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The blue light encompasses him. He feels like he’s being ripped apart, shredded bit by bit through time and space and dimensions even he can’t fully comprehend. It hurt, it hurts so much worse than it was supposed to. Dolores was right, he should have waited. He wasn’t ready. God, he really fucked this up, didn’t he?

He thinks, this is it. He thinks, I’m sorry, guys. I did this for you.

And then it stops.

He falls out of the sky--or, no. Not the sky, not really. He falls from about ten feet in the air and lands stomach first on the hard pavement. It knocks the wind out of him, leaves him gasping, which is when he notices just how clean the air feels. No smoke clogging his lungs, no dust choking him until he gags. Just the faint smell of gasoline from the cars passing by and--

Holy shit, there are cars passing by.

Five’s head snaps towards the street, eyes wide and a little unfocused. There’s a bookstore across the street, and a pharmacy next to it. They’re the same stores Five remembers seeing every day through his bedroom window, where he would sit and watch the people on the street get to be people. Most notably, the buildings are still standing. Five can’t remember the last time he saw a building that was totally intact, and now he’s face to face with a whole street of them.

Which means--

Five scrambles to his feet, clunky boots knocking against each other in his effort to turn around as humanly possible. He sees the gates first, with their stupid umbrella insignia, and then the mansion, in all its former (current? current) glory. It’s the middle of the night (if his calculations are correct, which they very well may not be, but hey, at least it’s dark out), but the lights are on. One in the foyer, a few peaking through the tiny kitchen windows, one in Vanya’s room and--

And one in his room.

Holy shit, Five thinks. I did it. I’m home.

He blinks and he’s inside, staring up at the extravagant staircase that Klaus once broke jaw falling down. The house is mostly quiet, nothing but the crackling fire in the living room signifying that anyone is even awake. He shrugs his jacket off, lets it fall with a quiet thud onto the carpet. He drops his hat, his goggles on top and shakes out his shoulders.

He was aiming for the night after he left. If he’s done this correctly, he hasn’t been missing from the Academy for even forty-eight hours in this timeline.

It’s been four years, for Five. Four excruciating years living in a wasteland, eating bugs and rats and sleeping in abandoned houses filled with dead people, dead memories. He’d spent his seventeenth birthday alone, whispering his siblings’ names like a prayer, trying desperately to remember every detail he could about them. What Vanya’s laugh sounded like, rare as it was. The way Ben’s eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled. The exact color of Allison’s eyes, the freckles on Klaus’ face. Diego’s stutter, Luther’s voice.

He knows they were together, in the end. He buried them himself, dragging their lifeless adult bodies into crudely-made graves and covering them with makeshift markers so that maybe, just maybe, they could rest in peace. What he wouldn’t have given to have Klaus’ powers, to turn around and see them walking behind.

He never found Vanya, or Ben. He’ll never know what happened to them, but it doesn’t matter, because he’s not going to let it happen again.

“Who’s there?”

Five startles, because that voice is a lot deeper than he remembers. And then Klaus appears in the entryway to the living room, dressed in the fluffiest robe Five has ever seen and a long nightgown that looks straight out of the fifties. He’s about a foot taller, gangly as all hell and a little bit too skinny. Five can see it in the hollowness of his cheeks.

“Hey, Klaus,” Five says.

“Five,” Klaus breathes, and then, to Five’s utter horror, he starts to cry. “No, no, no. This isn’t fair! Fuck, no. You were supposed to come back, you’re supposed to be okay…”

For a moment, Five has no idea what’s happening. It’s certainly not the reaction he’d been expecting, and it’s also fucking him up a little bit that he clearly got the calculations wrong because the Klaus standing in front of him is clearly not thirteen. Also, his brother is heaving these big, gasping sobs and Five really has no idea what to do with that except--

Oh.

Klaus totally thinks Five is dead. Klaus thinks he’s seeing Five’s ghost.

“Shit,” Five says, “Klaus, no, I’m alive. I’m--Christ, please stop crying--I’m okay!”

He takes a few steps forward, slowly, because he knows that Klaus is terrified of ghosts and he currently thinks Five is a ghost. The apocalypse has not done much to enhance his social skills, but he does understand he needs to be careful. The last thing he wants is for Klaus to freak out.

But Klaus does...the exact opposite of what Five is expecting, which, in all fairness, is very on brand for Klaus in general. He all but launches himself forward, hands hovering just over Five’s shoulders. He’s about two inches taller than Five, which is vaguely irritating, but his eyes are shining with tears so Five is willing to look past it.

“I’m alive,” Five repeats, lets a little bit of the emotion he’s feeling seep into his words, “Klaus, I’m here.”

Klaus’ shaking hands settle on Five’s shoulders. A second passes, then two, and then Klaus lets out a strangled sort of noise and pulls Five to him, tight as can be. His fuzzy robe feels warm and soft against Five’s cheek, and Klaus’ spindly arms thrown around his shoulders feels safe.

They stay like that for a while, Five breathing in the familiar scent that he’d almost forgotten, God, how much longer would he have remembered them? How much longer would it have been before he was struggling to recall their faces, their names?

When they finally break apart, Five keeps one of his hands still fisted in the fuzz of Klaus’ robe as an anchor, a reminder that he’s home. He’s with his ridiculous, over-the-top, impossibly kind brother.

Five clears his throat to keep the truly embarrassing amount of emotions he’s feeling at bay, says, “Nice dress.” He means it, too.

Klaus’ face breaks into the most brilliant smile. “Oh, danke,” he says, twirling one of the ties around like a little lasso. His face is a little splotchy and his eyes are a little swollen from all the crying, but all Five can think is there he is.

“Klaus, what year is it?”

Klaus’ eyebrows shoot up into his hairline. “2006.”

“So it’s been four years for you, too.”

Klaus nods, and he looks like he’s about to ask for further clarification when the steps leading up from the kitchen start to creak and Vanya appears in the doorway, calling for Klaus. She looks older than he remembers, just like Klaus, which makes sense now. They’re seventeen, just like Five.

He fucked up his calculations pretty badly, but right now he doesn’t give a single shit.

Vanya stops short, mouth gaping. A beat, and then, “I knew it!” She runs barefoot across the foyer and throws herself into Five’s arms. He staggers, but he catches her, Klaus resting a hand on his back to steady them. “I knew you’d be back, Five. I knew you wouldn’t leave us for good.”

“I didn’t mean to,” Five says, and fuck, his voice breaks. “I didn’t mean to leave. I fucked up, V, I’m sorry. I spent every day trying to get back.”

Vanya’s arms tighten around his neck. He’s all but bent in half to reach her level, but he couldn’t give less of a fuck. “The lights, they’re still on for you,” she says, and Five’s entire heart breaks into pieces. He tries to blink away a few tears, tries to stifle the sobs doing their best to burst out of his chest. He hasn’t cried since his first week alone in a barren wasteland, since he buried his siblings. Since he closed their eyes for the last time, dumping pile after pile of dirt over their bodies until they disappeared entirely. “I was so scared you’d come home and you wouldn’t be able to find us, or you’d think we left without you, and you’d leave again--”

“I’m sorry,” Five chokes out, chest heaving, “I’m so fucking sorry. I didn’t mean to, I would never, I would never--”

Klaus drapes himself over the both of them. “Group hug,” he mumbles into Vanya’s hair.

“I’m so sorry,” Five repeats, shaking and crying and Christ, he’s so gross. He’s snotting all over Klaus’ nice fluffy robe. “I didn’t mean to leave.”

“It’s okay,” Vanya whispers, “Five, it’s okay. You’re here now. I knew you’d come back.”

Klaus does what Klaus does best; he tries to lighten the mood. “Hey, hey, now.” He lets go, claps his hands together. “We should be celebrating! Five is back! Holy shit!”

Five lets out a watery laugh, lets Vanya wipe away at his tear-streaked cheeks. Her smile is soft, hopeful. She holds his face in both of her hands, says, “I’m so happy to see you, Five.”

Tomorrow, Five will tell them. He’ll tell them about the end of the world, how they’re a little more than a decade off from the literal apocalypse. He’ll tell them how he buried them, cried for them, tried his best to keep going for them. How he used all his energy, everything he had left, just trying to get back to them.

Tonight, Five is going to make himself a peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich and let himself be swarmed by his siblings. They’ll wake up Ben and Diego and Allison and Luther and they’ll pile onto each other like they did when they were kids. They’ll cry and they’ll laugh and they’ll welcome their lost brother home.

Tomorrow is going to fucking blow, and Five will probably cry a lot and it will be incredibly embarrassing. But tonight, tonight Five is going to sit with his family and know that finally, finally, he’s safe.

He’s home.