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so pretty i could

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“So,” the interviewer drawls. He’s not exactly sleezy, but he’s not really a charmer, either. Diego has wanted to sock this guy in the mouth since the interview began. Judging by the way Luther is seething, Diego is sure he’s not the only one. “How about we get to some fun questions?”

Diego swallows a groan. The questions up till now have been about missions, their upbringing, their studies since none of them are in public school. Diego doesn’t mind those questions so much, cuz they’re the same questions they always get and they always have the same answers. It’s tiresome, but predictable. Fun questions, however...that can only mean trouble. Last time a reporter asked some “fun questions,” they’d walked away with a bloody nose and Diego had sore knuckles.

Not a pretty sight.

This interviewer is already off to the races: he starts with Allison, who’s got the charisma to guide interviews and always sits front and center. Diego doesn’t listen to the question nor his sister’s answer; he’s either heard it before or he’ll have the chance to hear it again, almost certainly. Next is Klaus, who technically isn’t supposed to answer any questions (see above, bloody nose, sore knuckles, et cetera), but no one stops him and Diego isn’t going to be the one to step in.

The interviewer—Diego thinks his name might be Mark? Chad? It doesn’t matter, really—asks something about celebrity crushes, and Klaus gives his dorky, honking laugh before answering. Diego’s still zoning out, but he’s pretty sure Klaus’ answer was George Michaels. Diego bites the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing; that answer is going to spark gossip, and dad will be pissed.

Then it’s Diego’s turn, and he forces himself to tune back in. He puts on his best pearly white smile and ignores the panic hammering in his chest that says you’re going to stutter, you’re going to sound so stupid.

“So…” The interviewer drags the word out again. “What’s it like living with such a beautiful sibling?”

Diego frowns. “Klaus is the most obnoxious person I’ve ever met,” he replies immediately. “But he has gotten a lot better with the makeup stuff.” Diego looks over at his brother now, who’s staring back at him. Diego can’t see underneath the domino mask, the ones they’re all wearing, but he’s sure Klaus’ eyes are wide and kohl-rimmed as they always seem to be these days. “He likes to do his makeup in my room cuz I have this big mirror. It’s kinda fun to watch him poke himself in the eye sometimes.”

Klaus reaches out and smacks Diego’s shoulder, but he’s smiling.

Diego grins back and looks over to the interviewer. “What?” He asks. “Aren’t you gonna ask Luther something? Big boy loves to answer questions about himself.”

Allison snickers but the man interviewing them seems stuck. Eventually, Mark-Chad-Whatever speaks. “I had meant my question to be about Allison. She was voted one of the most beautiful teen celebrities in US Weekly the past three years running.”

The words process slowly, sinking into Diego’s thoughts like quicksand. He blinks, grateful for the mask that helps hide at least a little bit of his embarrassed expression.

“Oh.” Diego’s mouth is dry and he can feel words filling up his throat, getting crisscrossed and mixed up and fuck he hasn’t stuttered on live television in years, he doesn’t want to start now.

Allison saves the day, smiling. “Obviously, my beauty leaves him too stunned to speak.” The interviewer laughs uproariously at that, slaps a hand against his knee even, and then all attention is back on Allison.

Diego’s cheeks are burning but he sends out a silent thank you to his sister and promises himself the next time Allison needs a ride somewhere, Diego will say yes.

 

 

 

The rest of the interview goes smoothly, even though Luther is kind of glaring daggers at Diego for the “loves to talk about himself” comment. They all cram into the rented bus after doing a very brief photoshoot for the published version of the interview, and after taking a little bit of time to talk to their hordes of fans outside. Once they’re all in the bus, the masks and jackets come off and someone breaks open a bottle of sparkling cider. Dad would kill them if he ever knew they snuck this much sugar, but it’s their little tradition, and Allison always rumors the driver to keep it a secret.

Diego doesn’t really mean to tuck himself into a corner away from his siblings chattering and having fun, it just happens. He sits in the farthest corner of the bus with his legs up on the seat and his arms crossed over his chest. He’s still fuming over embarrassing himself, and he hasn’t said anything in almost an hour now. His tongue still feels tied up in his mouth.

“Diego!”

He looks up to see Klaus standing beside him. Klaus is always excitable after interviews, and he’s bouncing on his feet now, rocking back and forth as the high of good publicity and sugar rushes through him, no doubt. Diego gives him a grin.

Klaus sighs. He looks over his shoulder at Allison and Luther talking animatedly with one another, at Ben deep in a book. Then, he bends down and smiles, all crooked teeth, at Diego. “You really think I’m pretty?”

Diego groans and shoves at Klaus. “Sh-shuh-shut up.” His ears burn with embarrassment as the words come out fragmented, even if he was expecting it.

Klaus reaches out and shoves Diego’s legs off the seat beside him before falling into the unoccupied space. “I’m serious! I’ve been trying really hard to get better at this,” he gestures to the makeup around his eyes. “I’m glad someone noticed.”

Diego swallows as Klaus bats his darkened eyelashes. They look longer, more striking as they fan out against Klaus’ cheek. “You’re puh-pretty without makeup, too,” he adds in a half-whisper.

Klaus’ smile only grows. “Aww,” he says, teasing, almost enough to make Diego bristle. “Thanks, bro.” Klaus leans up at him and bats his eyes some more, until it’s less cute and more just annoying.

Diego rolls his eyes and then shrugs his shoulder to shove Klaus off. “Wh-whatever.”

Klaus snickers beside him. “I won’t tell anyone you think I’m the prettiest lad in all the land. Your secret is safe with me!”

“Shut up, Klaus, for fuck’s sake,” Diego snaps. Klaus’ expression never falters. “What?”

Klaus leans over slowly, giving time for Diego to tell him to back off—or punch him, maybe, wouldn’t be the first time—and brushes a gentle kiss against Diego’s cheek. The brief warmth and sticky feeling of Klaus’ chapstick leaves Diego stricken, speechless. “Your stutter is gone,” Klaus murmurs as he pulls back. “You’re welcome.”

Diego watches as Klaus hops to his feet and makes his way back to the other end of the bus, where the sparkling cider is and where Ben sits, absorbed in his book. Diego feels tongue-tied all over again, but not...not in a bad way.

Klaus looks up and catches him staring. Diego’s about to mouth an apology when Klaus winks at him. Diego’s mouth snaps shut and he looks away, cheeks burning.

He’s smiling, though.