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New beginnings, bad inbetweens

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It had been a little over a week of them being back in the past - as children, try again, when Reginald had finally snapped at Klaus.

 They had been training, Klaus attempting to summon the dead and failing miserably. The only reason Reginald knew in the first place was because he’d used it as a distraction, to buy the others time to let Vanya have some time in peace when she first awoken in the past. She had been terrified, and guilty, nonstop crying for the better part of a day.

When she had finally felt well enough to come out of her room and resume normal training, the damage had already been done. Klaus’s secret was out, and he knew it could only spell absolute disaster for him.

 His hands shook horribly as he tried to summon the ghosts, but no hint of blue would tinge them. Reginald glares at him from the side with a disapproving and haughty air. “That will be all, number four,” he says in his cold voice, staring at Klaus with his equally cold and disappointed eyes.

 Klaus, exhausted, trudges from the room and into his own, flopping against the bed and staring up at his blank ceilings, freshly painted over when Reginald had discovered the little doodles and posters he had drawn on or taped onto the walls. It looked so blank, so unnatural and out of place compared to his real style, all flamboyant clothes and loud colors.

 He missed when he lived on the streets. It was at least better than living under Reginald’s oppressive and Abusive rule, especially without his drugs. Oh, how he craved the sweet sweet ambrosia that was the pills he loved so dearly, or the needles he used whenever found available, or even the lines of powdery white he oh so loved to snort.

His eyes start to shut while contemplating getting high off his ass as soon as possible, a random ghost babbling nonsensically in the corner of his room, with three more singing some sort of opera next to his bed, a bullet wound in each of their guts. Their bellies swell and swish around with blood that drips endlessly and repetitively, their states blank and mouths wide with their mournful tune. Sobriety is a curse and a blessing, but Klaus thinks of it more as a curse, of course. He wishes so much to just be numb again.

 Compared to other days it’s blissfully quiet in his bedroom, his “as safe a haven as a room in this house can be,” safe haven. Sometimes more than 10 ghosts alone will be standing next to him in his bedroom at all times, screaming at him.

 “Klaus!”

 Someone’s shouting at him and he jolts back to awareness, hoping they just go away. Of course he has no such luck, as they pound on his door with great big bangs echoing around his room. After a moment of silence, his door opens, Luther’s back-to-completely-human child body walking inside and his baby face staring disapprovingly at Klaus. “We have a family meeting, Klaus.”

 His first response it a classic — he groans dramatically. “Am I truly so important in this meeting? My deepest condolences, but my eyeballs are drooping and those beautiful opera singers in the corner are oh so wonderful,” He says in as innocent a voice as his exhausted tone can get, looking at Luther from his upside down position, head tipping of the bed. Giggling, he kicks his legs. The opera singers are awful. Their voices are gurgles.

 Luther Just sneers in disgust, a familiar expression Klaus thinks he inherited from his father in his face. “Klaus, are you high?”

 This gets Klaus serious, and he flips back over on the bed. “What?” He frowns, then tries to explain. “No, dear brother. Training was just positively exhausting-“

“Look, I don’t care. Just get to the meeting,” Luther replies with a dismissive wave, walking out without giving Klaus a chance, as usual 

He feels partly angry at Luther for his dismissal, partly sad that he doesn’t even want to try and have a better relationship with Klaus this time around, and partly too tired to argue. So, he just resigns himself and quashes his emotions like he loves to do, and walks upstairs with Luther in silence, as to not attract any unwanted attention from Reginald.

Spread about the attic are his siblings. Vanya, Allison and Ben sit in their usual spot, in a circle on the ground, where Five walks over to meet them. Luther sits down in the circle as well, and Klaus sits next to Ben.

“Nice of you to join this meeting,” says Luther, grumbling quietly. “Although I did have to drag your drugged out behind out of your bed.”

“Hey! I’m tired, trying to summon crazy ghosts all day isn’t exactly all peaches and cream! And I’ve told you, I’m sober!”

“Oh, how bad can it be?” Scoffs Luther angrily, rolling his eyes and raising an eyebrow. “They can’t do anything to you.”

Oh, how Klaus wishes that were true. 

“Just be quiet.” Luther sighs.

Ben’s scowls and his mouth snaps open to protest Luther, his own ghostly experiences proof of how not-quite-so-wonderful Klaus’s life could be at time. But, he closes it when Klaus shoots him a look. He doesn’t need his family giving fake pitying glances at him all day. He’s doesn’t need fake love — Vanya’s the one who needs the real stuff.

He bounces his legs up and down and watches them, thinking about butterflies as he looks at the cross legged knees of his bounce. He giggles, and when he looks back up, a woman is sitting inside Five and staring at him with gaping and empty eyeholes, her frizzy black Afro of hair dripping with blood and he dark skin marked with sweat. He ignores her, instead focusing on listening to the humming of a little girl in the corner.

“Now, Vanya, how has your training progressed?” asks Five, staring at her with as soft a gaze as he seems to be able to muster. Her mouth opens, then closes, and she runs a hand through her soft hair lying against her shoulders.

“It’s… alright,” she says in a hushed whisper, pausing to choose her words carefully, a talent Klaus did not share with her.  “I… I didn’t do much today.” Allison tucks a hand into hers, and they smile at each other. “I’m still trying, though…” she takes a breath. “I just… I just needed a break.”

Before anyone was able to respond, he hears his name shouted from downstairs by a very agitated sounding Reginald.

Number Four!” He yells insistently, and Klaus takes the footsteps he hears as a sign that he’s looking for him. The 15 ghosts standing around in the room all snap to attention at the shout, all of their decaying and sometimes nonexistent brains focused on the demanding voice that is Reginald’s. Except for the little girl, of course. The kids had never paid much mind to Reginald. He’d even had one call him a prick once. Funny kid, till he passed on.

“Yes?” He shouts from upstairs on instinct, then realizes his mistake and claps a hand over his mouth as he hears footsteps making the warped stairs creak.

He enters the attic to see all of them sitting together, and Klaus wonders if Reginald would ever kill him. The humming girl hums louder, and Klaus glares daggers at her.

“What are you all doing in here?” asks Reginald in anger, as he stalks forward and they all start to scatter. “Go back to your training, at once! And Number Four! Get ready for a session of special training!”

As the rest of his family hesitantly starts to stand and walk back downstairs, Luther’s steps already pounding obediently down the stairs like some sort of sheepdog, Klaus stays put, face ashen and vision tunneling. He knows what private training really is, yet no one else does, and he couldn’t be more scared. His legs bounce harder and harder till Reginald gives him a funny look, and he stops, content to tap his fingers against his shiny leather school boy shoes instead.

“Thanks a lot K- Klaus. Consideration and c- caring really weren’t ever your strongest t- t- traits” hisses Diego angrily as he stands and stalks out, seemingly unperturbed by Klaus’s bright white face and even more shaky than usual body.

Vanya is visibly scared, and he feels a pang of guilt shoot through him, right above all the nerves simmering in the stew he calls his emotions. Allison glares at him, then drops it, sighs resignedly, and walks off, leaving only Ben left. “Cmon, Klaus. Let’s get downstairs,” he says with a heavy sigh, extending a hand down to him. His hair flaps down over his eyes and Klaus almost lets off a little giggle as it covers his brothers eyes like some tween emo boy - which he was, to an extent. Right now, Klaus found himself too preoccupied trying not to spiral and start having some sort of anxiety attack. So, without comment, Klaus starts to accept the hand extended to him.

“No, Number Six,” barks Reginald with a commanding voice, and Klaus’s hopeful hand drops back to his lap. “Klaus is to remain with me for personal training. Return to your lessons immediately.”

Ben sighs wearily one last time, pushing his hair back. Then, his face passes around the doorway to the stairs and out of sight. Reginald walks over to Klaus, yanking him up by his arm so roughly he wonders how many bruises it’ll add to his collection.

“What was that meeting you were having, number four?”

“It was nothing, daddio. Just some peaceful rebellion, no crack lines or blunts!” He waves his other hand around, but Reginald looks unsatisfied. “I asked them to join me,” he adds quickly, trying to mask his panic with sheepishness and guilt. “I just wanted to work on my power with them.”

Seeming to accept the simple lie, Reginald and his creepy monocle look back up. He starts walking and Klaus has to hurry to keep up with his large strides, stumbling ever so often in his awkward, pre-growth spurt body.

“Please… dad, can we do this later?” He scratches his neck and looks up at Reginald with a fracturing hope.

“Do not call me that, Number Four. You have been instructed numerous times to call me Sir,” he barks. “Don’t let me hear it again.”

He tugs his arm a little bit. “Sir. P- please.” He laughs a little, shakily and too high pitched to sound like even his younger self. “Please let me go.”

“No, Number Four. Stop struggling and come with me.”

“Dad! Dad please!” He begs, eyes wide and darting from ghost to ghost in the rooms he walks through as their eyes watch back, vacant and emptied of all life.

“It is not up for discussion!”

His thundering voice has Klaus flinching violently, despite his best effort to not succumb to his old fears. He was an adult now, god damnit, he needed to feel and act like it. Sadly, it’s hard to pretend to be a child when you never really had a childhood.

Even so, he still feels his breath come quicker and quicker as he’s yanked out the door and into the freezing cold air with nothing but his thin schoolboys shirt and shorts on. Reginald couldn’t even be bothered to let him get his jacket, and he runs his one free hand down his leg in an effort to build up warmth, but his hands are shaking so badly he just gives up, focusing instead on breathing just enough that he won’t pass out.

Back in the house, Diego mutters to Allison and Luther as they stand behind him, with Vanya watching from a few feet off. She had voluntarily separated herself this time, as a feeling that something about Klaus seemed too off to be just laziness, gnawed at her.

“Why’s he so u- ungrateful? He’s able to get special training, from the man who doesn’t give anyone else s- special anything! Luther’s obviously his f- favorite,” he spats. “Qe’ve known this from our first childhood t- till now, yet even Curi George d- doesn’t get any “special” training.”

“Cmon, Diego, we aren’t really 13 anymore, so stop acting like it,” grumbled Allison, though she can’t help a sting of unreasonable jealousy, which she acknowledges as ridiculous, and tries her hardest to dismiss.

Luther too, looks slightly peeved, but that’s always been his natural state. Vanya just goes upstairs in silence, worried and dwelling on the shaking of his brother, so bad that she knew it wasn’t his normal jitters and shakes. Five had gone to his room to begin with, supposedly to plot out how to create a proper way of training Vanya, and Ben had followed.

Back outside, Klaus’s once shining shoes are stained with earth as he runs alongside Reginald, straining to keep up. His vision tunnels as they get closer and closer to the mausoleum, darkening around the edges and blurring. He’d find the white fuzzies in his vision funny, but again - hard to be scared when terrified.

Finally, the heavy stone door is shoved aside by Reginald, and he feels himself shoved him inside unceremoniously, smacking his knees and the palms of his hands against the ground, tearing his shorts and drawing blood.

“You will come back out when your fears have been conquered and your powers have developed,” Reginald says bluntly in his annoying pompous accent. 

Then, the door slides shut, and Klaus is stuck in the suffocating darkness with misting and stagnant air, his own adoptive father leaving him to drown. 

The ghosts have started to notice him, and their moans and shouts ring in Klaus’s ears. One ghoul yanks at his broken and unhinged jaw, another limps over to Klaus, headless, it’s boots thumping against the ground. Klaus can already feel his panic rising to its crescendo, sure to spill over soon, and makes a terrified noise. He yanks at the slab blocking him in, finding it shut so that he cannot open it.

He wrenches at it, and his fingers start to become bloodier and bloodier, until he finally drops to the ground and starts shouting against the cacophony of ghosts. Rocking back and forth, his back dirty with soot and soil, he sobs into his knees, trying to cover his ears to no avail. The wails persist.

Then, he feels something caress his side, gently. The mausoleum was many things - dirty, cramped, terrifying, old, loud, dark. It was not gentle.

He winces violently and jerks up in surprise, his face meeting a gaping maw in front of him that screams “ help us, Klaus!” angrily as his ears ring harder.

He looks for the origin of the feeling as tears stream down his face and gasps fall from his chapped lips, and sees the headless man prodding him with a boot.

Immediately, he jerks backwards, stuttering out a “stop that,” as best he can. It’s all he can do, to fight the tide of panic that’s seeming to reach a new high never discovered before.

The ghost ignores him and stands, kicking his side.

Klaus can feel the pain. It’s sharp and blunt and he knows it’ll leave bruises on his ribs, and his breath is knocked out. Scrambling away, “p- please!” is what he stutters breathlessly, to no one in particular. “Let me out!”

All he gets as an answer is more screeching from the dozens of ghosts that have amassed around him, watching the boot clad man kick at his side until he has to clutch it, and his breath no longer come properly, more like a choked whisper.

Then, another one joins in.

He’s clawing Klaus’s arms with overgrown nails caked in grime and wailing for the young boy to help. “Wake me up, Klaus…”

Something bites down on his neck and he moans loudly in pain, sobbing as he tries to push the ghosts away. “ Stop!” He cries at them, but his shrieks are only answered by new bites, beatings, tears, slaps and scratches, and the 30 or so ghosts shoved into the tiny area’s incessant wailing.

Blood is dripping all over him in rivulets and all he can do is scream to try and block out the angry ghosts around him, but it comes to no avail as they tear at his body and clothes as if he’s nothing.

He is so utterly alone as pain overwhelms him and he begins to fall apart as the ghosts pick the seams of his sanity apart.

 

Chapter Text

A day of strange quiet had passed at the academy, with Klaus gone. Time was passing in funny ways, the hours seemed to drag on without the flamboyant and expressive person that their brother was.

“Where’s Klaus?”

Ben has always been the one asking after his brother, and now was no exception, as worry grew. Reginald curls the paper in his hands down to answer. “He is off training.”

“Where at?” Asks Diego through a mouthful of potatoes at dinner.

“Manners, Number 2!” He says in a clipped tone. “And that, is none of your business. He shall return shortly.” The paper draws back up.

Something sounds off to Ben, but all he can do is hope to see Klaus again. Dinner progresses slowly, with the normal sounds of Klaus’s lighter lighting and the content sighs he makes when he smokes blunts until Reginald pays enough attention to catch him, missing. After dinner they obediently file into their rooms, keeping to themselves. They don’t even have a chance to resume their previously interrupted meeting from 3 days ago, as for some reason Reginald, Pogo and Grace all are marching around as if preparing for something that night.

About an hour after their typical bedtime, something out of the normal happens. A knocking resounds around the empty house, echoing against the walls. Luther is the first to awaken to the banging of his father’s fist against his door, groggily sliding from his bed to open it. “Yes Father?” He stares at Reginald blearily.

“Your presence is required. Dress yourself and come downstairs,” is all Reginald says, before he sweeps away in his long overcoat with his monocle glinting in the light.

Then, Allison is awakened as well. She jumps in her bed, awakening from a nightmare, and hums a little noise out, tracing where the scar on her throat had once been, hesitant. She still worries she might soon wake up without her voice. “Yes Sir?” She croaks sleepily, staring at the imposing glare that plasters itself regularly onto Reginald’s aged and wrinkled face:

“You are required downstairs. Dress yourself in uniform and come quickly.” Then, he walks away, and his ever-polished shoes pound noisily against the stairs.

Allison meets Luther at the foot of the stairs, and they share a confused glance. Together, they make their way down the old wood steps, back in uniform, masks over their eyes.

It feels like they’re back to when they’re kids - and this time they actually are.

In the front room stands Reginald, Pogo, and their mother, her hands stained with red and carrying a bundle they can’t see, as she turns to lock the front door. Luther’s hand itch for a fight as he sees the blood, paranoid just like his father, and Allison worries silently off to his side.

“Follow me,” says Reginald coolly as he walks to the infirmary. Dread coils in the pit of the two siblings stomachs and they share another glance, their feet moving behind Reginald.

They enter the room and mom steps around them, her hands soaked in more blood, so much blood. Pogo stands behind her with a worried stare, wringing his hands together. He looks as if he might be sick. Mom sets the thing she’s holding down.

It’s Klaus.

His face is mangled and bloodied and bruised, purple and red all over. His hair is in disarray, covered in ash and soot; with blood dripping and pooling under his head like a halo, with a sort of cruel irony. All over his body are cuts and gashes, and bruises in the shapes of boots and fists. His chest barely rises, and they can see his painfully thin chest through a large hole in the side of his shirt. Fingerprints and holes where nails had dug into his skin are everywhere. His eyes are shut, his eyebrows drawn together, his lips parted and flecked with blood. Shivers wrack his entire body, his skin tinged slightly with blue from the cold. Cracked and split skin are all that’s left of his usually rosy lips, and his fingernails are blunts and cracking, as if he’d been dragging them across something. 

He looks so deathly still that both Allison and Luther think he might be dead for a moment, as their eyes widen and they freeze in horror. “K- Klaus?” whispers Allison. Her feet perch against the ground like a birds, as if she’s poised to run to her brother who looks so fragile, so tiny against the slab of wood he lies on.

“Number one. Hold him down.”

Reginald’s voice holds not a single hint of emotion - it’s cruel and cold as it always is, amplified even during these circumstances. Luther pauses, so strange for him to ever hesitate, and Reginald raises a single eyebrow, letting it hang in the air like a question for a single second, as if asking Luther if he truly thinks he can disobey him.

He doesn’t.

Hands pressed firmly over Klaus’s own skinny arms - too skinny, he looks up to Reginald for new instructions, to find the man instead staring at Allison, making new demands. “Wake him up, number three.”

She dreads what she must do. Her powers, her powers she hated so much - she had never wanted to use them on her siblings again. Especially not now, after all that her powers had done, as such a horrible curse. She too, hesitates, but decides after a single second that it’s better to keep them all out of trouble and do as Reginald says.

“I heard a rumor….” she almost can’t get the words out, as they slither from her throat like a foreign poison she never summoned if she could help it. She feels like she’s spitting acid at her own brother, as if she’s betraying her family yet again.

“I heard a rumor you were awake, Klaus.”

She couldn’t bear to watch, just as she couldn’t bare to reduce Klaus to his number in this moment, but she forces herself too, watching as the rumor takes effect.

And then, from the mouth of her brother comes a bloodcurdling scream that turns her knees to jelly and her head to soup, and she clutches her ears in fear and in pain, as the scream drags on and on. Klaus jerks and yanks himself up from Luther’s iron strong grip, and bruises have already started to form. Tears stream down his face and wash away the blood and dirt that sits against his horribly pale cheeks.

“Steady, Number one!” roars Reginald over the god-awful animalistic screeching coming from the sickly child below him.

There’s a flash of blue.

Then… the noise doubles, and triples and quadruples in magnitude and blue figures press against them at every side. Something slimy flops onto Allison’s shoulder as she too, begins to scream. It’s intestines dripping from a woman whose head also hangs in a noose. She’s screaming Klaus’s name over and over. A man nearby bites Reginald in the shoulder and he yanks himself away, a large chunk of his own flesh dragging itself away from his body. Something pushes Luther over and begs for him to help them, and then Klaus is up, sitting and clutching at his own head, falling to the ground in a heap with a clatter that can barely be overheard over the disgusting noises around them all.

Then something slams against a wall and Pogo is unconscious, his head said object. A scalpel rises and wizzes past a cowering Allison. Klaus begins to rise and for a moment it seems as if he’s only standing, till they all realize his legs are lifting too, his feet off the ground and his body engulfed in the same blue that emanates from Five’s portal as he appears downstairs with the rest of their family, still in their pajamas.

Books and clocks and couches, rugs and lamps and antiques come lifting as well, whirling around the room and bashing into things, some even sending ghosts flying.

Ghosts surround them all, at least twenty in each room, chanting names and numbers and screaming and pushing and pulling. Everyone starts to lift, their own feet pushing off the ground, and Klaus is still screaming.

“I heard a rumor you were asleep!” Screams Allison above the chaos, but nothing effects Klaus. Vanya’s eyes are bright white, her mouth covered in her hands as she sinks to the ground to avoid the flying objects as she watches the display of power so similar to her own, and Ben falls down with her as well, Five still standing tall and glaring into the sea of ghosts.

Then, it all goes silent and each of them fall to the ground with a massive thump that shakes the house. Several objects go clattering to the floor as well, a clock cracking, an umbrella flappin open, a door slamming closed again. Five stands over Klaus, his chest heaving, a long scratch down his left arm. A large syringe is held in his hand, and stabbed into Klaus’s arm, the plunger pressed down by Five’s thumb. He has a determined glare on his face, as if just by sheer will he can fix everything that’s just happened.

A loud sob interrupts their quiet and Allison covers her mouth as she realizes it's coming from her. Nearly catatonic, Luther shivers and holds his knees to his chest, a bright bruise forming on his eye, and his nose twisted at a strange angle. Vanya and Ben clutch at each other like lifelines, both shaking, tears rolling from Vanya’s eyes and a little hysterical laugh drawing itself out of Ben’s agape mouth. The ghosts shouldn't scare him anymore, but they do, because now it’s different, and they can touch him, and Klaus has new powers that can only mean trouble.

“Extraordinary,” is the first word to break the silence, coming from a seemingly unperturbed Reginald, even as blood rolls down his back and front. He walks over to Klaus and scoops the boy up, interest glinting in his eyes that seems too clinical to be anything good.

“Very…. very interesting.”


Chapter Text

Klaus is tiny in Reginald’s arms. For some reason, Reginald almost looks worried about his size, about the ribs poking out of his chest to easily and the bones he can feel thrusting up beneath Klaus’s skin. He dismisses the other siblings, and even Luther looks worried as he watches Reginald’s gaze, which holds something deeper and far more sinister than just worry.

“Go to your rooms,” he says, voice quiet, and filled with a dangerous wonderment and a need to know more. He’s distracted, staring at Klaus with deep emotion - something no one else finds themself wanting anymore.

“But-“

“This isn’t up for debate number one!”

Luther flinches back, not quite used to being reprimanded, still stuck in the first past where Reginald rarely even raised his tone at him.

“Please, children, go to your rooms,” says Grace after a moment of them all standing there. Even her face, her nearly always unperturbed face, has a frown hinting at the edges of her mouth. Surely, she must know the dangers of Klaus being left with Reginald, but she prods them to leave anyways.

They listen to her.

That night, none of them sleep.

For the next week, they didn’t see Klaus again. They’d see flickers of blue ghosts every day and night, following them around and disappearing just before they could touch anyone. Sometimes, their feet would lift just a little, or things like doors would unlock randomly or windows would slam themselves open as if through magic. Vanya vehemently denied any of it as her fault, whispering to them in hallways that she thinks Klaus is a telekinetic, and they believed her. The display a few days ago was enough proof.

Each little magical display left them feeling like that was all they had left of Klaus, as they not only became more distant and disconnected from each other, but from Klaus as well, his absence drilling a hole into the structure of their family - something they hadn’t even known existed.

Then, on Tuesday, they finally saw their brother again. The table had been set for dinner and they had all filed down together, awkwardly silent and only letting the awkwardness settle, creating a stuffy air in the room.

They sit, waiting patiently for one another to eat. “God, y- you’re all so tense,” whines a slightly choked voice from the other room, and Klaus comes walking out. His face is covered in little scabs, and his eyes dart around the room even more so than usual. His dark hair looks like it has just been washed, and he runs a shaking hand through it, exposing the tiny cracked nubs that are his fingernails.

Vanya, Ben, and Allison come lurching up from their seats, worried expressions fixed upon their faces.

“Klaus?”

The voice came from Luther, who sits, a hand straining on his armrest, expression blank but posture exposing whatever unidentified emotions he has inside. He surprises them all, even stoic Five.

“That- that’s me, brother. Now fix your cold dead eyes on your pasta, and let m- me eat,” he stutters out, and Diego, who’s hand is palming a knife in a feature that would normally ease his anger, nearly gets up and stabs their father. God, how had they all been so selfish? They’d gone to the point that Klaus was shaking even more horridly, now even his words - his last defense against his siblings - left unconfident and nervous.

The shivering boy sits, eyes fixed on his pasta, which he eats as if he hasn’t eaten in days. He might not have - his shirt hangs off his frame in a way it hadn’t before. Reginald walks out a moment later, a large lump under his formal shirt where he had bandages masking the hole in his shoulder. He ignores the looks on his children’s faces, sitting, then taking a bite of his food, only looking up every so often to watch Klaus.

“Klaus, are you alright?” asks Vanya softly. She’d never been much of an aggressor towards him, and wondered if he might be more receptive to her than Luther.

They all had to admit that the abnormally strong boy had almost always been the asshole in the room, while Vanya had stayed passive in almost everything. Maybe, she thinks, she should’ve involved herself with her families other problems more, when Klaus looks up, fixes her with an exasperated stare, then slumps back over his pasta, ignoring her.

“No speaking at the table, number seven,” says Reginald, unemotionally, staring at Klaus with a single beady eye, as if wondering when the skeletal and weak looking boy is going to explode. “Number four will be joining me for private training tonight, while the rest of you finish the rest of your punishment.” Then, he ducks his head back down, back straight and figure imposing even as he nonchalantly ignores the looks of hatred his wards give him.

Klaus’s own head whips back up, his mouth open and face panicked. Again come the shakes, tripling from their not-so-normal state.

“No, he won’t be.”

The growling tone comes straight from Diego, who glares at Reginald, eyes so fierce they’re close to burning holes straight through the man’s forehead, and without a doubt, if he could, Diego would be. Reginald lifts his head, ever so slowly, meeting Diego’s eyes with a questioning look, a single eyebrow raised as if to ask does Diego truly dare?

Not yet letting his anger show in his tone, he responds, entertaining Diego’s question, if just for now. “Oh? And why is that, number two?”

“Cause we won’t let you, you old hack,” he says, scowling, drawing a hysterical sounding giggle from Klaus, who grips his own arms and curls inward in himself.

“Calm yourself,” replies Reginald warningly, slowly rising from his seat, eyes narrowed angrily in a way that could kill.

Diego doesn’t flinch.

“You expect him to calm himself when you’re the one who’s raised him into anger,” says Ben quietly, looking at his lap, and his hands, trembling with rage and anxiety. He wants to stand up for his siblings, but it hurts so much to think that he might be signing himself up for more torture at the hands of his father. Klaus’s eyes dart around to each of his family members, and their silverware abandoned, and their glares or averted eyes, and he makes a split second decision.

“It’s alright, g- guys. Stop being so a- afraid I’ll surpass y- you,” he says, as normally as he can, even though he’s afraid the pounding beats of his heart drown out his words.

Allison looks at him with desperate eyes, and even Luther looks nervous as he stares at Klaus, his teeth grinding. “Please…” whispers Allison, quietly. She’s never given a damn about him before. Why was she pretending now? “Klaus…”

“Don’t Klaus me, Allison!” he says angrily, his jovial tone disappearing. “None of you could care less about me!” Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Reginald nod, and Klaus looks over quickly to see his fork floating and shaking, flying off the table. He slumps back down, energy sapped, and ignores the frightened and sad and tired looks his siblings continue to shoot him. The rattle of the kettle in the kitchen masks the noise of his heavy breaths, and that’s all he can be thankful for. Then, dinner had finished all too soon, and he must welcome the arms of Reginald. Into the arms of the devil, is what he’d probably call it, if he wasn’t so locked up in his own head with terror.

That night, Reginald has Pogo and Grace pacing the hallways around their rooms, doing hourly checks. No one dares to leave and help Klaus, each too afraid of the consequences.

Luther sits in angry silence and wonders why Klaus so selfishly screamed at Allison, refusing their help.

Diego sits in nervous silence, scared about how angry and crazed his usually docile and silly brother had been. He can’t help but find himself a small bit angry at Klaus, at his refusal to accept their help. But then he remembers - they’ve never offered it before.

Allison sits in guilty silence. Guilty that she didn’t try harder to calm Klaus, and guilty that she had been one of the reasons he didn’t trust any of them. They’d gone wrong twice now, and she had never felt more responsible.

Five sits in frustrated silence. He so badly wants to teleport out and get Klaus back, or just sit with him in the mausoleum or anything at all.

Ben sits in horrified silence. They’d once been so close, him and Klaus. He wonders why he didn’t do more this single night, to help Klaus and keep him away from Reginald.

Vanya is the most scared of them all by far, as she lies catatonic in her prison of metal in the basement, her siblings unable to rescue her and her powers too volatile to bring her out. She knows what Klaus is going through, she knows how it feels, yet she feels a massive cracking disconnect between the two of them.

Klaus, sits in unconsciousness, the ghosts having beaten him into it. He dreams of the demons of the mausoleum, he dreams of his family's deaths, he dreams of bullets and broken things. He dreams restlessly, but dreaming is all he can do.

So there they sit, in their beds, on metal floors or on filthy stone, unable to sleep or unable to wake, wondering how they can fix where they’ve gone wrong, or if it’s simply too late.

Their punishments span for two days. When Vanya returns from her room, with no one to help her through the panic attack she has when her door slams shut and the darkness floods over her, she wonders if it’s worth it to continue trying to fix the family. Her family has to listen to her rough and stifled cries, unable to help her or their other brother, and they all feel their progress slipping away. As Klaus returns, bloody and bruised, no one is brought down this time. Grace carries him to the infirmary and bandages his wound, then Reginald slips him a pill.

He takes it, despite all his mistrust. He’d been sober for so long, but drugs were his friends. He was closer to drugs than to his own family.

The next morning Klaus feels slightly dulled, but thinks nothing of it. The ghosts still flock around him, and the nervousness still itches under his skin, nothing much has changed. He simply feels… numb. His emotions no longer work enough. When Grace asks if he’s alright, with real concern, he only nods at her. Pogo asks if he’s excited to see his siblings again, but something inside him has no way to care. When Reginald gives him a bottle of pills, he takes them, obediently for once. He can’t bring himself to wonder what’s inside.

Chapter Text

It’s not that Klaus was never apathetic or tired. It was just that now his apathy was painted all over his face, just like the bags drawn under his eyes and the cheeks sketched to be sunken. He looked like a caricature, not a human being. He was too drained and I’ll looking to be anything but something out of a picture book Vanya might’ve read when she was younger, for the first time.

At the table, despite his broken, thin exterior, he ate lethargically, shoving his plate away after only a few bites of the ironically smiling pancakes Mom had prepared.

Vanya knew the signs of depression. God knew Klaus likely had that - along with a motley of other things. She’d been in therapy for a good chunk of her adult life, and the apathetic nature, the lack of appetite, the sleeping problems, the general misery and exhaustion that trailed Klaus were no stranger to her. But - this didn’t seem like it was just some sort of depression. This seemed like something deeper, that she had more experience than anyone else with.

Her suspicions were confirmed when she watched him pop a pill from the little white bottle Reginald handed him. She nearly exploded at him right then and there, but before she could, Pogo pulled her away, sensing her anger when she nearly snapped her fork, the metal now bent at an awkward angle. Her mom takes it and  bends it back smoothly with her dainty and unblemished fingers, continuing with her dishes.

“Pogo?” Vanya starts after a few minutes of peaceful silence, sitting in the kitchen with a thoughtful frown on her face and her hands occupied with a rag to dry the dishes she’s passed with. “What was that pill Klaus took?”

He turns to her, surprised, holding a dishrag dripping with suds as he assists mom with her dishes. Quickly masking his surprise with a neutral look, he tries to answer, then is interrupted by Reginald, who comes strolling in and interrupting them all. “They are to keep Number four from becoming unhealthy,” he says, nodding at Pogo.

Pogo nods back. She has to turn away to stop from screaming at him.

“Oh,” she replies as normally as she can, even as her breath quickens it’s pace as her hands drip with water as she clenches the towel. “Ok.”

The stares of everyone in the kitchen burn into her back, but she doesn’t care. Her anger rolls off her in vengeant waves, and she doesn’t mask the stomps of her feet on the stairs as she runs to her room, slamming the door and shouting angrily, letting her emotions shine, throwing and kicking things like a child, and she technically is one, so why not let loose?

Today, she thinks, is the perfect day for another family meeting.

Each of her siblings door is knocked on, each of them informed of her plan, and then an hour later they’re all sitting in her room in a circle, minus Klaus. His door was locked, and the lights had been off, only furthering the worry and the anger that boiled inside of her, threatening to explode into a deadly display of her power.

Still, she wonders if it’s a good thing that he’s not with them at the moment, even if the thought makes her guilty. The conversation of them night might be… tricky.

“So, Vanya, what's the meeting for?” Asks Luther, always the last one to realize, if the looks on her siblings faces are any proof.

“It’s about Klaus,” says Diego irritatedly, rolling a knife between his fingers and leaning against the wall. He lazily throws the knife up, watching it fall, then grabs it and slides it into its holster. “Obviously, Luther.” The boy in question shoots him a dirty look, frowning and crossing his sweater-clad arms, but Diego doesn’t pay any attention to him.

Vanya plops down at the end of the uneven circle, right next to Allison, suddenly self conscious as everyone stares at her. The circle doesn’t feel quite right without Klaus, and his absence is like a hole within their ranks. She’s used to him being gone, but not like this, not after what’s happened. Radiating tenseness, she explains further. “Yeah. Diego’s right, it’s about Klaus.”

“Anything new that’s happened?” asks Allison from her side seriously, her bright pajamas clashing with her tone. Vanya nods, face grim and pointed towards her hands, one splayed out in her lap, the other clutching the bottle she’d been given the other weekend.

Taking a deep breath, she holds the bottle up, exposing the label and letting them all look. “Remember these?” They nod, and she can tell some of them understand, when Ben, Allison, and Five all get dawning looks of horror. “Well, I think Reginald’s giving them to Klaus now.”

“He’s What?!” says Diego, always the hothead, always the quickest to act. Luther gets a nervous look and opens his mouth as if to protest, but shuts it after a single glare from Allison, looking down and fiddling with the hem of his shirt, unraveling a string nervously.

The pills rattle as Vanya tosses the bottle to the ground, staring at it as the black words printed across its label roll back and forth across the carpet, taunting her.

She nods, looking back up at them with a soft and sad frown, and from the look on their faces she expects that her eyes have turned white again. “He’s suppressing Klaus’s emotions. You’ve all seen how lethargic he’s been, right?”

They nod. “I thought that was just because of the mausoleum?” says Luther curiously, even as Diego rolls his eyes.

“That’s part of it.” Vanya picks the bottle back up and tucks it into her pocket, silencing the rattling pills and all they meant. “The pills suppress…” she takes a deep breath, and feels her hand encased in another, looking up to see Allison’s hand cradling hers. She feels a small bit of courage return, knowing that her sister will stand beside her. “They block emotions, and to an extent - powers. Klaus isn’t really himself anymore. He’s what the pills reduce you to. Unemotional. Trapped, quiet.”

“But you still had emotions,” Allison states matter of factly, and Vanya nods at her.

“You’re right. I did. But, what do we all know about Klaus?”

Then, it’s Ben’s turn to chime in, even as she watches him struggle to suppress something crawling just underneath his skin. “He’s a phenomenal actor.” The words seem to take effort out of him, and he slumps just a little as something wriggles on his neck, then disappears under the collar of his shirt.

Vanya nods at him.

“He’s hidden his emotions from us for so long, that the pills didn’t need to do much to turn him into an empty slate.” Guilt churns inside her as she says her next words. “How do you think we hadn’t noticed how awful he’d turn out after each special training day, all those times? He hid.”

There’s a long pause before anyone else speaks again. “And what do you suggest we do, Vanya?” says Five with an accusatory tone, hands out in front of him in a helpless type of shrug. “Just kill Reginald? Just wipe away all my work to keep us away from Hazel and Cha-Cha and all the others?”

“S- stop being a selfish prick, Five!” says Diego. “I’d rather fight y- y- your past employers than let Reginald torture our brother!”

“It wouldn’t be a fight, it would be suicide,” hisses Five as a response, leaning towards Diego till their glares are barely a foot apart and their narrowed eyes blaze into each other with anger. “They’d annihilate you, no matter how many times I brought you back. Become a threat in their eyes? You disappear.” He snaps. The sound rings for a second before he continues. “Just. Like. that.”

“What if the pills aren’t a bad idea,” says Luther quietly, wincing when everyone turns to glare at him. Quickly, he defends himself. “Klaus is a danger to himself! He’s a danger to everyone! Maybe the pills are for the best till we can train him and get more time!”

“Oh, of course your solution is to suppress and to do more harm, Luther!” says Ben. They’re all - all 5 of them, surprised, as they always are when Ben starts to fight, but he doesn’t back down. Usually the too-nice-to-interfere-one, now, Ben seems ready to punch Luther. But, before he can continue, Five starts again.

“Ben, I hate to say this, but maybe he’s right. We need to work with this, not just let Klaus go crazy or hurt anyone else.”

“You mean like how I did?” asks Vanya, and Allison snorts, smiling at her sister and squeezing her hand in support. She likes this feisty and emotional version of Vanya. Certainly, her sister deserves to stand up for herself. “How I did after being on the same pills and being suppressed just like Klaus is now?”

It’s rare to see Five stumped, and even now, he’s still working his way through his justification, even as he struggles. “But he will know, Vanya! Use your common sense. I hate this just as much as you do, but we need Klaus to be calm! We need to study what his powers do before we act.”

“He’s not an animal!” shouts Vanya, thankful that her room is soundproof. Her hair whips in an invisible wind, and the quiet cacophony of noises outside gets louder. “For god’s sake, Five!” she pleads angrily. “We don’t need to study him, we need to work with him and help him! You promised this wouldn’t happen again!” Rain begins to pour against her window.

She settles back down, staring boldly into Five’s narrowed eyes, as the rest of her family are probably waiting for her to kill them. Luther leans forward, body straining for a fight, while Diego’s hand rests on his holster, ready to draw a knife at any moment. Ben’s monsters crawl and ripple within him, agitated at the sudden noise. Five isn’t scared, of course. He knows, with his usually smug face, that he could just reverse it. That’s what he does with all his big problems. That’s what he did with her.

“I-“ now, Five doesn’t seem so smug. He looks scared, he looks young, and he looks like he wants to understand but he just can’t. His mouth is turned down at the corners into a frown, and he looks like a lost puppy with his eyebrows drawn together and his hands at his side helplessly. “I phrased that wrong. I’m sorry, Vanya.” She nods at him to go on. “I want to help Klaus. I want to figure out what his powers do, but we can’t do that if he kills us.”

“I’ve seen what pills do to him,” says Ben, voice laden and thick with emotion. Head in shaking hands, he continues. “It’s- it’s not good and I swear to god if I have to see my brother overdose again then someone’s gonna die.”

Everyone can tell, that their peaceful pacifist aligned Ben, is dead serious.

“Ok, everybody stop.”

All the heads turn to Allison, who’s stayed mostly silent the entire time.

“We’re all angry. That’s understandable, I’m angry too. We’re also all… partly right. Five,” she looks at him. “Is right in wanting to help Klaus develop his powers safely, and not wanting to get us killed by his… associates.”

“Vanya,” she turns to her. “Is right in wanting to get Klaus off the pills and away from Reginald.” She takes a breath, looking determined as everybody stares at her for some sort of guidance. She’d never really been the voice of reason, but she’d always made an effort to entertain each side, even if she was biased and chose based on emotion. She thought about it, even if she ignored said thoughts foolishly.

“This is about Klaus, and keeping him and ourselves safe,” says Ben, going off of her words. “We can do that without the pills.”

“Yeah, yeah we can,” says Diego, sliding his knife back into its holster and then gesturing to Vanya lazily. “We’re doing it with her.”

“Her,” has a name,” she grumbles, but Diego doesn’t seem to notice.

“Ok.” Luther sighs. He leans backwards, relaxing a little, but his muscles ripple with tenseness. “Well, what about we just have another meeting tomorrow? Work out a full plan?” For once, his suggestion seems to be one that might work, and the others nod.

“Ok then,” says Vanya, smoothing her tangled brown hair down, raking her fingers through it and standing, shaking her head until her eyes fade to brown. Her outfit has been wrinkled, and she smoothed it down with her fingers, brushing off the days dirt.

“Then lets get some sleep.”

Chapter Text

Despite some of the others inhibitions, Vanya refuses to abandon Klaus to the pills. They’re horrible, and the comedown is even worse. It screws with your brain, your emotions flooding back like that. She at least needs to warn him - try to get him off the pills in a safer environment.

But for now, she’s giving herself a moment of calm as she sits in the kitchen and spreads peanut butter on soft wheat bread, the moonlight her only illumination. The sandwiches had once been for Five, and she had made them every night. Somewhere along the line, she had lost the tradition. Every night turned to every other day, to twice a week, to once a week, to once a month, then only once in a while at her own apartment.

As she grew she’d made peace with the fact that her brother was gone, lost to the sands of time. The sandwiches were more a calming ritual than anything. The marshmallows squish in her hands as she presses them onto the sandwich, where they slide slightly through the peanut butter, and she smiles to herself as she thinks about how now Five will stay with them.

She’s so absorbed in her task that she doesn’t notice the pitter patter of bare feet against the ground till their owner has leapt up onto the counter next to her and pointed to one of her sandwiches with a long, boney finger. Startling, she turns to the figure, and finds herself face to face with the cut-covered boy that is Klaus. His hands shake, his eyes dart around, his back is hunched, he’s soaked in sweat. His cuts are (thankfully) not bleeding any longer; they’ve all scabbed over. Still, she doesn’t exactly feel confident in his state.

“Bad night?”

He nods.

“So, can I snag a piece of this delicacy?”

She nods.

He tears into it like a starved animal, then a moment later it’s gone, save for a few crumbs dotting his baggy sweatshirt. “Tasty,” he says in an uncharacteristic voice that is not Klaus.

“You wanna talk about it?” she offers, taking a bit of her own slice of memories and looking up at his wide eyes and wild hair, framed in a halo of moonlight that softens and sharpens his features all at once. Something swims within his eyes, the ones that once held so much innocence but now reflect the hard edges that Vanya sees in her own soul.

Those eyes snap to her, focusing on her. There’s a clearness within his pupils that the pills normally cover up, and she hopes this is a moment of lucidity that she can get through to him with. “It’s not much, V. Just typical nightmares.”

She nods in understanding. “Typical nightmares are more than “not much,” Klaus. I’m awake enough right now and forever to know something isn’t right with you.”

“When are things right with me,” he grumbles, tipping back on the counter till his back is lying against the surface and his legs kick the sides of it lazily.

“That’s my point.” She takes another bite of her sandwich. “But…. you’re worse now. With…” she takes a deep breath. “With the pills.” At the mention of the pills, he sits back up, staring at her, and now his eyes hold nothing but suspicion and distrust. She shrinks under that gaze.

“Oh, you think I’m just the useless junkie again, dear Vanya, don't you. I thought you knew better, V.”

Before she can respond, he’s waving his arms out in angry shrug and continuing. “I’m so irresponsible, the dumb brother who pops too many pills, right V!” He nods at her and shoots her a shark-toothed smile, all sharp edges and angry lines.

“No, that’s not what I mean! Klaus, I meant the pills from Reginald!”

That gets him to pause, and his angry smile has dropped to a look of confusion, then to understanding and guilt. “Oh,” he says, in a small voice.

“Yeah. Yeah - I remember how those pills felt. Your emotions are dulled, you’re numb and you feel small, and you’re tired and everything feels off. Klaus, they’re not healthy.” Taking a shuddering breath, she assumes his silence is a cue to continue. “We can help you… you can train, with me! We can work out your new powers together. You don’t have to be alone, like I was.”

To her surprise, his eyes start to water, even as he continually blinks tears away. He sniffs as he stares at her, his face so utterly broken she feels her eyes start to fill with tears as well. “I-“ he laughs bitterly. “Maybe you’re right V, but I- I don’t want to hurt anyone like I did…. like I’ve been doing.”

“That’s why you should train,” she pleads, voice desperate and shameless about it. “It’ll help! I went from destroying the world to nearly being ready to tackle missions, if Reginald would allow me!”

At the mention of Reginald, Klaus’s eyes widen to dinner plate size and he grabs her shoulders in his bones hands.

“Vanya,” he says, roughly. His voice effectively shoots fear down her spine and she shivers in his grip. “Vanya the cameras!” Realization dawns on her and she looks around the room for where she knows they are. Her breathing starting to quicken, in sync with Klaus’s heavy gasps as he starts to cough with the effort to breathe properly. “Shit!”

He grabs her hand and the next moment all of the dishes have flown to the sink, and they’re running upstairs, feet barely hitting the ground thanks to Klaus’s panicked powers. Like lightning, they dash into his room, and the door is slamming behind him. “What do we do, V!” He floats slightly, but her attention is all on his hands tearing at his hair and his teeth sinking into his lip. He’s erratic, frightened. “He’s going to know we know about your powers!”

She sits next to him and throws a blanket over the both of them, blocking their faces and by extension, they mouths, so that where Reginald can’t hear, he can’t read either. “We’ll deflect. Uh- we’ll work through this, I swear,” she says with what she hopes is a reassuring tone.

“No, this isn’t something we can fix,” he says through heavy breaths. “He’s going to lock you up and shove me in the m- mausoleum and Vanya-” he turns to her. “I can’t go back there! Please don’t let him!” His eyes are brimming with tears now, his voice heavy and breaths even heavier, and so she clutches his wrists and slows her own breaths in hopes that he’ll follow suit. “I don’t want either of us back in either of those places, V. We swore to never let you go back, and fuck the shirhole that is the mausoleum.”

“We’ve got Allison. She’ll rumor him for us. We won’t make mistakes like last time, you are not going back in there, Klaus. I promise.” He doesn’t seem anywhere near convinced, but he doesn’t argue.

Instead, he tugs her into a hug.

For a moment, she doesn’t know how to react. People don’t just… hug her. Especially not her siblings. But this is Klaus.

Klaus, who’s always been extraordinary soft with her, who’d hug her and laugh with her and sometimes, they’d go out for a coffee or he’d come to a concert of hers. Even when drugged off his mind, he was never cruel to her.  Even when he was at his worst or he looked like an actual corpse, he refused to be a total asshole.

So, she drags her arms forward and accepts his hug with one of her own. They sit that way for a moment, ignoring their problems and the horror that is their lives, instead holding a moment as siblings.

It’s over far to quickly, when Klaus pulls away with a shuddering breath and rubs at his eyes, wiping away what must’ve been growing tears. She’ll admit, she had to rub at her own cheeks to get rid of the few tears that had fallen as well. “I know how to fix this,” he says, and the tone of his voice turns Vanya’s blood to ice. This doesn’t sound good.

“I’ll break into his office and steal the tapes. It’ll- it’ll be alright, I’m sneaky.”

She gapes at him in disbelief - this is a suicide mission, not just risky.

“No! No, Klaus it’s ok, I’ll take a fall, I’m sure Allison will make sure I don’t forget entirely -“

He stops her with a hand held up - if she remembers properly, it said goodbye, once upon a time. “No, V. Can’t let you do that. I’m good at sneaking around, I’ll get it back. Don’t. Worry.”

But she does.

“I’m coming with you,” she says firmly as he throws the blanket off of them and starts to walk away. “I can help. Reginald’s used to me walking around at night, if he sees me he won’t think anything’s wrong.”

“V…”

That’s all Klaus says. He doesn’t protest, and for that, Vanya is glad. He must’ve realized by the tone of her voice that this wasn’t an argument.

They sneak from the room like how they used to when they all went to Griddy’s donuts - but this time it’s just the two of them, and this “mission” has far more than their grumbling stomachs at stake. Knowing all the loudest floorboards, Vanya steps over them. Klaus just floats clumsily, while she silently laughs at the miraculous new powers he’s begun to display. They almost forget what their actual duty is - they’re having so much fun just fooling around like the kids they suddenly found themselves becoming not too long ago.

Finally, they come up upon the door to Reginald’s study with its cold, imposing doors that hold a cold imposing man inside. Vanya opens the door just a crack, and when she sees that the light is off she opens it all the way.

It’s exactly the same as when they’d seen it on the day of the funeral, all those days forward into the future. Except for now, the creepy tapes are pulled out and hooked up onto monitors.

Quickly, Klaus grabs the one from that night and tucks it under his sweatshirt, making his stomach look like a block. He stares at the unbecoming lump for a moment then snorts, then they’re leaping up and running from the room because their mom is still a threat, just like Reginald, and her footsteps come ever closer.

Klaus has to carry her up the stairs to avoid making any noise this time, and she stifles her childish laughing the entire time. Finally, they’re back in Klaus’s room, and Vanya’s laughing loudly and Klaus is miming Reginald yelling at them until he laughs too, and they’re both on the floor, laughing as the night drags on. That night, that hour and that moment; everything feels ok.

Chapter Text

It’s not like Ben had forgotten what day it was. That would be impossible - he spent nearly every night since they got to the past dwelling on it. That tiny number consumed his every thought, then spread to his nightmares like some sort of parasite that he could never rid himself of. But even so - with all of the horrors that had been occurring through the week, and all the new revelations about his brother, he was almost thankful that the day had slipped into the background of his whirling thoughts. That is, until the day was upon him.

Today was the day he would die.

When he’d realized it he’d nearly passed out on the spot, the edges of his vision darkening and his legs shaking. Still, as the alarm for a mission blared angrily and the red lights flashed brightly outside his open door, he forced himself into his uncomfortable missions uniform and ran downstairs. Reginald was lecturing them about something - all he caught was the tail end of his speech, something about a missing tape, and consequences later.

He’d not been able to focus in, throughout the entire flight, even as each his family tried to comfort him. His brain was elsewhere, and it was hard to center himself when he knew he might be dead within the next hours.

“We won’t let this happen again,” was what Five promised firmly, and his voice gave no room for argument.

“If I see you as a corpse, Benny, I’ll kill you,” deadpanned Klaus as he pops one of his suppressant pills as Reginald watches, and Ben punches him weakly in the shoulder, shooting him an appreciative smile.

Allison scoots closer to him and squeezes his hand, peering into his eyes with a serious look and a half smile that held a million words other than I heard a rumor. “We’ve got your back.”

Luther simply nods at him from across the seats, and Ben nods back. They both know what was about to come, but the fierceness in Luther’s eyes told Ben that he would force it to be different from last time.

“We’ve got m- much more experience,” Diego had said quickly, grinning. “I’ll knife anyone near you.”

And Vanya, even though she couldn’t go on their trip, had slipped him a paper that morning as he stumbled down the stairs.

“Things will be different.”

That’s all it read, but the message was one that made him smile, despite the fact that it was a promise they both knew she had no ability to keep.

“This is a simple mission. Find and incapacitate the terrorists without having any more of the hostages harmed. Now go, children.” Reginald’s voice is cold, dismissive, when they land on the long strip of blacktop that is eerily absent of airplanes. The whole area surrounding the airport is creepily silent, devoid of any human or mechanical life after being cleared out. The only people remaining are 12 terrorist experts, 57 hostages, and the 6 children. Later, ambulances, fire trucks, police cars and news vans would be parked with people flooding from them. Ben had it all memorized.

Inside, all the lights are dark, a stark contrast to the day outside, even though it’s cloudy and grey. The only lights are a few up ahead where they can hear the faint yet obvious noises of hostages crying and whimpering through duct tape gags, and terrorists yelling into crackling walkie talkies, while screaming at their prisoners.

Quiet.

Thud.

Yell.

Thud.

Each passing second was punctuated with Ben’s pounding heart, nearly bulging out of his chest like he knew monsters would be soon. They ran silently side by side, Ben next to Five, Five next to Klaus, then on and on, up their allotted ranks.

Then, Five’s cue came. He nods at Ben and shoots him a random thumbs up, then disappears in a flash of vibrant blue with Allison’s hand on his arm, and a few moments later they hear hostages and terrorists alike screaming between gunshots.

Next, it was Luther, who smiles awkwardly at Ben, then dashes into the room, a moment later becoming the cause of a huge crash. A man goes flying backwards out of the wall beside them, then another. Diego follows suit a second later, knives in hands and face devoid of his usual smirk. He nods at Ben, then dives into the fray. 

He doesn’t know whether to take the reassuring glances from each sibling as a goodbye or a good luck.

Now, only Klaus and him stood, side by side, waiting for a new threat, the groups lookouts. Klaus stands in front of Ben with failed subtly, shielding his brother off. They both vividly remember his death, and Klaus is obviously trying his best to change time.

One moment, he’d been watching for people, then the next a man had come barreling out from the darkened hallway at Ben and tackled him to the ground. Caught of guard, he’d taken a shot to the side, where monsters had them came ripping forth from the wound. Only a minute later, the entire building had come crumbling down on top of them, and everyone - the hostages, the terrorists, the family , had been buried underneath.

After hours of retrieval, they’d finally found the children. When each of them woke up at the mansion again, Klaus had screamed and wrenched himself off his bed, as he stared into the mangled and broken mess that was Ben, with his head hanging from a sinew, his right arm missing, tentacles hanging limply from the bullet wound in his side and out of his chest, squishing grotesquely as he walked.

Thank god, (or not, Klaus tells him she’s not really sprinkling love and laughter down on their heads anyways. Thank Klaus ,) after time of being around the resident ghost-watcher, he had miraculously been able to change his form, into less of a beaten mess. Still, it had been hell for both of them in the first couple of months - Klaus breaking into fits of sobs randomly and confusing his siblings and Ben in denial, falling into a horrible depression and nearly collapsing into madness.

Snapping from his memories he dodges a stream of bullets that come hailing down on them through the large hole bodies keep flying through.

When the dust settles, he sees Klaus standing and running over to him, grinning nervously.

What he doesn’t expect is to be slammed to the ground, a massive man smothering him and grabbing his neck in his meaty hands - gun raised. Before Ben can get to them, a shot goes out, and the echo in that dark hallway seems to go on forever. Time seems to freeze and the thump, thump, of Ben’s heart turns into much more than just a noise. Now, his whole body crawls with monsters.

He can’t suppress it anymore. Before he even knows if Klaus is ok or not, his monsters come flying out, stabbing the man through his forehead and ripping clean through it, splattering brains and his eyes all over the hallway and the two people in it.

Others go into the rooms, and come out with the bodies of people speared through them or broken and twisted in the clutches of the greenish-blood stained tentacles spreading out of Ben’s chest. He lets out a guttural yell, voice more of a groan than a scream.

Internally, he apologizes to Klaus, and to the rest of his family for not being able to live for them all and continue on.

Then, the ceiling crumbles over his head as his tentacles smash them, and tons of rubble seal him, the terrorists, the hostages, and his family inside.

Chapter Text

Awareness is sharp like the top of a bottle, smashed after a particularly hard knight for Klaus, the rim sharp and jagged enough to cut anyone who came too close to him. Sharp, like the blade of a knife Diego was once given as a gift for his seventh birthday, with rubies adorning the handle that blended in with the blood of his first kill. Sharp, like the piercing and calculating way Five seemed to always look at anyone with, as if he could see right into their soul, and sometimes people wondered aloud if he could. Sharp, like Allison’s tongue, her words as cutting as a snakes venom. Sharp, like Luther’s punches, that threw people out windows or through walls. Sharp, like Vanya herself, a weapon, her father too afraid to utilize.

Sharp, like the shrapnel that had been in Ben’s chest for an hour, then two, then three, till the surgery had finally been completed.

Klaus woke first, with Vanya pacing at the edge of each of their beds. He launched upwards and ripped the IV from his arm, opening a wound in his shoulder back up again in his frightened yanking of the locked doorknob, till Vanya could get him to stop shouting for Ben and she could explain.

Next, Five, who groaned, then widened his eyes and disappeared to find Ben, returning twenty minutes later to slump over with exhaustion against Vanya and Klaus, eyes holding pounds of weight.

Then came Luther, who woke slowly, then looked up to Vanya, Klaus and Five, asked how Ben was, then promptly fell asleep again, broken arm bent awkwardly forward and head cradled in his good arm.

Allison, never far behind Luther, woke next with a gasp, throwing her covers off her and leaping from her bed, only to realize it became harder to run with a large and jagged slice on her leg. She’d calmed down a moment later, after she’d stopped angrily demanding her siblings help her up.

Diego didn’t even seem to wake - he just bolted upwards in an angry flurry, somehow getting a hold of a scalpel and brandishing it at his siblings, still half in a dream. Once they thoroughly convinced him to set the scalpel down, he’d busted out of the room to go find Reginald, returning about five minutes later to gleefully report that “the bastard wasn’t here.”

They were all miraculously not-very-harmed, besides Klaus with his bullet wound in his shoulder and the older wounds from the mausoleum, and Luther with his broken arm, and Allison with her cut up leg. Only small cuts and bruises adorned the rest - though Diego did have a rather nasty one on his arm, that was starting to purple. Dust coated them thickly, which Five complained about for ages until he finally angrily declared that he had to go take a shower, to maintain his dignity.

Each of them followed suit, dragging fluffy blankets and poofy duvets down, pillows pulled over their shoulders and brought back with them into the infirmary room to set up camp and wait for Ben once they had thoroughly scrubbed themselves free of dust. After hours of waiting, their mother finally brought the boy into the room, his stomach wrapped in lumpy gauze and bandages, a nasty cut interrupting the smooth flesh on his forehead, but otherwise unharmed. They all rushed towards him - a stampede of feet as they’d leapt towards him, not holding back their tears, but not commenting either. Each of them had dragged their bed covers around Ben’s bed, creating a camp where they huddled together while Grace watched them with a smile on her face.

Reginald was nowhere to be seen - presumably talking to the police or someone more important like the president. It didn’t matter in the slightest to the siblings.

They laid like that for hours and hours, Grace bringing them food and changing their bandages when they became too bloody. Vanya brought down books and headphones and music players for them all, then hurried into their nest, wearing her sweater and sweatpants as if they were her second skin. They kept themselves occupied, sleeping for random periods of time, stretching to get more things when their limbs began to ache too badly in their curled positions, and all of them careful not to jostle each other’s wounds.

They were a sweaty mess of bodies wrapped in blankets and sitting on a layer of pillows, but they were content.

Then finally, when almost an entire day of their waiting had passed, Ben woke up. Groggy and half asleep, groaning and rubbing at his eyes, he squeaked when they’d all lept up and squeezed him into a gentle bear hug. He hadn’t stayed that way for long - passing into unconsciousness again. His persistent fever broke 7 hours after that, and Diego joked that it had been Klaus’s constantly cold hands that had done it.

An entire day passed, eventually. They’d barely moved in all that time - because despite their differences, and the arguments that broke out, they still were united in their love for Ben.

—-

“G- guys?”

Five jumps up and looks over at Ben, grinning ridiculously. He shakes at Klaus’s shoulder, who mumbles confusedly about go fish for a second - then shoots upwards and cackles. This awakens Diego, who nudges Allison, who nudges Luther, who nudges Vanya till they’re all awake and circling their very doped up brother.

“Benny!” bellows Klaus. Despite taking his pills - he seems to have more emotion than usual. Vanya wonders if he’s already built up a tolerance - he had been used to hard drugs for a few years before this. He was sober now, but the effects carried on.

“Klaus? Why’m I so… solid?” He whispers back in response, frowning like a little puppy.

Five gives an explanation now, with a smirk and a chuckle as he leans over Ben’s bed, so sleepy that he leans his head onto one of his hands. “You haven’t kicked the bucket yet, Ben.”

“But… we died?”

“No, we didn’t Ben,” replies Allison with a slightly amused tone. “Your tentacles actually helped us this time… shoved us all at to the edges, so everything caved on top of us instead of killing us. Same with the hostages.”

Ben’s eyes widen and he moves upwards slightly, seeming to be getting more awake by the minute. “Wait - s- so you mean to tell me I controlled them?”

“Ben, we’re not going to tell Reginald,” swears Vanya hurriedly, waving her hand. He relaxes back onto his pillows. “But it’s still amazing,” she adds.

“It really is, Ben,” says Luther, and all the heads turn to him. Out of all of them - Luther offers praise the least, the closest to dad of anyone. “What you did was amazing.” Ben smiles slightly, still looking confused about his solid, and not dead body. Of course, he seems happy to learn that his monsters aren’t completely out of control anymore, but it’s hard to tell whether this should fill him with more happiness, or dread - for the training that he might receive should Reginald ever find out.

Grinning like loons, is how Pogo finds them, and for the first time in a very long time he smiles genuinely. “The children deserve a bit of peace,” he whispers to Grace as she watches them with a content smile. “Let us give them that.”

—-

It’s another day of surprised but joyful celebration at seeing Ben alive, when Reginald comes home.

His first order or business is to march into the infirmary, obviously on a warpath - his face painted with sullen anger and his body language twisted and tense. The cane in his hands feels like more of a sword now, as he pulls it out and stamps it on the ground to get their attention.

“Calm yourselves, children!”

They all settle down from their singalong, even Klaus pausing, with his headphones half out and mouth still poised to sing the next words. Diego stops the music, and the whole atmosphere in the room warps from warm to dull and cold, mournful for the loss of happiness like a funeral.

Always ready to serve, Luther stands at attention and straightens himself best he can with a broken arm, staring at Reginald. Everyone else stays sitting, and Diego shoots a nearly imperceptible glare at Luther as he pulls the blankets off of himself.

“Do you have news for us?” asks Luther, his tone missing the earlier cheerfulness it held. He sounds as serious as he would have, if Ben had died, as if he’s awaiting orders.

“Number six will be missing training until he is fit enough to return,” snaps the obviously cross man standing tall in front of them. “Number one, you will be missing upper body training until you are well enough to return.” The two boys mentioned nod.

“Now, I have a question.” He walks forward into the room more, his cane held out in front of him and his gloves twisting over the golden handle.

“I know who stole my tapes. Did you not think I had backups?”

Vanya and Klaus stiffen and pale, clutching each other’s hands under the blanket. Luther looks back down at them with a look of disbelief, and Allison, Ben and Diego have matching looks of worry. Five just glares at Reginald - but’s he always glaring, so Reginald must think nothing of the anger.

“Number Four, Number seven, stand.”

They do, their joints cracking as if they were adults again, and their limbs shaking ever so slightly in fear. Their hands are no longer intertwined, and they both stare at Reginald as boldly as they can in the midst of their terror.

“I am aware that you know of Number seven’s… powers.”

They all balk at his words, but it remains silent. Vanya begins to look faint, her face draining itself of its very little color. Anxiety courses through the veins of them all at those few words.

“Now that the “secret” is out in the open, I have decided to utilize said powers.” The glint in his eyes promises something horrible. “But first - in the wake of Number four’s new gifts, I must test and see that number seven does not have similar ghost seeing gifts. Their powers are extraordinarily similar.” His tone is filled with a rarely found wonder, but he speaks as if to a camera, or as if he’s writing into his stupid journal again, not talking to human beings. He’d never truly seen them as human - they’d always been his fighting guinea pigs, always malleable and ready to take orders perfectly.

“N- no.” The whisper comes from Klaus, who’s shakes are so bad and the terror on his face has been hastily covered by palpable boldness.

“No!”

“Yes,” mimics Reginald irritatedly. “Yes. Come with me, both of you, or there will be consequences.” He walks forward and grabs both of their wrists, yanking and pulling them forward with an exasperated sigh.

“NO” screams Klaus, wrenching his wrist away and pulling Vanya back, shielding her with his arm and slowly inching backwards. “Fuck you! I won't play your shitty games anymore! Fuck you! Not for a second time, asshole!” He laughs, frenzied, eyes darting to Reginald, then something no one can see in the corner of the room, then another invisible figure, then Vanya, and the siblings, then back at Reginald.

He pants and drips with sweat from the bare exertion of his few actions, looking exhausted and drained. Reginald, on the other hand, looks filled with energy, and he surges forward. There’s a loud, blunt noise, and then Klaus is on the floor and Reginald is shaking his wrist, his right glove now spotted with a bit of blood.

The same blood pours from a cut on Klaus’s face, that he holds with one trembling hand. He feels gutted and afraid - Reginald has never been physical like that with them. It seems the pills are failing as his breath heaves and he is filled with such a violent anger he think that he might see Reginald buried in the ground within the next few hours. He leaps up and jumps onto Reginald, snarling and bowling the man over with surprising strength. Too stunned to act, the rest of them just watch as Klaus slaps and punches and screams at their guardian. He looks like he’s trying to use his powers, but he just took a dosage of the pills, and internally chastises himself for it. He’s already become used to the emotional suppressors - that means if he survives this then Reginald will surely make his dosage higher.

He’s fighting like a wild animal - he might as well be one at this point. His long nails take down Reginald’s face as he lands hit after hit on the man, till mom walks in and presses a shot to Klaus’s back, and the boy slowly…. falls backwards to the ground, back thumping against the wooden floors loudly, unconscious with his limbs lying this way and that.

Everyone sits in stunned silence for a moment, as Grace lifts Reginald up by his arms, and once he’s pushed her off, the man’s face leers down at them once again. Now marred with angry red streaks and small cuts, with what are surely going to become bruises later, his face manages to look even more furious than before.

Each of them feel at least a small bit of satisfaction at seeing their “father” in the state he’s in - even Luther. But, as Klaus lies on the floor with that bleeding cut on his face and shoulder weeping blood sluggishly, limbs splayed awkwardly, they can’t be happy for long.

Wordlessly Reginald grabs a stunned Vanya’s wrist, yanking at her. Grace lifts Klaus with a smile on her face, carrying him into her arms, cradling him as his head lolls out and his skinny limbs splay out awkwardly from her hold.

They leave the room, abandoning everyone to silence.

Chapter Text

Being cruel for cruelties sake wasn’t Reginald’s style. Then again - before today he’d never had the shit beaten out of him by his son.

Klaus wakes up three hours after said accident, cold, wet, and tired. Something presses against his side, and a hand shakes his arm gently.

“Klaus? Klaus, are you awake?”

The words are foggy and slow in his head, distorted as if he’s underwater. He nods, just a tiny slip of his head, then he lets it fall back down. It falls on something soft he hadn’t noticed before, and he realizes his head is resting on someone’s lap.

“M’ tired…” he hears a bitter chuckle, and it matches Vanya’s voice perfectly.

“Get some more sleep,” she murmurs. “It’s for the best.”

He falls back asleep to the sound of someone screaming and the feeling of Vanya’s hand carding through his hair.

—-

It’s been another hour before Klaus is fully lucid again, and during that time, all Vanya can do is wait, in the damp cold of the disgusting mausoleum. She already knows she doesn’t have any ghost-viewing powers, and she guesses that Reginald knows that too.

Still, he’d dragged her out there with Klaus carried in Grace’s arms not far behind them. She hadn’t even been able to intervene, with her powers or not. He’d forced a shot of her meds into his arm right before - but she already knew that it felt different. After so long of being on them, then so long without them, somehow the strange concoction had become not as potent. Her powers wouldn’t come, but her emotions still thrummed brightly. It felt torturous - to feel the bright star that was her gift suppressed again but still being submerged in the dizzying vortex of guilt, worry and disgust that was her mind right now.

When Klaus first woke up he had moaned up at her, eyes hazy with medication. She’d told him to go back to sleep and he’d thanked her, as he moved his hands up to cover his ears then passed out again. Content as she was able to be in this hellhole, she waited for him to awaken again. Her back was stiff, lying against the stone wall, and her legs were falling asleep, drawn up into a crossed position so she could hold Klaus’s head gently inside of them. The dirt and weeds dig adorning the floor dug into her skin painfully through her sweatpants, but still she waited for her brother to awaken.

He did, with a start this time, nearly hitting her chin with his forehead as he’d lifted the top of his body back upwards. “Shut up,” are his first words, spoken breathlessly to thin air. He repeats it, turning around to look at Vanya with wild eyes no longer fogged.

“Wh- what happened?” he croaks, eyes darting around. “Why are you- why are you here?”

“Dad brought us both here… said something about needing to see if I have ghost powers too.”

Sneering, he turns back around, breath catching in his throat. “F - fuck that. You don’t have this shit, obviously.”

Seeing his pain, she reaches out and puts a hand on his arm. He flinches, then relaxes when he sees that it’s her, scooting backwards till he’s stuck against the wall next to her, as if he’s trying to go through the stone and back outside. At least he’s calm-ish, not screaming or falling into a panic attack. She takes this as as good a sign as it gets.

“You know what I’m gonna do when I get out of here?” She asks a few minutes later, when her merely sitting there seems to not be enough to keep her brother from spiraling anymore, as she watches him through her peripheral vision. He nods at her to go on. “I’m going to run off and get us a box of donuts. Dozens of them.”

“You don’t have any cash, V,” he replies quietly with a tiny hint of a smile playing on his lips.

“Then I’ll steal them. You can teach me,” she says in her most encouraging tone, bordering condescending, drawing a choked laugh from Klaus. “What about you, Klaus?”

He turns his head over to her, neck still cranes over so he can easily clap his hands over his ears, back leaning against the slimy stone that make up the mausoleum. His eyes water and he chews at his lip like it’s his last meal, but he’s not screaming yet. Mouth quivering, he talks. “Me? Well, I think I’ll probably punch Reginald again.”

She smiles. “I’ll help you.”

Laughing bitterly, he turns back around, hands tightening around his ears and little whispers falling from his mouth. She can see that his breaths are heaving harder and harder, turning into panted-out gasps very quickly.

“Maybe we can have Five portal us away to a vacation, hm?”

“Y- yeah,” he stutters distractedly. “Sure.”

“To the Bahamas, or maybe to Germany like you always wanted to? Allison said it was nice there.” She’s really grasping at straws here, trying to find something that will help calm him down. “Don’t you know German?”

“Yup. German, Russian and Spanish,” he says, voice proud underneath a layer of fear and anxiety. “I- I’ve never gotten a real chance to test em.”

“Then let’s go. After all this, we’ll go.”

“We can’t,” He says, voice hollow. “You know we can’t Vanya.”

“Then let’s just imagine it for a minute.” She sucks in a breath, tipping her head back and feeling like she wants to cry as well. “Just- just imagine with me. That we’re wherever you want to be.”

She doesn’t know what Klaus thinks about, and she worries for a moment before he smiles, albeit only a tiny half smile, turning to her with a watery look. “I’d g- go to one of your concerts. I’ve m- missed you playing.” Taken aback, she lets out a little laugh, smiling at him.

“Well, is it weird that I’d want to be at Griddy’s with you?” She says, pausing to think.

“No. Griddy’s has good d- donuts.”

They lapse into silence - but Vanya knows Klaus’s head is filled with words and screams as he gasps and twitches. She sees little flickers of blue coming from his hands every so often - his pills only designed to block out telekinetic or controlling powers like hers.

She purses her lips into a thin line and thinks.

A moment later it’s Klaus that prompts their conversation. “I think you had the right idea,” he says, gasping subtly between his words.

“With what?” She asks, turning to him.

He still doesn’t explain. “No one in this damn f- family really gives a damn about me.” She's about to protest when he holds a hand up. “Barring you, I guess. Ben’s nice enough. Maybe I’ll invite him,” he muses, and Vanya can only wonder what he means. Invite him to what? She’s getting more confused by the minute.

“Everyone else is a selfish p- prick.” He winces. “I am too. We all are. B- but, th- they’re trying. For you. No one listens to me.” He laughs, cutting and angry. “I’m a selfish prick t- too. I’m an asshole. The junkie son of a bitch a- annoying piss face.”

“No you’re not, Klau-“

“Yes I am, V,” he says, and his tone is heartbreaking. “It’s time we b- both accepted it.” He lets out another chuckle, devoid of mirth. “I think they’re s- scared of me now… like Luther was with you…”

She’s about to debate him, till she realizes he’s probably not wrong.  It sickens her, to acknowledge the thought, but all of them, minus Ben and Vanya, seem to be terrified of their brother whenever he gets too emotional nowadays.

Make a spoon float and they all go running, open a door or fly and they start backing away. It doesn’t sound unreasonable, till you think about how everything else in their families life is fucking absurd, and they should be ok with strange things.

“I just- I just wish that they made an effort to care.” He looks at her with wide eyes that sparkle with tears. “God, I sound like a fucking idiot,” he says, voice choked, ending it with a little chuckle.

“No, no you don’t, Klaus,” is her quiet response. “It’s ok. You’re ok.”

“But- but I’m not.” He coughs. “I’m not.” She hears a shriek next to her and sees blue flickering around. Slowly, she starts to realize Klaus is losing control, but she can’t be afraid. “I’m just - I don’t want this. I never w- wanted this curse,” he spits out, angrily.  “And I never wanted to be here, t- to be with Reginald.” He laughs. “Asshole…”

She doesn’t know what to say, as she watches her brother fray apart like a ghost. She has to do something, but she has no idea what.

It’s passed hours since both of their meds have been taken, and by now she knows they’re both due for another dose.

“Shut the fuck up!” Klaus screams abruptly  at something unseen, throwing himself upwards off the cold floor with his hands clamped over his ears, now facing everything at random, darting from the massive coffins to the massive door with it’s strange patterns to the walls soaked in grime and soft green moss. “ Shut up shut up shut UP!”

They don’t, and Vanya knows now, as the screams start to fill the room. Flickers of blue appear and the noises remain disjointed, separated. She stands up, next to Klaus now, and puts a hand on his hand, pulling it away from his head gently when she sees blood starting to roll from the divots his broken nails make. He lashes out, spinning on his heel and smacking her hand away, chest heaving.

“Stop!” He pleads, begging her desperately enough to make her guilty for ever trying to come near him. “Stop touching me!”

Then the room is alright with blue, and Klaus goes crashing to the floor, with ghosts tearing at him as he screams louder and louder. She looks on in horror, then leans down and starts ripping at the ghosts, only for her hands to fall through. One of them yanks her away, but she can’t do anything to it - it can attack her, but she can’t attack back.

Something tears across her side and she feels a searing pain - nails ripping into her flesh and purple sweater as she kicks and punches outwards, dodging her way towards Klaus’s figure. He’s covered in blue, several new cuts adorning his skin, and the noises he’s making are making Vanya feel sick and horrified for her brother.

She dives into the piles of ghosts and pushes Klaus out of the way, yanking his arm and pulling him to the wall. He scratches at her as she moves him, but she refuses to stop, even though it pains her to see him fighting her so desperately. The ghosts walk towards her, until they’re on top of her, scratching and biting and kicking and punching and slapping and everything, and the noise is unbearable . She wonders how Klaus keeps his sanity like this, surrounded by screaming directly in his ears and these mangled and dripping ghosts all over - then remembers that he’s lost bits of his sanity along the way.

Klaus ,” they moan, over and over. They don’t know her name, instead shouting “ girl,” desperately as she waits for them to lose interest.

They don’t.

Instead, they continue their assault, and she holds herself over Klaus like the shield he’s never had, enduring the pain as best she can even as tears falls down her cheeks and coughs come gurgling from her lungs, the air knocked from her over and over. Blood mixes with her tears from tiny and large cuts on her face. Klaus has fallen unconscious already, his panting breaths becoming so heavy that the lack of oxygen went to his head and he succumbed to the darkness. She wonders if this is a mercy, as wave after wave of ghosts come towards them.

They ghosts don’t seem to like her much, so she receives a quick kick to the head, and everything falls black.

Chapter Text

Reginald enforces their isolation and imprisonment hard . The moment he returns from shoving their siblings into the run-down and disgusting mausoleum, face with a large bruise forming on his brow, and small scratches and cuts shining in the light, he forces them all into the front room.

“You will stay here, under Grace and Pogo’s watch,” he says in an all-too-familiarly furious voice, trembling and high as he finishes, then walks away briskly and marches up the stairs, his feet hitting every creak. Pogo and Grace do as they’re told - forcing them all to sit a few feet away to each other, facing the wall as if they are children who are merely sitting in timeout at school.

Luther cradles his arm to his chest as he stares at the wall, taking his time to begin rethinking his allegiance to Reginald. It’s a hard thought process - he’s followed and idolized the man so much that it’s painful to realize he really was just a sad old man. But, it’s something Luther tries to realize, for the sake of his family.

Diego glares forward, arms crossed, unmoving. He refuses to move - he won’t fidget, he won’t look for mom, he won’t do anything unless he absolutely must. Protesting against Reginald’s tyranny is like his favorite sport, and he practices regularly. He won’t give Reginald the satisfaction of seeing his punishment being effective.

Allison’s face is stony, and she holds a shaking hand over her cut, itching to pull the bandage off, like a nervous tick. Still, she refrains. She lets the pain and the anxiety flood through her and accepts it, glaring forward with her legs crossed, chin held high and posture perfect.

Five looks as if he’s almost having a pleasant time - his face is devoid of emotion, his posture is straight, but the clenching off his jaw hints to a hidden fury. The movement of the cogs in his head turning as he formulates a plan can almost be heard.

Ben is slumped over, in his infirmary bed, stubbornly refusing to sleep as he’s meant to be, even as exhausted drags his eyelids down and his head to his pillow. He wonders about Klaus and Vanya, if the ghosts have attacked them, if they’ve just stayed see through, confined to Klaus’s head and his thoughts and his view and his ears.

(He doesn’t know, that right now, an hour after he’s been shoved into the place, that Klaus is still asleep, and Vanya shivers painfully, trying to keep them from hypothermia in the dank cage they reside in.)

None of them can do anything to help their siblings without invoking even more of Reginald’s rage - but they can all wonder. Wonder about the things they might do to Reginald - like Diego’s fantasies of pressing a knife into his neck till he falls to the ground, dead. Or Five’s fantasies of bringing them far far away from hear, keeping hidden away from Reginald - or better yet, killing him and hiding the body as well. Allison wishes to rumor Reginald away from them, if only she wasn’t so afraid to use the powers. Maybe, she thinks, she’s slowly becoming less afraid, as she realizes all that Reginald has done to them.

Silence hangs heavy over them all. Not a tap of a foot or a hum of a voice is heard. They’ve created something akin to their own small opposition, because however impossible protesting is in this house - they’ll continue to try.

Another hour passes. They eat sandwiches with ham and cheese. They drink bottles of water. Their bandages are changed and their wounds are cleaned. Guilt and worry settle in the pit of each of their stomachs like nausea - they’re warm, inside, and eating food, comfortable enough despite the strange positions they’re left in.

Their other two siblings, are not.

The minutes tick forward, on and on and on, but even as it inches closer and closer for their time to sleep, Reginald doesn’t reappear. Finally, Pogo stands in the middle of them all and speaks.

He clears his throat, drawing their attention - all except Ben. “Sir has informed me that you are to stay down here, and remain awake. Today we are engaging in stamina training.”

It all sounds like bullshit to each of them. Stamina training was practically code for:  “Reginald is angry at you - it’s your fault, and you deserve to be punished.” Still, they have no way to argue, if the man won’t even come back downstairs.

Another hour passes. Three hours is many to pass in silence - yet the thought of how Vanya and Klaus might be spending this time instantly sobers them. Thoughts of what they could have done to help them circulate throughout the room like a disease, everyone’s anxiety’s hanging over them like the weight of the sky on Atlas’s shoulder, and it feels just as heavy. Should they have done more?

Everyone come to the conclusion that they should’ve.

The hard wooden floors dig into each person’s sore bodies, and they twitch and fidget every so often, their limbs popping and sighs escaping their lips when they stretch themselves out. At one point, they’re dismissed to the restrooms, one by one, like a group of petulant schoolchildren who became too rowdy during their classes. Five makes sure to create more of a fuss than the others - he mutters loudly about how he’s too old to be treated like this and how the old man needs to face them, just out of earshot of Pogo or their mother.

When Reginald finally comes downstairs, he’s cleaned up, his beard freshly shaven and his clothes changed. His monocle glints blindingly in the yellowish lights of the old mansion, covering the single pane of glass in white glare for a single second. When he walks into the center of the room, the children all stiffen. Not of fear - no, they are too beyond that. In anger, that pumps through their veins like the pills and drugs that went unnoticed in both Klaus’s and Vanya’s bodies.

“I presume Pogo has given you your instructions?” He says, staring at Pogo till he nods gravely. Pogo has always looked sullen, but he somehow manages to look even more so today, as he stares down at the floor, arms crossed in front of him sheepishly. “Good. Where is number six?”

“Number six is confined to bed rest,” replies Pogo, in his familiarly soft voice - much less gravely opposed to the almost grating tone he held in the future. “He has been injured too severely to participate.”

“Well, then he must participate within the confines of the infirmary,” Reginald says, in a matter of fact, bushy, tone. He looks at Pogo as if he’s an idiot, then pushes forward into the room, walking towards him.

“I- but sir-“

“Do not test me.” Reginald’s voice is frozen cold and promising something sick - and so Pogo just dips his head into a nod and walks out of the room, heading the infirmary with his back hunched in submission.

“This is pathetic.” The absence of cursing, if nothing else, proves that it’s Five who’s spoken.

Reginald whips towards the boy - the boy who’s always been the boldest, the one who never kept his mouth shut and was always logical. “Excuse me?”

“You are being petty. Petty, irrational, idiotic .” The last words are hissed between clenched teeth and he stands, boldly turning to stare into Reginald’s eyes, a challenge in his gaze. “This serves no purpose.”

Reginald stalks forward and makes as if to slap him, with his hand raised high in the air and a sickening glint to his eyes.

Before he can land a single hit, he gets a hand blocking his own. Luther stands there, holding Reginald’s hand in an uncomfortable grip, refusing to meet his eyes, his head dipped to the side and his knuckles whitening as his other hand balls itself into a fist. “Number one! Release me at once,” Reginald demands indignantly. Luther doesn’t give him the satisfaction of a response.

“I will not stand for this disrespect,” he says, his voice high, thready. Cowardly .

“Unhand m-“

His voice is stopped by Allison, who - in the middle of his sentence - lifts herself off the floor and turns, walking over to Reginald with a sly smirk and her hands tucked behind her back. “I heard a rumor,” she says, and his eyes widen anger. “That you fell asleep.”

So he does just that; his legs buckle and his head drops, facing the ground as he slumps in Luther’s iron grip. The last thing keeping him up drops him and he collapses, snoring annoyingly as Luther backs up, as if he may awaken and spread his wrath onto everyone yet again.

Ben comes hobbling out of the infirmary, using a crutch and being followed swiftly by a worried looking Pogo. When he sees his adoptive fathers form prone and splayed against the ground, he grins.

“Let’s get going,” he says as Pogo stares at Reginald’s body in shock, mouth agape, spectacles sliding down his nose and clattering to the ground with a cacophony of noise.

“Children, I simply cannot a- allow you to do this,” stammers Pogo as he leans down to scoop up his glasses, voice not holding anger, just a strange surprised detachment. “Awaken master Hargreeves at once.”

Needless to say, they do not.

He falls to the ground as well when Allison tells him to sleep, though Luther is careful to gently lower his sleeping form. Next they must deal with mom, who stands to the side with a distant smile. “Mom?” Diego whispers to her, words lodging in his throat as his anxiety grows over her response. “W- we’re going out… ok?”

“Bundle up, children,” she says floatily as her eyes flit down to him, her lips pressed together in a happy smile.

They walk away from her with Diego’s cheeks burning with shame, till he walks outside and he lifts his head, and suddenly his expression matches everyone’s else’s.

Determination marks their glares. After hours of waiting, they finally are able to rescue their siblings.

Chapter Text

How did things go so wrong in Diego’s life?

He’d never asked to be the freak that he was. No, he had never wanted to be abused by the man he once fought to love. He didn’t want to go back in time as a child again, and wait years and years before he could ever hope to return to who he truly was.

As Luther yanks back the door of the mausoleum, he wonders if he ever thinks like Diego does as well. If the golden boy who’d always been Reginald’s favorite - ever hates the life he lives as well.

Diego’s the first to dive into the room, of course. The grimy stone makes his feet slip, and the moss catches his shoes, making him trip, but all he can think about are the two forms he must find. The darkness swallows him whole as he pats the walls to find his target, and his foot meets a little bundle of something. Something alive.

When he looks closer, he realizes it’s Vanya, passed out against the ground.

She’s lying down, limbs spread out, one knee curled to her chest as if she was going to protect herself with it. Her sweatpants are so badly ripped that the leg on her stretched out side is only hanging by a few strings, revealing muddy and scraped skin underneath that looks raw and painful. The purple sweater she adored so much was stained with red in several places and it’s purple matches her skin in too many places to count, making Diego’s heart pound even harder. He wonders if this is what a heart attack feels like - then realizes he’s being foolished. His free hand tugs at his knife worriedly, but doesn’t draw the blade out of its holster.

Her sweater was cut badly, opening to reveal the red and cream colored flannel pajama shirt she had on underneath, the red the color of the blood staining it. Her hair was thrown about in disarray, discolored by the moldy floors she’d rested on, and her bangs stuck to her face with a combination of blood, mossy bits of plants, and sweat.

Cuts adorn her face, her lip split, her eyes shut tightly, her mouth open slightly as if she’d been about to speak when she’d fallen asleep - or much more likely, been knocked unconscious. Without allowing himself much time to worry, he lifts her gently, passing her to Luther, tucking her arms up to her chest and making sure that her bare feet aren’t touching the ground anymore.

Klaus has been underneath her, curled into a tiny ball, his arms, once hugging his side - now relaxed, and his legs, once tucked to his chest - now limp, knocked against the wall, his feet twisted awkwardly. His hair is glued to his forehead with sweat, but luckily it seems no blood comes from his head as Diego peers deeper into the darkness, the only light being the candle Allison had snagged before they ran.

His eyes are clenched tightly together, his mouth drawn into a frown and his eyebrows pulled together, making him look afraid, smaller than he already is. Even in unconsciousness his brother is never still - he shakes violently, whether from cold or fear or both - Diego can’t tell.

His T-shirt hugs his arms, the normally bright sunset painted across the fabric now sullied with muck - and to Diego’s alarm, blood that leaks from the now torn apart bullet wound sunken into his shoulder. It’s torn to bits just as badly as Vanya’s sweater, and threads hang from holes marking it everywhere. His sweatpants hang low on his skinny hips, dirt smudged against them, but it seems that Vanya’s attempt to shield her brother had worked out.

They’re both thankfully as unharmed as he could’ve hoped for.

“Let’s go,” Diego whispers as he hauls Klaus into his arms, staggering to his full height with the limp and nearly weightless package that is his brother cradled in his arms, and nodding at the rest of his siblings. Luther holds Vanya gently, frowning at her face till Diego speaks - now looking up at him.

Then, Luther leads them out of the mausoleum, his siblings trailing behind him. Ben, then Five, then Diego, then Allison until they’ve all abandoned the darkened building along with all the starving ghosts that laid inside.

Luther shuts the door - a bit too tightly, evidenced by the cracks that spiderweb out like the veins of a junkie from the frame and the groaning of the ancient building as it shakes against its rotting foundations.

Diego doesn’t care.

All that he cares about are the people he’s surrounded with and the person he carries, looking fragile and broken with his arms pulled up to his chest and his legs swinging slightly as Diego walks, making small noises and panting out little whispers through the depths of his nightmares. Over and over he chants the same things - from “no,” to “go away,” to “stop,” as if stuck in some sort of infinite loop, remembering painful nights that never technically happened or seeing ghosts that never technically died. 

He presses forward through the thick and scratchy weeds of the cemetery, letting them scrape his legs and elbows over and over as he raises one foot and another, body in a loop just like Klaus’s mind.

Finally the stamp of their shoes against dirt give way to the creaking of metal as Five opens the gate, inching the rusty and dilapidated bars forward as they get stuck, and then yank forward again as he frustratedly tugs on them.

“Mm… no,” croaks Klaus whispily, as he turns his head over to stare into the things he’s seeing behind closed eyes. “N- no .”

Diego brushes the hair back from his eyes, endlessly worried about him and Vanya and what they’re going to do about Reginald. He walks forward as if in a trance, following Allison in front of him, unable to speak except for the tiny assurances he mutter to Klaus when the boy begins to fret loudly.

Rain starts to pat against the ground, and the air begins to smell of musk and soil, and something rotten as a faint undertone, a familiar smell that is constantly sewing itself through the air within this city, originating in its underbelly and crawling up from the beneath like an eldritch puddle of bad.

The sparkling droplets hits the blacktop just as their feet do, and they cross the road in an empty silence, zig zagging around random cars that honk angrily long after they’ve dodged them.

They start walk up the steps to the mansion, the air thick with emotions and smells, laden with moisture from the rain beginning to hurry its pace.

But, before Luther can even make it up the first step, his leg poised to move, there’s a bang, and Reginald walks out from the massive doors that slam against the house and shakes it.

Yellow light from the lamps inside halos around his body and illuminates him, making his face seem infinitely darker and his expression harsh enough to wound.

“S- sir,” Luther stammers in surprise, nearly dropping Vanya before he tightens his grip protectively, swallowing and starting to back away as Reginald begins to stalk forward, his shoes slapping against the ground.

“Hand me it, number one,” says Reginald emotionlessly, gesturing to Vanya with a single gnarled claw of a hand.

Luther’s frown deepens, and water trickles down into the pits of his frown lines and then flows down and drips off his face from his chin. “It?” He inquires quietly, as if he already knows the answer.

“It,” Reginald replies impatiently, holding his arms out for Vanya. He’s calling Vanya it, Diego’s sister who could barely live anymore when she’d returned to her past and realized what she’s done. The girl who cried whenever she accidentally stomped ants. The child who didn’t even know what death was until she had been thoroughly rumored and her emotions had been suppressed.

That girl, was not an it.

“No,” says Luther, voice hollow, backing down the steps , each footstep like a beat to a song that’s rhythm is too erratic to follow, or like Diego’s heartbeat, banging loudly.

Reginald sucks in angry sigh. “Give it to me, Number one,” he replies in a chastising tone as if taking a toy from a peevish child.

Luther doesn’t give him an answer. He just turns on his heel and quickly gestures at them to run, then starts running behind them as the torrential downpour of rain begins to blur Diego’s vision and the sound of Reginald’s footsteps begin to pound after them.

Then, Diego realizes something very strange.

He’s not carrying Klaus anymore. His hands and arms lack the weight and the feeling of a body resting against them, despite the boy still being there, in Diego’s arms.

He wonders if he’s lost his mind till he sees that Klaus’s body has risen above him slightly, and rises faster and faster. He uncurls, stretching each limb one at a time - starting with his neck, cracking the stiff and sore bones left then right. Next - both of his legs, and finally his arms splay outwards, his wrists twisting as if he's only rolling them, nonchalantly as anything.

Finally, he stands in midair, arms at his side, legs hanging limply, as his family stare up at him, mouths agape in wonder.

Then, there are s creams .

They come from everywhere.

From above and below as if from hell and heaven at once, from all around them, coming from the beasts that follow them with gaping wounds and angry faces and pounding footsteps, the rain smacking into them. Each of them brace themselves for the wave of ghosts to attack them, only to realize Klaus’s outstretched hand has guided them towards the one man they’re dying to escape.

Reginald falls underneath a wave of blue, and the world feels as if it’s gone silent with the weight of what’s happening around them.

A great groaning and shaking starts, and the ground begins to rip itself apart, pipes and dirt scooping upwards like great hands have pawed through it and raked massive, uncurled fingers upwards to collect it. Cars follow suit, alarms blaring into their ears as Klaus lifts them higher and higher. A whirlwind of noise accompanies each new piece of Klaus’s failing sanity, and Diego remembers how scary Vanya had been when she’d gone cold turkey on the suppressant pills.

None of them move within the tide of ravenous ghosts that surround them, and Klaus’s one arm points ever forward to the man they all despise.

If they’d had the ability to see it all, they’d know that ghosts all around the worlds were taking Klaus’s command, bowing to his will and driving themselves across cities and oceans and countries to reach the single man Klaus had directed them too.

“Klaus!” Ben screams up, and of course it’s Ben, Ben the one who hadn’t been able to console Vanya and was always close with Klaus, of course he would be the one to try and fix the imminent destruction. “Klaus! Wake up!”

Klaus only grins forward, his curls unfurling and whipping around in circles around his head, dust flying from them or clumping to his face with the rain that steadily drops down into his eyelashes and pools inside his mouth, and Klaus laughs.

And as he laughs tears of rain hurry down each of the children’s faces as they remember how Klaus had been both in adulthood and when he was truly a child - always the jokester, the kind one, the loud one who loved too much and too hard then fell into drugs and fell hard .

Vanya slowly awakens, her chaos reacting to Klaus’s and she too begins to lift, letting herself drift from Luther’s arms as the boy’s frightened eyes bulge out of his head, staring at Klaus and the breaking thing inside of him.

Ben grabs Vanya’s hand, and the pounding of Ben’s heartbeat is enough for Vanya to lift him as well, then each of them, one by one till they’re staring at Klaus boldly as he looks off to the side, distracted by the ghosts coming from all directions to tear Reginald apart.

They aren’t quite done yet - Klaus seems to be letting it happen slowly, like the slow deaths he felt in the mausoleum.

“Klaus!”

That first call is one Diego will never forget - even if he has no idea who screams it.

Klaus doesn’t even seem to notice them, and the things around him keep drawing upwards in a magnificent cyclone, the wind and mud and rain binding it all together into a huge tornado of horror.

“Number four!” Five screams angrily, but he’s not angry at Klaus - no, he’s angry at his own failure to divert another apocalypse, and to care for his brother enough, and to notice that Klaus needed so much more help than what he was getting.

The cyclone freezes. The ghosts stop. They stand, passively, awaiting orders from the ringmaster that dances in the middle of it all like a god reborn onto earth, his comical smile dropping and his hand limp at his side yet again.

Klaus! Number four! We are here! ” Shouts Vanya, her voice soaked in knowledge and understanding that burns through everyone’s body even if they can’t understand it themselves. “ Please, Klaus, you need to wake up!” The situation is so dire, yet Vanya is incredibly calm, the only thing off in her expression the breaking of her gaze as she turns to rub at the tears falling down her face. This is all too familiar for her.

He shakes his head, slowly, sadly, his eyes shutting in a blink then reopening a second later, looking even more tired than before. Nothing inside of him says “lucidity,” he looks far off and distant, as if he’s on drugs yet again and Diego feels a pang as he looks down at his swaying feet, face burning in shame like a child because he can’t stop thinking about how horrible they’d all acted with Klaus.

Vanya drifts them closer, even as the ghosts start to march forward once again below them, and the whirlwind of anger resumes its tyranny.

Please Klaus, come back to us, ” says Ben through cupped hands, amplifying his voice desperately in an attempt to reach the flickering soul inside of Klaus.

Klaus falters, frown slipping and his single limp hand twitching at his side - twitching towards them.

Let’s go, number four! We need you! You are needed, now! By us, because you are our family,” shouts Allison, and Diego desperately hope that his indignant tone will still help instead of ruining it even more. He doesn’t want to have to knife anyone - yet he holds one at the ready just in case, unafraid to knock any of his siblings out should they take the wrong step.

Hopeless calls of “ Klaus ” and “ Number four” echo out from everyone’s mouths over the pouring of rain and bursting destruction below them, barely overheard.

“I’ll buy you crack!”

Maybe not the finest thing to say, but humor had always gotten through to Klaus - the one who always was a comedian, through addiction and being clean alike. Klau would make light of his obsessions, so maybe Diego using shock humor will get to him, in the way he wants it to.

Diego hopes he doesn’t have to knock himself out, if this turns out to be a mistake.

“Not cause you’re a useless junkie!” He adds, worrying and worrying and worrying endlessly as Klaus stares at him blankly. “ Because I want you to be happy!” And it’s true, he does - he so much wishes for Klaus to find happiness.

Then, the boys chin lifts to the heavens, and he heaves a laugh, the sound breaking through the rain and the cacophony as he clutches at his hair and manically coughs out a desperate laugh, more animal than human sounding.

“Just…. just come back.” Ben’s voice is tiny under the jarring racket, a mere whisper, though Klaus seems to hear it over his own sobbing laughs, and he turns, mouth now scrunched into a grimace as he wheezes out more cries of anguish instead of laughter.

Then,  in one move, the masterful orchestra of noise and chaos comes to a close, as its conductor continues to fall apart. Ghosts fizzle out of view, their bodies back into Klaus’s mind and slowly fading to back where they’d come.

The tornado - still whirling - stops, and the things drop to the ground, plummeting down and crushing the street and parts of the old and abandoned buildings around.

Klaus drops like a puppeteer has cut his strings, falling too many feet too quickly, landing on his knees and sobbing into his arms, rocking back and forth and gasping heavily, clutching his hair and tugging it in wretched and bitter sorrow.

Almost immediately, Vanya brings them down, and they race to Klaus.

Ben gets there first, skidding to a stop next to the tiny and miserable bundle of bones and skin and pain leftover from too many timelines. He heaves out a bitter sob of his own, encasing Klaus’s shivering body in his arms, as soaked as they are.

Vanya launches herself at them, laughing almost hysterically, tears dripping down her cheeks as she yanks them both into a hug, careful to keep all three of their injuries in mind.

As he watches, Diego wonders if he should join them. The hug just looks… private. As if he shouldn’t trespass on the moment they’re having - because it looks so fragile, and Diego has never done well with fragile things.

He moves forward anyways, putting a hand on Klaus’s back and his too-thin spine that’s exposed by the fabric pressed against his back, soaked, then he thinks fuck it and leans into their hug as well, letting himself feel, and they accept him with open arms.

Five has never been much for hugging but even he walks up and crouches in front of them, watching until Ben shoots out an arm and pulls him closer. Allison comes over in mostly the same fashion, being forced into the circle, unsure if she’s aloud at first, till Vanya grabs her and holds her tightly to them and things start to feel right.

Luther arrives last.

He knows , of all people he’s not welcome.

But...

His siblings pull him in anyways, many hands drawing out to pull him in. Some are shaking, some are steady, some are hesitant, just as he is, to join his siblings when he has yet to right so many wrongs.

He pauses…. Then accepts the drenched and dirty and sweaty and smelly bundle of limbs that enclose around him and the rest of them, and they huddle there - because in this moment, nothing else matters but their family - and Klaus, who has come back to them.

In the strange circle of bodies, in the middle of the road, with rain pouring down their backs, they feel like they’re finally home.

Now - they might begin to heal.