“Children! Dinner!” Grace called, as the kids all slowly filed into the dining room, Reginald not too far behind them. She stood back, a huge smile on her face as she watched the meal begin.
A good three minutes may have passed before Ben piped up, “Uh, where’s Klaus?”
“No talking during mealtimes, Number Six,” Reginald said, not looking up from his newspaper as he ate. “I’d think you’re well aware of this by now.”
Ben rolled his eyes and sat back, starting to eat. “Sit up straight, dear,” Grace said to Ben and he reluctantly sat back up. The Academy kids were only 15, all glancing back and forth at each other. They all knew Ben had a point, Klaus wasn’t one to skip meals. He would often get punished by being thrown in the mausoleum and it must have been awful since when he came back, he wouldn’t talk to anyone but Ben for days.
The next one to speak up was Vanya. It was a bit of a risk for her to speak up, her opinion was never taken seriously. But she did, saying, “But really, where is Klaus?”
“Number Seven!” Reginald shouted, glancing quickly up from his newspaper. Of course, he looked back and said, “Grace, check for Number Four, will you?”
Grace nodded saying, “Of course,” as she left the room.
“I’m going too,” Diego said, getting up. “Anyone else?”
Ben stood up, going forward and the rest slowly started to get up, all silently murmuring to each other.
“This is a pretty big house, dad,” interrupted Allison. “Klaus could be anywhere. We’ll be able to search more.”
So the kids went around. All of them searching bedrooms and bathrooms until Ben shouted, “Guys! Guys hurry!” He kept shouting and panicking, everyone running up to find Ben where he stood at a bathroom door. Klaus was sprawled across the floor, a pill bottle spilled out on the floor. Ben was shaking in the doorway, obviously unsure of what to do. “Someone help!” he shouted, looking at his brother in terror.
“Klaus!” Allison shouted, being the first to get there. She saw Ben panicking and wrapped her arms around him protectively. “Mom!! Mom, hurry up!”
Hyperventilating, Ben stood with Allison’s arms around him. “Is he-is he gonna die?”
“No, no,” Allison whispered. “M-mom can help.” She then raised her voice again, shouting, “MOM!!! Someone help us!”
The next hour or two was a blur for all of the Academy kids. They stood and watched, Grace pick up Klaus and rush out of the room. They were all pretty much sobbing in each other’s arms, everyone scared he was dead. They had already lost Five, they couldn’t manage losing Klaus as well. They had known for a while Klaus had started a problem with substance abuse, it had started two years before, after Five disappeared. Klaus had tried so hard to summon their brother, spending hours a time at night, locked in his room hoping to get Five’s attention. But instead, other spirits would torment him and his nightmares would return. So he turned to sleeping pills, Xanax, ecstasy, anything he could get his hands on. That kept the spirits away. But then it started getting bad… Ben was the only one who noticed, since the two spend so much time together. He’d tell the others how Klaus would get high, go mad and no one listened. Now they could tell just how far gone he really was.
“We should have listened to you, Ben,” Diego said, quietly, rubbing Vanya’s arm as she laid her head on his shoulder. “This never would have happened…”
“Silence, children,” Reginald said. “Your mother is working. The useless boy can’t seem to survive long enough—”
“You shut up!” Luther chimed in loudly. “Klaus isn’t useless!”
Ben nodded, getting up. “He wasn’t useless. He was struggling. Because of you!”
“Whatever do you mean, I only do what’s best for all of you and your abilities.”
“Listen to Luther and shut up for once,” Diego said, still clutching Vanya’s arm. “This wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t constantly torturing him… making sure he felt useless.”
And that’s when Grace walked back out, as Reginald opened his mouth again. “I got the medicine out of him. It was a nasty amount, we should keep them away from the boy.”
“Agreed,” Reginald said. But it sounded obvious he didn’t mean it. Every single one of the siblings could tell Reginald was genuinely disappointed Klaus survived because he saw him as useless. Because Klaus couldn’t get himself back together after his years of torment and struggle.
But no one said anything. There was no way to make him admit to anything and it was pointless arguing. So all the kids went in, Klaus was laying on his bed now, asleep. He looked peaceful but without any of the drugs in him, he must be having a nightmare. They didn’t know if the drugs had time to kick in, so they watched, almost sure he was struggling. The theories were proved when he started quietly groaning and turning over. So Ben walked forward, wanting to shake him awake like he normally had but Grace put a hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t wake him, dearest,” she said, smiling still. “He’s not ready yet. He’s been through a lot in the past few hours, give him some time to rest.”
Ben nodded, sitting back. “Can I stay here?”
So time passed and all the other kids eventually went back to their rooms to go to bed, but Ben stayed. He stayed and watched his brother, obviously suffering. He groaned ‘No!’ and ‘Leave me alone!’ silently a few times, muffled and scared obviously. And it was hard for Ben not to wake him up immediately to end his suffering so he sat their. Eventually he fell asleep in the chair he was suturing in, completely unaware he was drifting off.
Ben woke up before Klaus, almost completely forgetting what had happened the night before. It took him a couple minutes before he remembered the events of the night before and he rushed to Klaus’s bedside. It had likely been long enough and he could wake up Klaus now.
“Hey, hey, wake up,” Ben said, softly shaking him. “It’s me, you can wake up.”
And it took a few moments and a couple shakes but soon enough Klaus’s eyes fluttered opened and he slowly woke up. “Ben? Wha-what are you doing in my room?”
“You don’t remember last night?” Ben said, he looked over to the dresser, where Klaus was reaching. On it was a pill bottle with the label scratched off. Ben grabbed it quickly before his brother could reach it and he held it behind his back.
“What the hell, Ben!” Klaus said, obviously annoyed. “I need that!! I, uh, I had a nightmare again. I need that.”
“Well, too bad,” said Ben, walking backwards slowly so Klaus couldn’t reach for his arms. “Last night you overdosed. I don’t know what on, but I found passed out in the bathroom. You could’ve died, Klaus! If none of us noticed, you would have!”
Klaus rolled his eyes, getting out of bed. Ben had just noticed how scrawny all this was making him, implying it was more than just pills he was on and if he was being honest, Ben wasn’t surprised. He hadn’t seen Klaus without his shirt on until now and Ben could see his ribs and he looked far thinner than he had just months before. What had he started in this time?
“I like my brother better sober,” Ben said, still holding the pills and walking back. “Because this obviously isn’t you. I haven’t seen you in so long. I’ve only seen this… this version of you.”
“Just give me my pills,” Klaus said. “If you ever cared about me, you’d let me have them.”
Ben bit his lip, not knowing what to do. But then he said, “I’m not giving you these. But if you have more, if you buy more…… I guess I’ll let you continue ruining your life. Just don’t-don’t abuse them like you did. Maybe try and get off them? There are better ways to escape the nightmares. Like therapy if you really need it. But just know this, Klaus, I care about you. So do Luther and Vanya and Diego and Allison and Mom… and I’m sure Dad does deep down. And you know what? Five did too. Maybe you couldn’t summon him, but I’m 100% sure that means he’s alive. He’d have come to you.”
“I’m not in danger…”
“That’s what we all thought until last night,” Ben said. “I know you’re not going to listen to me, but at the very least, leave the door open when you’re in the bathroom. You don’t know how much relief it’ll be to be able to find you quicker than when you close it.”
“I don’t think anybody wants to see that,” Klaus said, with a tiny chuckle.
“Yeah, well none of us wanna see you dead either.”
Klaus let out a slightly louder chuckle, wrapping an arm around Ben as he threw on the first shirt he saw on the floor and left the room. “Let’s show the family I’m alive, why don’t we? I’m sure they’ll all be thoroughly disappointed.”
“Shut up,” Ben said as he left the room with Klaus.
The first one the two saw was Allison, who was sitting in front of the fireplace reading a celebrity gossip magazine. “Klaus!” she shouted, running into his arms. “Oh my god, I was so scared, Klaus. I thought you’d died. Never ever let that happen again. Ever.”
Klaus patted Allison’s back softly, whispering, “No promises,” in a bit of a joking voice.
“This isn’t funny!” she said. “we were all so scared. You should have seen us outside your room. We were all crying.”
“Over me? I’m flattered.”
“Can you tell him to shut his damn mouth?” Allison said, looking over at Ben.
“It’s not like he’ll listen to me,” said Ben, raising both his hands in an ‘I surrender’ motion.
But Klaus went and found the rest of his family. They were all so happy to see him alive and moving… no one thought he’d make it but everyone made him swear it’d never happen again. It was a scary experience for everyone and when Klaus saw his father’s vacant expression upon seeing him alive, he wished he could overdose all over again. But this time no one would find him. He hated the way his father looked at him. It induced misery and made him feel worthless as his father told him he was. But there was nothing he could do.
For now, Klaus was just surviving with his crazy, dysfunctional family. But maybe it was a little more than survival. Still less than living, but it was alright.