whether it be the Commission or the apocalypse. Or a combination of both. “I get it,” he says with a sigh. “I jus’ wish all of the memories could leave or somethin’. Jus’ wanna be free of it all, ya know.”

Dave scoffs. “Boy, do I know.” He raises his glass, and Five stares at it for a few seconds before clinking it with his own. “Cheers, brotha.” The both take a sip.

It’s odd for Dave to get used to being in 2019 with his loving boyfriend and an accepting family. It’s difficult, even.

But Dave thinks he’ll be fine.

Chapter Text

They always assumed they weren’t related.

Not blood related, anyway.

But they were wrong.

The Hargreeves kids were snooping around Reginald’s study while he was gone on some important business.