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blood like lemonade

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He made the ten minute drive to the motel from his apartment in five. Apologies and excuses and guilty regrets began to take over all of his thoughts as he sped down the streets. He wished he wasn’t alone. Hell, he’d even take Luther’s company over the deafening silence of an empty passenger seat, but he’d left his least-amicable brother to keep an eye on Five just in case he woke up and no one was there.

He’d messed up seventeen years ago when he’d lost one brother with little to no explanation. He’d let the same thing happen again two years after that when he couldn’t save Ben on one of their missions. Despite all the things he’d seen throughout his life, he could still say, without a doubt, that the day he had to come home from that mission tasked with being the one to tell Klaus was the worst day of his entire life. Watching his brother’s heart shatter into pieces at his words made him feel cruel and he decided then, at fifteen, that he’d never let anything make his brother hurt like that again.

Fifteen years later and he’d fucked it up all over again.

If he ever wanted to make it up to Ben for what happened, he had to pray he wasn’t too late.

How could he have let this happen? He let one brother disappear on his watch, he let another fall victim to his own powers when he was helpless to save him, and now, what? The universe is finally coming to bite him in the ass for it all and take away the last good part of his family. The only one who understood what it felt like to be the last one standing through the worst experience imaginable.

Everyone else in his family hated his guts, yet he still fucked things up with Klaus.

As his car pulled up outside the motel, he felt his stomach twist in knots. At the very least, he could see Detective Patch walking down the hallways.

“Patch!” He called, jogging out of his car and up the walled-in stairway to the second floor. “What the hell happened?”

She grabbed him by the arm, speaking in a hushed tone, “Someone blew up a prosthetics manufacturing building earlier today. There was a van parked across the street that someone wrote; ‘your brother says hi’ on,” she explained, taking note of how her friend’s face paled at the mention. “Of course, there was no reason to believe it was your brother, I just figured since you mentioned your brother was missing this morning…”

“Yeah. Yeah, I gotcha’. Thank you,” he spoke genuinely.

Still, even though it had been almost a year since their short-lived relationship, Eudora could still see all the things that made her like him so much come out every once in a while.

“If he’s here somewhere, we’ll find him, Diego.”

He nodded, biting his lip. Eudora knew that look and knew not to prod. There were few things he hated more than losing control of his stutter when it really mattered. She gestured for him to take the last while she continued down the hallway on the right.

Everything was going relatively fine at first. They’d listen in on each door, check in through the windows, and report back. Ten minutes of thoroughly examining every room to the best of their abilities was making Diego nervous the longer they went without finding anything. Eudora could see it written throughout his eyes when they rejoined.

“Hey,” she spoke softly, running her hands along her friend’s arms. “He’s gonna’ be okay. Everything’s gonna’ be okay. Just breathe. I think I might’ve found the right room, but you gotta’ take some deep breaths for me first, yeah?”

That was enough for him.

“Diego,” she chided, grabbing the man’s arm as he turned his head towards the room she had mentioned. “Diego, do you want to get him killed?”

The casual tone in her question made him freeze. No. No, of fucking course not. What the hell did she think they were doing there anyway? If anything, he was the only one trying to prevent that from happening!

“You bust in there with your knives flying and who knows how many seconds you’ll have before one of you had a bullet in the middle of your forehead. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to risk it.”

He nodded, his head downturned. He fucking hated plans. They reminded him to all of the times he had to go along with Luther’s as kids. Still, he could definitely follow one of Eudora’s plans if it meant he could get Klaus out of there alive.

“You’re r-r…you’re right,” he sighed. Patch nudged his shoulder.

“That hard for you to admit I’m right?”

He chuckled dryly at her teasing.

“Shut up,” he grumbled, a sad smile on his face.

“Hey,” Patch elbowed him in the ribs. “Take a breath and let’s go get ourselves some kidnappers.”

 

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“On your count,” Eudora spoke quietly, knowing how badly Diego wanted to take the reins on this one.

Diego counted down from three, placing all of his weight on one leg before kicking in the door, locking his eyes on a figure immediately ducking into the bathroom at the back of the room. He flung one knife, sticking it right into the doorway of the bathroom just a second too late. He cursed under his breath, ready to throw another when Eudora spoke up.

“I got it. Help him,” Patch ordered.

Diego’s attention instantly dropped to his left where he saw Klaus looking back up at him with some horribly painful mixture of terror and gratitude. Blood was dripping all down his bare chest and he grunted from under a duct tape gag. His eyes were surrounded by tear-smudged eyeliner and dark circles from an unsurprisingly minimal amount of sleep. He was shaking, from obvious withdrawal or from pure terror, Diego didn’t want to know.

He sank to his knees in front of his brother, unsheathing a knife and quickly cutting through the tape and rope that kept Klaus bound to a chair taken from the shitty dining table in the corner. He carefully pulled the tape off of Klaus’ mouth and within second his brother threw his arms around his shoulders.

“Klaus? Klaus, hey buddy, can you hear me?” The boy in question nodded shakily and Diego let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. “Okay, okay. You’re...you’re okay now, I’m gonna’ getcha’ out of here.”

Klaus nodded, still tightly gripping onto his brother’s arms. Diego helped him stand, Klaus wincing at the sound of gunshots from all around him.

“Shh, it’s okay. It’s okay,” Diego spoke softly as the pair hobbled towards the door. “That’s my friend Eudora. She’s gonna’ make sure these guys are never gonna’ hurt you again, okay?” Klaus nodded and they headed down the stairs to the parking lot. All Diego could think about was getting Klaus out of there as quickly as possible and he really wasn’t concerned about any of the other cars in the parking lot but his own.

Ben, who would’ve wept tears of joy upon seeing Diego come to rescue Klaus if he could’ve, began frantically tapping Klaus on the shoulder. The latter froze, staring back over his shoulder into what was, to Diego at least, just empty space. But for Klaus it was different. Ben had never been able to touch him before and the other boy looked just as surprised that he could as Klaus was.

Diego stared, frankly, not understanding what was going on at all until a shot rang out and he crumpled over against his brother.

“Diego?” Klaus’s groggy voice croaked. “Holy shit, Diego!”

He pulled his brother behind a wall of the staircase, spotting the female half of his duo of kidnappers with a gun pointed in their direction.

“K-Klaus,” he whispered, clutching his shoulder in a weak attempt to put pressure on his wound. “Klaus you g-gotta’ get...get outta’ h-h-here.”

Another round of bullets ricocheted off the stairs and Klaus jumped back.

“Are you crazy?” He screeched, grabbing onto his brother’s hand tightly. “I’m...I’m not leaving you.” He paused for a moment. “Ben says he won’t either so I guess that’s two votes against one for dying together.”

Klaus hurriedly shrugged off his signature coat, shoving it against the bullet hole in Diego’s shoulder.

“Not that I’m letting you die on me, Dee,” he corrected himself, earning a pained smile from his wounded counterpart. “I don’t need your ghost ass haunting me forever.”

Klaus watched as the woman, he was moderately sure her partner called her Cha-cha or something, came close enough for short-range combat. So, having always wanted to do it since they were kids, Klaus grabbed a knife off of Diego's belt and flung it at her the way he’d seen his brother do it a thousand times.

He had shit aim which, when compared to Diego’s impeccable technique, was practically the equivalent of throwing it with his feet while his eyes are closed.

Nonetheless, he hit her square in the hip and honestly he could’ve died happy right there when Ben whooped with pride over his shoulder.

“I coulda’ sworn that book said you freaks didn’t care about each other!” Cha-cha spat, yanking the knife out of her hip and flinging it across the floor.

“Klaus,” Diego hissed sharply. “Klaus I f-f-fucking swear to God, this isn’t w-worth it. Get the hell out of h-here before it’s t-t-to late.”

Klaus scoffed, throwing another two knives, this time with Cha-cha diving out of the way of the first one and the second sliced a pretty sizable gash along the side of her stomach.

“You’re really telling me you’re not worth it, Diego?” He argued back without looking at his brother. He kept his eyes trained on Cha-cha, grabbing blindly at every weapon Diego had stashed away in his belt. His hands found a gun, quickly clicking off the safety and hitting her right in the ankle. “Do you really think, after everything we went through with Five and Ben that I’m going to just leave you behind?”

Cha-cha picked herself off the ground, limping through their little battlefield on her one bloody foot.

“I can’t...I can’t lose you too, okay?” Diego mumbled, clearly not wanting to actually admit that out loud.

Klaus hadn’t even noticed the way his fists began to glow with tendrils of bright blue smoke. Diego winced, but opened his eyes just enough to scream a very masculine scream and nearly jump out of his skin. Klaus followed Diego’s gaze over his shoulder.

“You can see him?” He spoke as more of a question he already knew the answer to. Diego nodded slowly.

“Klaus, whatever you do, don’t open your fists,” Ben instructed and Klaus barely had a chance to ask him what the hell he was doing before Ben started glowing blue too, this time with The Horror unleashed and glowing around him.

He looked over at Cha-cha, crawling towards one of the discarded knives on the ground as her gun was seemingly out of bullets. Klaus could see the realization hit her as Ben released The Horror’s glowing blue tentacles and they wrapped instantly around her waist. She looked both confused and horrified, but within seconds, her body went flying over the roof and Ben was gone.

“Where..w-what the...where the f-f-fuck did he go, Klaus?” Klaus just stared at the place where Ben, their very dead brother, had been standing just seconds ago. “How the hell did you do that?”

Klaus looked down at his hands then back up at where Ben was.

“I have no idea,” he breathed, marveling at his own fists. “Benny, what the hell was that?” Diego’s brow furrowed. So Klaus could still see Ben. That was a good sign at least, but then again, he wasn’t entirely convinced that seeing Ben for himself wasn’t just a hallucination from extensive blood loss.

“Dude,” he grunted, his hand still firmly applying pressure on his wound. “Dude, can you give me a hand up?”Klaus snapped out of his fascination and tried to help Diego stand. Not being particularly strong himself, it wasn’t the easiest with Diego not being able to lift one arm, but he was able to position his brother so that Klaus was supporting most of his weight.

“I gotcha’, I gotcha’, let’s just get out of here,” Klaus assured him, hobbling the pair across the parking lot towards where Diego’s car sat parked.

“Wait!” Diego stopped them both, trying to get Klaus to let go of him. “I gotta’...I gotta’ get ‘Dora out,” he sighed, no doubt feeling faint from his energy.

“Dora... oh the lady cop in there with you?” Diego nodded. “Okay, yeah no problem, I’ll get her, but first I’m putting you in the backseat before you bleed out on the pavement.” Diego didn’t really feel like arguing at that point so he nodded again and let Klaus clumsily deposit him across the seats.

“I’ll be right back. Don’t die while I’m gone, I don’t want your ass haunting me forever,” he teased, closing the door before jogging back up the stairs. Right as he was about to round the first corner, he bumped right into a very beautiful woman with blood basically coating her entire uniform. Diego’s lady cop friend.

For his brother’s sake, he was really hoping they were more than friends.

“You’re Klaus, right?” He nodded.

“In the flesh.”

“Where’s Diego?” She grabbed his arm and dragged him along behind her as they rushed down the stairs. Honestly, Klaus minded her vice-like grip a little, but he was a bit too afraid of her to say anything.

“He’s in his car in the lot,” he answered, trying to keep up the jogging pace as Eudora headed for the parking lot. “There was...a bit of an issue to say the least.”

Eudora groaned, pushing a strand of hair out of her face with a small smile. “Fucking idiot.”

“Exactly!” Klaus laughed, liking her already. Anyone who could totally kick his ass, but also tease the shit out of his brother was definitely good enough for Diego.

They found their way to Diego’s car and Eudora yanked open the backseat door on the driver’s side. Diego’s head, which was propped up against the armrest, hung off the edge of the seat. He groaned in response, reaching up to rub the back of his head.

“Great, you’re here,” he mumbled, a smirk on his lips. “Let’s blow this popsicle stand, yeah?”

Detective Patch helped him get back into his propped-up position before hopping in the driver’s seat with Klaus riding shotgun.

“The closest hospital’s up the road for about a quarter mile,” Klaus pointed out the road for Eudora to take as she stared at him for a second before following his directions.

“Do I want to know why you somehow know that?” Detective Patch sighed, raising an eyebrow at the boy in the passenger seat.

“Oh, I just OD-ed here once,” he said, nonchalantly.

“Yeah, definitely didn’t want to know.”

Despite the circumstance of his knowledge, Klaus was in fact correct about the nearest hospital and Eudora parked quickly, her and Klaus both carrying Diego, who was not happy about it at all, by each arm. The trio, add Ben who was right beside Klaus, hobbled their way into the emergency room, Eudora leaving Klaus to hold Diego up by himself while she talked to the front desk.

“You know, I always thought our first trip to the hospital together would be because of me,” Klaus teased while they waited. Diego huffed, disorientedly.

“Technically still ‘cause of you,” he grumbled, wincing as he tried to stand up straighter.

Klaus used his free hand to clutch over his heart.

“You wound me, Diego, you really do. I’m deeply sorry I got kidnapped and you came to rescue me without me asking you to,” he spoke sarcastically, glad his brother was at least lucid enough to keep up with their usual banter.

“Yeah, well, someone’s gotta’ take care a’ your sorry ass,” he grunted with a small smile. “As much as I’m sure Ben’s doin’ a bang-up job, I think someone that’s always corporeal might come in handy.”

Klaus glanced to his side, listening to Ben’s commentary that Diego couldn’t hear.

“Ben says he’s better than you,” Klaus iterated, Diego snorting.

“He’s dead. I’m not. Therefore, I win,” Diego fired back.

“He says suck it, at least he can’t get shot and also he’s the reason you’re not dead right now,” Klaus continued. “That last part was just me, by the way. But Ben says it’s true.”

“Fine, you win,” he sighed, leaning his forehead into Klaus’s shoulder. “Dude. I’m like...so dizzy right now.”

“Yeah that’s probably the lack of blood in your human, dude,” Klaus shot back with enough sarcasm to rival Five.

Diego hummed in agreement, wiping his hand across his jaw, but leaving a massive smear of his own blood behind afterwards.

“Ugh Diego, you can’t just- oh my god, being the responsible one sucks,” he complained, using his sleeve to clean off his brother’s face. “For both your sake and mine I hope your girlfriend hurries up.”

“N’t my g’rlfr’nd,” he mumbled, clear.y delirious.

“Sure she isn’t,” Klaus teased. “You must be losing blood faster than I thought.”

 

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It didn’t take much longer before Eudora successfully convinced the nurses to get Diego in to the emergency room. She and Klaus were soon kicked out of his med bay when the doctors had to fish the bullet out of his shoulder, but it didn’t take long before it seemed like everything was fine again.

Within an hour, Diego was sat up in his bed, his arm in a sling and a huge pad of gauze over his shoulder, Eudora was fast asleep in a chair by the bed and still covered in blood, and Klaus was just idly picking at the fraying hem of his towel while he laid his head on the bed against one of Diego’s thighs.

“You okay?” Diego’s gruff voice, still probably a little out of it, broke Klaus out of his trance.

“Hmm?” His head snapped up and he immediately cringed, rubbing his neck. “Fuck.”

When he finally looked Diego in the face, his brother looked close to guilty and Klaus immediately decided he didn’t ever want to see that look on his face ever again.

“I’m really sorry, man,” Diego said, like he really, really meant it. Klaus smiled a little.

“What the hell do you have to be sorry for? You’re the one laid up in the hospital with a goddamn hole in your shoulder,” Klaus contradicted, rolling his eyes.

“I’m serious, Klaus.”

“Yeah,” Klaus sighed, running his hands through his hair a few times. “Yeah, sorry, I just...do that sometimes.” Diego nodded, electing not to bring that facet of his brother’s personality up.

“We didn’t come find you as soon as we knew you were gone,” he sighed, anger not-so-hidden in his words. “The house got attacked and no one thought to check where you were and I’m really sorry, Klaus.” Hell, for once in his life, he didn’t even fight Luther when their leader suggested Klaus had just skipped town or gone out on a drug run.

“It’s fine dude, don’t get your panties in a twist. It’s not like I gave you guys any reason to want me back in the house,” he chuckled, sincerity behind his tone. “Yeah, getting kidnapped sucked ass, but I still had Ben with me, and I knew you guys were all safe by what they kept talking about the whole time I was there. Trust me, it could’ve been worse. Besides, for the first time since before I hit puberty,” he smiled, slapping his chest twice before holding his arms out wide. “I’m sober! Not as exciting as I thought it would be, but then again, how could more ghosts ever be a good thing.” He mimed smoking a cigarette as he leaned back in his chair, propping his legs up on the side of the bed.

Diego smiled.

“I’m happy for you, dude.”

Klaus raised an eyebrow.

“What, I’m serious! That’s a huge ass deal! You haven’t been completely sober in what, sixteen years? That’s fuckin’ awesome, bro. I’m proud of you,” Diego ranted, Klaus outwardly laughing out loud at his brother’s attempt to express some sort of emotion other than anger. Pride looked good on him and, if Klaus was being completely honest, hearing his brother say he was proud of him made the whole withdrawal process just a little bit easier.

“Thanks,” he sighed, a smug smile on his face that, for the first time in a very long time, he felt like he’d earned. “Oh shit, sorry! We didn’t mean to wake you up.”
On the other side of the room, Eudora was yawning and stretching her back and Diego looked very guilty.

“Ugh, don’t worry about it,” she smiled. “That was real cute, Hargreeves.” She smirked up at Diego, who rolled his eyes, his cheeks beet red.

“Shut up,” he grumbled. “Don’t you know it’s rude to make fun of people in the hospital?”
“Never came up in my training,” she mused, a knowing look in her eyes as Diego scoffed. “Besides, I think I get a free pass for making sure you didn’t end up getting stranded in the parking lot and bleeding to death.”

“She had a point there,” Klaus butted in, pointing his bloody black nails between Diego and Patch. “It’s not like I was going to be any help getting you out of there.”

“Exactly!”

“Plus, it’s fun to not being the only one making fun of you,” he grinned, giggling much to Diego’s disappointment. “Well, that you can hear anyway.”

Diego gasped sassily, mimicking the way he’d seen Klaus do it countless times as he clutched his chest. “Ben! How dare you! If you weren’t so dead, I might just have to slap you across your smug little ghost face.”

Just like that, with his clenched fists in his lap, Ben appeared right beside the bed, instantly slapping Diego across the face.
“For not going after Klaus when you knew he was missing,” Ben explained simply, Eudora and Klaus cackling as Diego reeled. “Also for getting shot. Don’t even think about dying on us. If I'm stuck with Klaus forever, that means I'm stuck with you too.”

Diego, still reeling from the sudden change of pace in the conversation, couldn’t do much more than gape up at his ghostly brother. Unable to move the arm closest to Ben, he swung one of his legs across the bed, nailing Ben right in the side. Kickboxing was finally coming in handy apparently. Ben groaned when Diego’s leg made contact, initially glaring at Klaus for keeping him corporeal before his grimace slowly turned into a smile.

“For dying on us without saying goodbye,” Diego said, quirking the corner of his mouth up in a sad excuse for a smile.

“Yeah that’s fair.”

“It’s good to have you b-back, Benny,” Diego blushed, not wanting his stutter to come out around Patch, but he was ultimately helpless to stop it. “Thanks for not leavin’ him alone.” He gestured to Klaus and Diego could tell Ben already knew Klaus was more than grateful to not have had to deal with that whole situation alone. “Oh, and this is Eudora by the way.”

Ben waved. Eudora waved back, seemingly unfazed by the fact that Ben was, one, very dead, and two, standing right in front of her without much of an explanation.

“Yeah okay, sure, this might as well happen,” she chuckled. “I can’t think of a better way to meet the family, Diego.”