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Too Late To Listen

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When Ben died, Klaus stopped talking. Days before, Hargreeves locked Number Four in opaque walls of the mausoleum with only a container of water and the instructions to “get over his childish fears.” A mission gone wrong, however, cut short their training, for it resulted in the unfortunate death of one of the members of the Academy. No injury could be severe enough to call off a matter of discipline, but death was another matter. Three days after sealing its doors, Hargreeves opened the mausoleum to find, not the pitiful screams and whimpers of the child, but instead an eerie silence and glossed over eyes focused on what he could not see.

In the end, Hargreeves needed Number One's help moving Four back to the house. No matter what the old man tried, Klaus remained immune to outside influences. No threat, no action, no pain. As much as he hates such weakness, Hargreeves could not afford to lose yet another of his wards, especially so close to another, so he allowed the teen to be taken to the infirmary and stay until they regained some function.

The rest of the children came one by one. No matter what the death of a sibling instilled, the fear that came from crossing their Father always won out. Still, each visited. Vanya came first, free from the burden of training which had only increased since the loss of Ben (and Klaus). She slipped in on the second day, for Father only gave them one to mourn and strictly prohibited entry into the lower floor where the infirmary was held. Quite obvious to Vanya, powerless little Number Seven, was the fact that she, at that moment, possessed more power than her sibling. They laid, IV in arm, head lulled to one side, eyes barely blinking. Never in her life had she seen them so still. Even in sleep, curled up against her bed as she practiced her violin, did they twitch and moan.

Pulling up a stool from the corner of the room, she sat and laced her calloused fingers in Klaus’ own. Rubbing the back of their palm with her thumb, she talked idly about anything she could think of. Klaus never enjoyed the quiet; Five, before he disappeared --not died, Vanya told herself-- once hypothesized it frightened them as much as the dark. So she filled the room with the sound of her voice. She only left when she knew the other's training would soon be over, but not before kissing Klaus upon their forehead and promising to bring her violin the next time she came.

Not all too surprising, Number Two showed up second. He lingered in the doorway unsure of how to enter. Klaus was still confined to the infirmary, but the IV no longer remained in their arm. Grace, that morning at breakfast, informed the family in her steady tone that Number Four responded slightly to stimuli and ate food placed in front of their lips. As unimpressive as those facts were, the advancements removed the IV and started talk of moving them to their own room. Despite hearing of his sibling's state, finally seeing them rattled the cool unfeeling exterior Diego put on. Number Two felt his legs tremble, walking toward the gurney. Locked in an upward position, it gave the illusion sitting up, but somewhere inside of him, he thought the only reason Klaus did not fall is because they did not possess the resistance.

Diego, never one for words, not since his Father berated him for a stutter out of his control -- as he kept reminding himself of-- moved silently. Pushing Number Four’s legs aside, Diego hopped upon the cushioned seat and took out a knife from within his boots. With the sterile cleaning solutions within reach, he made work disinfecting his collection. His position, despite the little voice in his head, had nothing to do with the fact Klaus liked, no needed, physical contact to thrive. Ben, dear Ben, always the pacifist, once knocked Diego into a walk when he yelled at Number Four for trying to grab his hand one too many times. Ben later explained, in hushed tone late at night, about his theory of touch acting as an anchor to a person surrounded by more death than life. Diego never complained again. Now, he sat with his legs bumped against Klaus’ own, polishing knives not yet used since their last cleaning. But Klaus did not need to know that.

Allison did not want to visit when she did. However, what Hargreeves demands, he gets -- even if he lacks her power of persuasion. Klaus, out of the infirmary but not yet possessing the power to feed himself, remained confined in their room. The only movements they made, Grace guided by taking their hand in her own and leading them for they lacked the awareness to say no. This pliability caused Hargreeves to more than once put them in training with the others to see how Klaus would react. Only Number One would issue a blow but only after much trepidation and a glare from their Father. To the irritation of Hargreeves, Klaus did nothing to block the blow and dropped like a stone after it had been dealt. Curbing the intense desire, her siblings shared, to check how much damage Hargreeves inflicted, Allison instead watched with cold eyes as Grace took Klaus by the hand and lead them back inside.

After the third attempt, all with similar results, Hargreeves pulled Allison aside and directed her to Klaus's room. She blinked slowly, her gaze traveling from the man before her to her sibling's comatose form. The instructions were clear. Taking a step forward, she whispered her magic words: “I heard a rumor that you acted like yourself again.” Within seconds, their eyes lit up. Allison reached out and put her arms around them, smiling when they returned the gesture. Her smile broadened when Hargreeves gave her a nod of approval as she left Number Four's room to inform the others. The good fortune lasted around 16 hours, however, for after the children saw them start to regress. Their moments and speech slowed, all drive lost. After 24 hours, the shell of Klaus returned full force. Father tried to make Number Three use her power again, but each time its hold on Klaus weakened. In the end, Allison said no to his next demand, the only one to ever do so -- other than Number Five but they all saw where that got him. It became too hard to watch the life leave their eyes each day.

She would come later, over her own accord, crying into their shoulder and murmuring lost apologizes. After a few minutes, she stood up, wiped away any remaining tears, and marched out of the room, turning her back on her sibling once more.

Luther came last, having seen them first. The words their Father spit as he raised Klaus in his arms the first day cemented in his head. "Weak," that was all Number Four was, “unable to live up to his -- their -- potential,” “not worthy of his --their -- number.” Somewhere deep inside Number One, he questioned those words, not enough to speak them allowed, however. His visit lasted only a minute before clambering back to his room, ready to deny he came at all.

A month after Ben died, Klaus disappeared. Not like Five, loud in front of them all, but quietly slipping out like smoke from an extinguished match. They each blame their Father, even if they do not voice it. Vanya found the room empty in the morning, having taken up Grace's job of feeding Klaus his breakfast in order to give him some company. Her shriek echoed down the corridors until it reached the dining hall where the others sat. Diego made it up first, knife out in front of him. Luther, just a second behind, checked the windows for forced entry as Diego checked the closet. Allison walked in about to help as well when Number Two announced the bag of essentials Number Four packed was gone as well. Hargreeves, a step behind Vanya, turned around at those words and called for the rest to come and finish their food. Later, in the dead of night, Vanya questioned how Diego knew of the bag. He answered, tone soft, he had seen them packing for years. He just never thought they would actually.